Hawks investigate Public Protector | UN launches Zim food appeal | Moody’s downgrades Mangaung | Mickey Arthur axed


Hawks investigate Public Protector

We’re all growing a bit weary of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s missteps, but she’s unfortunately hogging the news agenda again. Perhaps the most sensational story of several focusing on her in the media today is that the Hawks have confirmed that they are investigating charges of perjury and defeating the ends of justice against Mkhwebane. Hawks head Godfrey Lebeya said today that the priority crimes investigation unit was probing charges laid against her by Accountability Now. The anti-corruption group laid the charges against her this week and sent a complaint about alleged maladministration by Mkhwebane to her office for investigation (it will have to be handled by her deputy). Accountability Now director Paul Hoffman’s supporting affidavit claims that Constitutional Court ‘findings of fact in relation to dishonesty, deliberate misrepresentation of facts and an attempt to mislead the courts all involve criminal activities on the part of the accused’.

  • Another development was the announcement that Mkhwebane will not oppose the urgent interdict brought by President Cyril Ramaphosa opposing remedial action she demanded over her Bosasa report. The Public Protector found that Ramaphosa had deliberately misled Parliament about a R500,000 donation from the corruption-linked company and that his ANC presidential election campaign may have been involved in money-laundering. Ramaphosa has taken the finding on review and had applied for the interdict to prevent any remedial action in the meantime.
  • Meanwhile, the ANC has stepped up to defend Ramaphosa after e-mails that Mkhwebane apparently had access to, and which suggested the money laundering, were leaked to the media. The party said in a statement that: ‘The leaked emails are … nothing but a calculated manoeuvre to defocus and detract from the immediate task of socio-economic issues and dealing with the challenges of our economy. This is also an attempt to undermine public confidence in President Ramaphosa whose leadership has been defined by moral and ethical conduct.’

UN’s Zim food appeal

The disaster in Zimbabwe has reached such a point that the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has launched a $331-million (about R4.9-billion) appeal for food donations. The WFP estimated that five million of the 16-million Zimbabweans were in need of aid and half of those were on the brink of ‘starvation’. It expects the number to increase rapidly by the end of the year. Zimbabwe has been hit by a devastating economic meltdown amid a severe drought.

Cell calling

A regional court magistrate sent a man sitting in the public gallery to the holding cells when his cellphone rang during proceedings, reports News24. Delmas magistrate Jongilizwe Dumehleli was hearing a bail application and had ordered that people in the court should switch off their phones because they interfered with recording equipment. Soon a phone started ringing and the female owner was told to leave the courtroom. Within minutes another phone rang and the elderly woman who fished it out of her bag was also ejected. When a third phone rang an angry Dumehleli ordered that the man who owned it be sent to the holding cells below the court. About 30 minutes later the magistrate instructed a court orderly to free the offender.  


School shows no class

Up until a few hours ago the front cover of the Somerset West Private School homepage was of three matric pupils giving Nazi salutes. When the outrage hit the fan, the school took down the image and promised to investigate. Its investigation was pretty pathetic. The school wrote that ‘it has come to our attention that there have been objections to a matric photo where some learners give what appears to be a Roman salute. While we don’t believe that the learners intended to offend anyone, we have removed the photograph from the website.’ Calling a ‘Sieg Heil’ a ‘Roman salute’ is a tad disingenuous and if you don’t see the problem with three of your pupils praising fascism then, perhaps, it’s not only the pupils who need extra history lessons.   


Here comes the IMF

Business Unity SA has warned its members that government may be forced to seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund if it cannot confront the crisis in the economy. In a letter to members, Busa president Barney Pityana expressed particular concern about the government’s handling of the Eskom debacle, citing the delay in seeking a new CEO and the appointment of someone with no experience of company restructuring to lead the unbundling of Eskom. Saica CEO Freeman Nomvalo, while ‘held in high regard’, would also only be taking on the role part time, suggesting a lack of urgency by government. 

Misery in Mangaung 

Moody’s ratings agency has downgraded the municipality of Mangaung by three notches – deep into junk territory, and has warned that it shows a rapidly declining liquidity position. The rating of B3 signals a high credit risk. A financial turnaround strategy for Mangaung, which runs the city of Bloemfontein, was agreed with government last year but Moody’s says this has not delivered results. 


Mickey Arthur axed

Pakistan’s cricket board has axed South African coach Mickey Arthur after the team’s poor World Cup (like South Africa, they didn’t make it into the semi-finals). Arthur had  apparently asked for a two-year extension to his contract but the board thought otherwise and he and his two assistant coaches were shown the door.

