Inside the Cato Manor ‘death squad’ saga | Ayo ‘adjusted results’ – ex-CFO | ET comes home | Amla cracks the nod

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Inside the Cato Manor ‘death squad’ saga 

Former KZN Hawks head Johan Booysen today cast a light on a low point in South African journalism: the Sunday Times’s Cato Manor ‘death squad’ saga. He believed the story was planted to remove him from a high-profile investigation involving politically connected businessman Thoshen Panday and several police officers. Yesterday Booysen had explained how Panday’s associate Colonel Navin Madhoe offered the Hawks boss a R1-million bribe but was caught in a sting. His team had then intercepted a call from Panday in which he suggested Booysen needed to be ‘clipped’ a bit. ‘… We’ll decide how we’re going to take care of this guy,’ he allegedly said. Soon afterwards journalists from the paper approached Booysen with the death squad allegations and then published a story. He was later arrested. All charges were subsequently withdrawn.

ET comes home

What does it take to get the ANC to react with breakneck speed? A national crisis such as Eskom? Service delivery protests? A corrupt former president? No, a billboard with a spelling mistake. The now notorious ANC billboard in Port Elizabeth which urged citizens to ‘Let’s grow South Africa togher’ – instead of together – has been fixed after it became a social media sensation. It even made waves in Ireland, where a suburb of the city of Cork is called Togher. Last night Dr D – a ‘communications strategist’ – posted on Twitter: ‘The much talked about billboard is now fixed. ANC delivers!’ Which immediately drew the response: ‘If only it fixed its other mistakes as quickly’.

Exclusive’s excuses 

Grattan Kirk, CEO of Exclusive Books, has apologised to South Africans and Gangster State author Pieter-Louis Myburgh, for cancelling last week’s book launch at the V&A Waterfront branch of Exclusive’s. Kirk was addressing a crowd who had come to the rescheduled launch last night. He said protests at the launch in Sandton as well as the stretched capacity of the police, who were dealing with service delivery protests in the Cape at the time, had left the Waterfront and Exclusive’s ‘hamstrung’. 

Ayo ‘adjusted results’ – ex-CFO

The former Chief Financial Officer of Ayo Technology Solutions, Naahied Gamieldien, has told the Public Investment Corporation inquiry how Iqbal Survé’s company allegedly cooked the books. She explained that she was asked to ‘adjust’ the 2018 after-tax profit figure, which she did, inflating it from R32-million to R50-million. The figure she provided was finalised by executives of African Equity Empowerment Investments (formerly Sekunjalo) while she was on leave, and when the results were published, the profit had increased to R65.9-million. Earlier evidence to the inquiry suggesting results had been manipulated prompted the JSE to request a review of Ayo’s numbers. The PIC invested R4.3-billion in Ayo. Gamieldien, who is still employed at Ayo, also told the commission that a day after Ayo listed on the JSE, she was instructed to move R70 million of the PIC money into two companies linked to Survé. She said board approval to move the funds was only received after the money was moved. 


THE DAILY MENACE

Springblobs 

News of the existence of a pro-apartheid club for South African and Zimbabwean expats in the UK has emerged after the club invited a leading UK Independence Party (UKIP) Member  of the European Parliament to address it. The Guardian reported that Stuart Agnew, who represents the hard Eurosceptic, right-wing UKIP political party, gave a speech to the Springbok Club earlier this month. The Springbok Club has a major obsession with Nelson Mandela – and not in a good way. They think he was an evil terrorist, who should have been hanged. It displays the apartheid flag, refers to Zimbabwe as Rhodesia and has a penchant for conspiracy theories, particularly relating to the alt-right concept of ‘white genocide’. David Lawrence, a researcher at Hope Not Hate, which monitors far-right groups, described it as ‘a vile organisation’. These Mandela-hating menaces may be expats but they are current prats.  
 


WHAT’S THE BUSINESS?

Eskom: the prince of darkness

The Reserve Bank has warned that if Eskom cannot bring its crisis under control, South Africa is at risk of losing up to 125,000 jobs, and contracting its growth by 1.1%. In its latest Monetary Policy Review report the bank also warned that the impact of state capture on the SA economy is worse than previously understood. The document outlines growth prospects for SA. Fin24 reports that the Reserve Bank says the economy has less electricity than it had a decade ago, despite massive Eskom investments in new generating capacity. 

Amcu settles

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has ended a five-month strike at Sibanye-Stillwater gold mine, with the union accepting a 5.5% raise this year, and 5.5% for each of the next two years, or the inflation rate – whichever is the higher. The deal is essentially the same as that achieved by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) five months ago – although the Amcu miners, who have not had a wage in this time, will also get a once-off payment of R4000. Nine people have died in the strike. 


IN THE SPORTS CORNER

Amla cracks the nod

The South African cricket selectors opted for pedigree over form when they included Hashim Amla in the Proteas squad to go to the World Cup next month. Amla, who has been struggling with his form while his father is seriously ill, was included ahead of Reeza Hendricks in the only potentially contentious selection for the 15-man squad. Three players who have possible injury concerns, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje and JP Duminy were all included. There are two all-rounders, Andile Phehlukwayo and Dwaine Pretorius, and two spinners, Imran Tahir and Tabraiz Shamsi, but no wicket-keeper backup, with David Miller likely to take the gloves if Quinton de Kock is injured. The full squad is: Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Andile Phehlukwayo, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Dale Steyn, Imran Tahir, and Rassie van der Dussen.

Whistle to whistle action

On a night where 12 Champions League goals were scored in two matches, there was plenty of drama from kick-off until VAR sent Spurs to the semi-finals in injury time. It was pure theatre in Manchester as City won 4-3 but were ousted on the away-goals rule after the teams ended 4-4 on aggregate. A frenetic opening 11 minutes saw four goals before Raheem Sterling scored his second to put City 3-2 up in the match, but equal at 3-3 over the two-legged tie. Spurs were however ‘ahead’ by virtue of scoring more away goals. The Sky Blues dominated the second half and Sergio Aguero looked to have sealed it in the 59th minute, only for Fernando Llorente to swing the pendulum back in Spurs favour with 17 minutes left. Deep into injury time Sterling completed his hat-trick, but as City fans, players and management celebrated the late winner, VAR picked up that Aguero was fractionally offside earlier in the move. Joy turned to misery for those in light blue, while Spurs fans started a wild night of celebration. At the same time in Portugal, Liverpool overwhelmed Porto 4-1 to reach the semis with a clear 6-1 aggregate win. Liverpool will play Barcelona and Spurs take on Ajax in the semi-finals in the first two weeks of May.

Caster on Time’s list of 100 Most Influential

Time’s annual list of 100 Most Influential People includes two South Africans, President Cyril Ramaphosa and 800m World Champion Caster Semenya. The great 400m athlete Ed Moses writes the tribute to Semenya for Time magazine and said: ‘A world and Olympic track-and-field champion several times over, Caster Semenya has taught us that sex isn’t always binary, and caused us to question the justness of distributing societal benefits according to “male” and “female” classifications’. Among the six cover stars is Liverpool striker Mo Salah. Included in the rest of the 100 are 21-year-old US Open and Australian Open tennis champion Naomi Osaka, basketball star LeBron James, golfing superstar Tiger Woods, US women’s footballer Alex Morgan and former cricketer turned politician and now Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.
 


WHAT’S THE BUZZ?

Trainspotting actor killed

Trainspotting 2 actor Bradley Welsh has been shot dead in the street in downtown Edinburgh near the boxing gym he owned. The death of the 42-year-old is being treated as suspicious. Welsh, who had no previous acting experience before being cast in Trainspotting 2, told the Scottish Sun that he almost flunked the interview for the role for being too aggressive with his lines. Known as a reformed football hooligan turned charity worker, he was also a former British ABA Lightweight boxing champion. His charity work included helping young people stay away from crime through his Holyrood Boxing Gym.
 


SEE WHAT?

Too close for comfort

This short video taken by a tourist in Kruger should serve as a warning to amateur wildlife photographers to obey the rules and keep their distance. Herea couple drive up to a browsing elephant to get a close-up shot, and get much closer than they expect when the bull turns on them. 


SAY WHAT?

Over the bun limit

Be careful you don’t get caught driving under the influence of hot cross buns. A video has gone viral of a traffic officer eating some Checkers hot cross buns and then taking a breathalyser test, which then registers as 0.21mg, just below the ordinary legal limit of 0.24mg. The video prompted some people to shake their heads in amazement and many others to rush to Checkers to stockpile on hot cross bun six-packs. Checkers quickly issued a statement saying their buns were alcohol-free and the false-positive was most probably due to the yeast and fruit in them which may cause inaccurate readings. Johannesburg Metro Police Department’s  spokesperson Wayne Minnaar told motorists not to be alarmed, because law enforcement authorities repeat any tests that have a positive reading after 20 minutes. Meanwhile, Business Insider sent their intrepid reporter out to find the country’s best hot cross bun (don’t worry, the reporter took an Uber home). 


TWEET OF THE DAY

Our Easter Tweeter is Jason (@NickMotown) for this bit of nonsense:

‘Excuse me doctor – my husband was rushed in with violent spasms in his buttocks. Where is he please?’
‘ICU baby, shaking that ass.’

 


CRYPTIC CLUE OF THE DAY

Today’s clue compiled by Charles Machanik is: Colour performed and edited (8) 

The solution to yesterday’s clue, Metaphor in middle of story largely misconstrued (8), is ALLEGORY – an anagram of 0 (‘o’ is in the middle of the word ‘story’) + ‘largely’ –(misconstrued is the anagram indicator). 


THE BIG READ

Mother City blues

Andrew Donaldson wields a sharp pen and after reading an academic’s woke take on Cape Town provides a lesson on how to write about the Mother City. 

It was a dark and starry night …

And because it’s a long weekend here is a second not-so-big Big Read: It was a heist straight out of the movies – in the dark of a cold December night two art thieves armed with a sledgehammer stole a ladder and climbed onto the roof of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. They smashed a window and grabbed the two smallest, closest, paintings by the master that they could before a guard spotted them. In their hasty retreat one of them dropped his cap – with some handy DNA in the shape of strands of hair that police would use to eventually convict them. The Guardian tells the amazing story of the heist and the recovery.
 


WHAT WE SAY

South Africa has an embarrassing history of putting its relationship with powerful African figures ahead of human rights considerations. Perhaps the most notorious incident of this sort was the shameful decision to look the other way as former Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir visited the country in spite of an International Criminal Court warrant of arrest being in place for his war crimes. Al-Bashir was recently toppled by his own people amid widespread protests against his human rights abuses. South Africa was similarly complicit in Robert Mugabe’s abuses, choosing to laud him until the Zimbabwean people also took things into their own hands. Let’s hope that the bid to extradite his wife Grace from Zimbabwe to South Africa to face assault charges is treated differently by the current leadership – she did, after all, beat up a South African. But don’t hold your breath.


the.news.letter is taking short break. We’ll be back after the long weekend, on Tuesday, 23 April 2019

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DA told to stop fibbing about De Lille | Grace to face the music? | Top cop killed | VBS liquidators move against Brian Shivambu

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

DA told to stop fibbing about De Lille

Auntie Pat continues to torment the DA. Yesterday the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) ordered the DA to ‘cease and desist’ from making claims that the former mayor of Cape Town had been fired by the party (she quit as the party was throwing the disciplinary book at her). The claim had been relayed to voters via DA telecallers and De Lille said she expected ‘the DA to be calling each and every individual they previously called with misinformation to apologise for lying to them’. Her hopes were immediately dashed when the party said it would appeal the ruling. De Lille created the Good Party after she walked out of the DA.

Grace to face the music?

AfriForum says the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is in the process of extraditing former Zimbabwean first lady Grace Mugabe for the alleged 2017 assault on model Gabriella Engels in Johannesburg. The notorious wife of Robert Mugabe had allegedly beaten Engels with a laptop charger cable for hanging out in a hotel room with her sons. AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit has been pursuing the case for Enngels and claims it was told by the NPA that it had applied for Mugabe’s extradition. The NPA has declined to confirm – or deny – the claim.

