Death of a rugby legend | Matjila: I did nothing wrong | 1,000 dead in Tripoli battle | A parrot with rhythm | Bafana’s big moment


Rugby giant dies

James Small, one of the heroes of South Africa’s 1995 Rugby World Cup victory, died today at the age of 50. It is believed the former Springbok wing suffered a heart attack. Small who had a reputation as the ‘bad boy’ of SA rugby played 47 Tests for the Springboks between 1992 and 1997, scored 20 tries and famously marked Jonah Lomu in that 1995 final. He is the third member of that Springbok team to have died: Ruben Kruger died from brain cancer in 2010 and Joost van der Westhuizen from motor neuron disease in 2017.

Matjila: I did nothing wrong

Many of the 70 witnesses to the judicial inquiry into the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) have said former CEO Dan Matjila was party to questionable deals made by the fund manager. Now he is in the witness stand and furiously denying any wrongdoing. You can catch up on his third day of evidence courtesy of News24’s live coverage. Yesterday Matjila told the inquiry: ‘I experienced a great deal of pressure from senior politicians of most parties, very influential people in various fields and business people who, for no other reason than entitlement, felt that their business ventures and those of their associates deserve to be financed by the PIC’. He found this ‘extremely stressful, as I was not there to respond to relentless funding requests by the political and business elite’ – exactly what he has been accused of doing. This morning former finance minister Malusi Gigaba indicated he would be applying to cross-examine Matjila to challenge his version that Gigaba had hand-picked board members.

1,000 dead in Tripoli battle

More than 1,000 people have died in the battle between rival forces in the Libyan capital Tripoli, says the World Health Organisation (WHO).  Renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar launched an attack on the city in April but has faced fierce resistance from forces loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA). Haftar’s Libyan National Army controls much of the country’s east and south and is backed by Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. The GNA is recognised by the United Nations and is forces reportedly have backing from Turkey and Qatar. The WHO said 1,048 people had been killed and 5,558 wounded in the fighting in Tripoli. 106 civilians were among the dead.

Trump Twitter setback

It has become something of a badge of honour in certain US circles to be blocked on Twitter by Donald Trump, but that might soon be a thing of the past. The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan has ruled that the US president violated the constitution by blocking people. ‘The First Amendment does not permit a public official who utilises a social media account for all manner of official purposes to exclude persons from an otherwise-open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees,’ wrote judge Barrington Parker.


‘Fall guy’ must fall

The moment the notorious Gupta family landed a jet filled with 200 VIP guests at the Waterkloof Air Force Base in 2013 was when the country finally woke up to the stink of state capture. It had been unprecedented to use the military airport for private use and that’s when we started to join the dots that the Guptas had some powerful people in their pockets. The man who said approval to land had been given by ‘number-one’ was Bruce Koloane, the head of state protocol at the time. Koloane appeared before the Zondo commission into state capture on Monday and denied any wrongdoing in the saga (it was all just a misunderstanding – he explained), but yesterday he changed his story and said he was to blame. He also said he had name-dropped Jacob Zuma and the ministers of transport and defence to put pressure on officials to expedite the landing, but the President knew nothing about it. Yeah right. Koloane, who seems to have been rewarded with an ambassadorial post for being Zuma’s fall guy, clearly thinks we’re fools.


Fuel stock probe ‘completed’

A report on an investigation into the illegal sale of SA’s strategic fuel stocks in 2015 has been completed and will now be delivered to the Central Energy Fund board, according to Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe. The sale caused outrage when it became known that it was sold for around $28 per barrel, while the price of brent crude oil at the time was around $37-$44 per barrel. The Minister of Energy at the time, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, told parliament that fuel stock had been ‘rotated’ but it later emerged it had in fact been sold. The Energy Fund has applied to have the sale invalidated.  


Bafana must pluck the Eagles

South Africa go into their Afcon quarter-final against Nigeria this evening as the underdogs, but that is a label they will be happy with if they can keep it for a semi-final and the final. Nigeria come into the match on the back of a gutsy come-from-behind goal-fest where they beat Cameroon 3-2. The three goals the Super Eagles scored in that one match are more than Bafana have scored in the entire tournament so far. And that sums up the problem facing South African coach Stuart Baxter. Bafana has built an enviable record as a defensive unit, but the team has struggled to find the back of the net. What will give Baxter hope is the result from the Afcon qualification rounds where South Africa beat Nigeria 2-0. The match between South Africa and Nigeria kicks off at 9pm and Senegal v Benin starts at 6pm.

India in all sorts of trouble

India would have started the second day of the rain-interrupted semi-final in a confident mood, and even when New Zealand took their overnight score to 239 for eight nobody was giving the Kiwis much chance. However, within four overs of the Indian innings this morning, KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli were all back in the changeroom at Old Trafford with just three runs between them and the total on five. Dinesh Karthik did not last much longer and before 10 overs were up India were struggling on 24 for four. Matt Henry was the unlikely New Zealand hero with three wickets. At the time of writing India were tentatively consolidating but if they are to reach the final it is going to take some remarkable heroics from the middle and lower order (live scoreboard).

Old warhorses lead the way

So much for the Next Gen of up-and-coming stars. The three old warhorses, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, head into today’s Wimbledon quarter-finals as the players to beat. Between them they have won 14 of the last 16 Wimbledon titles and have claimed the past 10 Grand Slam titles. And just to prove they are not living on past reputations, they raced through their fourth round matches by dropping a combined total of just 19 games and, incredibly, faced just one break point between them. Today’s quarter-final lineup has top seed Djokovic facing David Goffin (21st seed); Federer (2) will be aiming for his 100th win at Wimbledon when he takes on Kei Nishikori (8); Nadal (3) on paper has the easiest match against unseeded Sam Querrey; and Roberto Bautista Agut (23) clashes with giant-killing Guido Pella (26).

