Tuesday, February 28, 2006

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS

BUSH RADIO: DEBATE

This week Bush Radio 89.5FM hosted a discussion between political parties who are contesting the local government elections, which takes place on Wednesday, March 1st, 2006. Those present at the debate were:

ANC – James Ngculu
DA – Helen Zille
ID – Simon Grinrod
PIM – Jody Fester
WIVL – Shahied Mohammed
PAC – Yasien Mohamed

Raymond Silinga hosted the discussion.

The following are pictures taken during the debate.


Above: The Bush Radio team hard at work behind the scenes

Above: The debate, which was not without heated moments, gets underway

Above: A rare sight: Representatives of six of the political parties contesting the local election, seated peacefully around the table

Pics courtesy of Adrian Louw, Bush Radio


The discussion will be broadcast exclusively on Bush Radio 89.5FM. You can also listen online @ www.bushradio.co.za






Boy stabbed to death in school toilet

By Megan Hartogh

An eleven-year-old boy died yesterday morning, after being stabbed to death in a toilet cubicle at his school. Dane Darries was a pupil at the Stephen Road Primary school in Lotus River. Director for the Metropole south education management district, Eugene Daniels, says that Darries was found with several stab wounds to his chest at around 11 A.M. Police have not ruled out the possibility that Darries was stabbed by a fellow pupil.

Cape Town local election under threat

By Nadia Samie

The upcoming local government election could be under threat in Cape Town after a small party launched a last-minute application to the electoral court in Bloemfontein. The United Party of South Africa came about after last-year’s floor-crossing period in Parliament.
The United Party will now ask the Electoral Court to postpone the poll in the metropole, as it is contesting the Independent Electoral Commissions decision to disallow it from contesting 36 wards in the city. The IEC cites that the party had failed to provide a full list of candidates before the January 19th deadline.

Cape Town wakes up in darkness again

By Nadia Samie

Cape Town woke up in darkness once again this morning, in a series of rolling blackouts. The city’s Charles Kadalie, has placed the blame firmly with Eskom. Kadalie says that this morning’s blackout came after transmission lines crashed at about 2-o-clock this morning, resulting in a complete shutdown.
Kadalie says that Eskom is facing major challenges at present, as the demand is too high to handle and has a domino effect. Loadshedding is expected to take place across the city, throughout the day. There has as yet been no official comment from Eskom. Bush Radio news will keep you updated as the story unfolds. Wayne Le Roux, spokesperson on traffic for the city, says that critical intersections will be manned during peak times.

Monday, February 27, 2006

90 left homeless after informal settlement fire

By Megan Hartogh

At least 90 people have been left homeless, after a fire destroyed 52 shacks in the Mandela Park informal settlement in Hout Bay on Sunday. According to Disaster Management spokesperson, Wilfred Solomons, the fire was the result of an unattended candle tipping over. Solomons says that the victims have received donations of blankets, food parcels and clothing. He says that there have also been promises by the solid waste department to have the area cleared in order for people to salvage what is left of their belongings and start re-building their homes. The man who left the candle unattended, sustained first degree burns, and is receiving treatment in a local hospital.

Africa to benefit from 2010 World Cup

A government-backed programme to ensure that the hosting of the 2010 soccer World benefits the entire continent, is to be launched. This was announced by Local Organising Committee CEO Danny Jordaan when he addressed a meeting of the African Editors Forum in Johannesburg yesterday. Jordaan said that plans were already being made to launch the African Legacy Programme in July. He said the committee planned to use the hosting of the tournament to facilitate development on the continent. Jordaan pointed out that it was important that after the World Cup, the continent's people should have something positive to cherish.

Survey puts ANC well ahead in election run-up

Independent pollster Markinor says according to its latest survey the ANC is likely to take 65 to 70 percent of the vote in Wednesday’s local elections, gaining on the 59 percent it garnered in the last local poll in 2000. However, this will be no better than the 70 percent it got in the 2004 national vote, suggesting that the party may have hit a political ceiling. A director and political analyst at Markinor, Mari Harris, is quoted as saying the ANC probably will win everywhere, but with a very close race in Cape Town. According to Harris the poll, released at the weekend, was based on surveys conducted with three-thousand-500 voters two weeks ago.

Braai could make you stupid

South Africans have been warned that braaied meat could make you mentally sluggish. The braai is considered as a national pastime in some circles, but a leading British nutrition expert has warned that too much charred meat is bad for the brain. Patrick Holford says bad fats found in burnt meat make the brain thicker, while good fats usually have more health benefits.