Notre-Dame donations pour in

More than 750-million euros (R11,8-billion) has been pledged towards restoring the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Three billionaire families, which own the country’s biggest luxury goods companies –  Kering, LVMH and L’Oreal – have committed to paying 500-million of those euros towards repairing the national symbol. President Emmanuel Macron said last night that he hoped the rebuilding would be done within five years. The 850-year-old Gothic masterpiece was gutted by fire on Monday night.

Top cop killed

A police colonel was shot dead in his driveway in Witbank last night. Lieutenant Colonel Fana Simon Maseko was gunned down as he eased his Mercedes-Benz into his driveway in Ackerville, Witbank, after work. The killers fled without taking anything and police say the motive for the killing is not known. SA Police Service national commissioner General Khehla John Sitole has vowed that the killers will be apprehended. 

More police graft claims

Today was the turn of former KZN Hawks boss General Johan Booysen to make claims of corruption within the SA Police Services when he gave evidence at the Zondo commission of inquiry into State Capture. He said controversial businessman Thoshan Panday had managed to buy a Ferrari worth about R2.5-million in 2010 thanks to allegedly irregular business with the police. While he was busy with an investigation into the police supply chain contracts with Panday which were worth R60-million, Booysen said he was called by KZN provincial commissioner Mmamonnye Ngobeni, who instructed him to shut down the probe. At this time R15-million of the Panday contract had been frozen. He said Jacob Zuma’s son Edward Zuma approached him to release the funds because he was a silent business partner of Panday and would not get his dividends until the cash was in. Edward Zuma later denied that he had said this, said Booysen.
* Robert McBride concluded his testimony to the commission yesterday, alleging patronage and corruption were rife within the SA Police Service. News24 has a wrap of his evidence. 
 


THE DAILY MENACE

Billboard blaps brouhaha 

We’re not grammar Nazis and even the.news.letter makes the occasional typo (mostly because one among us has a faulty ‘t’ on his keyboard), but we don’t make them on massive billboards. In case, like the ANC’s proofreader, you haven’t been paying attention, ANC billboards went up in Port Elizabeth showing a grinning President Cyril Ramaphosa with the slogan: Let’s grow South Africa togher. Tim, over at the.sports.letter, pointed out that this may be part of the ANC’s campaign to grow its Irish support base, as Togher is a suburb of Cork. The opposition parties rubbed their hands in glee and were quick to point out that if the ANC can’t get the spelling right, how can they run the country. In its response to the billboard, the ANC issued a statement in which it pulled a Kurt Darren and said it was just a minor blaps, pointed the finger of blame at its service provider and launched an attack on the opposition, promptly making another howler in the process: ‘We will continue to work hard and make strides in gunnering (sic) support for the ANC.’
 


WHAT’S THE BUSINESS?

VBS liquidators move against Brian Shivambu

Is the VBS Mutual Bank net closing in on EFF number two Floyd Shivambu? News24 reports that the bank’s liquidators have sued his brother Brian for R4.2-million in unpaid loans and mortgages. Brian Shivambu was one of those implicated in the original report on the VBS swindle (others included former president Jacob Zuma and a host of ANC public representatives). It said he had received R16.1-million in ‘gratuitous payments’ from the bank. Papers lodged before the Johannesburg High Court asked that Brian Shivambu’s company, Sgameka Projects, be placed in liquidation over its breach of the R4.2-million contract. Floyd Shivambu has vehemently denied reports that he benefited from money channeled through his brother’s company.


IN THE SPORTS CORNER

Aussie homophobe finds a loophole

Wallabies fullback Israel Folau is fighting back against his rugby ban and has asked for a code of conduct hearing – and he may have found a loophole in his contract which could save his rugby career. It has been reported that Rugby Australia tried to retrospectively insert a social media restraint into Folau’s contract, but the 30-year-old devout Christian, who signed a $4m, four-year deal last year, refused to have the additional clauses inserted into his contract. Rugby Australia and the New South Wales Waratahs intend to terminate Folau’s contract after his social media post saying gay people would go to ‘hell’ if they did not ‘repent’. He was warned for a similar offence a year ago. Earlier this week Folau seemed to accept his ban when he said: ‘Whatever His will is, whether that’s to continue playing or not, I’m more than happy to do what He wants me to do.’

England look to double up

At least one and probably two English teams will be confirmed in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League this evening. Liverpool take a two-goal lead to the Estádio do Dragão and they will be confident of defending that when they travel to meet Porto in their quarter-final second-leg. Tonight’s other quarter-final is an all-English clash between Manchester City and Tottenham in Manchester. Spurs’ 1-0 win last week is the only time City have not won since the end of January. Some would say winning 15 out of 16 matches makes them due for another loss, but Spurs, without injured Harry Kane, will be happy for a draw which will take them through, while both teams will be playing with an eye on Saturday when the pair meet again in a crucial Premier League fixture.

Broken dreams

Cristiano Ronaldo’s dream of a fourth successive Champions League title with his new club Juventus was shattered by a teenage star last night – and his big rival, Lionel Messi, inspired Barcelona to end Manchester United’s hopes of a miracle comeback at Nou Camp. Ronaldo put Juve on course for the semi-finals when he gave the Italians the lead midway through the first half of their quarter-final second leg in Turin. Donny van de Beek levelled things up again before half time, and then Ajax’ teenage captain Matthijs de Ligt scored the winner. In Barcelona, Messi scored twice in four minutes to end United dreams of another stunning fightback. The Argentinian took Barca three clear on aggregate when he scored in the 16th and 20th minutes, and then Philippe Coutinho added a third on the night to kill off any lingering hopes of a comeback. 


WHAT’S THE BUZZ?

Silent Sam

Voice trouble has forced Sam Smith to cancel his remaining Cape Town concerts  – due to have been held at GrandWest tonight and tomorrow. Smith sought advice from medical specialists after he had to cut short his show last night, and has decided to cancel, Big Concerts announced. Computicket, Shoprite and Checkers outlets are giving refunds. 

Kurt reply

Kurt Darren has spoken out about his Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika fiasco at the FNB Varsity Cup final on Monday night, explaining that the reverb and sound delay while performing in a big stadium ‘can lead to losing your place’. Speaking to Channel24, he said he knows the national anthem ‘top to bottom’. ‘I’ve performed our anthem several times at public events. Unfortunately, I got caught up in the moment, singing in front of a packed stadium and sadly, messed up a lyric,’ he lamented. Twitter has not yet forgiven him and TV personality Somizi has spoofed him with a video posted on Instagram.
 


SAY WHAT?

Evolutionary ballgame 

Primate males face a sexual trade-off: Look good or have large gonads – new research suggests they can’t have both. Swiss and Australian scientists have spent months measuring primate testicles (great job if you can get it) and published their findings in the scientific journal, the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, last week. The study found that, on average, primates who are great at attracting mates through ‘showy behaviour’ – shows of strength or beautiful secondary characteristics like big noses and beards – have smaller balls. Plain apes, on the other hand, have larger testes that churn out vast amounts of sperm. TimesSelect spoke to Stephanie Edward Baker, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Johannesburg, who explained that the study doesn’t apply to humans to quite the same extent, as throughout our evolution we’ve tended to discard those secondary characteristics. ‘We no longer have to be visible from across the savannah to attract a mate, so we often just have to rely on our behaviour,’ she said.  


TWEET OF THE DAY

Today’s terrific Tweeter is Kate Whitfield (@Kate_Whitfield) with this comment:

I love the fact that Getty feels the need to tell us it’s President Donald Trump on the left


CRYPTIC CLUE OF THE DAY

Today’s clue, compiled by Cracking Crosswords, is: Metaphor in middle of story largely misconstrued (8)  

The solution to yesterday’s clue Spilling monk’s Sangria cost loads! (1,5,6)is a KING’s RANSOM – an anagram of Monk’s Sangria (‘spilling’ is the anagram indicator)


THE BIG READ

A car crash in Kentucky left a 13-year-old girl dead. A Sudanese refugee was charged with her killing. This feature in Atavist magazine, Commonwealth v. Mohamed by Margaret Redmond Whitehead follows the case as it moved slowly through the American legal system.  
 


WHAT WE SAY

It’s been pretty obvious for some time now that the SA Police Service (Saps) is itself, in some part, a criminal enterprise. But this week former Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) head Robert McBride suggested it might be worse than we suspected. Testifying at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture, he said Saps ran on patronage. ‘Everyone is there to protect seniors. They have been appointed by them. People from the same college, the same station, the same village.’ The Daily Maverick today quotes him as pointing out that this had an impact on ‘all aspects of our lives’ as criminal and corruption syndicates required senior police not to investigate past acts, current acts and future acts. ‘The intention is to steal money. I can show a litany of cases where billions have been stolen.’ And attempts to combat this corruption were sabotaged by politicians and ‘revenge investigations’ by fellow officers. The contrast could hardly be more tragic: a police service riven by in-fighting and corruption and a public under siege by violent criminals. Much of the evidence at the Zondo commission has suggested a massive governmental failure in the past decade, but little has been as devastating as this. It will take years, and massive willpower, to correct. 

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Macron vows to rebuild Notre Dame | Moyane can’t quiz Gordhan | SA hotels take on Airbnb | It’s Ronaldo vs Messi again

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Notre Dame gutted 

French President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to rebuild the Notre Dame Cathedral after it was gutted by an eight-hour fire last night, and two of France’s richest men have pledged 350-million euros for the effort. Images of the iconic cathedral and Parisian landmark circulated around the world as massive flames burst through its roof and toppled its spire. The fire was finally brought under control early this morning, with firefighters managing to save the main bell towers and outer walls from collapse. One firefighter was seriously injured during efforts to spirit religious artefacts and artwork out of the 850-year-old gothic masterpiece. The cause of the fire has not been established yet, but may have been a result of restoration work. The building is visited by an estimated 13-million tourists every year. Across in the United States President Donald Trump helpfully suggested that ‘perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out’. Below is an aerial image showing the interior of the cathedral ablaze, taken by a French police drone. The Guardian has live updates from Paris and is reporting that saved artworks will be donated the the Louvre museum.  

Mashaba booed off stage by Alex residents

Johannesburg DA Mayor Herman Mashaba’s belated attempt to address the unhappy residents of Alexandra township came to nought last night when he was booed off the stage in nearby Marlboro. According to reports from the scene, Mashaba and his team were also pelted with paper and empty bottles. Mashaba had resisted calls to address protesters last week, after which President Cyril Ramaphosa headed in there and suggested the mayor was scared. Mashaba chose to address the disgruntled community last night to explain his Integrated Development Plan, but was thwarted. The mayor later accused the ANC of bussing people to the meeting with the express purpose of disrupting it. He also hit back at Ramaphosa, asking when the president planned to meet the families of the Marikana massacre. Ramaphosa has been accused of having a hidden hand in the massacre through his then mining interests, and of insensitivity towards the victims.

Resurrected man dies 

Elliot Moyo became renowned across South Africa when he was supposedly ‘resurrected’ from the dead by pastor Alph Lukau: the photograph of him sitting bolt upright in his coffin after the pastor ministered his magic sparked a thousand memes. Sadly, however, it seems he has now died. Zimbabwean newspaper B-Metro reported that Moyo – real name Thabiso Proud Mlanje – died earlier this month in Zimbabwe from suspect food poisoning. The publication carried a photo of an ailing Moyo/Mlanje and a relative mourning at his grave in Dandana Village.

Zondo ‘no’ to Moyane

Tom Moyane will not be getting a chance to cross examine Public Works Minister Pravin Gordhan at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture. Today Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo turned down the request from the ex-Sars commissioner, saying the test for cross-examination is whether it is necessary and relevant to the commission’s work. Moyane had not ‘at all’ responded to certain important parts of Gordhan’s statement which implicated him, or had not responded ‘adequately’. He also had not identified which bits of Gordhan’s evidence he disputed.


