A round-up of the day’s news from South Africa.
M23 REBELS WARN SANDF OF ‘APOCALYPTIC AND CATASTROPHIC’ REACTION
Just days after South Africa buried 13 soldiers killed in the Central African Republic (CAR), the SANDF will be deploying more than 1,000 troops to the Eastern front of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). City Press reports leader of the M23 rebels in the DRC, Bertrand Bisimwa, warning President Jacob Zuma that the rebels don’t want to “kill our brothers from South Africa”, but that should South Africa’s special forces attack them, “it will be catastrophic and apocalyptic”. The threat was issued via M23’s Twitter account. The SANDF troops are part of an UN-approved multilateral regional offensive force that includes soldiers from Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania. The SANDF has confirmed the deployment, but not discussed numbers of troops.
DA: IS THE SANDF GOING TO WAR IN THE DRC?
The Democratic Alliance says Parliament has not been told about the reported deployment of South African National Defence Force (SANDF) troops to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Defence spokesman David Maynier said the deployment was not a peacekeeping mission but a “peace enforcement mission”. He said the United Nation’s ‘specialised intervention brigade’ was authorised to conduct offensive operations and that its mission in the DRC was to “neutralise and disarm” the rebels. “If the reports are correct, then the SANDF will, to put it simply, be going to war against rebels in the DRC,” Maynier said in a statement. “We cannot be kept in the dark any longer. The President must tell us what is going on,” he said.
MINERS VICTIMISED FOR BEING MEMBERS OF THE ‘REVOLUTION’
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe has told members of the National Union of Mineworkers that they’re being victimised by mine owners not because they’re members of the NUM but because they’re loyal members of the “revolution”, Sapa reports. Speaking at a lecture in Rustenburg, Mantashe said mines wanted the NUM destroyed because it was “fighting against exploitation”. Reacting the closure of some NUM offices on mines, Mantashe said companies should leave them open and allow emerging unions to open offices too. He said this would help create peace and stability on the mines. The NUM has lost members since the violent strikes at Impala Platinum in February last year, and at Anglo American Platinum and Lonmin Platinum mine in August and September.
R25 MILLION RHINO HORNS STOLEN IN LIMPOPO HEIST
Over R25 million worth of rhino horns have been stolen from the Leshoka Thabang Game Reserve in northern Limpopo. In what is believed to be the biggest horn heist in South Africa, 66 horns that had been removed from rhinos on the reserve to protect them from poachers were stolen from a safe after the thieves used a blowtorch to gain access. Owner Johan van Zyl told Beeld it was a “perfectly planned” robbery and that the thieves knew what they were doing. Van Zyl said he had permits for horn removal and storage but was not allowed to sell them. Police spokeswoman Colonel Ronel Otto said no arrests had been made.
BALLOON MAN FLOATS FROM ROBBEN ISLAND TO CAPE TOWN
A man has flown from Robben Island to Cape Town using 160 helium-filled balloons to make the flight. Matt Silver-Vallance undertook the stunt to raise money for the building of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital. Silver-Vallance said the trip was “scarier than anticipated”. Wind conditions compelled him to let go of the balloons just short his target of landing beyond the breakers but Silver-Vallance dropped on to a rubber duck, after being pulled down by rescue boats. “I got to about one thousand feet [above sea level], about the height of Table Mountain,” he said. A navy boat, from which journalists were viewing the feat, sounded four blasts from a foghorn to congratulate him on the feat.
NO ARRESTS YET IN GASA MURDER
KwaZulu-Natal police have not yet made an arrest in the case of the murder of Durban businessman Nhlanhla Gasa. Sapa reports that police are hunting a suspect, but can’t release information due to the sensitivity of the case. Lieutenant Colonel Vincent Mdunge said officers were “working hard on the ground”. He told the Sunday Times police had identified a man they believe is implicated in the murder of Gasa, a close associate of President Jacob Zuma who is also linked to Fana Hlongwane, the man associated with arms deal irregularities. Gasa was killed in his home, and his body removed before being dumped in the Tugela River.
TOURISM DEPARTMENT UNDER INVESTIGATION BY MADONSELA
The latest government department to come to the attention of Public protector Thuli Madonsela’s office is the national department of tourism. Oupa Segale, Madonsela’s spokesman, told the Sunday Independent an investigation into financial mismanagement was being undertaken after a complaint from the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu). Chairman Nthabeleng Chokoe said unnecessary expenditure included IT equipment, appliances and furniture, two Audis and art such as paintings and sculptures. But director general Kingley Makhubela disputes the claims, saying the auditor general had cleared the department and the Public Protector’s investigation was the result of “bitter” union members.
DISMEMBERED ARM LEADS POLICE TO MUTILATED BODY
A man who pulled an arm out of a freezer in a Limpopo shop has led police to the mutilated body of a Pakistani woman in a nearby mountainous area. The man shocked shoppers in Makhado when he took the arm from a freezer, and demanded a share of R70,000 from the shop’s owners that he said they promised him for his part in the murder. Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said the man was arrested immediately and then led police to the woman’s body. Her arm, eyes and private parts were missing. Two men and a woman have been arrested in connection with the murder, and police are looking for the woman’s boyfriend, also believed to being part of the plot. DM
Photo: South Africa’s Matt Silver-Vallance takes off to fly above the sea using helium filled balloons from the airfield of Robben Island across the Atlantic Ocean in Cape Town April 6, 2013. Vallance made the 7 km flight to raise funds and awareness for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital. Mandela left hospital on Saturday after more than a week of treatment of pneumonia that raised global concern about the health of the 94-year-old anti-apartheid leader. REUTERS/Mark Wessels
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