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    Cape Town - One man died and three others were injured when their boat capsized near Hermanus in the Western Cape on Tuesday, the National Sea Rescue Institute said.


    Cape Town - One man died and three others were injured when their boat capsized near Hermanus in the Western Cape on Tuesday, the National Sea Rescue Institute said.

    The 29-year-old man's body was recovered by a member of the public, said NSRI spokesman Craig Lambinon.

    A 47-year-old man, who had stayed with the boat, was rescued by a nearby private boat. A 19-year-old man and a 12-year-old boy managed to swim ashore, Lambinon said. They were from Pretoria. The boat capsized off-shore around 1pm while they were returning from fishing.


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    The Cape Town mayor's leave got off to a hair-raising start when she was a victim of a smash and grab.


    Cape Town - Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille’s annual leave got off to a hair-raising start when she was a victim of a smash and grab at the notorious N2 and Vanguard Driver intersection.

    De Lille was driving alone from Cape Town to a friend in Rylands when she took the Vanguard Drive exit at about 6pm on Christmas Eve.

    At the traffic light, she noticed two young men. One walked past her to the back of her private BMW 328 and back to the front again. Seconds later, her passenger side window was smashed.

    “It happened in a split second,” De Lille said.

    She said the men made off with her handbag which was on the floor on the passenger side of the vehicle. Her watch, R3 000 in cash, cellphone and credit cards were stolen.

    “I was so shocked I did not know what to do. The robot changed and cars hooted,” De Lille said.

    Metro police officers on Vanguard Drive gave chase but no one was arrested because the suspects disappeared into the Langa area.

    A case was opened at Bonteheuwel police station and transferred to Bishop Lavis police.

    Police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Andre Traut said the police were aware of the incident and it was under investigation.

    Traut urged motorists to exercise caution when they approached robots. He advised them not stop to near the vehicle in front to avoid being “boxed in and ensure an easy getaway”.

    “Conceal valuables, don’t leave cellphones, tablets and laptops on the seat in easy view of would-be criminals,” Traut said.

    De Lille advised women, especially because they were seen as soft targets, to place their bags in the boot instead.

    “I would like to take this unfortunate opportunity to warn all motorists to take extra care when travelling this festive season.

    “Ensure your valuables are out of sight, remain aware of your surroundings and keep your doors locked,” De Lille said.

    Traut said that while police were aware of the Vanguard Drive intersection as a hot spot, he did not want to identify other areas of concern because “crime patterns constantly shifted”.

    Cape Argus

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    A bag filled with what is suspected to be about R9mn worth of cocaine washed up on Hartenbos beach on Christmas Day.



    Cape Town - A bag filled with what is suspected to be about R9 million worth of cocaine washed up on Mossel Bay’s Hartenbos beach on Christmas Day.

    A lifeguard spotted the bundle floating just beyond the surf break at 4.30pm.

    “He first thought it was someone in the water,” said Mossel Bay Surf Lifesaving Club chairman Warren Prins, who is also the president of Eden Lifesaving. “When he checked with the binoculars, he saw it was some kind of object.”

    The lifeguard went into the water to retrieve it and found a black bag attached to a rope and a “big drum”.

    Inside the bag were 25 packets weighing over 1kg each. Police said it seemed to be cocaine.

    Police spokeswoman Bernadine Steyn said the packets would be sent to their laboratory in Cape Town to check whether it was cocaine.

    If it proved to be the drug, she said, it could have an estimated street value of about R8.75m.

    Just how the bag ended up bobbing in the waters at Hartenbos, however, is still a mystery. Asked if they had suspects or clues, Steyn said she could not “divulge information under investigation”.

    Prins, for one, had his own suspicions as to how it could have come about that the bag was in the water near the beach. “I think it was probably a drop-off. It could’ve been that the guys got spooked or the currents took it away. Even the slightest of currents could’ve carried it away.”

    Prins, who also works in law enforcement, believed it would be difficult to find a suspect that was linked to such an unusual discovery

    “It was a big surprise, especially because it was such a big bag that was floating out in the open. The value of it was quite shocking,” he said.

    The beach had been busy on Christmas Day and, though the lifeguard team had tried to be subtle about recovering what was later found to be suspected contraband, the incident had drawn quite a bit of attention once the police were called in.

    Cape Times

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    A girl, 10, accidentally shot and killed her mom with an air rifle her brother got as a Christmas present, a report said.



