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Cape Town - The police officers who initially handled the Courtney Pieters disappearance and subsequent murder case may be investigated, with President Jacob Zuma and Police Minister Fikile Mbalula expected to meet to discuss the case.
Mbalula's spokesperson Esethu Hasane confirmed the meeting would take place this week.
President Jacob Zuma visited the Elsies River home of murder victim Courtney Pieters, 3, and slammed police’s treatment of mother, Juanita. Pictures: Phando Jikelo
It's alleged the officers, based at the Elsies River police station, were initially not cooperative when the little girl's disappearance was first reported.
Courtney's body was discovered in a shallow grave at Epping Industrial, which is about a kilometre from where she was last seen several days prior.
The three-year-old was laid to rest on Saturday.
Zuma and Mbalula have both visited the Pieters family following the tragedy.
Family spokesperson and community leader, Roegshanda Pascoe, who had assisted in the frantic search for the little girl, welcomed the high-level intervention.
"I am very disappointed with how the police handled this case at the beginning and how they treated us," Pascoe said. "We had requested sniffer dogs when Courtney went missing and they simply ignored us."
Pascoe said Mbalula had assured the family the case was a priority. "We are glad that our voices have been heard because there are many similar cases which police are not taking seriously and not acting swiftly enough. The minster has also requested to see our memorandum of grievances which we handed at Parliament on Freedom Day," she said.
In the memorandum of grievances, Pascoe said, the community demanded "immediate action when cases of missing children are reported". "We don't want to be told of waiting periods," she said. "And we also want to be consulted when people from our communities who are in prison are being considered for parole. We are the ones who have to live with those people, so we want to be able to have a say whether or not we want them back to live among us."
Joanie Fredericks from the Mitchell's Plain Crisis Forum said Courtney's parents, Aaron and Juanita Pieters, were still reeling following the arrest of Mortimer Sauders, 40, who had been renting a room in the family home.
Saunders has been charged with Courtney's murder and face two counts of rape.
"Apart from Courtney's death, I think that is the worst," Fredericks said. "I mean, he was a trusted friend. He was living here almost as a family member, so for us activists and community leaders, it puts a whole new spin in terms of what is the new message we have to give to the community. Because, traditionally we'd tell our kids to watch out for uncle so and so, don't go with strangers, but now..." she said.
During his visit last week, Zuma said: "To think that a man who lived in the same house, stays with family, wakes up and faces the family and all the while pretending to know nothing... it is something totally abnormal. I hope the country will realise that on the issue of crime we are facing a crisis."Read More »
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Chuckling Motsoeneng takes his battle to the Labour Court
Neo Goba | 2017-05-18 17:37:09.0
Cassim granted a postponement until 6pm on May 24 to allow Motsoeneng to approach the Labour Court. File photo
Image by: FREDDY MAVUMBA
Former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng plans to approach the Labour Court to have his disciplinary hearing stopped.
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The hearing‚ which was due to begin on Wednesday‚ was stalled as Motsoeneng argued that there was an ulterior motive for bringing the hearing.
He as charged with misconduct after holding a media conference in which he criticised the SABC's decision to scrap the 90% local music policy that he spearheaded.Plot twist! Hlaudi Motsoeneng mounts whistleblower defence in disciplinary hearing
In the media conference‚ he took a swipe at interim board member Krish Naidoo‚ whom he accused of "selling out".
On Thursday Motsoeneng's legal team argued that the hearing should rather be heard by the Commission for Conciliation‚ Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) because the comments he made should be considered protected public disclosure.The heat's on Hlaudi: Former SABC chief to face the music after hearing refuses to throw him a lifeline
Protected public disclosure is usually used as a defence by employees who claim they have been wrongfully charged or dismissed for exposing corruption.
Disciplinary hearing chairman Nazeem Cassim dismissed this argument‚ leading Motsoeneng’s legal team to reveal his new plan.‘Unemployable’ Hlaudi Motsoeneng could face the music
"We have received instructions to approach the Labour Court on an urgent basis to seek to stop these proceedings on the same basis that was argued this morning.
