VIDEO: My year at The Citizen in 5 minutes

On Thursay, November 29 was the we had to do our end of year graduate presentations for our mentors and fellow graduates.

It was really cool to see what other people did with their year and how much they learnt. There were only three of us at The Citizen – so we only knew each other.

Anyway, I decided to make a short-ish video as my presentation. We were tasked with telling people a little bit about our backgrounds and explaining the ups and downs of our time here:

 

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Gauteng honours 22 Nigerian church collapse victims

NOTE: Article first appeared on The Citizen website on November 20, 2014. 

Gauteng premier, David Makhura, said families who lost loved ones in the Nigerian collapse should be comforted by the fact that they died doing God’s will, at a mass memorial service held at Johannesburg City Hall this afternoon.

Bereaved families who lost loved ones in the Nigerian SCOAN church building collapse at a mass memorial service held at the Johannesburg City Hall, 20 November 2014. Picture: Valentina Nicol
Bereaved families who lost loved ones in the Nigerian SCOAN church building collapse at a mass memorial service held at the Johannesburg City Hall, 20 November 2014. Picture: Valentina Nicol

The memorial service comes two months after a guesthouse connected to prophet TB Joshua’s, Synagogue Church of all Nations collapsed and killed 116 people, eighty of which were South African.

Makhura said the nation is with the 22 families from Gauteng who lost loved ones. “They died in God’s name, they died serving him,” he added.

Seventy four bodies were successfully repatriated on Sunday, with a further 11 left behind. Earlier this week, Phumla Williams, spokesperson for the department of communications said the identification process for those left behind would have to start from scratch to “positively identify” the remains.

Sombre-faced family members made their way into the hall, some holding hands and others holding back tears.

The families have been asked to not view the mortal remains of their loved ones as the bodies were exposed for some time.

Makhura said government did their best in the repatriation process because “Jacob Zuma’s government is a government that cares.” The 22 families who will lay their loved ones to rest this week, need only ask if they need any assistance Makhura said.

Horror N12 crash driver case postponed

NOTE: Article first appeared on The Citizen website on November 12, 2014. 

A truck driver accused of three counts of culpable homicide appeared briefly in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday.

Isaac Maruding, the man who was driving the truck that caused a huge crash on the N12 in Alberton last month, has had his bail extended after a postponement.

Maruding appeared wearing all black, a change from the dirty overalls he was wearing before. Today magistrate, Samuel Hlubi allowed for his case to be postponed and moved to regional court when he reappears on January 23, 2015.

Truck Driver, Isaac Wade Maruding appears in court, 12 November 2014, at the Palmridge Magistrate’s court on the East Rand. Maruding is accused of causing an accident on the N12 near Alberton that damaged over 40 vehicles and killed 3. The case was postponed to 23 January 2015. Picture: Alaister Russell
Truck Driver, Isaac Wade Maruding appears in court, 12 November 2014, at the Palmridge Magistrate’s court on the East Rand. Maruding is accused of causing an accident on the N12 near Alberton that damaged over 40 vehicles and killed 3. The case was postponed to 23 January 2015. Picture: Alaister Russell

It was revealed that Maruding’s private attorney, Mokhele Salemane, has withdrawn since he secured R7000 bail for his client. A withdrawal state prosecutor, John Ntuli, called Salemane “unprofessional” as the court was only informed Wednesday by the accused.

The postponement was granted to give Maruding time to yet again find a new legal representative.

Three people died when the truck Maruding was driving ploughed into cars stuck in traffic on the N12, damaging 48 cars. Maruding fled from the crime scene – something the state previously argued made him a flight risk.

Maruding is facing charges of culpable homicide and reckless and negligent driving.

He was previously convicted of the same crimes almost 17 years ago. He served 18 months in prison for those crimes.

Maruding’s licence has been handed over to authorities until his case is finalised. This means the former taxi and truck driver will have no way of making an income for some months to come.

 

VIDEO: Charges withdrawn in Meyiwa suspect

NOTE: This article first appeared on The Citizen website on November 11, 2014. 

The  NPA has officially withdrawn the charges against Zamokuhle Mbatha, the 25-year-old man accused of killing Senzo Meyiwa.

Mbatha had his second appearance in the Boksburg Magistrates Court on Tuesday morning and the charges of murder and robbery were dropped against him within five minutes.

State prosecutor Gertrude Market requested that Mbatha’s appearance on Tuesday took place in absentia.

