N12 Crash: Defence lawyers drop truck driver

NOTE: Article first appeared on The Citizen website on October 16, 2014. 

The driver of the truck that ploughed into close to 50 cars on the N12 on the East Rand on Tuesday, was left in the lurch by his legal representatives at Palm Ridge Magistrates’ Court on Thursday afternoon.

N12 crash truck driver Isaac Maruding in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court. Pic: Tracy Lee Stark.
N12 crash truck driver Isaac Maruding in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court. Pic: Tracy Lee Stark.

Truck driver Isaac Maruding had his first appearance in court on Thursday. State attorney, John Ntuli applied for a postponement of the case to investigate further.

Maruding, facing four counts of culpable homicide and one count of reckless and negligent driving, covered his face throughout proceedings.  His representatives, advocate Gerhard Louw and Deon van Staden initially opposed the postponement, wanting to proceed with Maruding’s bail application.

When Magistrate Samuel Hlubi denied the defences application,  Louw asked to be withdrawn as his client’s representative. “We don’t have instruction to proceed with this case beyond today,” Louw said.

Maruding has a previous conviction for both culpable homicide and reckless and negligent driving, and served time in prison for both, the court heard.

The state asked for more time to properly compile information on those who died in the crash, Ntuli saying “additional charges” may be added in future.

Hlubi postponed the matter until October 22, to give both the state and Maruding the time they need.

Maruding now has to find alternative legal representation after the company appointed lawyers dumped him on Thursday.

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Generations CCMA appeal falls flat

NOTE: Article first appeared on The Citizen website on October 14, 2014.

The 16 Generations actors who have now been without work for two months, took their matter to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) today.

FILE PICTURE: Fired Generations actors Zolisa Xaluva, Menzi Ngubane and Mandla Gaduka look on during a press briefing at Cosatu House in Braamfontein, 15 September 2014. Picture: Refilwe Modise
FILE PICTURE: Fired Generations actors Zolisa Xaluva, Menzi Ngubane and Mandla Gaduka look on during a press briefing at Cosatu House in Braamfontein, 15 September 2014. Picture: Refilwe Modise

They sought recourse from their employers, the SABC and MMSV Productions, for their collective dismissal. The 16 took the matter to the CCMA as the Generations Actors Guild (GAG) after prior efforts to negotiate with their employers failed.

This pattern of refusal continued today as the SABC and MMSV Productions refused to settle the matter. In a statement GAG said: “The matter will continue on to arbitration. For the cast, there is a sense of relief that the process has begun.”

The actors’ legal advisor Bulelani Mzamo said it was important to remember that this process may be a long one. “There is a considerable amount of work that needs to go into demonstrating the basis of this claim to the CCMA – the CCMA, in turn, has its own process of how it responds to each claim, and their recommendation on the most suitable remedy to the dispute,” Mzamo said.

Why Generations actors were axed – Mfundi Vundla (audio)

In a joint statement the actors said: “From the outset, we acted within the definitions of the agreement and the law – despite a string of broken promises from our former employers. We look forward to putting our case before the CCMA and commencing on achieving a much-deserved legal remedy to our unilateral dismissal.”

Apart from the CCMA appeal, GAG now want to open a civil case against their employers “for a transparent calculation for the commercial exploitation fees owed to us for use of the episodes and our images”.

The soapie which is now off air, is being rewritten – presumably with a new cast – and will return to screens in December.

GALLERY: Actors who got axed from Generation

Motsoaledi: No SA ebola threat

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

Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi said he is tired of the unnecessary “media frenzy” around the possible outbreak of Ebola in the country.

Motsoaledi was speaking in Kempton Park, after a meeting with various stakeholders, who will be sending aid to West African countries affected by the deadly virus.

So far all 14 people who have been tested for the virus have been negative. “We were testing them to settle nerves,” said Motsoaledi. He added that too much panic was being created in the media every time someone with a fever or bleeding was admitted to hospital.

