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An amputee convicted of killing his wife admitted to the crime in the Nelspruit Circuit of the High Court in Pretoria.]]> |||
Nelspruit - An amputee convicted of killing his wife admitted to the crime in the Nelspruit Circuit of the High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday.
Godfrey Sefwayi Sengwane, 62, who has a prosthetic leg after a work accident in 1982, was found guilty of killing Zodwa Mdlalane Sengwane, 58, in March last year, a Sapa correspondent reported.
He was found guilty of the crime, of intimidating his daughter Cynthia Sonto Sengwane, and of possession of an illegal firearm and ammunition.
Sengwane initially pleaded not guilty to the charges but admitted to killing his wife after Judge Ebenhaezer Jordaan found him guilty on Wednesday.
He had threatened to shoot a neighbour's son, Siboniso Ngomane.
“I am the one who has done this. I was afraid to say it before and I do apologise to the court for not telling the truth,” he said during arguments in mitigation of sentencing.
He said his wife insulted him and threatened to leave him.
“She said I made the young man go away and she did not want me anymore... When she continued insulting me, I fetched 1/8the pistol 3/8 and started shooting at her...I never fired at the other people but walked home.”
He said he tried to apply for a firearm licence before buying the gun, but was refused because he failed to disclose his previous convictions.
“I am very sorry to my wife's family and I apologise for what happened. I was not thinking about jealousy. My wife was my property. I was intending to shoot the young man.”
Jordaan postponed the matter to Thursday for sentencing.
Police have turned their focus to catching more druglords along with petty drug dealers, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said.]]> |||
Durban - Police have turned their focus to catching more druglords along with the average petty drug dealers, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Wednesday.
“The SA Police Service is focusing on the druglords, the demons of the drug trade,” he said at the opening of the new Chatsworth police station in Durban.
“It is necessary to arrest the small-time dealers and petty gangsters, but we want the big fish as well.”
In January last year, Yagawathan Pillay, suspected of being a druglord named “Teddy Mafia”, and his son and were arrested after a police raid at a home in Shallcross, near Chatsworth.
Bags reportedly containing large amounts of heroin as well as more than 2000 straws of heroin were discovered.
Pillay was granted bail of R100 000 and his son R25 000.
A second raid was done in February. However Pillay was not at home. It was reported at the time that police could not find him, and the case was handed over to the organised crime unit.
Police spokesman Colonel Jay Naicker could not be reached on Wednesday to provide an update on the search for Pillay.
Mthethwa praised the new building, saying he was pleased that the R131 million station was built within budget.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel criticised evidence presented in Oscar Pistorius's murder trial by defence witness Roger Dixon.]]> |||
Pretoria - Prosecutor Gerrie Nel on Wednesday criticised evidence presented in Oscar Pistorius's murder trial by defence witness Roger Dixon.
“You see how irresponsible it is to try and be an expert in area that you're not?” Nel asked Dixon, a qualified geologist, in the High Court in Pretoria.
He was the third defence witness to testify in Pistorius's trial.
The paralympic athlete is charged with murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. He shot her through the locked toilet door in his Pretoria home on Valentine's Day last year, apparently thinking she was an intruder.
Dixon, whose evidence-in-chief was led by Barry Roux, SC, seemed to corroborate testimony by Pistorius that he kicked and battered down the door using a cricket bat to get to Steenkamp.
Nel criticised him for drawing inferences based on photographs and reports compiled by other experts. Dixon had not furnished the court with a report on his own findings, but instead referred to notes he had made on sheets of paper.
He testified on a recording of gun shots and a cricket bat striking a meranti door, furnished to the court as part of his evidence, although he was not there when the tests were conducted.
During questioning by Nel it emerged that Dixon did not know whether the music producer who recorded the tests had any experience in recording the sounds of explosions or guns. Dixon also knew nothing about the sound equipment used.
Although Dixon was not present when the post mortem was conducted on Steenkamp, he testified about the bullet wounds and injuries caused by wooden splinters. He said the bullet that hit her hip caused her to fall backwards.
Nel disputed this, saying: “It only happens in the movies.”
He asked Dixon to provide literature on this when he returned to the stand on Thursday.
At one point Nel referred Dixon to a page in the post mortem report pathologist Prof Gert Saayman conducted on Steenkamp.
