A round-up of the day’s news from South Africa.
SOUTH AFRICA AND THE WORLD CELEBRATE MANDELA DAY
South Africa and the world have showered tributes on Nelson Mandela he turned 95 in hospital and his doctors reported he was “steadily improving” from a six-week lung infection. The country has been on edge since the former president was admitted to hospital on 8 June. But the mood was of celebration on Thursday as thousands of South Africans sang ‘Happy Birthday’ and took part in charitable initiatives in a global outpouring of support for the Nobel Peace Prize laureate on UN-designated ‘Nelson Mandela Day’. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed Mandela as “a giant of our times”. President Jacob Zuma visited Mandela at the hospital and said he was making steady progress.
COURT DISMISSES MARIKANA VICTIMS’ FUNDING APPLICATION
An application for the state to fund legal representation for the victims of the Marikana massacre has been dismissed. Pretoria High Court Judge Joseph Raulinga said he agreed with the state that the application could not succeed, Sapa reported. “The application is dismissed. I need to say that nothing prevents the parties from settling this matter outside the courts,” Raulinga said. The judge said the duty of determining how public resources are to be drawn upon “lies in the heartland of the executive” and that it was the prerogative of the executive to decide how to fund commissions. Dali Mpofu, acting for the wounded and arrested Marikana miners at the hearings of the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, will now launch an urgent application in the Constitutional Court.
ZIMBABWE’S ELECTION PREPARATIONS ‘NOT LOOKING GOOD’ SAYS SA
A top South African diplomat says preparations for the Zimbabwe election are “not looking good. Lindiwe Zulu, President Jacob Zuma’s special adviser on Zimbabwe, said Zuma had called Mugabe to tell him he was not pleased with the run-up to the poll on 31 July, a date fixed by Mugabe after a Constitutional Court ruling but criticised by Mugabe’s opponents and South Africa’s government as too soon. “We are concerned because things on the ground are not looking good,” Zulu told Reuters. Her comments are likely to infuriate the 89-year-old Mugabe, who labelled Zulu “stupid and idiotic” at a campaign rally this month after she repeated South Africa’s call to delay the polling date by a few weeks to ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible.
BLUE LIGHT CRASH BMW BELONGS TO ZUMA BODYGUARD
Police are investigating a crash involving the lead car in a blue light convoy that allegedly skipped a red robot and crashed in another car. The black BMW, the Star reported, is registered to one of President Jacob Zuma’s most trusted bodyguards, Major-General Mzingaye Mxolisi Dladla of the SAPS Presidential Protection Service. Witnesses said the BMW jumped the red light at the intersection of Bertha and De Korte streets and hit a Toyota belonging to the department of labour. The female driver was injured and taken to hospital. When photographers started taking pictures, the licence plates were removed from the car. But The Star has seen its registration record that states the car belongs to Dladla. Zuma’s spokesman would not confirm if the president was in the convoy.
MASIBAMBISANE FOOD SECURITY PROJECT WILL GO AHEAD, SAYS ZUMA
The Masibambisane food-security project will be rolled out around the country despite criticism, President Jacob Zuma has told residents of Ngcingwana in the Eastern Cape. Zuma is the chairperson of the Masibambisane NGO, which is run by his cousin, Deebo Mzobe. City Press reported Zuma saying Masibambisane would “go forward and will not stop, though other people are criticising the project, it won’t stop because it is helping people”. Zuma persuaded government departments to commit R895 million to the project, which critics believe is a conflict of interest. A number of ministers accompanied Zuma, including Malusi Gigaba, Thulas Nxesi, Gugile Nkwinti, Tina Joemat-Pettersson and Edna Molewa.
MAGISTRATE’S COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE PRISON RAPE REMARKS
A Krugersdorp magistrate’s remarks to a prisoner he convicted of the rape of a 13-year-old boy are being investigated by the Magistrates Commission. The commission’s secretary Danie Schoeman said its ethics division would conduct the probe. Magistrate Herman Badenhorst sentenced Neo Molaudzi to 28 years and allegedly told him, “In prison you can rape prisoners if you feel like it. At least you won’t be around little children.” Now court transcripts will be examined to see if Badenhorst did make the comment. The DA’s spokesman on correctional services, James Selfe, said the party was “as shocked as the magistrate by the offence committed by the rapist,” but that as prison rape “is a pandemic throughout our prison system and one that should not be condoned or encouraged, especially not by our magistrates”.
SBV DOING INTERNAL INVESTIGATION INTO STOLEN AMMO
SBV Services, the cash-in-transit company owned by four of South Africa’s major banks, says it is conducting an internal investigation into whether it had bought ammunition stolen from the military. The company’s offices were raided by military police, which found ammunition believed to be military in origin. An investigation by The Star newspaper into Africa’s biggest firearms dealer, Dave Sheer Guns, led to the raid. The Hawks and forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan were looking into the company over allegations of police bribery, stolen military ammunition and fraudulent export permits. Military police have arrested two soldiers and one civilian for stealing ammunition, and have also arrested a director and general manager at Dave Sheer Guns.
CAPE TOWN MAN APPEARS ON CHILD RAPE CHARGES
A specialised enforcement unit and the police Family Violence and Sexual Offences Unit in Cape Town have arrested a 77-year-old man accused of raping three teenage girls at a house in Richwood. Roger Haupt has appeared in court in one of two current cases involving the sexual exploitation of children, the Cape Argus reported. A tip-off led police to the four girls – three of whom are minors – who had been recruited from Dunoon and taken to Richwood where they were “sexually abused and exposed to pornography and prostitution”. More charges are expected to brought against Haupt, who will apply for bail on Friday. The girls are in protective custody. DM
Photo: A jar holds pins with the image of former South African President Nelson Mandela for those attending an informal meeting of the plenary of the General Assembly to commemorate Nelson Mandela International Day at the United Nations Headquarters in New York July 18, 2013. (REUTERS)