EFF feels legislature wrath

EFF MPs are removed by police from the Gauteng Provincial Legislature for wearing red overalls, 1 July 2014. Picture: @EconFreedomZA via Twitter
EFF MPs are removed by police from the Gauteng Provincial Legislature for wearing red overalls, 1 July 2014. Picture: @EconFreedomZA via Twitter

NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on July 2, 2014. 

Two  EFF MPLs were injured yesterday after being thrown out of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature for wearing overalls.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) spokesperson Omphile Maotwe who siad Benjamin Disolwane and Mgcini Faku were “manhandled” by security when they were being removed from the legislature.

“Our chief whip (Faku) had his arm broken during the forced removal,” said Maotwe.

The members and six others were asked to leave the legislature when they came dressed in their red overalls.

The Speaker of the provincial legislature, Ntombi Megkwe said EFF MPLs were asked to “excuse themselves” after she explained to them that they were dressed inappropriately.

When they refused to do so, she invoked Legislatures Act 4 of 2004 which gives her the power to evict members of the legislature from the proceedings.

Parliamentary spokesperson Luzuko Jacobs said the National Assembly operated separately from any other Legislature.

The National Assembly therefore allowed the EFF to attend the proceedings wearing their overalls.

Party insignia and symbols are allowed in Parliament, he said.

“Every legislature is empowered by law to impose its own rules,” said Jacobs.

Deputy provincial speaker Uhuru Moiloa said they could “not allow anarchy to happen” by allowing any members to behave inappropriately by not sticking to the Guateng legislature’s rules and regulations.

“The gimmicks of the EFF are an attempt to divert the legislature…Today was a waste of the nation’s time,” he said.

Mekgwe shared her thoughts on the EFF’s red overalls, saying “this is not a garden”.

Speaker in the Gauteng Legislature Ntombi Mekgwe addresses a press briefing on the removal of EFF members from the legislature during a sitting in Johannesburg.
Speaker in the Gauteng Legislature Ntombi Mekgwe addresses a press briefing on the removal of EFF members from the legislature during a sitting in Johannesburg.

She added that the legislature was a noble house and as such required appropriate dress code.

She said “minimal force” had to be used to remove the two members.

Mekgwe claimed she did not see any excessive force being used, she only saw one of the EFF members hitting a female security personnel with a “hot klap” during their eviction. She said this violence would be dealt with.

Mekgwe said during the two week orientation that all MPLs were taken through earlier this year, the standing rules outlined matters of conduct and participation in the legislature and the EFF members had failed to abide by those rules.

The EFF MPLs have not been expelled from legislature, however Mekgwe said the members would just need to dress appropriately to be allowed back into legislature in the coming days.

Maotwe said the provincial branch of the EFF would be consulting “head office and will take the matter from there”.

Late yesterday Mekgwe said the integrity commissioner would investigate the incident.

“We are referring the matter to the integrity commission. They will advise us on how to move forward,” Mekgwe said.

Gauteng police spokesperson Leutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said he would respond to the allegations only once a case had been opened.

 

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Abandoned power station comes crashing down

Rescue workers stand in front of the collapsed power park building, Soweto, 26 June 2014. The building collapsed yesterday morning. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark
Rescue workers stand in front of the collapsed power park building, Soweto, 26 June 2014. The building collapsed yesterday morning. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

NOTE: This article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on June 26, 2014.

A body was recovered and five injured men suspected of stripping metal and cables from a decommissioned power station, in Orlando, Soweto, were last night rescued several hours after they had been trapped when the building collapsed on them.

“The men sustained head and body injuries, but they were stable,” said Johannesburg Emergency Management Services (EMS) spokesperson Nana Radebe. She said the body of the unidentified man was recovered late last night.

Police suspect that the men were trying to strip the dilapidated building of metal fittings and cables when the building caved in and trapped them under rubble.

“These guys came in the middle of the night, it’s obvious that they were stealing,” said Kay Makhubela from the South African Police Service.

However, last night after the rescue no arrests were made, instead the five men were taken to Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital for treatment.

Rescue workers take sniffer dogs into the collapsed power park building, Soweto, 25 June 2014. The building collapsed early this morning after suspected metal thieves were in the building possibly causing the collapse and trapping 4 of them. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark
Rescue workers take sniffer dogs into the collapsed power park building, Soweto, 25 June 2014. The building collapsed early this morning after suspected metal thieves were in the building possibly causing the collapse and trapping 4 of them. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

Orlando resident Maria Matsinhe recalled how her husband telephoned her in the early hours yesterday to alert her of his ordeal.

