A round up of the day’s news from South Africa.
FAKE SIGN LANGUAGE INTERPRETER ON STAGE FOR MEMORIAL
A fake sign language interpreter took to the stage during the memorial for Nelson Mandela, gesticulating gibberish before a global audience of millions and outraging deaf people across the world. DeafSA, South Africa’s leading deaf association, condemned the presence of the unknown man at the memorial to Mandela attended by President Jacob Zuma and scores of world leaders including US President Barack Obama. “He was basically gesturing. He didn’t follow any of the grammatical rules and structure of the language. He just invented his signs as he went along,” said Delphin Hlungwane, an official South African sign language interpreter at DeafSA told Reuters.
THOUSANDS QUEUE TO PAY LAST RESPECTS TO MADIBA
Thousands of people have queued to say goodbye to Nelson Mandela, whose body is lying in state in Pretoria in the building where he was inaugurated in 1994 as South Africa’s first black president. Foreign dignitaries and celebrities joined thousands of South Africans at the imposing Union Buildings for a last chance to see the body of the man regarded as the father of democratic South Africa. Some carried infants on their backs. Officers representing branches of the military met Mandela’s flag-draped casket on arrival from the capital’s main military hospital. Thousands of mourners lined the streets as the black hearse wound its way to the official seat of government. Among those filing past Mandela’s casket were singer Bono, model Naomi Campbell and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. FW de Klerk.
BAD WEATHER GROUNDS FLIGHTS AT MTHATHA AIRPORT
Bad weather in Mthatha has stopped Nelson Mandela’s family from landing at the local airport. They had to be diverted to East London and drive the rest of the way, family friend General Bantu Holomisa told eNCA. But, he said, he was sure the weather would clear up before Mandela’s state funeral on Sunday. Meanwhile, Government Communication and Information System told Sapa they could not clarify how the grounding of flights to and from the airport, due to rain and fog, would impact on Mandela’s funeral. Local OR Tambo municipality mayor Nomakhosazana Meth said a no fly zone would be declared from Thursday. Hangars had been set aside for dignitaries and heads of state. The military was in charge of the airport.
FRAUDSTER FIGHTS STATE ON SEIZING HIS ASSETS
A convicted fraudster from Richards Bay is trying to prevent the state from seizing over R52 million in assets, the Daily News reported. Ishwarlall Ramlutchman’s lawyer, Jimmy Howse, said the state’s “all or nothing” approach was unacceptable. Ramlutchman has admitted to defrauding the KwaZulu-Natal public works department by submitting false documents to the Construction Industry Development Board to improve his company’s grading. AC Industrials Sales and Services used that documentation to win R52 million worth of tenders. Ramlutchman was recently convicted of 21 counts of fraud and one of corruption.
TUTU’S CAPE TOWN HOME ROBBED AGAIN
Police have confirmed Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s home in Cape Town was robbed while he was in Johannesburg attending a memorial for Nelson Mandela. Police said in a statement the robbery took place between 7pm and 9pm but they could give no further details. No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing. The Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation said on Twitter the Archbishop was thankful no one was at home at the time and thanked people for their messages of concern.
SOUTH AFRICA PAYS TRIBUTE TO BABY JAKE
Former boxers, family and friends gathered at Nasrec in Johannesburg to pay tribute to boxing legend Jacob ‘Baby Jake’ Matlala, who died just days after one of his fans, Nelson Mandela. Baby Jake famously gave Mandela his WBU belt after the statesman and film star Will Smith attended his last fight. Gauteng MEC for sport Lebogang Maile called Matlala a “giant” despite being the shortest man ever to be a world champion boxer. “He was one of the best from his generation. He was a very decent human being who lived a clean life personified by victories and defeats, and he was the epitome of a true champion,” Maile said.
TLOKWE OPENS FOR BY ELECTIONS
Voting stations in Tlokwe have opened to allow voters in wards, one, four, 11, 12, 13 and 20 to decide who they want to represent them in the local council. The wards became vacant after the ANC expelled former councillors that decided to side with the Democratic Alliance in a bid to oust mayor Maphetle Maphetle. The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said around 18,000 people were expected to participate at the polls. The ANC, the DA and six independent candidates are contesting the polls. IEC electoral officer Tumelontle Thiba told SABC News the province was ready for the by elections, and that they “usually get about anything between 20 to 22% voter turn-out, but we would like to appeal to our people to really come and vote this time”.
SABC BANS BOOING OF PRESIDENT ZUMA
The public broadcaster refused to show television footage of President Jacob Zuma being booed at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service, City Press reported. The story of Zuma being loudly heckled made world headlines, but the SABC news team on the ground were told to “cut away” by national television news editor, Nyana Molete. The newspaper reported a meeting held prior to the memorial took a decision that the broadcaster’s news channels should avoid showing incidents embarrassing to the ANC’s leadership. News head Jimi Matthews is said to have told producers that the words “unruly behaviour” should be used to describe the behaviour of the crowd. DM
Photo: Nelson Mandela’s former Secretary Zelda la Grange and U2 lead singer Bono en route to view Nelson Mandela lying in state.
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