According to Saayman's report bruises on Steenkamp's buttock were caused by bullet fragments. Dixon however told the court that the bruising occurred when Steenkamp fell against wooden magazine rack in the toilet cubicle.
“You looked surprised. You never saw that?” Nel asked Dixon.
“You, Mr Dixon, just made an inference without reading the document.
“The most irresponsible thing is you refer to a document and don't ever read the full report.”
Dixon admitted he was neither an expert in blood spatters nor ballistics, despite having testified on this for the defence.
Saayman and ballistics expert Captain Christian Mangena were both in court. Mangena at times seemed amused by Dixon's testimony.
As testimony on Steenkamp's wounds was heard, Pistorius bent down and covered his head.
The trial will break from Thursday until May 5.
The report of the post mortem on Reeva Steenkamp was not properly read by expert witness Roger Dixon, the Pretoria High Court heard.]]> |||
Pretoria - The report of the post mortem on Reeva Steenkamp was not properly read by defence expert witness Roger Dixon, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Wednesday.
Cross-examining Dixon during Oscar Pistorius's murder trial, prosecutor Gerrie Nel said the conclusions Dixon had drawn about contusions on Steenkamp's back, caused by her falling onto a magazine rack, were inconsistent with the post mortem report.
Dixon had based his conclusions about the wound on the report and photographs from the post mortem.
“I can only say what I saw in the photographs,” Dixon said.
“I looked at [the] description made by Professor Saayman in [the] post-mortem report.”
Pistorius is accused of murdering Steenkamp on February 14 last year. She was shot through the locked door of his toilet. Pistorius claims he thought she was an intruder about to come out and attack him. A ballistics expert previously testified for the State that Steenkamp fell onto the magazine rack during the shooting and that the bruises on her back were caused by bullet fragments that ricocheted off the wall.
Dixon said he had attended three post mortems in his life, but not Steenkamp's.
Nel directed Dixon's attention to a page in the report which stated that pathologist Prof Gert Saayman, who conducted the post mortem, found the contusions were caused by bullet fragments.
“You looked surprised. You never saw that?” Nel asked Dixon.
“You, Mr Dixon, just made an inference without reading the document.”
Nel said Dixon interpreted what he saw in the report for his own purposes.
“The most irresponsible thing is you refer to a document and don't ever read the full report.”
Dixon said he had read the whole report, but a while ago, and had read “a whole number of reports”.
Nel asked Dixon what the defence had asked him to do. Dixon said his role changed over time.
“There was no clear statement that you do this and only this,” he said.
“I was asked to work out the sequence of events, marks on the door, etc etc.”
Regarding the first shooting test, with Dixon missing the second, he said they had not used the same ammunition as Pistorius. The Black Talon ammunition was not available at the firing range where the test was conducted, and similar ammunition was used.
“I was not tasked with sorting ammunition,” Dixon said.
He said photographs were taken of the tests, which Nel asked be brought to court.
Earlier, Nel questioned Dixon on his testimony that the bullets that hit Steenkamp as she was standing behind the locked toilet door caused her to move backwards.
“We see this in the movies isn't it? They are shot and fly backwards.”
He said it was not possible. Dixon replied that Steenkamp was already moving and the bullet contributed to her movement to the back of the toilet.
Nel asked Dixon to bring literature on the matter to court on Thursday.
He asked for an early adjournment, 30 minutes before the scheduled 3pm close, to familiarise himself with certain reports.
Judge Thokozile Masipa granted his request.
Pistorius also faces three charges of contravening the Firearms Control Act.
A foreign-owned shop in Lethabong in Rustenburg was robbed and set alight, North West police said.]]> |||
Johannesburg - A foreign-owned shop in Lethabong in Rustenburg was robbed and set alight on Wednesday, North West police said.
Three Chinese nationals were woken by four armed men who had forcefully entered the premises, said Colonel Sabata Mokgwabone.
He said the men tied up the three and demanded money.
“They allegedly took cash amounting to R10 000, airtime vouchers, cigarettes with estimated value of R30 000.”
Mokgwabone said the men assaulted the shop owners and set their shop alight.
He said they were taken to a local clinic.
Robbery and arson dockets were opened.