    Cape Town - A 10-year-old girl accidentally shot and killed her mother with an air rifle her brother got as a Christmas present, Beeld reported on Friday.

    The 45-year-old woman died in a Cape Town hospital on Christmas eve, following the accident in Oude Westhoff, Bellville.

    The rifle was a Chrismas present for the girl's older brother.

    Police spokesman Lt-Col Andre Traut told Beeld they were investigating. -Sapa

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  • 12/27/13--00:38: Solo sailor lost all at sea
  • Michael Kuun is safely home in Benoni. But he has lost his yacht and life savings, and almost lost his life.


    Johannesburg - Solo sailor Michael Kuun is safely home in Benoni. But he has lost his yacht and life savings, and almost lost his life in a mid-ocean storm off the West Coast.

    Kuun, 47, had to be pulled from raging seas on Sunday on his dream cruise after a dramatic sea rescue deep in the mid-Atlantic, 350 nautical miles north-west of Saldanha Bay.

    Kuun and his girlfriend, Wendy Swanepoel, set sail from East London two months ago on the yacht Miscky – bought in East London – and were headed for the Caribbean.

    They had heard about a business opportunity on the islands and sold up their homes and possessions, giving up their jobs to start a new adventure.

    “We decided that sailing there would be a great experience because, once there, we could explore the islands and still have somewhere to live,” Kuun said from a relative’s home in Benoni.

    The couple started out on the first leg of the journey from East London in October with a crew.

    “We got there quite easily, but encountered some problems with the rigging of the sails we had repaired in Mossel Bay. This occurred again in Saldanha Bay, but we got it repaired again and I was assured I would be fine to continue the journey,” Kuun said.

    He decided to do the long leg of the trip to the Caribbean on his own, with Swanepoel flying out to meet him there.

    “I knew I had four days of fairly hectic weather, but after that I would be in the ‘milk run’, which is known as an easy sail. I checked the weather and it forecast winds of no stronger than 24 knots.

    “But by day three (Sunday), the winds were at between 35 and 40 knots and the swells at 4 metres.”

    Kuun again encountered problems with the sails. He couldn’t lower them because the foils in between the rods were damaged by the wind.

    “I was alone on the boat and there is no way I could have climbed up the 16m mast to do the repairs with the speed of the wind. The boat was now sailing with full sails.

    “I kept praying for day to break, believing the winds and swells would subside, but they didn’t,” he said.

    Exhausted and frustrated, panic set in, so he called Swanepoel, who called the Transnet National Ports Authority, who, in turn, alerted the National Sea Rescue Institute’s (NSRI) Table Bay volunteer sea rescue duty crew.

    Meanwhile, the tanker Aqua Fortune was sailing from Mauritania to Singapore. As the nearest vessel, Aqua Fortune was diverted from its voyage to rescue Kuun.

    The crew communicated with him over a hand-held radio.

    “I had on a wetsuit and a life-jacket, already accepting my fate. I was going to have to abandon the yacht and all my worldly possessions,” he said.

    The ship made six attempts to get close enough to Kuun’s yacht, but in heaving swells and high winds, the ship’s captain was reluctant to get too close. He wanted to abandon the rescue effort, and volunteered to stay next to Kuun and wait for a smaller ship to come and do the rescue.

    In a last attempt, the tanker moved in closer and rocket-fired a rope at Kuun’s yacht. But it failed because of the wind, and the rope fell in the sea.

    “I had no choice but to jump into the sea. I grabbed the rope, but the ship was moving and I was getting dragged alongside a wall of steel next to me. I feared I would be crushed, so I let go,” Kuun said.

    He watched helplessly as the ship sailed away from him.

    “I was upset. Because I had a life jacket on, my immediate fear was not of drowning. Yes, the waves were hitting me full in the face, but I was more afraid they would not spot me once they got too far away.”

    The tanker took 90 minutes to turn around to find Kuun. They threw ropes and a net to him and he climbed on board.

    Kuun collapsed, exhausted, after 48 hours of no sleep – 17 of them spent at the helm of his yacht, fighting the elements.

    “The crew were great – they treated me like royalty, massaging my feet and trying to keep me warm,” Kuun said.

    Arrangements were made with the ship’s owners to take him to Cape Town, where the NSRI’s Table Bay sea rescue craft, Spirit of Vodacom, met the tanker about 14 nautical miles offshore of Mouille Point on Christmas Eve.