Identity fraud costs South Africa billions

Fraud through improper use of identity documents went up by 29 percent last year, and cost South Africa an estimated 40-billion rands. This comes as government is finalising plans to introduce new smartcard identity cards. The Sunday Independent reports that The department of home affairs says the current ID book is easy to forge, as the photographs can easily be replaced. Pat Cunningham of South African Fraud Prevention Services says the organisation has a list of 45 thousand names on its database of people who had committed fraud by using identity documents that did not belong to them.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

City of Cape Town attacks Eskom

The City of Cape Town has attacked Eskom openly and says the energy utility is silent about the truth of the power dilemma in the Western Cape. It has also come to light that an unusual incident took place at Koeberg Power Station at the weekend, placing it in a state of emergency. City council public lighting manager Charles Kadalie says that Eskom was arrogant and hiding something. He says Eskom does as it pleases because it has the monopoly on power in South Africa. Kadalie adds that Eskom has lost its credibility as a power supplier and the council cannot believe it any more. Meanwhile Eskom spokesperson Tony Stott says Koeberg’s Unit 2 tripped out at the weekend because of faults on the national overhead powerlines. He says the Unit’s protective mechanisms kicked in and switched it off. Stott says for safety's sake Koeberg got power from diesel generators because the Acacia station's power supply was too unstable. Stott adds that Unit 2 will now, after the interruptions, probably be switched off completely for general maintenance.

Sport transformation to be enforced

Sport Minister Makhenkesi Stofile says an act of parliament to enforce sport transformation will be ready by the end of this year. He says the proposed act will urge South Africans to work together resolutely towards social unity and nation building. Stofile says he thinks the set of values used to manage most sport federations are not in line with the fundamental stipulations of Chapter One of the constitution. The chapter refers to – among other things - the rights, privileges and advantages of collective South African citizenship. Stofile reacted to a parliamentary question by Democratic Alliance MP Donald Lee about the government's intentions of implementing a transformation act on sport.

Khayelitsha Armed Robbers to appear in Court

By Busisiwe Mtabane

Three suspects will appear in the Tulbagh Magistrate court today 21-02-2006 on charges of Armed Robbery. The men aged between 29 and 45 are from Khayelitsha and were arrested after an armed robbery that took place in Gouda Hotel in Gouda on Saturday night 18-02-2006. Police spokesperson Captain Randall Stoffels says three other suspects are still at large. Stoffels says police also seized cash and other items taken during the armed robbery.

DA says minister must take responsibility for power outages

The Democratic Alliance says the minister of minerals and energy should take full responsibility for the power outages that hit large parts of the country over the weekend and continue to affect certain areas. Gauteng and the Western Cape were hit by power cuts on Sunday - but parts of the Western Cape were left without power for several hours again today. DA spokesperson Hendrik Schmidt says government has known for years that electricity demand is increasing, but no investments have been made in new generating or distribution capacity. He says this poor planning has been made worse by the skills shortage within Eskom.

Metrorail reconsiders contingency plans following strike chaos

Metrorail will revise its contingency plans following Monday morning’s chaos that left more than 600-thousand train commuters stranded or delayed because of the Transnet strike in Gauteng. Metrorail spokesperson Thandi Mlangeni says the usual plan of deploying alternative transport for train passengers did not work, due to the high number of people using Metrorail’s services. Trains in the Johannesburg and Vaal areas were running at around six-percent, while in Tshwane operations were running at 40 percent. Transnet workers are striking over the proposed restructuring of the parastatal, and have warned of a nationwide strike on the 6th of March if the issue is not resolved.

The ACDP fights to contest the election in the Mother City

The African Christian Democratic Party says it is unlikely that the municipal election in the Cape Town metropole will have to be postponed because of its Constitutional Court challenge. The Electoral Court in Bloemfontein upheld a decision by the IEC that the ACDP could not contest the election in Cape Town as it had not included the city on the list when paying its deposit. The ACDP insists that the bulk payment made to the IEC was enough to cover the deposit. ACDP MP Steve Swart says if the party fails in Monday's Constitutional Court bid, it will be out of the Cape Town metropolitan race as it will have no other legal recourse.

Suspects arrested after Cape Town execution-style murders

Cape Town police have made a breakthrough in the investigation last week’s execution-style murders of three men in Zonnebloem near the city centre. Police have arrested five suspects, aged between 22 and 25. They are appearing in court on Monday and will be charged with murder, attempted murder and armed robbery. The victims, from Athlone, were allegedly hijacked in Woodstock. A fourth man, who was shot and wounded, is in a critical condition in hospital.