A constable accused of shooting a man in the back, killing him, was granted bail by the Mitchells Plain Magistrate's Court.]]> |||
Cape Town - A constable accused of shooting a man in the back, killing him, was granted bail by the Mitchells Plain Magistrate's Court on Wednesday.
Faseegh Abdol was released on R2000 bail and told to return to court on September 22.
On Tuesday, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) said the 34-year-old constable was arrested in Cape Town after an investigation. Spokesman Moses Dlamini said Sharief Bester, 34, and a friend were standing in a driveway with a friend in the early hours of Monday morning when a police vehicle stopped next to them.
The two were searched and the friend was released.
Dlamini said the police did not find anything on Bester but apparently wanted to arrest him and he resisted.
“It is further alleged that the deceased was pepper-sprayed. He was then released so that he could run away,” Dlamini said.
“As he started to run, he was shot once in the back and he died on the scene.”
The DA opportunistically used a protest in Olievenhoutbosch, Centurion, for political purposes, the City of Tshwane said.]]> |||
Johannesburg - The DA opportunistically used a protest in Olievenhoutbosch, Centurion, for political purposes, the City of Tshwane said on Thursday.
“In their desperate electioneering and last dip for undecided voters , the Democratic Alliance has decided to compile a list of demands and grievances about service delivery in the area on behalf of the community of Olievenhoutbosch,” spokesman Blessing Manale said in a statement.
This was despite the fact that no memorandum of residents' grievances was presented to the municipality when the protest began on Tuesday.
Residents blocked the R55 on Tuesday morning by gathering in the middle of it.
Earlier, DA representative in the area, Zweli Khumalo, said Olievenhoutbosch residents were protesting about service delivery issues.
He claimed the protesters' grievances included housing issues around the relocation of Mooiplaas township residents to Olievenhoutbosch.
“It is claimed that scores of people have been waiting for an allocation for more than ten years, while connected persons have a number of houses allocated to them which are being rented out,” Khumalo said.
“As a caring party, the DA calls on the African National Congress-led metro to attend to these burning issues as soon as possible.”
Khumalo said the protest did not continue on Thursday, but residents were considering further protests later in the week.
Manale said the city's plans to relocate people living in Mooiplaats informal settlement to Olievenhoutbosch were met with resistance from some in Olievenhoutbosch.
“These disruptive actions have therefore necessitated a temporary delay in the relocation to ensure that future plans are implemented with ease and that persons relocated to Olievenhoutbosch are safe and secure and accepted as members of the community.
“We regard as opportunistic assertions by the DA that the disruptive blockade was a sign of service delivery challenges in the areas and call upon the DA to clarify its stance on violent protest and illegal disruption of services and intimidation of city\ employees in the area.”
The Ekurhuleni metro has welcomed a probe by the public protector into alleged tender irregularities involving a city manager.]]> |||
Johannesburg - The Ekurhuleni metro has welcomed a probe by the public protector into alleged tender irregularities allegedly involving a city manager.
“As a metro we take these matters serious and will fully co-operate with the public protector’s office,” municipal spokesman Zweli Dlamini said on Wednesday.
He said the municipality would accept the findings of the investigation.
The public protector was investigating allegations of maladministration and corruption in the Ekurhuleni metro in relation to a R109 million tender for the supply of intelligent water meters.
“The tender was allegedly awarded to a certain company despite the company in question not complying with tender requirements,” Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's spokesman Oupa Segalwe said.
“It is also alleged that the value of the tender was inflated.”
Segalwe said it was alleged that a payment of nearly R40m was made to the company before it delivered the services procured.
“The public protector is also investigating allegations that the complainant in this matter was intimidated and victimised after blowing the whistle about the suspected irregularities to the leadership of the metro,” he said.
“The complainant was allegedly suspended after blowing the whistle.”
The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal has labelled its former councillor, Andre Lotter, a serial party hopper.]]> |||
Durban - The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal says its former councillor, Andre Lotter, is a serial party hopper.
This was after Lotter and a group of others were unveiled as new members of the National Freedom Party (NFP).
Last year Lotter single-handedly took on the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in court.
Through his court challenges, he managed to get a by-election scheduled for his former ward in Vryheid postponed.
Lotter had taken the IEC to court claiming that there had been massive voter fraud before the by-election.
The electoral court postponed the by-election and ordered that the commission investigate his claims.