THE DAILY MENACE

Tongue-tied, tuneless and tone deaf

Kurt Darren has become the latest musician to commit anthemcide. The Afrikaans pop star was called to sing Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrica at the Varsity Cup rugby final last night in Stellenbosch and promptly fumbled, bungled and butchered the anthem. In 2009 reggae artist Ras Dumisani mutilated the anthem when he belted out a tuneless rendition of it before a match between the Boks and France. Two years later, Just Jinger frontman Ard Matthews murdered the anthem during the announcement of the Springbok squad to go to the World Cup. Darren woke up this morning to a storm of outrage but was unapologetic and couldn’t see what the fuss was about. ‘I just messed up one line,’ the tone deaf singer told a radio talkshow host. Perhaps Darren, Dumisani and Matthews should form a band – The Nkosi Killers! By the way, Maties did to Tuks what Darren did to the words of the anthem – slaughtered them. 
 


WHAT’S THE BUSINESS?

Exodus of the super-rich 

Fin24 reports that about 3,000 super-rich South Africans have left the country in the past 10 years. It bases this on a research by an organisation called New World Wealth, which defines the super-rich as those with a wealth of $1m or R14m. According to the research, most of the migrants went to the UK, Australia and the US. Australia was also the top destination for high net-worth migrants from countries around the world, it said. Mauritius was the only African country to gain such individuals in 2018.

SA hotels take on Airbnb

SA’s hotel industry is calling on government to regulate Airbnb which they argue is ruining their business model. The Tourism Amendment Bill, just published, says ‘short-term home rentals’ will now be legislated under the Tourism Act. The amendment will allow the minister to specify ‘thresholds’ when it comes to Airbnbs that could include limits on the number of nights that a guest can stay or even how much income an Airbnb earns.


IN THE SPORTS CORNER

Gunners misfire into top four

In the ever-changing race for next season’s Champions League spots, Arsenal scrambled back into the top four with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Watford at Vicarage Road last night. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s early goal was almost comical after Ben Foster took his time clearing a backpass. The Watford keeper’s indecision allowed the Arsenal striker to get close enough and the ball ricocheted off his outstretched foot into the net. Watford’s woes were compounded a minute later when Troy Deeney was shown a straight red after his forearm caught Lucas Torreira in the face. The result takes Arsenal one point below third-placed Spurs, ahead of Chelsea on goal difference and two points clear of Manchester United. Tonight Cardiff travel to Brighton in a key battle for the final relegation spot.

Ronaldo v Messi debate continues

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are surely the two best football players of their generation and the debate over who is the greatest is unlikely to be settled anytime soon. So, it is somewhat fitting that both are in action tonight hoping to guide their respective teams to the semi-finals of the Champions League. Messi has failed to savour the same level of Champions League glory as his great rival, which makes Barcelona’s second-leg quarter-final against Manchester United this evening just a little more important to the Argentinian maestro. Barca enjoy a 1-0 advantage from the opening leg at Old Trafford and are massive favourites to build on that and so secure their place in the last four. Ronaldo will be hoping to find the net again for Juventus as they attempt to improve on the 1-1 result against Ajax from the first leg.

New ‘Dakar’ venue

The completely mis-named Dakar rally comes closer to home when the 2020 event is held in Saudi Arabia. The event, which was held predominantly in North Africa for 30 years, moved to South America in 2009 after terrorist threats in 2008. From next year the event will enjoy at least a five-year stay in the Middle East after ASO, the event owners, signed a deal with the country which dominates the Arabian Peninsula. There are however sure to be many who object to the move, particularly after the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the country’s treatment of women.

Tiger’s win was bettor’s best bet

One man who was almost as pleased as Tiger Woods with the former number one’s fifth US Master victory was 39-year-old James Adducci, who collected $1.19-million on a bet after the tournament. Adducci, a self-employed day trader with a mortgage on his house, two student loans and two car loans, bet ‘everything I had that I could afford to lose’ a week ago on Tiger winning. The first-time sports gambler flew from Wisconsin to Las Vegas to place the $85,000 bet at William Hill – and flew straight home.


WHAT’S THE BUZZ?

The GoT in numbers

Some of the buzz surrounding the screening of the first episode of Season 8 of the Game of Thrones has been quantified, revealing that a record 17.4-million viewers in the US alone tuned in for Sunday’s premiere of the fantasy series, up from 16.1-million viewers who watched the first episode of Season 7. It also was HBO’s biggest night ever for streaming, the network said. On social media, the premiere drew more than 5-million Tweets on Sunday, and 11 million mentions throughout the course of the weekend. Season 7 averaged 32.8-million US viewers per episode – when delayed viewing was counted – and HBO said it expected the Season 8 average to top this ‘considerably’. But despite the hype, it turns out that Americans love their football more even than the GoT: the annual NFL Super Bowl attracts about 100-million viewers.
 


SAY WHAT?

Comic’s stroke of misfortune 

British stand-up comedian Ian Cognito told his audience, ‘Imagine having a stroke and waking up speaking Welsh’ and then added, ‘Imagine if I died in front of you lot here.’  A few minutes later the 60-year-old standup comic sat down on a stool, had a stroke and died. Show organiser Andrew Bird told the BBC that when Cognito sat down and fell silent, everyone in the crowd, Bird included, thought he was joking. ‘I was thinking, he’s having such a good gig.’ The members of the audience sat there for five minutes watching him, and laughing. Cognito, whose real name was Paul Barbieri, was highly respected among fellow comedians. Entertainer Jimmy Carr tweeted of Cognito’s onstage death: ‘That’s commitment to comedy.’


TWEET OF THE DAY

Today’s top tweeter is Phillip de Wet (@phillipdewet) for this observation:

Anecdotal evidence suggests that approximately half of all voice calls in South Africa right now are either from pre-recorded @MmusiMaimane or from real-life mini-Maimanes in what must be a call centre covering a floor area similar to the warehouse in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
 


CRYPTIC CLUE OF THE DAY

Today’s clue, compiled by Kieron Callaghan, is Spilling monk’s Sangria cost loads! (1,5,6) 

The solution to yesterday’s clue Champion writes good anagrams! (5,5), is TIGER WOODS – an anagram of ‘writes good’ (‘anagrams’ is the cunning anagram indicator) and Tiger Woods is the ‘champion’


THE BIG READ

Something to Bragg about

In 1989 Charles Leonard found himself at a Billy Bragg concert in London. Leonard, a South African journalist, managed to meet Bragg, a punk-folk rocker and solid leftist, and gave him a beautiful black and white Freedom Charter T-shirt and asked him to come and play in South Africa. Bragg said he would, but never did. (Well, not yet anyway.) In this excellent essaypublished on the New Frame, Leonard writes about the meaning of that T-shirt, political violence in the 1980s, and the power of solidarity. As an official Bragg superfan, Leonard hasn’t given up on his plan to entice the Bard from Barking to come play in South Africa. 
 


WHAT WE SAY

Sport is often held to be something that provides good lessons and examples to youngsters (and the rest of us), but it is probably closer to the truth to suggest that nowadays it serves best as decent escapism while making some people very rich. But hang on a moment: did you watch Tiger Woods winning the US Masters on Sunday evening? That was sport transcending its own limits: a once-disgraced man seeking, and finding, redemption; an ageing athlete defying the passage of time and a series of potentially career-ending injuries; extraordinary will; calm under what must have been nearly unbearable pressure; the racial backdrop to it all (and a few incidents of racism over the years); an emotional welcome from his young son after the final hole… It was extraordinary, and even Woods’s fiercest critics must surely have melted. The win marked Woods’s first in a major for 11 years, and that in spite of setbacks that would have broken many others. Let that sink in. And perhaps marvel that the human spirit can fight back against and overcome all that. And maybe watch that match on Saturday with a little more empathy for the individuals out there on the field: they all have their own stories.

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Tiger Woods roars back | Tiger Brands not so much | Tiger in the tank gets pricey l ‘Mom, dad, gimme back my porn’

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Another big fuel hike looms

The Automobile Association has warned SA motorists that they may be in for another large fuel price hike thanks to ‘unexpectedly strong’ international fuel prices. The AA said today new data from the Central Energy Fund suggested a rise of around 56 cents a litre for petrol at the end of April, but diesel might drop slightly, by about five cents.

Protests flare up again

A slew of service delivery protests that erupted across South Africa last week looks set to continue as residents use the pre-election period to highlight grievances. In Ennerdale, south of Johannesburg, a protest for better school infrastructure closed several roads that were barricaded with burning tyres and rocks early today. A school in the area was burned down and several people were arrested for public violence. Another protest over schools north of Durban saw several roads barricaded with burning tyres. Several schools were closed. In Cape Town protests closed roads in Ottery and Strandfontein. More protests were reported from Limpopo. Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba is due to visit Alexandra this evening after a tense standoff outside the local government offices in Johannesburg last week when  #AlexTotalShutDown protesters demanded to see him. Mashaba’s failure to do so prompted President Cyril Ramaphosa to use his own visit to Alex later in the week to suggest the DA mayor was ‘running away’ from his people. One the #AlexTotalShutDown conveners has said Mashaba will not be disrupted when he speaks tonight.

Mabuza, Mantashe on bad candidates list

It was quiet day for the Sunday papers but City Press will have raised some eyebrows with its report that Deputy President David Mabuza and Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe were included in a list of problematic parliamentary candidates by the ANC’s integrity committee. The newspaper said others on the list of 22 names were ANC head of presidency Zizi Kodwa; ministers Nomvula Mokonyane, Bathabile Dlamini, Zweli Mkhize and Bheki Cele. It is unclear at this stage whether the party intends to do anything about its list – which the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has already approved. 

Hugh rhino horn haul

Police held two men in North West province at the weekend after finding them in possession of 167 rhino horns. The haul was apparently destined for Asia. The men will appear in the Brits Magistrate’s Court today.


THE DAILY MENACE

Ace’s deep freeze  

They ANC sure don’t want to win the Western Cape. The party sent its under-fire secretary-general Ace Magashule to campaign in the province this weekend. And to reinforce its message that people with corruption clouds over their head are okay, he was accompanied by convicted fraudster and menace-for-life Tony Yengeni and mother ‘murderer’ Carl Niehaus. It didn’t go well. Magashule told residents of Philippi they should not waste their vote on an ‘umlungu’, prompting ANC veterans to call on the party to take urgent action against him for his racist comment. Trying to position himself as the Ace of Hearts, Magashule then took a peek inside a shack-dweller’s fridge and reached into his wallet to pull out a couple of R200 notes. Of course, he did that in front of a whole lot of cameras, subjecting the woman to public humiliation. For that alone, he deserves to spend time in a prison cell and instead of a bible he should be given Gangster State to read.
 


WHAT’S THE BUSINESS?

Independent much?

A little-reported bit of evidence from the Commission of Inquiry into the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) bubbled to the surface in City Press yesterday. The newspaper reported that former Ayo Technology Solutions chief investment officer Siphiwe Nodwele said news stories in Business Report defending Ayo were in fact written by Feroza Petersen, the marketing manager of Ayo’s parent company African Equity and Empowerment Investments (AEEI). They appeared under a ‘Staff Reporter’ byline. Lest we forget. Iqbal Surve is the executive Chairman of Independent Media, which publishes Business Report in all its morning titles, effectively controls AEEI and is the ultimate indirect shareholder in Ayo. And just last week he was telling the commission how he never interferes with editorial content.

Tiger Brands in court

Tiger Brands was back in court today over the listeriosis outbreak in its Polokwane polony plant. In December the South Gauteng High Court paved the way for a class action lawsuit when it authorised complaints. Today the claimants began a process designed to prove that Tiger Brands is liable for the outbreak, in which more than 1,000 people contracted listeriosis and 218 died.


IN THE SPORTS CORNER

Tiger roars back at Augusta

An emotional Tiger Woods ended an 11-year major title drought when he claimed his fifth Green Jacket and completed an epic return from scandal and injuries that threatened his career. A final-round 70 gave Woods a one-shot victory over Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele. It was the 43-year-old’s 15th major title. After his personal life fell apart in spectacular fashion in 2009, Woods took a self-imposed break and then struggled with a series of injuries that eventually culminated in a spinal fusion in 2017. His first US Masters win in 14 years marks his return as a major contender and once again raises the possibility of matching, or beating, Jack Nicklaus’ haul of 18 majors (final leaderboard).