Matsinhe said her husband Simon Pacul told her that there had been an accident involving himself, her brother and her nephew.

“I don’t know what they were doing there or how they got there, my husband was meant to be going back to work in Rustenburg,” said a visibly distraught Matsinhe.

Her husband is a miner and was supposed to return to work on the platinum belt, where the devastating five month strike finally ended this week.

The decommissioned power station at Power Park in Orlando, which was commissioned at the end of the Second World War and served Johannesburg for more than 50 years, collapsed at around 4am yesterday morning.

Monwabisi Tyani, who lives just behind the building, said: “I heard a sound like a bomb at about half past four.”

EMS spokesperson Radebe said Pacul, who was injured, called them for help.

Rescue workers in front of the collapsed power park building, Soweto, 26 June 2014. The building collapsed yesterday morning. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark
Rescue workers in front of the collapsed power park building, Soweto, 26 June 2014. The building collapsed yesterday morning. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

“We received a call at about 7am and when we got here we found him,” said Radebe.

Radebe said Pacul was taken to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital for treatment. He suffered injuries to his legs, arms and hands.

“He is in a serious but stable condition,” Radebe said.

She suggested that the alleged theft of metal and cable could have caused the old building to collapse.

“Maybe they removed small quantities over time, which weakened the building,” said Radebe.

Soweto police spokesperson warrant officer Kay Makhubela said investigations to find out what the rescued men were doing at the building were in progress.

“We must find the owner of the building to see if he gave these people permission to be here,” said Makhubela.

Respect initiation – without loss of life

NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper June 14, 2014. 

The traditional initiation season started yesterday and many young boys are heading to initiation schools countrywide to take part in this cultural rite of passage during their winter holiday.

In an effort to curb the deaths that result from circumcisions done at some of these schools, R180 million has been set aside by the Department of Health to assist initiation schools. Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi said every province will be given R20 million. This money can be used to hire help or buy necessary aids at initiation schools.

Some of the problem areas identified include the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Mpumalanga, where some illegal schools are in operation. Motsoaledi said the problem in the Eastern Cape was “complex” because people are allowed to open up initiation schools without the consent of their traditional leader. This is why parents need to ensure the school they take their child to is legal – and report illegal schools.

Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi addresses a joint media briefing held in Pretoria on the initiation cultural practices. (Photo: GCIS)
Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi addresses a joint media briefing held in Pretoria on the initiation cultural practices. (Photo: GCIS)

“We can’t let these thugs kill our children,” said Motsoaledi.

Obed Bapela, deputy minister of traditional affairs said a “zero tolerance” stance would be taken on “bogus operators” of illegal initiation schools. “The loss of life that occurred over the years prompted government and the traditional leadership to embark on a drive to restore the integrity and dignity of the practice.”

Bapela gave an example of the 32 deaths last year in Mpumalanga, saying the Hawks were investigating the matter.

Motsoaledi said while some traditional leaders may be resistant to help, they need to understand that “things have changed”. Diseases such as diabetes have become more prevalent and require initiation schools to take more precautions.

The money provided is part of R385 million set aside by the department for the medical male circumcision programme, which will provide free circumcisions. The department will provide further support through assisting with health screening, providing medicines and technical help. Motsoaledi said health screening was vital in preventing deaths. “We need to pick up prior medical conditions” to avoid the inevitable.

Oh baby, it’s cold outside

Construction workers stand around a fire to keep warm, 06 June 2014, in Industria West, Johannesburg. Residents of Johannesburg are expecting temperatures to drop as a cold front passes through the country. Picture: Alaister Russell
Construction workers stand around a fire to keep warm, 06 June 2014, in Industria West, Johannesburg. Residents of Johannesburg are expecting temperatures to drop as a cold front passes through the country. Picture: Alaister Russell

NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on June 7, 2014. 

Temporary relief has been provided for the residents evicted in Alexandra, Johannesburg, this week amid the first winter cold. They found themselves and the few belongings they managed to hold on to housed in community halls in the area.

Phineas Ramakgasha, who works as a security guard, yesterday said he was upset about how much he had lost in just 48 hours.

He had a backpack with his work uniform, wash cloth and a bar of soap he had just bought to shower for the first time in two days.

His home and belongings were forcibly taken on Wednesday when the Red Ants evicted residents, following a court order. “I was not aware of the eviction. I rushed from work to find all my goods – TV, fridges – out in the street. They wouldn’t even let me go inside,” said an irate Ramakgasha.

