January 13 2011 at 11:23

URGENT internal memo circulated in a city near you this week: “Memo – compulsory for all staph members.” Even better than this little charmer, sent on by a friend, was something I spotted recently at a restaurant in Clarens. The menu board’s offering included “pie and wages”.

On the day we exchanged these howlers, the first important court decision of the year was handed down. As I read the judgment, I began to see some significance in the fact that it was delivered just as many South African children began school again while teachers, education officials and politicians fought their old fight over whether pupils should be “turned” in the direction of maths and science.

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January 6 2011 at 12:18

THERE’S a book in it. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised to find that some publisher has already set a release date to coincide with the anniversary of the central event: the armed robbery of two men during December 1993 in central Mississippi, US.

Two sisters, Jamie and Gladys Scott, were subsequently charged and convicted of armed robbery and given two consecutive life sentences each. They had served 16 years when, last week, just a day before year-end, the governor of Mississippi, Haley Barbour, decided they should be released.

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December 30 2010 at 07:25

HE lay with his spouse in a burial mound in Russia, symbols of their royal status, power and wealth adorning both skeletons, their tomb untouched for 27 centuries. But while the find was thrilling for the archaeologists involved, it was the palaeopathologists, specialists in ancient diseases, who ultimately benefited most.

For the man had died of metastasising cancer and this is the oldest confirmed case of prostate cancer in history.

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December 23 2010 at 07:21

At the heart of the recent Mail & Guardian judgment sit two figures, mere shadows in most comment on the case: judges Dikgang Moseneke and Sisi Khampepe.

Commissioned by then-president Thabo Mbeki to observe and report on the 2002 Zimbabwe elections, the judges filed an account of their observations, which representatives of the office of the president refuse to release. What exactly they did in Zimbabwe remains obscure; the state's argument in court obscures matters even further, smudging the nature of the judges' work by claiming that they were effectively diplomats whose work was due the secrecy, WikiLeaks notwithstanding, usually accorded a country's foreign service.

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December 9 2010 at 07:52

I have found some disturbing judicial interplay in an otherwise mundane appeal decision about a property sale. Tucked away at the end of the decision, issued by the Supreme Court of Appeal last week, are two troubling judgments both written by acting members of that bench.

First, the characters. The five judges who heard the appeal were Jonathan Heher, Azhar Cachalia and Eric Leach, with acting appeal judges Ronnie Pillay and Shamim Ebrahim.
The sixth judicial character is a senior advocate, Dumisa Ntsebeza, who - while acting on the High Court bench in Joburg -  wrote a decision that became the subject of an appeal. Ntsebeza is an influential member of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and plays a decisive role in who gets appointed. Ebrahim wants promotion to the appeal court but has so far failed in her efforts at the commission; Pillay's acting stint on the appeal court suggests that he, too, hopes for permanent appointment there.

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