More frustrating power cuts for the Cape

Power cuts are continuing to plague parts of the Western Cape as Eskom conducts controlled load shedding to prevent another blackout in the region. Spokesperson Eone de Villiers says they are managing the available capacity, by switching off the power supply to specific areas for about two hours at a time. Load shedding has to be done when the electricity demand is greater than the supply and the Koeberg nuclear power station is not producing any electricity at the moment. Not only areas in Cape Town are affected, but also towns like Hermanus and Calitzdorp. Consumers have been warned that power cuts can be expected until Wednesday evening.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Zuma applies to have corruption charges set aside

Jacob Zuma's legal team is set to launch an application to set aside corruption and fraud charges against him. The bid to halt the state’s case is based on Zuma’s legal team’s claim that the former deputy president’s right to a fair trial has been unfairly prejudiced. According to the Mail & Guardian, Zuma’s lawyer Michael Hulley says they have decide on the application following this week’s court ruling setting aside the search and seizure operations against Zuma in August. Zuma is scheduled to go on trial for fraud and corruption in Durban later this year relating to his relationship with convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik.

Government advised to stop property sales to foreigners

A state-appointed panel of experts has recommended that the South African government suspend the sale of land to foreigners with immediate effect. Agriculture minister Thoko Didiza says the panel has suggested that land sales to foreigners are halted immediately, until appropriate legislation on the issue has been promulgated. This comes after President Thabo Mbeki announced in his state of the nation address that government intends regulating the conditions under which foreigners may buy land in South Africa. There has been speculation that a surge in foreign interest in South African property is pushing prices out of reach for many locals.

Radebe takes hard line with bus owners

Transport Minister Jeff Radebe says bus operators cannot ignore the recent spate of bus accidents that have claimed many lives, including those of children. Radebe told delegates to the South African Bus Operators Association conference that failed brakes had been the main cause of the accidents. He said many of the buses involved in the accidents had been old and unroadworthy and owners would therefore be held responsible. Owners have an obligation to meet the relevant safety standards applicable to buses he said.

Disney settles out of court over South African song

Relatives of the original composer of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" have dropped a lawsuit against Disney after settling for an undisclosed sum of money with an American music publishing house. The family of the late Solomon Linda, who composed the original Zulu tune for the song, had claimed 10-million rands in damages from the entertainment giant. Linda, who died with less than 151 rands in his bank account in 1962, was a Zulu migrant worker who composed the song "Mbube" in Johannesburg in 1939 and recorded it with a singing group called the Evening Birds.

Petrol price expected to drop

Consumers, already buoyed by Finance Minister Trevor Manuel’s so-called good news budget earlier this week, can expect a further bonanza next month when the petrol price is expected to drop. Economists say the petrol price could drop by as much as ten cents a litre because of the over recovery of 11 cents that motorists are paying at present. The over recovery on diesel is one cent and on paraffin almost six cents. The stronger rand and dramatic drop in oil prices are mainly responsible for the expected drop in the price of petrol.

Another twist in the Zuma trial

The KZN newspaper The Witness reports that former deputy president Jacob Zuma’s love child Edward has also faced a rape charge. Edward’s uncle Judge Jeremiah Shongwe recused himself from Zuma’s case earlier this week. Mziwoxolo Edward Zuma was arrested in October 2000 for allegedly raping a fellow student at the University of Zululand. The charges were withdrawn and Zuma's office issued a statement saying the two parties had resolved the matter amicably. It was claimed later that the girl who had laid the charge against Edward Zuma had been paid to drop the charges. The payments formed part of the corruption charges against Jacob Zuma’s financial advisor, Schabir Shaik.

N1 Housing project newsring completion

The unsightly informal settlements and backyard shacks that greet visitors to Cape Town along the highway from the airport should soon be a thing of the past. The N2 Gateway housing project that will house more than 21-thousand households currently living in the shacks is nearing completion. Minister of Housing Lindiwe Sisulu admits the project had caused a number of headaches but says she is excited by the fact that it is eventually nearing completion. Most of the 750 houses in the first phase of the project are already complete. Sisulu said her department would wait until all the structural work had been completed before handing over the houses.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

ACDP tries to stall local elections

By Nadia Samie
If the African Christian Democratic Party has its way, Cape Town may not vote with the rest of the country on March 1st. The ACDP has appealed to the Cape High Court to postpone the local government elections. The shocking announcement came yesterday, when the Electoral Court dismissed the ACPDs case against the Independent Electoral Commission. The ACDP lost its chance to contest the Cape Town election after the party failed to pay the deposit to contest in the metro in time, thus depriving 105 ward candidates the chance to contest.

