A round-up of the day’s news from South Africa.
MANDELA DISCHARGED FROM HOSPITAL, GOES HOME
Nelson Mandela has returned to his home in Johannesburg where he will continue to “the same level of intensive care at his Houghton home that he received in Pretoria”, the presidency says. Mandela has spent three months in hospital with a lung ailment. Madiba’s condition “remains critical and is at times unstable” the presidency said, adding that his home had been “reconfigured to allow him to receive intensive care there”. The health care personnel providing care at his home are the very same who provided care to him in hospital. Grandson Mandla Mandela told Sapa the family were celebrating his return home, which was particularly heartening because “it flies in the face of those who have been busy spreading lies that he was in a ‘vegetative state’ and just waiting for his support machines to be switched off”.
FORMER ANN7 EDITOR MAKES CLAIMS ABOUT ZUMA
The former editor of the Gupta family’s recently launched 24-hour news channel, ANN7, is reported to have fled the station’s Midrand studios after making claims that President Jacob Zuma had a hand in its editorial decisions. City Press reported that the “visibly terrified” Rajesh Sundaram claimed Atul Gupta’s armed bodyguard pursued him. Sundaram said he was taken to see Zuma three times, at his official residence in Pretoria, Mahlamba Ndlopfu. He said the Guptas assured Zuma ANN7 would be pro-ANC and made commitments about election coverage. He said he was told that after he left the room “commercial deals were done” and ministries asked for advertising money.
MILITARY PERSONNEL APPEAR IN COURT OVER GUPTA PLANE LANDING
The South African National Defence Forces says three people have appeared in a court on charges of facilitating the landing of an aircraft chartered by the Gupta family for a wedding, which landed at Waterkloof Air Force Base. Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga said the three appeared in a military court on charges varying from misuse of state property to making false statements under oath.
Mabanga said in a statement the SANDF had conducted a Board of Inquiry into the landing. The internal investigation recommended the three be charged and that another two members would soon be charged.
LUCRATIVE R18 MILLION SPORTS AWARD TENDER QUESTIONED
A company without a tax certificate, no “traceable” business premises or website and that is not registered for VAT has won a R18 million tender to manage the South African Sports Awards. City Press reported that the sports department awarded the lucrative deal to Sabela Uyabizwa Media, a company belonging to former Generations actress and television host Sulungeka Dazana. A media launch, planned this week, was cancelled due to “unforeseen circumstances”. The newspapers said a government tender bulletin showed it was awarded jointly to Sabela Uyabizwa Media and Ultimate Sporting Concepts. Dazana registered the company in March last year. Sars spokesman Adrian Lackay told reporters while he couldn’t divulge any company’s tax status, if a VAT search showed it was not registered, “the conclusion should be self-evident”.
ROGUE’S GALLERY OF POLICE COMMISSIONERS
All three new provincial police commissioners appointed by national police commissioner Riah Phiyega have question marks over their names, says DA police spokeswoman, Dianne Kohler Barnard, calling them a “rogue’s gallery”. Phiyega has withdrawn the nomination for Gauteng police commissioner of Lieutenant-General Bethuel Zuma, who faces drunk driving charges as well as charges for escaping lawful custody and defeating the ends of justice. Free State Police commissioner Lieutenant-General Simon Mpembe resprayed a new white BMW X5 black as he couldn’t wait a few weeks for a black one to be available; and Limpopo police commissioner Lieutenant-General Fannie Masemola bought a fleet of 140 new vehicles at a cost of R35 million for various police units just so that the crime intelligence budget could be spent.
MALEMA’S SANDTON HOUSE UP FOR SALE AGAIN
The South African Revenue Services has confirmed the bid for Julius Malema’s half-finished Sandton mansion, ‘sold’ to Gauteng businessman Norman Tloubatla, has been cancelled. The Sunday Independent reported Tloubatla would forfeit the R1 million he put down at the auction where he bid R5.9 million for the house. Sars’ Adrian Lackay said the house would go on sale later this year, adding Tloubatla was unable to raise the money and had to cancel the deal. Earlier, the Sowetan newspaper reported Tloubatla could face charges of tax fraud after documents given to Sars alleged he fabricated invoices to evade tax. Tloubatla is the chief executive of Magnified Designs and also owns Lethlabile Civils.
ETHEKWINI COUNCILLORS LIVE IN SUBSIDISED COUNCIL FLATS
Well-paid eThekwini councillors are living in subsidised council flats at the expense of those who are in need of affordable housing. The Sunday Tribune found at least 11 councillors who earn salaries of R340,000 a year claim they are in danger in their constituencies and now live in Kenneth Gardens in Umbilo and Merloth Gardens in Morningside. Most are ANC councillors who, a resident told the newspaper, drive expensive cars and could afford to rent flats. The resident said when confronted, the councillors say there is nothing residents can do as they were put there by “top city officials”. The Democratic Alliance said it has tried, and failed, to get an audit from council on who was living there.
It said it was “disturbing that ordinary residents are denied access to much-needed housing because well-paid politicians are living there instead. It’s unethical”.
KING ENTERS PLEA AGREEMENT TO PAY OFF TAX DEBT
Controversial businessman Dave King has finally reached a settlement with the South African Revenue Services (Sars) after a protracted legal battle over non-payment of millions in taxes. “When this tax dispute arose many years ago, I took a conscious decision not to cooperate with the authorities. That was a mistake,” King said. Now he is to pay off R706.7 million to Sars in respect of personal income tax and the tax liability of Ben Nevis, a King trust company managed out of Guernsey. He will also pay a fine of R3.2 million, or spend two years in jail. In addition, he was ordered to pay an amount of R8.75 million towards the Criminal Asset Recovery Fund via the Asset Forfeiture Unit. Sars said it would stop pursuing King after he conceded his tax debt. “SARS believes this settlement is in the interest of the fiscus and in the interest of justice,” said Gene Ravele, the Sars chief officer for tax and customs enforcement. DM
Photo: Nelson Mandela (REUTERS)
Watermelons were originally cultivated in Africa.