… and talking of comebacks

The Blitzboks produced one of the great fightbacks of the HSBC Sevens Series when they recovered from a 0-19 halftime deficit in the final to beat Fiji for the second time at the Singapore tournament. There may have been a few raised eyebrows when the South Africans opted to go for poles from a penalty to secure a 20-19 lead with a few seconds of the final left. After conceding three first-half tries, the nervy looking Boks were much more composed in the second half and used the searing pace of some new faces to score three tries of their own. And had it not been for some silly mistakes – like dropping the ball with no opposition player nearby and with the tryline looming – they may have secured the win before the late tournament-winning penalty. The tournament victory has not changed the leading five Series positions, but with England beating USA for third South Africa has a 14-point lead in the race for the crucial fourth position and an Olympic spot in the standings. England is now going to have to produce two big tournaments in London and Paris to overtake the Blitzboks and squeeze them out of the final Olympic position. USA as top of the standings, three points ahead of Fiji, with New Zealand third (latest series standings).

… and another one (or two, actually)

Steve Smith and David Warner will return to international cricket at the Cricket World Cup. The disgraced pair of Australians completed a remarkable comeback from the ball-tampering scandal when they were selected in Australian World Cup squad. The pair replaced Josh Hazlewood and Peter Handscomb in the squad for the tournament in England and Wales. It is the first call-up for the former captain and his deputy since their year-long bans expired and their first official match for Australia will be in the World Cup. Both are currently playing in the IPL with Warner topping the list of tournament run scorers with an average of 80.

Bulls give it horns

The Bulls moved back to the top of the South African Super Rugby conference when the Lions and Sharks both went down in matches they should have won, while the Stormers claimed a shock victory over the Rebels. The slick Bulls ended the weekend with a strong 32-17 win over the Reds which takes them up to second on the overall table. The Sharks were dismal as they fell back into their old ways of looking completely disinterested and were full value for their 17-51 loss to the Jaguares. The Lions were only marginally better as they battled to a 31-10 defeat to the Brumbies in Australia. The Stormers, for probably the first time this season, produced a motivated display of slick rugby to shock the Rebels 24-41.


WHAT’S THE BUZZ?

Winter is here 

Thousands of South Africans took ‘Game of Thrones leave’ today to be able to stay up all night last night and join millions of people across the world who watched the first episode of the hugely popular show’s final season. Some watched in their homes while many made their way to big screen cinema streaming events. In Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town some SA fans dressed up in character for the occasion at Ster Kinekor outlets. The six-episode Season 8 has been preceded by massive hype, and those lucky enough to be invited to a celebrity-filled pre-screening premiere of Episode 1 in Belfast on Friday night had to sign non-disclosure agreements on plot developments. The viewership numbers for last night’s screening are not yet in, but the opener for Season 7 pulled an audience of over 16-million in the US alone. 
 


SAY WHAT?

‘Mom, dad, gimme back my porn’

An Indiana man is suing his parents for getting rid of his huge pornography collection, which he estimates was worth $29,000. The 40-year-old man last week filed a lawsuit in Michigan, where he moved in with his parents in 2016 following a divorce. The Guardian reported that when he moved out 10 months later, his parents delivered his things to his new home in Indiana, but that his 12 boxes of pornographic films and magazines were missing. His parents admit they dumped the porn, which included titles such as Frisky Business and Big Bad Grannys [sic]. He filed a complaint with police but the prosecutor declined to press charges. The lawsuit includes an email excerpt from the man’s father, who told his son, ‘I did you a big favour by getting rid of all this stuff.’ The man is seeking triple financial damages of roughly $87,000.


TWEET OF THE DAY

Monday’s fab tweeter is Rory (@rory21) after Sandika Daya (@SandiSplash) had asked:
Things to do in Cape Town with 2 kids under 3?

To which Rory responded:
Vasectomy

Then there was rugby fan RhymesWithRuck (@jwcoetzee) on the Israel Folau homophobia row while watching the Reds playing the Bulls:
Has Folau tweeted about the Reds’ lineout throws yet? Because not one of them was straight.
 


CRYPTIC CLUE OF THE DAY

Today’s topical clue, compiled by Kieron Callaghan, is: Champion writes good anagrams! (5,5)

The solution to Friday’s clue: Advice on clue’s composition? (7) is COUNSEL, an anagram of ‘on clue’s’ (‘composition’ is the anagram indicator) and ‘advice’ is the definition. 


THE BIG READ

This is a fascinating read from Wired which explores what a team of scientists found during months of painstaking analysis of the differences between the Kelly twins – one of whom went to space for a year and one stayed on earth. Wired asks this question: Are humans fit for space? A ‘herculean’ study says maybe not.
 


WHAT WE SAY

There’s a nasty suspicion doing the rounds that the ANC last week manipulated communal grievances in Alexandra township and elsewhere for political gain, leading to violent protests across the country. The DA has pointed out that protests erupted in several areas which it controls and the timing does suggest a co-ordinated effort. We hope not, but if this proves to be the case the ANC is playing with fire: this is the lowest form of populism – even the EFF has distanced itself from it all – and would set a precedent that could be repeated many times as other communities across the country reflect on how little they have benefited from the past 25 years … of ANC rule.  

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PP subpoenas Gordhan | Vodacom’s Tanzanian trouble | Police minister abused process – McBride | Folau fails to save his career

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

More service delivery protests

Service delivery protests continued to sweep the country for a second day, with fresh violence and unconfirmed reports of three deaths. Two people were reported to have died in Soshanguve near Tshwane and another at  Rus-ter-vaal, south of Johannesburg. Reports this morning suggest several fresh outbreaks of protests, many of which included the blocking of roads – including, briefly, the N2 near Strand in the Western Cape, the N17 near Soweto and the R28 near Mohlakeng on the West Rand. Most protests today appeared to be centred in Gauteng – including New Canada in Soweto, Orient Hills in the Magaliesburg area and Soshanguve and the Johannesburg CBD. The protests are generally being attributed to concerns over service delivery but the DA has accused the ANC of encouraging them in DA-controlled areas.

PP subpoenas Gordhan

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is widely held to be doing the bidding of the anti-Ramaphosa forces in the ANC and the EFF and she appears to be at it again. As most of us were scuttling home after work she subpoenaed Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan in connection with the so-called SA Revenue Service (Sars) ‘rogue unit’. The unit was supposedly created illegally by Gordhan when he was the Sars commissioner, but at least three investigations into the allegation have come to nought. Gordhan is, of course, close to President Cyril Ramaphosa and is charged with cleaning up the state-owned enterprises which were used as piggy banks by Jacob Zuma’s allies. Gordhan’s spokesperson Adrian Lackay last night called the subpoena an ‘abuse of office’ and part of the ‘fight back campaign’ against Ramaphosa’s bid to end corruption.

Police minister abused process – McBride

Former Ipid Boss Robert McBride has accused police minister Nathi Nhleko of being willing to ‘abuse processes to achieve his ends’. He was giving evidence to the Zondo Commission of inquiry into State Capture today when he said that the minister had interfered in an investigation being conducted by Werksmann’s Attorneys into police actions around the so-called Zimbabwean renditions case. You can read more on McBride’s testimony on TimesLive.

Mugger City

Cape Town’s trendy and laid-back image took a hit yesterday with the release of the  2018/2019 State of Urban Safety in South Africa Report. It turns out that the Mother City has ‘very high rates of almost all crime types’. According to the report, Cape Town has had the highest recorded rates of murder, robbery, and ‘non-violent property-related crimes’. The report surveyed the country’s nine major cities and found Tshwane to have the lowest murder rate. Cape Town’s rate of 69 murders per 100,000 citizens is four times higher than Tshwane. Nelson Mandela Bay was second worst with 54 murders per 1,000 residents and Johannesburg recorded a surprisingly low 31. Cape Town’s murder rate has increased 13% in the last year. High crime rates in the city are generally attributed to extensive gangsterism.


WHAT’S THE BUSINESS?

Load-shedding warning

Eskom has warned that the country could be hit by Stage 1 load-shedding today. It initially warned that blackouts were likely last night, but these did not materialise. Eskom attributed the warning to ‘a shortage of capacity due to the loss of generating units at our power stations’.

Vodacom’s Tanzanian trouble

Vodacom has coughed up R32-million to settle allegations against its Tanzanian unit. Nine staff, including the country MD Hisham Hendi, had been charged with depriving the government of revenue in a ‘criminal racket’ that allowing third parties unauthorised access to network services. Others charged included the head of revenues at Vodacom Tanzania, the head of legal services, the head of sales and the finance manager. They were released after they all pleaded guilty yesterday to depriving the state of revenues of 5.89billion Tanzanian shillings (about R35-million).


IN THE SPORTS CORNER

Weekend Live TV Sport listings

Harding three off the pace

Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus hit the ceremonial tee shots to open the 83rd US Masters yesterday before Player’s South African compatriot, Justin Harding, hogged the limelight for much of the opening day. Harding’s three-under-par 69 gave him the early clubhouse lead and he only slipped off the top of the leaderboard when some late starters pushed him into a tie for sixth. Americans Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka hold the lead after the first 18 holes on six-under 66s, with veteran Phil Mickelson one shot off the pace. Young South African amateur Jovan Rebula, the nephew of Ernie Els, is in a tie for 44th on one-over-par 73, one shot behind the leading amateur Victor Hovland.

A super weekend – on paper

The Stormers caused a minor upset this morning when they produced by far their most composed showing of the season to overcome a lack of possession and beat the Rebels 41-24 in a Super Rugby match in Melbourne. Strong in the set pieces and miserly on defence, the Cape side finished their disastrous tour of Australasia with a confidence-building win over the leading Australian side despite only having a third of the possession. On paper, the remaining three South African rugby franchises should emerge with victories, but as the Stormers result proves, the unpredictable nature of the competition means nothing can be taken for granted. The Lions begin their Australasian Tour against the Brumbies in Canberra tomorrow, while The Sharks will be buoyed by their win in Johannesburg last week when they face the Jaguares later in the day. The Bulls, at home to the Reds, should be able to get a win in Pretoria.

MCC honours Boucher

The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) has made former Proteas wicketkeeper Mark Boucher an honorary life member. The MCC, formerly the governing body of cricket in England and Wales and responsible for the laws of cricket before the ICC took over, announced they were honouring Boucher and former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq this morning. Boucher played 146 Tests for the Proteas, scoring 5,498 runs, taking 530 catches and making 23 stumpings before injuring his eye in a freak accident while on Tour in England.

Folau fails to save his career

Australian fullback Israel Folau met with Rugby Australia and New South Wales officials this morning but has done little to change the decision to fire him following his homophobic social media posts. The double Australian international posted that ‘hell awaits homosexuals’ earlier this week. The Wallaby, who was expected to be an integral part of the Australian team at the World Cup this year, will have his contracts terminated by the Waratahs and Rugby Australia. This is not the first time Folau has courted controversy with his anti-gay remarks.
 


WHAT’S THE BUZZ?

SA ballet off to London (again)

The Soweto Gospel Choir is headed to London’s West End at the end of the month with a rerun of the show, INALA, a Zulu Ballet, that was created five years ago to celebrate 20 years of democracy in South Africa. At the time it was a hit, with sellout audiences at the Edinburgh Festival, at Sadler’s Wells and an invitation appearance at the Royal Variety Show. The music for the show is by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Joseph Shabalala and the British composer Ella Spira. So, when is it coming to SA?
 


SEE WHAT?

Pool hero

You might have watched the footage we posted yesterday of a cleaner a Johannesburg gym rescuing a man who had a seizure in its pool. Here’s a heart-warming follow-up.


SAY WHAT?

