SARS seizes Mazotti’s cars | Bok joined in dock by second accused | SA restaurant voted best in world | Cricket World Cup crisis


SARS seizes Mazotti’s cars

Tobacco baron Adriano Mazotti’s home and business premises were raided today by officials from SARS’s new Illicit Economy Unit – accompanied by bodyguards, a locksmith and a sheriff, according to journalist Pauli van Wyk – as they confiscated several luxury cars and other movable assets to settle Mazotti’s R33.9-million tax bill. SARS accuses him of cigarette smuggling and falsifying documents. Mazotti, a friend of Julius Malema, who rents one of his houses to Malema’s wife and children, has been in the news for making donations to the ANC and EFF to the tune of hundreds of thousands of rands. 

High price of ‘Nenegate’ revealed

The full impact of the firing of Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister was highlighted at the Zondo commission today. National treasury economist Catherine MacLeod told the commission that the firing had been the ‘visible point’ of state capture to investors who were concerned that government spending might go unchecked. The fact that Nene was replaced, albeit for just four days, by someone who lacked credentials had made matters worse. Even after the return of Pravin Gordhan in the role, the impact persisted and the country has not had a surplus budget since, she said.

Water wiser

There’s been an upside to the Day Zero drama in Cape Town: in spite of restrictions being relaxed Capetonians are still using less water than they are allowed. In December the city’s bulk restriction was eased to 650-million litres a day, but consumption has generally been more than 40-million litres less than that. It seems that many are still using alternative water sources – rainwater tanks and boreholes – or have just become more conscious of their usage (see What We Say below).

Club theft: another accused joins Bok in dock

A woman was yesterday charged with former Springbok Earl Rose for the alleged theft of golf clubs from Stellenbosch Golf Club. Rose had initially been charged after he and the woman were filmed taking two clubs from bags in the club’s reception area. Yesterday Lylette van Wyk was added to the charge sheet at the Stellenbosch Magistrate’s Court before the case was postponed.

States take on Trump

Sixteen US states led by California have united to challenge Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency. A lawsuit was filed in the District Court for the Northern District of California and was joined by New York, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Virginia and Michigan. It says: ‘Contrary to the will of Congress, the president has used the pretext of a manufactured ‘crisis’ of unlawful immigration to declare a national emergency and redirect federal dollars appropriated for drug interdiction, military construction and law enforcement initiatives toward building a wall on the United States-Mexico border.’ Yesterday’s President’s Day in the US was marked by more than 250 protests across the country against the declaration.



The Caster Semenya testosterone issue is complex, controversial and mindbogglingly maddening. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has ruled that if Semenya wants to compete as a woman she must take medication to lower the levels of her naturally occurring testosterone. The battle between Semenya and the IAAF has been waging for a decade and Semenya has gone to Lausanne, Switzerland, to challenge the rule at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Yesterday the IAAF named their five expert witnesses, a move Semenya’s lawyers said was a breach of confidentiality provisions and accused the body of doing it in an effort to influence public opinion. In South Africa, at any rate, public opinion is almost to a citizen with the Olympic gold medalist and world champion – a gifted athlete and courageous woman who has had to endure an incredible amount of humiliation, including the indignity of being forced to take a test to verify her gender. The case started yesterday and is expected to run most of the week. The IAAF wins (and let’s hope it’s the only thing it wins this week) today’s Menace award for forgetting (or not caring) that at the heart of this highly complex and fraught issue is a human being. Sharing the award with the IAAF is the despicable British columnist Katie Hopkins for compiling a revolting and hateful Tweet about Semenya. 


Banks boost SAA

SAA has managed to persuade banks to lend it R3.5-billion while it waits for information from the government on whether it will get a bailout. The money will tide it over until June. Finance Minister Tito Mboweni is expected to detail in his budget speech tomorrow just how the government plans to help with SAA’s rescue. Last year SAA asked for R21.7bn as part of a three-year turnaround plan. The ailing airline saw a R5.7bn loss in 2017/18. It is expected to lose another R5.2bn in 2018/19.

Motsepe rubbishes improper benefit claims

Multi-millionaire businessman Patrice Motsepe has denied improper benefit to his business interests from his relationship with his two brothers-in-law – President Cyril Ramaphosa and energy minister Jeff Radebe. At a press conference called to address speculation, Motsepe said his African Rainbow Energy and Power (AREP) had always avoided doing business with the government. However, AREP had bought minority shares in some companies that had been successful in winning Independent Power Producer bids. As a result, AREP holds an R800-million share in nine projects that provide energy to Eskom as part of the government’s fourth renewable energy programme that is worth R20.6bn. It holds no stakes in projects from the previous rounds worth R47.2bn.


Sweet revenge for United

Manchester United secured revenge for the 2018 final when Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba headed home first-half goals to dump Chelsea out of this year’s FA Cup. Pogba set up man-of-the-match Herrera’s goal and scored the second. There is now widespread speculation Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri could be fired – as early as today. The result takes United into the quarter-finals where they will meet Wolves. In other quarter-finals, Manchester City travel to Swansea, Watford host Crystal Palace and Millwall are at home to Brighton.

