A round-up of the day’s news from South Africa.
NEW JET FOR NUMBER ONE NOT NECESSARY, SAYS DA
It is “simply wrong” to be spending billions of rands on a brand new presidential jet when so many people in our country are poor and battle each day just to survive, says Democratic Alliance defence spokesman, David Maynier. He was reacting to the confirmation by defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula that funding had been approved to buy a new jet for President Jacob Zuma. Maynier said the existing plane, Inkwazi, was “perfectly serviceable”. The main reason given for spending “a fortune” on a jet was to have one with greater range. Maynier added the acquisition of a new presidential jet was “also likely to be at the cost of other more urgent defence capital acquisition projects such as transport aircraft”.
MANDELA’S POLICE COMMISSIONER SPEAKS OUT ON PUBLIC ORDER POLICING
A former national police commissioner says what happened at Marikana, where 34 miners died at the hands of the police, stems from disgraced commissioner Jackie Selebi’s decision to dismantle public order policing units. George Fivas, who was appointed by president Nelson Mandela, told City Press a major problem at Marikana was that specialist units “were decentralised to stations all over the country”. Fivas said that during Mandela’s term as president, Gauteng had public order policing units “second to none”, who had undergone psychometric testing, and were properly trained and equipped. “How on earth can you have a country where you have so many marches per month without a special unit dealing with public order?” Fivas asked.
PISTORIUS CAUGHT BY SARS AFTER TAX AUDIT
Oscar Pistorius has been audited by the South African Revenue Services (Sars) and found to have undeclared taxes, for which the tax authority has fined him “less than R1 million”, according to City Press. The paralympian, accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentines Day, had to declare his assets at his bail hearing which led to the audit by Sars. Police say the investigation into Steenkamp’s murder will be completed in August, but Pistorius is due to appear in court on 4 June. The National Prosecuting Authority said in a statement it is “content with the progress thus far” of the investigation. Pistorius is currently out on R1 million bail.
KRUGER PARK RANGER SHOT IN SKIRMISH WITH POACHERS
A Kruger National Park ranger has been shot during a joint operation between SANParks and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in which they encountered armed poachers. SANParks spokesman Reynold Thakhuli said ranger Andrew Desmet was shot in the stomach and airlifted to a medical facility in Mbombela where he underwent an operation. He is now in a stable condition. “While this incident was unfolding, another group of rangers made contact with a second group of armed poachers approximately two kilometres away where a shoot-out ensued,” Thakhuli said. The poachers escaped and no arrests were made. SANParks CEO David Mabunda said the ranger corps was facing “a war out there”.
CAPE TOWN JOGGER HAD RIFLE BAG PLACED OVER HIS HEAD
The Cape Town jogger arrested for showing a rude hand sign to a convoy carrying President Jacob Zuma had a rifle bag placed over his head, the High Court has heard. The Sunday Times reported that papers filed by police minister Nathi Mthethwa said the rifle bag was placed on [Maxwele’s] head so as to eliminate the possibility of him seeing the route that the president uses to get to his residence”. Chumani Maxwele, a political science student, is suing the state for R1.4 million for wrongful arrest. Lawyers for Mthethwa also said Maxwele’s hands were cable-tied behind his back for “his own safety” as police escorting him had equipment and firearms in their possession and which were in close proximity to him”.
TSHWANE POLICE OFFICERS CLAIM BLACKMAIL BY BOSS
The 11 Tshwane metro police officers suspending for working in their free time at the infamous Gupta wedding have accused their boss of masterminding a plot to blackmail the city metro police department into dropping charges against them. The Sunday Independent in a report said the officers threatened to reveal footage of drugs being offloaded from the plane carrying guests to the Gupta wedding that landed at Waterkloof Air Force Base. The newspaper reported that the officers said the blackmail was the idea of their boss. Tshwane city’s spokesman Blessing Manale said the council would investigate the allegations but said he was not aware of being blackmailed into “taking unlawful actions”.
DE LILLE, ANC DISAGREE OVER OBAMA FREEDOM OF THE CITY AWARD
Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille says President Jacob Zuma is responsible for clearing whether President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle will receive the freedom of Cape Town, an honour they have already accepted. De Lille said Zuma’s office is responsible for the Obama’s itinerary during their upcoming visit to South Africa. “So we’ve been in contact all the time with the president’s office. It is up to the president’s office to work with [Obama’s] office to make the necessary arrangements,” she told the Sunday Times. The ANC has accused the DA-run Cape Town city council of “political expediency” in granting the award. Obama has requested meeting Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu during his visit.
JOEMAT-PETTERSSON MUST EXPLAIN IMPORT OF RISKY MEAT
The agriculture department must come clean on why meat products – including water buffalo, donkey and horsemeat – from Brazil and India, despite it posing “significant” risks. The Democratic Alliance agriculture spokeswoman, Annette Steyn said a reply to a parliamentary question from agriculture Tina Joemat-Pettersson failed to give reasons why the meat was considered to pose “significant risk” nor who was responsible for importing them. Steyn said the party would submit an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to the department of agriculture to determine exactly why this meat is considered hazardous, and who the responsible parties are. “The public deserves to know,” said Steyn.
PAC FIRES ITS PRESIDENT, EXPELS HIM FROM PARTY
Letlapa Mphahlele, president of the Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), has been expelled from the party, Sapa reported. The party’s disciplinary committee said Mphahlele had been charged with failing to account for parliamentary and Independent Electoral Commission funds, not respecting national executive committee (NEC) decisions, and appointing a chief administrator even though the position was not catered for in the PAC constitution. It also accused him of promoting factionalism in the ranks. The committee said neither Mphahlele nor his legal representative attended the meeting. DM
Photo: Oscar Pistorius (REUTERS)
"Take a chance, won't you? Knock down the fences which divide. Tear apart the walls that imprison you. Reach out. Freedom lies just on the other side." ~ Thurgood Marshall