"At this stage‚ we seek to request whether you will be willing to allow us some time to approach the court before you proceed‚" advocate Andy Bester‚ arguing for Motsoeneng‚ asked Cassim.
The SABC’s legal representative‚ advocate Anton Myburgh‚ argued against the postponement‚ saying Motsoeneng knowingly breached the SABC’s code of conduct.
"What Mr Motsoeneng did involves gross insubordination and he knows that the rules of the SABC involve not being entitled to slag off your employer in the press.
“He knows of his common law duties but he [decided] to not to comply with them‚" argued Myburgh.
Clad in his slim navy blue suit and white shirt‚ Motsoeneng chuckled as Myburgh read out what he had said during the media conference‚ which was widely televised.
"This is the board of directors [that he insulted] and it’s extraordinary misconduct. You cannot go into a public forum and accuse a director of dishonesty in these terms. You simply cannot do that and expect that there are going to be no consequences‚" he added.
Cassim granted a postponement until 6pm on May 24 to allow Motsoeneng to approach the Labour Court.
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Cape Town – For the first time in the trial of the Van Breda murders, Henri van Breda broke down in court as the recording of his call to Janine Philander, Emergency Communication Centre operator, was played.
It was a noticeable change from his usual demeanor throughout the trial.
Philander was further questioned by the state and the defense about the call, which she had previously categorised as the “one of the weirdest ever for me".
Day 13 of the Henri van Breda trial saw the emergency operator who answered his emergency call face further questioning. Picture: Tracey Adams
The audio of the call was played in court, in which Henri was heard asking for an ambulance first instead of the police. He is heard explaining that an intruder attacked his family with an axe, and that he needed an ambulance as his sister was still moving.
The audio went on to highlight the time that they had spent on the phone while trying to get emergency services out to the murder scene. Philander is heard trying to get through to police, waiting on the line for a minute with no answer before succeeding to reach them on her second attempt.
Defence lawyer Pieter Botha grilled Philander about her initial remarks that she had heard what “sounded to me like a giggle” at the start of the emergency call. Philander had said that she initially thought the call was a prank.
Botha stated that the accused had a speech impediment as child and went through speech therapy in which he was trained to speak slowly and clearly when nervous.
During the cross-examination, Botha put forth whether the giggle that Philander heard could in fact be Henri stuttering. She stuck to her evidence that she believed he had giggled.
"He sounded the same throughout the call, no up and down," she said.
Judge Desai stated that he had not heard a giggle, and when pressed, Philander said that while it sounded like a giggle to her it was open to interpretation. Desai stressed that her impression was her impression, but that people "can come up with their own impression".
Judge Desai asked about the percentage of prank calls the service received, and Philander revealed that between September 2016 and February 2017, there were 35 374 prank calls out of 238 350 calls handled.
The next witness called was Dr Georgina Albertse, who was the medical doctor from Stellenbosch District Hospital, who examined Henri’s injuries after the murders.
Albertse read out her report, in which she revealed that he had four cuts on his left arm, two cuts above his right nipple among other marks, two stab wounds to the left abdominal area, marks on his back along with swelling and a bruise on his left eye.
She also said she had not noticed a strong smell of alcohol on him and saw nothing that indicated he was under the influence of any substance.
Albertse was repeatedly asked to comment on whether the marks Henri sustained were self-inflicted, but she said that when she was initially asked by police, she asked that another medical forensic expert be brought in to comment on the matter.
She said that while it was entirely possible the injuries could be self-inflicted, it was difficult for her to comment on it.
The trial will continue on Thursday in the Western Cape High Court. Henri has been charged with the murder of his parents and brother, and the attempted murder of his sister.
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He’s only been back on the job for two days.
