South African Protesters Demand Crackdown On Femicide

 

With placards stating “enough is enough”, hundreds of protesters marched in Johannesburg on Friday to protest at gender-based violence in one of the world’s most crime-ridden countries.

Demonstrations in South Africa have been mounting over the rising toll of murders, rapes and abuse of women and girls, and a sense of impunity and government failure that surrounds it.

“I deal with kids coming through my door complaining about rape,” said Tshego Modisane, a 27-year-old teacher from the township of Soweto.

“They say ‘I have been raped by my uncle, violated by my dad, my step-dad,'” she told AFP, clutching a sign that read “YES #menaretrash”.

“All these kids are vulnerable girls who have nowhere else to go.”

Police crime figures released on Thursday showed that sexual offences including rape rose 4.6 per cent over a year.

More than 40,000 incidents of rape were reported to the police between April 2018 and March 2019 – a figure likely to be far short of the true numbers.

President Cyril Ramaphosa vowed to review laws and crackdown on perpetrators last week, after hundreds of women assembled on the sidelines of an economic summit in Cape Town to draw attention to the issue.

But frustrated by the pace of change, some 500 demonstrators – mainly women – gathered again in Johannesburg to demand “action not words”.

“It will not be business as usual,” they chanted, as police watched on the sidelines.

“The law just has to be stricter. There should be no bail for rapists, it’s ridiculous,” said Natalie Pool, 36, adding that she remained sceptical about Ramaphosa’s promises.

 

‘Hush Culture’

Blood-stained sheets and clothing were laid out in front of Johannesburg’s stock exchange in Sandton – one of the city’s most affluent areas – to call for more support from businesses and banks.

“Dear private sector, your silence is uncomfortable,” an organiser shouted into a megaphone, before inviting participants to observe a moment of silence for the latest victims.

South Africans have recently been shocked by the separate murders of three young women.

A 19-year old university student and a 14-year old schoolgirl were killed in Cape Town earlier this month – the former raped and beaten to death on her way to a post office.

 

Boxing champion Leighandre “Baby Lee” Jegels, 25, was allegedly shot dead by her partner, who was a police officer, last month.

Their stories triggered outcry and soul-searching in a country that often appears numb to murder and sexual violence.

“There was a whole lot of hush culture when it came to abuse, particularly around gender-based violence and sexual issues,” Eden Bohulu, 22, told AFP at the protest.

“These issues have always existed but I think it’s only now that we’ve decided to fight.”

Siboso Mohlwayo was among the minority of men attending the event.

A young astronomy student, he was protesting in support of his sister, now in high school, who was sexually assaulted as a child.

He was disappointed by the male turnout.

“All of them should have come out as it’s their responsibility as humans to fight,” he said, the word “Amandla” – Zulu for “power” – printed on his T-shirt.

Their absence, he said, “shows how much disappointment we can expect from our own nation.”

South African Ex-Footballer Batchelor Shot Dead Outside Home

former South African footballer Marc Batchelor (2L) attends the ongoing murder trial of paralympian athlete Oscar Pistorius in Pretoria.

 

Former South African footballer Marc Batchelor was shot dead in an apparent targeted killing on Monday evening as he drove home in Johannesburg, police said.

“He was driving to his house and he was accosted by two guys on a motorcycle,” police spokesman Lungelo Dlamini told AFP.

“They fired shots at him and he died in his vehicle and the suspects drove away without taking anything,”

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“This happened outside his house in Olivedale (northern Johannesburg).”

Police said the motive of the attack was unknown and that no arrests had yet been made.

Local media carried photographs showing his bullet-riddled car window.

Batchelor, 49, played for the South Africa’s two largest rivals teams Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs as well as Mamelodi Sundowns, Moroka Swallows and Supersport United.

He had a long-running feud with Paralympic sprint star Oscar Pistorius who was convicted of murdering Reeva Steenkamp in 2013.

Batchelor claimed the sprinter threatened to break his legs in a dispute over a girlfriend.

South African President Admits Economy ‘Extremely Weak’

Cyril Ramaphosa 
AFP

 

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday described the country’s economic outlook as “extremely weak” as he vowed to speed up emergency funding for the debt-laden Eskom state power supplier.

Ramaphosa delivered a downbeat economic assessment in his first state-of-the-nation address since the ruling ANC party won elections in May.