It became apparent why when Magistrate Daniel Thulare accepted the State’s request to withdraw the charges.Thulare said there was not enough evidence against Mbatha to carry on with his trial.

Mbatha’s family, who filled two benches in the packed court room, were overjoyed. Lindiwe Mbatha, his sister-in-law, said: “We knew they had the wrong person. He would never do something like this”.

The family left the court in song.

Mbatha will be released from police custody and investigations into Meyiwa’s killing will continue.

Cell C complaint banner gets a makeover

NOTE: Article first appeared on The Citizen website on November 9, 2014. 

The banner lambasting Cell C as “The most useless service provider in SA” outside World Wear shopping centre in Randburg has had a makeover over the weekend.

Black tape has been used to cover the white circle around the “C” logo and more tape used to cover the provider’s official colours.

The changes made were reportedly an effort to avoid legal action from Cell C.

The network provider is reportedly seeking legal advice on the matter and want to possibly take action against both the man who put the banner up, and the mall where the banner hangs.


READ MORE: Cell C blasted by “irate” customer (video)


Over the weekend, people on Twitter tweeted in support of the banner while airing their own frustrations with the network:

https://twitter.com/ramzymunya100/status/531155407595921408

https://twitter.com/chrisreeler/status/531164370999705601

 

TAC needs millions ASAP

NOTE: Article first appeared on The Citizen website on November 7, 2014. 

Picture: Supplied by TAC
Picture: Supplied by TAC

The Treatment Action Campaign have embarked on an emergency fundraising drive to counter the R30 million deficit they are facing.

The HIV/Aids activist organisation is urgently in need of financial support via donations to keep them from closing their doors.

Lotti Rutter from TAC said: “We have a R30 million deficit… We are trying to crowd source the money we need” through a current month long fundraising drive.

“So far there has been a great level of support, We are hopeful that will raise enough money,” she added.

TAC has been at the forefront of the fight against HIV/Aids for close to ten years now.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu made a passionate plea for donations for TAC, saying they have been central to restoring hope to the millions of South Africans afflicted by HIV/Aids.

“Aids is not over, it is not over until the evils that drive HIV such as rape and violence against women and children are defeated,” he said.

Rutter said the public support has been overwhelming in the few days that they have embarked on the drive.

Last night a virtual townhall meeting was held by the campaign on social network Twitter under the #SaveTAC hashtag.

The conversation centred around their funding issue as well as the vital role of social activism:

If TAC is unable to get the funds it needs this month, they will be forced to close their doors on December 1, World Aids Day.

Homeless boy finds baby tossed from car

NOTE: Article first appeared on The Citizen website on November 6, 2014.

A homeless boy in Braamfontein, who thought he had picked up a Checkers plastic bag filled with food and other “nice things” near Wits University, was shocked when he instead discovered the mangled body of a dead baby.

Wits University campus control director Robert Kemp said the body had been dumped from a white Volkswagen Polo driving down Jan Smuts Avenue in Johannesburg late on Tuesday night.

It was particularly cold and wet that night, and the desperate homeless youngster thought he might have found something to help him through it.

“A passing vagrant saw the packet thinking there might be something nice for him in there but then he discovered the deceased baby,” said Kemp.

The young boy immediately looked for help and quickly approached campus control officers at the Nowsell Hall residence.

Warrant Officer Richard Munyai confirmed the incident yesterday.

“A case of concealment of birth has been opened… that is basically [an] abortion,” he explained.

He added that preliminary findings revealed that “it was a stillborn baby in that plastic”.

A police investigation was underway.

Is ANCYL backing #BringBackBhekiCele?

NOTE: Article first appeared on The Citizen website on November 4, 2014. 

A crime prevention campaign launched by the ANC Youth League Tuesday, doubled up as a platform for the ‘bring back Bheki Cele’ campaign.

Bheki Cele, now deputy minister of agriculture and fisheries, was invited by the ANCYL in his capacity as an ANC national executive committee member. The event, hosted by the youth league, saw ‘Operation Wanya Tsotsi’, a call to reclaim the streeta being launched.

FILE PICTURE: Mourners call for the reinstatement of the country's former police chief Bheki Cele as they gather at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday, 1 November 2014 for the funeral of slain Bafana Bafana captain Senzo Meyiwa. Picture: Giordano Stolley/SAPA
FILE PICTURE: Mourners call for the reinstatement of the country’s former police chief Bheki Cele as they gather at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday, 1 November 2014 for the funeral of slain Bafana Bafana captain Senzo Meyiwa. Picture: Giordano Stolley/SAPA

The crowd erupted when Cele, dressed in all black with a signature hat, entered the Vosloorus Civic Centre. A group shouted “bring back Bheki” when a question on how to fight crime was asked.

