Court Adjourns Corruption Case Against Zuma Till June

Police Raid House Of Zuma's Allies In Graft Probe

The graft case against South African former president Jacob Zuma was on Friday postponed.

The case was postponed to June 8 after a brief 15-minute hearing at the Durban High Court.

“This matter is adjourned until June 8,” judge Themba Sishi said after being addressed by lawyers from both sides who confirmed that Zuma would appeal against the decision to prosecute him.

Zuma appeared in court Friday on corruption charges of over a multi-billion dollar 1990s arms deal, with the judge adjourning the case after a 15-minute hearing.

Zuma, 75, smiled broadly and gave a thumbs-up as he walked into the Durban High Court building to take his seat in the dock just seven weeks after he was forced to resign from office.

Several hundred vocal Zuma supporters rallied outside to protest against his prosecution, which could see him sent to jail if he is found guilty on 16 charges of corruption, money laundering and fraud.

“He might have made his own mistakes, but we say allow the old man to retire in peace. It is a conspiracy, it’s politically motivated,” pro-Zuma business manager Sphelele Ngwane, 29, told AFP.

On Thursday night more than 100 ardent backers rallied in Albert park in a gritty suburb of Durban to protest his innocence and demand a halt to the prosecution.

“There is an unfairness in the judiciary,” warned bishop Timothy Ngcobo, one of the organisers of Thursday’s gathering.

The protesters sang liberation-era songs including “Umshini Wam”, meaning “Bring me my machine gun”, which Zuma often sang at ANC rallies and gatherings.

Scandal-tainted office term

Police mounted a large security operation outside the court, but the occasion remained peaceful early on Friday.

Zuma is accused of taking bribes from French arms maker Thales over a contract worth several billion dollars (euros) during his time as a provincial economy minister and then deputy ANC president.

Thales, which supplied naval vessels as part of the deal, also faces charges with corruption and a company representative appeared in court alongside Zuma.

Zuma is accused of illicitly pocketing a total of 4,072,499.85 rand — 280,000 euros at today’s exchange rates — from 783 payments handled by Schabir Shaik, a businessman who acted as his financial adviser.

Zuma, who came to power as president shortly after the charges were first dropped in 2009, has always denied any wrongdoing.

Shaik was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2005 based on the same accusations, but a much-criticised 2016 inquiry absolved Zuma of any blame.

Zuma claimed that the inquiry proved that “not a single iota of evidence (shows) that any of the money received by any of the consultants was paid to any officials”.

Last month, prosecutions chief Shaun Abrahams — dubbed “Shaun the Sheep” for his loyalty to Zuma during his presidency — ordered that Zuma be charged with fraud, corruption and money laundering.

The ANC forced Zuma from office in February largely due to his mounting legal challenges and multiple corruption scandals, and it has distanced itself from its former leader.

Zuma’s successor Cyril Ramaphosa has vowed to crack down on government corruption, which he has admitted is a serious problem.

Campaign groups are hoping that the case could set a benchmark for allegedly corrupt leaders to face prosecutions, which are a rarity on the African continent.

AFP

Six South African Miners Killed In Bus Attack

 

Six miners were killed in South Africa’s northern province of Limpopo when a suspected petrol bomb was thrown into their bus, police said Tuesday, adding no motive was known for the attack.

“The bus immediately caught fire, instantly killing six people on board and injuring several others,” police said in a statement.

The bus was carrying night-shift workers to a platinum mine on Monday evening when it was attacked outside the town of Burgersfort.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) called for police to investigate and arrest those responsible, saying there had been a number of recent violent incidents in the area.

“The bus was carrying 39 workers who were going to work at Modikwa Platinum Mine when it was petrol-bombed,” NUM official Phillip Mankge said.

“Six workers were burned beyond recognition and the other workers had to escape through windows.

“We also do not know what is the motive of the attack on those innocent workers who were going to work.”

Winnie Mandela: South Africa’s Flawed Heroine

Winnie Mandela: South Africa's Flawed Heroine
(FILES) In this file photo taken on December 16, 2017, the former wife of the late South African President Nelson Mandela, Winnie Mandela, waves as she attends the 54th ANC National Conference at the NASREC Expo Centre in Johannesburg. MUJAHID SAFODIEN / AFP

 

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s marriage to Nelson Mandela and her anti-apartheid activism ensured many South Africans saw her as “the mother of the nation”, but her past was littered with dark controversies.