Manuel cuts tax and increases social spending

Finance Minister Trevor Manuel has announced across-the-board tax relief for individuals, a special tax amnesty for small businesses, and increased social and infrastructure spending in his budget speech. Total tax relief this year would amount to 19-point-1 billion rands, of which 13-point-1 billion rands is in personal income tax relief to individuals. The income threshold below which no tax is payable by individuals will be raised 40-thousand rands.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Ladysmith Black Mambazo singer dies

Jockey Shabalala, a member of South Africa's famous Ladysmith Black Mambazo ensemble, has died. He was 62. The group's record company says Shabalala, whose brother Joseph founded and still leads the Ladysmith Black Mambazo, died on Saturday of natural causes. He had suffered from various ailments. Jockey Shabalala joined Ladysmith Black Mambazo in the 1960s and featured on Paul Simon's Graceland album, which won the Grammy Award for album of the year in 1986. He retired from international travel early last year to spend more time with his family. A funeral service is planned for Saturday in his hometown of Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal.

Baby murder accused to undergo more fingerprint tests

The five people accused of murdering Cape Town baby Jordan Leigh Norton is expected to give yet another set of fingerprints before a fingerprint expert testifies in the case on Wednesday. It is reported that police managed to mislay three sets of alleged mastermind Dina Rodrigues' fingerprints. The prosecution was granted permission in the Cape High Court on Tuesday to take another set from her and her co-accused, although Rodrigues' advocate John van der Berg said taking fingerprints in the middle of a trial was a degrading intrusion which could be perceived as a form of harassment.

Lawyer shot by USA vice president suffers heart attack

The lawyer shot by US Vice-President Dick Cheney in a hunting accident has suffered a minor heart attack. A Texas hospital spokesperson told the BBC that 78-year-old Harry Whittington suffered a heartbeat irregularity caused by a pellet lodged in his heart. Whittington has been moved back into intensive care and will be treated for at least another week. Despite the heart problem, doctors said there were no immediate fears for Whittington's life. Cheney accidentally injured his hunting companion while shooting quail on a ranch in Texas on Saturday.

More revelations in Zuma rape case

Jacob Zuma fathered a son, Edward, with Minah Shongwe, the sister of the deputy judge president of the Transvaal, 29 years ago. It was his biological connection with Judge Jeremiah Shongwe that Zuma's defence team apparently raised with Judge President Bernard Ngoepe on Tuesday after he had recused himself from Zuma's rape trial. The Star reports that the defence would also apparently have raised the issue in court and would have sought Judge Shongwe's recusal, if he had been appointed as the trial judge. The Star has learnt that Zuma's son Edward is very much part of the Zuma clan's life and regularly attends family functions.

Trevor Manuel's budget speech eagerly awaited

South Africa’s taxpayers are holding their breath in anticipation of what Finance Minister Trevor Manuel intends announcing in his tenth Budget Speech today. With as much as 45-billion rands to play with, it is expected that the poor and also pensioners will benefit this year. Financial experts estimate that up to 18-billion rands could be granted in tax-relief. Old Mutual Asset Managers spokesperson Rian le Roux told the media that the revenue bonanza, gleaned from much higher-than-expected tax collections from company tax, VAT, customs duties and individual income tax, would give the government a balanced budget.

Commuter chaos in Cape Town

Tens of thousands of commuters in the Cape Peninsula have found themselves faced with long queues at bus stops and taxi ranks this morning as the strike by Metrorail train drivers and guards begins to bite. Traffic in Cape Town is expected to be chaotic as more people travel into the city by car. The strike follows the failure of talks with unions on Transnet's restructuring plans and could involve up to 100-thousand Transnet employees, including harbour workers. Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott says it is difficult for the company to make contingency plans, as Metrorail will only know how seriously its services have been affected later this morning.