Cele called on the youth to channel the anger the country has over crime to start fighting it. “We must organise to close and squeeze the space for criminals”.

He added that communities should come together to expose criminals. “You know these people. Criminals like to talk about their loot, their money and their girls but you choose to keep quiet.”

The crime fighting campaign came after the shooting and killing of Bafana Bafana captain and Orlando Pirates goalie, Senzo Meyiwa, last week.

Cele’s attendance was seemingly in line with the call from aggrieved fans who asked for the former police commissioner to be brought back to fight crime. ​The informal campaign was trending on social network Twitter under the hastag #bringbackbhekicele last week:

https://twitter.com/Sgebzzz/status/528062660831485952

Engineer didn’t inspect 84 ton Meyersdal structure

NOTE: Article first appeared on The Citizen website on October 30, 2014. 

A commission of inquiry into a structure that collapsed at an estate in Meyersdal has heard that the slab that fell, weighed 84 tonnes.

Seven men died and eight more were injured when the slab fell on them.

On Thursday, the second day of the Meyersdal Structural Collapse Incident Inquiry faced another hostile witness, as the engineer refuses to answer the commission’s questions.

Ranjan Galal, the engineer of the structure, dodged numerous questions asked by presiding officer, Phumudzo Maphaha. This was much like contractor, Errol Romburgh did on Wednesday.

After a barrage of questions, Galal cracked when Maphaha put it to him that his design and not the construction work, was responsible for the collapse.

“It was not my design that caused the collapse,” said Galal. Even though earlier in his testimony he had said that the design shown on TV screens during inquiry proceedings, was not his but an architect’s. Galal changed his tune when Maphaha said they had been on the site together after the collapse.

Maphaha insinuated that the 84 ton slab was supported by columns that could not support that weight. Along with this he said those weak pillars were built atop “no foundation, they were on a retaining wall”.

The commission adjourned after all the commission’s witness appeared within two days. Maphaha will be compiling a report and making recommendations to the director of public prosecution.

Alberton house contractor keeps mum at commission of inquiry

NOTE: Article first appeared on The Citizen website on October 29, 2014.

Question after question posed by a commission sitting in Tshwane on Wednesday into the collapsed building near Alberton which left seven people killed and nine injured, were ignored by the contractor of the Meyersdal Eco Estate when questioned.

FILE PICTURE: Paramedics on the scene in Meyersdal Eco Estate, Alberton in the south of Johannesburg on 18 August 2014 after a building collapsed. Picture Alberton Record/CNS
FILE PICTURE: Paramedics on the scene in Meyersdal Eco Estate, Alberton in the south of Johannesburg on 18 August 2014 after a building collapsed. Picture Alberton Record/CNS

Errol Romburgh, a member of Romicon, the construction company that was building the luxury house at the estate when part of it collapsed, refused to answer questions posed by presiding officer, Phumudzo Maphaha.

This morning the comission heard Romburgh say he was following his legal advice to use his legal right to “not answer any incriminating questions”.

The Meyersdal Structural Collapse Incident Inquiry has been set up to further investigate the collapse that happened on August 18.

Despite Romburgh’s refusal, Maphaha continued to put questions to him about his workers and health and safety issues on site. He concluded that “recommendations will be made to the National Prosecuting Authority,” following Romburgh’s failure to comply by remaining silent.


Alberton house collapse construction worker can’t remember what happened

Several men have been injured, eight are presumed to be dead and two are still missing beneath the rubble of collapse building in Alberton, Johannesburg South. Picture: ER24 Flickr
Several men have been injured, eight are presumed to be dead and two are still missing beneath the rubble of collapse building in Alberton, Johannesburg South. Picture: ER24 Flickr

Maphaha said the purpose was particularly to investigate the cause of the collapse that led to the deaths and injuries.

Prior to Romburgh three workers gave their testimony to the commission. They were all on site when the building collapsed but could not remember how the structure came tumbling down, only waking up later in hospital.

Collins Mohale said he was given a hard hat, boots, gloves and overall but never shown how to use them. “Not everyone wore the protective clothes,” he added.

Second witness, Patrick Moremi said in the eight years he had worked for Romicon, he had undergone no health and saftey training or medical check-ups.

Another witness and worker who survived the collapse, Sandile Mabuza gave similar testimony.

The proceedings continue.