Professor Janusz Paweska, who has been part of a team deployed to assist medically in West Africa, explained why South Africa is not a high risk area at the moment.

“There is no habit of eating pets (birds, bats etc) in South Africa.”

He said the extreme hunger in some of the affected countries forced people to hunt bats and other wildlife just to survive.

“People are hungry out there”.

TB Joshua may face legal action

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

A man who lost his sister when a guest house of the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Nigeria collapsed almost a month ago wants to take legal action against the church.

Mpho Molebatsi said this week his “anger was directed at TB Joshua and his church”, adding the incident had left far too many people traumatised not to take further action.

According to weekend reports, the evangelist pastor from Nigeria, TB Joshua, has sent teams to hand over gifts to the families of the 84 deceased South Africans.

The gifts included money, anointed water and maize meal.

TB Joshua. Picture: Supplied
TB Joshua. Picture: Supplied

But Molebatsi said he wanted nothing from the pastor.

“You can’t pay for a funeral with that. He can take the R5 000 and shove it,” he said.

Molebatsi’s sister, Hlubi, has not been returned to South Africa yet.

SLOW PROCESS

Government spokesperson Phumla Williams said earlier this week Nigerian authorities were in the process of conducting DNA analyses on the bodies of the 115 people killed in the building collapse.

The process of repatriating the bodies to South Africa had been slow, she said.

“The Nigerians said they will draw the DNA samples themselves and appoint a service provider to run the tests. Only then can we begin to compare results with our data.”

The service provider may be South African, but that remains unclear.

She said the Nigerian government had made it clear South Africa would not have access to the bodies.

“They insisted we aren’t going to touch those bodies … even though they don’t have the technology to do some of the testing,” Williams said.

GOVERNMENT’S PROMISE

The South African government has promised the bodies would be returned to the right families, but that might be difficult as it’s hard to get fingerprints from decomposing corpses.

Molebatsi said the time families had been given for repatriation was a week or two, and they “could only hope” this timeline was accurate.

Generations’ replacement Skeem Saam viewership skyrockets

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

A change in TV scheduling at SABC1 has seen Sepedi drama Skeem Saam more than double its viewership numbers overnight.

As the last episode of Generations aired last week, Skeem Saam was catapulted into prime time.

According to data from the SA Audience Research Foundation, a week prior to the drama moving from its 6.30pm time slot to 8pm, their viewership stood at 3.5 million per show on average.

On the night the soapie occupied the 8pm slot for the first time on October 1, viewership shot to 8 881 352.

By Friday last week, the third day in that slot, the number went down slightly to just over 7.6 million viewers.

SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago told The Citizen: “Viewership doesn’t sell ads; the time slot a show is in does.”

This was his answer amid fears that replacing Generations would have a negative impact on the massive ad revenue the show has managed to pull over the past 20 years.

Meanwhile, shooting for the new-look Generations – which will be ready to air in December – will start on October 28.

A source involved with the revamped production said: “We are all back at work and busy putting the new show together.”

The striking 16 actors – all dismissed in August – are still going ahead with their legal action.

“We have referred the matter to the CCMA (Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration) and it will be dealt with on October 14,” said Desmond Brown, their legal representative.

Commenting on reports of a separate claim by the actors for never being registered for Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) benefits, Brown said: “The first issue we need to deal with is whether they were employees or independent contractors.”

He claimed the actors had not been registered for UIF, despite all South African employers being obliged to register their employees.

“When we contacted them on this issue they said the actors were not employees of the SABC or MMSV, which is why they weren’t registered for UIF,” Brown said.

Water supplies restored as reservoirs fill

NOTE: Article first appeared on The Citizen website on September 16, 2014. 

Water supply has been sporadic or non-existent in parts of Johannesburg and the West Rand over the past two days.

Democratic Alliance ward councillor Amanda Forsythe received calls from residents reporting “ first  low water pressure and then others saying they had completely ran out of water”.