    Now, back in Benoni with their family, Kuun and Swanepoel say they have to “consolidate”.

    “We are pretty broke. All our possessions were on that yacht. We have no jobs or homes. We have a tracker on board and the yacht is still adrift somewhere, but I fear it is going to be too costly to salvage it,” said Kuun.

    With hindsight, he realises he may not have had enough experience to sail, despite having a skipper’s certificate – a licence to sail along the coast.

    “But the weather was against me, and I believe the repairs were not done properly. Had someone been on board with me, it probably would have been fine, but I have no regrets,” Kuun said.

    He arrived in South Africa with his passport – stamped by immigration officials in Cape Town – a few dollars, his wetsuit and life jacket.

    His yacht is drifting about 60 nautical miles off Namibia, with a note onboard asking anyone who finds it to contact him.

    The Star

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  • 12/27/13--01:07: Robben Island ferry chaos
  • Visitors eager to pay homage to Madiba were furious when the Robben Island Museum cancelled trips.



    Cape Town - Visitors eager to pay homage to Nelson Mandela were furious when the Robben Island Museum cancelled trips because its flagship ferry had broken down again.

    This is the second holiday season in a row that ferries were not running properly.

    Two trips to the island were cancelled on Thursday after the Robben Island Museum failed to secure enough chartered boats. And the museum has decided not to use a stand-in ferry after tourists had a “terrifying” trip on Sunday. It had hired the Southern Cross from the Waterfront Boat Company because the museum’s main ferry, Sikhululekile, was in dry dock.

    The ferry has been out of service, undergoing repairs, since the beginning of the month.

    The latest setback is one of many problems the ferry has faced since 2008.

    Robben Island spokesman Molefe Mabe said after the Sikhululekile and another vessel went in for repairs the museum had to rely on charter boats to ferry passengers.

    “They could not provide us with those boats today, so we had to cancel the 10am and 2pm trips,” Mabe said. Those who were booked on the cancelled trips were given the option of rescheduling or a refund.

    Patricia Pillay had flown from Johannesburg and planned to visit Robben Island.


    “This is an important time for us, with Madiba passing, to pay respect to him on the island… It is not just some tourist attraction.”

    Pillay had booked a group of 11, including three children, on the 2pm trip, leaving from the Nelson Mandela Gateway.

    Three of the people in her party were from Mauritius, the US and the UK.

    Pillay said they had been told only when they arrived that their trip had been cancelled because some of the chartered boats were being serviced.

    She said her party tried to get on to another trip, but were told some trips to the island had been cancelled and others were fully booked.

    “We were not able to reschedule for another day. The person who was helping us said he would try getting us on another trip, but that didn’t happen.”

    Another group of

    tourists described how what was supposed to be a memorable occasion turned into a terrifying experience when the boat returning them to the V&A Waterfront sailed in rough seas on Sunday.

    “Waves were breaking over the boat and splashing over passengers,” said Sean Wallendorf, a visitor from New Zealand. “A wave hit and the further we went out to sea the rougher conditions became. When a massive wave hit us, a man fell off his seat and knocked his head. He also hurt his back and could not get up. We were freaking out, Wallendorf and his aunt, Jenna Corker from London, were taken to the island on Sunday on a bigger, closed boat, but were told it was full for their return trip and that they had to use a small open boat.

    Wallendorf said he was a lifeguard and experienced in safety precautions. He said the passengers had not been given life jackets when it became clear the sea conditions had deteriorated.

    “I know what an emergency is,” he said.

    “The further we went out the rougher conditions became. A German lady broke down and cried. She was on the floor and her friends had to come help her.

    “An official on the boat heard the screaming of people, but said the conditions were not abnormal.

    “Life jackets were then given to children on the lower deck and only one adult on the upper deck.

    “I asked the official if he could radio through to the mainland and arrange blankets for when the passengers get back. All I got was a blank stare. The whole thing was so unreal. It was shocking.”

    Wallendorf and Corker’s relative, Donna Redman from Rondebosch, said she had bought the tickets for their visit to the island.

    “It is disgraceful the return trip is undertaken on an old boat, with passengers putting their own lives and those of their young children in the hands of one or two decision-makers,” Redman said.

    “This is very deceitful of the organisers to send you out on a luxury vessel and make you return on an old, small boat.”

