A round-up of the day's news from South Africa.
COSATU: NOT TOO LATE FOR ZUMA TO STOP E-TOLLS
Government has launched a widely unpopular road toll around the economic hub of Johannesburg in a move likely to heighten tensions with its union allies and alienate some voters in the run-up to next year’s elections. The e-tolls have fuelled public anger and strained relations between the African National Congress (ANC) and alliance partner Cosatu. “E-tolls will have a serious impact on elections. It’s not too late for Zuma to scrap the system,” said Cosatu provincial spokesman Dumisani Dakile at the launch of a campaign urging commuters to boycott the toll. The ANC has urged motorists to register for the tolls and not to embark on “lawlessness”.
IVANHOE MINE OWNER TO PAY HIGHER WAGES
Canada-listed Ivanhoe Mines plans to pay much higher wages to South African miners in its platinum, gold and copper project than prevailing levels, which company founder Robert Friedland said are unsustainably low. Ivanhoe will pay workers “an order of magnitude greater than the current wage” at its Platreef project in South Africa, said Friedland. “In a platinum mine in South Africa today, you have to crawl on your hands and knees on that broken rock for several hundred metres to get to the working phase,” Friedland told the MINEAfrica conference in London. “It’s pretty claustrophobic, the men are working with muscle power, they are getting silicosis, they are breathing what they are drilling and they are tired of doing it for $12 a day. I don’t think they are going to do it for much longer, and I don’t think they should.”
ANC WANT NKANDLA REPORT RELEASED TO PUBLIC
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe wants the public protector to release her report on ‘security upgrades’ at President Jacob Zuma’s private home Nkandla as a matter of “extreme urgency”. Speaking at a press conference, Mantashe slammed the leaking of the provisional report to media while his deputy, Jessie Duarte, laid the blame at the door of the office of the public protector. DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said the press conference was “nothing more than shameless spin… to protect President Zuma from being held accountable”. Mazibuko said the ANC was doing “everything possible to bring into question the findings of the report before they are made public” but that the tactic would not work as South Africans want to know the truth about Nkandla.
DRIVER OF FORMER MEC GUILTY OF RECKLESS DRIVING
The driver of disgraced former Gauteng housing MEC Humphrey Mmemezi has been found guilty of reckless and negligent driving. Magistrate Abdul Khan said Joseph Motsamai Semitjie also failed to help a motorcyclist, Thomas Ferreira, who injured in an accident caused by his driving. Semitjie jumped a traffic light while driving on the left hand side of the yellow line, and failed to use his siren to warn motorists to warn other road users. Khan said the court accepted all the evidence given by State witnesses. Ferreira, who spent weeks in a coma, is still in no condition to testify.
SOUTH AFRICA DROPS FURTHER ON CORRUPTION INDEX
South Africa has dropped another point on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, ranking 72 on a list of 177 countries with a score of 42. Other African countries are successfully dealing with corruption, the CPI said, naming Cape Verde, Mauritius, Rwanda, Botswana, and Seychelles as countries where citizens are increasingly enjoying daily lives with limited corruption, “particularly in the administration and delivery of basic services”. Corruption Watch in South Africa said the public was becoming intolerant of public sector corruption. The Gupta Waterkloof affair and Nkandla were examples of “impunity in action”.
STATE DROPS TWO CHARGES AGAINST BETHUEL ZUMA
The man who nearly became Gauteng’s provincial police commissioner has had two charges dropped against him, but still faces charges of failing to stop when ordered and trying to escape from custody. Lieutenant-general Bethuel Zuma won’t face charges of driving under the influence or defeating the ends of justice. The magistrate heard Zuma had driven through a roadblock but when officers tried to take him for a blood test, he escaped before they could do so. The magistrate said there was “no evidence” that Zuma had been drinking despite testimony that his breath smelt of alcohol.
‘DIRTY’ WOMAN DIES AFTER AMBULANCE REFUSES TO TAKE HER TO HOSPITAL
Emergency services in Johannesburg stand accused of failing to help a desperately ill woman because she was dirty, The Star reported. Sarah Bezuidenhout’s neighbours in Protea South said they’d called an ambulance to take her to hospital but when it arrived, medics refused to transport her to hospital, leaving her to die. They said she would have to return to the dire conditions in which she lived so there was no point, a neighbour said. A spokesman for the emergency services said they would investigate only if her family laid a complaint.
COPE’S FORMER PARLIAMENTARY TREASURER IN COURT FOR FRAUD
The woman charged with being Cope’s parliamentary national treasurer has appeared in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court on 23 charges of fraud, six on money laundering and one of theft, Sapa reported. Hilda Ndude was not asked to plead. Her personal assistant in parliament, Irene Motha is facing three charges. Also charged is the company Sithaba Holdings, of which Ndude was one of the two directors, which faces three counts of money laundering. Prosecutor Zama Matayi alleges that Ndude and Motha manipulated Cope’s electronic system to divert payments meant for suppliers into their own personal bank accounts, between April 2010 and May 2011. DM
Photo: Paul Ferreira, father of Thomas, a matric boy who was knocked down by a VIP car in November 2011 is seen at the Krugersdorp Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday. Blue light driver Joseph Motsamai Semitjie, accused of knocking over Ferreira while going through a red light, was found guilty of reckless or negligent driving, and of failing to help Ferreira after knocking him off his motorbike.(Picture:Werner Beukes/SAPA)
The filming of The Beach permanently damaged the ecosystem on the Thai island it was located on.