21 August 2012

South Africa: Five Minutes - South Africa

Johannesburg — A round-up of the day's news from around South Africa.


Lonmin mine workers arrested last week on charges including murder, attempted murder and assault appeared in the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court on Monday afternoon. About 100 women protestors appeared outside court to appeal for leniency for the men, many of who are the sole breadwinners in their families. They prayed as the men arrived, singing, in prison vans. The court heard that 260 men were arrested after the violent protests at Lonmin's Marikana mine. Only 39 of the men appeared in court before magistrate Esau Bodigelo before he postponed the case until 27 August for further investigation. Murder charges will be levelled at some of the mineworkers arrested. Ten people were killed before police turned on the strikers, killing 34 on Thursday.


Advocates For Transformation has pledged to do everything in its power to assist the families of the dead and injured in the Marikana massacre "to deal with the legal consequences of these unfortunate events", its chairman, Dumisa Ntsebeza said in a statement. "There is neither freedom nor dignity in death, however it comes, the recent events in Marikana have left most members of the AFT shocked," Ntsebeza said. Ntsebeza said AFT worked hard at developing alternative dispute resolutions aimed at resolving labour disputes without violence. AFT said the commission of inquiry due to be set up by President Jacob Zuma this week "should have the Lonmin management, the board and shareholders, the South African Police Services give explanation as to how this crisis developed to this point, as should the Minister of Minerals, given that the death of the 34 on Thursday was preceded by 10 lives that had been lost up to that point."


A small number of the Marikana mine workforce, estimated to be about a third of the number who went on strike 10 days ago, returned to work on Monday. This followed a threat by mine owner Lonmin to dismiss the strikers just days after police killed 34 miners on Thursday. Lonmin told Reuters it did not yet have enough workers at their posts to produce ore, and officials from the small Solidarity union of highly skilled workers said at least 80% of the workforce is needed to bring platinum out of the shafts. The mine owner said in a statement that operations had resumed and it had moved the deadline for strikers to return to work to Tuesday.


Nelson Mandela's granddaughter was killed as a result of excessive speed, an accident specialist told the Johannesburg Magistrate's court on Monday. The car in which Zenani Mandela was returning from the 2010 World Cup opening ceremony was moving at an estimated speed of 162km/h in an 80km/h zone when it crashed on a bend on the M1. Expert Craig Proctor-Parker said he had not used any instruments to make his calculation, but that he had used his "naked eye". The court heard that skid marks were usually measured with instruments to calculate the speed of a car, but Procter-Parker it wouldn't have made a difference as it was clear what had happened. The driver, Sizwe Mankazana, 25, faces a charge of culpable homicide and reckless and negligent driving.


The Democratic Alliance spokeswoman on police, Dianne Kohler-Barnard, has blasted national police commissioner Riah Phiyega, saying she condoned the deaths at Lonmin mine in Marikana. "On the same day that President Jacob Zuma declared a week of national mourning, Phiyega said that police officers should not be sorry for the deaths of 34 protesters at Marikana," Kohler-Barnard said in a statement. "This shows a gross lack of empathy in a time when SA Police Service members need a leader with an iron-clad moral compass to assist them to make sense of this tragedy." Kohler-Barnard said although it was still to be established if the police acted unlawfully, or in self-defence, Phiyega's excusing the police's behaviour could not be tolerated in a time when tensions were high.


The minister of trade industry will not renew the contract of controversial national consumer commissioner, Mamodupi Mohlala-Mulaudzi, a spokesman for the department said on Monday. "The minister [Rob Davies] reiterated his preference for an open, competitive process, and declined to accede to Mohlala-Mulaudzi's request for an automatic renewal of her contract," the department said in a statement.

Mohlala-Mulaudzi's attorneys were notified of the decision on 17 August, and her contract would expire on September 3, the department said in a statement. Mohlala-Mulaudzi was fired from her position of director general by former communications minister, Siphiwe Nayanda, and appointed to the position as consumer commissioner as part of a settlement deal by the department of public service and administration.


The 'middleman' at the centre of the Anni Dewani murder case was not paid for his part in the contract killing. The man, who may not be named by order of the court, has turned state witness. He told the Western Cape High Court there was no promise of money, a fact disputed by the accused's lawyer, Matthews Dayimani, who said taxi driver Zola Tongo would testify that he offered R5,000 to the witness to arrange the murder. The accused, Xolile Mngeni, is the man who allegedly pulled the trigger when Anni Dewani lost her life in an apparent car hijacking while on honeymoon with her husband Shrien in Cape Town in November 2010. Mngeni has pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances, murder, and the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.

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