A round-up of the day’s news from South Africa.
COSATU URGES MOTORISTS NOT TO PAY E-TOLLS
South Africa will introduce an unpopular road toll in the Johannesburg area next month, the transport minister said, setting the government up for a confrontation with its labour union allies ahead of elections next year. Cosatu said the tolls were an attempt to privatise roads that have already been paid for by taxes and has urged motorists to refuse to pay. The tolls will start on 3 December on motorways in and around Johannesburg and Pretoria and are designed to repay a $2 billion bond issued to finance massive upgrades to the busy road network. The tolls are likely to drive up commuting costs for millions of South Africans, who are already squeezed by slow economic growth and high levels of household debt.
SEARCH CALLED OFF AT SITE OF TONGAAT MALL COLLAPSE
Rescue workers have called off the search for survivors at a collapsed building site in Tongaat, believing there are no more trapped construction workers beneath the half-built shopping mall. One person was killed and dozens injured in the collapse of the three-storey building in Tongaat, 30 km north of Durban. “The entire operation has been stopped and handed over to the department of labour,” police spokeswoman Mandy Govender told reporters at the site. District mayor James Nxumalo said local authorities had obtained a series of court injunctions, the latest on 14 November, to halt construction. The owner of the site has been identified as a South African businessman who is well known in Durban. Of the 29 injured, two are in a critical condition in hospital, health officials said.
PUBLIC PROTECTOR SAYS HER SAFETY ISN’T UNDER THREAT
Public protector Thuli Madonsela doesn’t believe her safety is under threat and says she hasn’t been threatened in any way. Madonsela was speaking at a press conference in which she clarified issues surrounding her office’s investigation into the R206 million ‘security upgrades’ at President Jacob Zuma’s private home. She has been at odds with the government’s security cluster over the Nkandla report. Madonsela said never in her “wildest dreams” did she think government would try and take the matter to court. She said she forgave people “in the understanding that perhaps they speak too fast and do not have the opportunity to read”.
SECURITY CLUSTER COMMITTED TO TAKING NKANDLA PROCESS FURTHER
Government’s security cluster has “noted” public protector Thuli Madonsela’s plan on how to deal with her office’s interim report on Nkandla. Spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga said government respected and recognised the role of the public protector’s office and was committed to “taking the process further in a constructive manner and in the interest of the public and national security”. Madonsela said she and her team would review government’s28-page government submission and would assess its security concerns and where considered reasonable, alter the report. She said minister should nominate security experts from within government to discuss the contended issues. If there were still unresolved issues, she would discuss this with selected independent security experts.
NORTHAM, NUM MEMBERS LOSE MILLIONS IN STRIKE
Striking mineworkers at Northam Platinum have lost over R30 million in wages to date, while the mine has reported a R200 million loss so far due to the strike at its Zondereinde mine in Limpopo. In a statement, the company said the National Union of Mineworkers had declined an offer of increase of up to 9%. The NUM is demanding an increase of R2,100 for core workers, such as rock drill operators, and R2,000 for non-core workers. “On average, Zondereinde produces 1000 ounces on a daily basis. The company cannot accede to the NUM’s demands, which would significantly raise the cost base of the business and jeopardise the sustainability of the company and jobs, in the longer term,” Northam said. The NUM said it planned to march to the company’s offices in Johannesburg next week.
ZUMA’S PRIVATE LAWYER PAID R8.8 MILLION BY JUSTICE DEPT
Justice minister Jeff Radebe says his department has paid President Jacob Zuma’s private lawyer, Michael Hulley, R8.8 million since 2009. The minister was responding to a parliamentary question submitted by the Democratic Alliance. The money was used to defend arms deal and spy tape matters, said the party’s justice spokeswoman, Debbie Schafer, and were “not necessarily all for his fees”. She said Radebe “studiously avoided answering the question as to what rate Hulley was paid at”. “This amount would also appear to be in addition to the R2.3 million revealed in an earlier question to the Presidency, “she said. “It is time for the President to stop wasting taxpayers’ time and money and face his charges,” Schafer said.
KREJCIR’S MOTHER OFFERS MILLIONS IN REWARD MONEY
Fugitive Radovan Krejcir’s mother has offered a R2 million reward
for information on who might be behind two attempt’s on his life, The Star reported. Nadezda Krejcirova said in a statement she was offering R1-million for information on each attempt on Krejcir, who is fighting extradition to his native Czech Republic. The newspaper reported Krejcirova was listed by the Prague Post as the tenth richest woman in the Czech Republic. Two people were killed in a bomb attack on Krejcir’s Money Point pawn business last week, and earlier this year, he was targeted by a remote-controlled gun built in behind the number plate of a car parked outside his business.
ESKOM UNDER FIRE OVER LATEST POWER CRISIS
Eskom urgently needs to move away from “from out-dated natural resource intensive energy production”, says Greenpeace. The global NGO was responding to Eskom’s announcement that South Africa’s power levels had reached critical lows. “Eskom’s decisions and increased investment in resource intensive power following nationwide load shedding in 2008 has perpetuated the nation’s constant demand for energy,” said Greenpeace Africa climate and energy campaigner, Melita Steele. The Democratic Alliance placed the crisis at the door of “poor planning, lack of quality control measures and shoddy implementation”. Natasha Michael said the fact this was the second crisis at the Duvha Power Station revealed a serious lack of quality control measures at the station.” DM
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