After its investigation, the IEC removed 1 800 people from the roll. But a year later Lotter is still pursuing the matter, despite a by-election having been successfully held last month.
ANC spokesman Senzo Mkhize said: “Lotter’s primary objectives for being in politics has always been self-interest and his joining the NFP proves this.”
Mkhize stressed that after leaving the ANC in January last year, Lotter had joined the IFP which he left shortly thereafter.
The ANC said it had been happy to see Lotter go.
Lotter said that he had left the ANC after it failed to help his poor neighbours. He then joined the IFP, which he left after two months.
Lotter said he decided to join the NFP as it was the only party that was prepared to fight corruption.
He claimed the ANC was afraid that he would reveal its corrupt activities.
Alleged payments by the Trifecta company to Northern Cape politicians generated a sense of obligation, the court heard.]]> |||
Kimbeley - Alleged payments by the Trifecta company to Northern Cape politicians generated a sense of obligation, the Northern Cape High Court heard on Wednesday.
“It is a corrupt relationship of give and take, give and take,” prosecutor Peter Serunye submitted.
Judge Mathebe Phatshoane was hearing argument in an acquittal application in the fraud and corruption trial of Northern Cape ANC heavyweights John Block, Alvin Botes, Yolanda Botha and Trifecta director Christo Scholtz.
The State accuses Trifecta of entering into a number of lease agreements with three Northern Cape government departments in which rentals, or rental space, were grossly inflated.
The accused have all pleaded not guilty to the charges against them or their companies.
Earlier, Serunye objected to insinuations by Block's lawyer that the matter was being prosecuted only because Block, Northern Cape's ANC chairman, could be involved.
“It is reckless and it is unfounded that the State had singled out one accused.”
Serunye said prosecutors, as members of the South African court, did their work without fear, and he found the comments about Block disturbing.
Serunye complained about the language used by the defence to describe State witnesses, labelling it ludicrous.
“I will avoid such language, even if I differ from them,” said Serunye.
Serunye argued the individual corruption and money laundering charges stood on their own.
He was replying to arguments by the defence that the fraud and money laundering charges rested on the State's corruption charges. It was argued if the court found corruption was not proven, all the other charges fell away automatically. Serunye denied this.
Arguing about what constituted criminal gratification, Serunye told the court salaries, shares and renovations Ä all alleged in this matter Äamounted to gratification if meant to corrupt an individual.
“It all falls in the definition of gratification, irrespective of the value of these acts. Even R1 qualifies as gratification if the intent is to corrupt.”
Referring to shares in Trifecta held by some of the accused, Serunye said these were not real black economic empowerment (BEE) shares, as alleged by the defence.
“It was to family members of Botha, there is the benefit,” he said in referring to specific charges against Botha.
“To say 'choose our own BEE members', it's a way to hide the money with family.”
The case was postponed to April 24.
A KwaZulu-Natal infant who was given an “extremely urgent” blood transfusion by doctors who obtained a high court order to allow the procedure, is doing well.]]> |||
Durban - A KwaZulu-Natal infant who had been given an “extremely urgent” blood transfusion by doctors who obtained a high court order to allow the procedure, is is now 6 months old and doing well.
The infant, from Empangeni, was born prematurely at 28 weeks, weighing 730g in November when his mother had to have an emergency caesarian section.
The child’s pediatrician, Dr Tavengwa Usaiwevhu, said the infant was a bundle of joy and now weighed 4kg.
“I last saw the child in February and he is doing very well,” he said.
According to papers filed in the High Court in Empangeni by Legal Aid SA on behalf of doctors at the Garden Clinic Hospital, the baby had been on cardio-respitory support and an urgent blood transfusion was discussed with the parents.
They refused the procedure because it was against their beliefs as Jehova’s Witnesses.
The court order giving authority to doctors at Garden Clinic to perform the transfusion was granted on November 15 and the baby had the transfusion on that day.
Usaiwevhu, who spoke to the Daily News this week, said the infant would not have survived if he had not had the transfusion.
“The transfusion was needed because most nutrients are transported in the blood from the mother to the child in the last 13 weeks of pregnancy and this infant didn’t get this as he was premature,” he said.
He said the baby had a low blood cell count and the number had been dropping daily.
