A total of 118 people have been left homeless after 30 shacks burned down in various parts of Cape Town, according to a report.]]> |||
A total of 118 people have been left homeless after 30 shacks burned down in various parts of Cape Town, the City's Disaster Operations Centre said on Saturday.
“No injuries were reported,” said the Centre's acting head Wilfred Solomons-Johannes.
In the most devastating of the five fires that had broken out since Friday night, 80 people were displaced and 20 shacks were destroyed when a fire broke out at the Imizamo Yethu informal settlement in Hout Bay.
In Ravensmead, two adults and a child were left homeless after their backyard dwelling was destroyed in a fire, while in Khayelitsha, another shack burnt down, leaving two people displaced.
In the early hours of Saturday morning, two fires broke out: one in Fizantekraal and the other in Kraaifontein.
Eighteen people were left displaced in the Fizantekraal fire that destroyed six shacks.
In Kraaifontein, 15 people lost their homes after two shacks were burned down.
Solomons-Johannes said those affected were receiving food, clothing, toiletries blankets and building materials.
“The cause of these fires is undetermined at this stage,” he said, adding an investigation would, however, take place. - Sapa]]>
Hundreds of Atlantis families have received R100 000 each thanks to the latest land claims settlement.]]> |||
Cape Town -
Hundreds of Atlantis families have received R100 000 each, plus shares in a R1 billion property development project in Milnerton, thanks to the latest land claims settlement.
Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti led a sod-turning ceremony on the claimants’ land in Richmond Park, Milnerton, yesterday. The 401 families were forcibly removed from the land during apartheid, then resettled in Atlantis, about 40km from the city centre.
They lodged the claim in 1996, and it was concluded in 2007.
Gerald Beziek, vice-chairman of a committee representing the claimants, said they were told in 2007 that the vacant land could not be used for building residential properties as it had been earmarked for use as a cemetery.
At yesterday’s event mayor Patricia de Lille said the City of Cape Town had approved the rezoning of the Richmond land for light industrial use, “in accordance with the city’s commitment to redress, but also to enable possibilities”.
“Today we are reversing what was one of apartheid’s most divisive laws, the Group Areas Act, which separated people and communities along racial lines and saw thousands of families forcibly removed from their homes,” she said.
Beziek said the Land Reform Department had helped them find a property developer who could assist in effectively using the land, which totals 835 000m2.
“We had a lawyer to guide us through the process. We are the landowners and found a property developer who will build on the land,” he explained.
The developer will also run a skills training programme for unemployed members of the claimants’ families.
He said the developer paid each of the 401 claimants R100 000 to “give them a taste of what’s to come”.
As landowners, claimants would own a 25 percent share in the development, and earn an income from its future profits via rentals.
Daniel Filippi, sales director for the development’s consortium, said four businesses had put up R1bn and formed the Richmond Park Development Company.
Over the next five to 10 years they planned to build commercial properties, including a mall, light industrial buildings and a business park. The project would be valued at about R7bn.
Residential neighbours around the land have raised concerns about the impact of traffic, its visual impact and industrial activity on their doorstep.
Provincial ANC leader Marius Fransman, who also attended Fridays’s ceremony, called the event a “celebration of good over evil”.
Cape Town looks set for a bumper holiday season with visitor numbers similar to those of last year, mayor Patricia de Lille said.]]> |||
Cape Town -
Cape Town looks set for a bumper holiday season with visitor numbers similar to those of last year, mayor Patricia de Lille said on Friday as she launched the city’s beach safety campaign.
De Lille said reports of large numbers of visitors passing through Cape Town International Airport and the Huguenot Tunnel were a promising sign for the city’s tourist visitor numbers.
Confirmed visitor numbers will only be published next year.
The mayor’s statement echoed that of Cape Town Tourism, which said last month holiday accommodation forecasts were up year on year.
As the early afternoon sun beat down on a packed Clifton Fourth Beach on Friday, De Lille, accompanied by city councillors Brett Herron, Benedicta van Minnen and Jacques Weber, handed out paper goody bags containing sunscreen, a frisbee and beach safety pamphlets to beachgoers.
The frisbees were a big hit with children, who immediately started playing with them in the surf.
Some young beachgoers, fearing they would miss their turn to get one of the bags the mayor was carrying, shyly approached her and asked if they could get one too, before proudly carrying off their prizes.
Sunscreen, which the mayor also handed out liberally, was not as popular with the youngsters – although most were happy to let the mayor top them up.
One little girl even returned the favour, dabbing sunscreen on the mayor’s face after De Lille had given her another layer of protection.
The city officials visited the popular Cape Town beach to mark the launch of this year’s “I love my beach” campaign, which seeks to keep the city’s 83 beaches clean, safe and alcohol-free over the holidays.
The safety pamphlets include emergency contact numbers, as well as tips on shark safety and rip currents.
“Our visit today is all about creating awareness that we must love our beaches and use them responsibly,” said De Lille.
“We all want to live in a world-class city, and in order to achieve that we all have a role to play in keeping our beaches safe and clean.”
In an earlier statement De Lille said the city had budgeted an extra R 22.2 million to spend on a “top-up” cleaning service for scenic routes, key business areas and beaches between November and February.
An additional 1 864 Expanded Public Works Programme workers had been hired for cleaning operations over weekends and holidays.
The mayor appealed to the public to not use alcohol on beaches, and to keep a close eye on their children. “Those who break the law by consuming alcohol on our beaches are potentially putting themselves at risk.”
After visiting Clifton, De Lille moved on to Camps Bay.
On Saturday and Sunday she will visit more beaches, including Silverstroom, Gordon’s Bay, Muizenberg and Monwabisi.
- Saturday Argus]]>
As the year nears its end, the Independent on Saturday looks at what made headlines.]]> |||
Durban - The year is almost over. The world watched, literally, as a famous South African athlete received a light sentence for the killing of his girlfriend, and British bisexual millionaire got off scot-free after allegedly orchestrating the murder of his young bride.
It will be remembered for many controversial reasons including when our justice system took a heavy knock, when red overalls invaded Parliament, and the lights went off, leaving many of us frustrated and in the dark.
