Saturday 17 February 2018
(AFP (eng) 01/05/18)
South African police launched a manslaughter investigation Friday following a train crash that killed at least 18 people and injured 254 others in one of the country's worst ever rail disasters. The passenger train, travelling from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg, smashed into a lorry at a level crossing near Kroonstad in central Free State province on Thursday and then burst into flames. The lorry driver, who the country's transport minister Joe Maswanganyi accused of "taking chances... that cost lots of lives", will be central to the probe.
(AFP (eng) 01/05/18)
A passenger train smashed into a truck at a level crossing in South Africa on Thursday, killing at least 18 people, injuring 254 and throwing several carriages off the rails. Flames ripped through the twisted wreckage and choking black smoke rose into the air as desperate passengers clambered out of the train travelling from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg to escape the inferno. Tiaan Esterhuizen, who was travelling on the train as he returned from holiday, attempted to rescue three women who were trapped in a burning passenger wagon. "I saw around 12 cars on their side and one was already burning. We heard some women screaming when we came closer‚ so a few of us climbed over the cars," he...
(AFP (eng) 01/05/18)
A South African tourist was killed and 12 other people were injured when a hot air balloon crashed near Egypt's ancient city of Luxor on Friday, a health ministry official said. Sharif Wadie, the assistant health minister in charge of emergency services, told AFP there were no other casualties but did not elaborate on the extent of the passengers' injuries. Their nationalities were not immediately clear. Tourists often take early morning hot air balloon rides over the city and the ancient Egyptian temples and relics in neighbouring areas. One of the main attractions is the Karnak temple, which dates back thousands of years.
(AFP (eng) 01/05/18)
CAIRO (Reuters) - A hot air balloon crashed near the southern Egyptian city of Luxor, killing a South African tourist on board and injuring several others on Friday, officials said. State media blamed the crash on poor weather conditions without elaborating. High winds and sandstorms hit regions across the country, clouding the skies at Cairo’s main airport and forcing the closure of a number of Red Sea ports. A South African man died and an Argentinian and two French tourists were being treated in hospital, a health ministry spokesman said. Health officials and state media had earlier said a woman died. A number of other tourists were also taken to Luxor International Hospital but released after a few hours, the...
(Reuters (Eng) 01/05/18)
JOHANNESBURG/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Steinhoff’s (SNHJ.J) finance chief stepped down from the role on Thursday to focus on helping the South African retailer plug a 2.4 billion euro ($2.9 billion) hole in its finances after an accounting scandal. The owner of more than 40 multinational retail brands including Conforama, Mattress Firm and Poundland, revealed the “accounting irregularity” last month along with the immediate departure of its chief executive. Its chairman briefly took the reins then also stepped down. “While the Group has achieved some degree of stabilization in its operating businesses, significant near-term liquidity is still required in certain of the business units,” Steinhoff said on Thursday. Chief financial officer Ben la Grange, whom the company has cleared of any wrongdoing,...
(AFP (eng) 01/04/18)
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel said on Wednesday it had cracked a Palestinian militant cell suspected of having been recruited and handled by Iranian intelligence officers who worked out of South Africa, but the suspects’ lawyer denied the charges. Israel has long been locked in a shadow war with arch-foe Iran, which supports Islamist guerrillas in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon and whose nuclear program is widely believed to have been targeted repeatedly by Israeli saboteurs. Israel’s Shin Bet security agency said three Palestinians from the occupied West Bank had been indicted on espionage and terrorism charges after they confessed to accepting Iranian-assigned missions, including preparation of a suicide bombing and providing their handlers with Israeli cellphone SIM cards. In its...
(Reuters 01/03/18)
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s rand was firmer on the first trading day of 2018, buoyed by improved sentiment for emerging currencies and a sluggish dollar. At 0645 GMT, the rand was 0.24 percent firmer at 12.3500 per dollar, slightly changed from its 2-1/2-year high of 12.2400. The currency advanced by about 13 percent in 2017, making most of those gains after Cyril Ramaphosa was elected president Jacob Zuma’s successor as head of the African National Congress (ANC) last Monday. The dollar was near a three-month low versus a basket of major currencies in early trade. Bonds were flat with the yield on the benchmark government paper due in 2026 at 8.605 percent. Stocks were set to open higher at...