Bhekisgcino Dladla, an elder at Klaarwater Jehovas Witness near Pinetown, said the child’s parents were merely obeying the word of God.
“In (the Bible’s book of) Proverbs it says promiscuity and worshipping man-made gods are an equal sin as taking blood through consumption or transfusion,” he said.
Dladla in an interview this week said blood was life and could not be accepted to save your own because only God could do so.
“The sin is upon the doctors who gave the blood, and not the parents or the child.”
In the application for the order to be granted, Mzochithwayo Ngcamu, a children’s court practitioner with Legal Aid SA, said the application had been made on an urgent basis as any delay would have prejudiced the child’s right to life.
“On November 13, in the afternoon, I received instructions to investigate a matter relating to a child who had been admitted in the Garden Clinic Hospital… On receipt of instructions, I telephoned the hospital. I was advised that there was a child who was very sick and I was also advised to speak to Dr Ladie (Dr Usaiwevhu),” the application read.
When Ngcamu went to the hospital, before the application was made, Ladie showed him a a text message sent by the child’s father, saying there should be no blood transfusion owing to his religious beliefs.
“I was also advised by Dr Ladie that the father of the child came to the hospital on November 9 to confirm that there should be no blood transfusion,” the application read.
“The father came with two elders from the church, as well as the paternal grandmother of the child.”
While at the hospital, the child’s father wrote a letter confirming that the family refused the transfusion; the letter was attached to the application papers.
In the letter, the father asked for any other available methods to be used on his child, and “not the blood transfusion”.
In the application papers, Ngcamu wrote that the transfusion was “extremely urgent” as other means of saving the child’s life would have no effect.
“The child is unable to absorb the mother’s milk and supplements cannot be used because of his tiny body. It is the blood transfusion which can save the life of the baby,” the papers read.
Ngcamu wrote that while at the hospital he saw the child was on life support.
“The doctors are unable to save the baby because the parents are refusing to give consent”.
He submitted in the application that the parents’ refusal to give consent for the procedure was an infringement on the child’s right to life.
“I further submit that parents do not have a right to put the life of any innocent baby in danger because of their belief.
“The courts have said that while the parents’ views had to be considered, their private beliefs could not be allowed to override the child’s right to life. I submit that the religious beliefs of the parents are not that of the child,” the application read.
The child’s father refused to be interviewed.
A man accused of robbing and killing the owner of a shop in front her children appeared in the Kempton Park Regional Court.]]> |||
Johannesburg - A man accused of robbing and killing the owner of a shop in front her children appeared in the Kempton Park Regional Court on Wednesday.
Clement Kgothatso Ramawela, 25, would be back in court on May 23, court clerk Sechaba Mabena said on Thursday.
Ramawela, who remains in custody, was arrested on Saturday, March 8, the day of the crime.
He was believed to be a former employee at Annemarie van Zyl's shop in Newton Street, Kempton Park, police spokesman Captain Jethro Mtshali said earlier.
A man entered the shop around 7.30am and stabbed Van Zyl several times. He fled with an undisclosed amount of money. The woman's daughters, aged six and eight, were in the shop at the time.
Two men were shot dead and another was wounded near the Bleskop hostel, outside Rustenburg.]]> |||
Rustenburg - Two men were shot dead and another was wounded near the Bleskop hostel, outside Rustenburg, on Wednesday, North West police said.
Four taxi drivers were talking when a VW Jetta stopped nearby around 11am, Brigadier Thulani Ngubane said in a statement.
Three of the four occupants got out of the car and shot at the victims before driving off.
“Two men, both aged 47 and taxi owners, were certified dead on the scene. The other one was taken to the hospital with serious injuries while the fourth man survived without any injury.”
Ngubane said the motive was unknown and no arrests were made. He said the shooting had not been linked to the ongoing strike by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union in the platinum sector. Amcu members have been on strike since January for a basic monthly salary of R12 500. They rejected a wage offer of up to nine percent from platinum producers.
Clamping down on unfit drivers would help reduce road deaths in South Africa, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters said.]]> |||
Pretoria - Clamping down on unfit drivers would help reduce road deaths in South Africa, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters said on Wednesday.
“We believe that some of the people who drive freight and passenger transport on the ground need to be subjected to what the aviation sector is subjected to,” she said in Pretoria.