“Our country is confronted by severe challenges. Our economy is not growing. Not enough jobs are being created. This is the concern that rises above all others,” he said.

Ramaphosa came to power last year and has vowed to revive the economy after the scandal-tainted presidency of Jacob Zuma.

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But unemployment remains near-record highs and the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by 3.2 percent in the first three months of 2019.

“The economic outlook is extremely weak,” he said. “For growth, we need a reliable and sustainable supply of electricity.”

He warned that Eskom faced “serious financial, operational and structural problems” and could currently only meet its financial commitments until October.

Ramaphosa announced a special parliamentary bill would be introduced to rapidly allocate “a significant portion” of the 230 billion rand ($16 billion) needed by Eskom to survive.

“Eskom is too vital to our economy to be allowed to fail,” he said.

The state utility, which generates 90 percent of the nation’s energy, has debts of $30 billion, and its potential collapse is seen as the biggest threat to spurring growth in Africa’s most developed economy.

– ‘A national crisis’ –
Eskom imposed a period of rotational power rationing in February, plunging offices, factories and homes into darkness for long hours and sparking public anger at the ANC government.

South Africa’s unemployment hovers at over 27 percent — soaring far higher among young people.

“The fact that the unemployment rate among young South Africans is more than 50 percent is a national crisis,” Ramaphosa said.

“More young people are entering the labour force every year… The brutal reality is that when it comes to youth unemployment, we have to run just to remain in the same place.”

The ANC won the May 8 election with 57.5 percent of the vote, its smallest majority since it led the fight against apartheid rule that was replaced by multi-racial democracy in 1994.

Ramaphosa said he had five major 10-year goals: ending hunger, economic growth outstripping population growth, two million jobs for young people, every 10-year-old being able to read and halving violent crime.

He repeated his pledges to tackle government corruption and said he wanted South Africa to build a new city from scratch.

Mmusi Maimane, leader of the Democratic Alliance opposition party, said the “president talks in high dream language and fails to understand South Africans are living a nightmare.”

South African Voters Will Vote For Good Governance, Says Jonathan

 

 

Former President Goodluck Jonathan has said that South African voters will vote for good governance in the elections.

He said that the rallies have had an impressive turnout which shows that South Africans will do their best to vote in good leaders.

“We are impressed by the rallies raising key issues for the voters; we believe that the voters will do their best to vote the people they believe in.

“We believe that they can vote in good governance”

The former President disclosed this in an interview with Channels Television’s South African Bureau Chief, Betty Dibia, shortly before South Africans on Wednesday headed to the polls.

He noted that elections can be better conducted and managed if the right things are put in place.

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“The key thing about elections is the body managing the election and the security, the police.

“If the stakeholders, the political parties have confidence in these two organisations, then, of course, we are quite hopeful”.

On Nigeria’s elections, the former President says he is optimistic that there can be an improvement, following his visit to other African countries.

“I have gone to many African nations as leader of different observation missions including the Commonwealth, African Union, National Democratic Institute, and of course EISA and I am quite impressed and hopeful that the standard of managing of our elections will continue to improve.

“I believe that if we improve our standard of elections, we will get to that point where people, using their vote, can remove a leader they feel is not leading them well”.

South Africans are certain to return the ruling ANC despite anger over corruption scandals, sluggish growth, and record unemployment.

South African Minister In Leaked Sex Video Rejects Calls To Quit

Mob Burns Nigerian To Death In South Africa

 

South Africa’s embattled home affairs minister said Sunday he would not resign after the country’s public standards watchdog said he lied under oath and following the leaking of a private sex video.

“I’m not going to resign,” minister Malusi Gigaba told the privately owned eNCA television channel, but added “I will obviously be guided” by the President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ruling African National Congress.

The country’s ombudswoman on Tuesday said the minister had lied in court while testifying last year in a case filed by a company controlled by the wealthy Oppenheimer family.

The court case hinged on whether Gigaba had approved a private terminal at Johannesburg airport for the Oppenheimer.

In an unrelated case, Gigaba, 47, last Sunday said on twitter he had been the target of extortion attempts by an opposition politician after a sex video emerged following what he described as theft by hacking.

The defiant Gigaba said he was not just simply trying to hang on to his job.

“It’s about fighting to protect my integrity and to protect my image and to ensure that I do not become a victim of devious political campaigns. I will not be trampled upon,” said the minister.