Forsythe contacted Johannesburg Water, who informed her that the Rand Water reservoirs had ran out of water due to an extensive power outage.

FILE PICTURE: A resident fills her bucket with water from a tap. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA
FILE PICTURE: A resident fills her bucket with water from a tap. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

Johannesburg Water spokesperson, Justice Mohale said: “The interruption was caused by the power outage in the Eikenhof area, which resulted in Rand Water unable to pump water from its Eikenhof Pumping station to the Meredale Reservoir, which supplies Joburg Water.”

Affected areas included the south-western part of Johannesburg and northern suburbs including Emmarentia, Greenside, Melville and Parktown. Restoration of water supply began yesterday afternoon but because of the size of the reservoirs, it took a few hours. Forsythe said water was restored to most residents by 10pm last night, but that there were some glitches.

“Some people had water on for a while last night and then this morning had nothing, but I believe water has been fully restored now,” Forsythe said.

Considering the extent of the water interruption, Forsythe said: “Those reservoirs are huge. The power outage must have lasted a day or so. They even have back-up generators, but those also ran out of power because of the high demand for water.”

No work until demands met – Generations actors

NOTE: Article first appeared on The Citizen website on August 27, 2014. 

Sixteen actors from the cast of Generations came out strong on Tuesday afternoon, insisting they will not go to work until “their demands are met”.

At a media briefing held at the Market Theatre in Johannesburg, the 16 dismissed actors banded together to finally give their side of the story.

Nambitha Mpumlwana who acts as Mawande Memela gave a brief financial run down of what a “supposed R55 000″ salary would look like after deductions.

She said after tax, agent fees and retirement annuity payments the actors would get a little over R19 000 – with which they would have to “pay rent or a bond, a car payment” and more.

Sophie Ndaba during a press conference held by the Generations stars that were fired recently at the Market Theatre in Newtown, 26 August 2014. Picture: Neil McCartney
Sophie Ndaba during a press conference held by the Generations stars that were fired recently at the Market Theatre in Newtown, 26 August 2014. Picture: Neil McCartney

A meeting with SABC, production company MMSV and the minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa yesterday did not prove fruitful.

Patrick Shai – who acts as Patrick Tlaole – announced they were told further talks would only happen if the actors agreed to do so without their legal representatives. 

A week of mass strike action has seen 16 principal actors from Generations supported by the ANCYL and department of Arts and Culture.

Now Dr John Kani has asked the nation to support their cause.

A number of the actors who stepped up to the podium to address the media broke down in tears when speaking of their working conditions. Menzi Ngubane who acts as Sibusiso Dlomo came out as the person Mfundi Vundla had paid hospital fees for. 

Ngubane was hospitalised for kidney failure. He said he spent seven weeks at Helen Joseph public hospital and Vundla would not have him moved to a private hospital. After being discharged he paid R30 000 back to a friend for his medical fees.

“I was discharged on a Thursday and had to go back to work the following Monday. Sitting down on a chair between the six to 10 scenes we shot a day,” said an emotional Ngubane, who had others on stage in tears.

Pre-recorded episodes of the show are currently keeping the soapie on air but these recordings will only last for a few more weeks.

The direction of the show is unclear at the moment with Vundla alluding to “new talent” as a strategy that may be used to take the show forward should matters with the 16 not be resolved.

​To this Sophie Ndaba who acts as Queen Moraka said: “Artists looking to audition must first think about what we are trying to do here.” ​

 

Marshall arts

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

Sitting on a black leather couch in a tent on a farm in Limpopo, 42-year-old singer-songwriter Chan Marshall – also known as Cat Power – shared some intimate details of her life.

Marshall had just come off stage after her first appearance at Oppikoppi on Saturday, a performance on the Bruilof stage that saw fans shout words of encouragement when the sound equipment was not working properly.