“For us to meet the United Nations standards of a 50 percent reduction of carnage on our roads by 2020, we need to learn from the aviation sector. Those strict rules we need to apply on the road.”
Peters was addressing a summit on aviation medicine training and research programme run by the SA Civil Aviation Authority, the Institute for Aviation Medicine and four institutions of higher education.
“Pilots undergo medical check-ups. We have many people who are driving our buses, trains and freight who are not examined frequently.”
Pilots had to adhere to stringent regulations and they had a responsibility to their passengers.
“As part of our road safety campaign, we are introducing medical checks. It should be a requirement that people who drive public transport, long distances, are fit and proper,” Peters said.
She said the drivers should undergo fitness checks every six months.
A graduation ceremony was held on Wednesday for 12 doctors who achieved BSc Honours degrees in aerospace medicine from the University of Pretoria.
They were joined by 15 other doctors who received certificates to become designated aviation examiners, in line with international civil aviation requirements.
Cape Town - A Zimbabwean waiter was given a suspended prison sentence on Wednesday for cloning the bank cards of restaurant guests celebrating a birthday.]]> |||
Cape Town - A Zimbabwean waiter was given a suspended prison sentence on Wednesday for cloning the bank cards of restaurant guests celebrating a birthday.
Brown Tumba pleaded guilty to 13 counts of bank card fraud in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court in Cape Town.
The crime potentially involved R19 555 and four violations of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act.
A further charge of conspiracy to commit fraud was abandoned by prosecutor Denver Combrink.
The proceedings took the form of a plea-bargain, before magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg, who sentenced him to 10 years, conditionally suspended for five years.
Tumba, 30, was a waiter at the Haiku and the Bhukara restaurants in the Cape Town CBD.
In September 2011, Aletta Breitenbach and friends celebrated her daughter's birthday at the Bhukara restaurant.
Breitenbach and one of her friends, Guy Johnstone, decided to split the bill between them, and both paid with their bank cards.
They were served by Tumba, and the next week they both realised that their cards had been compromised.
Legal aid defence lawyer Hayley Lawrence told the court Tumba had a diploma in information technology.
Items confiscated by the police Ä including an Apple iPhone, a laptop, two external hard drives and three memory sticks Ä were declared forfeited to the State.
The eThekwini municipality and unions are heading back to the negotiating table after the city’s backpay issue could not be resolved.]]> |||
Durban - The eThekwini Municipality and unions are heading back to the negotiating table after employees did not fully accept the city’s proposals to resolve issues of a court ruling that forces the city to pay staff more than R185 million in backpay.
More than 20 000 municipal employees have threatened to strike unless the city abides by a Supreme Court of Appeal ruling in September last year that reversed the conditions of service agreement - implemented by the city in 2007 - and ordered it to pay back affected employees who had been stripped of allowances and other benefits.
According to the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu), the biggest union among eThekwini employees, the city owes employees R185m in backpay.
However, staff who benefited from the 2007 agreement would have to pay back R233m to the city if the court order was strictly implemented.
The figures are contained in a report compiled by a technical task team established by city manager S’bu Sithole to quantify the ruling’s financial implications for the city.
According to a proposal, presented to employees at a union meeting on Tuesday, the city would only pay back affected employees for three years - as set out in the Prescription Act - and not seven years as initially believed.
This is because a claim for debt expires if no attempt to collect has been made within three years, according to the Prescription Act.
The city also agreed to give long-service employees seven years’ worth of leave that had been rescinded and made an undertaking not to go after any money owed to it by those who had benefited from the 2007 service agreement.
The city further agreed to repay eligible metro police officers - those who were not office-bound - an omnibus allowance that had been taken away. This, however, angered office-based metro police personnel, who argued that they had also received the allowance before the service agreement took effect.
Under the proposal signed off by Sithole, if the unions accepted it, the city intended to pay money owed to employees on May 23.
This elicited cheers from the hundreds of union members who packed the city hall on Tuesday.
However, many were angry that the city was only prepared to repay them three years of backpay.
Stanley Khoza, the president of Imatu, said there was nothing the union could do about getting employees seven years’ worth of backpay.
“There is an understandable outcry from people who say that they want their money owed for seven years,” Khoza said.
“But the Prescription Act comes into place where it says you can only be paid for up to three years. This is not only coming from the employer, but it is the legal opinion of our lawyers as well,” he said.