He said he would soon meet president Ramaphosa “to put my side of the story”.

Speaking to public broadcaster SABC, Gigaba added that the leaking of the video had been politically motivated.

“We (Gigaba and his wife) have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of,” he said.

“I dont have a problem…. It was intended to embarrass me, to decapacitate me politically, to humiliate me and my family publicly, to embarrass the African National Congress,” he said.

Ombudswoman Busisiwe Mkhwebane has recommended that Ramaphosa take disciplinary action against the minister for “telling an untruth under oath and before a court of law”.

Gigaba served as finance minister for a year under Jacob Zuma, who was ousted as president in February over corruption. When Ramaphosa succeeded Zuma, he moved him to the home affairs ministry in February 2018.

AFP

Former South African Central Bank Governor Mboweni Takes Over As Finance Minister

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa congratulates newly appointed Finance Minister Tito Mboweni

 

The former South African Central Bank Governor, Tito Mboweni, has taken over as the country’s Finance Minister.

Mr Mboweni’s appointment follows the resignation of the former Finance Minister, Nhlanhla Nene.

South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, said on Tuesday that he had accepted the resignation of Nhlanhla Nene and appointed Tito Mboweni as his replacement.

Nene faced calls to resign after he admitted visiting the Gupta brothers, friends of scandal-plagued former president Jacob Zuma who have been accused of high-level influence-peddling, and failing to disclose the meetings earlier.

Zuma and the Guptas have denied any wrongdoing.

The rand firmed moments before Mboweni was announced finance minister at a ceremony in Cape Town.

Ramaphosa said he had received a resignation letter from Nene and had decided to accept it.

“It’s a measure of his character and commitment to the country that he has decided to resign despite not being implicated in any wrongdoing,” the president said.

“I am confident that Mr Mboweni will bring the leadership that is needed now,” Ramaphosa said.

“As the former governor of the Reserve bank and before that as minister of labour Mr Mboweni brings with him vast experience in areas of finance, economic policy as well as governance.”

Nene became a divisive figure in the scandal after acknowledging in a hearing that he had visited the Gupta brothers at their homes in Johannesburg, a confession his opponents said tarnished his credentials. He publicly apologized on Friday.

The Gupta brothers – Ajay, Atul and Rajesh – have been accused of using their friendship with Zuma, Ramaphosa’s predecessor, to siphon off billions of rand in state funds and of inappropriately influencing cabinet appointments.

The crisis over the finance minister had thrown a spotlight on Ramaphosa’s promise to crack down on corruption and boost economic growth.

South African Poultry Group Seeks To Suspend U.S. Import Quota

 

The South African Poultry Association (SAPA) has filed a legal action to force the government to suspend a quota that excluded imports of U.S. poultry from South Africa’s anti-dumping tariff, a senior official with the association said on Tuesday.

The decision by SAPA was a response to the Trump administration’s decision to include South Africa among countries subject to U.S. tariffs on their aluminium and steel exports.

“We’ve pulled the trigger,” Marthinus Stander, chairman of SAPA’s broiler organisation, told Reuters, referring to the legal action the association had threatened for more than a month.

SAPA argues tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminium imports imposed by Washington earlier this year violated the 2015 quota agreement.

That deal – agreed as part of the renewal of South Africa’s benefits under the United States’ flagship trade legislation for Africa, AGOA – allowed U.S. producers to export 65,000 tonnes of so-called “bone-in” poultry to the South African market.

South African Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies acknowledged that the government had received the court papers but declined to comment further.

Hundreds Of South African Gold Miners Treated For Smoke Inhalation

Hundreds of South African gold mine workers were rescued and over 100 treated for smoke inhalation after an underground fire, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Thursday.

Safety is a huge issue in South Africa’s dangerous deep-level mines and a focus for investors. A spate of deaths at Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold operations, including a seismic event that killed seven miners in early May, has highlighted the risks.

In the latest incident, more than 600 miners were initially trapped after a fire broke out at a mine east of Johannesburg operated by unlisted Gold One, NUM said.

This comes almost two weeks after five miners died in an underground fire at a South African copper mine operated by unlisted Palabora Mining Company in Limpopo.

Company officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

“As the NUM, we vehemently condemn this kind of incident as it is becoming a trend,” the union said in a statement.