(BBC News Africa 01/03/18)
The bodies of a tourist and his guide have been recovered from South Africa's Table Mountain following an accident which trapped hundreds of people at the top of the popular attraction. The man, his local guide and a second tourist are reported to have been using ropes to scale the front of the Cape Town mountain when they fell on Monday. Rescuers then used the cable car to reach the surviving climber. But the bodies were not recovered until first light on Tuesday. Africa Live: Read more on this and other stories from around the continent The tourists are understood to be of Asian origin while the guide was a South African...
(The Associated Press 01/03/18)
A Kenyan official says suspected members of the Somalia-based extremist group al-Shabab have killed five police officers in the northern county of Mandera. North Eastern regional coordinator Mohamud Saleh said Wednesday the vehicle carrying the three police reservists and two administration police officers was attacked. He says several other officers were injured in a second attack on security officials who responded Tuesday evening along the Elwak-Kotulo road. Al-Shabab has carried out a series of attacks in Kenya since 2011, when Kenya deployed...
(Reuters 01/03/18)
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Steinhoff will have to restate its 2015 accounts and maybe earlier figures, the South African retailer said on Tuesday, having already warned on its 2016 numbers. The owner of more than 40 retail brands including Conforama, Mattress Firm and Poundland is fighting for survival after flagging accounting irregularities last month and parting ways with its veteran chief executive, Markus Jooste. A review being carried out by accounting firm PwC now suggests that “accounting irregularities” may stretch beyond 2015, it said. “Whilst the internal review and investigation into the accounting irregularities have not yet concluded, the restatement of the financial statements ... for years prior to 2015 is likely to be required,” Steinhoff said in a statement. The...
(AFP (eng) 01/03/18)
Israel on Wednesday began implementing a plan to force tens of thousands of African migrants out of the country by April, threatening to arrest those who stay. "This plan will get under way today," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting. Under the programme, some 38,000 migrants who entered Israel illegally, mainly Eritreans and Sudanese, will have until the end of March to leave. Each will receive a plane ticket and $3,500 (2,900 euros) to do so. After the deadline, this amount will decrease and those who continue to refuse to go will face arrest. Holot, an open facility in Israel's desert south that can host 1,200 migrants who are allowed to leave to work...
(AFP (eng) 01/02/18)
Two climbers were killed abseiling on Cape Town's Table Mountain on New Year's Day, with hundreds of tourists stranded on the summit for hours during the rescue effort, South African officials said Tuesday. The victims were one Japanese man, whose wife survived, and a local tour guide, according to local media, with about 30 rescuers involved in a dramatic 12-hour night operation. The cable car that takes tourists to the top of the mountain was used to rescue the surviving climber and remove the two bodies from the steep rock face after a helicopter was unable to reach the scene.
(AFP (eng) 01/02/18)
"Look at my spinach. That is the sand from the mine. The yellow one in the soil -- it's destroying everything," said Thabo Ngubane as he tended his small allotment in Soweto. In Johannesburg tens of thousands of poor South Africans like him spend their lives in the shadow of vast mine dumps, exposing them to toxic substances like arsenic, lead and uranium. The gold rush from 1886 that caused the imposing slag heaps to spring up around South Africa's largest city saw many investors and miners become fabulously wealthy. The same was not true of those who lived and worked near the pits, and were exposed to dangerous cocktails of dust and chemicals. More than 200 mounds of earth...
(AFP (eng) 01/02/18)
The scandal-hit South African retail giant Steinhoff announced Tuesday it would restate some financial results for 2015 and 2016 amid a probe into accounting irregularities. Last month, Steinhoff revealed it was under criminal and tax investigations, with a reported six-billion-euro ($7-billion) hole in its accounts. "The 2016 and 2015 financial statements of Steinhoff Investment Holdings Limited will need to be restated and can no longer be relied upon," the company said in a statement. Steinhoff had been a darling of fund managers with its eclectic, sprawling, consumer-focused empire with outposts in 30 countries. Its businesses include British high street discounter Poundland, France's Ligue 1 sponsor Conforama and Pep Africa, which runs the continent's largest clothing factory. Due to the accounting...