A tissue of lies 

Comedian Mekki Leeper wanted to find out how gullible Americans are – the answer, unsurprisingly, is extremely. Gullible enough to buy used tissues at more than a R1,000 per tissue? Yep.  Poynter reported that it took him one week and less than $1,000 to convince people that buying used tissues could strengthen their immune systems. In the debut episode of his Comedy Central special Control Room, a social experiment show that aired March 29, Leeper detailed how he created a fraudulent company that claimed to sell used tissues ‘that get you sick now so you don’t get sick later. The goal was to see how gullible Americans are when it comes to dubious alternative health products sold by companies like Goop or Live Water. He named the bogus company Vaev, the Danish word for tissue, and his experiment worked. ‘You can manipulate the international media if you have 900 bucks and take, like, one Photoshop class,’ Leeper said.


TWEET OF THE DAY

A number of people on Twitter have been retweeting a comment posted on Reddit from a user named @punchdrunkskunk. 

Turns out our Brexit negotiations are basically the Spice Girls 
UK: I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want
EU: So tell me what you want, what you really, really want
UK: I wanna Huh I wanna Huh I wanna Huh I wanna Huh
EU: …
UK: I really, really, really wanna [unintelligible].
EU: …


CRYPTIC CLUE OF THE DAY

Today’s clue, compiled by Kieron Callaghan, is Advice on clue’s composition? (7) 

The solution to yesterday’s clue, I go nuts arranging trips (7), is OUTINGS– an anagram of ‘I got nuts’ (‘arranging is the anagram indicator).


THE BIG READ

The New York Times writes that the Murdoch empire has profited more than any single media company from the wave of right-wing populism spreading across the world. The magazine has produced a fascinating three-part multimedia feature about the family that has toppled governments and asks, what do they want?
 


WHAT WE SAY

Swaziland saw a boost in tourism this week – what was that about?
Treasure seekers went on a hunt for slain Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi’s missing billions – well it was billions when he asked his friend Jacob Zuma to keep it safe for him. According to the Sunday Times it’s now just $30-million (R442 million) in cash, gold and diamonds they say Zuma has hidden in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland). Gives new meaning to ‘Swazi Gold’…

What shook the country:
Violent service delivery protests that swept across the country as people try to draw the government’s attention to their grievances.

What shook the world: 
The first image of a black hole, which marks a ‘breakthrough for humanity’.
 
What came to an end (1):
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s seven-year refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy. 
 
What came to an end (2):
Omar al-Bashir’s 30-year iron grip over Sudan. The strongman was finally ousted by the military yesterday. 
 
What didn’t come to an end (and probably never will): 
The chaos, shambles, mess, disaster, catastrophe that is Brexit.  
 
What disappointed us: 
The decision by Exclusive Books and the V&A Waterfront to cancel last night’s launch of Gangster State – the Pieter-Louis Myburgh book about Ace Magashule. Exclusive’s business is books – it should support the people who write them. Which brings us to…
 
The menace of the week award:
And we gave it to all the thugs who disrupted the Gauteng Gangster Statelaunch earlier in the week, tearing up copies of the book and threatening to burn more. It’s time another double-barrelled Pieter resurrected his play, Farce about Uys.   

Who made us proudly South African:
23-year-old Karabo Thosago, a cleaner who was moving old pool nets at a Johannesburg gym, when he saw a man slip under the water. Karabo jumped into the water and saved the man’s life.  

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Countrywide protest battles | Bird Island author takes polygraph test | Music festival cancelled due to crime | Rugby homophobe fallout

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Countrywide protest battles

With less than a month to go before the elections violent service delivery protests broke out across the country today in Alex, Tshwane, Midvaal,  Khayelitsha and Somerset West. It was a day of running battles between police, who fired rubber bullets, teargas canisters and stun grenades, and protesters, who hurled stones and petrol bombs, burnt tyres and blockaded roads. In Cape Town, News24 reported that the N2 highway between Somerset West and the city was in chaos as alleged ‘land grabbers’ set vehicles alight and stoned cars. Khayelitsha protesters angry about high water bills also barricaded roads in and around the township. In Gauteng, Tshwane demonstrators blocked exits in Soshanguve and Hammanskraal and protesters also took to the streets of Orange Grove, near Alex, to complain about lack of recreational facilities and housing. DA leader Mmusi Maimane smelt a conspiracy and accused the ANC of orchestrating the protests to render DA-run cities ungovernable.  

Al-Bashir pushed out 

Sudan’s 30-year president Omar al-Bashir has been arrested and the army has seized power and imposed a three-month state of emergency, the defence minister announced today. During a tense morning, the country’s state broadcaster was seized by the military as protesters massed in front of the armed forces headquarters. The defence minister announced that the country’s airspace had been closed for 24 hours, all borders sealed and the suspension of the constitution. Elections are to be held at the end of a two-year transitional period. The BBC has published a profile of al-Bashir who came to power in a coup in 1989 and ruled the country with an iron fist. 

Assange carried out 

British police this morning carried Julian Assange out of the Ecuadorian embassy, where he has been holed up for almost seven years. The Wikileaks founder was wanted in Sweden in connection with allegations of sexual assault made by two women in 2010, and sought refuge in the embassy. His lawyer has confirmed that he now faces onward extradition to the US for leaking classified military and diplomatic communications in an alleged conspiracy with Chelsea Manning. Ecuador granted him asylum, but according to The Times of London, the Australian-born hacker had become an increasingly unwelcome guest at the embassy.

McBride starts evidence

Former Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) head Robert McBride has started giving evidence to the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture and is expected to implicate some 50 people. You can catch up with the latest courtesy of News24 here.

Mashaba running scared – Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa went on yet another electioneering walkabout today, this time in Alexandra, Johannesburg, where he told residents packed into the Alexandra stadium parking area that he was shocked to see sewage in the streets. His visit follows the #AlexTotalShutDown protest in Sandton on Monday, when marchers were unable to get Mayor Herman Mashaba to talk to them, prompting Ramaphosa to suggest today that Mashaba was afraid to meet his people – and this was why he was stepping in to hear their grievances. He said he would give the mayor a few days to fix drain blockages in the area or he would send in the army to do it. 

Bird Island author takes polygraph test

The book The Lost Boys of Bird Island has been steeped in controversy since its launch in August last year. The book, co-authored by journalist Chris Steyn and former policeman Mark Minnie, claims that three former National Party ministers were part of a paedophile ring that assaulted young boys on the island during the apartheid years. The corroborating evidence in the book has been questioned by some and dismissed as insubstantial by others, including investigative journalist Jacques Pauw and a private investigator. One of the sources in the book has also denied claims attributed to him. Minnie committed suicide within days of the book’s publication. Now Steyn has taken the extraordinary step of undergoing a polygraph test: ‘I have taken a “lie detector” test following claims that I fabricated allegations in The Lost Boys of Bird Island,’ she announced yesterday. According to Steyn, she passed with flying colours. 


THE DAILY MENACE

Time to stand up

Following the disruption of the Gauteng launch of Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s Gangster State by a group of ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule’s supporters a few days ago, Exclusive Books and the V&A Waterfront called off tonight’s launch. The V&A Waterfront’s Donald Kau told News24 the decision was informed ‘by the safety of our patrons’ – although there were no planned protests and the ANC had condemned the Gauteng thugs. Myburgh was justifiably miffed. ‘A small band of critics of my book who can’t express their views in a civil manner has managed to spook a large corporate entity into submission,’ he said. It’s not only the role of investigative journalists to defend our democracy – businesses have a responsibility to ensure free speech flourishes. The V&A Waterfront and Exclusive Books are today’s menaces for not having the guts to stand up to bullies. The new launch will take place at Primedia’s building in Greenpoint at 6pm tonight.  
 


WHAT’S THE BUSINESS?

Ayo ‘didn’t massage numbers’

Ayo Technology Solutions has gone into damage control mode after serious allegations were made about the company to the inquiry into the Public Investment Corporation (PIC). Former CEO Kevin Hardy told the inquiry that the company’s chief financial officer was told to massage the figures in Ayo’s maiden interim results to ‘reflect an inflated number to the market’. As a consequence of Hardy’s evidence the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) asked Ayo to engage with its external auditors ‘on an urgent basis’. Last night the company said: ‘Ayo strongly refutes such claims and wishes to assure all stakeholders that this was not the case.’  The PIC controversially invested R4.3-billion in Ayo in 2017.


IN THE SPORTS CORNER

Folau fallout

Rugby Australia looks set to terminate the contract of Israel Folau after he once again resorted to posting his homophobic beliefs on social media. The Wallaby posted a banner on Instagram warning ‘drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars and fornicators’ that hell awaits them. The deeply religious fullback was lucky to escape sanction exactly a year ago when he posted similar comments. Rugby Australia said in a statement that ‘in the absence of compelling mitigating factors, it is our intention to terminate his contract.’ Qantas, who are currently re-negotiating a contract with Rugby Australia, issued a statement saying: ‘These comments are really disappointing and clearly don’t reflect the spirit of inclusion and diversity that we support.’

Who will master the Masters?

The US Masters tees off today with no overwhelming favourite predicted to tame the pristine Augusta course. There are at least 15 players being tipped as possible winners, led by world number one Justin Rose who will be hoping to go one better than 2017 when he lost to Sergio Garcia in a playoff. He faces tough challenges from world number two Dustin Johnson; Rory McIlroy, who will complete a career Grand Slam if he gets a Masters title; defending champion Patrick Reed; 2018 runner up Rickie Fowler; and 2015 champion Jordan Spieth who has a game suited to Augusta. And then there is Tiger Woods. Does the most successful player in the field still have what it takes? Surely, but despite the ongoing hype around the former world number one probably has, at best, an outside chance of claiming a fifth green jacket. South African hopes rest with previous winners Trevor Immelman and Charl Schwartzel, 2010 British Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen, Branden Grace and Justin Harding, while Jovan Rebula, a nephew of Ernie Els, is aiming to finish as top amateur.

Chad and Erin collect more gold

Chad le Clos and Erin Gallagher continued to dominate the SA National Swimming Championships, with each winning another title and both once again dipping under World Championship qualifying times in Durban last night. The new starting block wedges seem to be playing a part as the gala produced more quick times last night, with Le Clos and Gallagher winning their respective 100m butterfly events. Le Clos’ fourth gold came with a time of 51,39 while Gallagher clocked a new African record of 57,67.  

Barca nudge ahead 

Manchester United will be looking for another unlikely Champions League comeback after Luke Shaw deflected a Luis Suarez cross into his own net to give Barcelona a narrow, but deserved, 1-0 lead in their quarter-final first leg match at Old Trafford. United were not completely outplayed, but without a shot on target they were never going to equalise after Suarez and Lionel Messi combined to conjure up the goal in the 12th minute. In Amsterdam Cristiano Ronaldo returned to the Juventus side and scored a vital away goal as Juve and Ajax drew 1-1. 


WHAT’S THE BUZZ?

Oppikoppi cancelled

Oppikoppi music festival has been cancelled this year – because of the crime spree that festival goers were subjected to at last year’s festival, the worst in its 24-year history. Organisers said the problem had grown worse over the past three years. They promised the festival will be back next year, with greater security. 

Kim Kardashian’s legal ambition 

Social media celebrity Kim Kardashian has revealed that she plans to become a lawyer. Really. The wife of Kanye West is also the daughter of Robert Kardashian, who was a lawyer on the OJ SImpson defence team. She explained to Vogue magazine that her epiphany came when the White House called her ‘to advise to help change the system of clemency’ and she realised she needed to know more. ‘I just felt like I wanted to be able to fight for people who have paid their dues to society.’ Kardashian aims to qualify in 2022.
 


SEE WHAT?

True life in SA

Here, in grainy CCTV footage, are two dramatic slices of South African life. The first shows a hit on a man, thought to be of Serbian origin, in Bryanston, Johannesburg. The second captures a young cleaner at a Johannesburg gym saving the life of a drowning man. 


SAY WHAT?