Former Springbok facing weapons charge

Rugby legend James Dalton, who has a reputation as one of the sport's bad boys, is being accused of malicious damage to property. Thirty-three-year-old Dalton, who played for the Springboks, the Blue Bulls and the Lions, appeared in the Hatfield community court in Pretoria on Tuesday. He was also charged with discharging a firearm in a built-up area. The Pretoria News says it is alleged that he fired five shots with a 9mm pistol at a vehicle in Menlyn in December. No one was in the vehicle at the time. Dalton says he is innocent and is being victimised because of his high profile.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Muslims say their battle is not over yet

Cape Town’s Muslim community says yesterday’s massive protest march in the city centre in which tens of thousands of people took part is not the end of their battle. The march was held in protest against the publication of Danish cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammed. Die Burger reports the march was one of the biggest ever in the city. Organisers kept their word and there were no incidents of violence during or after the protest. Muslim Judicial Council president Sheik Ebrahim Gabriels said before the march that anybody that offended the Prophet Mohammed would receive severe punishment in the future.

In his reaction to the publication of the cartoons, President Thabo Mbeki said in Parliament yesterday that South Africa’s Constitution entrenched the right to freedom of speech, but at the same time the Constitution also entrenches the freedom of religion, belief and opinion. Referring to the freedom of expression, Mbeki said the right to such freedom does not extend to the advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion.

Government expresses concern over Zimbabwe

Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has expressed concern about the deteriorating economy of Zimbabwe. Speaking to journalists in Parliament, Dlamini-Zuma said, however, that there were no plans to engage Zimbabwe in talks at this stage. Dlamini-Zuma says she is not aware of Zimbabweans occupying houses in South Africa. This follows reports that about 100 Zimbabweans illegally cross into South Africa daily in search of jobs. When asked of Zimbabwe's new constitution, which President Thabo Mbeki spoke about in an interview with the SABC, the minister said the constitution was there, but had not been amended yet.

Samora Machel’s death to be re-investigated

The investigation is to be re-opened into the death of Mozambican president Samora Machel in a plane crash 20 years ago. The investigation will be led by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions and all police agencies will be involved in the probe. I-Net Bridge quotes safety and security minister Charles Nqakula as saying South Africa owes it to the people of Mozambique to ensure the matter is thoroughly investigated. Nqakula declined to state whether new evidence had come to the fore. He added that there would be no probes at this stage into the deaths of late Communist Party leader Chris Hani, who was assassinated in Boksburg in 1993 by Polish immigrant Janusc Walus.

Muslims protest in Cape Town

Thousands of chanting Muslims and their supporters marched to Cape Town’s City Hall in today’s lunch hour to present a memorandum to Danish Ambassador Torben Brylle in protest to the initial publication in his country of the controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad in various comical situations. Traffic in the city centre came to a virtual standstill for a while to allow the march to go ahead peacefully. The march, organised by the Muslim Judicial Council, was led by a strong contingent of women and children. Another march will be held in Pretoria tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Overberg fires leave 800 families without income

By Nadia Samie

Fires in the Overberg region have left over 800 families without an income, as they had previously been dependent on the flower industry.
Western Cape Premier Ebrahim Rasool visited the area yesterday, accompanied by Agriculture MEC Cobus Dowry, Local Government and Housing MEC Richard Dyantyi and Economic Planning MEC Tasneem Essop. The issue will be discussed today at a provincial cabinet meeting, after which a recommendation will be made as to whether or not to ask President Thabo Mbeki to declare the fire-ravaged area a disaster area. Should it be declared a disaster area, more funds will be made available to rehabilitate the region.

Editor threatened for publishing cartoons

South African Mail and Guardian editor Ferial Haffajee has received threats after her paper reprinted one of the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that had angered Muslim groups internationally. Haffajee says she has received abusive letters and text messages. On Friday, South African Muslim activists won an interdict barring the Sunday Times from printing the cartoons. On the same day the Mail and Guardian published one of the cartoons on its international news page to illustrate a story about last week's protests. Haffajee told BBC News that some groups had threatened to march on the newspaper's offices in Johannesburg. She says she feels she is being targeted personally because she is herself a Muslim.
Meanwhile at least five people have been killed in Afghanistan as protests against the European cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad swept across the country. Two people died when protesters turned on the United States airbase at Bagram - although the US has had no involvement with the images, which originated in a Danish newspaper. In Somalia, a teenage boy died after protesters attacked police. Iran announced it was halting trade with Denmark, as protesters pelted the Danish embassy with petrol bombs. Police fired tear gas in a bid to keep back hundreds of angry demonstrators.
A protest march against the cartoons is to be held in Cape Town on Thursday. The Muslim Judicial Council, who is organising the protest, says it hopes the march will be more peaceful than those held elsewhere.