The Independent on Saturday’s reporting team looks back on some of the major stories that made headlines in 2014.
Nkandlagate. That’s what the saga around President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead has been called for the past few years after the state funded upgrades worth R236 million.
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found Zuma had unduly benefited from the improvements and ordered him to pay for all non-security related expenses, including the swimming pool, amphitheatre, and cattle kraal.
This took a turn in Parliament when opposition parties insisted Zuma tell the country when he would “pay back the money”. He has not returned to Parliament to face questions from the MPs since.
In the ensuing uproar, EFF members were expelled and have been punished by a parliamentary committee made up of members of the ruling ANC.
Its findings are being challenged in court.
Madonsela said the police and National Treasury should help him determine how much he owed, but Zuma left it to Police Minister Nathi Nhleko to work out if he was liable.
Investigations led to a hearing, only part of which was open to the media. Eleven public servants allegedly were implicated in excessive spending on security upgrades and their disciplinary hearings have still to take place.
It emerged that Zuma himself had ordered two contractors to work on the security upgrades because they had worked for him previously.
The issue will continue to bedevil politics next year when Zuma returns to Parliament.
Various court challenges by opposition parties as well as the public protector, among others, will keep it in the public eye.
The murder of Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa was the most searched topic on Google in South Africa this year, according to the search engine.
The star skipper from uMlazi was shot and killed in Vosloorus while visiting singer Kelly Khumalo, the mother of one of his daughters. He was at the peak of his career.
His murder sparked a huge outcry and calls for gun laws to be reviewed.
Zanokuhle Mbatha, from Vosloorus was arrested but a murder charge was withdrawn. This week, the police said investigations were continuing.
It came as a shock one fine Sunday morning in November when swathes of South African homes had their power cut, with little warning.
A coal storage silo at Majuba power station in Mpumalanga had collapsed, causing rolling blackouts.
Load shedding was enforced, and Eskom announced that it would continue well into the New Year.
Eskom said it was “due to unforeseen technical problems at power stations, depleted water reserves and logistical issues relating to diesel supplies at our peaking power stations”.
Two weeks back, load shedding reached the critical level three, where communities were without power twice a day. Eskom said it hoped to keep the lights on over the festive season but has battled in recent days with equipment failures and maintenance problems.
South Africans should prepare a plan B of having cold meats on Christmas Day, if there is no electricity to cook the roast.
Paralympian jailed for 5 years
The former Paralympian may be out of jail before the State gets the chance argue he should have been found guilty of murder for shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year. He is expected to serve 10 months of the five year sentence he was given for culpable homicide.
He shot her dead through the locked door of the toilet in his Pretoria home, apparently thinking she was an intruder.
The case made international headlines for months and State prosecutor Gerrie Nel and defence advocate Barry Roux into media stars.
Earlier this month the British businessman was acquitted on charges that he orchestrated the killing of his wife, Anni Hindocha, while they were on honeymoon in Cape Town in November 2010.
The South African government fought a long and costly battle the get Diwani into a courtroom to answer the the charges.
The Western Cape High court found that the prosecution had failed to make out a case against Dewani, after finding that the evidence of the State’s star witness, Zola Tongo, was full of inconsistencies and lies.
Elections and new parties
The general election, held on May 7, to elect a new National Assembly and provincial legislatures in each province, was the fifth election held in the country and the first held since the death of Nelson Mandela. It was also the first time South African expatriates were allowed to vote.
The National Assembly election was won by the ANC, but with a reduced majority of 62.1 percent, down from 65.9 percent in the 2009 election. The official opposition, the DA increased its share of the vote from 16.7 percent to 22.2 percent, while the newly formed EFF obtained 6.4 percent of the vote.
This year, several parties contested the election for the first time and gained seats nationally and provincially.
Expelled former ANC Youth League leader, Julius Malema, leader and founder of the EFF, took a strong anti-ANC position within its ultra-left economic platform, such as calling for the expropriation of land without compensation and the nationalisation of South Africa’s mines and the SA Reserve Bank.
The National Freedom Party was formed by former IFP chairperson Zanele kaMawaza-Msibi.
The African Independent Congress contested the election nationally for the first time, while Agang South Africa was formed by anti-apartheid movement leader Mamphela Ramphele.
Last year, Zwelibanzi Masuku and Zakhithi Nxumalo were killed and 29 others injured when a three-storey section of the Tongaat Mall collapsed while still under construction.
The men were working on the R208 million project that was being developed by Rectangle Property Investments, whose sole member is Ravi Jagadasan, son of Durban businessman Jay Singh.
Singh, who is also developing the city’s low-cost housing project Cornubia, has been previously implicated in a number of allegedly shoddy building structures.
Early this year, a commission of enquiry was set up to investigate the mall’s collapse.
Various concerns cropped up during the testimony from the relevant experts, such as engineers, labour inspectors and municipal inspectors.
Most recently, the engineer of the mall denied that he had been “grossly negligent” by allowing deviations from his drawings for the mall.
Engineer Andre Ballack said Singh had failed on several occasions to furnish him with test cube results to determine the strength of the concrete. Ballack denied negligence.
The inquiry is expected to wrap up early next year.
In a devastating anti-climax, Bloemfontein teacher Pierre Korkie was killed when US operatives embarked on a mission to rescue him and photojournalist Luke Somers in Yemen two weeks ago. His family had hopes of his being home for Christmas this year.
Korkie, 57, was seized along with his wife Yolande in May 2013 in Yemen’s second city Taiz by members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Yolande was released in January following mediation by the Gift of the Givers charity, which said Korkie’s release was only hours away when US troops launched an operation to free an American captive held by the same militants.
The Bloemfontein teacher was killed during a failed US rescue raid in Yemen hours before he was to be released. Korkie and Somers were killed by the militants during the raid.
Dr Ian Player
A memorial service for conservation icon Ian Player is scheduled for next month at Hilton College.
Meanwhile, he has been laid to rest in a simple grave in the Karkloof hills where he died at his home last month.
Player was known internationally for his role in helping to rescue Africa’s white rhinos from extinction.