Cat Power (Chan Marshall) on the Bruilof stage at Oppikoppi Odyssey on 09/08/2014
Cat Power (Chan Marshall) on the Bruilof stage at Oppikoppi Odyssey on 09/08/2014. Picture: Pheladi Sethusa

Between constantly apologising for the staccato nature of her performance, Marshall had to change the sound on the amplifier, sing into two microphones and figure out how to work a keyboard she had never played by herself – a visibly nerve-racking experience.

“I always have stage fright,” she says.

It’s a situation that’s not entirely foreign to Marshall, though in the past her erratic performances have been attributed to problems with alcohol and drugs. “People used to say ‘Oh, did you go see the train wreck?’” she says.

She does admit to having had a drug problem a while ago after her partner passed away.

“I chose it every day and I knew what I was doing every day. It wasn’t me being oblivious. I was riding that train because I couldn’t take the pain of losing the love of my life.”

Marshall wished the women in the audience a happy Women’s Day while on stage, and spoke about feminism afterwards.

“A lot of times women don’t have the simple, casual dignities that men have as their birthright,” she says.

“I’m called a feminist because I protect myself from someone else trying to get something from me,” she says.

Marshall’s latest album, Sun, was produced independently, using the singer’s life savings.

“I had to make a choice between what the label wanted me to do and what I knew I could do myself, and the album made the top 10,” she says.

She performed at the Baxter Concert Hall last week, a performance she had asked for in December when she came back after Nelson Mandela passed and she witnessed “social change” that inspired her.

Marshall intends to return to Cape Town next January to write about the experiences she has had in the city over the years.

The good ol’ days of racing at Kyalami

A general view of the Kyalami race track on July 23, 2014 a day before it will go up for auction in Johannesburg, South Africa. The circuit hosted its last international competition in May 2010 with the sixth race of the World Superbike Championship. AFP PHOTO/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA
A general view of the Kyalami race track on July 23, 2014 a day before it will go up for auction in Johannesburg, South Africa. The circuit hosted its last international competition in May 2010 with the sixth race of the World Superbike Championship. AFP PHOTO/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA

NOTE: Article first appeared on The Citizen website on July 27, 2014. 

Back in the good old days, people overseas related to four things regarding South Africa: the Springboks, heart pioneer Chris Barnard, golfer Gary Player – and Kyalami.

An auction in Hyde Park, Johannesburg, yesterday saw the historic Kyalami race track sold to Porsche SA for a whopping R205 million.

Lead auctioneer Joff van Reenen took no longer than two minutes to wrap up the sale of the property to a telephonic bidder. Porsche SA CEO Toby Venter was in Cape Town when the sale was made.

Lance Chalwin-Milton, joint managing director at High Street Auctions, said because the buyers were in the motoring industry, the race track would remain as is, with “possible development around the track”.

This sale is the highest auctioned price paid for a single property in South Africa – the previous highest being R120 million, said Van Reenen.

Piece of history

The Kyalami circuit was built in 1961, on a piece of land chosen by the late rally driver Francis Tucker, “because nobody would ever think of building anything there”.

It was completed the same year and its first major race, the Rand Grand Prix, was won by Jim Clark in a Lotus Climax.

FILE PICTURE: The Kyalami Racetrack in Johannesburg. Photo by Gallo Images/Sowetan/Tshepo Kekana
FILE PICTURE: The Kyalami Racetrack in Johannesburg. Photo by Gallo Images/Sowetan/Tshepo Kekana

Over the years, the circuit was widened, becoming a regular host of the F1 Grand Prix world championship.

It was revered as one of the fastest circuits in the world, with F1 cars reaching higher speeds than on tracks like Monza, Spa and Silverstone.

In 1988 it was cut in half and redesigned to its current shape.

Its last F1 took place in 1993, won by Alain Prost in a Williams Renault, leading home Ayrton Senna (McLaren) and Michael Schumacher (Benetton).

In between, the venue also hosted international sports car and truck races, superbike events and manifold rounds of SA championships for single seaters and saloon cars.

Its last major international event was the final round of the 2010 World Superbike championship.

By Andre de Kock and Pheladi Sethusa 

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.