A round-up of the day’s news from South Africa.
ZUMA DISPUTES NEED FOR INQUIRY INTO POLICE BRUTALITY
President Jacob Zuma doesn’t believe there is a need for a commission of inquiry into police brutality. In response to a question by the Democratic Alliance in Parliament, Zuma said the “incidents that we all condemn are very few” and that a commission wasn’t required to investigate those few occurrences. “Those who violate the law: actions have been taken. They’re in prison. They’re being charged. I don’t think the situation as I see it warrants a commission of inquiry,” he said. Zuma said police minister Nathi Mthethwa had strengthened civilian oversight over the police, including strengthening the watchdog Independent Police Investigative Directorate.
ZILLE: ZUMA MUST MOVE BEYOND POLITICS AND PROTECT CITIZENS
Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille says President Jacob Zuma must move beyond party politics and protect citizens from police brutality and abuse of power. Speaking in Sharpeville on Human Rights Day, site of a police massacre of pass protestors in 1960, Zille said Zuma should establish a judicial commission of inquiry into policing countrywide. The Bill of Rights provided that everyone had a right to freedom and security and the Constitution required police to protect and secure citizens. “It is therefore tragic that we now face an equally serious problem of increasing incidents of police brutality across our country,” she said. She drew parallels between the Marikana massacre where 34 protesters were shot dead by the police, to what happened in Sharpeville 53 years ago. Zille said the Independent Police Investigative Directorate received 4,923 complaints against the police and of those 720 were deaths.
POLICEMAN GRANTED BAIL IN MOHLALA DRAGGING CASE
The Mmabatho Magistrate’s Court has released on bail the policeman accused of dragging a court interpreter, Morgan Mohlala, alongside his vehicle. Beeld reported that Sergeant Mbali Phetha was granted R1 000 bail by magistrate Seth Mmushi . He faces a charge of attempted murder. Bonisile Koliya, a senior investigator at the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, said Phetha and another officer were called to a tuck shop in Setlopo village, near Mmabatho, after a young man and the shop’s owner had had an argument. The man complained to Mohlala – who was nearby – that the police had harassed him. Mohlala then told him to come to his house so he could explain how to lodge a complaint against the officers. Phetha, sitting in the police van, overheard this and allegedly grabbed Mohlala by the neck and dragged him about 100m while driving.
AG WILL INVESTIGATE FREE STATE WEBSITE COSTS, TENDER
The auditor general will be investigating Free State Premier Ace Magashule’s R140 million website, DA leader in the Free State, Patricia Kopane, says. “In response to the DA’s request [for an investigation], the AG said that the website will be included in an investigation of a sample of contracts awarded by Premier Magashule’s Office,” Kopane said in a statement. She said the party had asked for an investigation after it emerged that the website price was significantly inflated, with indications that there may have been serious irregularities in the awarding of the tender. “Massive amounts of public money cannot be used to enrich Premier Magashule’s allies in business while service delivery projects in the Free State continue to suffer,” she said.
MAZIBUKO SKEPTICAL OF ZUMA’S NKANDLAGATE NON-ANSWERS
President Jacob Zuma has denied ever receiving a letter addressed to him from the former minister of public works, Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde, setting out the details of the upgrade at his home in Nkandla. But DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko is sceptical. “How is it that a letter from a cabinet minister, addressed to the President, could not have been received and read by the President’s office?” she asked. She said she would request a full explanation as to who that could happen, and a report to parliament setting out the details. “The President’s attempt to tap dance around MP’s questions today points to a fundamental problem: there was obviously an effort to inform him about the details of the upgrade –including the non-security items (as contained in the letter). But the President took no active steps to establish why such exorbitant developments were taking place at his private home,” Mazibuko said.
CAPE TOWN TO CHALLENGE TOLLS ON N1, N2 HIGHWAYS
The City of Cape Town will challenge the South African National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral) over its plans to implement tolls on the N1 and the N2 roads. The Argus reported that the city was “gravely concerned” by Sanral’s decision, which it received on 6 March. The notification said Sanral intended concluding a concession contract with its preferred bidder, Protea Parkway Consortium, and that work would begin after 20 April. But the N1/N2 Winelands Toll Highway Project is on hold, pending the conclusion of an earlier legal challenge by the city.
Mayoral committee member for transport, roads and stormwater Brett Herron said Sanral had refused to provide detailed information on the project, such as the costs, the toll fees, impacts on road users and the local economy.
PROFESSOR KARABUS FOUND NOT GUILTY IN UAE COURT
Professor Cyril Karabus is not guilty of charges of manslaughter and falsifying documents, a court in the United Arab Emirates court has found. Spokesman for the department of international relations and co-operation, Clayson Monyela, said the government was “quite pleased that finally he is a free man”. Sapa reported that earlier this week, a UAE medical review committee had absolved Karabus from all blame. He was convicted in absentia in the UAE on charges of manslaughter and falsifying documents after the death of a three-year-old cancer patient and sentenced, in absentia, to three years in jail. The state has two weeks to appeal the judgment.
POLICE ARREST MEN WITH MILLIONS RANDS WORTH DAGGA
Police have arrested two men with dagga valued at R3.7 million. The dagga was found on two men in Bhisho in the Eastern Cape police said. Spokeswoman Siphokazi Mawisa said the men, aged 56 and 26, were arrested on the R63 around 2am after failing to stop when police tried to search the car. “Police spotted a white vehicle with tinted windows next to Bhisho Stadium at about 2am this morning. Police tried to stop the vehicle, but the driver started to drive fast and [police] gave chase,” she said. Police found 27 bags full of dagga weighing 307kg to the value of R3.7 million. “The driver wanted to bribe the official by showing him cash. Police immediately arrested him for bribery and possession of dagga,” she said. DM
Photo: President Jacob Zuma doesn’t believe there is a need for a commission of inquiry into police brutality. (REUTERS)
King Tutankhamun's ceremonial dagger is forged from meteorites.