    Mabe said the smaller ferry had been used in the past without any problems.

    On Sunday the boat did not experience problems when it took tourists to the island.

    Mabe said the trip had been uncomfortable because of the rough seas. The boat was certified by the South African Maritime Safety Authority and on Sunday it had 150 life jackets on board – 90 for adults and 60 for children.

    “According to the skipper, he assessed the situation and there was no need to issue life jackets. Although the trip was uncomfortable it was not life-threatening. Crew on board provided the best assistance they could under prevailing circumstances that day.

    “Incidents like this one are unacceptable. Robben Island Museum takes safety seriously and that is why management has decided not to use the boat concerned any more. Robben Island Museum offers its sincere apology to clients who were affected by the incident on Sunday.”

    Most trips during the holiday season were fully booked.


    Cape Times

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  • 12/27/13--01:11: Fury after the flames
  • Police monitoring a crowd Valhalla Park fire victims picked up the rocks being thrown at them and hurled them back into the crowd.


    Cape Town - Protesters burnt tyres and destroyed traffic lights in Robert Sobukwe Drive in a stand-off with police and city officials over the provision of building starter kits for people left homeless by Monday’s fire in Valhalla Park.

    Late on Thursday police and Metro police were seen picking up stones thrown at them and hurling them back into the crowd.

    Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel André Traut said he could not comment without seeing the pictures, but if it was clear that identifiable members were using excessive force against people, they would investigate.

    Residents were outraged on Thursday when, instead of the containers they had expected from the City of Cape Town, a truck arrived with the starter kits of corrugated iron and wood.

    A resident told the Cape Argus that the community became “aggressive” and started burning tyres because they were not happy. Police fired rubber bullets.

    Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith claimed the protest action was political.

    Earlier in the day, the city announced it was accelerating plans to upgrade the devastated settlement.

    It is estimated that 350 shacks and eight council rental units were destroyed in the blaze.

    Twenty-three people were treated for smoke inhalation, including nine firefighters.

    On Thursday, some residents were back at the site, chopping up burnt-out cars and collecting scrap metal.

    Five-year-old twins Kashiefah and Ashiefah Paul were sleeping in a drawer in a small structure built by their mother, Naziema Paul, and her husband on the site of their former home.

    Paul said she would not move, saying she had lived there for eight years and had endured many hardships.

    The twins needed new clothes, but none of the donations received had been the right size for them.

    Paul said they had opted not to go to the community hall where fire victims were being sheltered.

    “We will sleep here because we are used to fighting our own battles.”

    The process of rebuilding homes began on Thursday with the installation of water pipes, the levelling of land, and the pegging-out of plots.

    Building kits were to be distributed in the afternoon, and the first group were expected to move in on Friday.

    Smith said the city had planned to service the land before the fire. Those plans would now be speeded up.

    The land would be serviced, and beneficiaries could build on the plots once they could afford to do so.

    Smith said anti-land invasion units were on standby to deter looters.

    Densil Faure, an engineer in the Department of Human Settlements, said they had a register of those living on plots in the area.

    “So we have a handle on who the beneficiaries are,” he said.

    Pick n Pay has donated R20 000 to help the victims, along with R10 000 from Jamiatul Ulama South Africa. Food, blankets, toiletries and household items were also donated.

    An ANC delegation which visited the site said that, in addition to the immediate disaster relief, the community needed sustainable help, including dignified living conditions and proper houses.

    Led by Marius Fransman, ANC chairman in the Western Cape, the delegation said it “saw the need for a resident-led committee”.

    “There is so much empty land in the rich and leafy suburbs of Cape Town, yet our people are forced to live in squalor and are in a state of constant risk of such fires,” the delegation said.

    Cape Argus

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    A boy, 12, was shot dead in Mitchells Plain on Christmas Day after buying a packet of tik at a known drug den in the area.


    Cape Town - A boy, 12, was shot dead in Tafelsig in Mitchells Plain on Christmas Day after buying a packet of tik at a known drug den in the area.

    A self-confessed drug dealer, Walied “Wagga” de Jongh, told the Cape Argus that he knew Jade “Wallie” Willis. The boy had bought a packet of tik for R25 from him a short while before the Christmas Day shooting, he said.

    “I’ve been selling drugs here for 25 years. I heard nine gunshots. Wallie was at the wrong place at the wrong time,” De Jongh said.

