- Daily Maverick Staff Reporter
This week 94 healthcare workers in the Free State became criminals for fighting for their jobs and confronting a system in crisis. Civil society groups are now challenging the Gatherings Act, which, if it is kept in place, will continue to be used as a tool to silence dissent and limit accountability. By GREG NICOLSON.
Over the weekend the Democratic Alliance (DA) announced that it had demoted its shadow police minister, Dianne Kohler Barnard, after she re-posted a comment on Facebook suggesting that some aspects of South Africa were better under PW Botha. The African National Congress celebrated the DA's discomfit, while DA leaders muttered earnestly about how they would use their structures to deal with this. Kohler Barnard herself had already apologised, but it is a story that will stick around for some time. As a political incident, it is rather revealing about where our politics is, and about the strengths and dangers of us, as South Africans, discussing our lives on Twitter and Facebook. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
Last week, the Democratic Alliance has suffered a series of nightmares. First, a Facebook blunder involving praise for PW Botha. Then, a DA-affiliated hereditary leader was found guilty of serious criminal charges. Then, they lost a ward in their Western Cape stronghold. Maimane has been driving for five months—how is he going to bring his ungainly political rig back onto the road? RICHARD POPLAK spoke with him in order to find out.
Ten years after the brutal murder of 22-year-old Stellenbosch student Inge Lotz and the subsequent acquittal of her then boyfriend Fred van der Vyver of the killing, amateur forensic sleuths Thomas and Calvin Mollett have discovered that prints of the hammer implicated in her killing were found on a bloodied towel left at the scene. Once dismissed and vilified, Thomas Mollett is now an author and sought-after guest speaker. In a new book, Mollett suggests the new findings on the towel, and proof that other evidence was fabricated by experts, warrant a retrial. By MARIANNE THAMM.
On Saturday in Soweto, in front of 2,000 people, rock star economist Thomas Piketty offered a bleak assessment of the new South Africa – a country that is, in some ways, more unequal than it was 25 years ago. And while he has solutions, don’t expect them to be implemented here any time soon. Especially not by the event’s sponsors. SIMON ALLISON reports on a Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture that was as notable for its glaring hypocrisies as its scholarship.
Claims by the police minister and the police commissioner that foreigners are a major source of criminality not only risk increasing anti-migrant sentiment in a country where xenophobic violence is rife, they prevent us from identifying and addressing the real sources of insecurity. And, in fact, the recently released crime statistics do not show that immigrants are disproportionately responsible for crime. By ALEXANDRA HIROPOULOS and LOREN B LANDAU.
This year’s annual national assessments, which are administered in literacy and numeracy to all learners in Grades 1 to 6 and 9, have been postponed till December following opposition from teachers' unions. How should we understand the value of these assessments, the reasons for the opposition from unions and how the assessments can be improved for the future? By STEPHEN TAYLOR for GROUNDUP.
South Africa's murder rate is high by global standards. But the increase of the last three years is particularly worrying. There isn’t yet a good explanation for this recent uptick. It may be that we are seeing a renewed decline in state legitimacy. It may also reflect the significance of the change in the types of murders being committed. By ANINE KRIEGLER and MARK SHAW.
In light of Wednesday’s Constitutional Court judgment, it seems that everyone wants to 'win', everyone wants to be part of that moment when a victory is secured – no one more than My Vote Counts in a game in which we heavily invested. It’s so tempting to think of the judgment in that kind of all-or-nothing mentality where so much seems lost. But this dualistic approach casts this campaign and everything else in the wrong light. By GREGORY SOLIK.
The anti-corruption marches in Pretoria and Cape Town on Wednesday have been billed as the beginning of a movement with ongoing protest action. The next event is scheduled for 14 October and as Numsa has permission for a protected strike, the marches are likely to be dominated by members of the metalworkers union. But is there a common understanding about what the purpose of Unite Against Corruption is? And where is this ultimately heading? By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
This week, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela submitted court papers to join the Economic Freedom Fighters’ application to the Constitutional Court over Nkandla. Her affidavit makes for interesting reading: speaking to her concerns over the undermining of her position, and her fears that potential complainants to her office are being deterred by the attacks on her authority. By REBECCA DAVIS.
