20 September 2012

South Africa: Five Minutes - South Africa


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


An ANC councillor, allegedly hit by a rubber bullet fired by police, has died, City Press reports. In a report on the newspaper's website, an ANC ward councillor confirmed the death of Paulina Masutlo, the ANC councillor in Wonderkop. She died at the Paul Kruger Hospital in Rustenburg on Wednesday afternoon. Masutlo was buying food at a spaza shop in Marikana when police opened fire on mineworkers on Saturday morning after a raid in which they'd confiscated the miners' weapons.


Just hours after miners at Lonmin's Marikana mine received word they had won an historic 22% wage increase after a bloody five week strike, police fired tear gas to disperse protesters at the nearby Anglo American Platinum (Amplats). "I can confirm that the SAPS used teargas to disperse an illegal gathering at Sondela informal settlement," Amplats spokeswoman Mpumi Sithole said in an email to Reuters. Later, police spokesman Captain Dennis Adiao confirmed 22 people had been arrested. Miners said they were meeting when police arrived to break up the gathering. They claim police fired rubber bullets at them from a helicopter as they ran back to the settlement.


Workers at mines near Lonmin are calling for hikes similar to the 11% to 22% wage hike received by the striking miners, leading to fears of increased industrial action in the sector. "We want management to meet us as well now," an organiser for the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) at Impala Platinum, the South Africa's second biggest platinum producer, told Reuters. "We want R9,000 a month as a basic wage instead of the roughly R5,000 we are getting." Community activist Mametlwe Sebei said the mood was "upbeat" as workers looked at the Lonmin deal as a victory. Amplats miners were demanding a wage of R16,070, having already received a big increase in February this year.


The United Democratic Movement has told the Western Cape government to "lead by example" in terms of race and gender equity in the province.

Deputy secretary general, Nqabaomzi Kwankwa, said this was the only way to "put the private sector under pressure to comply with employment equity legislation". Kwankwa said Africans in the Western Cape regularly complain about being made to feel unwelcome at the workplace particularly in the private sector. "We can longer entertain tired excuses, such as 'dire skills shortages' as reasons for failing to advance transformation," Kwankwa said.


Research by the South African Institute for Race Relations (SAIRR) has revealed that achievements in education are a more important indicator of why people are employed rather than race. "The proportion of people by race in professional positions closely mirrors the proportion of people by race with professional qualifications," said research manager Lucy Holborn in a statement. The results of this research could challenge the view that employers were resisting racial transformation in the workplace. According to the data, there were about 41% of black people with degrees and there were 36% of blacks in professional positions. There were 45% of white people with degrees or higher qualifications and there were 42% of them in professional positions.

"While a degree of racial prejudice exists in all societies, the data suggests that educational achievement will determine the pace of future employment equity progress in South Africa," Holborn said.


False advertising strategies by medical schemes to deliberately mislead the public are a major concern, the Council for Medical Schemes said on Wednesday. "The public is being misled, and the monthly contributions which members pay to their respective schemes can be abused to serve commercial interests," said Dr Monwabisi Gantsho, registrar of Medical Schemes and chief executive of Council, in a statement. "These practices are extremely worrying and should stop." The Council said the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008 and the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa prescribe that information provided to consumers must be truthful - and not false, misleading, or deceptive in any way.


Johannes 'Jaco' Steyn, the man dubbed the 'Sunday Rapist', has been sentenced to five life terms in prison plus an additional 170 years. The South Gauteng High Court, sitting in Alberton, found him guilty of 33 out of 37 charges ranging from murder, culpable homicide, rape, sexual assault to kidnapping and attempted kidnapping. Judge Sita Kolbe said with all the evidence given, she did not believe he could be rehabilitated. "The community should be protected from you... There's been no justification for your conduct," she said. Earlier, the mother of murder victim, Louise de Waal, wrote Steyn a letter in which she said she hoped he suffered a "billion times more" than she had. Shireen de Waal said she hoped he "never found peace".


Soldiers from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) who are members of South African National Defence Union (Sandu) have held a picket outside the Outdtshoorn military base to protest over conditions.

Sandu spokesman Pikkie Greeff said the union was holding a peaceful picket because the military had failed to respond to concerns related to "dire management practices" allegedly taking place at the base. Greeff said in a statement that there had been no investigation into recent deaths at the base, or if they had been investigated, the results had not been made public. A female recruit committed suicide at the base in August. Greeff said the organisers of the picket were threatened with military arrest.


The ad hoc committee on the Protection of State Information Bill meeting yesterday was both a win and a loss for opposition parties and the public, said Alf Lees, DA Member of the NCOP for KwaZulu-Natal. "The ANC has finally agreed to remove the clause which would allow the Secrecy Bill to trump the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), but has refused to make the remaining amendments to the Bill that would make the Bill constitutional," Lees said. Lees said the ANC has "dug in its heels and said that it was not necessary to make any further amendments to the Bill. This is a great loss for both the public and opposition parties that wished to continue deliberations until the Bill was brought in line with the Constitution".


The department of international relations and co-operation (Dirco) has released the names of the eight South African victims of a suicide bombing in Kabul, Afghanistan. They are Christian Johannes Justus Pretorius, Fraser Angus Carey, Brandon Quinn Booth, Johan Abraham van Huyssteen, Johan Frederick Bouchaud, Johannes Judenis Humphries, Steven Leong and Jenny Margaret Ayris. President Jacob Zuma has sent his condolences to the families of the victims. "On behalf of the government and the people of South Africa, President Jacob Zuma wishes to express his heartfelt and sincere condolences to the families, friends and communities of the eight South Africans who were victims of a suicide attack," said Dirco.

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