    De Jongh, who is affiliated to the G-Boys gang, said there was an ongoing turf war between the Americans and the Fancy Boys in Tafelsig.

    He claimed Wallie was “not so innocent” as he was associated with the Americans and had often walked a few metres behind the older gang members, carrying their weapons on him because the police would not be suspicious of him.

    De Jongh said Wallie’s father, also a member of the Americans, was shot dead two months ago.

    Shots rang out midway through our interview in the front yard of the drug den in Simonsberg Street. Two other drug dealers fled and the Cape Argus team also hurried away.

    Provincial police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel André Traut said the police would not speculate on the motive for Wallie’s shooting or whether it was gang related.

    “The motive is unknown at this stage and we will investigate all possibilities. No one has been arrested.”

    Meanwhile, Traut added that two Heideveld men, aged 19 and 23, from Devil’s Peak and Long Kloof roads, were shot dead on Christmas Day.

    Around 10pm, the 19-year-old was killed, allegedly by a 38-year-old man.

    “Members of the Tactical Response Team were patrolling the Heideveld area when they heard shots being fired. As they drove into Devils Peak Road they saw the suspect shooting the victim. When the suspect saw the police he started shooting at them,” Traut said. Police returned fire and hit the suspect in both thighs. He was taken to hospital for treatment and was arrested after he was discharged. He is being held in custody.

    No one has been arrested for the murder of the 23-year-old, Traut said.

    Cape Argus

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    Esther Lewis looks behind the pounding of the ghoema to discover what's at the heart of Cape Town's minstrel parade.


    Cape Town - Visit any Cape Flats community at this time of year and you’ll hear music in the streets as brass bands and singers practise in halls or on open fields.

    It’s a rhythm that has played across the city through many generations. The history behind the melodies we hear today is tragic and inspiring.

    January 2 was the one day slaves looked forward to: It was their one day off. This would become the date set for the traditional Tweede Nuwe Jaar Minstrel Carnival. Slaves would visit each other’s homes and celebrate in the streets.

    Long after the abolition of slavery in 1834, the Tweede Nuwe Jaar celebrations continued.

    It is believed the first minstrel troops were formed in the late 1800s. They walked the streets and sang a variety of songs and moppies – funny Afrikaans ditties sung to make fun of their bosses without them catching on.

    Different groups emerged, many influenced by visiting American minstrels. Some say the face-painting was done to conceal their identities from their bosses. Others suggest it was part of the American tradition of minstrels painting their faces black and white to resemble raccoons. This is apparently where the term “coon” came from.

    The first formal minstrel carnival was held at the Green Point track in 1907 by the Green Point Cricket Club. More than a decade later, Cape Town Cricket Club held its own carnival in Newlands.

    The build-up to the carnival and assembling troupes is steeped in tradition.

    The captain chooses the troupe’s colours, which are kept top secret until Guy Fawkes Day, November 5. Then residents see the “lappies” – swatches of fabric with the colours – being hung up in the streets.

    Once the colours are up, members of the troupe go from house to house and perform a few songs from their repertoire. They invite people to join the troupe if they like what they hear.

    Executive director of the Cape Town Minstrels Carnival Association Richard Stemmet is the captain and owner of one of the top troupes, the Shoprite Pennsylvanians.

    The troupe was established in 1932 in District Six. His father, Martin Stemmet, was a member and eventually became captain.

    Stemmet was born in 1959, and soon after was part of the parade. There is an old black-and-white photograph of a one-year-old Stemmet in uniform.

    “It’s always been part of my life,” he says. He recalls three to four different troupes in one street.

    After many decades, the Pennsylvanians closed shop. Stemmet resurrected the troupe in 1989. Today, his children – aged 16, 20, 22, and 28, – either march, sing or play in the band. But new arrivals Santam District Six Entertainers have given them a run for their money.


    Troupes are judged for costumes, singing, dancing, and best bands. They are divided into categories according to size. The super league has between 800 and 1 500 members, the premier league troupes have 300 to 600 members, while first-division troupes comprise 100-300 members.


    The D6 troupe was started in 2008 by Malick Laattoe and Shaheed Simons. Both are in the super league and are bitter rivals on the field. These two have been the top contenders for most categories in the competitions, which now take place at Athlone Stadium.

    Stemmet and Laattoe will attest that it takes a lot of work all year to manage a successful troupe.