Khoza said employees had mandated the union to tell the city they wanted their backpay to be dated from September last year – when the appeal court judgment was made – and not from May this year, as suggested by the city.
“People are up to here and they just want their money now. The new negotiations with the city will take us forward on a new condition of service agreement for all council employees who will have one set of service agreements,” he said.
Jaycee Ncanana, the provincial secretary of the SA Municipal Workers Union, said the union was still in discussion with its members about the way forward.
“Some want us to take the offer, but there are others who do not want it (and want to strike). Our main aim right now is to get our members in one room and get a consolidated mandate to take to the employer,” he said.
Several municipal employees who spoke after the meeting said they were upset with the union.
“It seems as if they are siding with the municipal manager on this one. According to the court order the city should pay us out. The Prescription Act should not have any role because we interdicted the city in 2007, so in fairness we should be getting our backpay from that point because it was the city who fought us in the courts,” one employee said.
The municipality’s spokesman, Thabo Mofokeng, said discussions between the city and the unions were continuing.
“Nothing has been finalised yet and the city is still in negotiations with the union leadership. We will continue talking,” he said.
A convicted murderer has testified that he was paid by the former deputy mayor of uMzinyathi to drive hitmen hired to kill a fellow NFP member.]]> |||
Durban - A convicted murderer has testified that he was paid by the former deputy mayor of uMzinyathi District Municipality to drive two hitmen hired to kill a fellow National Freedom Party (NFP) member.
Felamandla Mkhize, 56, is charged with Mkonzeni Ntuli, 37, also an NFP member, who served as a party representative at Msinga Municipality.
The two are on trial in the Pietermaritzburg High Court for the murder of Thulebona Nhlebela on July 6, 2012.
Nhlebela, 48, was shot dead on the road between Nquthu and Dundee in northern KwaZulu-Natal. He was the chairman of the Nquthu constituency in uMzinyathi district.
The accused have both pleaded not guilty to murder.
The State alleges that some time before the murder, a dispute arose between Nhlebela, Mkhize and Ntuli over positions within the NFP hierarchy in the uMzinyathi district.
The indictment states Mkhize and Ntuli decided to resolve the dispute by killing Nhlebela. To this end, they allegedly procured the services of Khawulani Mkhize, 28, to execute Nhlebela.
On the morning of July 6, 2012, Khawulani and two others carrying firearms, drove to Nhlebela’s home.
They encountered him on the road travelling in his bakkie and followed him to Hazeldene Farm, where he stopped outside the gate.
It is alleged the two gunmen approached Nhlebela and opened fire on him as he sat in his vehicle. He died at the scene.
Khawulani, who is serving 18 years in prison after pleading guilty to the murder in September 2012, on Tuesday told the court that he was hired by Mkhize to transport the killers.
He said he had approached the deputy mayor in June 2012 for work because his family was starving.
On July 5, Mkhize told Khawulani he needed him to drive to Nquthu the following day with two other people to “deal” with a person who had been threatening his (Mkhize’s) life.
He confirmed he drove two men to Nquthu on July 6, 2012.
Khawulani said he was later paid R5 000 by Mkhize for “driving”.
KZN cops have uncovered one of the biggest hauls of stolen copper worth more than R3m stashed in a KwaMashu shack.]]> |||
Durban - Police have uncovered one of the biggest hauls of copper in KwaZulu-Natal - more than R3 million worth of stolen cables stashed in a KwaMashu shack used as a warehouse.
Police spokesman Colonel Jay Naicker said on Tuesday that Metrorail, Telkom, Eskom and the eThekwini Municipality’s electricity department had been called in to check if any of the cables belonged to them.
“Further investigations are under way and no arrests have been made,” Naicker said.
He said members of a provincial task team had recovered the stolen cables in a shack in KwaMashu’s A Section on Monday.
They had “stumbled upon intelligence of stolen copper cables stashed in the area”, he said.
“After a search of dwellings in the informal settlement they discovered the shack utilised as a warehouse for storing the stolen cable. About 200 rolls of copper cable valued in excess of R3m was recovered.”
Last month, police recovered millions of rand worth of copper in another KZN raid.
Naicker said at this stage only Metrorail and the municipality had positively identified some of the copper cable as theirs.
