South Africa

FIVE MINUTES: South Africa

By Daily Maverick Staff Reporter 8 March 2013

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


Dirk Coetzee has died. The man who co-founded and commanded the covert South African Police unit based at Vlakplaas died of cancer at his home in Pretoria. The Star reported that Piet Croucamp, a lecturer in politics at the University of Johannesburg, said Coetzee had died of kidney failure. Head of the Missing Persons Task Team at the National Prosecuting Authority, Madeleine Fullard, tweeted on Wednesday night: “Just heard that former Vlakplaas commander Dirk Coetzee has died. Still needed him to point out one last site.” The Truth and Reconciliation Commission tasked Fullard’s team to find the remains of a number of activists who were killed by units under Coetzee’s command. He was granted amnesty by the TRC in 1997.


President Jacob Zuma has warned against calling all South Africans violent, saying the majority of the country’s 52 million citizens are “are peaceful, caring, law-abiding citizens”, Sapa reported. Speaking at to the National House of Traditional Leaders at Parliament, Zuma condemned violent crime in South Africa, and said there were elements that “conducted themselves in a shocking and unacceptable manner”. He said while expressing outrage, “we should be careful not to then paint all South Africans as violent and brutal. We should be careful not to rubbish our country”. Zuma said the outrage expressed by the people at such recent violence was most welcome as it indicated South Africans had not lost their sense of right and wrong. He said South Africans needed to work closely together to find solutions.


The draft Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill (MPRDA) has been gazetted without proper public consultation and participation, says the Bench Marks Foundation. Executive director, John Capel, said most civil society and community-based organisations were on leave at the time, limiting meaningful participation and input. Capel said the Foundation was “disappointed to note that none of the key recommendations we shared with the presidency, parliament, the department of mineral resources had been incorporated in the proposed amendments to the legislation”. He said the Foundation believed “there should be tighter legislation regarding conflict of interest. Senior politicians and civil servants should be barred from serving on boards of mining companies or even as BEE partners and shareholders”.


Graça Machel has warned that “increasing institutionalisation of violence” was creating a police force “actively aggressive towards a defenceless public”. The Times reported that the former first lady of South Africa and Mozambique said South Africa was “an angry nation” that was “on the precipice of something very dangerous with the potential of not being able to stop the fall”. The wife of former president Nelson Mandela was speaking at the memorial service of Daveyton taxi driver Mido Macia, a Mozambican. He was found dead in police custody after being dragged behind a police van. Eight policemen have been arrested in connection with his murder. ANC secretary general, Gwede Mantashe, called his murder a “xenophobic killing”.


Houses for miners should be the responsibility of municipalities, not mining houses, says political economist Moeletsi Mbeki. In a speech prepared for the SA Institute of International Affairs in East London, Mbeki said “housing of mine workers must become the responsibility of the municipalities where the mines are located, in partnership with private formal sector property developers”. He said provincial governments should stipulate the minimum standards and quality of town planning, as this would be an improvement on governments RDP houses. He said the model also be extended to housing for farm workers.


Public service minister Lindiwe Sisulu has announced that an anti-corruption bureau is to be created to fast track disciplinary cases in the public sector. Sisulu said the bureau would form part of the amendments to the Public Service Act, which includes banning public servants from doing business with government. She believes a key challenge for her department is the time it takes to hold officials to account at disciplinary hearings. Too often, they are booked off work for long periods, on full salary, which costs the state and taxpayers millions of rands. Sisulu said government also battled with public officials found guilty of an offence who, once fired, take up positions in other government departments or agencies. A central database would be set up to list officials that are removed from office once found guilty of an offence. Sisulu said the bureau would complete disciplinary hearings should a department fail to resolve a case within a prescribed time.


It’s time to sell Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane’s official house in Bryanston, says the Democratic Alliance. The party was reacting to a report in Beeld that confirmed the house would need maintenance costing R7.5 million over three years. Spokesman Jack Bloom said Mokonyane’s house was bought for R11.5 million and had already had R13.5 million spent on it. He questioned why it had cost more to repair than it was bought for, saying it should be sold off as soon as possible and the proceeds used to benefit the people of Gauteng. Bloom has applied to find out the names of the companies involved, using the Promotion of Access to Information Act, as infrastructure development MEC Qedani Mahlangu had refused to disclose their names.  


The police ministry has decided to appeal an August 2011 Western Cape High Court decision of malicious prosecution brought against it by former murder accused Fred van der Vyver. Sapa reports the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein will hear arguments on whether requirements had been proved and whether the police minister could be held liable for the damage caused to Van der Vyver. Van der Vyver was accused of the murder of his girlfriend, Inge Lotz, in 2005. He was later found not guilty, and sued the police for R46 million. Judge Anton Veldhuizen, who heard the damages case, said the decision to prosecute Van der Vyver was based on the opinion of an expert involved in the investigation, and that this was “not worth the paper that it was written on”. DM

Photo: Graca Machel, the Mozambican wife of former president Nelson Mandela, looks on during the memorial service of 27-year-old taxi driver Mido Macia in Daveyton, east of Johannesburg March 6, 2013. (REUTERS)


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