A cash heist in Cape Town

Cape Town police are searching for a gang of armed robbers following a cash heist in Parow on Monday. Two security guards were collecting money from a store in a shopping centre when two men armed with assault rifles confronted them. Police spokesperson Bernadine Steyn says the men robbed the guards of a firearm and an undisclosed amount of money. Steyn says that the robber’s getaway vehicle with four other robbers inside stopped nearby. Three of theoccupants got out of the vehicle and opened fire on the security vehicle before all the suspects fled the scene.

SA to review labour laws

South Africa is to conduct a formal review of its labour laws as part of new strategies to boost economic growth and reduce poverty in Africa’s biggest economy. A release by the labour department says minister Membathisi Mdladlana will lead the review, which will include the impact of labour law on small businesses. Business leaders and world bodies like the International Monetary Fund have frequently cited South Africa’s labour laws as a major obstacle in investment and job creation.

Baby Jordan trial postponed

The Baby Jordan Leigh Norton murder trial in the Cape Town High Court has been postponed for two days. The five accused - Dina Rodrigues, Zanethemba Gwada, Sipho Mfazwe, Mongezi Bobotyane and a 16-year-old youth - have pleaded not guilty to all charges, including murder and conspiracy to murder. The state alleges 24-year old Rodrigues promised the men 10-thousand rands to murder the 6-month old baby in June last year. Judge Basheer Wagley ordered the postponement, as one of the prosecutors involved in the case is ill.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Rasool to assess fire damage in the Overberg

By Nadia Samie
Western Cape Premier Ebrahim Rasool and MEC for Local Government and housing Richard Dyantyi will assess the damages caused by the fires in the Overberg areas later today. This decision was made after an urgent cabinet meeting held over the weekend.
After the assessment, Rasool will decide whether or not to appeal to President Thabo Mbeki to declare the affected areas a disaster area. Rasool and Dyanty will also hand over new toilet facilities to the beneficiaries in Kleinbegin Bredasdorp. This follows a call made by Dyantyi that the toilet facilities belonging to old and disabled people in the area should be brought closer or attached to their houses. Currently these facilities are situated at about 10- 30 metres away from their houses.

Cape Town woman falls to her death from mountain

A young Cape Town woman fell to her death at the weekend while climbing on the Steenberg mountain range near Muizenberg in the Cape Peninsula. The 21-year-old woman, whose name has not yet been released, fell some 200 metres when a rope she was suspended from snapped. The victim was a keen climber and also enjoyed what is known as “swinging”. This involves swinging from a rope over an overhang. It is thought that the woman’s rope got caught in a rock while she was swinging and the motion chafed the rope until it broke.

Film and video industry in the spotlight

South Africa’s film and video industry will come under the spotlight at a two-day indaba in Mpumalanga this week. MEC for Culture, Sport and Recreation Nomsa Mtsweni is to host the indaba that is aimed at exploring opportunities available in the industry. Spokesperson for the Department of Culture Eustace Jansen says the Indaba is an appropriate cultural platform to map out the future of the industry. Jansen pointed out that the film industry was one of the most successful and rapidly growing economic sectors around the globe.

A cash heist in Cape Town

Cape Town police are searching for a gang of armed robbers following a cash heist in Parow this morning. Two security guards were collecting money from a store in a shopping centre when two men armed with assault rifles confronted them. Police spokesperson Bernadine Steyn says the men robbed the guards of a firearm and an undisclosed amount of money. Steyn said that the robber’s getaway vehicle with four other robbers inside stopped nearby. Three of theoccupants got out of the vehicle and opened fire on the security vehicle before all the suspects fled the scene.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

SA media forbidden from publishing caricature of Prophet Mohammed

The Johannesburg High Court has granted an urgent interdict forbidding the Sunday Times and any other media organisations in South Africa from publishing a controversial cartoon portraying the Prophet Mohammed as a terrorist bomber. The Mail & Guardian Friday published the caricature, which originated in Denmark. It has sparked outrage and protests among Muslims worldwide. Islamic tradition bars any depiction of Mohammed. Lawyer Zahir Omar, representing several South African Muslim organisations applied for the urgent interdict, which was granted on Saturday morning. Omar told Eyewitness News the court ruled that the cartoon constitutes hate speech.