    All their work eventually pays off on January 2, the traditional date on which the Tweede Nuwe Jaar parade has been held.

    This year, however, the event will take place on January 4, to accommodate Muslim visitors and residents who celebrate a holy night on January 2.

    “This is the highlight of the year for many people. When we see 1 000 people lined up in the street, in our uniform, and we see them bring smiles to the faces of the community, then we’ve already won,” says Laattoe.


    A stitch in time makes Klopse Carnival rhyme

    Three basic items make up a minstrel’s uniform: the suit, a hat, and the umbrella. And the deadline for all orders is New Year’s Eve because uniforms are collected on New Year’s Day.

    Dorothy Human of Hanover Park is part of an army of seamstresses, tailors and cutters working behind the scenes to make the troupes look their best.

    Last year, they worked around the clock to finish on time. They were running on adrenalin when the sun came up. Somehow they met the noon deadline, when troupes started filtering in to collect their uniforms.

    “People needed more gear, so we worked right through the night until 11am,” says Human.

    Sewing the minstrels’ uniforms is woven into her family’s tradition and she wouldn’t miss being part of it. As a teenager, she too marched in the carnival.

    “It’s part of our history. It’s a tradition that we really look forward to each year.”

    Desire Layman is a hat setter and examiner. “It takes a lot of hard work, time and effort. And this is crunch time now.”

    Most of the minstrels’ panamas come through their factory. Depending on when |the stock arrives, they start |work on the hats in August.

    “It doesn’t matter what we do or how many orders there are, we finish on New Year’s Eve,” says Layman.

    Seamstress Fatiema Hendricks was brought in specially to help with the minstrel uniforms.

    She has more than 40 years of experience, but even she is jittery about the tight deadline they face from behind their sewing machines – the pressure is on to finish the mountain of orders, she says.

    Cape Argus

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    Tyrone Bull believes he was saved by a Christmas miracle, after armed robbers abducted him and threatened his life.


    Cape Town - Businessman Tyrone Bull believes he was saved by a Christmas miracle after four armed robbers abducted him on Christmas Eve and threatened his life.


    Bull was held captive in a car for nearly three hours by the men, who offered him a lift to Cape Town from Muizenberg.


    Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel André Traut said Bull’s alleged kidnappers had been arrested and charged with kidnapping, robbery and possession of a dangerous weapon.

    More charges might be added as the case continued.

    The 46-year-old businessman from KwaZulu-Natal said he had left a friend’s party at about 10pm and went in search of a train back to Cape Town. When he realised the last one had already gone, he decided to hitchhike to the city.

    The men, driving a white Opel Corsa, stopped and offered to drive him to town if he paid for petrol.

    Then what he had at first believed to be a stroke of luck turned into a nightmare.

    He said he realised he was trapped in the two-door car when the men drove towards Pollsmoor Prison, telling him, “this is where we come from, and we are not going back there”.

    A struggle ensued, but the men threatened him with a gun before taking his wallet, cellphone and shoes.

    They then cruised from Hout Bay to Camps Bay. Bull said he was convinced they were looking for a place to dump his body.

    Finally, it was as they were heading out of the city centre that his luck changed, Bull said.

    As they passed the Mount Nelson Hotel, they stopped at a red traffic light, next to a meter taxi.


    “I kicked the driver’s seat and managed to force my way to the front passenger’s window and screamed for the taxi driver to help me,” Bull said.

    “The Corsa sped off and I could see the taxi pull into a nearby petrol station from the rear window. It broke me because I thought that was it for me.”

    But as the Corsa was about to head on to De Waal Drive, they were suddenly surrounded by police cars.

    “When I saw the blue lights, I thought I was imagining them. But then the Corsa pulled over to the side of the road. The kidnappers lay on the ground with their hands behind their backs.”

    He found out later that the taxi driver reported what he had seen to a squad of policemen parked at the filling station.

    “That taxi driver was an angel. He saved my life,” Bull said, adding that he had also learnt that one of the kidnappers was allegedly wanted for murder, and two others for armed robbery.

    “I can only describe what happened that night as a miracle. At every turn things seemed to get worse and worse, and I honestly believed I was going to die. Luckily, I’m still somehow standing at the end of it, and I have to say thank you to the police for their quick response, and to the cab driver who saw me.”

    Weekend Argus

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    A petrol bomb attack during a gang raid has been blamed for the fire in Valhalla Park which left 1 500 people homeless.