Serena, Simona fight back

Serena Williams had to dig deep to get past Alison Riske in their Wimbledon quarter-final yesterday. Williams eventually emerged as the 6-4 4-6 6-3 victor, but she was in deep trouble when a break down early in the final set. However, the 37 year old moved within two matches of equalling Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles by smashing 49 winners past Riske as she capitalised on her power game. In the other quarter-finals Simona Halep moved a step closer to her second Grand Slam title by fighting back from 4-1 and three break points down in the first set to beat China’s Zhang Shuai 7-6 6-1. In the semi-finals on Thursday, Williams will take on Czech veteran Barbora Strycova, who beat Johanna Konta 7-6 6-1; and Halep will face the eighth seed Elina Svitolina from Ukraine, who beat Karolina Muchova 7-5 6-4.


Iconic actress Mama Nkonyeni dies

Nomhle Nkonyeni, who was honoured with the Order of Ikhamanga in Silver earlier this year after five decades in the profession, has died aged 77. Nkonyeni, who grew up in Nelson Mandela Bay’s New Brighton, appeared in numerous stage and television roles as well as in the 2004 film Red Dust with Hilary Swank. Her breakthrough role was as the title character in Die Swerfjare van Poppie Nongena in 1981. Nkonyeni was one of the founders of New Brighton’s Serpent Players alongside John Kani who tweeted his sadness at her passing today.

Where be John K?

SA fans of legendary actor John Kani are tweeting up a storm, keeping him at the top of the social media trends lists with a question to the Disney franchise: Why is he not included on the official cast photo for the Lion King that was released yesterday? And where is James Earl Jones? The two men are the voices of Rafiki and Mufasa in the live-action remake of the Disney film which opens in SA cinemas on 19 July, but neither is in the photo. The film had its US red-carpet premiere last night – and Kani was there, with his wife Mandi, alongside Beyoncé and all the other stars. The film received breathless Twitter accolades from its audience afterwards. Beyoncé has curated a collaboration album with various stars that includes her song Spirit, from the Lion Kingsoundtrack. The album will be released next week but the song was released by Sony yesterday. You can listen here


Dawn inferno

News24 has footage of the inferno in the streets of Worcester that followed the explosion of a petrol tanker there in the early hours of this morning. Roads in the area were closed as some buildings were reported ‘destroyed’ and water and electricity infrastructure was reportedly damaged. A man was seriously injured when his car was destroyed in the blast. He was taken to hospital in a critical condition. Two firemen suffered minor injuries. 


A Snowball’s dance 

Yesterday we brought you the story of Vinnie, the curry-covered seagull. Vinnie shares the limelight with Snowball – a 12-year-old cockatoo basking in his second 15 feathery minutes of fame. Snowball headbangs, body rolls, foot lifts, and down shakes – and also bears a striking resemblance to Donald Trump. He has 14 distinct dance move and boogies to Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and Another One Bites the Dust. According to scientists, Snowball’s ability to dance with that degree of flexibility has not previously been recorded elsewhere in the animal kingdom. A research team at Harvard, Tufts and San Diego universities believe the fact that Snowball dances so enthusiastically seemingly for its own sake – there was no prospect of a reward – shows creative trait shared with humans. ‘What’s most interesting to us is the sheer diversity of his movements to music,’ said senior author Professor Aniruddh Patel in Current Biology. ‘Snowball does not dance for food or in order to mate; instead, his dancing appears to be a social behaviour used to interact with human caregivers.’ This is the second paper on Snowball, who shot to fame in 2008. Patel told The New York Times then that when a colleague showed him a YouTube video of  Snowball, ‘it was like discovering a dog reading a newspaper out loud’. Watch Snowball get down. 


Today’s top tweeter is Dad Jokes (@Dadsaysjokes) with this crisp observation:  
I just saw some idiot at the gym put a water bottle in the pringles holder on the treadmill


Today’s clue, compiled by Fa Ten, is: I told fiancé in order to keep no secret (12)

Speaking of secrets, the solution to yesterday’s clue, Street cop in disguise, hush-hush (3,6) is TOP SECRET – an anagram of ‘street cop’ (‘in disguise’ is the anagram indicator) and the definition of hush-hush.


Rip Torn, a US actor with a reputation for wildness who famously stopped acting, and hit Norman Mailer over the head with a hammer for real during the making of Maidstone in 1970, has died. The run-in with Mailer was not the only time the 88-year-old clashed with co-stars. Torn (born Elmore Rual Torn – his parents called him ‘Rip’) had been scheduled to star alongside Dennis Hopper in the 1969 cult hit Easy Rider but was replaced by Jack Nicholson after Torn and Hopper got into a knife fight. He was not always in fights, however, and was nominated for an Emmy six times for his role in The Larry Sanders Show.The Guardian looks at Torn’s career, and here is a link to the bizarre footage of Torn attacking Mailer, which was included in the final film. Mailer bit Torn’s ear in the fight.


National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi told parliament yesterday that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) does not have money to pay all its salaries and would have to slash 550 jobs to stay within its budget this year. This is more than alarming. Batohi’s appointment at the NPA was central to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s assault on corruption and she desperately needs to restore both order and credibility to the organisation. Her success or otherwise will have significant consequences. An obvious example is stopping the sort of graft that has bled several state-owned enterprises (SOEs) dry. Some of these SOEs are now having to be bailed out, costing the state many billions of rand. A much smaller investment in the NPA could prevent that from happening again. 

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