ANC gives DA a pro-motion 

This section of the.news.letter reports on unbelievable but true stories like yesterday’s account of bees discovered feasting on tears in a woman’s eye, but today’s So What is probably our most improbable story to date – a motion by the National Assembly outlining a fabulous track record of the DA in the Western Cape was passed without the ANC objecting.  TimesLive reported that outgoing Western Cape premier Helen Zille received a note of congratulations from speaker Baleka Mbete, praising the performance of her provincial government since the DA came into power 10 years ago, based on the motion. The DA had proposed the motion – no surprises there – but the ANC, which routinely blocks any DA attempts to tout its record that where it governs, it governs best, didn’t object. TimesLive suggests the ANC MPs may have been napping. 


TWEET OF THE DAY

After the image of the black hole was released yesterday we thought we would give Tweeting honours to the Big Guy so here’s God (@TheTweetOfGod) with this bit of wit:

Orgasms are My way of apologizing for everything else.
 


CRYPTIC CLUE OF THE DAY

Today’s clue, compiled by Stanhill Claret, is: I go nuts arranging trips (7)
The solution to yesterday’s clue, The need to go to a fuller can is stupid! (4,2,6), is CALL OF NATURE – an anagram of ‘to a fuller can’ (‘is stupid’ is the anagram indicator) gives the definition for, ‘The need to go’.


THE BIG READ

A global team of scientists, which included a South African group led by University of Pretoria astrophysicist, Professor Roger Deane, yesterday unveiled the first actual image of a black hole – an image that has set the scientific community alight. The SA team’s role was to help to verify the precision of the instruments involved in gathering more than 5 petabytes of data (a petabyte is a million gigabytes). Event Horizon Telescope team director Shep Doeleman described the achievement as ‘giving humanity its first view of a black hole, a one-way door out of our universe’. The Guardian has an explainer with a simple graphic of the complex phenomenon of black holes. But if you are able to take in a bit of astrophysical stretch, LiveScience offers nine mind-blowing facts about black holes. Wired captures the significance of the moment.
 


WHAT WE SAY

The protest in Sandton against the launch of Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s book Gangster State backfired spectacularly, with just about everybody in the ANC lining up to condemn it. The ANC Youth League in the Free State subsequently cancelled its plans to burn the book. There might be at least two positives that we can take from these grubby events. The first is the fact that freedom of speech is obviously cherished enough in this country for this type of behaviour to be roundly rejected. The second is that ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule does not appear to have the sort of hold on the party that many had suspected. Magashule is widely held to be Jacob Zuma’s man in the hierarchy – a beneficiary of the state capture years who was intent on undermining  the new boss, Cyril Ramaphosa. Yesterday it became clear that his fellow leadership was not going to come to his defence and he is effectively alone in fighting the battle to save his name. Might this suggest a third positive? That the forces intent on removing Ramaphosa and inserting a Zuma proxy are not quite as formidable as has been feared?
 


WHAT YOU SAY

I think that a possible solution to the problem of failing municipalities (as in KwaZulu-Natal) would be for large and proximally located regions inside those municipalities to isolate themselves, cease payment of rates + taxes, pay to their own better run and independently formed mini-municipalities, select which national resources they want to retain and create their own bodies for ones that they want to ditch and move on. That way we won’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
    Many people understand and are competent at running such things. Why should they be haltered to the slash-and-burn mob who won’t work, won’t learn, won’t pay for anything and yet demand all the benefits of a civilised society?
    I used to maintain that the best social model for South Africa to rehabilitate itself would be the kibbutz system, which is pure socialism and which so many ‘struggle’ philosophers pay lip service to, but alas, that requires everyone to actually work – and to stop burning their own infrastructure. But alas, SA has neither the imagination nor the political will to implement it.

Harry Friedland  

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Ace book launch fracas | Netanyahu claims victory | VW ordered to pay back the money | A big read to read in the loo

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Ace book launch fracas

A group of ANC protesters last night disrupted the launch of journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s book on Ace Magashule’s Free State shenanigans – no doubt ensuring that it will become a major seller. The book – Gangster State: Unravelling Ace Magashule’s web of capture – details corruption allegations related to ANC secretary-general Magashule’s reign as premier of the province. Last night it was due to be launched at Exclusive Books in Sandton City, but the smallish group stopped proceedings by singing, chanting ‘Ace’ and, according to reports, tearing up five copies of the book (see some footage of the incident courtesy of eNCA). The store manager was apparently pushed around by the protesters, the launch was abandoned and Myburgh was spirited away for fears of his safety. Many observers on social media pointed out that such behaviour was exactly what would be expected from a gangster state. The ANC quickly attempted some damage control, saying ‘we want to fully condemn and distance ourselves from their actions’. Magashule also condemned the incident, saying a proposal by the ANC Youth League in the Free State to burn piles of the book should not be done ‘in my name’. Whatever the case, the protesters have ensured the book has been given the sort of publicity its publishers could only have dreamed about. 

Netanyahu claims victory 

Benjamin Netanyahu today claimed victory in the Israeli elections, giving a victory speech even before the final votes had been counted and tweeting a photo of himself being congratulated by his wife under a shower of confetti. Although his right-wing Likud party appeared not to have achieved an outright majority, and was sitting on par with the main opposition party in terms of seats (at 35 each), the coalition under Netanyahu was reportedly leading by 20 in the 120-member parliament, making him the front-runner to form a coalition government. The result would give Netanyahu a fifth term as prime minister. 

Batohi wants Zondo action

Some good news at last: the National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi has hand-picked two top prosecutors to follow evidence from the Zondo commission and to act on it. TimesLive reports that Andrea Johnson will be in charge of prosecutions arising from the commission and Matric Luphondo will have a watching brief at proceedings. Both come with formidable reputations and will reportedly be expected to fast-track prosecutions. According to TimesLive, this ‘could result in those implicated in state capture being prosecuted long before the commission concludes its work’.

ANC backs down on Agrizzi challenge

The ANC has done an about-turn and no longer wants to cross-examine Angelo Agrizzi on his evidence to the Zondo commission on state capture. The former Bosasa COO earlier testified that the company paid the ruling party’s top six officials R12 million between 2004 and 2006. Now party spokesperson Dakota Legoete has told Business Day that questioning is no longer necessary as Agrizzi had ‘clarified’ that the payments were ‘donations’, not ‘bribes’. The party will respond to Agrizzi’s evidence in its own submission to the commission, said Legoete. Agrizzi’s lawyer said none of the ANC officials implicated by his client have yet applied to cross-examine him. 


THE DAILY MENACE

Throw the book at ’em

Soon after Tony Yengeni taunted Joburg Mayor Herman Mashaba, saying tyres were waiting for him, a grim reference to the brutal necklace used to kill informers (and suspected informers) in the 1980s, ANC Youth League members picked up the menace baton. They disrupted the launch of investigative journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s book implicating Ace Magashule in a range of murky dealings  – and threatened to burn the books; thug behaviour straight from the fascist playbook. The menaces are intent on dragging us back to the dark ages. Someone needs to tell them (because they obviously won’t read it) Heinrich Heine’s famous quote: Where they burn books, they will, in the end, burn human beings too. Actually, that’s something they shouldn’t be told. 
 


WHAT’S THE BUSINESS?

VW ordered to pay back the money

In a rare and heartening victory for consumers, the National Credit Tribunal has ordered Volkswagen Financial Services in South Africa to repay customers thousands of rands in illegal fees it has been levying since 2007. The illegal charges by Volkswagen’s finance company included: pre-delivery safety checks; the price for roadworthiness and clearance certificates; fuel in the tank when the car was handed over; licensing and registration costs; and cleaning costs. Anybody who bought a vehicle through Volkswagen Financial Services and believes they were subject to illegal charges – which some estimates put at up to R4,000 per vehicle – can lodge a complaint with the National Credit Regulator.

It wasn’t a bribe – Survé

BusinessLive reports today that Iqbal Survé’s Sekunjalo Investment Holdings has dismissed allegations that he tried to bribe former Ayo Technology CEO Kevin Hardy to stop him from resigning. Hardy told the Commission of Inquiry into the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) on Monday that Survé offered to ‘move my family to an all-expenses paid waterfront apartment in Cape Town … all our expenses would be covered, including school fees, a chauffeur at our beck and call, etc’ if he withdrew his resignation. Hardy described this as an ‘outright bribe’. Sekunjalo said in a statement yesterday the offer was simply a normal relocation package as Surve wanted Hardy to be in Cape Town, where Ayo’s major clients were based. Hardy quit in August last year, a week after Survé’s offer, citing governance concerns. Survé has a significant stake in Ayo and the inquiry has heard that the controversial businessman was intimately involved in the running of the company.


IN THE SPORTS CORNER

Spurs dent City hopes

Manchester City’s quadruple quest was dented last night when they went down 1-0 to Spurs in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final. Son Heung-min’s goal 12 minutes from time was the difference between the two England clubs, but the talking point was the controversial penalty for Manchester City after Danny Rose was adjudged to have handled a Raheem Sterling shot – and Sergio Aguero’s weak spot-kick which keeper Hugo Lloris saved. In the other quarter-final played last night, Liverpool were deserved 2-0 winners over Porto. Tonight Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United face their biggest test of the season when they have to find a way past rampant Barcelona at Old Trafford, while in the last quarter-final Juventus welcome back Cristiano Ronaldo for their match against underdogs Ajax Amsterdam in Holland.

Four more World Champs times

Another four swimmers qualified for the Fina World Championships on Day Two of what is proving to be a quick South African Swimming Championships in Durban. The highlight of the finals last night was the women’s 200m breaststroke where Tatjana Schoenmaker and Kaylene Corbett both dipped under the qualifying time as they claimed gold and silver in 2:24,44 and 2:25,62 respectively. Joining them on the flight to Gwangju, South Korea, for the World Champs later this year will be Nathania van Niekerk, who claimed the win in the 200m backstroke with a time of 2:11.37, and Christopher Reid in the equivalent men’s event. Reid went under the required time in the morning heats and then bettered his mark to 1:57,11 in the final. Erin Gallagher, who qualified on Day 1, set a new South African record of 26,30 in the 50m butterfly while Chad le Clos picked up his third gold of the championships when he won the 200m freestyle.

Ag nee, Al Ahly! 

Al Ahly are making life difficult for Sundowns as the two teams prepare for the second leg of their CAF Champions League quarter-final on Saturday. Sundowns notched up a convincing 5-0 win in the first leg in Pretoria at the weekend and are overwhelming favourites to reach the semis. However, the Egyptians have reportedly moved the venue, which breaks two CAF regulations. The new venue, the El Arab Stadium in Alexandria, is more than 200km from an airport and the change was made less than 10-days before the match. Despite the breach in their rules, CAF has agreed to the switch. Sundowns are demanding an explanation.


WHAT’S THE BUZZ?

Under the Hood

Cape Town-based non-profit Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation has embarked on a music project, Lively Hoods to Livelihoods, that is putting South Africa’s depth of township music talent on the map. After many months of writing and recording, these artists will go live on stage at AfrikaBurn next month. For a taste of their talent, check out these sneak previews of Old Shanty Town and Rand Theft Auto, songs which will be on the upcoming album, The State of The Nation. The artists’ stories and recording process will be captured in a documentary that will be released later this year.  

Madonna in trouble

Madonna, who has made it her trademark to court controversy, is at the centre of a storm over her plan to perform at the 2019 Eurovision final next month, which is being hosted in Tel Aviv. A Canadian businessman is coughing up $1.3 million for the singer’s fee (to fund her need for an entourage of 65 people!) and so far Madonna has resisted all calls to step back. According to the Times of London, the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is believed to have sent letters to all European states joining the competition this year urging them to rethink. Almost 100 LGBT groups are said to have signed up to the BDS campaign as well. 
 


SAY WHAT?

