South Africa

FIVE MINUTES: South Africa

By Daily Maverick Staff Reporter 26 March 2013

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


President Jacob Zuma has confirmed that at least 13 South African soldiers were killed, one soldier is missing and another 27 were wounded in fighting with rebels in Central African Republic. Zuma said the death toll was the worst combat losses for South Africa’s military since 1994. He said it was a “sad moment for our country” but that the “actions of these bandits will not deter us from our responsibility of working for peace and stability in Africa”. The SANDF’s General Solly Shoke said 200 South African soldiers fought over 3,000 rebels in a battle lasting between 13 and 18 hours. He said the rebels eventually raised a white flag and negotiated surrender. Zuma said South Africa had no plans to withdraw troops, saying there was “no reason” for the SANDF to leave.


A full-scale inquiry into the “disaster” in the Central African Republic must be launched, says Democratic Alliance defence spokesman, David Maynier. He said speaker Max Sisulu should appoint a multi-party ad hoc committee that included members of the portfolio committee on international relations and co-operation and the joint standing committee on defence, to look into the SANDF’s “military assistance operation” in CAR. Maynier said the reason given for the “highly questionable” deployment – that SANDF was to assist with capacity building – was “never plausible”. Maynier said the priority now was to withdraw the army from CAR. Secretary of the South African National Defence Union, Pikkie Greeff, has also called on President Jacob Zuma to withdraw “our troops with immediate effect, even if it entails launching a military offense to relieve our troops in distress”.


Pakistani protestors gathered outside the Mitchells Plein Magistrate’s Court on Monday to demand that no bail be granted to the men accused of killing four Pakistani businessmen last week. The Argus reported that many held placards reading ‘No bail stay in jail’ and ‘We want justice’. Police reported two more men were arrested over the weekend in connection with the case, thought to be linked to a business dispute. Another man, Lehano Jansen, from Lentegeur, appeared in court on Friday. The gunmen invaded a home in Rocklands, Mitchells Plein, last week, and opened fire on people in the house, killing four Pakistani nationals. Police spokesman Tembinkosi Kinana said the suspects would face charges ranging from murder, attempted murder and house robbery.


The department of communications (DoC) has come out in defence of minister Dina Pule, saying it was “astounded” by the Sunday Times’ “extraordinary attack and persistent smear campaign” it was waging against the minister.  In a statement, the DoC said Pule intended approaching the Press Ombudsman, as she believed the newspaper had breached the Press Code. The DoC said the paper had run a series of “fabricated” stories designed to tarnish Pule’s reputation The DoC said the “malicious suggestion made by the Sunday Times that the Minister has ceded control of her portfolio to person outside the department is a serious insult”. The paper said Pule’s boyfriend, Phosane Mnqibisa, was the power behind Pule’s throne, and influenced decisions on top-level appointments at the SABC.


Advocate Ishmael Semenya has told the Farlam Commission of inquiry that the sangoma believed to have performed rituals on protesting Marikana miners has been shot dead. Semenya, who is representing the police at the hearings, said the sangoma was shot in Sunday. Semenya said police had been trying to bring the sangoma to Rustenburg, where the hearings are taking place, to testify as a witness. Semenya said it was with “a deep sense of shock to learn about the assassination of the sangoma [implicated] in the Marikana muti rituals. He was gunned down in the early hours of yesterday morning”. Farlam said the murder was “obviously a serious matter”.


The Democratic Alliance is challenging in the Constitutional Court the ANC’s blocking of its motion of no-confidence motion in November last year. Parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said the DA believed a member’s right to move a motion of no-confidence and have it debated within a reasonable time-frame should not be subject to any form of political interference. She said the ANC blocked her motion on political grounds, despite it being her constitutional right to exercise it. “While the ANC believes otherwise, the DA firmly holds that there should be no political or procedural impediment to the National Assembly debating a motion of no-confidence,” Mazibuko said. “We cannot have a situation in which any committee of the National Assembly, as it happened in this case with the programming committee, can block parliament from having meaningful debates on critical issues… “


Zimbabwean bank robbers Bongani Moyo and Khumbulani Sibanda have been given long jail sentences after being convicted of robbing six banks in six weeks. Moyo, the man known as a “serial escapee” after his frequent escapes from custody, was sentenced to 62 years while Sibanda received a 55-year sentence. Charges against the two included racketeering, bank robbery, and escaping from custody. The robberies took place in April and May 2011, and started after they escaped from the Boksburg prison, where they were aided by warders.  Judge Natvarlal Ranchod said aggravating factors were that semi-automatic firearms were used and that the robberies were meticulously planned while the two were in prison for other offences.


Miners at Exxaro’s coal mines in Limpopo and Mpumalanga have returned to work after a three-week wildcat strike. SABC reported that National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and management reached an agreement over the weekend ending the strike. Over 4,000 miners laid down tools demanding performance bonuses. The back-to-work deal incudes a will receive a short term incentive of R2,800. Exxaro spokeswoman Reetha Piater said the mines were dong everything possible to start production. The illegal strike threatened supply of coal to Eskom. Exxaro is Eskom’s second-largest coal supplier. “We have been able to supply the power station with all the necessary requirements. Now we will have to just build up our stock coal again,” Piater said. DM

Photo: Fighters of the Seleka rebel coalition stand in front of the presidential palace in Bangui March 25, 2013. President Jacob Zuma has confirmed that at least 13 South African soldiers were killed, one soldier is missing and another 27 were wounded in fighting with rebels in Central African Republic. (REUTERS)


In other news...

July 18 marks Nelson Mandela day. All over the country, South African citizens devote 67 minutes to charitable causes in memory of Madiba. It's a great initiative and one of those few occasions in South Africa where we come together as a nation in pursuit of a common cause. An annual 67 minutes isn't going to cut it though.

In the words of Madiba: "A critical, independent and investigative free press is the lifeblood of any democracy."

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