Gordhan: It’s come to this | ‘Inept’ Trump lashes out at May | Batohi drops Booysen charges | DJ Fresh decision | Coco’s dream ends


‘Inept’ Trump lashes out at May

Donald Trump has gone ballistic over a leaked confidential report by the British Ambassador to Washington, who said the US president was ‘inept’, ‘dysfunctional’ and ‘radiating insecurity’. Trump said the ambassador, Sir Kim Durrock, was ‘not liked or well thought of within the U.S. We will no longer deal with him’. He then turned his guns on outgoing British Prime Minister Theresa May after she said she still had faith in Durrock. Trump said May had made a ‘mess’ of Brexit and should have taken his advice on departing the European Union. Assessments of foreign governments by diplomats are traditionally extremely candid and kept highly confidential. The Brits are probing how the leak happened.

It’s come to this

The University of KwaZulu-Natal has confirmed that Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree after a Twitter campaign suggesting he had no such qualification. A variety of accounts – several with apparent EFF sympathies – have been suggesting Gordhan does not have the qualification which he claimed. UKZN yesterday confirmed that ‘Pravin Jamnadas Gordhan studied and successfully completed the requirements for the Bachelor of Pharmacy degree in 1973’. He also received an honorary doctorate in 2003 and the Convocation Award from the university in 2013. 

Batohi drops Booysen charges

One of the most controversial National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) decisions from the Zuma years appears to have been put to bed. New NPA boss Shamila Batohi yesterday announced that it would be withdrawing longstanding racketeering charges against former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Johan Booysen. He was initially charged by then acting head of the NPA Nomgcobo Jiba. Her decision was widely held to have been politically motivated and Booysen has said it was because he blocked some questionable business interests of Jacob Zuma’s son Edward. It was reviewed and set aside in court but another Zuma ally Shaun Abrahams charged him again when he was appointed NPA boss in 2016. Batophi appointed a panel to review the case and today withdrew the charges on its recommendation.

Was it Number One?

Former head of state protocol Bruce Koloane made a dramatic about-turn in his testimony to the Zondo state capture inquiry today. This followed the playing of tape recordings that showed he had a direct role in facilitating the controversial 2013 landing of a private jet carrying Gupta family wedding guests at Waterkloof Air Force base. Yesterday he told the commission he did not have anything to do with the approval process. Today, however, he admitted after the recordings were played that he had abused his position and used former President Jacob Zuma’s name to pressure Department of Defence officials to authorise the landing. He said he had not spoken to Zuma about the matter. In one of the recordings played today Waterkloof’s then officer commanding movement control, Lt-Col Christine Anderson, is heard telling Major Thabo Ntshisi, who worked at Waterkloof and was querying the landing permission, that the matter was ‘political’, ‘our number one knows about this’. 

Did Matjila get VBS Bank loan?

The Public Investment Corporation (PIC) has confirmed that a forensic report found its former CEO, Dan Matjila, unduly benefited from a R2.45m loan from scandal-hit VBS Bank, which collapsed last year. But Matjila’s lawyer today told the PIC inquiry that Matjila had never received a loan from VBS. Matjila is giving testimony to the inquiry this week where he is expected to explain his role in a number of controversial investments of public funds. The forensic report was compiled by Nexus Forensic Services, based in Pretoria.


No place for racist cops

They should be upholding the law – not breaking it. TimesSelect has reported that five senior Western Cape detectives sent racist jokes and circulated photographs of gorillas and monkeys, with two of their colleagues’ names attached on a WhatsApp group. The detectives based at the Khayelitsha police station have been charged with crimen injuria and defamation of character. Comparing back people to monkeys is highly offensive and one wonders where these menaces were hiding when Penny Sparrow sparked a furor with her infamous New Year’s comments? This latest incident shows how deeply entrenched racism is in our society. The officers’ racist behaviour erodes public trust and confidence in the police – and, if found guilty, they should be fired.


Hedging their bets

Financial services company Sable International is reporting a 70% increase in South Africans inquiring about investing abroad and acquiring second citizenships or foreign residency. In a trend interpreted as indicating that locals are hedging their bets, Sable said it had seen an increase of 45% in clients in the past year. Fin24 reports that Andrew Rissik, group commercial director, said high-net worth individuals are ‘internationalising’ themselves, their wealth, and often their businesses as fast as they can.

Bullies in trouble

A court case over corporate bullying in France is coming to a close with expectations that its outcome could set a global precedent for holding company managers personally criminally responsible for strategic harassment of staff aimed at forcing them to resign. The case centres on the actions of executives of France Telecom, now called Orange, as they sought to restructure the company and cut 22,000 jobs. Between 2008 and 2009, 35 workers committed suicide, most leaving notes to say the company had made their lives unbearable. The case is due to wrap up this week and it will be several weeks before judges give their verdict. 


Riske and reward

The Wimbledon fairytale ended yesterday with Cori ‘Coco’ Gauff finding Simona Halep a step too far as the former world number-one raced to a 6-3 6-3 victory. In an action-packed start to the second week of the tournament there were plenty of talking points, but the exit of the teen sensation overshadowed them all – even the defeats to top seed Ashleigh Barty (beaten 3-6 6-2 6-3 by unseeded Alison Riske), third seed Karolina Pliskova (beaten 4-6 7-5 13-11 by Karolina Muchova) and sixth seed Petra Kvitova (beaten 4-6 6-2 6-4 by Johanna Konta). After Halep lost her opening service game and served three consecutive double faults in her second it did not seem likely she could win in straight sets, but Gauff never looked settled and gave away 29 unforced errors as Halep took control. In other women’s matches, Serena Williams raced past Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2 6-2 in just 64 minutes to set up a meeting with Riske. For the men, the Big Three of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal all raced into the quarter finals in straight sets. South Africa’s lone hope for Wimbledon glory, Raven Klaasen and his New Zealand doubles partner Michael Venus, eased into the quarterfinals with a 6-2 6-3 7-6 win over Robin Haase and Frederik Nielsen.