Overberg fire rages on

Cape fire-fighters are still battling to contain the Overberg fire that is raging out of control. Thousands of hectares of fynbos, vines and other farmlands have been destroyed in the Gans Bay/Bredasdorp area but it is still blazing in the Stanford district near Hermanus. But Working on Fire’s Val Charlton says the Wolseley/Ceres fire in the Boland has been contained and workers are busy mopping up. The Western Cape and national governments are expected to decide soon whether parts of the Boland and Overberg will be declared disaster areas. This will make available financial and other help after days of exhausting work protecting people and property.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

President Thabo Mbeki addresses the nation

President Thabo Mbeki has given some insight into specific interventions planned to ensure the government's Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa is a success. Delivering his state of the nation address in Parliament, Mbeki revealed that large investments will be made into various sectors by both state-owned enterprises and the public sector. These investments will contribute to meeting the demand for electricity, provide efficient logistic infrastructure and expand and modernize South Africa’s telecommunications network. Mbeki says the government will continue using the Expanded Public Works Programme as an important bridge between the two economies and as a significant part of the poverty alleviation programme.

In his address the President also dealt with the thorny issue of service delivery. He says government has completed performance assessments of a number of national departments, including housing, health, education and trade and industry. Mbeki says the necessary interventions will be made to address the issues raised by these assessments, He says we cannot allow that government departments become an obstacle to the achievement of the goal of a better life for all because inefficient service delivery.

On the land reform issue, Mbeki says the government will review the willing-buyer willing-seller process when dealing with land redistribution. Land acquisition models and the possible manipulation of land prices will also be investigated during 2006, while the government will regulate conditions under which foreigners buy land, in line with international norms and practices.

Mbeki has also defended the country’s HIV/Aids policy, saying more than 100 thousand people are getting free drugs in one of the world's biggest public health programmes. He says the Operational Plan for Comprehensive Prevention, Treatment and Care of HIV and Aids has resulted in the upgrading of hundreds of facilities, and combined with patients in the private sector, SA has one of the largest such treatment programs in the world.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Shocking increase in child abuse cases

Child protection groups have warned of a shocking increase in child abuse and crimes against children in Cape Town, particularly in areas such as Manenberg and Guguletu. Some have labelled the province one of the most unsafe places for children in South Africa. In addition to the many killings and abductions, abused children often have to spend more than a year on long government waiting lists before they receive counselling. Social Services and Poverty Alleviation spokesperson Simphiwe Xako told the Cape Times while the delay was due to a lack of counsellors, they would be employing more by the 1st of April.

Firefighters still struggling with Western Cape fires

Firefighters are hoping calm conditions will give them the upper hand as they battle blazes threatening large areas of the Overberg region of the Western Cape. Fires burning for the last four days have caused extensive damage, but have been contained. Chief fire officer for the Overberg municipality, Reinhard Geldenhuys, said that no towns are under threat at the moment, but the fire is still burning at several points across a front of about 80 kilometres. Geldenhuys says three ground crews are working hard to fully extinguish the fire before the wind picks up this afternoon as forecast. The coastal road between Gans Bay and Hermanus has been reopened.

ANC rejects calls for investigation into Mlambo-Nguka's UAE trip

The ANC has quashed a resolution put to parliament’s standing committee on public accounts calling for the auditor general to investigate Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka’s controversial holiday in the United Arab Emirates. Leader of the ANC’s caucus on Scopa, Vincent Smith, said his party would not accept the proposal by the Democratic Alliance. Smith said the auditor general would investigate directives regarding the trip in the normal course of his work. The DA had wanted the AG to report within three weeks on whether there was wasteful expenditure on the trip which they say cost at least 700-thousand rands of taxpayers' money.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Firefighters battling Overberg blaze

Firefighters in the Overberg region of the Western Cape are battling to control a fire burning over a 30 kilometre front between Elim, Stanford and Gansbaai. The fire has been burning out of control for the past three days. Chief fire officer of the Overstrand district municipality, Reinhard Geldenhuys says that firefighters are struggling to protect houses and farm buildings from the blaze, although no dwellings have yet been lost. In the Cape Peninsula, firefighters have also been called out to several smaller fires again today and residents have been warned to take extreme care in the hot, dry conditions.

Western Cape seeks 500 teacher assistants

The Western Cape Education Department has advertised 500 teaching assistant posts as part of its Literacy and Numeracy Strategy to help improve the reading and mathematics skills of children in the Foundation Phase. Western Cape Education Minister Cameron Dugmore says the teaching assistants will support teachers and learners in Grades One to Three as a pilot project. Schools will employ the assistants locally. The Department is looking for people with Senior Certificates and appropriate experience in working with children. The deadline for applications is the 8th of this month.

Second operator promises cheaper calls

The head of the second network operator says deregulation of the telecommunication’s industry will have a visible impact on consumer prices over the next few years. Newly appointed SNO managing director Ajay Pandey says South Africa is facing a similar scenario to India, where the freeing up of the telecommunications industry sharply reduced prices and boosted India’s economy. According to Business Day, the SNO’s licence demands that it offers services to half of the population of major cities within five years and to 80 percent of the population within a decade. However, Pandey did not say when the SNO would come online.