Born Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela, and always known simply as “Winnie”, she was married to Nelson for 38 years — one of the most storied romances of modern history.

Most of their marriage was spent apart, with Nelson imprisoned for 27 years, leaving her to raise their two daughters alone and to keep alive his political dream under the repressive white-minority regime.

In 1990 the world watched when Nelson Mandela finally walked out of prison — hand in hand with Winnie.

But they separated just two years later and divorced in 1996 after a legal wrangle that revealed her affair with a young bodyguard.

With or without Nelson, Winnie built her own role as a tough, glamourous and outspoken black activist with a loyal grassroots following in the segregated townships.

“From every situation I have found myself in, you can read the political heat in the country,” she said in a biography.

Winnie was born September 26, 1936, in the village of Mbongweni in what is now Eastern Cape.

She completed university, a rarity for black women at the time, and became the first qualified social worker at Johannesburg’s Baragwanath Hospital.

It was her political awakening, especially her research work in Alexandra township on infant mortality, which found 10 deaths in every 1,000 births.

“I started to realise the abject poverty under which most people were forced to live, the appalling conditions created by the inequalities of the system,” she said.

– Hounded by police –

Nelson Mandela, who was then married to his first wife, met Winnie at a bus stop in Soweto when she was 22.

They wed in June 1958, but he soon went underground, pursued by the apartheid authorities.

In October that year, Winnie was arrested for the first time at a protest by women against the pass system that restricted movements of black people in white-designated areas.

After Nelson was sentenced to life in prison in 1964, Winnie was also in and out of jail as the police hounded her in a bid to demoralise him.

Government security forces tortured her, tried locking her up, confined her to Johannesburg’s Soweto township, and then banished her to the desolate town of Brandfort, where her house was bombed twice.

She was allowed to visit her husband in prison rarely, and they were always divided by a glass screen.

– Linked to ‘necklacing’ –

Throughout the height of apartheid, Winnie remained at the forefront of the struggle, urging students in the Soweto uprising in 1976 to “fight to the bitter end”.

But in the 1980s, the militant-martyr began to be seen as a liability for Mandela and the liberation movement.

She had surrounded herself with a band of vigilante bodyguards called the Mandela United Football Club, who earned a terrifying reputation for violence.

Winnie was widely linked to “necklacing”, when suspected traitors were burnt alive by a petrol-soaked car tyre being put over their head and set alight.

Her notoriety was reinforced by a speech in 1986 when she declared that “with our boxes of matches and our necklaces we shall liberate this country.”

– ‘Something went horribly wrong’ –

In 1991, Winnie was convicted of kidnapping and assault over the killing of Stompie Moeketsi, a 14-year-old boy.

Moeketsi, who was accused being an informer, was murdered by her bodyguards in 1989.

Her jail sentence was reduced to a fine, and she denied involvement in any murders when she appeared before Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings.

“She was a tremendous stalwart of our struggle, and icon of liberation — something went wrong, horribly, badly wrong,” Tutu said as damning testimony implicated her.

She served as a deputy minister in President Mandela’s government, but was sacked for insubordination and eased out of the top ranks of the ruling party.

After a 2003 conviction for fraud, she later rehabilitated her political career winning a seat in parliament in 2009 elections.

But her bitterness emerged in 2010 newspaper interview, saying: “Mandela let us down. He agreed to a bad deal for the blacks.”

She also called Tutu a “cretin” and the reconciliation process a “charade”, though she later claimed the quotes were never meant to be published

Despite it all, she was a regular visitor travelling from Soweto — where she still lived — to Mandela’s bedside in his final months, and she said she was present when he died.

He did not leave her anything in his will.

At her lavish 80th birthday party in Cape Town, Madikizela-Mandela wore a sparkling white dress and beamed with pleasure as she was lauded by guests that included senior politicians from rival parties.

“Mama Winnie has lived a rich and eventful life, whose victories and setbacks have traced the progress of the struggle of our people for freedom,” then vice president Cyril Ramaphosa, who is now president, told guests.

AFP

South African Jazz Legend Hugh Masekela Dies

South African jazz legend Hugh Masekela died on Tuesday aged 78, his family announced, triggering an outpouring of tributes to his music, his long career and his anti-apartheid activism.

“After a protracted and courageous battle with prostate cancer, he passed peacefully in Johannesburg,” Masekela’s family said in a statement.

It hailed his “activist contribution” to music, which it said, “was contained in the minds and memory of millions.”

Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa said that “the nation has lost a one-of-a-kind musician.”

“He uplifted the soul of our nation through his timeless music.”

Masekela fled apartheid South Africa in the early 1960s and did not return for three decades until after the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990.

Among his greatest hits were the anthem “Bring Him Back Home”, demanding Mandela’s freedom from jail, and “Grazing in the Grass”.

Keeping up his international touring schedule into his 70s with energetic shows, his concerts at home often exploded into sing-alongs.

A teenaged Masekela was handed his first trumpet — and later a Louis Armstrong hand-me-down — through anti-apartheid activist priest Father Trevor Huddlestone.

“I took to it like a fish to water. I was a natural,” he recalled.

AFP

Zuma Admits S.Africans ‘Not Happy’ With Ruling ANC Party

Jacob Zuma

South African President Jacob Zuma admitted Saturday that voters were “not happy” with the ruling ANC party as it began a five-day conference to elect his successor as party leader.

Zuma said in his keynote conference address that the African National Congress’s poor local election results last year “were a stark reminder that our people are not happy with the state of the ANC”.

Zuma, who has led the ANC since 2007, detailed problems afflicting the party, which has lost much popularity since Nelson Mandela led it to victory in the 1994 election that ended decades of white-minority rule.

“Petty squabbling that takes us nowhere needs to take back seat, our people are frustrated when we spend more time fighting among ourselves instead of solving the daily challenges they experience,” he said.

“Factionalism has become the biggest threat to our movement.”

Zuma, whose reign has been marred by graft scandals, will step down as ANC chief at the conference but will remain head of state until general elections in 2019.

The two front-runners for the party leadership are his ex-wife and former African Union Commission head Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, a wealthy businessman.

The battle could split the ANC and the conference looks set to be acrimonious.

AFP

South African Policemen Arraigned For Allegedly Robbing Nigerian Man

Another Nigerian Killed In South Africa

 

Five South African policemen have appeared in court on Friday for allegedly robbing a Nigerian man of the sum of 61,000 US Dollars.

Four of the accused have since been dismissed from the police service over the incident and are also currently being prosecuted following an investigation by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).

The five former policemen were accused of robbing the Nigerian man who deals in electronics on July 16, 2015.

During the hearing in court, a set of DVDs were distributed to the lawyers of the five accused police officers, to which they complained of being ambushed by the prosecution.

READ ALSO: Another Nigerian Killed In South Africa

An eyewitness said an unverified but large amount of money and a pack of sim card were taken from the Nigerian man.

The 42-year-old Nigerian claims he had concluded a forex transaction prior to a business trip when he was arrested by the policemen, taken back to his hotel room where his money was allegedly confiscated but not recorded at the Pretoria police station where he was detained for a night.

He said in court that he hopes for justice as he has done nothing wrong.

The case was adjourned to November 13th, 2017 to allow the counsel to the accused person view the CCTV footage presented by the prosecution in court and allow the current witness, the General Manager of the hotel in which the incident allegedly took place, to be cross-examined.

Mugabe’s Wife Surrenders To South African Police

Zimbabwe’s first lady, Grace Mugabe, handed herself into South African police on Tuesday after reports she had assaulted a woman in Johannesburg’s up-market Sandton district over the weekend, eNCA television said.

South African police minister Fikile Mbalula earlier told reporters that he expected to get a report from investigators on Tuesday and that 52-year-old Grace, a possible successor to her husband, Zimbabwe’s 93-year-old president Robert Mugabe, could be arrested.

A Zimbabwean intelligence source said Grace was traveling on a normal passport. “She was here on business,” the source told Reuters.

ANC Lawmakers Resolve To Back Zuma In No-Confidence Vote

South Africa's Zuma Gets Backing From ANCSouth African lawmakers of the African National Congress (ANC) met on Tuesday and resolved to support President Jacob Zuma who is facing a no-confidence motion in parliament later in the day.

Zuma, who also attended the meeting, was described as being calm and jovial by the party’s chief whip Jackson Mthembu.

Several ANC lawmakers could be heard singing as they walked out of the meeting having agreed to support Zuma, he said.

But the Speaker of parliament Baleka Mbete had yesterday given a go ahead for a secret vote on the motion and all eyes are on the legislature to see if president Jacob Zuma will survive this eighth attempt to remove him from office.
While several civil society groups and opposition parties are calling for the president to step down with what has been described as a national shutdown, there are also pro-Zuma supporters who say the president must be left alone to do his job.

