Eskom: Managers’ leave cancelled | Rohde: Judge walks out | Zuma’s son AWOL | VBS boss wants to fight the law


Eskom: Managers’ leave cancelled

All senior managers in Eskom have been told to cancel their leave immediately and have been assigned to individual power stations to get to grips with the crisis at the power utility. They are expected to begin reporting back on their findings by early next week. At a press conference this afternoon Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said Eskom is currently producing about 2,500 megawatts less than it needs, necessitating load-shedding. He said it was unclear whether there was some deliberate sabotage of the system. Gordhan took a swipe at former managers who have been using Twitter to criticise the management at Eskom. ‘Go and find a job and keep yourself busy,’ he said. He added that President Cyril Ramaphosa would be announcing a ministerial task team to tackle the crisis.

SABC board implodes

It seems like Survivor SABC is playing out at the public broadcaster. This afternoon veteran journalist Mathatha Tsedu became the fourth board member to hand in his resignation. This means the board is no longer quorate. Spokesperson for the president, Khusela Diko, told News24 that Cyril Ramaphosa is writing to the speaker of Parliament, who will need to engage with the portfolio committee to either fast-track new appointments, or to establish a new board. Three other board members – Krish Naidoo, Khanyisile Kweyama and John Mattison – resigned earlier this week. Meanwhile, the Special Investigating Unit is investigating the board’s award of a multimillion-rand contract for security services in June 2017. The contract was awarded to Mafoko Security Patrols, which had come second in the bidding process.

Rohde: Judge walks out

The sentencing proceedings of convicted wife-killer Jason Rohde took a dramatic turn this morning when Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe abruptly adjourned the court after she took exception to the defence lawyer waving his finger at her. The clash between the judge and advocate Graham van der Spuy came while the lawyer was questioning Rohde’s psychiatrist, Dr Kevin Stoloff. Judge Salie-Hlophe wanted to know what the evidence had to do with mitigation of sentence. Van der Spuy said it was his right, and also that his flow of questioning had been disrupted. Judge Salie-Hlophe responded by saying that Van der Spuy was waving a finger at her, and she left the court. She returned this afternoon and Rohde’s eldest daughter Katherine was called to the stand to give evidence in mitigation of sentence.

Musk’s Dragon cargo tested

Elon Musk’s latest SpaceX mission to the International Space Station launched yesterday as news broke that Nasa is investigating whether his delivery capsules are contaminating the ISS. It seems the breakdown of chemicals in the paint on the Dragon capsules may be the reason for spikes recorded by an onboard contamination sensor – apparently posing a risk to instrument function. Other news from the ISS is that a test run of an AI robot ‘friend’ with astronaut Alexander Gerst didn’t go so well this week. The robot named CIMON became a little testy when Gerst asked it to stop playing music, and the robot refused. As Quartz put it, it soured the rest of the conversation. You can watch Gerst’s exchange with CIMON here.

Ex-ANC MP and reporters attacked

An 87-year-old wheelchair-bound former ANC MP, Nocwaka Lamani, was brutally attacked and robbed in her home in PE’s New Brighton township while her caregiver went to the shops – and when journalists from the Herald arrived to report on the incident, they were robbed of their camera and equipment, phone and laptop by three knife-wielding men in the street outside. Lamani is in hospital in a critical condition.


Zuma’s son AWOL, short-changes school

When the net started to close in on the Zumas and their associates, Edward Zuma took a swipe at anti-Gupta ministers Derek Hanekom and Pravin Gordhan. He called Gordhan corrupt and suggested he was a racist and described Hanekom as a ‘white askari who will do anything to defend white monopoly privileges’. Zuma was marched off to court and an order saw to it that he should pay R60,000 for his offensive utterances. The money was to be split between Umthombo Secondary School in Howick and Ohlange High School in Inanda. But the menace has done a runner. He still owes Ohlange R12,500. The South Africa Human Rights Commission wants him arrested saying he was disrespectful.  Zuma’s attorney, Ayanda Mkhwanazi, said he did not know if his client was alive or not. The magistrate agreed to one more postponement to allow Mkhwanazi time to find Zuma. He deferred the commission’s application until January 22, giving Zuma one more chance to pay his debt in full.


VBS boss wants to fight the law

Former VBS CEO Andile Ramavhunga plans to challenge the law that was the basis for advocate Terry Motau’s Reserve Bank report that found that more than R1,9-billion was looted from VBS bank. Ramavhunga says he will launch a ConCourt challenge to the Financial Sector Regulation Act. He is fighting for his professional life and has asked a South African Institute of Chartered Accountants disciplinary panel to postpone of action against him until March, so he can mount his challenge. The Institute wants to strike him off the roll of chartered accountants.

Huawei arrest hits markets

Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of the founder of Huawei and CFO of the company, has been arrested in Canada at the request of the US, apparently for violating US sanctions. The US has previously accused the company of shipping US-made products to Iran and other countries in violation of US sanctions. Reuters reports that shares of Huawei suppliers slumped on news of the arrest in Asian markets today. Samsung Electronics fell 2.3%, while Chinasoft International Ltd sank by 13%.

Blok blocked

A controversial development in Cape Town’s Bo-Kaap is on ice for now, and a court date to hear community objections will only be set later this month. The Western Cape High Court today interdicted Blok developers from moving its cranes onto the site. In the meantime, Western Cape Heritage confirmed it had received an application to declare the area a heritage site.


