Mamelodi painted yellow as Sundowns celebrates PSL league win

WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS. PSL champions Mamelodi Sundowns drive past children from Nellmapius Primary during their victory parade in Tshwane yesterday. Picture: Refilwe Modise.
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS. PSL champions Mamelodi Sundowns drive past children from Nellmapius Primary during their victory parade in Tshwane yesterday. Picture: Refilwe Modise.

NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on May 17, 2014. 

More than 1 500 primary and secondary school learners in Nellmapius, Mamelodi, screamed their lungs out as an open double-decker bus filled with Mamelodi Sundowns players made its way through the township.

The victory parade didn’t stop for the excited learners, but this did little to dampen the enthusiasm.

Sundowns – also called the Brazilians for their club colours – won this year’s Absa Premiership league for the first time in the seven years and hosted the parade yesterday to celebrate.

“It’s the first time our kids (Sundowns) bring the cup home. We are proud of them for flying Pretoria’s flag high,” said Peggy Basaya, a cleaner at Nellmapius Secondary School.

The primary school’s pupils were in high spirits before the parade, running to the sides of the street in anticipation, singing and dancing as they waited.

Sundowns gave T-shirts to pupils in the school’s netball and football teams, but the pupils from both schools got an opportunity to watch the parade.

Led by metro police officers on motorbikes, the bus made its way down the street. Players waved and held the trophy over the side of the bus.

Grade three teacher Louise Phakula said she was extremely “happy and proud” to be a Sundowns supporter and could not wait to see Teko Modise. Modise came up as a crowd favourite. Fifteen-year-old Mpho Modiba said: “I wish I could marry him. Did you see how good he looked on that bus?”

With over 50 places on the parade route, the team could not stop to interact with fans, leading to many running after the bus once it had passed them by.

Mosebo Sethoga found this regrettable: “I wish they had stopped. My kids were so excited and wanted to meet them.”

The only stops the parade bus made were at the Tshwane University of Technology and the last stop, Sammy Marks Square, where the championship trophy was handed over to the executive mayor of Tshwane, Kgoosientso Ramokgopa.

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My vote cost me my job

Mynhardt-Black-602x398
Mynhardt Black (right) speaks to The Citizen whilst his wife Debbie feeds her ten month old baby, Giovanni, 14 May 2014, at his house in Brixton, Johannesburg. Mynhardt, a tow truck driver, was fired when he failed to show up to work on Election Day to go vote. Picture: Alaister Russell

NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on May 15, 2014. 

All tow-truck driver Mynhart Black wanted to do was vote for a better life – instead he lost his job because he took time off to vote.

Yesterday, Black, 47, said that on the eve of the elections his boss at A1 Assist, Robbie De Freitas, refused to give him time off to vote.

But Black was determined to make his mark so he ignored his boss and took time off to cast his ballot – that decision to exercise his right to vote cost the tow-truck driver his job.

At least 18 million citizens voted last Wednesday.

“He (De Freitas) called me to say I must bring back his truck because I was now fired,” Black said angrily yesterday.

Black, who earns R1 300 a week and has a wife and four children, said he was upset by the turn of events.

Seated next to his wife in their modest Brixton home in Johannesburg, Black described the events leading up to the loss of his job.

“They called me to say I had to work, but I said I can’t work on the public holiday because I had to vote,” Black said.

Even though last Wednesday was declared a public holiday to allow eligible citizens to vote, Black said that his boss De Freitas had told him that he alone would decide who would be allowed to have time off.

“He likes to fire people, but this time he took on the wrong person – I’m a Dutchman, I’ll stand up for my rights,” said Black.

He was even more infuriated two days later when he discovered that his boss had withheld his wages.

Distraught and disappointed Black’s wife, Debbie, 40, said: “We need the money. I don’t see how people can be this cruel to just fire someone.”

Contacted for comment yesterday, De Freitas’s secretary who only identified herself as Bianca, initially said he could not respond because he was in a meeting.

Later De Freitas declined to comment, saying he was still in consultation with his lawyers.

But Black insisted the matter was far from over.

He has been advised by the Independent Electoral Commission to approach the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration for help with his situation.

Mine agrees to talks on Bekkersdal land

Municipality workers erect a road between the land and the mine in Bekkersdaal in Johannesburg, 12 May 2014, which residents want to occupy by force. Picture: Nigel Sibanda
Municipality workers erect a road between the land and the mine in Bekkersdaal in Johannesburg, 12 May 2014, which residents want to occupy by force. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on May 13, 2014. 

Rand Uranium mine on the West Rand will enter into talks with concerned residents in Bekkersdal this week over unused land in the area.

The land close to the mine, which is owned by the mine, has been standing empty for nearly 30 years.

Residents in Bekkersdal attempted to occupy the land earlier this year but were stopped when the mine issued an interdict against their action in January.

Thabang Wesi, spokesperson for the Greater Westonaria Concerned Residents’ Association, said “they (Rand Uranium mine) withdrew the charges because they understand that we need this land”.

