A round-up of the day’s news from South Africa.
TUTU: LANGA SELFLESSLY SERVED HIS PEOPLE AND HIS COUNTRY
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has paid homage to former Chief Justice Pius Nkonzo Langa, who died on Wednesday. Tutu said Langa “was among a group of exceptional men and women honed in the crucible of South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle who, when liberation came, were willing and able to selflessly serve their country and their people”. Tutu said Langa was a “servant leader” who, as an advocate, represented the underprivileged, civic associations, trade unions and people charged with political offences”. Tutu sent his condolences to Langa’s family. “His was a life well lived. May he rest in peace and rise in glory,” Tutu said.
DEWANI TO APPEAL LONDON MAGISTRATE’S EXTRADITION RULING
Shrien Dewani can be extradited to face trial in South Africa, a British Court has ruled. The millionaire businessman is accused of arranging for his wife, Anni, to be murdered while they were on honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010. Since returning to Britain, Dewani has fought extradition proceedings, arguing that he is suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder and is too unwell to be sent to South Africa for trial. “It may be a long time before Mr Dewani is fit to plead, but he may be closer to that point,” said Howard Riddle, chief magistrate at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London. Dewani will appeal the ruling. The Hindocha family attended the hearing. “For us it’s all about Anni, it’s all about finding out what happened to her,” said her sister, Ami Denborg outside court. “This battle has just begun for us.”
GOVT MUST INTENSIFY ANTI-POACHING EFFORTS TO SAVE RHINO
A comprehensive Rhino Issue Management report commissioned by the environmental affairs department says unless government intensifies its anti-poaching efforts, South Africa will face an ever-growing demand for the horn in Asian countries. The RIM report makes several recommendations, including legalising the rhino horn trade, increased intelligence, funding for awareness campaigns as well as safety and security. Cabinet is backing a plan to create a national rhino fund to help attract uniform funding for such initiatives. “The death rate has not yet surpassed the birth rate,” said Fundisile Mketeni, a deputy director-general in the department. “But the indicator of success for South Africans and the world will be less rhinos killed.” Over 500 rhinos have been slaughtered so far this year.
NPA CAN’T BE IMPARTIAL IN ZUMA SPY TAPES CASE
The lawyer for the Democratic Alliance, Sean Rosenberg SC, says the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) will not make an impartial decision on the contentious Zuma ‘spy tapes’. The DA is trying to compel the NPA to hand over the tapes to which it is entitled, according to a Supreme Court of Appeal decision. The tapes are recordings of intercepted phone conversations that the DA believes will shed light on the dropped fraud and corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma. Rosenberg said the NPA was not an “impartial” party and asked why it should be the “final arbiter to an otherwise highly relevant document”. Kemp J Kemp, for Zuma, said the Supreme Court of Appeal order had not included confidential material given to the NPA, claiming the spy tapes are part of confidential information disclosed by Zuma to the NPA. Judgment has been reserved.
THREE GOLD SECTOR UNIONS REJECT CHAMBER OF MINES WAGE OFFER
Gold sector unions involved in wage talks have declared a dispute with the seven mining companies represented by the Chamber of Mines, which has upped its offer from 4%to 5%, BDlive reported. “The effect of this offer would be to raise the guaranteed pay of entry-level underground employees for major gold-producing companies to at least R9,000 per month,” the chamber said in a statement. Three unions – National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity and the United Association of South Africa (Uasa) – have rejected the offer but the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has asked for extra information before making a decision. The three unions have declared a dispute, meaning the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration now have to mediate.
WILDCAT WAGE STRIKE AT MEDUPI UNDER CONTROL
Eskom’s beleaguered Medupi power station in Limpopo has had another setback after wage protests stopped construction at the site. Eskom spokeswoman Hilary Joffe said between 500 and 1,000 workers took part in the protest, which took a violent turn.”The protest turned violent with stone-throwing and damage to two vehicles, but no one was injured as far as we are aware,” the power utility said. Joffe said calm was restored and most of the workers sent off site as Eskom tried to normalise operations. The protest apparently related to dissatisfaction with one of the allowances which workers receive, which is currently the subject of negotiation,” Eskom said in a statement.
HELICOPTER FUNDING CRISIS IN AIR FORCE, BUT NOT FOR VIPS
The South Africa Air Force is in crisis, says DA defence spokesman, David Maynier. He said it was ironic that there was no shortage of funds to transport VIPs such as President Jacob Zuma and defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula – who recently flew to Tlokwe in a military helicopter – in helicopters. But 18 Agusta A109 helicopters, bought at a cost of R2 billion in the arms deal, had been grounded, as there was no money to operate them. “The budget for the SAAF’s ‘helicopter capability’ has been slashed from R915 million in 2012/13 to R769 million in 2013/14,” Maynier said. “Because of this only 71 flying hours have reportedly been allocated to the operational fleet of approximately 20 Agusta A109 helicopters.” Maynier said the cost of flying VIPs since 2009 was at least R50 million.
MANASE REPORT HAS ‘HUGE GAPS’ SAYS FORMER CITY MANAGER
Former eThekwini municipal manager Michael Sutcliffe has welcomed the release of the full version of the Manase report but says it was a poorly investigated audit. The Mercury reported Sutcliffe saying the report had been “badly handled”. He said it was “poorly researched” and that there were “huge gaps” in it. New city manager S’bu Sithole said he would pursue criminal charges against Sutcliffe who, he said, had failed to recover money lost through his failure to report fraud in the municipality relating to a tender for a housing project.
Sutcliffe is suing Sithole for R10 million. DM
Photo: Shrien Dewani (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