South Africa

FIVE MINUTES: South Africa

By Daily Maverick Staff Reporter 5 March 2013

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


The Benoni Magistrate’s Court has postponed the case against eight policemen accused of being responsible for the death of a taxi driver in Daveyton. Magistrate Sam Makamu also agreed the policeman could not be named yet, as requested by the prosecution. Prosecutor December Mthimunye said an identity parade would be held on Thursday so no pictures should be taken that could prejudice the case. Two warrant officers and six constables have been charged with the murder of Mido Macia. They stand accused of tying him to the back of a police van and dragged him along behind the vehicle. He later died in custody. The eight are expected to apply for bail on Friday.


The Free State provincial government has denied it spent R140 million on its website. Director general Elzabe Rockman said the province had signed a contract to redesign the website in 2011 that would cost R40 million. According to the Sowetan, the tender was awarded to businessman Tumi Ntsele. DA leader in the Free State, Patricia Kopane, who called the site “the most expensive in the history of South Africa”, said the party had asked the Auditor General to investigate “abuse” on the part of Free State premier, Ace Magashule. “Premier Magashule is running a campaign to buy media influence and enriching his comrades in business at the same time,” she said, adding that Magashule spent R12 million on his own television channel in the last financial year, the contract for which was also awarded to Ntsele.


The state has opposed bail in the case of an ANC MEC accused of being behind the murder of North West ANC official Obuti Chika. MEC China Dodovu is one of eight men charged with the murder of Chika just days before the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung in December. Sapa reports that over 200 members of the party sang and danced outside the Klerksdorp Magistrate’s Court opposing bail for the men. One placard read, “No bail for China”. Prosecutor Riekie Krause said the state had a strong case against Dodovu, who held three passports. Krause also claimed several of the accused had not disclosed that they had previous convictions and pending cases. The case has been adjourned until Tuesday.


The SABC board has denied reports that former SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng has been reinstated. In a statement, the board said reports were “regrettable” as  “neither the chairman nor the deputy chairman nor both have the power or authority to unilaterally change a board resolution”, it said.  However, The New Age reported earlier that board chairman Dr Ben Ngubane had confirmed Motsoeneng’s reinstatement, saying “the status quo remains”. But the SABC board said the “so called ‘withdrawal’ of letters signed by the deputy chairman Thami Ka Plaatjie (on behalf of the board) does not have any effect on the board resolution taken at a properly convened board meeting”.

Earlier, the DA called the Motsoeneng issue an  “a shambolic state of affairs that does no credit to the board or the SABC”.


The Democratic Alliance is to table a private members bill in Parliament that proposes changes to South Africa’s electoral system. MP James Selfe said while the current system had its advantages, the weakness of proportional representation lay in the lack of accountability by MPs to the voters. Selfe said the DA proposed an “a mixed system of constituencies and lists to guarantee proportionality to get that constitutional prescription adhered to”. But ANC chief whip, Mathole Motshekga, said it was regrettable that those who have “resuscitated this debate have entered into it from a narrow and populist perspective”. He said the system “allows for fair representation and gives a voice to all”. Dr Mamphela Ramphele, at the launch of her party political platform, Agang, said she was about to embark on a campaign to overhaul the country’s electoral system.


The judge in the trial of Knysna businessman Adrian Wilson-Forbes has ruled some evidence against him be heard in camera in the Thembalethu Magistrate’s Court in George. Media have been barred from covering the proceedings. Prosecutor Evadne Kortje said evidence by the Cyber Crime Intelligence Unit could jeopardise the victims’ identities and privacy. Wilson-Forbes is accused of statutory rape, abduction, indecent assault, trafficking persons for sexual purposes, and making child pornography.  Judge Patricia Goliath ruled that the evidence be presented in camera. Wilson-Forbes allegedly abducted an 11-year-old boy from the Garden Route mall in George in 2001, who years later took photographs of Wilson-Forbes engaged in sexual acts with an eight-year-old girl to the police.


Police are starting to win the battle against copper theft, a crime that costs the economy millions of rands every year. The South African Chamber of Commerce (Sacci) said copper theft sank to its lowest level since 2009 in January. The organisation’s Copper Theft Barometer was R11.1 million in January this year compared to R12.4 million in December, Sacci said in a statement. “The progress already made against copper theft in 2012 by way of improved police co-operation with social partners, as well as the ground-breaking institutional work done with the Second-hand Goods Act, should spill over into 2013. The outlook is therefore very positive,” said Sacci.


Parliament’s portfolio committee on police has strongly condemned a shortage of DNA kits for rape cases at police stations. “This is totally unacceptable, and we as the committee strongly condemn the shortage of these kits,” the committee said in a statement. Media has reported that police stations are running out of DNA kits, and that some are even using expired kits. The committee has urged police commissioner Riah Phiyega to sort out the situation, and has written to her to ask that the matter be addressed urgently. “The high incidence of rape around the country makes the situation untenable, and we urge the [national] commissioner to resolve this,” the committee said. “Without rape kits we lose crucial evidence, which is key to the successful prosecution of rapists.” DM

Photo: The Free State provincial website


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