A round-up of the day’s news from South Africa.
ZUMA: ‘UNFOUNDED ALLEGATIONS’ PEDDLED OVER CAR MISSION
President Jacob Zuma has lambasted critics of government’s decision to deploy troops to the Central African Republic at a memorial service for 13 soldiers who died there. Zuma said there had been a “deliberate attempt to cast doubt and distort the purpose of Operation Vimbezela, our mission in CAR” and that some people were “by peddling various unfounded allegations and conspiracy theories”. The Times newspaper earlier reported that Zuma’s nephew, Khulubuse Zuma, owned two companies – Caprikat and Foxwhelp, both registered in the Virgin Islands – that were linked to large-scale oil prospecting in the region.
TROOPS WERE ‘DISCIPLINED TIGERS’ WHO HELD THEIR GROUND
The commanding officer of the 13 soldiers killed in the Central African Republic says the troops were ambushed on their way back to base. Major Stephen Jiyane told a memorial service for the soldiers in Pretoria the troops were “disciplined tigers” that stood their ground and fought. He said “the grass and the bushes of Bangui provided cover for us in the dark hours of the night”. Jiyane said they “fought like lions until the end”, and appealed to the media and public to show respect for the soldiers’ families. DA leader Helen Zille paid tribute to the troops, saying the sacrifice they made was “incalculable”. “South Africa will never forget their bravery,” she said.
SARS GROWS TAX INCOME BY OVER NINE PERCENT
Finance minister Pravin Gordhan says the South African Revenue Service has collected 9.6% more tax last year than the year before. “This is an admirable revenue performance,” Gordhan said, marking the start of a new financial year. Gordhan said total revenue was R814.1 billion, up from the R742.6 billion collected during 2011/12 and R4 billion over the 2013 revised estimate. He said SARS had performed well, despite the current global economic environment and domestic supply side disruptions, particularly in the mining sector. The three main revenue contributors were personal income tax of R276.8 billion, corporate income tax, which grew 5.1% (R7.8 billion) to R161.1 billion; and value added tax (VAT), which rose by 12.8%, to R215.5 billion.
WHITE MALE GAUTENGERS SA’S HIGHEST EARNERS
Research by the South African Institute for Race Relations (SAIRR) has shown white men living in Gauteng are the highest earners in South Africa, and young African women in Limpopo the lowest. The SAIRR analysed information from Statistics SA. “It must be noted, however, that it takes into account those who earn salaries only,” said researcher Georgina Alexander in a statement. “The largest and most enduring inequality in South Africa is between those who are employed and those who are not.” The research revealed, “Median wages of white earners are four times as high as those of African earners, of skilled employees six times as high as those of unskilled employees, and of unionised employees twice as high as those of non-unionised workers”.
ZIMBABWEAN BEN MAGARA NEW HEAD OF LONMIN
Platinum producer Lonmin has appointed Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) executive Ben Magara as its new chief executive. Magara, who will start in July, will be tasked with guiding Lonmin’s turnaround and improving industrial relations at the company after illegal strikes last year triggered violence that killed 46 people, including 34 strikers shot dead by police in a single day at its Marikana mine. Magara, a Zimbabwean national, is believed to have invaluable experience of South Africa’s highly-charged labour and political environment, in which mining executives do not have just investors to please. Lonmin had been searching for a new chief executive since the end of last year, when Ian Farmer officially stepped aside due to illness.
SYLVIA LUCAS NEW ANC PREMIER OF NORTHERN CAPE
Northern Cape premier Hazel Jenkins is to officially step down on medical grounds, and will be replaced by current the MEC for environmental affairs and nature conservation, Sylvia Lucas. ANC spokeswoman Gail Parker said the party had consulted with Jenkins’ family over her decision to be medically boarded. Parker said after taking medical opinions on Jenkins’ health, the ANC decided she was “not able to be employed in full capacity”. Jenkins collapsed in 2012 while delivering the State of the Province Address. She suffered from a brain aneurism. Lucas will be inaugurated within the next few days.
SANDF CHOPPER WASN’T SHOT DOWN, SAYS SANDF
The Agusta A109 light utility helicopter that crashed in the Kruger National Park on Saturday was not shot down, says SANDF spokesman Brigadier-General Xolani Mabanga. All five soldiers on board died in the crash. They were taking part in an aerial patrol as part of Operation Rhino. Mabanga told the Daily News a preliminary investigation would establish the sequence of events and that a broader board of inquiry, involving the military, police and engineers from AgustaWestland, would determine the cause of the crash. A South African representative of the helicopter’s manufacturers said they were ready to send a team from Italy or South Africa to help in the investigation, but had not yet been contacted by authorities.
POLICE SHOULD INVESTIGATE IF SINDANE’S MURDER WAS A HATE CRIME
The Democratic Alliance says police should investigate whether Happy Sindane was the victim of a hate crime. Police said they suspected he was stoned to death. National spokesman Mmusi Maimane said Sindane’s death was “deeply worrying”, and that the circumstances of his murder “clearly suggest that it could have been a hate crime”. Sindane made headlines 10 years ago when he claimed a black family kidnapped him from his white parents when he was six years old. In the meantime, Eyewitness News reported that Sindane’s relatives are battling to make sense of his murder, and trying to understand what could have been the motive. His birth mother, Rina Mziyaye, is dead, as are his foster parents, Thomas Banda and Betty Sindane. DM
Photo: Happy Sindane (R), a South African teenager who claimed that he was kidnapped from his white family and raised in a black township, appears in court in Bronkhorstspruit, east of Pretoria, May 26, 2003. (REUTERS)
King Tutankhamun's ceremonial dagger is forged from meteorites.