He was forced to spend the night on the street with his belongings – most of which got stolen. “Our things were just lying in the street. People helped themselves. Some stole directly from our hands,” said Ramakgasha.

“Even this hall is a disaster,” he said, commenting on the small, cold space evicted people had been allocated – and the fact that they had not eaten anything by 12 noon yesterday.

Gift of the Givers are helping to provide food and blankets to some of those affected. Ramakgasha held up one of the blankets.

Another evicted resident – one of 61 – staying at the Malboro Sports Centre said the eviction was “hurtful” and their belongings were treated “carelessly”. George Nkoana said they were victims. “We all paid rent to live there. We didn’t put ourselves there. Places to live were being sold for R500 and we bought.

“We could have fought, but we didn’t. That’s why I don’t even want to go back, I don’t want to fight anyone,” said Nkoana. On the day of the eviction he moved his family and belongings to a family member’s house, but went back that night to watch over the rest of his belongings.

Both men have been separated from their families, as women and children are being accommodated at the Malboro Emergency Centre, where 25 rooms were made available to them. They also shared the sentiment that there was some foul play and “corruption” between their landlord and authorities.

Ramakgasha said he is confident they will get the new shacks they were promised by human settlements MEC Jacob Mamabolo yesterday.

They are expected to be at places of shelter until the new shacks are built for them in Malboro.

Questions about new immigration regulations

NOTE: Article first appeared in the Citizen newspaper on June 6, 2014. 

The newly implemented immigration regulations have split up families, as mothers and fathers overseas are now classified as undesirable and banned from South Africa.

In a statement, incoming Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said the new immigration regulations, implemented on May 26, are an effort to “strengthen security” and avoid the abuses possible under previous immigration laws.

FILE PICTURE: Minister of home affairs Malusi Gigaba. Picture: Refilwe Modise.
FILE PICTURE: Minister of home affairs Malusi Gigaba. Picture: Refilwe Modise.

“People are now stranded abroad and banned from entry into the country,” said Stuart James, owner of Intergate Immigration. The new regulations removed “directive 43″, which used to let spouses and other family members renew permits in under 30 days. Now this renewal process will take between 60 days and six months, leaving greater chances for overstay while people are out of the country for a period of time.

Those caught in this transition will be banned for between one to five years, said James. Urgent interdicts could be used by those “stuck” abroad, but “this could drag on for months”.

“An awful lot of lawsuits are on the way,” he said.

Julian Pokroy, chairperson of the Immigration Law Specialist Committee of the Law Society of South Africa, explained people will be classified as “undesirable” once their visas have expired.

Pokroy said there are some positive changes but also some “practical negatives”. The new critical skills visa which replaced work permits only allows entry to those skilled in particular professions. But “no one qualifies at the moment because no list has been gazetted”, said Pokroy.

James said the regulations had been implemented hastily. “It was signed in on Naledi Pandor’s last day in office.”

James attributed this to the lack of clarity on many issues. Pokroy said the regulations make it difficult for skilled foreigners and investors to gain entry to the country

Mogoeng denies pushing Christianity

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

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng on Wednesday denied trying to push religion down South Africans’ throats, saying his comments had been misunderstood.

In a press conference held this afternoon, Mogoeng said those who did not read his speech and only got bits of it are the people who have “misunderstood” him.

FILE PICTURE: Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng addresses members of parliament in the national assembly during the first sitting of the 5th democratic parliament in Cape Town, 21 May 2014. Picture: Refilwe Modise
FILE PICTURE: Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng addresses members of parliament in the national assembly during the first sitting of the 5th democratic parliament in Cape Town, 21 May 2014. Picture: Refilwe Modise

Speaking at an annual conference in Stellenbosch last week he sparked outrage came from the public when Mogoeng suggested that religion should inform some of our law making processes.

Mogoeng said he spoke about law and religion because that was the theme of the conference.

“I spoke about religion and law because the conference was about religion and law,” said Mogoeng bluntly.

Mogoeng said he highlighted all religions and not just Christianity, “there are treasures in all religions in Africa” he went on to use Ubuntu as an example.

Mogoeng added that all religions practiced properly teach tolerance and love and by so doing shape society.

The chief justice felt that he had not betrayed the constitution in anyway, “I take my oath of office very seriously. I will not give precedence to my religion at the expense of the law”.

When the chief justice finished reading his prepared statement, he ended with “God bless you” before opening the floor for questions.

