South Africa

FIVE MINUTES: South Africa

By Daily Maverick Staff Reporter 15 March 2013

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

ANC CAUCUS WANTS NKANDLA REPORT TO BE SECRET

The ANC wants the report into spending on President Jacob Zuma’s private home at Nkandla held in-camera and tabled before a special committee due to its “sensitive nature”. Caucus spokesman Moloto Mothapo said a “special Parliamentary mechanism should be created to ensure that Parliament deals with the report without compromising the security of the Head of State”. But opposition parties don’t believe there is reason for the Nkandla task team’s report to be kept secret. IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said it was “a matter of public interest, of international public interest. This matter has created quite wide range of interest in the country itself, and I do not think it is right that taxpayers should not know what taxpayer’s money was spent concerning this project”.

NEW JAIL COST LESS THAN NKANDLA SECURITY

The department of public works built a new jail in Kimberley for R777 million, R45 million of which was spent on security. “But it spent R117 million, exactly 260% more, to provide security for one man,” said DA MP Anchen Dreyer in the National Assembly, Sapa reported. Dreyer said contractors were paid R117 million for, among other things, “emergency work relating to security measures” as well as provision of a mobile generator, bullet-resistant glass, a high-security fence and a lift”. Public works minister Thulas Nxesi said spending was still being investigated, but that Dreyer “keeps on coming with information in drips and drabs from her informers”.

MTHETHWA: POLICE MUST RESPECT THE PUBLIC

Police minister Nathi Mthethwa says police brutality against unarmed people will not be tolerated. Mthethwa was meeting Daveyton residents following the death of taxi driver Mido Macia who died in police custody after being tied to a police van and dragged along a road. He said South Africa didn’t want “cop tsotsis” (criminals) and said police had to clean up their act, “or lose the trust of the community”. Mthethwa said police had a responsibility to respect the public. “If there is no such due respect, and as a police officer you are seen to be friends with criminals… the public will categorise you as criminal as well,” he said.

BAD POLICING RESPONSIBLE FOR VIGILANTISM, YOUTH BELIEVE

Young South Africans believe the justice system has let down their communities when it comes to tackling crime, and that vigilante justice and mob justice are acceptable means to punish criminals. Consumer insights company Pondering Panda polled young South Africans on the issue of vigilantism, and found that about 47% of those polled thought people chose to punish criminals themselves because the police were not effective. “With almost four in five finding it acceptable, it is a phenomenon we’re likely to start seeing even more of in communities across the country,” said spokeswoman Shirley Wakefield. A total of 3,756 respondents aged between 15 and 34 were interviewed by cellphone for the survey.

CONFUSION OVER MOTSOENENG’S POSITION AT SABC CONTINUES

Confusion over whether or not controversial SABC acting COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng has been removed from his post continues with the communications minister saying he’s in, and the majority of the SABC board saying he’s out. Dina Pule told SABC radio that Motsoeneng would remain in the position because the board was not properly constituted when it met to make the decision to remove him. But board spokesman Lumke Mtimde said it was properly constituted “and the decision to release Mr Motsoeneng from acting chief operating officer stands”. DA communications spokeswoman Marian Shinn said the SABC board “must defend its right to make executive appointments in the interests of best possible governance of the SABC and should not be dictated to in this regard or beholden to Minister Pule’s political whims”.

POLICE COMMISSIONER REJECTS ‘HURTFUL OBSERVATION’

Police commissioner Riah Phiyega says the allegation that she laughed and joked while footage of the Marikana massacre was being screened was not true and  “was personally a very hurtful observation”. “I reject that with every part and measure of my being… What happened that day [16 August] is regrettable,” Sapa quoted her saying. Phiyega was giving evidence at the Farlam Commission on the role the police played in the events leading up to and on the day when 34 miners were shot dead. Ten people were killed prior to the Marikana killing, including two police officers and two security guards.

HEALTH RESEARCH INITIATIVE TO BOOST PHDS IN SECTOR
A new initiative to boost human resources development in health research and innovation has been launched by Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi. A private/public partnership, the National Health PhD Scholars Programme has R15 million in seed funding (R10 million from the private sector and R5 million from government) that will deliver 1,000 PhDs in health fields over a 10-year period. Motsoaledi he was inspired by a visit to Brazil in 2010 when he saw 800 doctoral students working under one roof. He described the start of such a programme in South Africa as “a dream come true”. Motsoaledi said the scheme would also ”address the dire need for academic healthcare professionals to train and inspire the next generation of healthcare professionals in existing and new universities.”

SOUTH AFRICA MUST PROTECT RIGHTS TO INDIGENOUS PRODUCTS

South Africa must fight for its right to hold on to the Rooibos tea trademark, and prevent a French company from registering it as its own, says an EU diplomat. IOL reports that EU ambassador to South Africa, Roeland van de Geer, said the government should do more to protect rights to indigenous products. The department of trade and industry is preparing to ask for full protection of the rooibos trademark in the European Union, a move that should succeed, said Van de Geer. “If you can’t protect Rooibos, what can you protect?” he asked.

Photo: Nathi Mthethwa (REUTERS)

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