Residents were not stopped by the interdict but by “other pressing issues”, said Wesi.

“We need that land. It’s vacant and there’s no development happening there. Bekkersdal must grow like other townships.”

The only residents seen by The Citizen on site yesterday were miners leaving to go home and municipality workers paving a new road to connect the mine to the township.

Wesi described the vacant land as being as big as Bekkersdal itself. “The mine is in the township but doing nothing for the people who live there. They are only developing the land and not the people,” said Wesi.

The current management of the mine also stands accused of not contributing to the community trust fund.

“They have to contribute – if not they must go” said Wesi.

SA NGO fighting crime in the UK

NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on May 12, 2014. 

OPERATING IN LONDON AND KZN: A participant in a Khulisa Social Solutions art workshop in London. Picture: Provided.
OPERATING IN LONDON AND KZN: A participant in a Khulisa Social Solutions art workshop in London. Picture: Provided.

 South African non-profit organisation is helping to fight crime in the United Kingdom through specialised programmes.

Gugulethu Shezi, marketing and communications manager at Khulisa Social Solutions, said inner-city London and semi-rural townships in KwaZulu-Natal had much in common. They were both “communities where the youth frequently see drugs, crime and gangsterism as their only redemption”, said Shezi.

The NGO uses the commonalities between the two to implement programmes that help, “youngsters transform their lives”.

In South Africa, Khulisa focuses on marginalised youngsters in some of “the poorest, riskiest townships”, and the same formula is being used in the UK.

Some of the life skills interventions used by Khulisa include art and drama-therapy workshops, said Lisa Rowles from Khulisa’s UK branch.

“Each programme is tailored to the needs of the client group,” said Rowles, meaning that some programmes are day-long “taster sessions” while others are year-long intervention programmes.

Established in 1998 in KwaZulu-Natal with financial assistance from British donors, the NGO only opened its second branch as a charity in the UK in 2007.

NEW WAYS TO LIVE: Art workshop in London.
NEW WAYS TO LIVE: Art workshop in London.

A lot of fundraising and responding to government bids is done to keep it afloat, said Rowles.

In the UK, the “holistic” programmes the NGO uses include crime reduction programmes at schools and juvenile and adult correctional facilities which have been tracked by several academic institutions for possible successes and failures.

A report by Dr Tim Pascoe, criminologist and researcher, found that of all participants in Khulisa’s programmes, 98% progressed positively.

Some of the participants cited “anger management and conflict resolutions” as some of the benefits they had received from the programmes said Shezi.

This year and in 2015 the NGO plans to host programmes that focus on domestic violence, parents and children and looking at “the streets we walk with new eyes”, according to Rowles.

Practical, fun apps to help you vote

Screen grabbed photo's of the IEC SA app, available for download on both Play Store and App Store.
Screen grabbed photo’s of the IEC SA app, available for download on both Play Store and App Store.

NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on May 6, 2014. 

While  some have criticised political parties of not doing enough on social media to campaign for the elections, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has two different apps in place to help voters through the electoral process.

The Citizen downloaded the apps to their level of usefulness. The fun app, “IXSA” (I vote South Africa) is a 3D digital game that will require 62.64 megabytes of data to download. But that’s all forgotten once you start playing. There are three different missions, with challenges in each to complete. Using a virtual rotary dial you move your 3D avatar around to get to each challenge.

That’s when all the fun begins – you have to get your avatar from their home to a voting station and cast your ballot successfully. The game is a simulation created to take voters through the process in a fun and interactive way. If you have ever played Sims, you will enjoy it.

The practical “IEC SA” app is available for download on Android’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store for a data friendly 4.06 megabytes. The app provides users with access to their voting details.

Along with this, the app lets users find alternate voting stations, look up previous election national and provincial results and a frequently asked questions tab to answer any questions voters may have. It’s an easy to use way of getting important personal information.

Anyone with a smartphone or tablet can be up-to-date with election results and processes at the swipe of a finger.

Coverage of parties, poll topics

NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on May 6, 2014. 

The top three topics covered in the media during the election campaigns were, election campaigning, party politics and corruption – with a particular preoccupation with the Nkandla saga.

In contrast, the top three marginalised topics were: voter education, election results and election funding, Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) said in an interim report on media coverage about the elections released yesterday.

According to MMA, of the 50 media outlets covered over a seven-week period, 85% of all their coverage focused on five “big” parties, namely and in order: the ANC, DA, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Agang South Africa and Congress of the People. This left 24 parties a tiny share of 15% of all coverage.

MMA director William Bird said in Rosebank, Johannesburg, it was also found that the biggest cities received the most coverage, with smaller areas and smaller parties being left out of the loop. The voices most largely represented were President Jacob Zuma (ANC), Juluis Malema (EFF), Helen Zille and Mmusi Maimane (both DA).

Looking at the overall range of coverage, MMA found that only 15% of all coverage was biased.

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.

‘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.