A round-up of the day's news from South Africa.
PULE CLAIMS JOURNALISTS BEING USED IN PLOT TO BLACKMAIL HER
Journalists writing reports about her were part of a plot to blackmail her, communications minister Dina Pule says. The minister called a press conference on Monday to respond to a number of allegations against her. Pule has been accused of leaning on sponsors to support the ICT Indaba in Cape Town, misappropriation of ICT Indaba sponsor money (her boyfriend Phosane Mngqibisa was paid R6 million for his part) and interfering in senior appointments at the state owned enterprises under her watch, including the SABC. Pule said these were part of a “sophisticated plot” to blackmail her over the upcoming tender for set-top boxes required for South Africa’s migration to digital terrestrial television. She said the newspaper’s “handlers” were “high profile business people and politicians” who wanted President Jacob Zuma to fire her.
DID COMMUNICATIONS MINISTER FOLLOW DUE PROCESS?
Communications minister Dina Pule had a hand in ensuring a recruitment company with links to her boyfriend won a R2.6 million job with her department without due process, the Sunday Times claims. Pule is to face parliament’s ethics committee next week over a raft of allegations. The newspaper said it has a paper trail that shows how Pule’s boyfriend Phosane Mngqibisa is linked to Mindworx via the minister’s internal project manager, Andiswa Booysen. Booysen originally worked for Mindworx before moving to Mngqibisa’s company, Khemano. Mindworx was recruited to fill senior positions at the Post Office, Sentech, and the Universal Access Agency, among others. The Sunday Times reported that the company recruited at least five friends of Pule and Mngqibisa.
QUARTER OF SA POLICE STATIONS RUN BY UNQUALIFIED COMMANDERS
Unqualified commanders run a quarter of South Africa’s police stations, Parliament’s portfolio committee on police has heard during a four-day presentation by the South African Police Service. Sapa reported that of 1,133 station commanders, only 817 had completed the required training course; only 1,019 crime intelligence officers out of 7,938 have security clearance certificates; and out of 23,960 detectives, 19,235 were only trained in basic crime investigations. ANC MP and chair of the committee, Annelize van Wyk, said the police service could not carry on this way. “They are dealing with human beings.
“They are dealing with the resources, they are dealing with crime and they clearly are not capable of doing so,” she said.
LOAD SHEDDING ON THE CARDS THIS WINTER, SAYS ESKOM
Power utility Eskom says it is prepared to introduce rolling blackouts this winter in some parts of the grid to prevent a complete system collapse, which would inflict far greater damage on the economy. Chief executive Brian Dames said Eskom could not rule out ‘load shedding’ as the utility wrestles with soaring demand in the winter against limited supply. “We will take whatever measures we need. It means if we get close, we will drop the load. We will drop the customers and protect the country,” Dames told a news conference, adding he would work to avoid system-wide problems “at all costs”. The system will be under greater strain in the 2013 winter than a year ago because a massive maintenance backlog on Eskom’s ageing power stations has forced the utility to continue repair work beyond the summer.
RAMPHELE: PUBLIC DISTRUST IN POLITICAL LEADERSHIP HINDERS GROWTH
South Africa’s economic growth was being hindered by “widespread public mistrust in and disillusionment with the current political leadership”, says Agang leader, Dr Mamphela Ramphele. Speaking to an investment conference in Cape Town, Ramphele said while the global economic downturn played its part, “domestic economic factors such as an uncompetitive industrial base, high production costs, poor and inadequate infrastructure, inflexible labour markets, poor education system and skills shortages” were also responsible for South Africa lagging behind the rest of Africa. She said a “sharp deterioration in the political environment” has played a key role too as “concerns about maladministration, growing corruption and moral degeneration” had had an impact.
WITS LECTURER ON SPECIAL LEAVE AFTER SEXUAL HARASSMENT CLAIMS
Another University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) professor has been placed on special leave after allegedly sexually harassing his students, The Times reported. A Wits spokesman, Sharona Patel, confirmed that a senior lecturer in the political studies department had been put on special leave and escorted off the campus. Rupert Taylor was accused of making sexual advances to students via SMSes and social networking sites. He is the second lecturer to have been put on special leave. Earlier this year, dramatic arts deputy head Tshepo Wa Mamatu accused of molesting female students at rehearsals and auditions. Taylor has denied the claims. In an email to the campus newsletter, he said they were “devoid of any truth, and defamatory”.
ANENE BOOYSEN CASE POSTPONED UNTIL MAY
The case against two men of raping and murdering Anene Booysen has been postponed. The men, Jonathan Davids and Johannes Kana, appeared briefly in the Bredasdorp Regional Court on Monday morning and will remain in custody until the case is heard in May. The state asked for the postponement as it is awaiting forensic analysis and cellphone record vital to it case. Booysen, only 17 at the time of her death, was raped and mutilated and died shortly after identifying one of her alleged attackers. A group of protestors aligned with a drug rehabilitation stood outside. Chief executive of Tehillah, Magda Kleyn, said they were establishing a substance abuse outpatient clinic in the small town.
GUNMEN ATTEMPT TO HIJACK EC POLICE COMMISSIONER’S CAR
A group of armed men have shot at the car belonging to the Eastern Cape’s police commissioner, Lieutenant General Celiwe Binta. She was not hurt in the attempted hijacking. Eastern Cape safety and liaison spokesperson, Lwandile Sicwetsha told the Daily Dispatch five armed men “forced the driver to stop, one then fired a round towards the commissioner’s vehicle. The bullet penetrated the front driver’s window and exited through the front passenger’s window”. The gunmen tried to hijack Binta’s BMW X3 at an intersection near Lingelitsha township. Sicwetsha said although the driver was injured by broken glass, he ”managed to pull off and maintained control of the vehicle and drove to the Berlin police station”. DM
Photo: Communications minister Dina Pule, pictured here with Lindiwe Sisulu (Leonie Marinovich, NewsFire).
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