A round-up of the day’s news from South Africa.
GOVERNMENT WILL ‘SHARE OUTCOMES’ OF GUPTA JET REPORT
Government will “share” the contents of a report into the landing of a private jet at Waterkloof Air Force Base with the public. In a statement, acting spokeswoman for Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) Phumla Williams said the justice, crime, prevention and security (JCPS) cluster ministers were currently considering the report submitted by the directors-general yesterday. The five DGs were tasked with investigating who was responsible for allowing a chartered aircraft ferrying guests to a Gupta family wedding to land at a national key point. “Government appreciates the seriousness of this matter and appeals to the public to exercise patience,” Williams said.
WILDCAT STRIKE AT MARIKANA CONTINUES
Labour strife in South Africa’s platinum belt has intensified as a wildcat strike across Lonmin’s shafts entered a second day. Tensions have been running high over looming job cuts and wage talks in the sector, complicated by a turf war between rival unions the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) that contributed to violent strikes at Lonmin and other platinum producers last year. At Lonmin’s Marikana mine, several dozen strikers brandishing sticks and branches marched to a dusty football pitch chanting slogans denouncing the security forces. Company spokeswoman Sue Vey told reporters that Lonmin had not been issued with any formal demands. “It seems to be union rivalry,” she said.
MOODY’S WARNS OF ANOTHER RATINGS DOWNGRADE
Ratings agency Moody’s has warned that mining strikes, unemployment and skills shortages could see South Africa receive another credit rating downgrade. Sapa reported Moody’s senior vice-president for sovereign risk, Kristin Lindow, saying Moody’s was maintaining a negative outlook. Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to grow at 5% this year, but South Africa lags with a forecast of 2.7%, not enough to address the extreme gap between rich and poor. Lindow said the gap had widened since apartheid ended in 1994. She also pointed to the impact of labour unrest in the mining sector, saying there was a “mismatch” between the expectations of workers and those of employers. Poor education had translated into skills shortages that impacted on business and government’s performance.
BROWN SENTENCE NO DETERRENT TO WHITE COLLAR CRIME
The Financial Services Board (FSB) says it is “disappointed” in the sentence handed down to former Fidentia boss J Arthur Brown. Brown was fined R150,000 and a given suspended prison sentence for two fraud convictions. “The FSB believes that the fine of R150,000 or 36 months in prison does not acknowledge the extent of the damage caused by Mr Brown’s actions,” said spokeswoman Tembisa Marele in a statement. She said the sentence was “disappointing” and would do nothing to discourage white-collar crime. But Judge Anton Veldhuizen defended the sentence, saying Brown was convicted of “an extremely diluted version of fraud, which the indictment alleges”. He criticised the state’s handling of the case.
DAVIES PROMISES CHANGES TO CONTROVERSIAL BUSINESS LICENSING BILL
Trade and industry minister Rob Davies says his department has listened to concerns raised by businesses on the proposed Licensing of Businesses Bill, and that when next presented in parliament, it would be “significantly different”. Speaking at a media briefing, Davies said the DTI would not backtrack on the Bill, saying it did not target foreigners, but that South Africa had “a significant illicit economy operating in townships which was a threat to small businesses”. “This is the economy of illegal imports, this is the trade in sub-standard products, this is the economy of people who don’t pay their VAT… and they then compete unfairly with people who do observe these requirements – that is the economy that is there,” he said.
CAPE TOWN SCHOOLBOY DIES AFTER SCHOOL SHOOTING
A Cape Town schoolboy has died at Groote Schuur hospital after being shot as he arrived at school on Wednesday morning. Enrico Martin was gunned down as he entered Spes Bona School in Athlone, MEC for education Donald Grant said. Police spokesman Captain FC Van Wyk confirmed to Sapa that the student had died as doctors tried to stabilise him. Earlier, Grant said the school called an ambulance and paramedics were able to revive Martin before taking him to hospital. Van Wyk said the circumstances surrounding the incident “are being investigated and the motive is yet to be established, and therefore it is not possible to speculate on gang violence at this stage”. He said no arrests had been made.
ARRESTS MADE IN MPOFU ATTACK
Eastern Cape police have arrested two men in connection with the assault of lawyer Dali Mpofu in East London. Police spokesman Brigadier Phuti Setati told Sapa the two men, both 23, were arrested in Cambridge. Police found the weapon used in the attack on Mpofu, who is currently representing miners involved in Marikana massacre last year, as well as his cellphone. Mpofu was stabbed while walking on a beach in East London. Setati said both arrested men were out on bail of R500 each for an alleged robbery in October. The two will appear in court on Friday on charges of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and robbery. Police will oppose bail.
DEWANI HAS MENTAL HEALTH ‘RELAPSE’
Shrien Dewani’s mental health has deteriorated, the BBC has reported. The British businessman, who is wanted in South Africa in connection with the murder of his wife Anni, is being treated in Bristol for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Anni Dewani was killed in Cape Town while on honeymoon after the vehicle in which she and her new husband were travelling was hijacked. Dewani’s lawyer told the Westminster Magistrate’s Court that he had suffered a relapse after the court was told last month that his condition had “improved significantly”. A full extradition hearing is expected to take place in July. DM
Photo: Businessman Shrien Dewani (C) and his father Prakash Dewani arrive to attend his bail hearing at Belmarsh Magistrates’ Court in London February 24, 2011. (REUTERS)
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