Sacked Travelgate whistleblower fights back

Parliament’s sacked chief financial officer intends filing a defamation suit against those he believed sullied his name following his dismissal. Harry Charlton spearheaded the investigation into the Travelgate fraud scandal, and was sacked recently for financial mismanagement. According to reports, Charlton’s lawyer, John MacRobert says his client believes his good name, standing and reputation have been called into question following his sacking, and is seeking redress. MacRobert has declined to name those who will be sued until all the claims are formulated.

Family shooting in Cape Town

Cape Town police are investigating following a bizarre shooting in Bellville early this morning. Police were alerted to a disturbance at a block of flats in the suburb, and on arrival at the scene police saw a 37-year-old female running towards their patrol vehicle. A man, believed to be the woman’s estranged husband, came running behind her and fired several shots. Police spokesperson Randall Stoffels says the woman sustained bullet wounds to her back and leg. The man, identified as 36-year-old Nico Lourens, then turned the gun on himself. The woman is in a critical condition in hospital.

Strong rand could prevent interest rate increase

The strong rand will probably allow the Reserve Bank to leave the interest rates unchanged. The Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee begins a two-day meeting today where the subject of the interest rate will be high on the agenda. Analysts were upbeat when approached yesterday and say the strong rand is assisting the Reserve Bank to keep inflation figures well within the target range of between three and six percent. Experts agree that the rand will remain strong against the US dollar for the rest of this year.

Local inventor wins award for safe paraffin stove design

The inventor of a paraffin stove that shuts itself off when knocked over and could prevent devastating shack fires and many deaths, has won the 2005 Goodyear Innovations Promotion competition. Stellenbosch pensioner Colin Vale, a retired University of the Witwatersrand lecturer, says the Parasafe stove self-extinguishes when tilted by even 10 degrees. The Paraffin Association of South Africa says about 45-thousand paraffin-related fires in South Africa’s informal settlements kill around three-thousand people each year. A company is manufacturing the new stoves in Vietnam. About a 100-thousand of these stoves are expected in South Africa in May.

Baby Jordon trial continues

The uncle of baby Jordan Leigh Norton has told the Cape High Court that the men who allegedly killed his niece had tried to gain access to the family home before. Dylan Norton is continuing his testimony on day two of the murder trial. Twenty-four-year-old Dina Rodrigues stands accused of hiring four men to kill the six-month-old baby of her ex-boyfriend. Norton told the court the four men tried to gain entry to the house the day before the baby’s murder by trying to deliver phone books. The accused have all entered pleas of not guilty.

Electricity restrictions on the cards

Residents of Cape Town and the surrounding areas will soon be asked to cut back on their electricity consumption to limit power cuts caused by the maintenance crisis at Koeberg. The City and Eskom says major industrial electricity users will also be asked to reduce consumption. Eskom acting chief executive Jacob Maroga told the parliamentary committee on minerals and energy controlled power cuts may be necessary over the next few months. He said consumers would be kept informed and the power cuts would be for about two hours at a time. Cape Town is aiming for a 30 percent power capacity cut back.
Meanwhile, Atlantis on the West Coast is without power on Tuesday morning after a fire at the Eskom Dassenberg substation. The cause of the fire has not been established yet. The fire is not expected to cause power disruptions in Cape Town suburbs.

Military judge slammed for his stance on Afrikaans

The Freedom Front Plus and the Democratic Alliance have reacted strongly to alleged remarks by a military judge that he finds official correspondence in Afrikaans disgusting. In his findings during a trial in Cape Town last year, Lieutenant Colonel Mbulelo Mandela apparently put it on record that to him it was disgusting that at this time and age there is still official correspondence or official communication in Afrikaans, because English is the official communication language of the SANDF. The FF Plus is to submit a complaint over the matter to the Human Rights Commission and the Pan South African Language Board. The DA has urged Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota to intervene.

Woman arrested for trying to bribe a policeman

A 45-year-old Cape Town woman has been arrested for trying to bribe a policeman. The woman allegedly tried to persuade the police officer to hand over the cocaine seized at Cape Town International Airport on Monday, by offering him 50-thousand rands. A 31-year-old Durban man was arrested with six kilograms of cocaine, worth an estimated two-millions rands, after arriving on a flight from South America. Both suspects will appear in court tomorrow.


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