South Africa

FIVE MINUTES: South Africa

By Daily Maverick Staff Reporter 18 March 2013

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

ANC DISBANDS ANC YOUTH LEAGUE LEADERSHIP

The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC has disbanded its equivalent in the ANC Youth League with immediate effect. The party is holding a meeting of its NEC in Pretoria. The Mail & Guardian reported the ANCYL’s acting president, Ronald Lamola, and its deputy secretary general, Kenetswe Mosenogi, were asked to leave the meeting immediately as they were no longer part of the ANC’s executive.  The move came as a shock, said ANCYL members who spoke to the M&G, who had believed the ANC’s top six had decided to spare them after they pledged support to the party’s leadership elected at Mangaung in December. Many think the decision by the NEC is the start of a purge of those who were against President Jacob Zuma retaining leadership of the ANC.

COPPER THEFT TAKES OUT SILVERMINE NAVAL COMMUNICATIONS

The South African Navy’s key communications operation at Silvermine outside Cape Town is incommunicado after copper thieves stripped it of the cables it needs to function. The Sunday Times reported that two large antenna farms at the military base had been dismantled by thieves over the course of a year, culminating in January this year with the navy being unable to communicate with its fleet. DA defence spokesman David Maynier said the theft of over 5,000 metres of copper wire had compromised the command and control of the South African Navy. “There is a reasonable suspicion that the copper theft at Silvermine is an ‘inside job’ and yet there has evidently been no action from the Military Police,” he said. Maynier added that boundary fences have been down since 2011, but that the department of public works hadn’t managed to fix them yet. 

ACTING MAGISTRATES TO ‘AUGMENT JUDICIAL CAPACITY’ DURING STRIKE

The  “unprecedented industrial action” by magistrates belonging to the Judicial Officers Association of South Africa (JOASA) will be mitigated by the appointment of acting magistrates to “augment the judicial capacity”, the department of justice and constitutional development said in a statement. Magistrates across South Africa will postpone criminal and civil trial enrolled before them starting on Monday. The department said the Labour Relations Act does not govern employment conditions of magistrates are meaning, “any illegal industrial action is unlawful”. Magistrates are demanding a single pay structure for the judiciary: one that would have their salaries and benefits put on the same sliding scale as those of judges. Government is offering 5.5% to be implement by 15 April and backdated to 1 April 2012.

RHINO POACHERS ARRESTED IN KZN

Two men were arrested at a roadblock in KwaZulu-Natal with bloody rhino horns in their car. One of the men, Muntungowakhe Khoza of Ulundi, was out on bail on a rhino poaching charge dating back to 2009. The Sunday Tribune said the men were arrested less than a day after two white rhino were killed in the Ezemvelo National Park. Conservationist and lawyer Chris Mercer told the newspaper delayed justice was an “unholy recipe for disaster” in combatting rhino poaching. He said the fact that a man caught “red-handed” over three years ago and released on a “ridiculously low bail” was a travesty of justice. He said over 150 rhino had been killed in the province while Khoza was on bail. His latest case has been remanded until 25 March for further investigation.

SA CATHOLIC BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE SAYS PAEDOPHILIA IS A CRIME

The president of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Stephen Brislin, says paedophilia is a “de facto a criminal offence” and that the Catholic Church in South Africa would  “comply with the legal requirements when such cases come to our attention”. Brislin said the Conference had recently learnt of the interview given by Cardinal Wilfred Napier on BBC Radio 5 but was unable to react, as it had not yet listened to the interview. Cardinal Napier apparently described paedophilia “illness, not a criminal condition” especially when perpetrators had been abused themselves. Brislin said, “Perpetrators must take responsibility for their actions”.

 FAMILIES WAIT TO IDENTIFY BODIES IN HEX RIVER BUS CRASH.

Families of the 24 passengers who died in a bus crash on the Hex River Valley pass have not yet been able to identify bodies, the Weekend Argus reports. A spokesman said forensic investigations were continuing, and that families would return to Worcester on Monday. The double decker bus, owned by Atlantic Charters and Tours, crashed into the mountainside of the steep pass while en route to Cape Town. Most of the passengers were from Khayelitsha and surrounding areas, said Cleeve Robertson, head of Emergency Medical Services. Brake failure was the reason for the crash, surviving passengers said.  Robin Carlisle, MEC for transport in the Western Cape, said an investigation into the accident had been launched. President Jacob Zuma has sent his condolences to families involved in the crash.

MTHETHWA, PHIYEGA MUST BE HELD TO ACCOUNT FOR POLICE BRUTALITY

Police minister Nathi Mthethwa and national police commissioner Riah Phiyega must be held to account for the crisis in which the South African Police Service finds itself. Member of parliament across the political spectrum are furious over the latest brutality visited on a citizen by police in which a court interpreter in North West was dragged behind police van as it drove down a road in Molopo. A spokesman for the Independent Police Investigating Directorate said the policeman had been arrested. ANC MP and acting chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on police, Annelize van Wyk, said the committee would not “shy away” from asking Mthethwa and Phiyego tough questions on problems within the police. DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard both had failed to show leadership on the issue and called for a judicial commission of inquiry into police brutality.

DA CLAIMS FARM STRIKES SPARKED BY BEE-OWNED FARM CUTTING WAGES

The Western Cape should brace itself for another series of farm strikes, says premier Helen Zille, who believes there is a “lull between storms” in the province. She said farm workers fell into four groups of seasonal workers, many of whom are migrants, who lead difficult lives where competition for unskilled labour jobs is tough. She said the ANC saw “a golden opportunity to drive a wedge between two strong sectors of DA support, farmers and farm workers, during the summer strikes. Protests started on a farm that had been taken over by a BEE consortium after the death of the farmer. It cut wages from R14.51 to R10.60 per hour, and then used an ANC councillor, also a labour broker, to bring in scab labour, sparking the protests that spread through the platteland. Rival factions trying to unionise the farmworkers exacerbated the tension. DM

Photo: Rhino poachers have been arrested (REUTERS).

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