A round-up of the day's news from South Africa.
ZILLE: SA MUST TAKE JOINT RESPONSIBILITY FOR COMBATING RAPE
DA leader Helen Zille says it is pointless blaming poverty for the rape crisis in South Africa. In her weekly DA Today newsletter, Zille said it was “an insult to the millions of poverty-stricken people and communities who abhor crime” and that the solution lies with “all of us”. She said it was time for government, communities, families and individuals to “commit themselves to taking joint responsibility for tackling the root causes of rape and gender based violence”. The senseless murder of 17-year-old Anene Booysen “highlighted the grim reality faced by our women and children every day”. With only 6% of rapes resulting in convictions, rapists know they are likely to get away with it, Zille said, leading to a vicious cycle “fuelled by alcohol and drugs, absent fathers, multiple sexual partners, a patriarchal culture that views women as ‘possessions’, the acceptance of inter-generational sex, and dysfunctional families”.
SPECIALISED SEXUAL OFFENCES COURTS A PRIORITY
Specialised sexual offences courts must reintroduced as a matter of urgency, says the DA’s spokeswoman on justice and constitutional development, Debbie Schafer. “Whilst this will certainly not solve the rape crisis on its own, it is vital to provide a deterrent to would-be rapists. A clear message must be sent that rapists will be arrested and convicted if they commit this offence,” Schafer said in a statement. Justice minister Jeff Radebe last year commissioned a task team to study whether the courts should be reinstated, but the report was delayed. It was due at the end of January. Schafer said the minister should “waste no time familiarising himself with the content of the report, and informing the public how he plans to deal with the issue”.
AN ACT OF ‘CONCRETE SOLIDARITY’ FOR FARMWORKERS
Sactwu has set the ball rolling on the formation of a formal farmworkers’ union by offering R1 million to help set one up. South African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union secretary-general, Andre Kriel, challenged other Cosatu-affiliated unions to match its pledge. “Press releases of support are not enough. Concrete action to build farm workers’ organised collective strength is now urgently required,” he said. Speaking at a recruitment-planning meeting of the Food and Allied Workers’ Union (Fawu), Kriel said the move was an “act of concrete solidarity in our quest for a living wage and decent work for vulnerable workers, in true Cosatu tradition”.
GET TEXTBOOKS TO THE SCHOOLS ON TIME
The Democratic Alliance has challenged the education department to deliver textbooks to schools complaining of shortages within 24-hours. National spokesman Mmusi Maimane was responding to a claim by the department that books discovered by the DA in a Limpopo warehouse were “additional stock”. The party claims to have canvassed a number of schools in the province and to have found that 56 of those they spoke to complained that they have not received all the books they need. Police at the warehouse detained DA MPL Meisie Kennedy after conducting an inspection of the books. She was forced to delete photos from her phone before the police would release her. The DA’s leader in Limpopo, Jacques Smalle, said principals and teachers had “reached out to the DA for assistance”.
CONGO COUP PLOT LEADER ARRESTED IN CAPE TOWN
The Hawks have arrested the man believed to be behind the plot to overthrow Democratic Republic of the Congo president, Joseph Kabila. Spokesman Captain Paul Ramoloko said the man was arrested in Cape Town and that arrangements are being made to move him to be moved to Pretoria where he will be charged under the Foreign Military Assistance Act. Nineteen of the man’s co-accused, including a US national, were arrested in Limpopo on suspicion of running an illegal military operation. The ringleader will appear in the Pretoria Regional Court next week.
MOTSEPE ACCUSED OF TRYING TO BRIBE JOURNALIST
City Press newspaper has run with a story about how Limpopo human settlements MEC Clifford Motsepe allegedly tried to bribe one of its reporters, despite threats from the politician’s lawyers. The newspaper reports
Motsepe offered Limpopo correspondent Sipho Masondo a “wad of cash” after the journalist visited the MEC at his home to discuss a story in which Motsepe and various political allies were accused of ensuring friends of Julius Malema received lucrative tenders worth over R900 million. DA leader in the province, Jacques Smalle, said in a statement that Motsepe “seems willing to bribe his way out of bad publicity for RDP tenders awarded to Julius Malema’s allies. This suggests that he is inclined toward abuse of his office, for petty or big corruption. He must do the right thing and resign now.”
ENGINEERING BODY STARTS ANTI-CORRUPTION WAR CHEST
The CEO of Consulting Engineers South Africa says tender corruption at local government is responsible for lack of service delivery, broken and non-existent infrastructure. Graham Pirie spoke out about the issue in an interview with Business Day, saying Cesa had started a fund to take those municipalities to court. Pirie said members of Cesa had lost time and money tendering for contracts that are awarded to companies with no qualifications or experience. He said these companies, number around 500, were willing to pay an extra levy to boost a “war chest” to tackle the problem. He said South Africa’s “procurement pipeline is fraught with corruption” and that it had to be dealt with.
NOTHING CONTROVERSIAL IN MOTLANTHE’S SEYCHELLES HOLIDAY
Deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe’s spokesman says he doesn’t know why there is “controversy” over his Seychelles holiday. Thabo Masebe was responding to a story in City Press that said Motlanthe had been flown to the islands in a South African Air Force plane, where he and his partner and five bodyguards checked in to the Desroches Island Resort. Masebe told Sapa Motlanthe’s security was the responsibility of the state, and that related to personal or public travel. He said Motlanthe paid for his own holiday. DA defence spokesman, David Maynier, said he would ask the Public Protector to investigate whether there was a breach of any policy, law or regulation in the payments for Motlanthe’s holiday, and would submit a Promotion of Access to Information Act (No. 2 of 200), for a copy of the secret ‘Presidential Handbook’ in which such terms are laid out. DM
Photo: Kgalema Motlanthe
Despite receiving a knighthood from the Queen, Bill Gates cannot use the title "Sir" due to his being American.