Although he had been in poor health for several years, he soldiered on almost to his last day.
EFF makes presence felt
It was a big year for new kids on the political scene – the EFF.
Not only did the party win 25 seats in Parliament in the May 7 elections, but grabbed most of the headlines for “shaking up” things in the National Assembly.
Soon after the party’s MPs grabbed almost everyone’s attention with their red overalls during the opening, they took centre stage again in a series of events that ruffled feathers and defined this year’s politics in Parliament.
Another dramatic day, September 17, leader Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu were booted out after accusing Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa of “murdering” 34 Marikana mineworkers. He was answering questions when Malema said: “Your hands have blood… of people who died in Marikana.”
Last week, its inaugural leadership conference descended into chaos in Bloemfontein when a faction within the fledgling party accused Malema of dictatorship during nominations for the central command team.
Events were described by some commentators as the unravelling of the EFF, citing its predecessor – Congress of the People – which suffered the same fate.
Chad le Clos
Durban's record-breaking swimming sensation Chad le Clos continued to amaze this year, bagging more medals.
The 22-year-old Olympian from Pinetown, who beat legend Michael Phelps to take gold at the 2012 London Olympics, this year became the first person in history to win all three butterfly events at a single world championship.
He also claimed a fourth gold in the 200m freestyle event.
The coast is in trouble. Inland’s okay.
That is as a result of good rains to soak the soil having fallen everywhere except the coastal areas, according to Mike Black of the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union.
He said recent drought conditions had been exacerbated by summer rains in the early part of the year ending abruptly in March, and very little winter rain having fallen.
The agricultural situation is in sync with that of dam levels, which are healthier inland than at the coast.
Hazelmere Dam remains critically low at around 39 percent – and dropping 1 percent a week – prompting water restrictions north of Durban.
THIS year saw the most widespread epidemic of the Ebola virus in history.
It began in Guinea last December and spread to Liberia and Sierra Leone. A small outbreak occurred in Nigeria and one case in Senegal, both now disease-free.
Several cases have been reported in Mali. Imported cases in the US and Spain have led to secondary infections of medical workers but have not spread further.
This week, the World Health Organisation and respective governments reported 18 581 suspected cases and 7 240 deaths. But the WHO says this understated the outbreak’s magnitude.
Whoonga and prostitution
The heroin-based R20 a “straw” whoonga probably eclipsed Durban Poison as most popular narcotic in the past couple of years, bringing brazen crime in its wake.
The scourge was most visible this year when thousands of addicts gathered at Albert Park, followed by taking over King Dinizulu Park to buy and use the drug.
From “Whoonga Park”, as their gathering places became known, many allegedly went on crime sprees in nearby suburbs. Prostitutes, often linked to the whoonga saga, lined streets such as Che Guevara (Moore) and Esther Roberts (Frere).
Residents started mobilising themselves and formed street patrols.
Critics claimed that when authorities raided Whoonga Park, they caused the addicts to scatter rather than address the root of the problem.
At one point vigilantes, believed to be from Dalton Hostel, rampaged, attacking people they vaguely suspected of being linked to the “whoonga” scene.
In another incident, a Glenwood High School pupil, Gabriele Ronchese, braved entering the crowded Whoonga Park to help an inhabitant who had been knocked down in a hit-and-run accident.
Miss South Africa, Rolene Strauss, beat 120 international contestants to be crowned Miss World 2014. The fourth-year Volksrust medical student was also the bookmakers’ favourite and she didn’t disappoint.
She become the first Miss South Africa to take this prestigious title since Anneline Kriel’s reign in 1974.
Berea Rovers relief
Durban sports club Berea Rovers’s future was hanging in the balance when it was ordered to move from Kings Park to make way for a new academy, incorporating the Liverpool International Football Academy.
After two weeks of uncertainty, and a possible looming court challenge, Berea Rovers signed an agreement with Hoy Park Management, the company overseeing the development. The club is to undergo a massive facelift.
Nigeria building collapse
On SEPTEMBER 12, more than 100 people, including 85 South Africans, died when a guesthouse collapsed at T B Joshua's Synagogue Church of All Nations in the Ikotun-Egbe area of Lagos, Nigeria. The collapse, which shocked the world, was captured on camera. Last month after several delays including DNA analysis and diplomatic red tape, the remains of 74 South Africans were repatriated.
- Independent on Saturday]]>
It will be a bleak festive season for Joburg families who have lost young sons to violent crime this year.]]> |||
With only five days to Christmas, it will be a bleak festive season for Joburg families who have lost young sons to violent crime this year.
The wounds are still raw for the parents of Taegrin Morris and Luke Tibbetts as they face their first festive season, traditionally a time for families to be together, without their little boys.
“I won’t say we are doing okay. It is going to be a tough Christmas for my family,” said Luke’s uncle, Llewellyn Valentine.
Three-year-old Luke died when he was struck by a stray bullet fired in a gang shooting in Westbury in August. He was seated on his mother Candice’s lap, in a car, when the bullet wounded him in the head.
He died in hospital a few days later.
Valentine said Candice Tibbetts, his sister, was not coping with her son’s death. She was admitted to hospital a few months ago after trying to “hurt herself”.
The family had no special plans and would visit the little one’s grave on Christmas Day, Valentine said.
To the east of Joburg, in Reiger Park, it is a sombre time for Taegrin’s parents, Chantal and Elwin, the Morris family’s spokesman, Grant Esterhuizen, says.
“They’re obviously going to be at home and it will bring back a lot of memories,” he said.
Taegrin, 4, was caught in the seat belt when Chantal, confronted by hijackers, tried to remove him from her car. The hijackers sped off, dragging him beside the car. He was later found dead next to the abandoned car.
Thamsanqa Twala was arrested in connection with the hijacking, but the murder charge was later withdrawn.
Cuburne van Wyk, 3, and also from Reiger Park, disappeared in August while playing outside with his siblings. His burnt remains were found near a mine dump three days later. His parents are enduring a painful wait for justice. They expressed their frustration after the case against Nathaniel Mpoku was postponed again, to January 5.
