Monday 20 November 2017
(AFP (eng) 10/30/17)
Thousands of white farmers blocked roads in South Africa on Monday to protest against what they say is an explosion of violence against their communities in rural areas. Large demonstrations under the "Black Monday" banner were held in Cape Town, Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria. Marchers dressed in black to commemorate the victims of hundreds of deadly "farm attacks" in recent years. The protest actions halted traffic on main roads and forced police to divert vehicles on several major routes. Monday's day of action was coordinated by AfriForum, a campaign group that advocates for its largely white membership, many of whom speak Afrikaans. It lobbies on issues including farm murders, hate speech and language rights, and is often critical of...
(AFP (eng) 10/30/17)
South Africa's finance minister received some faint praise last week -- not for the economy's performance, but for admitting the country is in a dire position that is set to get worse. Malusi Gigaba delivered a mid-term budget that laid bare South Africa's struggle with slow growth, tax income shortfalls, rising debt and high unemployment. The daunting challenges recently caused business confidence to dip to the lowest level since the apartheid era -- reflecting wider fears that the achievements of the new, democratic South Africa are turning to dust. Gigaba's budget statement on Wednesday slashed the GDP growth forecast for 2017 from 1.3 percent to just 0.7 percent, and revealed that by 2020, 15 percent of government revenue would be...
(AFP (eng) 10/30/17)
Tunnels coursing through the bowels of the earth under the city of Johannesburg contain precious treasure -- copper cables that are being stripped out and smuggled as far away as Asia. As in many other parts of the world, copper cable theft is not new in South Africa, but lately it has reached an unprecedented scale. A recent brazen theft knocked out power and plunged the central business district of Johannesburg, the economic hub, into darkness, largely paralysing business for 10 straight days. It is estimated that nearly half of the power outages in the city are caused by cable theft. "In 2004, about four percent of all outages were due to cable theft, and now it is 40 (percent),"...
(AFP (eng) 10/30/17)
Tanzania has deported three South African lawyers arrested last week for "promoting homosexuality", their organisation said in a statement. The Initiative for Strategic Litigation (ISLA) in Africa said that the three had been "deported earlier this evening", in the statement dated Friday. The lawyers were amongst a group of 13 people, including a Ugandan and Tanzanians, who were arrested last Tuesday at the Peacock hotel in Dar es Salaam. Local police chief Lazaro Mambosasa said they had been "promoting homosexuality".
(AFP (eng) 10/30/17)
Weeks of gruelling testimonies at an inquiry in South Africa have tried to answer an unfathomable question -- how authorities allowed 141 mentally-ill patients to die after being moved out of a hospital. The evidence presented has been a litany of neglect, incompetence and cruelty that lawyer Dirk Groenewald described as "the greatest human rights violation since the dawn of democracy" in South Africa. Every day, families of the victims have told shocking stories of how their loved ones were taken from the hospital, badly mistreated at unlicensed health facilities and then died. Starting last February, more than 1,700 patients were rapidly relocated from the Life Esidimeni hospital in Johannesburg to 27 privately run clinics that were unable to care...
(AFP (eng) 10/27/17)
A South African judge on Friday handed down jail terms of 19 and 16 years to two white farmers who filmed themselves forcing a black man into a coffin and threatening to burn him alive. Willem Oosthuizen and Theo Martins Jackson, who both shifted nervously in the dock, laid their heads on the bench after their sentencing while female family members wept in the public gallery. "The conduct of the accused was most dehumanising and disgusting," said judge Segopotje Mphahlele, handing down sentence in the High Court sitting in Middelburg, 165 kilometres (100 miles) east of Johannesburg. They had pleaded not guilty over the incident last year in the eastern province of Mpumalanga, saying they only intended to scare Victor...
(Reuters (Eng) 10/27/17)
MIDDELBURG, South Africa (Reuters) - Two white South African farmers who were filmed pushed a wailing black man into a coffin were sentenced to jail on Friday for attempted murder, assault and kidnapping. The 20-second video, widely circulated on social media last year, shows the victim, Victor Mlotshwa, cowering inside a coffin as one man pushes the lid down and the other threatens to put petrol and a snake inside. The defendants - Theo Jackson, sentenced to 14 years, and Willem Oosthuizen, sentenced to 11 years - had pleaded not guilty. They said they had caught Mlotshwa trespassing on their farm in possession of stolen copper cables. The case, heard at a court in Middelburg, about 160 km (100 miles)...