A mall without walls

taxi-rank
Commuters wait patiently for the taxi to arrive at Bara taxi rank in Johannesburg. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on June 3, 2014. 

Rushed commuters greet one another in passing, buy combo’s of coffee and magwinya (fat cakes), while others get their daily paper and those with time wait for grilled giblets on a sosati stick. All done in just under five minutes before lining up to catch a bus or taxi, or walk over to the hospital.

This is the Baragwanath taxi rank – 1.4km-long and 50-metres wide – one of the biggest and busiest in Gauteng. At least 1 000 taxis, managed by 12 associations, 20 bus bays and 500 street traders serve the thousands of feet that make their way through the rank every day.

Passing the plethora of stalls you will find your way to a makeshift casino in the form of young men and women playing cards and ma dice – all hoping to win some money.

Just behind them is braai master Musa Bhengu, who has been working at the rank for 15 years. Bhengu braais a variety of meats. “I sell everything from skop (sheep’s head), to chicken feet, mogodu (sheep’s intestines) and pap,” he said.

As one of the only traders at the rank braaing meat, Bhengu said his business grows every year. Along with this, Bhengu’s stall is not directly on the taxi rank property so he does not pay rent, which makes his business all the more profitable.

He also does not have to worry about crime. “They target the big stores like Cambridge, not me,” he said. A short walk across a street to the rank leads to traders who reside on rank property and have to pay rent.

Musa Bhengu looks on as the customer picks the braaied chicken feet at Bara taxi rank, 28 May 2014. Bhengu has been supplying hungry commuters since 1999. Picture: Nigel Sibanda
Musa Bhengu looks on as the customer picks the braaied chicken feet at Bara taxi rank, 28 May 2014. Bhengu has been supplying hungry commuters since 1999. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

Second-hand clothes seller Fatima Nyambo said she pays R500 rent a month for her stall. She said it was worth it because “you get safe storage space and there’s security in here”. The single mother of an eight-year-old in Mozambique set up her stall to be her own boss and “provide for my son”, she said.

The orderly stalls inside the rank provide hot food, clothes, phone repairs and some quick hairstyles for customers.

A few holding bays away, Sipho Sobantu is busy repairing a “talking shoe”. He has been repairing and making shoes at the rank for 10 years. Sobantu uses cardboard and leather cut-offs and uses his creativity to make brand new sandals – costing R50.

He pays R100 rent a month for the stall he occupies.

He lamented the stiff competition at the rank: “Lots of unemployed people have come here to open businesses. It’s very competitive now and a lot of people sell the same things.”

Just outside, occupying a space in between some of the bays, stands a blue and white gazebo with promoters selling cheap medical care. “Hello doctor” is a cellular subscription service. “People just have to SMS their symptoms and a doctor will reply with a diagnosis or a prescription of medicine to buy. If people can’t afford that, he can even help you make something from ingredients you have at home. All for R2.70,” said Pamela Ntsume. She said the service will help people who can’t afford traditional healthcare.

Joalane Mokoena pours launch time drinks at a tavern known as ” ga Magogo” opposite Bara taxi rank in Johannesburg, 28 May 2014. The tavern has been serving patrons for over 40 years. Picture: Nigel Sibanda
Joalane Mokoena pours launch time drinks at a tavern known as ” ga Magogo” opposite Bara taxi rank in Johannesburg, 28 May 2014. The tavern has been serving patrons for over 40 years. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

Meeting in the cramped storeroom of her tavern at the rank, “Magogo” said her customers hated the noise from outside. “Older people come here to have a quiet drink. We don’t even have music.” Magogo did not want her photo taken or name published because people have already targeted her family business.

As she said this she pointed to a safe with a hole in the middle. “They took so much money. They knew there was money here over the Easter weekend,” she said. Crime has followed the family over the years, she said. Magogo also complained about the competition in the area. “In the past it used to be so busy here people could barely get in. Now people don’t have money and permits are handed out so freely there are taverns on every street and corner.”

 

Infuse religion in law making: Mogoeng

NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on May 29, 2014. 

In sound clips and video footage aired yesterday, Chief Justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng suggested infusing religion into “law making practices” would make for a more moral society.

FILE PICTURE: Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA
FILE PICTURE: Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

Speaking at the annual Religion and Law Conference in Stellenbosch on Tuesday evening, Mogoeng said that South Africa’s degenerated morality could be, “effectively turned around if religion were to be factored into law making practices”.

Mogoeng went further: “I hope to support this conclusion with particular reference to principles drawn from the Christian faith. I do so, not because I have no regard for other religions, but because it is the only faith in which I have invested a lot of time and energy to familiarise myself with.”