    Cape Town - A petrol bomb attack during a gang raid has been blamed for the fire in Valhalla Park which engulfed 350 shacks, and left 1 500 people homeless on Monday.

    On Friday residents at the site claimed that members of the Outlaws gang were searching for members of their rivals, the Rude Boys.

    When they couldn’t find any of the members, they allegedly threw a petrol bomb at a shack believed to be home to a Rude Boys member.


    The fire spread and engulfed the shacks as residents frantically scrambled to save what little they could.

    On Friday the smell of smoke still hung heavy in the air, as resident Brendan Meyer, now living in a makeshift tent made of a few fabric sheets, wood and corrugated plastic, claimed that Outlaws gangsters had threatened to burn down the homes of anyone who tried to rebuild.


    “Most people are sure they started the fire, but everyone knows of the Outlaws’ threat to start another fire. People haven’t really tried to rebuild again, although I don’t know if it’s because of the threat or (if) they expected the City of Cape Town to provide new homes.”

    The fire and the damage have ignited a political spat between the DA and the ANC, after police were stoned on Thursday while monitoring a group of fire victims who burnt tyres and smashed traffic lights on Robert Sobukwe Drive.

    Police used rubber bullets to disperse the crowd, but also hurled the stones and bricks back at the victims.

    Speaking at the site on Friday, ANC provincial leader Marius Fransman said the chaos was the result of a “broken promise” to provide temporary containers for the victims.

    “The victims were expecting containers, but instead they got starter kits. For years these people have been waiting for homes. Their desperation and frustration with the starter kits boiled over and led to the protest. The City of Cape Town must get its act together and help these people,” he said.

    He also threatened legal action against JP Smith, mayco member for safety and security, over allegations he said Smith made that the ANC had incited residents to attack police.

    Smith countered that he would welcome any legal action by Fransman, and would “expose Fransman and his cronies”.

    “The city, while accelerating its plans to service the land and build on the plots once they can afford to do so, never promised to deliver containers as it is national policy to issue the starter kits. Yet only the Western Cape does this.

    “This was most likely just another attempt by the ANC to rile up the fire victims. I encourage Fransman to pursue legal action and we will bring him to face justice,” Smith said.

    On the gang fight allegations by the fire victims, Smith said any evidence as to the source of the fire had been destroyed by those who had tried to move back on to the land.

    “According to an investigation by the Fire and Rescue Services Department, no trace of the source was left after some people tried to move back on to the land, and it would be virtually impossible to identity the cause. However, we’ve had our own allegations of arson, and are following these up,” he said.

    Fire victim Jacques Haddon said he could do nothing now but look at the piece of land that had once been his home.


    “I lost everything, my clothes, furniture and even my dog.

    “People are getting sicker by the day, and while we appreciate all the help from everyone, we need real homes.”

    The victims have received help from Pick n Pay, which donated R20 000, along with R10 000 from Jamiatul Ulama South Africa.

    The Social Security Agency of South Africa (Sassa) distributed 350 care packages and is assisting with the replacement of destroyed documents.

    The Gift of the Givers Foundation also donated 350 mattresses and new clothes.


    Weekend Argus

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    Police are probing the death of a woman after it was alleged her daughter had accidentally shot her with an air rifle.


    Cape Town - Police are investigating the death of a Bellville woman after it was alleged that her 10-year-old daughter accidentally shot and killed her with an air rifle on Christmas Eve.

    The 45-year-old woman died in hospital after the incident which happened in Oude Westhoff, Bellville. More commonly known as a pellet gun, the rifle is believed to have been a gift to the woman’s son, aged 12.

    Police were tight-lipped on Friday about the identity of the family, and would provide no further details. But after outrage sparked on Facebook newsfeeds about the parents’ responsibility in choosing the rifle as a gift, a family friend posted an explanation as to what had happened.

    “She (the daughter) posed with the pellet gun for a photo. It was a freak accident. The family is shattered. Don’t judge too quickly,” posted Carel-Johann de Bruin, who said he knew the family.

    He said the woman had died of blood loss as a result of the pellet hitting an artery. But, De Bruin did acknowledge that there should have been “more responsibility” with regards to the handling of the rifle.

    He said that the father and children would “forever suffer pain and blame themselves” for what had happened.