South African Alleged Coup Plotter Appears In Court

A thirty three year old South African man accused of planning a series of assassinations has appeared at the Johannesburg magistrate’s today, on a provisional charge of conspiracy to commit murder.

Elvis Ramosebudi, who lives near Pretoria was arrested on Wednesday by the Priority Crimes Unit of the South African police following a six month long investigation.

The alleged plot by the suspect who is allegedly a founding member of one anti-state capture death squad, involves soliciting donations to the tune of one hundred and forty million rand to facilitate the assassination of cabinet ministers and vips including the president and his son Duduzane.

On the list are twenty-three targets.

At the request of the state, the magistrate, adjourned the case to May 2, 2017 for further investigation, by which the accused would be assigned legal representation.

However, he is to remain in custody till then.

South African Finance Minister Says Whether He Stays In Job Is Up To Zuma

south african finance ministerSouth African Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, who is facing an investigation by police that the opposition has called a “witch-hunt”, said on Thursday that whether he remained in office was up to President Jacob Zuma.

Police are investigating Gordhan over the activities of a surveillance unit set up years ago when he headed the tax service, an investigation that has rocked markets and raised concerns over a possible sovereign credit downgrade this year.

Gordhan, who last month declined to obey a police summons linked to the inquiry into whether he used a unit of the tax service to spy on politicians including Zuma, said he had complied with the probe by the elite police unit Hawks.

Investors have become wary since last December when Zuma changed finance ministers twice in one week, sending the rand plummeting.

Gordhan said cabinet appointments were made by Zuma.

“If required to deliver the budget in February, I will be willing to do that,” he said in response to a question from a participant at a book festival which he visited in Cape Town.

“You can arrest me now if you want, but what have I done wrong? I am not required by law to go there. All the questions have been asked and answered,” he said.

Gordhan said he had told the Hawks of his willingness to cooperate but the police were yet to contact him.

Zuma has said he backs Gordhan but cannot stop the investigation. Some senior members in the ruling African National Congress party have criticized the finance minister for not obeying the police summons.

In December, Zuma sacked Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister and replaced him with then relatively unknown lawmaker Des van Rooyen, sparking a wave of financial turmoil.

In a dramatic U-turn, Zuma replaced Van Rooyen with Gordhan who had previously held the post from 2009 to 2014, when he was replaced with Nene.

With the economy forecast by the central bank to record zero growth this year, the political tensions surrounding Gordhan have unnerved investors and hit the rand and government bonds.

Pistorius Gets Six Years Jail Term For Girlfriend’s Murder

oscarParalympics gold medalist, Oscar Pistorius, has been sentenced to six years in prison for the 2013 murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

The South African was taken to jail immediately.

The verdict comes after his initial five-year conviction for manslaughter was changed to murder last December on appeal.

The state had called for him to receive no less than the prescribed minimum of 15-year sentence for murder.

In an hour-long session, Judge Thokozile Masipa said mitigating circumstances, such as rehabilitation and remorse, outweighed aggravating factors for deviating from the prescribed 15-year sentence for murder.

“Public opinion may be loud and persistent, but it can play no role in the decision of this court,” High Court judge Thokozile Masipa said in her ruling.

Pistorius, 29, shot Reeva Steenkamp four times through a locked toilet door in February 2013.

He admitted shooting her, but said he mistook Ms Steenkamp for an intruder and acted out of fear.

South African Shanty-Town Demolition Sparks Riots, Two Guards Killed

south africa3The demolition of shacks north of the South African capital Pretoria triggered riots on Monday and overnight in which two security guards were killed, police said on Tuesday.

Four people had been arrested and would be charged with public violence while a fifth faced a charge of murder, police spokesman Tsekiso Mofokeng said.

Poverty, a swelling population and migration from the countryside is aggravating a shortage of urban housing in South Africa, leading to sprawling informal settlements springing up.

“We have intensified our patrols in the area and the situation is under control at the moment,” Mofokeng said.

He said the operation to demolish shacks in the Hammanskraal township, which had been ordered by the local authorities, had been suspended.

The latest flare-up comes ahead of local government elections in August where the ruling African National Congress, which came to power in 1994 when white minority rule fell, is expected to face a tough test especially in urban centers where unemployment and poverty have led to mushrooming shanty-towns.

President Jacob Zuma is also beset with scandals and his opponents are seeking to capitalise on what they see as his economic and political missteps.