- Saturday Star]]>
A stash of dagga, with a street value of R80 000, has been found in a deserted shack at Skiet, Eastern Cape Police said.]]> |||
A stash of dagga, with a street value of R80 000, has been found in a deserted shack at Skiet, an informal settlement in Butterworth, Eastern Cape Police said on Saturday.
“No arrest has been made but we are happy that we removed this dangerous drug away from the people,” said Captain Jackson Manatha.
He said the dagga, which weighs 80 kilograms all together, was found in the shack with some of it already rolled up into zols, and the rest still in bags.
Manatha said it seemed the shack was being used to prepare and store the drug before it was sold. - Sapa]]>
It was a dramatic day for the parents of two young boys who were stabbed multiple times in a robbery in their home in Soweto.]]> |||
It was a dramatic day for the parents of two young boys who were stabbed multiple times in a robbery in their Dobsonville Extension 3 home this week.
Charges against the man implicated in the robbery were provisionally withdrawn as his case had not been registered at the Protea Magistrate’s Court in Soweto.
In court on Friday, prosecutors said the case against the man had to be withdrawn because there was insufficient evidence to keep him in custody.
Barely two hours later, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said the case had been registered and Sphiwe Harris Nhlapo, 30, also from Soweto appeared on charges of assault, house robbery and malicious damage to property.
The case was postponed to December 24.
The unexpected decision by the South Gauteng director of public prosecutions to place the matter back on the court’s roll is of little comfort to the boys’ father, Lehlohonolo Majara.
Majara said he had been sent from pillar to post, not knowing whether there was an accused and whether the person would be charged.
“I’m confused. One minute we are told he is not appearing and the next he is. There is a person who planned this whole thing. (The police) didn’t even want me to see the guy. I got there and the matter was concluded. I didn’t even get the chance to see this man’s face.”
Majara said he couldn’t understand what drove the robbers to stab his kids.
Lebogang Khumalo, 3, Tshiamo, 2, their 20-year-old mother, Busisiwe Khumalo, and grandmother, Nancy Khumalo, were attacked while they were asleep in their Dobsonville Extension 3 home on Wednesday.
Robbers stabbed Lebogang and Tshiamo repeatedly on the head, face and arms. They also wounded the boys’ mother and grandmother.
The robbers got away with the TV set and a few electrical appliances.
Speaking at her aunt’s home on Friday, Busisiwe said she had suspicions about who attacked them. They had moved into the house only two months ago.
“I have given the police all the leads they need to follow. I’m just happy to be alive with my kids,” she said.
Nancy Khumalo said they had been informed that they needed to go to court next week.
“I don’t know where they are taking us because that is not the guy who attacked us. He was much shorter. I remember him clearly,” she said.
Police believed that the suspect had not acted alone during the robbery, spokesman Warrant Officer Kay Makhubela said.
“He couldn’t have taken the TV on his own and also smashed the car. We suspect someone might have assisted him. We will carry on with our investigations. We will make further arrests if there are more people.”
NPA spokesman Phindi Louw said the decision to place the matter back in court was taken after the director of public prosecutions reviewed the docket.
She said the case had been postponed for further investigation and to allow Nhlapo to obtain legal aid.
- Saturday Star]]>
A judge has found in favour of a Benoni widow who lost her husband, sole breadwinner, in a motorcyle accident in 2011.]]> |||
The time has come to move away from the sexist criteria of looking at a widow’s looks and how she carried herself to determine her prospects of remarrying in the determination of how much she should receive in damages.
This was the comment from a judge sitting in the Pretoria High Court, who presided over a claim by a Benoni widow, Elizabeth Robinson.
Her husband was 33 years old when he died in a motorcycle accident in January 2011. He was the sole breadwinner.
His widow claimed damages from the Road Accident Fund on behalf of herself and their minor child for loss of support.
The RAF conceded liability for the damages and funeral expenses. However, it disputed the amount of damages claimed for loss of support.
In dealing with this issue, the court looked at the widow’s prospects of remarrying and acquiring additional income.
Lawyers acting for Robinson argued that the remarriage contingency is contrary to the new constitutional dispensation, as it offends against the gender equality provisions.
A 1963 judgment provided that, among other things, the age, character and appearance of the widow had to be considered by the court in deciding on the contingency.
Acting Judge KL Manamela remarked that there were no fixed bases for assessing the prospects of remarriage, but that the court must determine this issue based on fairness and reasonableness.
He said that he was “relieved” the widow did not testify at the hearing, “lest I was expected to include in my assessment her appearance as an indicator of her prospects of marriage”. He added: “Perhaps the time had come to jettison these patently sexist, insensitive and baseless criteria.”
“We may have to develop some new forms of assessment which are not gender-based.”
The judge deducted 20 percent as a “remarriage contingency”.
He ordered the RAF to pay her R5.2 million.
- Independent on Saturday]]>
Convicted killer Frikkie du Preez, one of the so-called “Waterkloof four”, was released on parole, correctional services said.]]> |||
Convicted killer Frikkie du Preez, one of the so-called “Waterkloof four”, was released on parole on Friday, correctional services said.
“The department can confirm that the offender has been released on parole as per order of the parole board,” spokesman Logan Maistry said.
He said if an offender had served half their sentence, they were eligible for parole.
“If the offender violates the parole conditions, they will be put back into custody.”
The “Waterkloof four” - Du Preez, Christoff Becker, Gert van Schalkwyk and Reinach Tiedt - beat, stabbed and kicked a homeless man to death in Moreleta Park, Pretoria, on the night of December 1, 2001. The victim was never identified.
They were found guilty of murder in June 2005.
In May 2008, the High Court in Pretoria rejected their bid to appeal.
They were released on bail on February 11 this year, after serving five-and-a-half years of their 12-year jail terms.
Du Preez and Becker's parole was revoked when a video emerged of the pair drinking what appeared to be alcohol and using a cellphone in the Kgosi Mampuru prison where they were serving their sentence.
The pair was sent back to prison on February 28.
