A round-up of the day’s news from South Africa.
MAN ARRESTED AT SANRAL OFFICES FOR BOMB SCARE
The man accused of being behind a bomb scare at the South African National Roads Agency Limited is not an employee of Sanral, but of one of the agency’s service providers. The man, who will appear at the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court today for acts of terrorism, was arrested at Sanral’s offices. Spokesman for The Hawks, Captain Paul Ramaloko, said a cellphone the police suspect was used to make the phone call warning Sanral of the ‘bomb’ was in the man’s possession. “He was arrested by our organised crime unit in connection with acts of terrorism,” Ramaloko said. “We are convinced that we nabbed the mastermind behind the bomb scare,” he said, adding that he believed the man was not acting alone.
HECTOR PIETERSON’S SISTER JOINS DA
The sister of Hector Pieterson, the young boy killed by the apartheid police on 16 June 1976 during the Soweto uprising, has joined the Democratic Alliance. The party’s Gauteng premier candidate, Mmusi Maimane, announced that Lulu Pieterson had joined the DA at the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto. “Lulu joins the DA at a historic time in our nation’s struggle for a better life. The political freedom that the ’76 generation struggled for has been attained. But economic freedom through job creation remains elusive,” Maimane said. “Many, like Hector Pieterson, paid the highest price for change and we honour his memory today.” Maimane said Pieterson’s decision showed South Africa was “transcending the old divisions and creating a new political movement to bring positive change to South Africa”.
AMCU REJECTS WAGE OFFER FROM TOP PLATINUM PRODUCERS
AMCU has rejected a 9% wage offer from leading platinum producers, prolonging a week of industrial action that has combined with a severe emerging market sell-off to push the rand to five-year lows, Reuters reported. The strike has hit around 40% of the global supply of platinum, used in catalytic converters in cars, and magnified concerns about the trade deficit in South Africa due to its impact on a big source of foreign exchange. Thousands of miners at a football stadium near Lonmin’s Marikana mine – scene of the police killing of 34 strikers in 2012 – reacted with boos and jeers when told about the offer tabled after four days of government-brokered talks.
COURT RULES AMCU’S PROPOSED GOLD STRIKE UNPROTECTED
The Labour Court in Johannesburg has ruled a proposed strike by AMCU at several gold mines would be unprotected, the Chamber of Mines said in a statement. The interim order interdicts the union from proceeding with the strike or encouraging its members from embarking on the strike. AMCU has until 14 March to give reasons why it shouldn’t be made final. AMCU has indicated it intends to fight the order. The Chamber of Mines and the Gold Producers used a wage agreement between the gold sector and the NUM, UASA and Solidarity – representing 72% of gold mineworkers – reached last year as the basis for its application.
EFF CONDEMNS POLICE BRUTALITY TOWARDS PROTESTORS
South Africa’s police are “incapable of protecting democratic expression in our communities”, the Economic Freedom Fighters say. The party, headed by former ANC Youth League president, Julius Malema, was responding to reports of the deaths of three people in the village of Relela in Limpopo, allegedly at the hands of police. EFF said it was time for South Africa to consider a different public order policing policy as the “shoot to kill” approach had resulted in the murder of protestors across South Africa. Earlier, Sapa reported that the wife of one of the victims, Stanley Selowa, was killed on his way to an EFF meeting in the village. Dikeledi Selebe said all he wanted was to meet Malema face to face.
POLICE MINISTER DEFENDS TRAINING OF
Police minister Nathi Mthethwa says attacks by community members on police stations and police vehicles were not highlighted enough. Speaking at the opening of a new police university in Paarl, Mthethwa said not all police officers were brutal in nature, and that the behaviour of “certain individuals” should not be a “reflection of the entire institution”. He said despite some “segments of our society have questioned our training curriculum, particularly when it comes to some of the violent public protests”, he believed it was on a par with that of developed nations. Mthethwa said his ministry was strengthening control, oversight and accountability at all levels of the police service.
NZIMANDE CONCERNED ABOUT VIOLENCE AT UNIVERSITIES
Higher education students who performed poorly in 2013 will likely not be funded in 2014, says Blade Nzimande. “We need to fund deserving students and not professional students,” Nzimande told a media briefing in Pretoria. Nzimande said the NSFAS scheme, established to provide bursaries and loans to poor but academically deserving students, was one of government’s major success stories. But despite an increased budget, there was still not enough money for the scheme. NSFAS provides funding only to those students who have a course pass rate of at least 50%. The minister said he was concerned about violent demonstrations at various higher learning institutions over registration, fees and loans. He urged students to use strikes as the last resort and to engage management first. DM
Photo:Paramedics wheel a staff member of the Durban University of Technology, injured during a student protest, off to a waiting ambulance. Students are demanding that they be registered despite unpaid fees. (Picture: Giordano Stolley/SAPA)
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