India confident of final spot

Eleven years ago Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson were opposing captains in the semifinal of the 2008 Under-19 World Cup in Malaysia. Today Kohli will be hoping for a similar three-wicket win for India while Williamson will be looking for a long-awaited revenge for New Zealand. India go into the rematch as the overwhelming favourites with batsmen and bowlers high on confidence after a near-perfect run through the pool stages of this tournament. Their only blemish was a loss to England when chasing 338. In contrast New Zealand come into the semifinal on the back of three losses in a row with a batting unit struggling to put partnerships together.

Tunisia finally beat Ghana

Ivory Coast and Tunisia completed the quarterfinal lineup at the Africa Cup of Nations last night. Ivory Coast eased past Mali 1-0 while Tunisia ousted Ghana with a 5-4 penalty shootout after the teams ended extra time with a goal apiece. Tunisia looked to have the match sewn up before substitute Rami Bedoui scored an own goal with his first touch of the ball in the 89th minute. The winning draw for Tunisia means they have reached the quarterfinals without winning a match after three draws in the group phase and now a fourth in the Round of 16. The shootout was their first victory over Ghana in 54 years at the Afcon tournament. Tunisia will play Madagascar in the quarters on Thursday while Ivory Coast take on Algeria. The other two quarter finals tomorrow see South Africa take on Nigeria and Senegal clash with Benin.


DJ Fresh gets the boot

After weeks of hints on social media and efforts behind the scenes to mend fences between DJ Fresh (more formally Thato Sikwane) and his employers at Metro FM, the SABC today announced that the popular DJ has had his contract terminated – with immediate effect. DJ Fresh was suspended for ‘foul language’ – a complaint had been lodged with the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA alleging that Sikwane used an adaption of the Zulu swear word ‘msunery’ (a derogatory term for female genitalia) in response to a listener on air. The DJ appeared as a guest on Newzroom Afrika this morning, sparking speculation about whether he will find a new home there. 


Wedded to the lens 

Ian Weldon is not a wedding photographer – the title of his upcoming book says so. But his wonderful collection of candid moments at weddings puts the spotlight firmly on the underside of celebrations. CNN has an interview with Weldon and reproduces some of the  great moments he has captured.  


Curry on regardless

A mysterious bright orange bird was spotted at the side of a major highway in the UK and taken to the Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital. The veterinary team discovered that this wasn’t an exotic bird but a herring gull covered in curry. ‘He had somehow gotten himself covered in curry or turmeric! It was all over his feathers, preventing him from flying properly,’ said the animal hospital, which is a naan profit organisation. ‘We have no idea how he got into this predicament but thankfully, apart from the vibrant color and pungent smell, he was healthy.’ They named the gull Vinny after Vindaloo curry, and although he didn’t rice to the occasion they released him into the wild. According to Mashable, a gull named Gullfrazie fell into a vat of chicken tikka masala in 2016. It was also bathed, but The Guardian reported that Gullfrazie still smelled like curry afterwards. Yep, never a dhal moment! 


Today’s winner is (insert drum roll here) Saddington 2 (@hayley_hud) for this truly ridiculous offering:

A Sonic Boom is when Sonic reaches the speed of sound and his ass cheeks clap together


Today’s clue, compiled by Fa Ten, is: Street cop in disguise, hush-hush (3,6)

The solution to yesterday’s clue, Trump is abnormal, the first president needing to be kicked out. That’s so obvious (6), is TRUISM  – an anagram of TRUMP IS (abnormal is the anagram indicator) without ‘p’ (first president is the first letter of president needing to be kicked out)


The Women’s World Cup top player Megan Rapinoe has a complicated relationship with the person who introduced her to soccer – her brother Brian. When he was 15, Brian brought meth to school and has been in and out of jail ever since. At 15, Megan played with the youth US national team. Brian was inked with swastika tattoos – an allegiance to white supremacy he now disavows; Megan was the first prominent white athlete to kneel to protest racial inequality. This feature by ESPN explains why Brian is Megan’s greatest heartbreak… and hope.


Julius Malema is a bit like a stuck clock: every now and then he gets it right. For example, between encouraging partygoers at the July Handicap to have sex and attacking Pravin Gordhan, he said Twitter is ‘divorced from reality’. ‘I know for a fact that the EFF won nearly every “poll” conducted on Twitter in the run-up to the elections,’ he pointed out, adding that the party only came third in the voting. His motive was, unfortunately, not terribly noble: he was trying to persuade a court that remarks made by him on the social media platform should not be taken too seriously and did not amount to hate speech. That said, he is right about the distorted picture that social media paints. On most days it feels like the entire country consists of either mini-Malemas or wannabe Steve Hofmeyrs. This has the potential to polarise this society and it is worth remembering that the sort of people that might support such extremism polled below 20% in the election.


the.news.letter yesterday cited a Moneyweb story about the resignation of the head of Necsa, Rob Adam. Moneyweb has published a correction note on its story today: The original article said Rob Adam was jailed for sabotage of the Koeberg nuclear plant. Dr Adam points out this was incorrect. He spent 10 years in jail for anti-apartheid activities. We apologise for the error.

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