Malema ‘will go to parliament’

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema is seen addressing supporters during a march to the SABC's head office in Johannesburg on Tuesday, 29 April 2014 over its refusal to air an Economic Freedom Fighters' television election commercial. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA
Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema is seen addressing supporters during a march to the SABC’s head office in Johannesburg on Tuesday, 29 April 2014 over its refusal to air an Economic Freedom Fighters’ television election commercial. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen on May 5, 2014. 

Economic Freedom Fighters “commander-in-chief” Julius Malema told a rally in Atteridgeville yesterday that he intends to go to Parliament to “deliver the best of the best” to all South Africans.

He was the keynote speaker at the Tshela Tupa (“Crack the Whip”) rally – his last opportunity to campaign before election day on Wednesday.

The almost 30 000 strong crowd went wild when Malema made his grand entrance. Led by bikers, he greeted the crowd while walking around the track.

Before he addressed the crowd, Dali Mpofu, Gauteng premier candidate for the EFF, led a demonstration of how e-tolls would be “destroyed physically” – an EFF campaign promise. Using hammers, party supporters in red jumpsuits laid into a white structure labelled “e-toll”.

“Any future without EFF is suffering,” Malema told the crowd.

His organisation would be around for the next 100 years, he said, and would be “handed down from one generation to the next”.

The EFF is “inspiring the hopeless masses of people”, he continued. He reiterated promises of increased minimum wages, compulsory free education and land expropriation without compensation. “You will own those farms after the 7th of May,” he said.

He said that the EFF was asking voters for “five years” to make a difference.

Apparently addressing remarks made by City Press editor Ferial Haffajee, he explained how way grants would work under EFF policies.

“We will take out the middle man (the South African Social Grants Agency)… That money will be added on top of our credits. The second money is going to come from politicians.” Money that would otherwise have been used to buy politicians cars would be given as grants to children and the elderly, he said.

Politicians should buy their own cars and houses and finance their own credit cards. They earn a salary and they “should use it”, he said.

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‘This parliament robbed our democracy’

FILE PICTURE: A general view of President Jacob Zuma's private Nkandla home. Picture: AFP PHOTO / Stringer
FILE PICTURE: A general view of President Jacob Zuma’s private Nkandla home. Picture: AFP PHOTO / Stringer

NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on May 1, 2014. 

The decision to dissolve the parliamentary ad hoc committee tasked with investigating the Nkandla debacle is unlawful and unconstitutional, a constitutional law expert said yesterday.

Professor Shadrack Gutto, constitutional law expert at the University of SA, said the decision to dissolve the committee and defer the matter to the new parliament appointed after the elections is “not legal and not constitutional”.

Gutto said the current sitting committee “does not have the powers to defer the matter. They can’t order the new parliament to do their work”.

ANC MPs voted as a majority on Monday to dissolve the parliamentary ad hoc committee, stating there was not enough time for the committee to investigate the matter before election day.

Gutto bluntly said: “The ad hoc committee had simply decided not to do the work it should be doing.”

He said this decision would not make the matter go away, as “serious maladministration and unjust enrichment from public funds by the president and his family” needed to be investigated in Parliament.

Members of opposition parties have said they will pursue the matter.

Gutto said: “This Parliament will go down in history as one that robbed our democracy by not complying with legal and constitutional regulations.”

He said the reasons why the committee had to be dissolved were “irrelevant and wrong.”

The newly elected members of Parliament will sit for the first time on May 21.

Research for Africa, by Africa

FILE PICTURE: Chairperson of the African Union Commission Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. Picture: Nigel Sibanda
FILE PICTURE: Chairperson of the African Union Commission Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on April 25, 2014. 

Pooling resources and working together, instead of competing, are some of the ways research conducted at African universities can help propel the continent to be a global leader, projecting to 2063.

During a public lecture on research in African universities in the Senate Hall at the University of Pretoria yesterday, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairperson of the African Union Commission, emphasised how research done at universities can help with the overall development of Africa.

“The only way to do so is by getting universities to look 50 years into the past and 50 years in to the future,” said Dlamini-Zuma. Projecting ahead “liberates you – it is not defined and confined by immediate circumstances”.

Research carried out at universities is one of the ways universities could help to “turn all our resources into wealth for our people,” said Dlamini-Zuma. A fundamental way of doing this was to broaden the base from which students are chosen, she said.

The university’s vice-chancellor, Cheryl de la Ray, responded by saying demand was too high to accommodate more students. “We don’t take international students for our undergraduate courses because of huge demand locally,” she said.

“We make plans and expect other people to fund them.”

Dlamini-Zuma said development needed to happen internally, with Africans helping Africans. The AU has found that most African researchers collaborate with researchers from overseas and not one another, something which “surprised and disappointed” her.

