South Africa

FIVE MINUTES: South Africa

By Daily Maverick Staff Reporter 7 May 2013

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


Twelve employees South Africa’s state-owned arms manufacturer Denel have been taken hostage in Senegal. The nine men and three women, all Senegalese citizens, work at Denel’s demining company, Mechem. Spokeswoman Vuyelwa Qinga said Denel was working with official United Nations channels as well as through the Senegalese government. “The issue is being handled at the highest level and the company is confident that a solution will soon be found,” she said in a statement. Earlier, responding to reports by international news agencies, international relations spokesman Clayson Monyela said no South Africans had been taken hostage, but did not clarify that the hostages worked for a state-owned South African company.


Just as South Africa and Vietnam signed an action plan to combat rhino poaching, the customs officials seized seven kilos of rhino horn worth an estimated R3.3 million, were found hidden in the luggage of a passenger arriving at Ho Chi Minh City on a flight from Doha. Sales of rhino horn are illegal, but a hundred grams costs up to R45,000 on the black market in Vietnam. Water and environmental affairs deputy minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi and Socialist Republic of Vietnam deputy minister of agriculture and rural development, Ha Cong Tuan, signed the implementation plan agreed to in a memorandum of understanding. Ha Cong Tuan said the Vietnamese government was committed to the fight against rhino poaching. “Action will be taken against people found using rhino horns,” he said.


The Democratic Alliance is submitting a parliamentary question to find out whether state security minister, Siyabonga Cwele, stopped an investigation into the Gupta family. Defence spokesman David Maynier said if true, “then it would be very difficult to conclude that he intervened for any other reason than to protect President Jacob Zuma”. Reports say the entire top management of the State Security Agency including director-general Jeff Maqetuka, SSA domestic branch director-general Gibson Njenje and SSA foreign branch director-general Moe Shaik – eventually resigned. Maynier said an investigation might have prevented the security breach at AFB Waterkloof, “and the subsequent political fallout may never have taken place”.

There will not be a debate of no confidence in the leadership of Limpopo premier Cassel Mathale after the ANC caucus in the legislature dismissed the Democratic Alliance’s call as an “effort to undermine the legitimate ANC-led government”. Caucus spokesman Phuti Lekganyane said the ANC was not trying to sidestep any debate in the provincial legislature. The province under Mathale has seen five provincial departments placed under administration for corruption and gross violations of the Public Finance Management Act. Lekganyane said a premier could be removed with a supporting vote of at least two thirds of members of the provincial legislature. “The DA only has two members in the provincial legislature out of a total of 49, and this sounds far-fetched.”


A government task team probing substance abuse, including the issue of drinking and driving, has suggested lowering the legal blood alcohol level to zero. But Western Cape transport MEC Robin Carlisle has opposed the measure, the Cape Argus reported.  Carlisle has written to transport minister Ben Martins to voice his concerns, saying the current turnaround time for blood tests and the lack of breathalysing at roadblocks throughout the means the country does not have a structure in place to manage and enforce such a law. He said countries with the best safety records “have some sort of minimum legal alcohol level that can be tested for in drivers”. Improving the turnaround time for blood results, and launching behaviour changing campaigns would be more effective.


The ANC mayor of Tlokwe famously ousted after a vote of no confidence by his party – and then reinstated by an ANC majority vote, should be criminally prosecuted, a report by a forensic investigation company says. Short-lived DA mayor Annette Combrink ordered the probe into Maphetle Maphetle during her brief stint as head of the council. Beeld reported that Pretoria-based company Nexus Forensic Services found Maphetle and several officials should be criminally prosecuted after channelling of R300,000 of the city’s poverty relief fund through Aardklop arts festival to a third party for a jazz festival for which artists were allegedly not paid. It said Maphetle could not be held personally liable for buying his Mercedes-Benz E 350 at a cost of R736,000, but that it was wrongful and that the official concerned should be held responsible.


The Gupta family’s “unauthorised and brazen use of the Waterkloof military airbase for private purposes is a matter of national concern”, says the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.  In a statement, the foundation queried how “a single family has come to wield such immense administrative and political influence in such a short space of time” and welcomed an investigation into the “Guptagate” affair. It said it was “shocked and disturbed” by allegations of racist behaviour by guests at the Gupta wedding in Sun City, and said the lavish display of wealth was “distasteful”. The foundation said the ANC’s founding fathers led “simple and principled lives”. “The proud legacy of struggle by our leaders and people must never be eroded by the disdainful deeds of a single family that attempts to wield power through the peddling of influence over high profile politicians and civil servants,” the foundation said.


Fired workers from Kumba Iron Ore have asked the National Union of Mineworkers to intervene on their behalf with the mine owners. Sapa reported that 120 dismissed workers sent representatives to NUM offices in Johannesburg. NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said the union was “engaging with the company to find a resolution to the issue”. The workers were fired in October after an illegal strike at Kumba, and their subsequent failure to attend disciplinary hearings. Seshoka said the NUM could not” act against the current legal process, which includes both a labour court application filed on behalf of the workers, as well as a criminal legal process by the State”. DM

Photo: Cassel Mathale (Greg Nicolson)


Want to watch Richard Poplak’s audition for SA’s Got Talent?

Who doesn’t? Alas, it was removed by the host site for prolific swearing*... Now that we’ve got your attention, we thought we’d take the opportunity to talk to you about the small matter of book burning and freedom of speech.

Since its release, Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s book Gangster State, has sparked numerous fascist-like behavior from certain members of the public (and the State). There have been planned book burnings, disrupted launches and Ace Magashule has openly called him a liar. And just to say thanks, a R10m defamation suit has been lodged against the author.

Pieter-Louis Myburgh is our latest Scorpio Investigative journalist recruit and we’re not going to let him and his crucial book be silenced. When the Cape Town launch was postponed, Maverick Insider stepped in and relocated it to a secure location so that Pieter-Louis’ revelations could be heard by the public. If we’ve learnt one thing over the past ten years it is this: when anyone tries to infringe on our constitutional rights, we have to fight back. Every day, our journalists are uncovering more details and evidence of State Capture and its various reincarnations. The rot is deep and the threats, like this recent one to freedom of speech, are real. You can support the cause by becoming an Insider and help free the speech that can make a difference.

*No video of Richard Poplak auditioning for SA’s Got Talent actually exists. Unless it does and we don’t know about it please send it through.


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