Becker was released on parole on Tuesday. - Sapa]]>
Hundreds of South Africans have been caught in an e-ticketing scam that has left some stranded in the UK.]]> |||
Hundreds of South Africans, most of them expats living in London, have been caught in an e-ticketing scam that has left some stranded in the UK, while others have had to shell out thousands of pounds to come home for Christmas.
Complaints of fraud have been filed against Kim Robbertse, an independent travel agent in Polokwane, who is understood to have offered discounted fares and to have collected millions of rand from consumers.
Paul Swanson, a Capetonian living in London, had to pay £4 700 (about R85 000) for tickets for his family to come to Cape Town last Saturday, after discovering that the British Airways e-tickets for which he had paid Robbertse were not valid. He paid her R18 000 for tickets for two adults and a child.
Swanson’s sister, Nicole, said her extended family had collectively paid about R170 000 to Robbertse for flights.
They had lodged complaints of fraud with the Durbanville police station.
Teunika Carstens, formerly of Brits, was due to arrive in South Africa last night on a Virgin Atlantic flight. However, she discovered this week that her family’s e-tickets were invalid, and that the R25 000 she had paid to Robbertse was apparently not paid over to the airline.
“Tickets are not valid and we will not be flying out tomorrow evening. Heartbreaking for us and those who love us,” reads a post by Carstens on Facebook.
“I keep looking at the Virgin page where it is counting down the time, wishing it is all a bad dream.”
Carstens and the Swansons are among 239 members of a Facebook group called “Action Against KR”.
It was set up this week to facilitate communication between consumers who paid Robbertse for flights, only to find that their bookings were only reservations, or had been cancelled.
Consumers got wind of Robbertse’s offer through an e-mail that went viral earlier this year. The offer was for “open return tickets for the fixed price of R7 500” apiece. Consumers paid in advance – into Robbertse’s personal bank account – to secure the tickets, and were told they could confirm their dates at a later stage.
One of the members of the Facebook group said she had recommended Robbertse because her parents had done business with Robbertse’s mother, who had run a travel agency before she retired.
Late last week, consumers began realising their bookings were not legitimate. When they tried to reach Robbertse they were told by a woman answering her cellphone that she was in a coma following a car accident involving a taxi.
Nicole Swanson, who lives in Cape Town, became suspicious when she could find no record of Robbertse at hospitals in Polokwane or Pretoria. She called the Polokwane Athletics Club, after a Google search showed Robbertse was a member. She spoke to someone who had just seen Robbertse – apparently in perfect health.
A Durbanville consumer, who asked not to be named, phoned Robbertse’s father. Shortly afterwards he got a call from Robbertse, who told him she had run into cash-flow problems and would refund him. He has yet to receive his refund.
Asked to respond earlier this week, Robbertse refused to comment on the alleged accident or the apparent scam.
She said, however, that she was aware that fraud charges had been laid against her in South Africa and in the UK. She added she had been advised by her attorney, Elmarie Bierman, not to speak to the press.
Bierman did not respond to an e-mail request for comment, and there was no response to calls to her landline or her cellphone.
It emerged this week that Robbertse is a saleswoman for a kitchen company in Polokwane. She is not registered with the International Air Transport Association (Iata), yet she made bookings using the ticketing services of registered travel agents.
Stephen Forbes, the spokesman for BA, confirmed yesterday that the airline’s corporate security department had found that Robbertse was not an Iata-registered agent. He said that when the airline was made aware of the issue, her “access to BA’s inventory was revoked”.
“We also informed the travel agency issuing the tickets about the action we had taken.
“We always advise that anyone booking airline tickets do so through ba.com or a recognised Iata-registered agent.”
The travel agency that gave Robbertse use of its ticketing services is Serendipity Tours in Durban.
An e-mail from Donovan Moodley, sales manager for Serendipity, to consumer Alison Wilde states that Serendipity issues tickets on behalf of non-Iata agents – and “currently hosts over 300 (such) members”.
Moodley’s e-mail to Wilde says Serendipity was made aware of Robbertse’s actions a week ago and immediately terminated its ticketing services to her.
Robbertse was advertising a fare of R7 500 valid until December next year.”This airfare was definitely non-existent. We have issued a number of tickets on her behalf ex-London to SA, issued at the current available fares,” he said.
Yesterday Kim van den Berg of Serendipity told the Saturday Star that it was common practice for agencies to issue tickets on behalf of non-IATA agents. Her agency had previously issued approximately 50 valid tickets for Robbertse.
Van den Berg said Serendipity had not issued any fraudulent tickets on behalf of Robbertse.
“An itinerary is just your flight details; the format is similar to that of an eticket, which is why people are assuming they have a ticket. The documentation should read eticket and there should be a valid eticket number, which is 13 digits,” she said.
Consumers like Paul Swanson are angry that the airlines showed their bookings as “confirmed” - they did not know that their tickets had not been paid for.
Lisa van Vlaanderen also has a BA “confirmation number” on her itinerary, which was issued by Travelport and reflects Serendipity as the travel agent. Van Vlaanderen, who is a member of BA's executive club, says when she enters her booking reference into the airline’s online account, it reflects an actual booking.
“But if you click on it, there is no e-ticket attached, yet you have no way of knowing you need to check this. There is no warning that this ticket is not paid for - so the system leads you to believe you have a legitimate ticket,” she said.
Trudie Broekmann, a Cape Town attorney who specialises in consumer law, said the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) gave consumers recourse when a product or service was defective.
“Suppliers - and the CPA provides a broad definition of a supplier - can be held jointly and severally liable for a defective service or product,” she said. Her view was that the agent, travel agency that enabled the agent to issue the defective ticket, and the airlines involved could be held liable for a defective service or product in this case.
A travel industry insider, who asked not to be named, said the travel industry in South Africa was self-regulated. It wasn’t right for a travel agency to allow a non-IATA agent to use its ticketing services, he said.
“Consumers should make sure they know who they are dealing with; verify the agent and agency by checking the detail on their website, and never pay money into an agent's personal bank account. You should only ever pay into a business account. Check that the agent is licensed under a host company, which gives you recourse against the company,” he warned.
Last month the owner of a Club Travel franchise in Gauteng was sentenced to 10 years in prison, without the option of a fine, for fraud and theft of more than R3 million. The fraud was first uncovered in 2011.