Politics, as the late Harold Lasswell put it, is basically who gets what, when and how. And that’s an issue the Rhodes Must Fall movement is becoming more insistent on getting a say in. On Wednesday, they disrupted an event at the University of Cape Town at which renowned economist Thomas Piketty was scheduled to give an address. By Thursday, they had sent Daily Maverick a detailed statement explaining why. By MARELISE VAN DER MERWE.
Did you know that childhood trauma has a lasting impact on a person’s DNA? Did you know that in South Africa there is exactly one public-sector psychologist and/or psychiatrist for every 300,000 members of the population? KEVIN BLOOM is led from these considerations into a looming national quandary: do we continue to throw our limited funds and energies at ambiguous concepts like Lead SA and the anti-corruption march, or do we move from such externals onto the tougher ground of the country’s roiling inner life?
South Africa seems permanently inured to the stench of scandal and impunity that hangs over it, but there are moments when one hopes for some kind of magic wand that can take away the cause with just one wave. There were hopes in some quarters that the Constitutional Court's verdict in a case about the funding of political parties could provide such a whiff of fairy dust. Unfortunately, it is not to be. And probably, and sadly, for exactly the right reasons. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
After a delay and much handwringing, Unite Against Corruption finally got to walk to the Union Buildings in Pretoria, and to Parliament in Cape Town. Was the inaugural event of what the organisers promise will be a robust and lasting movement a success? RICHARD POPLAK donned sensible shoes in order to find out.
The National Economic Development and Labour Council's decision that workers who attended Wednesday's anti-corruption marches would not be protected had a clear impact on the numbers in Pretoria and Cape Town. There were still respectable turnouts, but the movement's success will now be judged by what happens on 14 October, when the marches are repeated. BHEKI C SIMELANE, REBECCA DAVIS & GREG NICOLSON report from Parliament and the Union Buildings.
In April, residents of a building in Jeppestown protested when they were served with eviction notices. On Tuesday, the eviction took place unexpectedly. The Red Ants arrived and evicted people in one building. Some residents responding by throwing rocks. The Red Ants hit back by firing rubber bullets. Later the building caught fire. No one knew who was responsible but one thing was clear: those evicted had nowhere to sleep on Tuesday night. KGOMOTSO TLEANE and KHOTSO MAHLANGU were there.
A statement from ANC treasurer general Zweli Mkhize on the stunning news that Hitachi, Ltd. had paid $19 million to settle charges by the US Securities and Exchange Commission in relation to its Eskom contracts, distanced the party from anything to do with the matter. “The organisation was not involved”. What the statement does not say is whether the ANC derived benefits from the deal and from “success fees” paid to Chancellor House. While the entire arrangement smells fishy, this is the crux of the matter. It will be difficult to secure answers or any real investigation as every institution that can investigate it is ultimately controlled by the ANC. So yet another set of damning allegations will be sucked into the black hole where political accountability lives in South Africa. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
Compensation for the victims of Marikana won't bring back the dead. It won't put killers on trial. Still, it's something. On Tuesday, President Jacob Zuma announced plans to engage victims on out-of-court compensation. With justice continually delayed and denied, victims' lawyers are tentatively welcoming the announcement, but they will wait for a formal communication before responding. By GREG NICOLSON.
Teachers' unions say the annual national assessments are not achieving their intended purpose: measuring the health of the education system and assessing whether there is an improvement from year to year. GROUNDUP asked two academic experts and the leader of a teachers' union to share their views on how they think the tests could be remodelled. By SIBUSISO TSHABALALA.
There was a noticeable disconnect between the manner in which top police officials presented the country’s most recent crime statistics, and the impressions that strike you if you give the figures a long, hard, look. Despite the ‘glass half-full’ approach adopted by Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega, the reality is that most categories of crime are on the rise in most provinces. By REBECCA DAVIS.
Violence erupted in Masiphumelele outside Cape on Tuesday, with police using teargas and rubber bullets to disperse a crowd of more than 1,000 residents who had blockaded the road to Kommetjie. The protest occurred because many Masiphumelele residents believe seven people arrested for public violence last week are innocent. By BERNARD CHIGUVARE, MASIXOLE FENI and GROUNDUP STAFF for GROUNDUP.