A round-up of the day’s news from South Africa.
MANDELA FAMILY ‘HEARTENED’ BY MESSAGES OF SUPPORT
The family of former President Nelson Mandela has spoken out about his health for the first time since he was rushed to hospital in the early hours of Saturday morning. In a statement issued by Zwelivelile [Mandla] Mandela, the family said they were heartened by the overwhelming messages of support from the public. “We are fully cognizant of the fact that millions of people in the country and around the world regard Madiba as their parent and therefore are as much concerned about his well-being as we are,” the family said. Earlier, President Jacob Zuma told Parliament he was “ happy to report that Madiba is responding better to treatment from this morning”. The elder statesman has spent a fifth day in hospital in Pretoria after being admitted in the early hours of Saturday morning.
SA SOLDIERS IN DRC FACE 93 CHARGES OF MISCONDUCT
A report to Parliament says 93 charges of misconduct have been levelled at members of the SANDF peacekeeping force currently serving in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The South African National Defence Force, in a statement, said defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has submitted a report detailing the nature of the offences. “To date, those whose cases have been finalised and a conviction secured in four incidences of sexual misconduct resulting in the dismissal of the perpetrators. The soldiers are part of the MONUSCO [United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo] mission in the eastern DRC. DA defence spokesman David Maynier said this behaviour was “completely unacceptable” and that “shockingly”, of the 93 cases “at least 23 involve rape, sexual exploitation, sexual abuse and assault of women”.
NYDA LEADERSHIP FAILS TO ARRIVE FOR PARLIAMENTARY MEETING
A delegation from the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), due to meet the portfolio committee of appropriations, was sent packing by Parliament after its leadership failed to arrive. Sapa reported that chairman Yershen Pillay, his deputy Itiseng Kenny Morolong, and CEO Steven Ngobeni – who told deputy minister in the presidency Obed Bapela he was ill – missed the meeting. Committee chairman Mshiyeni Sogoni said it was vital the CEO attend so as to account for organisation’s financial position and performance. MPS agreed but said as Ngobeni had been CEO for four years, he should have had the decency to apologise to the committee.
KZN HUMAN SETTLEMENTS RECOVERS MILLIONS FROM FRAUDSTERS
The KwaZulu-Natal human settlements department has recovered more than R10.6 million in subsidies after an investigation found government employees illegally occupying low cost houses. MEC Ravi Pillay told the provincial legislature that out of the R3.5 billion allocated to his department, R135.4 million was used for administration costs to fight fraud and corruption within the department. The Mercury reported that investigations had led to 566 criminal charges being laid and, of these, 449 convictions. Pillay said the internal investigation had uncovered more than 1 500 other fraudsters, not linked to the government, who had confessed to the illegal occupation of houses and volunteered to pay back about R18.2 million, because they were non-qualifying beneficiaries.
ZUMA TELLS SOCIAL PARTNERS TO RESOLVE LABOUR ISSUES PEACEFULLY
The Presidency says it will take “a hands-on approach” to help boost confidence in the economy. President Jacob Zuma, in his budget vote speech, said his department would work closely with “relevant departments and social partners” so as to “improve the resilience of our economy”. But he said the labour relations environment needed stability, particularly in the mining sector. “It is not in the interest of the country to have a tense labour relations environment which is characterised by a weakening of collective bargaining mechanisms, illegal wildcat strikes, violent protests and loss of life,” Zuma said. This needed a commitment from social partners to resolve labour disputes peacefully. Zuma said government didn’t take sides or “favour any labour union over others in the mining industry. Our interest is in finding solutions”.
‘RIVERS OF WASTE’ FLOW THROUGH MEADOWLANDS
Democratic Alliance spokesman Mmusi Maimane says he will report the “terrible sanitation issues” he found in Meadowlands, Soweto, to the Human Rights Commission. He said “free-flowing sewerage and other health hazards were clearly visible throughout the area” while children played outside and residents had to drive over “rivers of waste”. Maimane said he would ask for an “urgent investigation into these conditions”, and that the ANCYL should focus on the clear human rights violations present under the ANC-run province. Maimane said “these conditions are ignored by government while ANCYL members continue their vulgar protests in the Western Cape”.
CONCOURT REINSTATES NABOLISA’S ORIGINAL SENTENCE
The Nigerian drug dealer convicted of drug trafficking alongside security minister Siyabonga Cwele’s ex-wife Sheryl has had his appeal against an increase in his prison sentence upheld by the Constitutional Court. It said the sentence imposed on Frank Nabolisa by the Supreme Court of Appeal was set aside and that his high court sentence of 12-years imprisonment be reinstated. Nabolisa and Cwele received the same sentence in the Pietermaritzburg High Court in 2011. Issues under consideration included whether the SCA had the power to increase the sentence, and whether Nabolisa’s rights were infringed.
SANRAL DENIES E-TOLLING MONEY WILL GO OVERSEAS
The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) says money collected from e-tolling will not go overseas. Spokesman Vusi Mona was responding to reports that Austrian company Kapsch TrafficCom said its “loss-making days” would end when e-tolling started. Mona said tolls collected by the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project go to Sanral and that dividends Sanral declared could only be paid to foreign companies after income tax was paid in South Africa. Kapsch TrafficCom said it would get an annual revenue boost of more than R669-million from e-tolling, including operational costs and selling the system hardware and software to Sanral. Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) said this was money “being extracted directly from the pockets of hard-pressed citizens to improve the profits and wealth of overseas business”. DM
Photo: Former president Nelson Mandela. (REUTERS)
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