She added that African universities and researchers needed to work together towards Pan-African development, mentioning the African Union was in the process of starting a virtual Pan-African university.

Dlamini-Zuma stressed that through research conducted at African universities “vexing questions could be answered”. She cited a cure for malaria and the gradual disappearance of Lake Chad as examples of questions that needed to be investigated.

Hospital sued by mother

NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on April 24, 2014. 

Emmah Layi Motsoene (34) a domestic worker in Pretoria is suing Steve Biko hospital for negligence after her baby was born with brain damage after she was in labour too long. Picture: Christine Vermooten
Emmah Layi Motsoene (34) a domestic worker in Pretoria is suing Steve Biko hospital for negligence after her baby was born with brain damage after she was in labour too long. Picture: Christine Vermooten

What was meant to be a standard delivery due date, turned into a nightmare and resulted in a brain damaged disabled child for 34-year-old mother Emmah Motsoene.

Motsoene is taking matters into her own hands three years after her horror experience by suing the Steve Biko Hospital in Pretoria for a 14-hour labour that resulted son, Musa Sindani, being brain damaged.

With tears in her eyes, Motsoene shared her story with The Citizen. It all started one cold morning in July at a clinic in Moreleta Park after Motsoene experienced immense pain. “They told me that the baby is coming, so I went directly to Tshwane District Hospital at 11am,” said Motsoene.

Upon arrival she was checked and told her baby “is still far from coming” but allocated a bed to lie on. Three hours later the “rude” nurse helping Motsoene told her to go home and come back when her pain increased.

While Motsoene was waiting outside of the hospital gates, her water broke. “A sister from the hospital saw me and brought a wheelchair to take me back into the hospital.” Motsoene was then sent to the Steve Biko Academic Hospital just 800 metres away.

Motsoene endured six more hours of being told not to push as the baby wasn’t ready. “I could feel that my baby wanted to come out,” said Motsoene.

At midnight she saw a doctor for the first time after an intern nurse called for help. “He was very rough, he climbed onto my stomach with his knees on my forehead and told me to push because the baby was breeched.

“I wanted to die, I felt so much pain for my child – I just wanted him to come out,” said Emmah.

By 1.30am Motsoene had given birth, but was told her child didn’t get enough oxygen during labour and “something will be wrong with him”. When she saw him later that day, attached to an oxygen tank, she was told he was brain damaged.

I didn’t do it – ‘horror crèche’ owner

NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on April 11, 2014.

Creche3_530972796
A relative of creche owner of Petite Bumper Dayare Labeeba Truter, leave Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court, 10 April 2014, after cases of child abuse and assault against Truter was postponed to 25 April 2014. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

In a court appearance no longer than five minutes yesterday, Labeeba Truter was told she would have to spend 15 more days at Johannesburg’s “Sun City” Prison.

Truter, the principle and owner of Petite Bumper Daycare in Rosettenville, in the south of Johannesburg, was arrested on April 8 facing charges of assault and child abuse. Truter made the news earlier this week following a viral video of a child tied up and gagged at her daycare centre.

In her first court appearance at the Johannesburg Regional Court yesterday afternoon, Judge Hawkins said Truter can formally apply for bail on April 25. Truter looked back at her family in disbelief when she found out she wouldn’t be able to go home after her appearance.

Advocate Herry Bonke Maluleke, Truter’s legal representative said the State could not let her go because she faced “numerous counts and further investigation by the State” would need to be done. “The allegations are yet to be tested,” and the State has to prove them, he said.

Truter stuck to her guns and said: “I’m not the one who did it.” She claimed she had been falsely arrested and the charges she was facing did not even pertain to the complainant’s child.

“It’s not even the same kid. The kid in the Daily Sun is not Beauty and the “father” they spoke to is not her father,” said a frustrated Truter.

She added the child in the video was not even in the country at the moment, as her father had taken her and her mother to Mozambique at the weekend.

Truter said she was called to the bathroom by one of the other children at her daycare and when she got to the bathroom another teacher was there with the child. “When I walked in she hid something behind her back – a cellphone maybe. She has family at the Daily Sun,” said Truter.

Maluleke said Truter would “most definitely” make bail on April 25.

Wits sexual harassment inquiry complete

Prof Bonita Meyersfield outlines some of the key findings from the report. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
Prof Bonita Meyersfield outlines some of the key findings from the report. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

By Caro Malherbe and Shandukani Mulaudzi

Wits has pledged to undertake a multidimensional approach to issues of sexual harassment on campus by formulating a special task team initiated by the vice chancellor’s office. These measures and others were announced today at a press conference called to make the findings of an independent inquiry into issues of sexual harassment at Wits University.

Vice chancellor Prof Adam Habib said he takes full responsibility for the abuses that happened at Wits and that the report highlights the failure of the university’s system to address rumours and allegations decisively.