Seeing is beelieving 

Here’s a story that will give you the heebeegeebees. A 29-year-old Taiwanese woman went to hospital this week complaining of a swollen eye. She thought she had an infection. Only to discover four live bees were under her eyelids, living in her tear ducts and feasting on her tears, the Guardian reported. Doctors at Fooyin University Hospital described the incident as a world first, having successfully managed to extract all four sweat bees alive. The hospital’s head of ophthalmology Dr Hung Chi-ting said: ‘I saw something that looked like insect legs, so I pulled them out under a microscope slowly, and one at a time without damaging their bodies.’ The woman – whose name is He – had been tending to a family member’s grave and was pulling out weeds when she felt something go into her eye. Presuming it was soil, she washed it out with water but by night it had begun to swell up and she felt a sharp stinging pain under her eyelid. He’s eyesight, and the lives of the bees, were saved because she hadn’t rubbed her eyes. Sweat bees are attracted to human perspiration. 


TWEET OF THE DAY

Aaaaaand the winner is … Just Sally (@MustardSally) from Montana in the USA for this drollery:

I waved at a man because I thought he waved at me. Apparently he waved to another woman. So to get out of the awkward situation I kept my hand up and a taxi pulled over and drove me to the airport. I am now in Poland starting a new life.
 


CRYPTIC CLUE OF THE DAY

Today’s clue, compiled by Kieron Callaghan, is: The need to go to a fuller can is stupid! (4,2,6) 

The solution to yesterday’s clue, Conservative and Labour leaders’ total mess (7), is not Brexit but CLUTTER – C + L (the first letters of Conservative and Labour – ‘leaders’) + UTTER (total). 


THE BIG READ

You can buy poo keyrings that make a farting noise, poo slippers, poo cushions, poo cupcakes and meringues … the distinctive coiled shape is suddenly everywhere. And now there’s even a museum dedicated to it. The Guardian’s Peter Robinson muses on how we got here.
 


WHAT WE SAY

As the.news.letter reported yesterday, the Msunduzi Municipality – basically KwaZulu-Natal capital Pietermaritzburg and its surrounds – has been placed under administration. Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube, announcing the measure, cited ‘a long period of instability and poor results’, a dysfunctional council, a failure to implement ‘consequence management measures’, service delivery failures and, well, much more. A short visit to the city is all that is needed to experience the consequences: shocking waste management, crumbling and potholed roads, an erratic electricity supply and poor water quality control are the most obvious. All of which is mostly a consequence of cadre deployment on a scale which might be unparalleled elsewhere in the country. The transition from a city that essentially served a minority to one that cares for all its citizens was obviously going to be a challenge, but that was never going to be met by the scale of neglect that has taken place in Pietermaritzburg. And now? Administrators will attempt to right the ship but will be confronted by at least 10 years of abject mismanagement. Worryingly, local media outlets and others had been warning about Pietermaritzburg’s plight for years, but little was done about it. Perhaps the only upside is that Pietermaritzburg might serve as a cautionary tale to the rest of the country.


On a small point

We missed one. Our story yesterday about the Zimbabwe government’s expenditure on judges wigs cited an astounding cost of R220-million. We have to note that a decimal point was left off. The spend was R2.2m. A lot for 64 wigs, but not quite that much.

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KZN capital under administration | Israel to downgrade SA embassy | Le Clos call | Sars stats shocker

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

KZN capital under administration

The collapse of service delivery, a financial crisis, maladministration and absenteeism by councillors have resulted in Pietermaritzburg’s Msunduzi Municipality being placed under administration today. Making the dramatic announcement, KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nomusa Dube-Ncube said Pietermaritzburg residents deserved a municipality they can be proud of – instead there’s been a decline in governance because of a dysfunctional council. ‘It has become clear to the provincial government that uMsunduzi municipality is no longer able, alone, to guarantee the provision of sustainable services to communities without an intervention from the national and provincial government,’ the MEC said.  A ministerial representative will be appointed to implement a comprehensive recovery plan.

Israel to downgrade SA embassy

In a tit-for-tat move, Israel is reportedly planning to close its embassy in South Africa and to set up a low-key ‘representative office’ that will handle consular matters. According to Middle East Monitor, the decision follows South Africa’s moves to downgrade its embassy in Israel to a liaison office – a resolution from the ANC’s 2017 Nasrec conference which has only recently begun to be implemented. South Africa recalled its ambassador in May after more than 50 people died in clashes with Israeli forces during protests over the United States moving its embassy to Jerusalem. According to eNCA, International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said the change to SA’s mission in Tel Aviv would mean it would have ‘no political mandate, no trade mandate, and no development co-operation mandate’. 

Survé tried to bribe me – ex-Ayo exec

Former Ayo CEO Kevin Hardy told the PIC inquiry that he was offered what he considered a blatant bribe by Iqbal Survé when he tried to resign from Ayo. He said Survé offered to move him and his family to an all-expenses paid V&A Waterfront apartment, give him a car with a chauffeur and pay his daughter’s school fees. He was also told that Independent Media would be moving 20 staff on to his payroll and said INM executive Takudzwa Hove intimated to him this was necessary because ‘there was trouble coming for Independent Media and that they urgently needed to move the strategic assets of Independent to different Sekunjalo entities’. He refused to accept the payroll move, but said he was informed it was implemented after he quit the company. 

Poacher’s remains found

The remains of a poacher who was apparently killed by an elephant in the Kruger National Park have been found by rangers. They consisted of a skull and a pair of pants. Several of the man’s accomplices had told the dead man’s family he had been killed by the elephant while they were poaching rhinos last Thursday. It is thought that a pride of lions devoured the poacher after he had been killed. His family contacted park rangers, who located his remains.

Cosas rampage

While all eyes were on Sandton yesterday in anticipation of potential trouble during the march by Alexandra residents, it was another march in the city that went pear-shaped. Cosas students marching for better safety and resources at their schools went on a looting rampage in Hillbrow that was documented on video and shared on Twitter by Yusuf Abramjee. Some of the looters were in school uniform.


THE DAILY MENACE

A huge price toupee 

Zimbabwe’s economy is crumbling and  63% of the population live below the poverty line, so what do the country’s bigwigs choose to spend a cool R220-million on? Wigs – 64 judicial wigs which they have imported from the UK. Furious Zimbabweans have questioned the wisdom of their menace government’s expenditure and said it should focus on bread-and-butter issues and not waste money on keeping a colonial tradition alive. A senior lawyer told the Guardian that in addition to being a waste of money, the wigs make the lawyers look ridiculous.  
 


WHAT’S THE BUSINESS?

Sars stats shocker

Moneyweb has been doing some digging into Sars’ tax stats and is reporting numbers that show how SA companies are taking strain. In the financial and business services sector, the number of companies that filed their returns over the 10 years from 2007 to 2016 dropped by 37% – from 222,532 companies to 139,664. The Company Income Tax (CIT) data showed a drop of almost 83,000 incorporated firms. The biggest drop took place between 2010 and 2014. Reasons include an increase in administrative and regulatory burdens; the high cost of crime for businesses; and the flight of skills from the country alongside greater ease in moving money offshore. Moneyweb noted that more than more than 400,000 high-income professionals have emigrated from the country since 1994. And if you really need more depressing information, there is this: in the retail sector there were 44,972 fewer companies (57% decline); in the wholesale sector, 6,310 fewer companies (28%), and in transport and storage, 3,378 fewer companies (15%).


IN THE SPORTS CORNER

Le Clos call

Chad le Clos dipped under a World Championship qualification time as he picked up two gold medals on the opening day of the SA National Aquatic Championships in Durban last night. Le Clos cruised to gold in the 200m butterfly in a time of 1:56,21, comfortably under the 1:56,71 needed to earn a spot on the plane to the World Champs in Gwangju, Korea, in July. The former Durban resident felt at home at the King’s Park pool as he also won the 100m freestyle in 49,75, just under a second outside the qualifying time. The only other swimmer to book her place on the flight to Korea was Erin Gallagher who won the 100m freestyle in 54,34. The championships continue until Friday.

Liverpool, City aim for semis

It’s quarter-final time in the Champions League and England is guaranteed to have at least one of their teams in the semi-finals. The country is in the rare position of having four out of the eight teams remaining in the competition and tonight Tottenham and Manchester City clash in the first leg of their quarter-final – a match which is also the first of three crucial meetings between the two in the next 11 days. The second of the four first-leg quarter-finals this week sees Liverpool going into their match against FC Porto tonight as favourites to reach the semis. Tomorrow Ajax host Juventus and Barcelona visit Manchester United in the other two quarter-final first leg matches. The second-leg quarter-finals take place next week.

Old rivals to clash in final

Maties sent an ominous warning to Tuks when they cruised into the final of the Varsity Cup with an impressive 47-5 victory over Shimlas in their semi-final last night. Stellenbosch University, who are unbeaten in this year’s competition, will take on old rivals Pretoria in the final at the Danie Craven Stadium next week. Tuks took an early 12 point lead in the other semi-final and then hung on against a fired up NWU in the second half to win 24-18.


WHAT’S THE BUZZ?

Smallville actress in sex trafficking case

US actress Allison Mack, best known as Clark Kent’s friend in superhero television series Smallville, has pleaded guilty in a racketeering and sex-trafficking case. She recruited women to a secret society that turned followers into ‘slaves’ branded with the leader’s initials and coerced into having sex. The company known as Nxvim purported to be an executive coaching organisation which required members to provide compromising photos and other personal items before they could be accepted. They would then be branded with the initials of the leader, 58-year-old leader, self-described spiritual guide, Keith Raniere, and forced to have intercourse with him. 

Also guilty, says Huffman

In other celebrity crime news, Desperate Housewives actress Felicity Huffman has pleaded guilty to paying bribes for college admission for her daughter. In her case, Huffman paid $15,000 to fix her daughter’s admission exam scores, and arranged for her to have twice as much time as other students for the tests. Huffman is among 14 who are seeking a plea deal and word is she may get a ‘lesser sentence’ of around 10 months jail time. Meanwhile Netflix has announced it is delaying the release of her new movie, Otherhood, in light of the scandal.
 


SEE WHAT?

Sound of silence

Guernica magazine posts occasional short documentaries in partnership with the Social Impact Media Awards. Here is a thought-provoking, 7-minute virtual reality piece that follows an acoustic ecologist’s journey to document noise pollution in one of the quietest places in North America. 


SAY WHAT?

No horsing around in Dubai

A British woman who called her ex-husband’s new wife a horse on Facebook has been arrested in Dubai and faces a possible jail sentence of two years and a fine of £50,000.  Laleh Shahravesh, 55, was arrested three weeks ago under Dubai’s cyber-crime laws when she flew to the country to attend her ex-husband’s funeral. Two years ago Shahravesh had written two Facebook posts in which she told her ex-husband: ‘I hope you go under the ground you idiot. Damn you. You left me for this horse.’ Would it have been better if she had called her a nag?  


TWEET OF THE DAY

Today’s top tweeter is Marf (@MarfSalvador):
Me: [straddles chair to look cool]
Executioner: no


And Mikai (@MikaiMcDermott) with an existential problem:
Why is it that your clothes only get caught on the door handle when you’re in a bad mood?
 


CRYPTIC CLUE OF THE DAY

Today’s clue, compiled by Martyn Hardy, is: Conservative and Labour leaders’ total mess (7)

The solution to yesterday’s clue, teenager brewed beverage (5,3) is GREEN TEA, an anagram of ‘teenager’ (‘brewed’ is the anagram indicator).


THE BIG READ

On Friday the Germiston-born, Wits-trained Sydney Brenner, who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2002, died. He was 92. Born in South Africa in 1927 to a Lithuanian father and a Latvian mother, his beginnings were modest. His father, a cobbler, was illiterate, but at the age of three or four, Brenner taught himself to read from newspapers, which were used instead of tablecloths. He went to medical school when he was 15 and got his degree at 18. A scholarship to Oxford soon followed, and he went on to make some of the most significant discoveries in the history of biology, transforming our understanding of how life works at the molecular level. Thanks Peter Vale for alerting us to the Washington Post’s obituary of this remarkable man. 
 