Lulama Luti, spokesperson for the judiciary said: “The Chief Justice believes there is a need to drive moral regeneration more forcefully and to develop a national moral code based on the foundational values of our Constitution and all other religious principles …”

His comments were the topic of numerous timelines on Twitter yesterday, based on short snippets of the speech they saw or heard. What the public gallery did not comment on was what Mogoeng said after that, which effectively negated his initial view somewhat. He said religion in the law could have negative effects, “the law influenced by dominant faith has at times been adulterated to serve as a tool for the extinction of smaller religions”.

He urged those in attendance to think about what religious intolerance was doing to people in places like the Central African Republic and Sudan as examples.

Shadrack Gutto from the University of South Africa said: “The Chief Justice needs to clarify what he meant by religion. Many people are spiritual but not religious for instance.”

New NWest rector will inspire women

NOTE: Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on May 27, 2014.

Professor Mashudu Maselesele is “unapologetic” about the “special attention” she will pay to developing young black women in her office as the new campus rector at the University of the North West (UNW).

Maselesele was recently appointed as the first black, female campus rector and will remain in the post for the next six years, in these years she hopes to champion and spearhead the advancement of black students, female students in particular.

IN CHARGE. Mashudu Maselesele was recently appointed as the first black, female campus rector at the University of the North West. Picture: Supplied.
IN CHARGE. Mashudu Maselesele was recently appointed as the first black, female campus rector at the University of the North West. Picture: Supplied.

“I am aware of the challenges that black women go through in an academic environment as I have experienced them,” shared Maselesele.

She sees her appointment as an effort for transformation by UNW, but doesn’t consider it as an affirmative action appointment. Instead Maselesele views her appointment as a shift from the male-dominated academic environment, “the culture is changing, women are now preparing to take up the challenge,” she said.

Along with this she believes that, if anything, it makes her “a role model” for the young people she wants to support.

In 2012, when Maselesele received an award for being one of the top eight women in higher education, she realised “how few women are in leadership positions in academic institutions in South Africa. We are currently in the majority yet a small fraction is in decision making process”.

Coming from a nursing background Maselesele recalled when she first realised where she wanted her career to go.

“I was inspired by the uniform that nurses wore when I was still a young girl from Balanganani village in Ha-Davhana: Limpopo Province.” This led to her studying nursing and becoming a profes-sional nurse.

As a working mother and one who was still studying part-time towards her Master’s degree, Maselesele thanks her late parents for their help in “playing the parent role” when she could not.

Maselesele’s academic career started when she taught at the University of Venda in Limpopo. “At this stage I completed my doctoral degree at the University of Johannesburg and post-doctoral studies with University of California,” she said.

Along with this she has supervised masters and doctoral students and been published widely on the topic of “sexual and reproductive health, as well as caring for the caregivers (nurses) in the context of HIV and Aids”.

Her CV is just a sign of what one can do, “no matter where they come from”, said Maselesele.

Two-year backlog clogs post office depot

FILE PICTURE: A post office sign. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark
FILE PICTURE: A post office sign. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark.

NOTE Article first appeared in The Citizen newspaper on May 19, 2014. 

small post office depot is chock -a-block with thousands of letters, many of which may have gone undelivered for two years, according to a source at the Post Office.

The Post Office last week ordered an internal investigation after an employee at the affected branch blew the whistle.

The whisteblower insisted that colleagues not be allowed to “hide this thing” by dumping the mail in an effort to save face and “not face the customers affected”.

The Post Office branch in Wesselsbron, Free State, doubles as the postal depot for the area.

“The mail has been sitting there since 2012, we don’t have space to move,” the whistleblower is reported to have said.

Following the whistleblower’s efforts, the matter ended up at the Post Office’s headquarters in Pretoria.

Janras Kotsi, spokesperson to the group executive of Mail Business, said two senior investigators had been assigned to conduct a “thorough investigation into the undelivered mail that was discovered in Wesselsbron”.

However, the source alleged that members of the investigation team had wanted to hide the incident. “They wanted to convince the manager to not publish the report, which is just wrong.”

Only some of the delayed mail would be required by the SA Police as evidence for prosecution, Kotsi said. Most of it was “ordinary mail” which would be delivered as soon as possible.

He added that the Post Office has a “zero tolerance” policy on postal crime.

“A disciplinary procedure and suspension which may lead to dismissal.” If criminal acts are uncovered, they would be referred to the police for criminal prosecution.