Habib added that the university welcomes the recommendations and will form a Senior Executive Team to start a plan of action on how the issue of sexual harassment will be dealt with, in line with the culture of the institution.

Special Task Team 

The special task team will originate from the VC’s office and comprise various experts from within the university including gender specialists, the transformation office, sexual harassment advisors, legal expertise and student representatives.

Habib said student representatives will not be solely from the SRC but from various sectors of the student body.

Prof Adam Habib, Kirti Menon and Prof Andrew Crouch field questions from the media. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
Prof Adam Habib, Kirti Menon and Prof Andrew Crouch field questions from the media. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

 Difficulties of investigation


Prof Bonita Meyersfeld, the director of the Centre of Applied Legal Studies at Wits was part of the team who compiled the report together with lawyers from law firm Norton Rose. She said this was one of the most difficult inquiries to undertake.

“The inquiry was one of the most difficult tasks for the whole team to undertake because we were dealing with our own university. But it was important and totally worth it.”

Meyersfeld said students and members of staff were initially reluctant to speak to them but in the last two months of the inquiry they were more willing to come forward.

“The emotion involved in both students and staff alike is evident throughout the university and administration. Students felt they were not listened to and not taken seriously.”

Meyersfeld said the students were also worried about following the legal process as they were worried about being re-traumatised by speaking to various entities about the same incident.

Members of staff, although they shared the same sentiments also worried about the threat posed to their careers if they came forward.

Continuing investigation 

Two cases have already been dealt with and the accused persons have been dismissed. Habib said there are two other cases that are on-going.

“Two have been dismissed and another who began investigations will hopefully be released to me tomorrow. The fourth is yet to begin.”

SRC President, Sibulele Mgudlwa answers a question from the audience. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa
SRC President, Sibulele Mgudlwa answers a question from the audience. Photo: Pheladi Sethusa

The on-going investigation is that of Prof Rupert Taylor, while the one that has not yet begun is that of Dr Lord Mawuko. This was confirmed by a reliable source who did not want to be named.

Meyersfeld said while there were other perpetrators discovered during the inquiry. However cases were dealt with on a confidential basis and unless students asked for their accusations to be pursued, they were not.

Habib added: “We pursued various other avenues to get to the bottom of it [new cases]. But in those instances our findings yielded no further investigation.”

Habib thanked the media for blowing the whistle on issues of sexual harassment as this forced the university to take immediate action.

 

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“Special” leave?

THE DEAN of students, Prem Coopoo, has been  on special leave for the past two weeks, since August 2, with little clarity on when she will return.

Wits spokesperson Shirona Patel told Wits Vuvuzela that Coopoo had been placed on special leave pending an investigation.

Elaine Milton, head of employee relations at Wits, said the reasons behind Coopoo’s absence are “personal and private” and she could not comment on them.

Wits Vuvuzela tried numerous times to get in touch with Coopoo and other members in management for more information but to no avail.

Head of Residence Life Rob Sharman has been named acting dean of students while Coopoo is on special leave.

According to the university’s website, the office of the dean of students facilitates student life and the academic life of students. It also assists with programmes and services to students.

The dean of students also provides “the strategic direction and co-ordination of all student affairs operations” and sets “clear and specific expectations for staff involvement in facilitating students’ experiences”.

Phansi, e-toll phansi!

strike-300x199The e-toll issue has been a rather contentious one. Since early last year when the announcement on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) was made (emphasis on announcement), both SANRAL(South African National Roads Agency Limited) and the government failed to even propose the idea to the general public. Surely citizens deserved consultation before the tolls were even built. 

Now that the public is speaking out against the tolls, they are being vilified. The e-toll saga reached its climax when the budget speech took place a few weeks ago. For months the launch of the tolls had been postponed due to public outcry. In the 2012 budget speech, Finance Minister Pravin Gordan made it clear that e-tolls are here to stay. He said that it is the responsibility of Gauteng taxpayers to pay and that the price cut was very generous on their part. Initially, the tolls were set to be 66c a kilometre which could see daily commuters paying up to and over R600 a month. Coupled with petrol money and service fees, driving would become an unbearable cost burden. Gordan considers the price cut from 66c to 30c per kilometre and the R550 capped fee for regular users as generous. There is nothing ‘generous’ about an added expense to road users.

The problem with the e-tolls is that they have already been built and people have been hired to work in the e-toll shops at various malls. If the tolls were just ‘scrapped’ as many are suggesting, hundreds of people would be unemployed. This is the emotional blackmail the Minister used in the budget speech. What he conveniently forgets is that if SANRAL hired those people, they are responsible for them. It feels like SANRAL in collusion with the government have bullied the public into a corner. This is not how democracy should work.