Brian Molefe, who returned as Eskom chief executive officer on Monday to staff posters welcoming back ‘Papa Action,’ was moved to tears when he left the role in November. He resigned following a graft probe by the Public Protector that found he made decisions favoring the Gupta family, who are friends with President Jacob Zuma.WATCH | Brian Molefe dances his way back to Eskom
Molefe’s surprise reappointment, announced Friday by Eskom Chairman Ben Ngubane, sparked a backlash that’s stretched from opposition parties to labor unions and even the ruling African National Congress, which told the government to reverse the move.
“Politically and ethically the reinstatement stinks to high heaven,” Aubrey Matshiqi, an independent political analyst, said. “It seems to me that power has become so dispersed — that some power lies in the state, some power lies in the government, some power lies in powerful economic actors, some power lies in powerful families.”
Molefe’s reinstatement has exposed widening rifts within the ANC and between some party leaders and Zuma’s government. It’s revived scrutiny of the influence wielded by the Guptas, who are in business with the president’s son, Duduzane, and means investors must digest yet another surprise appointment, less than two months after Zuma replaced Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in a sweeping late-night cabinet overhaul.READ MORE | ANC spin doctor accuses Gupta channel ANN7 of spreading 'lies'
ANC officials told the government that it should rescind Molefe’s reappointment at a meeting Monday attended by Zuma, party Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe said on Tuesday. Action should be taken immediately, he said.
Eskom spokesman Khulu Phasiwe didn’t pick up a call seeking comment and the utility’s media desk didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment.
The Democratic Alliance filed a court application on May 15 to set aside Molefe’s appointment. Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown and the Eskom board will be called to Parliament on Friday to discuss the reappointment, the DA said Wednesday in a statement.
Molefe’s second day back was already off to a poor start after former South African Minerals Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi alleged the CEO was present during a 2015 meeting when Eskom Chairman Ngubane tried to pressure the then-minister into suspending Glencore Plc’s mining licenses in the country during a dispute between the two companies. Ngubane threatened to go to the president if the request was refused, Ramatlhodi said.READ MORE | ANC agrees state will resolve Molefe issue‚ says Brown
At the time, Eskom and Glencore were locked in a dispute after the utility refused to amend a supply contract for Glencore’s Optimum Coal Holdings that had become unprofitable. Eskom fined the producer about 2 billion rand ($153 million) because its fuel didn’t meet specifications. Glencore later agreed to sell Optimum to Tegeta Exploration & Resources Ltd., which is part-owned by the Guptas and part-owned by Duduzane.
Zuma, the Guptas and Molefe have all denied any wrongdoing. Ramatlhodi’s claims are “preposterous,” Ngubane told reporters in Cape Town on Tuesday morning. He spoke after appearing at a conference in place of Molefe, who had been scheduled to speak but didn’t arrive.
Molefe, who spent part of his time away from Eskom as an ANC lawmaker, has already reversed one of the biggest and more controversial decisions made by his predecessor. Then-acting CEO Matshela Koko had announced plans to close five older coal-fired power stations early, saying that a government program to procure renewable power from independent producers created a surplus.
The effect of closing the plants would be “devastating” to as many as 30,000 people who depend on them for their livelihood, Phasiwe said earlier Tuesday.
While Molefe left under a cloud last year, he oversaw the end to rolling blackouts in South Africa after joining Eskom as acting CEO in 2015 before being appointed permanently to the role. The utility’s board backed him publicly following the Public Protector’s November report and videos posted on Twitter Monday showed employees dancing and waving posters to welcome him.READ MORE | Corrupt‚ me? Impossible! Ben Ngubane rubbishes ex-minister's Gupta claims
Some analysts say the blackouts ended because they crippled the economy and caused demand for power to collapse. Electricity generated by Eskom’s plants fell to the lowest since 2006 in 2015, it said on its website.
The response to Molefe’s reappointment shows growing frustration in South Africa, Mike Davies, the founder of political advisory company Kigoda Consulting, said by phone on Tuesday.
“The longer they show that disregard for the conventional processes of the ANC and governance and good governance in general,” Davies said, “the more we’re likely to see a heightened sense of concern over what’s actually taking place.”