- Saturday Star]]>
The R1.7m that was raised to help Pierre Korkie after his expected release in Yemen, will now assist his widow and children start afresh.]]> |||
The R1.7 million that was raised to help kidnap victim Pierre Korkie and his family after his expected release in Yemen, will now assist his widow and children start afresh, a family spokesman said on Saturday.
“It's Yolande and the two kids left and they have to make a fresh start,” said Daan Nortier.
“A trust has been created to give it the money a new life.”
Korkie and American photographer Luke Somers were killed during an attempt by US special forces to free them from their al-Qaeda captors in Yemen on December 6.
At the time, the South African charity, the Gift of the Givers had already negotiated his imminent release.
Korkie and Yolande were kidnapped by al-Qaeda militants in Taiz, Yemen, last May.
Yolande was released on January 10 and returned to South Africa on January 13.
Previously, the kidnappers had demanded a US3 million (about R32.5m) ransom in exchange for Korkie's safe return.
However, Nortjie said on Saturday that, according to the final agreement that Gift of the Givers had reached with his captors, the money raised in South Africa had not been needed to secure his freedom.
“The R1.7 million was not a ransom to negotiate the release.”
Instead, he said, the donations had always been allocated to assist with Pierre Korkie's return and the family's resettlement in South Africa - since the family had previously been based in Yemen.
Nortier said that the money had already been sent to Yemen before Korkie was killed, but that it was now available for the family in South Africa.
The family's spokesman said that Yolande, son Pieter-Ben, age 17, and fifteen-year-old daughter Lize-Marie, were still in “terrible shock” but were being supported with “vast love...from all over”.
“Yolande is a woman of faith and she is being borne by her faith,” he said.
At the time of the kidnappings, Korkie was a teacher in Yemen, while his wife did relief work in hospitals.
Korkie's body was repatriated back to South Africa earlier this month.
The family subsequently held a memorial service in Bloemfontein, before he was buried in a private ceremony. - Sapa]]>
The body of a sixth woman was found in the vicinity of the Century City railway station.]]> |||
Cape Town -
The body of a sixth woman was found in the vicinity of the Century City railway station on Friday, ramping up fears that a serial killer is operating in the area.
Police discovered the body on Friday afternoon, and have not ruled out the possibility that more bodies are buried in the stretch of land.
The bodies have been discovered between the Century City and Acacia Park stations, land owned by Transnet, over a 10-month period from February.
Before yesterday’s discovery, the latest body was found a week ago.
All the bodies are those of women of the same race, and apparently within the same age group.
While police have not officially said they suspect a serial killer is behind the murders, as news of the discoveries spread this week so did speculation that the women were the victims of a serial killer.
Yesterday police spokesman Andre Traut confirmed that officers came across the latest body while conducting an ongoing investigation into the crimes in the area.
“During the investigation I’ve been informed that another body of a female has been found. It can’t (yet) be determined how long it was was there for,” he said late on Friday.
Weekend Argus understands that the body was decomposed, indicating it had probably been there for some time.
Traut reiterated that it was too soon to say whether there were links between the six bodies, or to reveal how the women were killed.
On Friday a relative of a missing woman, who had apparently been headed for the Century City area when she was last heard from, said detectives had told her they would probably have more information on the identities of the dead women next week.
Traut confirmed that, as part of their investigation, police were trying to establish the identities of the victims.
Earlier this week he said that, while there was no suggestion the crimes were the work of one or the same suspects using the same modus operandi, “we are looking at all possibilities, and are not excluding a link”.
Traut did not say how many bodies had been discovered.
Before yesterday’s discovery, Kensington Community Police Forum spokesman Lorenzo Sadan said five bodies had been found.
He told Weekend Argus he suspected the women had been killed elsewhere. “We are of the opinion they were killed at a different geographic location, and their bodies dumped here.”
As far as he was aware, the dead women had not worked in the area, otherwise, he said, he believed their disappearances would have been noticed.
Sadan said he hoped forensic testing or facial reconstructions were being done on the bodies so that the findings or images could be used to see if they matched any missing persons cases.
He said the area where the bodies were found was known for illegal dumping.
The Kensington Community Safety Watch, of which he is a member, was organising a clean-up campaign to try to get residents to grasp the importance of keeping the area tidy.
In a statement this week, Transnet said it had been asked to level heaps of sand that were there to prevent trucks getting to the area so they could illegally dump their loads.
The statement said Transnet had removed all dumped rubble, erected signs and placed pieces of concrete in the area to prevent further dumping.
But this only worked for a while because the concrete was removed to allow construction vehicles into the area for the building of Kensington station.
“An agreement was later reached with the community to install a boom gate to control access to the site in an effort to curb illegal dumping.
“Transnet honoured the request, but the boom gate was vandalised and later stolen,” the statement said.
- Saturday Argus]]>
After sentencing heated words were exchanged outside court between the families of the victims and Ntshongwana.]]> |||
‘We feel the pain of the victims’ families, but he is still my brother and I’ll always support him.”
These were the words of Luleka Ntshongwana moments after her brother, former Blue Bulls rugby player and convicted axe murderer Phindile Joseph Ntshongwana, was sentenced to five life terms in the Durban High Court on Friday.
After sentencing heated words were exchanged outside court between the families of the victims and Ntshongwana. At one point the families had to be separated by court officials after nearly coming to blows.
Judge Irfaan Khalil sentenced Ntshongwana, 37, to five life terms for four murders and a rape. The father of one was also sentenced to four years each for two attempted murders, two years for assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm, and four years for kidnapping.
Ntshongwana killed Thembelenkosini Cebekhulu in Montclair on March 20, 2011; Paulos Hlongwa in Lamontville two days later, Simon Ngidi in Umbilo the following day; and an unidentified man in Yellowwood Park some time that week. All were hacked to death with an axe. Two of the victims were beheaded.
Judge Khalil said witness testimony and forensic evidence left no doubt as to the brutality of the murders. “One is filled with a sense of revulsion and disbelief at this man’s inhumanity. The victims posed no threat at all. One cannot imagine the pain and suffering the deceased experienced at being killed in such a manner. The shock and horror they experienced as they realised what was to befall each of them is unimaginable.”