Serena coins it

Serena Williams is the highest-paid woman in sport for the fourth year running. Forbes magazine’s annual list says she earned $29.2-million (about R435-million) in the 12-month period ending June 1. Second was another tennis player, Japan’s Naomi Osaka ($24.3-million) and yet another, Angelique Kerber, was third on $11.8-million. In fact, the top 11 earners were all tennis players with the first from another sport being 12th placed US soccer player Alex Morgan. 


On song

South African choirs are proving that they have what it takes. A group of high school students from Rustenburg has posted their version of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody to YouTube. The Hoerskool Rustenburg choir released the video on Monday, rapidly gaining them fans.


Dragged back to jail

Brazilian prison authorities have stopped a gang leader as he tried to leave prison dressed in his daughter’s clothes and wearing a silicone girl’s mask, long wig and spectacles – after his awkward gait gave him away as not being a woman. The plan, according to authorities, was that his daughter who had visited him would stay behind in the jail while he made his getaway. A video of the man removing his disguise shows his remarkable transformation.


Botox op ends in foreskin chop

Terry Brazier, 70, was meant to undergo a bladder Botox procedure but instead was circumcised. Britain’s Leicester Royal Infirmary said it was ‘deeply and genuinely sorry’ for the mistake and gave him £20,000 (about R350,000) in compensation. ‘I went in the surgery for some Botox and they ended up circumcising me,’ he told the Daily Star. He described it as ‘a real surprise’. According to The Guardian, Brazier went into hospital for a procedure that involves looking inside the bladder using a thin camera before Botox is injected into the bladder wall. The Botox injections have the effect of partially paralysing the bladder, reducing urinary incontinence. Brazier told the Daily Star he was so distracted chatting to nurses he did not realise he was getting a different procedure until it was too late. The hospital said it would ensure that it does everything to avoid this mistake happening again. 


Today’s top tweet comes from US Republican commentator Ana Navarro (@ananavarro) whom SA audiences may recognise from her appearances on CNN. She is apparently visiting SA and despite the grey and stormy day in Cape Town today had this to say, referencing Donald Trump’s comments about African countries.

We’re in beautiful, amazing South Africa. This is no shithole!


Today’s clue, compiled by Nat Rengasamy, is: Roll awfully in pain (6) 

The solution to yesterday’s clue, Racist Trump? He saw cities demolished! (5,11) is WHITE SUPREMACIST – an anagram of ‘Trump he saw cities’ (‘demolished’ is the anagram indicator) and a white supremacist is a racist. 


The literary titan Toni Morrison died yesterday after a short illness. In 1970 Morrison wrote her first book, The Bluest Eye, about a black girl unhappy with her appearance who yearns for blue eyes. She wrote because she’d wanted to read something that treated the lives of little black girls as worthy of serious literary examination, but ‘no one had ever written about them except as props’. She couldn’t find a book that did that so she thought, ‘Well, I’ll write it and then I’ll read it.’ And thus began a 50-year career that earned her the Nobel Prize for Literature and recognition as one of America’s finest writers. An obituary in The Guardian traces the profound reach of her work, and a collection of tributes from a wide range of writers, including a moving piece by Ben Okri, reveals how she affected their own lives and their work.  


The SA National Editors Forum (Sanef) has drawn a line in the sand. They have gone to court to stop the EFF from spewing hate speech at journalists and intimidating the press. As judgment was reserved yesterday Ferial Haffajee, a journalist who has been the target of a lot of hate, wrote a brave and poignant piece on the Daily Maverick about the online abuse directed at her over the years. She has been called vile names and has received death threats, including being told she deserves a bullet to the head. The trauma of online abuse is far reaching and the hate is sickening. These cyber threats have caused journalists to back off, which is why Sanef embarked on the court action in the first place. Haffajee, for example, didn’t join the court action against the EFF because she doesn’t want the spotlight and described herself as EFF leader Julius Malema’s ‘roadkill’. Yesterday, Malema claimed that Sanef was trying to limit political speech and journalists must not be ‘crybabies’. His lawyers have argued that he shouldn’t be taken seriously – and, yes, while it’s tempting not to take Malema seriously, what’s playing out in the world reminds us that we ignore threats of violence at our peril. No sooner was Haffajee’s piece posted than Malema’s bot army of Twitter trolls attacked her, proving her point. Hopefully, the court will drive home to Malema the important message that words that encourage hate and violence have consequences – and must be taken seriously. 


I think your article on SAA was biased and poorly researched. You chose to take the celebrity angle while there were plenty of other tweets and comments from passengers saying that SAA handled the matter professionally and were to be congratulated. Clearly Cox was looking for publicity the more negative the better. I think you should retract/make an apology/ or at least send out a more balanced article. I am disappointed in you. 
    By the way, my partner and I travel regularly overseas on SAA and we have experienced nothing but courtesy, good service and on-time departures. 

Viccy Baker 

  • You can read News24’s account of the incident here – the editors.
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