South Africa

FIVE MINUTES: South Africa

By Daily Maverick Staff Reporter 17 January 2013

A round-up of the day's news from South Africa.

DA: SHABANGU MUST STOP PLAYING THE ‘BLAME GAME’

The Democratic Alliance has condemned the attitude mineral resources minister Susan Shabangu towards the Amplats mining crisis, saying she had to “understand that unless mining companies can operate profitably, they cannot create jobs”. Shadow mining minister James Lorimer said playing the “blame game” was pointless. “It is unrealistic to expect the industry to both create jobs and pay much higher taxes. Minister Shabangu and her party need to realise that they cannot have it both ways,” Lorimer said in a statement. He said under Shabangu’s tenure, the mining industry has had to deal with policy uncertainty, rising input costs such as those imposed by Eskom, and a “labour union regime that ignores workers’ rights for the sake of political gain”.

MINERS REFUSE TO GO UNDERGROUND AT AMPLATS’ MINES

Miners at three of Anglo American Platinum’s mines went on an illegal strike on Wednesday, the day after the company announced plans to close shafts and slash 14,000 jobs. Employees at Amplats’ Khomanani, Thembelani and Tumela mines, in the heart of South Africa’s platinum belt, refused to go underground. Reuters reports an analyst in London as saying the restructuring was “fairly ambitious”. Jeff Largey at Macquarie in London said that now “it comes down to execution risk and the way things are looking right now, it is going to be more challenging than Anglo thought”.  An Amplats labour leader based in the platinum belt city of Rustenburg told Reuters that workers at several mines had refused to go underground overnight to protest against the company’s restructuring plans.

DOCKET MISSING IN MYSTERIOUS AUDI R8 CRASH

The docket on the fatal crash of an Audi R8 supercar that saw the car’s owner and a policeman die in horrific circumstances has gone missing. The Times reports that The Independent Police Investigative Directorate can’t find the docket but police say it is locked away and being handled by a specialised provincial police investigative unit. The IPID’s spokesman, Moses Dlamini, told the newspaper it had still not received the docket, despite making inquiries. Police claim the driver, Areff Haffejee, tried to escape officers who found dagga in his car. But witnesses’ accounts of the Oxford Road crash don’t match the version given by police, leading to more questions than answers in the case.

CITIZEN ARRESTS POLICEMAN, LOCKS HIM BACK OF POLICE VAN

A Pietermaritzburg resident ‘arrested’ a policeman he suspected was drunk, locking him in the back of his own police van. The Witness newspaper says Russell George noticed a police van driving “vast and recklessly”. George said he followed the van, until it stopped at an intersection at which point he called 10111. George told the newspaper he approached the driver after five minutes, as the police had not yet arrived, and that he could smell alcohol in the van. When the policeman refused to get out of the van, George grabbed the keys, pulled him out and locked him in the back of his own vehicle. A police spokesman confirmed that the policeman had been taken into custody and would be charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol.

TWELVE TO SIXTEEN YEAR OLDS CAN HAVE SEX – WITH EACH OTHER

A Pretoria judge has ruled it is no longer a criminal offence for children aged between 12 and 16 years old to take part in consensual sexual activities with each other. The ruling came in the wake of an application by The Teddy Bear Clinic for Abused Children and the Centre for Child Law that challenged certain provisions of the Sexual Offences Act as they infringed on a child’s right to dignity and privacy.  The act states that all consensual sexual acts between children of that age – even kissing – are criminal offences and that any person aware of such activities must report the children to the police, or face prosecution. The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development is considering an appeal.

‘WHERE THEY SAY REMOVE THE COUNCILLOR, WE WILL DO JUST THAT’

A task team investigating disputes in 419 ANC wards has recommended that ANC candidate selection processes be “redone” in 125 wards. The team, led by AU head and NEC member, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, found evidence of manipulation and fraud with nominations of ANC candidates for the 2011 local government elections. Secretary general Gwede Mantashe told reporters recommendations of the task team would be implemented. “Where they say remove the councillor, we will do just that,” he said. The task team reported that the ANC’s membership system was easily manipulated, and recommended that this be investigated. 

ESKOM WORKING TO RESTORE OPERATIONS AT MEDUPI CONSTRUCTION

Construction workers at the Medupi power station in Limpopo went on strike on Wednesday, an action that saw the site closed while Eskom and its contractors tried to restore operations. Eskom said the protest action led to workers being sent home “to ensure the safety of people and assets on the site”. In a statement, it said the illegal protest “disrupted bus transport to the site, resulting in injuries to 25 workers who were being transported to work”. The power company said the protest involved workers affiliated to the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) who are employed by Hitachi Kaefer and Murray & Roberts Projects and followed on from protests last Friday in which about 1 Alstom Kentz were locked out of those workers by Alstom Kentz.

DA PLANS PRIVATE MEMBERS’ BILL ON TEACHERS’ RIGHT TO STRIKE

The Democratic Alliance says it will be submitting a Private Members Bill to Parliament “to comprehensively define the limits under which teachers can go on strike, and protect children’s right to learn”. Education spokeswoman Annette Lovemore said while she welcomes the ANC’s “change in stance regarding teaching as an essential service”, the government has a long history of inaction over the issue of illegal strikes in the teaching sector. The DA says it believes “the interests of learners are best balanced with teachers’ right to strike if the limitations of the latter are clearly delineated”. Lovemore said it was the learners who suffered when teachers are embroiled in strike action. DM

Photo: The DA has accused mining minister Susan Shabangu of not taking responsibility and playing the “blame game”. (REUTERS)

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