Ntshongwana also raped and kidnapped a woman from Nongoma in Zululand.
Judge Khalil rejected the defence’s assertion that the rape was not so severe and did not meet the threshold for a life sentence. There were a number of aggravating circumstances, he said.
Ntshongwana kidnapped the woman, held her captive for three days and raped her three times. “He refused to use a condom despite being asked by the victim to do so,” the judge said.
The woman was in court yesterday and sobbed throughout the sentencing. She breathed a sigh of relief at the sentence.
Ntshongwana also attacked and tried to kill two men, one in Umlazi on March 21, 2011, and the other in Lamontville on March 23.
Handing down sentence, Khalil said he did not accept that Ntshongwana was genuinely remorseful, but was regretful at being caught for his crimes. “There was nothing in his background that could have predisposed him to crime. He had a close and loving relationship with his family,” he said.
The judge said Ntshongwana had targeted vulnerable victims and had no particular reason to kill them. He described the crimes as premeditated, brutal and barbaric.
“He purposefully targeted people walking alone. He chased them down and then when they fell, he chopped them. He intended decapitating his victims and was largely successful,” the judge said to gasps from the public gallery.
As Judge Khalil handed down sentence, Ntshongwana, dressed in black pants, a striped T-shirt and carrying bottled water showed little emotion and looked down at the floor.
The public gallery cheered after his sentence was announced.
Outside court relatives of the victims and ANC supporters sang derogatory songs about Ntshongwana’s mother and sister. As the singing grew louder, anger was palpable on Luleka’s face. She stormed towards the group, shouting that they had “got their justice” and should now leave her brother and family alone.
This only infuriated the crowd. Gugu Mbele headed towards Luleka and the two had to be separated by a court official. Mbele’s son in law, Paulos Hlongwa, was one of Ntshongwana’s victims.
“My daughter is a widow, thanks to him. My four grandkids don’t have a father thanks to him, so I will not keep quiet. At least your brother is still alive,” Mbele shouted, pointing at Luleka.
Addressing the media after she had calmed down, Luleka said her family understood the anger of the victims’ families. “We do feel the pain of the people who lost loved ones. I’ve cried many tears about this and I have no more tears to cry,” she said calmly. “I have peace in my heart. My brother is the kindest person I know and I love him to bits. He is still my brother and I’ll always support him.”
Luleka said his mental illness was disregarded.
“We respect the judge’s ruling, but we do not agree with it. We’re not saying he should receive special treatment, but we’re asking what’s going to happen if he relapses,” she said.
Judge Khalil rejected the defence’s claim that Ntshongwana’s mental illness played a role in his crimes, saying he had “presence of mind” when committing the murders. The steps taken to avoid detection were an aggravating circumstance. “His behaviour was methodical, rational and calculating. He attempted to hide behind his mental illness as an excuse for his criminal rampage. It is clear he acted with scant regard for human life.”
Ntshongwana’s mother, Nomafa Letlaka, said the family would appeal. Her son, she said, had been to a number of psychiatric hospitals where he was declared mentally ill but was never admitted.
Because she was at work most of the time, her son was forced to stay at home alone and never took his medication.
- Independent on Saturday]]>
The department of Correctional Services intends to intensify security at all its facilities to prevent inmates from escaping.]]> |||
The department of Correctional Services intends to intensify security at all its facilities during the festive season to prevent inmates from escaping.
Spokesman Logan Maistry however said there had been no recorded attempts or escapes this year.
The last escape at the Kgosi Mampuru II facility was when serial escapist, Ananias Mathe escaped in 2006.
The Kokstad Prison in KwaZulu-Natal where Mathe is now kept has not had an escape since its inception in 2002.
“With the festive season, the department is again faced with security and safety challenges unique to this period of the year.
This is, generally, a period during which inmates are desperate to escape for various reasons, which may include to participate in criminal activities or simply to be with family or friends.
“For this reason special emphasis is placed on security measures in correctional centres during December and January, with increased visibility and involvement of managers at all levels in the operational activities at the country’s 243 correctional centres,” Maistry said.
Other law enforcement agencies such as the SAPS and emergency services would play a role in achieving this objective.
Maistry said they would limit recreation activities outside the secure areas through Operation Vala.
“Offenders will not be allowed to participate in activities that would require them to leave the correctional centre or involve mass external partners.
“Offenders will participate in indoor sports activities.”
Maistry also warned that members of the public who would aid prisoners in escaping would be prosecuted.
Lee-Ann January has said that she left UCT before her final examination because of racism she experienced.]]> |||
Cape Town -
A former UCT arts student sweeps streets in Bredasdorp, while someone else takes care of her artworks dedicated to Anene Booysen – the teenager raped and murdered there in February last year.
Lee-Ann January, who said she decided to use art as a tool to heal the Bredasdorp community and create awareness about abuse, said she had studied art at UCT’s Michaelis School of Fine Art, but left before her final examination because of racism she experienced from some students and lecturers.
“In our class of 60 students, only eight of us were non-white. I could not handle the racist comments from the students and some of the lecturers, so I just left before I could complete my degree,” she said.
South African Students’ Congress (Sasco) Provincial Chairman Luzuko Bashman said the organisation had previously received complaints of racism and condemned it.
He said universities should work towards representing the democratic society.
“Students should bring forward their complaints and stories of racism to Sasco,” he encouraged.
UCT confirmed that January was a student in the Michaelis School of Fine Art from 2009 to 2012, in the BA Fine Arts programme, and had left the programme without completing her degree.
UCT spokeswoman Pat Lucas said they were aware of various allegations January had levelled against the university.
“We reject the substance of her allegations and urge caution in accepting her version. We are not at liberty to discuss the details of the case, as various ethical considerations are at play relating to Ms January. We also caution the Cape Times against taking one person’s allegations as fact and making assumptions about the university based on that person’s untested version,” Lucas said.
