South Africa

FIVE MINUTES: South Africa

By Daily Maverick Staff Reporter 7 November 2013

A round-up of the day’s news from South Africa.


Gunmen have shot and killed a former senior union official at platinum producer Lonmin, stoking political and industrial tensions on the volatile platinum belt. Police said the former National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) shop steward, Percy Letanang, was ambushed outside his home in the mining town of Mooinooi on Sunday night and died of his injuries on Tuesday. He was the fourth person in the region with links to the NUM to have been murdered in the past three months. Letanang was shot seven times by unknown assailants. No arrests have been made. Cosatu said Letanang had taken a voluntary severance package recently after Lonmin recognised the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union as its majority union.


President Jacob Zuma says he had “no prior knowledge, involvement or communication relating to the landing of a private plane at AFB Waterkloof”, Sapa reported. Zuma was answering questions in the National Assembly. He said as president he is “neither directly or indirectly involved in the authorisation of civilian aircraft landing at airports such as AFB Waterkloof”. An air force official recently said under oath that “a call was received from Mr Bruce Koloane informing her the president wanted to know and I quote ‘if everything is still on track for the flight’, said DA parliamentary leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko, in response to Zuma’s answer. Zuma said it was not his duty to know who landed at South Africa’s airports.


By not using updated population figures gleaned from the 2011 Census, the South African Police Service has seriously underestimated the latest crime statistics. The SAPS used figures from the 2001 Census. “What we are asking is why did this error occur and at what level was it sanctioned?’ said ISS governance, crime and justice division head Gareth Newham. “’The latest statistics clearly show that in the past year more people were murdered and attacked in their homes, businesses and on the streets than in the previous year. In addition, more houses and businesses were broken into and burgled,” the ISS said.  In September, releasing the latest crime statistics, National Commissioner Gen Riah Phiyega said crime was under control.


A recent World Health Organisation Bulletin says South Africa’s child murder rate is more than double the global average, the Pretoria News reported. The epidemiology of child homicides is the first study of its kind in the country on the murder of children, and is based on 2009 statistics from state mortuaries. It said between January and December 2009, 1 018 children were murdered; that is 5.5 in every 100 000 children under 18. Child abuse and neglect were related in three-quarters of all murders of girls, who were 44% more likely to be killed at home. Researchers in The study found a high rate of child murders involving sexual assault. This reflected the high prevalence of sexual violence in the country.


Medical staff at the controversial Mangaung Correctional Centre say anti-psychotic injections were needed to subdue inmates. Manager of the judicial inspectorate for correctional services, Umesh Raga, told the correctional services portfolio committee in parliament that he’d met G4S, the private security company contracted to run the prison, to investigate allegations that its staff injected inmates, Sapa reported. He now has a list of names of all inmates injected with the drugs and would interview them as part of an ongoing investigation. He said medical staff had confirmed some inmates were indicated for “that kind of thing” and that in a “psychotic situation” in a hospital “these things are permissible”. The department has resumed running the prison after a series of violent incidents.


President Jacob Zuma says the African Union’s position the International Criminal Court (ICC) was “was not at all designed to create an impression that certain leaders may be above the law”. He said it was rather based on the continent’s quest for an “equitable world order, where regions of the world would be treated equally”. Responding to questions in the national assembly, Zuma said the AU’s recommendation that sitting heads of state should not stand trial in a manner that would disrupt governance in their countries would “not necessarily result in heads of state extending their terms of office”. He said the AU was “committed to equality before the law and to fighting impunity”. He said the suggested measures to promote stability and ensure that peace takes root in areas that have been wracked by conflict.


Former cabinet minister, Tokyo Sexwale, has met US ambassador to South Africa, Patrick Gaspard, to discuss why he was held for questioning when arriving at New York’s JFK airport in what the ambassador called a “good conversation”. The businessman’s name still appeared on a US terrorist list, the ANC said, condemning the incident. But Gaspard told Independent Newspaper’s political bureau the fact Sexwale had received a US travel visa was “of course evidence that there are no issues around his application, no issues around his presence in the US”. He said the ANC was not regarded as a terror organisation. Gaspard said he, like Sexwale, had been question in a “secondary screening”, not detention.


The Democratic Alliance in parliament has accused the ANC of abusing its majority by inserting and approving a “xenophobic clause” into the Private Security Industry Regulation Amendment Bill. Dianne Kohler-Barnard, the party’s police spokeswoman, said the clause says “at least 51% of ownership and control of any security-related firm must be exercised by South African citizens”. “The amendments could have devastating effects not only on investment into the private security sector but also on international investor confidence,” she said in a statement. “There is no way to determine that a company will be more or less likely to be a criminal enterprise if the management is 51% South African owned, given the high levels of South African criminality,” she said. DM


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