Johnson Banned For Six Months Over Failed Doping Test

Ashley Johnson has been given a six-month ban for a failed drugs test ( GETTY IMAGES )

 

Former South African rugby international Ashley Johnson said he was horrified to discover he had taken a banned substance, after receiving a six-month ban on Thursday.

The 32-year-old Wasps star — capped three times by the Springboks — had the ban backdated to February 7, making him eligible to play again from August 6 2018, as the independent panel deemed he had not acted with intent.

Johnson, who can play at either hooker or in the back row and has been with Wasps since 2012, can resume training immediately.

“Johnson tested positive for the presence of a specified substance, hydrochlorothiazide (S5 Diuretics and Masking Agents), following an out-of-competition test at the Premiership club,” read the panel’s findings.

“The South African’s urine sample returned an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) after being tested on 7 February 2018.

“The 32-year-old claimed the AAF was the result of mistakenly consuming his wife’s dietary supplement – a fat burner called “The Secret” – which she purchased from South Africa.

“The product was tested by both the player and the RFU for hydrochlorothiazide, which was not listed in the product’s ingredients, and on both occasions, it returned a positive result.

“The independent panel accepted that the prohibited substance was not ingested intentionally.”

Stephen Watkins, the Anti-Doping and Illicit Drugs Programme Manager for the Rugby Football Union (RFU), said Johnson should have been more responsible about finding out what the ingredients were in the product.

“Ashley Johnson was careless in his failure to acknowledge his responsibilities as a rugby player and ensure he was dutiful in checking what he consumed,” he said.

“The risk of contamination in supplements is significant to all players and therefore we advise that there is no guarantee that a supplement is free from prohibited substances.”

Johnson, who signed a contract extension with Wasps last November, said this would make him be far more attentive in the future.

“I was horrified when I got the test results and once we tracked back and worked out I had inadvertently taken the wrong tablet,” said Johnson.

“I completely accept that I am responsible for everything in my body. Drug use is not something I would ever condone, and from now on I will be extra vigilant at all times.”

AFP

South African President To Visit Buhari, Discuss Global Issues

This combination photo shows President Muhammadu Buhari and South Africa’s new President, Cyril Ramaphosa

 

 

The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, will be visiting Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, to discuss bilateral and global issues among the two countries.

President Ramaphosa who has been invited by President Buhari is expected in the country from July 10-11, 2018.

During his visit, he will be participating in the 2018 Annual Meeting and 25th Anniversary Celebrations of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).

As the continent’s two largest economies, South Africa and Nigeria enjoy good political, economic and social relations formally established in 1994, immediately after South Africa’s first democratic elections.

While in Nigeria, it is expected that the two Presidents will discuss a wide range of bilateral, continental and global issues of common concern. Peace, stability and continental integration will feature prominently in their discussions.

Formal relations between South Africa and Nigeria have been conducted through the Bi-National Commission (BNC), established in 1999 as a structured bilateral mechanism to promote political, economic, social, cultural, scientific and technical cooperation between the two countries.

The BNC has over the years deepened and solidified the relations between the two countries, and laid the foundation for increased bilateral political and economic cooperation.

Bilateral cooperation has been enhanced over the years to the extent that there are thirty-four (34) signed bilateral agreements between the two countries which cover various areas such as arts and culture, education, agriculture, trade and investment, mining, defence, policing, immigration, taxation, science and technology, health, tourism, environment and energy amongst others.

South Africa and Nigeria also enjoy strong economic cooperation demonstrated by the increasing trade and investment flows between the two sister Republics.

For example, South Africa exported goods valued at R6, 4 billion in 2016 while Nigerian exports to South Africa totalled R30, 4 billion. In 2017, South African exports were valued at R5, 7 billion against R22, 8 billion imports from Nigeria. Nigeria enjoys a huge trade deficit due to the increasing South African importation of petroleum products.

There are over 120 South African companies currently doing business in Nigeria in various sectors, mainly in telecommunications, banking, retail, hospitality, mining, tourism, agriculture and construction and tourism. Some of the South African companies that have invested in Nigeria include MTN, Multichoice, Stanbic Bank, Shoprite Checkers, South African Airways, Sasol and Bon Hotels, to mention a few.

President Ramaphosa will be accompanied by the Ministers of Defence & Military Veterans; Energy, Police and Deputy Minister of Trade & Industry.