Metrorail’s KZN regional spokesman, Zama Nomnganga, said they had alerted police to the stash after receiving a tip-off from a concerned passenger.
“We then met them at the place where a shack was used as a storage and there was no one inside the shack.”
Nomnganga said some of the cables had been stolen from Metrorail’s warehouse in the vicinity of Durban Station. He said an internal investigation was under way.
was losing millions of rand though infrastructure vandalism by angry passengers because of train delays
caused by stolen cables, he said.
“We are losing revenue - about R1m a day. (The theft gets) us into trouble with passengers who want to burn trains. They vandalised a train (at) Zwelethu Railway Station (uMlazi) and several windows with stones.”
Nomnganga said Metrorail had 54 trains for its entire KZN network
, and that when cables were stolen, it not only caused disruptions but resulted in fewer tickets being sold.
“When a cable has been stolen from a railway line, we have to replace that cable. And in the meantime while we are fixing a railway line after a cable has been stolen we have to hire buses that will (travel) from one station to the next for passengers with weekly and monthly tickets,” he said.
“And we are losing a lot of money from that.”
eThekwini Municipality spokesman Thabo Mofokeng said thieves continued to wreak havoc and cause extensive damage.
“Cable theft remains one of the major challenges we are facing and the municipality loses in excess of R200m per annum on electricity and infrastructure theft.”
Mofokeng said cable theft hot spots included New Germany, Northdene, Clairwood, Inanda and Silverglen.
He said those areas were being monitored on a weekly basis.
“These are always changing as thieves move from one area to the next. Our business risk and investigations sections continuously undertake investigations and prosecution of syndicates…
“This is an ongoing operation. Sentences passed on perpetrators have ranged up to three years thus far,” said Mofokeng.
He said electrical distributor substations had armed monitoring and other anti-theft systems, including pepper gas, to deter criminals.
Telkom spokeswoman Sinah Phochana said while none of the cable found belonged to the communications utility, it had experienced a staggering 120 incidents of copper theft a month in KZN, from April to September last year.
“In the six months from April 2013 to the end of September 2013, Telkom spent about R12m in the KZN area to repair stolen copper cable,” said Phochana.
“Theft is not only limited to copper cable but also impacts on Telkom’s fibre optic network, which suffers collateral damage when it is mistaken for copper cable.”
She said Telkom also suffered high levels of telephone pole theft in some areas of KZN.
Meanwhile, 32 members of an alleged syndicate responsible for the widespread theft of copper cables and conductors from Transnet and Eskom in KZN face racketeering charges in the Pietermaritzburg Regional Court.
The 32 suspects face 60 charges arising from the theft and disposal of copper cables and conductors in the province.
They were due to appear in court again on May 23.
One of the accused is Bashir Rashid, the owner of Afro Metals scrap metal dealership in KwaDukuza (Stanger) and Phoenix.
Identified as an alleged major roleplayer in the syndicate, he is out on bail of R500 000.
The investigating officer in the case, Warrant Officer Craig Botha of the Organised Crime Unit in Pietermaritzburg, said in an affidavit to the court last year that the group responsible for the cable theft in KZN was very well structured and had evaded arrest for a long time.
The man accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend by chopping her up and burning some of her remains has appeared in court.]]> |||
Durban - A man accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend by chopping her up and burning some of her remains appeared briefly in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, while a group of women protested outside.
Lwazi Gumede was arrested a week ago, after the discovery of remains believed to be those of his long-time girlfriend.
Sanelisiwe Mkhize, 22, of KwaNdengezi near Pinetown, was reported missing by her older sister, Lungile Mkhize, in February. She was nine months pregnant at the time.
She had told her family she would be staying over at Gumede’s Chesterville home before going to her doctor at King Edward VIII Hospital the next day.
Her body was found two months later - without the head and the baby she was carrying.
Gumede is expected to apply for bail when he returns to court next month.
Outside court on Tuesday, the protesters carried placards demanding that Gumede tell police where Mkhize’s head and baby were so she could rest in peace.
One of them was Thobile Mbhele, a neighbour of Gumede’s in Chesterville.
“We were close in age and it is so painful that she died in such a horrible way… She will not be able to rest until her whole body and child are found and buried together. Neither will we,” she said.
Mbhele said the community was angry.