(AFP (eng) 10/25/17)
South Africa faces mounting debt and a widening fiscal deficit, the finance minister said Wednesday, as he cut the country's growth forecast in a pessimistic mid-term budget statement. Malusi Gigaba told parliament in Cape Town that "the period ahead is not going to be an easy one", as South Africa struggles with high unemployment and political turmoil in the ruling ANC party. "It is not in the public interest, nor is it in the interest of government, to sugar-coat the state of our economy and the challenges we are facing," he said. Gigaba was appointed in March after the sacking of Pravin Gordhan, who was widely seen as a bulwark against corruption in President Jacob Zuma's government. Gigaba said that...
(AFP (eng) 10/25/17)
South African police said Wednesday they had started a murder investigation after a judge ruled an anti-apartheid activist who died in police custody 46 years ago did not commit suicide but was killed. Ahmed Timol, 29, was arrested in Johannesburg in October 1971 and died five days later when he plummeted from the 10th-floor of the city's police headquarters. Officers said at the time he took his own life -- a verdict that was endorsed by an inquest in 1972 but finally overturned by a court earlier this month after a decades-long campaign by his family. "An investigation has already started," Hangwani Mulaudzi, spokesman for the Hawks elite police unit, told AFP. "The investigation will be finalised by the end...
(AFP (eng) 10/25/17)
South Africa's murder rate rose by 1.8 percent in the last year, with over 19,000 people killed across the country -- 52 a day -- official statistics released Tuesday showed. The eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal, which is hit by political violence, recorded the highest number of murders, followed by Gauteng, which includes Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria. "Over the past four financial years, murder has reflected an upward trend. We need a combative and decisive policing when we deal with such crimes," said Police Minister Fikile Mbalula. A total of 19,016 were killed between April 2016 to March 2017, up from 18,673 the previous year. "We must not see these statistics just as pure numbers," Mbalula told lawmakers in parliament...
(AFP (eng) 10/25/17)
PRETORIA (Reuters) - South African President Jacob Zuma has asked the High Court to reject a call by an anti-corruption watchdog for an official inquiry into alleged influence-peddling in his government. A report a year ago by South Africa’s anti-graft agency known as Public Protector recommended a judicial probe be held to look into allegations of systemic corruption by Zuma, some of his ministers and heads of state-owned companies. The report focused on allegations that Zuma’s friends, businessman brothers Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta, had influenced the appointment of ministers. The 75-year-old Zuma, whose rule has long been dogged by scandal, and the Gupta brothers have denied the accusations. The president, who previously described the “State of Capture” report as...
(AFP (eng) 10/24/17)
Elephant poaching in Africa declined for a fifth straight year in 2016 but seizures of illegal ivory hit records highs, the CITES monitor said Tuesday, calling it a "conflicting phenomena". In its latest report, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species also noted that despite the overall fall in poaching, Africa's elephant population has continued to drop "due to continued illegal killing, land transformation and rapid human expansion." Global illegal ivory trade has remained relatively stable for six years, CITES reported. But 2016 saw a full 40 tonnes of illegal ivory seized, the most since 1989, as well as the hightest-ever number of "large-scale ivory seizures", the group said. "The overall weight of seized ivory in illegal trade is...
(Reuters (Eng) 10/23/17)
DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - African political leaders, activists, and local chiefs joined forces on Monday to commit to ending child marriage in West and Central Africa, the region with the highest child marriage rate in the world. More than a third of girls in the region are married under the age of 18, with the rate over 50 percent in six countries and up to 76 percent in Niger. Driven by factors including poverty, insecurity and religious tradition, marrying off girls once they reach puberty or even before is a deeply engrained social custom in much of West and Central Africa. The practice hampers global efforts to reduce poverty and population growth and has negative impacts on women’s and...