South African Power Supply Hit By Protests At Eskom Plants

 

South Africa’s cash-strapped state utility Eskom said some of its power stations were operating below full capacity on Wednesday after union members blocked some staff from entering around 10 plants because of a wage dispute.

Two labour unions, angered by Eskom’s failure to raise salaries as it embarks on a cost-cutting drive, have warned that thousands of their members will march to Eskom’s headquarters on Thursday to keep up the pressure in the wage talks.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has made stabilising state-owned firms such as Eskom a priority since he replaced scandal-plagued Jacob Zuma in February, in an acknowledgement of the threat they pose to the country’s strained public finances.

Eskom, which produces more than 90 percent of South Africa’s power, has so far refused to cede to demands by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) to raise salaries by 15 percent.

A third union, Solidarity, is also unhappy with Eskom’s decision to keep salaries flat but did not protest on Wednesday.

“We have activated our contingency plans. All power stations are operating, some of them not at full strength,” Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe told a news conference.

He added that a dispute-resolution body would try to broker a wage deal between Eskom and the disgruntled unions.

Thava Govender, an Eskom executive responsible for generation, said shift workers had been intimidated as they arrived for work on Wednesday and that around 10 power plants were operating with reduced operating and maintenance staff.

Govender said Eskom was not able to quantify how severely power supplies had been affected but that it would become clear when demand peaked later in the day.

Eskom spokesman Khulu Phasiwe said police were at several power stations to protect staff and Eskom equipment.

Power supplies could also be affected on Thursday as NUM energy coordinator Paris Mashego said unions could bring more than 20,000 out of a total of 47,000 Eskom employees to a picket at the utility’s headquarters in Johannesburg.

Eskom narrowly avoided a liquidity crunch early this year and was embroiled in corruption scandals involving the Gupta family, friends of former president Zuma.

Zuma and the Guptas have denied wrongdoing but their relationship will be the focus of a government corruption inquiry that is due to start in August.

Ramaphosa oversaw the appointment of Eskom’s Hadebe on an interim basis in January in a bid to clean up governance and set the firm on a firmer financial footing. Hadebe’s appointment was made permanent last month.

South African Legend Partners Nigeria Cricket Federation

The Nigeria Cricket Federation (NCF) has secured the services of South African Cricket legend, Makhaya Ntini.

Ntini will work as the Technical Consultant to the Nigerian national team ahead of the upcoming International Cricket Council sub-regional T20 qualifier and African Cricket Association (ACA) Tournament.

Vice-President of NCF and Chairman, Local Organising Committee of the T20 qualifier, Uyi Akpata, confirmed that the coming of Ntini would give the NCF technical bench a depth that is necessary to compliment the effort of the coaching crew ahead of busy schedules in the coming months.

“We have a number of things going well for Cricket nowand the inclusion of Ntini to our technical team would be a big boost to those developments.

A good outing at ICC sub-regional T20 qualifier that we are hosting from April 14th to 21stis also a key deliverable that his coming will help our team with,” he said.

Ntini, a former South African fast bowler, and a former Zambian coach in reaction said he is happy to work with the Nigeria Cricket Federation to realise their vision.

“I want to appreciate the Nigerian Cricket Federation whoinvited me and based on what I have seen in the last few days, I am impressed with the talents I met on ground.”

Ntini will also be expected to run a two-day Fast Bowling Academy for young fast bowling talents in Nigeria.

Coach of the national team, Uthe Ogbimi, appreciated the NCF for bringing in Makhaya Ntini, who was the first black player to play for the South African national cricket team.

According to him this will not only enhance the performance of the national team players but also help develop the game at the grassroot level.

“April is a very crucial month for us as host of the International Cricket Council sub-regional T20 qualifiers and ACA T20 Tournament. We have made a pledge to give our best and then come out tops at the two tournaments Nigeria will be hosting,” he said.

The Nigerian Cricket Federation (NCF) under the leadership of Professor Yahaya Adam Ukwenya have a major objective to return the National Team to global reckoning when it was inaugurated a year ago.

“We had a roadmap when we came on Board and we are keeping strictly to the developmental plans we have outlined. We are most grateful to the ICC and the ACA for granting us hosting rights for 2 international tournaments, back-to-back. With their support and that of our growing number of corporate sponsors, we are confident of a brighter future for Nigerian cricket,” he said.