Disgraced, but wealthy

Australian batsman David Warner, serving a ban for his part in Sandpapergate, will be the highest paid overseas player in the Indian Premier League (IPL). He will earn 1,250 lakhs ($1,7m) from the Sunrisers Hyderabad. AB de Villiers will be the highest paid South African with 1,100 lakhs ($1,5m) from the Royal Challengers Bangalore and his teammate, Indian Virat Kohli, will earn 1,700 lakhs ($2,4) as the highest paid player. Fifty-nine South Africans were among the 232 overseas players who had registered to play. The number will be whittled down and just 44 players will be auctioned off to fill the overseas spots on December 18.

Pirates, Sundowns, Chiefs through

Orlando Pirates, Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs are all through to the first round of qualifying in their respective Caf competitions this week. Yesterday Pirates got past the preliminary round hurdle in the Champions League with a 3-1 win over Lightstars from Seychelles for an 8-2 aggregate victory. At Loftus in Pretoria, Sundowns overwhelmed Leones Vegetarianos 5-1 to go through 7-1 on aggregate. In the Confederations Cup, Chiefs lost 2-1 to Zimamoto on Tuesday but are through after winning the first leg 4-0. In Rwanda, Mukura Victory Sports beat Free State Stars 1-0 in the second leg and Mukura go through after the teams drew 0-0 in the first leg.

100 up for Hamza

23-year-old uncapped Cape Cobras batsman Zubayr Hamza has been selected to potentially become the 100th person to represent South Africa since readmission. Hamza was named in the 13-player Proteas squad to face Pakistan in the three-match Test Series starting on Boxing Day at Centurion. The former Rondebosch High School graduate is relatively unknown, but with a first-class average of 48,95, a high score of over 200 and nine hundreds to his name, he looks worthy of selection. Hamza enjoyed an outstanding season in the 2017-18 four-day franchise competition, scoring 828 runs at an average of 69. There were no surprises in the rest of the squad with Duanne Olivier replacing the injured Lungi Ngidi.


More than 50 celebrity singers have teamed up to honour SA music legend Johnny Clegg with a moving rendition of his song, The Crossing. The video of the song was played to Clegg last night for the first time at an event to honour him. Proceeds from the download of the song will go to an education foundation set up in his name that was also launched last night.


Animal crackers

Animal rights group PETA has decided to take the flower by the thorns and get people to stop using animal-based sayings, which it claims are comparable to racism and homophobia. The organisation has urged people to say, feed two birds with one scone, be the test tube (not guinea pig) and bring home the bagels. ‘Just as it became unacceptable to use racist, homophobic, or ableist language, phrases that trivialise cruelty to animals will vanish as more people begin to appreciate animals for who they are,’ said PETA. There was a social media backlash against the organisation with some saying PETA was trivialising racism and homophobia. Doesn’t the group have bigger fritters to fry? Perhaps PETA is flogging a dead house.


Today’s top tweeter is microbiologist Susanna L Harris‏ @SusannaLHarris) for this tweet:
As a microbiologist, I strongly recommend not eating raw cookie dough – raw eggs and flour can make you SO sick.
But as a human, I will never stop eating it.

Her tweet started an avalanche of tweets with Health Nerd‏ (@GidMK) responding with this:
As an epidemiologist, I will never recommend drinking alcohol in moderation. There’s very good evidence that if we all cut booze out, everyone would be healthier
But as a human, wine is delicious, whiskey is spectacular, and beer…*kisses fingers*

And  Alastair McAlpine‏ (@AlastairMcA30) with this:
As an infectious diseases fellow, I will never recommend eating sushi. It’s loaded with bacteria and parasites and should probably be cooked.
But as a human… sushi is a gift to the taste buds, and I will never stop eating it.


Today’s excellent clue, compiled by Kieron Callaghan‏, is: Protect men’s bollocks from falling out! (11)

The solution to yesterday’s clue, Roger owes Kate a French film (3,5,7) is THE FORCE AWAKENS (an anagram of ‘owes Kate a French’) and taking its cue from Tuesday’s clue ‘Roger’ is the naughty anagram indicator.


On the first day of September this year, 50-odd ploughmen and two ploughwomen from all over the globe gathered in a small town in Germany to take part in the World Ploughing Championships. For those assembled, writes Sophie Elmhirst in the Guardian, competitive ploughing is more than a fiercely competitive sport, it’s a way of life.


Load-shedding is perhaps the most graphic evidence of the devastation wrought by the Zupta years, but by no means the only one. SAA, the SABC, Denel and other state-owned enterprises are in a mess and continue to be a drain on the country’s economy. Cadre deployment has reduced Sars and various government departments to inefficient, chaotic institutions. Policing is poor, education is struggling and the public health sector does not inspire much confidence. The picture is pretty dark, but there have been some rays of light recently. Perhaps the brightest of these was President Cyril Ramaphosa’s appointment of Shamila Batohi as the National Director of Public Prosecutions – a job in which the incumbent would be expected to prevent the depravity that took hold during Jacob Zuma’s presidency. Batohi appears to have the independence and toughness required to take on this difficult task and hopefully reverse some of the damage. The fact of her appointment is also encouraging – by all accounts, she is no lackey of the president or the ruling party and this suggests Ramaphosa is serious about combatting graft. Might that ray of light be a new dawn?

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