(AFP (eng) 10/21/17)
The killing of four American special operations soldiers in Niger has highlighted the increasing role elite units are playing across Africa, which is rapidly becoming a major center of US military action. Their mission is to counter the advances of a slew of jihadist movements across the continent, including Al-Shabaab in Somalia, affiliates of the Islamic State group in the Sahel region and Boko Haram in Nigeria. Of the 8,000 special forces "operators" deployed globally this year, more than 1,300 are in Africa, according to officials from the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM), which is based in Tampa, Florida. Another 5,000 or so are in the Middle East. In five years, the number of US commandos in Africa has tripled...
(Reuters (Eng) 10/20/17)
OHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has given President Jacob Zuma until Nov. 30 to make submissions before it decides whether to reinstate 783 corruption charges filed against him before he became president, it said on Friday. The Supreme Court of Appeal last Friday upheld a High Court ruling to reinstate the charges against Zuma. They were set aside in April 2009 by the then-head of the NPA, paving the way for Zuma to run for president later that year. The ruling by the appeals court amplified calls for Zuma, 75, to step down before his term as president ends in 2019.
(Reuters (Eng) 10/20/17)
DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The #MeToo social media campaign to raise awareness about sexual harassment and abuse has sparked conversation in parts of Africa where domestic violence is rampant but strong cultural and religious taboos prevent women from admitting it. Prompted by sexual abuse allegations against American film mogul Harvey Weinstein, millions of women around the world have been sharing their experiences of harassment and abuse on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #MeToo. The movement has reached only a small part of the population in West Africa, but some women are participating in defiance of attitudes which dictate that being abused brings shame on the family, is a curse, or makes a woman unmarriageable. In Senegal, some women...
(AFP (eng) 10/19/17)
The South African government on Thursday removed the head of troubled state-owned airline South African Airways (SAA), which is deeply in debt and struggling to stay in the air. Chairwoman Dudu Myeni, a close ally of President Jacob Zuma, will be replaced by Johannes Bhekumuzi Magwaza, the finance ministry announced in a boardroom sweep-out. Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba "hopes that the new board... will implement the airline's structural strategy and bring it to financial stability," it said in a statement. The government was last month forced to bail out the loss-making carrier to avoid it defaulting on a 3 billion-rand ($221 million) loan, and refinancing of further debt is under negotiation.
(AFP (eng) 10/18/17)
The ANC has held power in South Africa since Nelson Mandela won the first post-apartheid elections in 1994, but the battle to be its new leader threatens to split the party apart. Rivalries are intensifying within the African National Congress ahead of a conference in December when delegates will choose the party chief to succeed Jacob Zuma, who will remain the national president. For months, the divisive contest was a two-horse race between deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, a wealthy former businessman, and Zuma's ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, South Africa's former home affairs minister. The vote threatens to permanently break up the ANC, which united many black South Africans...
(AFP (eng) 10/18/17)
The sequel to Nelson Mandela's celebrated autobiography "Long Walk to Freedom" will be released on Thursday after his unfinished draft was completed by a South African writer, his foundation announced. Titled "Dare not Linger", the book tells of Mandela's five years as president after the end of apartheid and the first multi-race elections in South Africa in 1994. "Long Walk to Freedom", published shortly after the election, was a global best-seller, selling more than 14 million copies, and was turned into a film starring Idris Elba. Mandela wrote 10 chapters of his follow-up memoir by hand on loose paper and in files between 1998 and 2002, when he stopped working on it due to his age and hectic schedule. Mandla...
(AFP (eng) 10/18/17)
Rent-a-room giant Airbnb said Tuesday that it had provided accommodation for 1.2 million visitors to Africa over the last year -- double the previous year as tourism expands across the continent. The website now offers more than 100,000 accommodation options in Africa, global public affairs director Chris Lehane said on a visit to Johannesburg. "It's an incredibly rich and diverse continent, an incredibly dynamic place, certainly a big part of our future," Lehane told AFP. Airbnb was founded in 2008 and offers accommodation ranging from single bedrooms to whole homes in 65,000 cities in 191 countries. The company announced Tuesday that it would invest $1 million (850,000 euros) in Africa by 2020 to "promote and support community-led tourism projects". "For...

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