Why do we even need these e-tolls? The justification is that the money made from e-tolls will be ploughed back into road 532611496-300x240infrastructure and aid other national expenditures. Fine. But then what are all our other taxes for? They increase every year; yet it is hard for us to see this money being used efficiently. If I knew that my e-toll money went towards someone’s grant money, building schools and the like I would happily pay it. But I know better and so do you. That money will line the pockets of some fat cat and never be used for what it should. The government is taking advantage of us and we cannot allow it.

This is why I was in full support of the COSATU strike last Wednesday. Since the inception of the GFIP, Zwelinzima Vavi has been very vocal on the matter. He thinks that the tolls are an unnecessary burden, especially to the ordinary working man. He has encouraged commuters to boycott the e-tolls by not registering for them; something that could have heavy penalties (apparently). His comment after the budget speech was that citizens are being used as cash cows and this must be put to a stop. The strike/march on Wednesday was the first decisive measure to protest against the tolls. It was a very peaceful strike which garnered support from an estimated 60 000 people nationwide. The e-toll strike was held in collaboration with COSATU’s protest against labour brokers. What was most poignant about this strike is that among the strikers there were some white middle class citizens; a very reassuring sight.

The response to the strike had the same adamant tone as it did before. It was said in parliament the following day that they will not be making any changes; their decision regarding the tolls was final. COSATU say they will not rest until further concessions are made before April. For commuters’ sake I hope they don’t; these tolls are an unfair burden.

**NOTE: Post first appeared on exPress imPress on March 14 2012. 

No under-21’s?

Cream soda only for next year’s Freshers’ bash? Pheladi Sethusa, a second year Media Studies student, discusses recent government plans to increase the legal drinking age.

Last week I saw a news report on the planned change of the legal drinking age in South Africa. The proposed legislation states that the legal drinking age will be moved up from 18 to 21. Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini said that they hoped that this change would help in the fight against not only alcohol and drug abuse in South Africa, but also the fight against crime. 

Myself at Matric Vac in 2009. That was really just colourful water ;)
Myself at Matric Vac in 2009. That was really just colourful water 😉

As we all know, crime is a huge problem in our country and many violent crimes are connected to drug and alcohol abuse result in domestic violence, robberies and assault. The minister also made the point that currently South Africa holds the record for the highest binge drinking among its youth. Binge drinking can be fatal in relation to one’s health, which is why the government feels that this social ill needs to be alleviated in any way possible. Changing the legal drinking age is one way of doing that.

I agree that alcohol abuse is a major contributor when it comes to the aforementioned issues but I believe that it is not the root of the problem. There are stringent laws concerning narcotics in our country but yet that does not stop the drug industry growing from year to year. This is undoubtedly a result of fraudulent and incompetent policing. At the moment, minors can access alcohol fairly easily in spite of the current legal drinking age. I understand that this change of legislature is the only one which looks likely to curb alcohol abuse among the youth but I fear that it may not be enough. I also think that it is unfair to accuse people in the 18-21 age bracket as being responsible for most of the alleged alcohol-related crimes in our country.

Along with my belief that this change will be ineffective, I also believe that this change may prove detrimental to the whole varsity experience and what I would call the-coming-of-age experience. The latter refers to what turning 18 means to myself and most South African youths.

When we turn 18 we are allowed to vote in national elections, drive and legally consume alcohol. Now while the last point seems the least important it is pivotal in the transition to adulthood. Matric dances, 18th birthday parties and most importantly Matric Vac would not be the same without the choice to indulge in alcohol. My matric year would have been rather dull without the alcohol component.

Some are of the view that you do not need to drink to make an event more enjoyable and to some extent I agree but it is a personal preference you should be allowed to make, considering that you are now a young adult who can make informed decisions. With regards to the varsity experience, I think the freedom of choice that comes with entering the varsity world would be severely hindered. Imagine the Wits Orientation Week events and parties without alcohol. No more beer garden and silly buggers vodka parties. Not to mention the Freshers’ bash – somehow a cream soda on the rocks does not quite scream bash.

Personally I feel the proposed change in the legal drinking age will be ineffectual in decreasing overall alcohol consumption amongst young adults as well as decreasing crime statistics. It is a step in the right direction but South Africa needs far more than that. The government needs to look at why people are drinking so much in the first place. Is it purely recreational or are people drinking and using drugs to escape their problems? Such problems may include poverty, unemployment and perhaps even stress. For me this legislation is similar to prescribing someone with tuberculosis normal cough mixture and hoping that that will help.

The ardent drinker in me feels that this law will have a negative effect on after school life and will deprive many of the experiences that come with leaving high school. It would rob youngsters of a formative experience. How can we be trusted with electing a party who will have sovereign power over our lives but not with when and how much we drink? There seems to be a disjuncture between the two, or is it just me?

**NOTE: Post first appeared on exPress imPress on March 23 2011.