A round-up of the day’s news from South Africa.
SA CLINICS RUNNING SHORT OF HIV/AIDS DRUGS
One in five South African clinics are running short of life-saving HIV/AIDS drugs, affecting nearly half a million people and undermining the success of the world’s largest treatment programme, medical charities said. With about six million people infected with the virus – more than 10% of the population – South Africa carries the world’s heaviest HIV/AIDS caseload and has around 2.5 million people taking antiretroviral (ARV) drugs daily. Medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières surveyed more than 2,300 of South Africa’s 3,800 public health facilities and found that one in five had either run short or run out of drugs in the previous three months. Health minister Aaron Motsoaledi said he would conduct his own investigation.
CASE AGAINST MAN WHO RAPED SIX-WEEK-OLD NIECE POSTPONED
The man accused of raping his six-week-old niece has appeared in court briefly, but the case has been postponed until next month. Meanwhile, his victim is fighting for her life in the Kimberley Hospital. The Northern Cape health department said the infant, who underwent extensive surgery, remains in a critical but stable condition. The baby’s uncle was arrested. He is alleged to have snatched the baby who was later found in his Galeshewe shack. Community members threatened to kill him, reports said. Police commissioner Riah Phiyega has visited the family and led a prayer service. eNCA said the man is facing another charge of attempted murder after he tried to kill a policeman.
MALEMA CASE WILL GO AHEAD, JUDGE RULES
Julius Malema has failed to have charges against him withdrawn. The Economic Freedom Fighter leader faces charges of fraud, corruption, money laundering, and racketeering. Judge Ephraim Makgoba of the Limpopo High Court said he would postpone the matter, but would not withdraw the charged. He said the case would go ahead, unless the National Prosecuting Authority decided to drop the charges. Makgoba said the matter could be brought forward after the director of prosecution has made a ruling by April. Otherwise the trial will start at the end of September next year. Malema is out on R10,000 bail. The latest high profile member of the EFF, advocate Dali Mpofu, was in court to support him.
HAWKS MAKE MAJOR DRUG BUST
Priority crime fighting unit the Hawks have made one of their biggest drug busts of the year. They seized drugs with a street value of R75 million in Kempton Park. Two men, a Nigerian national and a Tanzanian national, were arrested after being allegedly found in possession of 20kg of heroin, 15kg of cocaine and 15kg of tik during a police operation. Hawks spokesperson Captain Paul Ramaloko told media this was the biggest drug raid they had netted so far this year in terms of value. Crime intelligence officers had been closely monitoring the men for the past few months, he said. Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has congratulated the Hawks, saying the drug bust was consistent with the police’s resolve as government to crumble drug syndicates.
CAPE TOWN POLICE READY, ON FULL ALERT, FOR ILLEGAL MARCH
Cape Town police say they are ready to face an illegal march planned to highlight a lack of service delivery in the Western Cape. Police spokesman Tembinkosi Kinana told Sapa there would be “heavy police deployments in the CBD as well as areas of congregation for the marchers”. He said public order policing had been seconded as well as metro police, traffic official and emergency services. Railway police would be deployed to areas around the station and police on horseback would monitor the protests. Air support would be deployed if needed. Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille said the city had filed for a court order to try to stop the protest. A march held last month turned violent when protestors looted shops and traders’ stalls.
EU BANS SOUTH AFRICAN CITRUS IMPORTS
The European Union has banned most imports of South African citrus fruit for the rest of this year over fears that a fungal disease found in dozens of shipments could spread to the 28-nation bloc. The ban follows the interception of 36 citrus consignments this year from the EU’s chief summer supplier that were contaminated with the fungal black spot disease, which is not currently found in Europe. EU citrus growers said the measure was too late, noting the main export season is now over, but the Commission said the ban could be extended into next year if need be. The ban applies to all South African citrus shipments from regions where the disease is present, which covers the bulk of the country’s production.
NPA DROPS CASE AGAINST MAN ACCUSED OF KREJCIR MURDER PLOT
The National Prosecuting Authority has dropped the case against a man accused of being involved in a plot to kill Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir, Sapa reported. The Germiston Regional Court provisionally released Brendan Harrison, said National Prosecuting Authority spokeswoman Phindi Louw, adding that the state had asked that the case be postponed. Harrison’s lawyer Jack Gerber said the defence had found discrepancies in evidence against Harrison, and asked that evidence against him be forwarded to the director of public prosecutions for a decision on the merits of the allegations.
BLAIR DENIES ASKING MBEKI TO PLAN MILITARY OP TO REMOVE MUGABE
Tony Blair has denied putting pressure on South Africa while he was in office to help remove Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe in a military operation, Sapa-AFP reported. Earlier, ex-president Thabo Mbeki claimed the former British prime minister had urged Pretoria to topple Mugabe when a political and economic crisis escalated in the late 2000s. Mbeki told Al Jazeera Blair had told him to “work out a military plan” to “physically” remove Mugabe. But Blair’s spokesman said he had argued for a tougher stance on Mugabe, but denied he “asked anyone to plan or take part in any such military intervention”. DM
Photo: Julius Malema (REUTERS)