Djokovic is world’s best

Double Grand Slam tennis tournament winner Novak Djokovic was named as the world’s best sportsman for 2018 last night while American gymnast Simone Biles won the Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year. After coming back from an elbow injury to win the Wimbledon and US Open titles last year, Djokovic was a popular winner. Biles won four gold, one silver and one bronze medal at the gymnastics world championships last year. US Open champion Naomi Osaka received the Breakthrough of the Year Award and Chinese climber Xia Boyu the Sporting Moment of the Year (ahead of Springbok captain Siya Kolisi and Scottish rugby legend Doddie Weir).

Cricket World Cup crisis

The Cricket World Cup faces something of a crisis three months before the first ball is bowled with some in India demanding their team boycott the scheduled World Cup match against Pakistan. The calls come in protest at a recent Kashmir attack which left more than 40 paramilitaries dead. India has accused Pakistan of supporting the attack. India and Pakistan have a fraught cricket rivalry and since 2008 India has refused to play series against Pakistan, even at neutral venues. They have however been forced to play each other at ICC tournaments and their 2011 Cricket World Cup semi-final attracted a TV audience of nearly 135 million in India alone. The teams are scheduled to meet in a round-robin match on June 16 at the World Cup in England.


Bakgat Wolfgat 

South African restaurants keep winning awards. In Paris last night, the Paternoster restaurant, Wolfgat, won two accolades at the inaugural World Restaurant Awards, including Best Restaurant in the World. The other was for Best Off Map Destination. The judging panel was made up of chefs, restaurateurs, food writers and food scientists from 37 countries. The awards have two divisions – the Big Plate awards which comprise prestige dining awards – and the Small Plate awards which recognise that food is social and fun. There is a Best Instagram account, a Best Trolley, Best Tattoo-Free Chef and Best No-Tweezer Kitchen.


Survey oy vey 

Uh-oh, someone at Independent Media is going to be in trouble. 


Hairy Potheads and the prisoners’ stoned 

A Harry Potter book sprayed with drugs was smuggled into one of the UK’s most ‘challenging’ prisons, where inmates are suspected to have smoked the pages. The BBC reported that a copy of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire found in an HMP Nottingham cell tested positive for a psychoactive substance similar to a drug known on the streets as Spice. The substance was detected by a new drug-testing machine, installed as part of a £1.4m (R26m) investment to refurbish HMP Nottingham and bolster security. It is thought the drugs had been sprayed on to the paper before it entered the prison. Four hundred pages were missing, which staff suspected had been torn into strips and smoked. Prison officer Adam Donegani said each strip was worth about £50 (R915).


And today’s winner is Sarah Lazarus (@sarahclazarus):

went down to city hall to get married and they said I have to provide my own husband? explain to me why I pay taxes


Today’s clue, compiled by Kieran Callaghan, is: Sprayed full Mr Sheen into bits (11)

The solution to yesterday’s clue, Cruel to hide in Dunkin’ Donuts (6) is UNKIND, which is hidden (‘to hide’) in dUNKIN’ Donuts and means ‘cruel’.


British MP Jacob Rees-Mogg – who is avowedly pro-Brexit – has managed to get a lively debate on the Anglo-Boer War going in that country after airing several falsehoods about the concentration camps in South Africa. Among them was the bizarre claim that the mortality rate in the concentration camps was the same as that in Glasgow at the time. Here emeritus professor of History at the University of Pretoria Fransjohan Pretorius debunks Rees-Mogg’s claims.


So you’ve been spooked by the electricity crisis? By the fact that Eskom’s load-shedding has reportedly cost the country billions in day-to-day losses and who knows how much in lost investment? Don’t look away right now, because something worse is on its way. Or ‘far bigger’, if the good folk across at Moneyweb are to be believed. Here are excerpts from a piece it has published on the looming water crisis facing South Africa: ‘Beaufort West … has been in crisis for months. This is not mismanagement; far lower-than-average rainfall means boreholes (a major source of the town’s water) are drying up. A similar scenario is playing out in Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown), but this is a crisis caused by the almost completely dysfunctional Makana Local Municipality. In Kimberley, the entire town’s water supply is shut off by the Sol Plaatje Municipality every evening from 6pm and restored at 4am the next morning. The recent deterioration in raw water quality poses real risks to a host of towns and cities that rely on the Vaal River System, including Kimberley. Along with this, dozens of smaller towns including Philipstown, Petrusville, Harrismith, Bethal, Welkom, Ladysmith and Laingsburg are in crisis. Many more communities in towns and districts (especially in Limpopo and North West Province) are experiencing chronic water quality issues.’ And that is not the worst of it (you can read the gory details here). The National Water and Sanitation Plan published last year points to over-usage by individuals, significant leakage, infrastructure in shocking condition and an environmental disaster beginning to emerge. Unsurprisingly, the deterioration accelerated during Jacob Zuma’s abysmal presidency. It will require a mammoth effort to correct, one that is unlikely while opposing factions and irresponsible opposition politicians tear away at the national fabric for their own ends.

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