A round-up of the day’s news from South Africa.
SANRAL OFFICES EVACUATED AFTER SUSPICIOUS SUBSTANCE FOUND
The offices of the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral), from which Gauteng’s controversial and unpopular e-tolling gantries are monitored, was evacuated after an envelope containing a suspicious white substance was found on the premises. Eyewitness News reported the substance would be taken for testing, and that there was no indication of what it may be although early reports mentioned anthrax. Spokesman Vusi Mona told eNCA staff, numbering around 1,000, would not be allowed to return until the security situation had been thoroughly assessed. Sanral notified the City of Tshwane’s hazardous material unit about he discover. The evacuation has shut down the e-tolling system.
ZUMA DEFENDS BAFANA BAFANA AFTER MBALULA’S ATTACK
President Jacob Zuma has come to the defence of Bafana Bafana after the country’s sports minister, Fikile Mbalula, called them “useless” and a “bunch of losers”. The team were booted out in the first round of the 2014 African Nations Championship (CHAN) after they lost 3-1 to Nigeria in Cape Town. “We’re well aware that some people are criticising the way the national team played against Nigeria. Some want the team disbanded. It has improved greatly and needs our support,” Zuma said on SAFM later that day. “The current coach knows what he’s doing. He’s great at his job. The fact that the team lost, that doesn’t mean anything as other teams lost as well.”
CHAMBER OF MINES TAKES AMCU TO COURT
The Chamber of Mines has confirmed it has filed papers in the Johannesburg Labour Court against labour union Amcu over its intention to strike in the gold sector. Spokeswoman Charmane Russell told Sapa a “peace clause” in an agreement signed last year with other unions, which represented 72% of unionised gold miners, should prevent members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union from striking. Amcu on Monday said it had issued strike notices to employers in the platinum and gold mining sectors. The chamber said the strike – planned for Sibanye Gold’s Driefontein mine, Harmony Gold’s Kusasalethu and Masimong mines, and at all of AngloGold Ashanti’s South African operations – was illegal and that it would demand damages from the union.
ANC CONDEMNS POLICE ACTIONS, RECALLS MADIBENG COUNCILLORS
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe says police actions should not result in people losing their lives. Speaking for the party’s national working committee (NWC), Mantashe said had the final report into water access issues in Madibeng by former co-operative governance minister Richard Baloyi been implemented, the loss of four lives could have been prevented. He said the ANC would take action against the people who failed to do this. The mayor of the Madibeng municipality, the chief whip and the speaker had been recalled. The party was investigating allegations that they were involved in sabotaging water tanks so as to award tenders to specific companies for water delivery. Members of the council allegedly benefitted from these tenders.
‘EXCEPTIONAL’ BLUE DIAMOND FOUND AT CULLINAN MINE
A 29.6-carat blue diamond, one of the most rare and most coveted in the world with a possible price tag of tens of millions of dollars, has been discovered at the Cullinan mine near Pretoria by Petra Diamonds. The miner said the “exceptional” acorn-sized diamond, small enough to fit into the palm of a hand, could outstrip other recent finds. Chief executive Johan Dippenaar told Reuters it was “probably the most significant stone we’ve ever, in terms of blue stones, recovered”. The mine was also where the Cullinan Diamond was found in 1905 – described as the largest rough gem diamond ever recovered and weighing 3,106 carats. A 25.5-carat Cullinan blue diamond, found in 2013, was sold for $16.9 million. Dippenaar said the company would decide what to do with the diamond in the next week.
ANC EMPLOYEES LINKED TO FAKE SIGN LANGUAGE INTERPRETER RESIGN
The ANC says two employees linked to the company that employed a fake sign language interpreter at former president Nelson Mandela’s memorial service have resigned. Spokesman Keith Khoza said the pair – ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu’s personal assistant Cikizwa Xozwa and her husband Rev Bantubahle Xozwa, head of the ANC’s Religious and Traditional Affairs desk – weren’t fired. “No reasons were given. They just submitted their resignation letter. It happened in December after the incident,” Khoza told Sapa. The couple allegedly owned the company Thamsanqa Jantjie worked for.
OUTRAGED DELFT COMMUNITY SWAMP COURT AS RAPIST APPEARS
A nine-year-old girl is in hospital fighting for her life while her alleged attacker, a 27-year-old man, appeared in the Bellville Magistrates’ Court in Cape Town on charges of kidnapping and raping her and setting her alight. Furious Delft residents packed the court and the passage outside, leading the police to fire teargas to disperse them, Sapa reported. Prosecutor Sarah Dowries said the state would oppose bail and that the man would remain in custody. The girl was attacked on Saturday night and found early on Sunday. The local community saw the man walking around with bloodstained clothes. They detained him, and called the police despite other residents demanding he be handed over to them for justice. A local resident said the man knew the girl’s family.
HOMELESS MAN SHOT BY SECURITY GUARDS IN DURBAN
A homeless man has been shot dead and nine others injured by security guards hired by the eThekwini Municipality in Durban’s central business district. Residents and the homeless community believe the attack was part of an effort by Durban’s city authorities to force vagrants out of the city’s central business district, the Daily News reported. A spokesperson for the municipality said they had no knowledge of the attacks and would investigate further. Police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane told the newspaper a man had been shot, but could not confirm if he’d died, saying the matter was under investigation. A resident said the area looked like a “war zone” following the shootings. DM
Photo: Fikile Mbalula (REUTERS)
Some firing squads are all issued with blank cartridges with the exception of one person. This helps alleviate personal responsibility for the execution squad.