(AFP (eng) 12/29/17)
South Africa's top court on Friday ruled that parliament had failed to hold President Jacob Zuma accountable for using public money for private home upgrades, a move that could lead to impeachment proceedings. Opposition parties had gone to the Constitutional Court to argue that the speaker of parliament failed to enforce the appropriate processes to censure Zuma over the scandal. Zuma had failed to abide by recommendations made by the country's anti-corruption watchdog in 2014 over refurbishments at his personal home in the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province that misused $15 million (12 million euros) of taxpayers' money.
(Reuters (Eng) 12/29/17)
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s Constitutional Court ruled on Friday that parliament had failed to hold President Jacob Zuma to account over a scandal related to state-funded upgrades to his home, and must launch proceedings that could remove him from office. The ruling is the latest judicial setback for Zuma, who has faced widespread public demands to step down as president of Africa’s most industrialized economy before an election in 2019. While the ruling comes nowhere near starting an impeachment process against Zuma now, it gives parliament six months to make provision for the removal of a president. It was not immediately clear what specific steps parliament would take, and whether any concrete action would be completed before the election,...
(AFP (eng) 12/29/17)
South Africa's jovial leader Jacob Zuma is a former herdboy who fought in the anti-apartheid struggle and has held onto the presidency despite a plethora of scandals. Now aged 75, he has survived by building a network of loyal African National Congress (ANC) lawmakers and officials, and by trading on the party's legacy as the organisation that ended white-minority rule. Among the stains on his presidency have been allegedly fostering a culture of government corruption and leading the country into a quagmire of low growth and record unemployment. He stood down as ANC party chief at a conference earlier this month but remain as national president ahead of the 2019 election. As leader of the late Nelson Mandela's party, which...
(AFP (eng) 12/28/17)
Credit ratings agency Moody's downgraded debt held by embattled South Africa-based home retail giant Steinhoff on Thursday and warned of further downgrades amid "increasing pressure" on the company's cashflow. Moody's said in a statement it was cutting Steinhoff's credit rating from "B1", or speculative with a high credit risk, to "Caa1", or poor quality and a very high risk. Earlier this month, Steinhoff revealed it was under criminal and tax investigations over suspicions of accounting irregularities, with a reported six billion euro ($7 billion) hole in its accounts. German investigators have been conducting an inquiry into possible "falsification of a balance sheet" since the European summer, according to media there. That news sent the stocks of the Frankfurt-listed firm tumbling...
(AFP (eng) 12/26/17)
"They beat him with a pole... and you could hear the bones breaking," said Debbie Turner, recounting her husband's murder in a slow, defiant voice. She refuses to talk about him in the past tense and sleeps with a photo of him close by. "I miss him so terribly -- it's just so hard," she said, sitting in front of the frail-care unit that has been her home since the attack at their farm. Robert "Oki" Turner, 66, was beaten to death before her eyes six months ago on their isolated stretch of mountain land in South Africa's northeastern Limpopo province. He was one of the latest victims of a long campaign of violence against the country's farmers who are...
(AFP (eng) 12/26/17)
Virat Kohli's India head for a gruelling tour of South Africa on Wednesday looking for a record-breaking tenth straight Test series triumph, but they will have to overcome a reputation for being bad travellers. India, who beat New Zealand, England and Australia in a powerful home season to consolidate their number one Test ranking, celebrated their last major away victory in 2008-2009 when they beat the Kiwis 1-0 in a three-Test series. "Looking forward to the South Africa tour, it's going to be a different challenge," said Rohit Sharma, who captained the Indian limited-overs side in Kohli's recent absence. "But I want to reiterate about our home season, it's never easy to beat anyone. We were challenged at different times...

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