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MIKE ROUSSOS: So Jacob Zuma is forced to resign. What happens to the ANC? – Rand Daily Mail (registration)
Without getting into all the complexities of this situation, this entrenched a reliance on “political appointments” within the civil service, to drive the implementation of the policies that emerged from the new democratic government. Although this was felt most acutely at the top levels of the civil service (those officials who worked directly with the new Ministers, MEC’s and
Councillors) this quickly became the norm throughout the many levels of the civil service. Even though we find it difficult to accept this today – this happened due to imperatives that are rooted in our oppressive history – and in the need to transform the country in the post-apartheid democratic era.
This trend is understandable and even justifiable – but it does not change the fact that these imperatives have left us with a Civil Service that is very far from being the independent, professional, corps of skilled administrators who (efficiently and effectively) implement the policies of the government of the day – regardless of who they may be.
That was always our desired end-goal, as epitomised (or at least striven for) in many of the best models of governance that exist globally. We have instead created a politicised civil service that is inclined to carry out the will of their political master, no matter how corrupt or self-defeating that may be to the policies of the country.
The new ANC leadership will also have to contend with the fact that 23 years after democracy – 23 years of ANC government have failed to fundamentally tackle the major problems we face as a country. Our education system – despite spending significantly more than many developing countries – has failed to achieve our basic goals – thus failing our children. Our criminal justice system – despite having one of the best constitutions in the world – and despite efforts to learn crime-detection and crime-fighting skills from the best examples available world-wide – has left us with a police force that has been crippled by politicians who fear being held to account for their transgressions. Our economy has made important strides in the first decade after liberation, but since then it has been on a downward slide that has been entrenched by politicians who are more interested in short term gains for themselves, than in doing what is needed to strengthen our economy.
A transforming ANC will have to persuade our people that they are now putting in place measures that will allow them to tackle all the crippling blockages that prevented previous administrations from being able to address these imperative social needs.
Is all this possible?
If not, is our only option to vote for another party - in the hope that they will be able to do something to address these challenges?
Our history since democracy has demonstrated that the bulk of our people do not really believe that there is a viable alternative to the ANC, within the current political set-up. Small numbers have moved to other parties – the DA has consolidated its support base within the White and the Coloured communities – with increasing numbers of Indian people also voting for them. Within the Black (African) community, they have only attracted a small group of middle class / professional individuals to their camp. The EFF has attracted a smaller group of dedicated supporters – including some of the bright youngsters emerging from our universities – but they are not (at this point) a viable alternative to the ANC for the bulk of our people.
The option that most disaffected ANC supporters take – is to stop voting in our elections. This obviously has an impact on the ANC’s ability to stay in power – as witnessed in the various Metros and other councils that have fallen to coalitions of opposition parties.
But is this enough to transform our society and to address our challenging social problems?
The ability of a new ANC leadership to persuade our people that they are able to move away from the devastation caused by their predecessors, is arguably quite remote. On the other hand, our recent history has demonstrated that most ANC supporters are more likely to abstain from voting at all – rather than vote for the existing alternatives.
Is there any other alternative?
If the dedicated leaders within the ANC decide to split and form a new party – perhaps with sections of the existing opposition parties – then maybe an alternative can emerge from this mess.
A Phoenix that can rise from the ashes of our failed democratic transformation!
Mike Roussos was a Trade Unionist with various unions during the anti-apartheid struggles – for a period of almost 10 years. He then worked for various corporates, ending his time with them at an executive level. He has been the CEO of a number of companies, ranging from IT to Legal Insurance to Metal manufacturing. He has worked for Government as a consultant and as a Head of Department. He has consulted to a range of companies, from small start-ups to large international corporates.
He has been an activist in a range of areas, from his time as a student within the Catholic student movement, to the unions, to the UDF during the struggle against apartheid, to the Catholic Church Justice and Peace structures, to the struggle against climate change and for a variety of alternative energy initiatives.
He has never been a politician and hopes to maintain this unblemished record, to the end of his days.Read More »
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