WHAT WE SAY

Politicians in this country are often – and mostly for good reason – given a hard time for their attitudes towards the media. But sometimes the fault lies squarely with the media itself, particularly in instances such as at Independent Media – where editors have become devoted to reflecting their Master’s Voice. If you’ve got the time, here are two examples of coverage of the same evidence to the Mpati Commission of Inquiry yesterday. The first is from Moneyweb, the second from the Independent’s group’s online vehicle IOL. The difference in approach is breathtaking, and it is the latter that breaks all the rules of journalism (not to mention common decency). IOL bluntly uses the opportunity to smear former AYO Technologies Solutions (AYO) executive Siphiwe Nodwele, who was giving evidence, while Moneyweb lets him have his say. It is another sad reflection of the devastation that has been wrought at Independent since Iqbal Survé acquired the company in 2013.
 

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Commission hears of cash for Ace | Chair hurling ends TV election debate | Pilots ‘struggled with automated systems’ | The week that was

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Tossers toss chairs

Members of the Economic Freedom Front (EFF), Black First Land First (BLF) and something calling itself the Land Party got into an almighty scrap during a televised election debate in Hout Bay this morning, tossing chairs at one another and ultimately bringing the broadcast to an early end. According to TimesLive, the SABC’s visuals – some of which you can see here – showed EFF supporters throwing plastic chairs and a member of the party slapping a woman. SABC presenter Leanne Manas described the scene: ‘Horrific scenes coming from our election broadcast in Hout Bay. We have been trying absolutely everything to keep this broadcast going, to let these smaller parties be heard and this is what is happening now.’ EFF Western Cape chairperson Melikhaya Xheko was quoted by TimesLive as saying: ‘The Land Party and the BLF came to chase away the EFF.’ 

Creche assault shocker

Sickening videos of a creche employee assaulting little children has led to her arrest. Cellphone footage taken of three incidents at the Carletonville creche include a scene of her slapping a toddler, pulling him to the ground and then putting her foot on his head, and making a little girl clean up her vomit and then smacking her on the buttocks. The 40-year-old woman will appear in the Oberholzer Magistrates Court on May 7 and Gauteng Social Development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza has since closed the creche. You may wonder who took such footage without intervening: it seems the person in question was using the videos to blackmail the creche’s owners.

Pilots ‘struggled with automated systems’

The preliminary report into the Ethiopian Airlines crash in October says pilots battled the Boeing 737 Max 8’s automated flight control systems ‘for almost the entire duration of the six-minute flight’, reports CNN. It said the plane’s captain and the first officer struggled to implement Boeing’s recommended procedures that should have overridden the system which is designed to stop the plane stalling and which forces its nose downwards. Other reports have suggested the system’s external sensors might have been damaged by hitting a bird. All 157 people on board the flight died in the crash. Airlines across the world subsequently grounded their Boeing 737 Max 8s.

‘Tony Gupta said Ace got millions’

Former Free State Economic Development MEC Mxolisi Dukwana dropped a bombshell claim at the Zondo commission today, saying that Rajesh (Tony) Gupta told him at a meeting at Saxonwold in 2011 that he was ‘a trustworthy man’ who delivered millions in cash monthly to Ace Magashule and Duduzane Zuma. The comment came during a meeting Dukwana said he was taken to at Saxonwold by Magashule, who was then the Free State premier (and is now the ANC secretary-general). At the meeting Tony Gupta had handed Dukwana a letter purported to have been written by Dukwana himself, on official letterhead, appointing Nulane Investments to provincial projects that were in planning. Among other people at the meeting were Duduzane Zuma, and Iqbal Sharma, who owned Nulane Investments. Dukwana added that when Gupta asked him to sign the letter he looked at Ace Magashule to try to understand what was going on, but Magashule kept his eyes down. Gupta told him that he would receive R2 million upon signing the latter and R2 million for the duration of the project, and showed him cash in a bag. It was at this point Gupta allegedly told him that he delivered money monthly to Magashule and Zuma. Dukwana said Magashule confirmed this. In the end he did not sign the letter, he told the commission. 


WHAT’S THE BUSINESS?

Steinhoff delays financial statements again

The much anticipated Steinhoff financial statements for 2017 and 2018 – which had been expected in mid-April – have been delayed. The statements had already been been put on hold for a forensic audit and the embattled retailer announced today that a deadline it had set for the release could not be met. It explained: ‘The issues highlighted have proved to be exceptionally complex in both accounting and auditing terms, and Steinhoff wishes to be diligent in ensuring that all issues are correctly dealt with and disclosed in the Group’s annual financial statements.’ 


IN THE SPORTS CORNER

Weekend Live TV Sports listings

Lions looking to roar ahead

The Lions had a Super Rugby bye last weekend and their holiday was made even better when they held onto first place in the South African conference. Today they get back to business and there is little to suggest they will be knocked off the top when they take on the increasingly erratic Sharks at Ellis Park this evening. However, such is the tight nature of the South African group that a particular set of results could result in the Lions plummeting to third in the conference. That would need the Sharks to somehow overcome their crisis at hooker and score an away win and the Bulls to get the better of the Jaguares tomorrow. The Stormers went down 24-12 against the Reds this morning with a Siya Kolisi yellow card on the stroke of halftime proving the turning point. Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira will play his 157th match for the Sharks this evening, making him the most capped South African Super Rugby player.

Blitzboks should feel confident

After winning the Canadian leg of the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series, the Blitzboks will be feeling much more confident at the Hong Kong Sevens rugby tournament this weekend. The three-day tournament kicked off earlier this afternoon with the Blitzboks picking up a 22-7 win over Japan. If South Africa can get past Scotland and Samoa in their remaining pool fixtures, they are likely to come up against either series leaders USA or England. South Africa are locked in a battle with England for the fourth and final Olympic qualifying berth so that match has the potential to be one of the crucial clashes of the season. 

FA Cup semis give Liverpool a chance

It is FA Cup semi-final weekend which means an abridged league fixture list. While Manchester City are hoping to get past Brighton and earn a place in the FA Cup final tomorrow, their league rivals Liverpool will be hoping to leapfrog the Light Blues and go top of the table with win over Southampton tonight. The second FA Cup semi-final sees Watford and Wolves clash on Sunday. The only other league fixture involving the Big Six has Arsenal and Everton meeting at Goodison Park on Sunday, while Chelsea take on West Ham on Monday.


HAPPY SNAP

In an effort to counter some of the world’s negativity we ask people what makes them happy. the.news.letter features a Happy Snap every Friday

Georgina Mwanza, 42, street vendor, Cape Town

Jesus gives me a breath of life. He saved me. He does it through my husband, he does it through my three children. Jesus gave me three children after seven years … Ruth, Sarah, Rose. Those are significant names. Ruth, in the Bible, was brought back to Bethlehem, to Israel. Sarah was the wife of King Abraham. And Rose is something you need – it’s like Jesus. I was very sick and I went to the doctor, and after nine months, I suddenly gave birth to Rose. They are very intelligent, pretty girl angels. God bless them.


WHAT’S THE BUZZ?

Black Coffee goes deep

South African superstar DJ Black Coffee and French DJ and songwriter David Guetta have won the Best Going Deep Music Video Award at the first edition of the Clubbing TV Awards in France for their song Drive. The awards recognise the best videos of electronic music in eight categories. 

Ocean out, Post in

Fans of American rapper Post Malone will have to make a trip to Johannesburg if they hope to  see the artist perform live – he will be on stage there for one night only in June. Tickets for this year’s Castle Lite Unlocked show which will feature the Better Now hit maker went on sale yesterday. The announcement has left some fans disappointed after many were hoping Frank Ocean might be the 2019 featured artist. Last year Chance the Rapper headlined the concert, while Travis Scott and Bryson Tiller performed in 2017. 
 


SAY WHAT?

Parking (stand)off 

This is what the world has come to: a fight over a parking spot. In what became known as ‘Team Black Car vs Team Silver Car’ – two drivers in Los Angeles faced off for almost two hours over a parking spot.  The black car was trying to back into the spot while the silver car was going forward, and neither were willing to give in. Chicken Tikka Mariah (@Mrhflrs), who watched the standoff from her flat, recorded the drama with running commentary. Her twitter thread went viral. It started at 6.20pm on Monday, when she spotted the two cars’ awkward half-in, half-out in the same parking spot. Neither would budge. At about 7pm a parking spot opened up across the street but the cars stayed put. ‘It seems like this is more about the principle,’ Mariah reported, and then made it official: Are you team Black Car or Silver Car?  As the New York Post wrote, ‘Next time you decide to take a hard stance over something absolutely meaningless – keep in mind that someone is probably documenting your idiocy.’ The silver car eventually won.  
 


TWEET OF THE DAY

It’s Friday so here are two tweets. The first from Boog (@BoogTweets):

Me: *cuts the box in half and spins both sides to show the audience*
[from the back of the wake] ‘dude’


And then and old favourite, Jon (@ArfMeasures):

Me *walks in perfectly straight line and then smiles at cop* told you I could do it!
Cop: you’re still getting arrested for murder though

 


CRYPTIC CLUE OF THE DAY

Today’s clue from the Telegraph in Calcutta is: Spy that’s centre stage strangely (6,5)

The solution to yesterday’s clue, General public hug Ed Sheeran (twat!) in error (3,5,8) is THE GREAT UNWASHED – an anagram of ‘hug Ed Sheeran (twat)’ – ‘in error’ is the anagram indicator. 
 


THE BIG READ

This fascinating article from Nature explores how timber-trafficking sleuths are turning to DNA testing to prove the origin of consignments of rare woods that being stolen and traded across the world.  
 


WHAT WE SAY

The week that was

Whose fangs did we see:
Jessie Duarte when her outburst at eNCA journalist Samkele Maseko went around the world. Journalists and opposition politicians and anyone else who has come within three feet of ANC’s deputy secretary-general shared their unfortunate experiences at the business end of Cruella Duarte’s wagging finger.

Did she shout at Maseko because of eNCAs lame April Fools’ prank claiming the Springboks are being replaced by the Zebras?
If that was the case her outburst would have been justified, but she gave him a tongue-lashing for asking ‘attacking’ questions about the ANC.

Speaking of April Fuel …
Let’s not. There’s nothing funny about an extra R1.16 a litre

Who didn’t fool us: 
That would be Iqbal ‘I’ve got three degrees’ Surve, who testified at the PIC inquiry this week. He claimed the PIC Chairman Mondli Gungubele said he’d crush Independent Media, AYO & Sekunjalo. He also attacked Tiso Blackstar, whites and said his newspapers were the most credible and objective in the country.

Which his objective newspapers splashed all over their front pages, reporting faithfully on their fearless boss’s heroics:.
As journalist Terry Bell‏ tweeted, ‘Can we believe the man whose ‘catalogue of fantasies included being Nelson Mandela’s doctor, the “mind coach” of victorious Bafana-Bafana & the mentor of Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar?’

What made us think we’d stepped back 30 years:
President Cyril Ramaphosa wanting to have a conversation with ‘our white counterparts’… was he talking about Derek Hanekom and Rob Davies?  

What made us think we’d stepped back into the dark ages:
That the punishment for being gay in Brunei is being stoned to death. 

Who we awarded the Menace of the Week to?
Well, if there was ever a sign that you are a menace it’s when your name is in the word itself: menACE Magashule, the ANC’s secretary-general, needs to do some explaining after journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s book, Gangster State: Unraveling Ace Magashule’s web of capture was published. It details a series of alarming allegations against Magashule. The ANC attacked Myburgh then retracted it’s attack then retracted its retraction.  

What made us proudly South African: 
The relaunch of Vrye Weekblad today. The hard-hitting weekly Afrikaans publication is back after 25 years. This is excellent news for South African journalism. 
 


WHAT YOU SAY

One of the joys of buying the Cape Times all those years ago was to read the Cape Times on April 1. One had to guess which one of the articles was the April Fool’s joke. From Robben Island be made independent with a casino, to the foreshore being partially flooded to make canals similar to Venice. Today you just have to buy the Cape Times and every day is an April Fools’ Day joke.
Lawrence Cohen

Posted in News | Comments Off on Commission hears of cash for Ace | Chair hurling ends TV election debate | Pilots ‘struggled with automated systems’ | The week that was