A round-up of the day’s news from South Africa.
TRANSPORT MINISTRY ‘TAKEN ABACK’ BY CHURCH STANCE ON E-TOLLS
The Ministry of Transport says it is “taken aback” by the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference criticism of Gauteng’s e-toll project. Spokesman Tiyani Rikhotso said in a statement that the department “remained committed to meeting stakeholders, including the religious community, to clarify its intentions” regarding e-tolling. Earlier, SACBC’s Father Michael Deeb said the church’s research had show that “at best the whole e-tolling is gross misappropriation of public funds and at worst is total corruption”. He said it would be a “further burden on the poor who were battling to find jobs and live with steep electricity and food prices”. Cosatu’s Dumisani Dakile said if “Jesus Christ was alive today, he would be leading this protest against e-tolls”.
INNOVATIVE JORDAAN RESIGNS FROM FNB
Michael Jordaan has resigned as chief executive of First National Bank (FNB). The man who guided the bank to winning the award for ‘most innovative bank in the world’ said he wanted to spend more time with his family. The board of First Rand said Jordaan had wanted to resign in 2010, as he had “been comfortable that having been chief executive for 10 years he would have achieved the strategic and operational objectives that he set out for the business at the beginning of his tenure”. Jacques Celliers, currently the head of FNB Business Banking, will replace him.
ZUMA RESPONSIBLE FOR CULTURE OF ‘UNDUE INFLUENCE’
Despite government’s investigation into the Guptagate affair, and its assurances that the executive was not involved in giving a private jet permission to land at Waterkloof Air Force Base, opposition parties blame President Jacob Zuma for the debacle. A jet chartered by the Gupta family for a wedding in South Africa landed at the military base, raising a massive public outcry. The issue was debated in parliament on Wednesday. DA defence spokesman David Maynier said defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula should be fired for failing to tell officials she’d refused permission for the plane to land. Maynier said Zuma was the “root cause of the problem” as he was responsible for the “culture of undue influence” in government.
OLIPHANT SAYS COMPENSATION FUND MADE ‘REMARKABLE’ PROGRESS
Labour minister Mildred Oliphant has rejected calls for the Compensation Fund to be placed under administration by the Treasury but admitted that a turnaround strategy had been only partly implemented. Oliphant, speaking at a debate on her budget vote in the National Assembly, said the fund was beset with problems that included fraud, corruption, and a massive backlog in paying claims. But she said “remarkable” progress had been made, with 934,000 invoices in medical payments amounting to R1.5 billion being processed. Earlier this year, auditor general Terence Nombembe gave the fund another qualified audit citing a number of concerns, including the fact that benefits paid by the fund did not match the claims lodged against it, an issue that pointed to possible fraud.
COMPENSATION FUND FRAUD CASE POSTPONED
The Pretoria Magistrate’s Court has postponed the court case against two former employees of the department of labour’s Compensation Fund after two state witnesses failed to appear in court, as they were ill. Both were due to testify against Maxwell Ramaphosa and Samuel Mfeleng, charged with fraud. The pair is alleged to have defrauded the Compensation Fund to the tune of R2.1 million, said labour spokesman Page Boikanyo. Sapa reported that they had allegedly processed and facilitated fraudulent claims submitted by physiotherapist Jurry Bonewamang Sehunoe. Sehunoe has already pleaded guilty and received a five-year suspended jail sentence. Ramaphosa and Mfeleng face 15 counts of fraud and 26 counts of money laundering.
POLICE CRACK DOWN ON ELDORADO PARK DRUG DEALERS, DENS
A crackdown in Eldorado Park in Johannesburg has seen 116 people arrested in an operation designed to rid the community of drugs and substance-related crimes. The move follows a visit by President Jacob Zuma last week in which he promised swift action in the fight against drug abuse and crime in the area. The police also shut down 20 ‘lolly lounges’, a term for drug dens. Four addicted children, one as young as eight, were taken to places of safety. An integrated special intervention team, which includes the Police Tactical Response Team, the flying squad and provincial officers, was sent to the area in an effort to show visible policing. Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane said the seriousness of the problem in Eldorado Park was one that required swift action and expertise.
KING ZWELITHINI ‘DEEPLY HURT’ OVER RHINO POACHING
Kwa-Zulu Natal’s King Goodwill Zwelithini has stepped into the fight against rhino poaching. He called on local communities to expose those who are behind the killing of the endangered species. Speaking at a two-day summit on rhino poaching at the University of Zululand, Zwelithini asked who the people were who were “doing such a horrible thing”. He said every time he heard of another rhino being killed, it “hurt” him deeply, and that rhino poachers had to be seen as “enemies of Africa”. Zwelithini said rural communities should be brought in to help the fight against poaching. “We beg you to stop this nonsense,” he said. Eleven rhino were killed in the province in the past week.
MPUMALANGA HAWKS CHIEF ARRESTED FOR FRAUD
Major General Simon Mapiane, head of the Hawks in Mpumalanga, has appeared in the Nelspruit Magistrate’s Court on a charge of fraud. Sapa reported that Mapiane was arrested on Wednesday before briefly appearing in court. Police spokesman Brigadier Phuti Setati said Mapiane’s arrest related to alleged false travel claims. He could not confirm when Mapiane would appear in court again, saying that the “matter would be looked into internally”. DM
Photo: King Goodwill Zwelithini (REUTERS)
Despite receiving a knighthood from the Queen, Bill Gates cannot use the title "Sir" due to his being American.