January said her experience at UCT had not hindered her ability to create an anti-violence message in her community. She had also experienced the pain of sexual abuse when a 13-year-old family member was raped by a relative a few years ago.
The violent murder and rape of Booysen inspired her to highlight the plight of women through art, she said.
Her mother, Joan, keeps watch of her work titled DosierX in the local library while January works her shift until 4.30pm.
“Lee-Anne was always a creative child growing up and I am proud of what she did with her artwork,” Joan said
A Durban police officer shot and killed his 19-year-old disabled son before turning the gun on himself, police said.]]> |||
Durban - A Durban police officer shot and killed his 19-year-old disabled son before turning the gun on himself, KwaZulu-Natal police said on Friday.
The 48-year-old officer had gone to pick up his disabled son from where he was staying in Merebank, Durban, on Wednesday, Major Thulani Zwane said.
“Yesterday (Thursday) morning, the officer was found shot dead along with his son on a beach in Umkomaas,” said Zwane.
A suicide note and a gun were found on the scene. A murder and inquest docket were opened. - Sapa]]>
“A police officer was killed after he tried to shoot at colleagues in the police station where he worked.”]]> |||
Durban - A police officer was shot dead by his colleagues in Melmoth on Friday, KwaZulu-Natal police said.
The 27-year-old was killed after he tried to shoot at colleagues in the police station where he worked, Major Thulani Zwane said.
Earlier, the man shot and killed a four-year-old boy and injured two girls.
The Citizen reported the shooting happened at the home of the policeman's girlfriend. It was unclear if she was home at the time.
“The motive of the shooting is unknown at this stage,” said Zwane.
A murder and two attempted murder dockets had been opened. - Sapa]]>
KwaZulu-Natal has the most people infected with TB in South Africa, provincial health department head Sibongile Zungu said.]]> |||
Durban - KwaZulu-Natal has the most people infected with TB in South Africa, provincial health department head Sibongile Zungu said on Friday.
“Our province is counted as the most affected, together with the Eastern Cape, Gauteng and Western Cape,” Zungu said in a speech prepared for delivery.
According to statistics from 2013, there were 99 067 cases of TB in the province, of which 6916 were children under the age of five.
The districts with more than 1000 cases per 100 000 population were Ugu, eThekwini and uThungulu.
KwaZulu-Natal also had the highest co-infection rate of TB and HIV, which currently stood at 65 percent.
“We know that the biggest impediment here is the issue of a delay in the diagnosis and treatment of TB in people with HIV.”
Despite the high rate of infection in the province, Zungu said the work done by government, developmental partners and non-governmental organisations was helping reduce the rate of TB infections.
Zungu said statistics showed improvements since 2005.
“The defaulter rate was sitting at 20 percent compared to where it is now at five percent.”
She attributed the decrease in TB infections to efforts to integrate HIV management and TB treatment.
“Today we recognise that working together we have indeed successfully integrated the TB and HIV services and these are now accessible and available in all the 779 KZN public health facilities,” said Zungu. - Sapa]]>
Seven men accused of killing six men whose bodies were found near Kraaifontein appeared in court, the NPA said.]]> |||
Cape Town - Seven men accused of killing six men whose bodies were found near Kraaifontein, Cape Town, appeared in the Blue Downs Magistrate's Court on Friday, the NPA said.
Magistrate Tammy Lendor postponed the matter to Tuesday to receive bail information and for one of the men's lawyers to be in court, National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesman Eric Ntabazalila said in an e-mail to Sapa.
Prosecutor Hamley Marquard indicated the seven were each charged with six counts of murder.
They are Bandikhaya Koni, 37, Tshepo Alfred Mathabela, 36, Mncedisi Nditha, 37, Montile Tyokhwe, 34, Ayanda Koni, 19, Ayanda Booi, 24, and Michael Ncasa.
Charges against Ncasa were withdrawn due to insufficient evidence, Ntabazalila said.
All the accused, except Nditha, applied for Legal Aid. Nditha indicated he had a private lawyer who was not in court at the time.
The remaining accused would remain in Pollsmoor prison. Ntabazalila said the investigation was continuing and more arrests could be made once the investigation was finalised.
Police suspected the six, aged between 18 and 30, had been stoned to death. They were found lying face down, their hands tied behind their backs, by passers-by in Joostenberg Vlakte on Tuesday, December 9. - Sapa]]>
A Dundee woman donned a Zulu attire on the Day of Reconciliation to show her “spirit of real reconciliation”.]]> |||
If we were to make an effort to learn more about each other’s languages, cultures and origins, that would be a sign that we had truly reconciled as South Africans.
Those were the words of Dundee woman Elisabeth Durham, who attended the Day of Reconciliation commemoration at Blood River on Tuesday.
Wearing traditional Zulu attire on the day, Durham said she donned the colourful outfit every year “because it shows my spirit of real reconciliation, of a white female wearing a Zulu man’s traditional attire with some female elements, with the hat and the special belt that women wear”.
Durham, who also works as a tour guide, said her definition and understanding of reconciliation was wanting to know what was significant about other cultures, customs and values, showing genuine interest and trying to understand.
Although December 16 was meant to be about reconciliation, there were still two separate events at the Ncome River (Blood River) for Zulus and Afrikaners, who fought at the battle of Blood River in 1838.
The Zulus would dance, perform traditional songs and feast, while the Afrikaners across the river had a communal service, which they said was to honour a vow their forefathers made that every year on this day they would go to the battlefield to commemorate their victory in the battle.
Durham has, for the past 10 years, been going to both the Zulu and Afrikaner events.
“It’s a big shame that the Afrikaners celebrate on their own and, generally speaking, fear to go to the other side. I really wish for true reconciliation before I die,” she said.
On Tuesday, President Jacob Zuma encouraged Zulus and Afrikaners to share the day with the “other side”. Some took up the suggestion and met to chat and share their experience of the day.
Durham said she was a colourful person and liked wearing the bright Zulu attire.
“I am totally fascinated with the Zulu tradition. Being a tour guide, I enjoy talking about it to tourists. It is unique in South Africa.
“I also adore the traditional dancing and know a lot about it, having myself organised an African music festival about 10 years ago.”