    Provincial police spokesman Andre Traut said they could not release the identity of the mother to protect the identity of the daughter, who is a minor.

    He confirmed that the woman was shot on Christmas Eve.


    He said the woman died later in hospital.

    An inquest docket had been opened and the circumstances around her death were being investigated.

    Weekend Argus

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  • 12/28/13--04:59: Freed hotelier stays mum
  • A kidnapped Cape Town hotel owner has been freed by his captors, but refused to speak about his ordeal.


    Cape Town -

    A kidnapped Cape Town hotel owner has been freed by his captors, but the man refused yesterday to speak about his ordeal, claiming he still feared for his life.


    Solomon Ketema, 60, is Ethiopian and owns two hotels in Addis Ababa, the Kings Hotel Sarbet and the Kings Hotel Kality, as well as the Kings in Cape Hotel in Hout Street, in Cape Town’s CBD.

    He was kidnapped at 12.45am on December 11.

    According to a source, Ketema was abducted as he drove his silver Mercedes into the parking lot of his Sea Point apartment.

    The car was recovered in Langa on the same day, but there was no sign of Ketema.

    No information was released in the week that followed, although sources said hostage negotiations had begun and that the kidnapping was too sensitive to comment on.

    Weekend Argus sister title the Cape Argus was officially requested not to publish further details, in order not to potentially compromise Ketema’s safety as delicate negotiations continued.

    Sources in Addis Ababa, however, said Ketema had owned Concorde, that city’s most famous nightclub, before selling it two years ago to a prominent DJ for abut R18 million.

    The sale was reported in Ethiopia’s Capital newspaper.

    On Christmas Eve, a

    website in Ethiopia, where Ketema still has family, reported that investigators in Cape Town were “very sensitive of disclosing information, as negotiations were taking place to pay the demanded ransom”.

    On Friday three separate sources told Weekend Argus that Ketema was released by his captors on Tuesday last week.


    The website also reported that Ketema’s sister told a local radio station that her brother was “safe and sound”, and that this had been confirmed by Ketema’s “manager in Addis Ababa”.

    Weekend Argus further corroborated news of his secret release with sources in Cape Town, and on Friday met Ketema, who said he was too afraid to speak about the kidnapping.


    It has been reported in Ethiopia, however, that his release was secured with at least the partial involvement of the Italian embassy, as Ketema holds dual nationality.

    Weekend Argus

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    A boy caught in crossfire during an alleged gang shooting outside his home may never be able to walk again, doctors said.


    Cape Town -

    He may never be able to walk again, or ride a bike, a gift he so desperately wanted for Christmas.

    Instead, 7-year-old Sadick Stemmet spent the festive day surrounded by his family as he lay in bed at Red Cross Children’s Hospital.

    His mother, Sedicka Stemmet, 38, is trying to remain hopeful that her son will walk, despite doctors warning that he may be permanently paralysed.

    The boy was caught in crossfire last Tuesday, during an alleged gang shooting outside his home in Olga Court, Manenberg. He was hit in the back by a stray bullet.

    “The doctors say there’s little chance he could walk again, (even) if they take the bullet out, but he’s been such a fighter and I’m keeping faith he’ll be okay,” the traumatised mother said.

    On Wednesday, she and Sadick’s older siblings, Nicole, 16, Damian, 14, and Dylan, 9, were at his bedside for Christmas.

    “He wanted a bike, but I didn’t even go and buy it with all that happened,” said Stemmet.

    The child’s spine was left cracked and his lungs damaged. The bullet is lodged in one lung.

    His mother recalled rushing him to GF Jooste Hospital, from which he was later transferred to Red Cross.

    “He is in so much pain because he suffered a lot of internal damage and you can’t even press on the bed too hard. He doesn’t even want to go to the toilet because he is so scared to be alone,” she said.

    Hospital spokeswoman Angelique Jordaan confirmed that Sadick remained in a serious but stable condition.

    Once discharged he will be treated at the Western Cape Rehabilitation Centre.

    Last Thursday, the alleged shooter, Thabiet Basardien, 29, appeared briefly in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court.

    With a list of previous convictions, Basardien remains in custody.

    A furious Stemmet said the shooting continued on Christmas morning.

    “The gangsters claimed they would stop the fighting for Christmas time, but they just carried on. When will it stop? Now our children become victims.”

    Weekend Argus

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    Police are probing whether a bag of suspected drugs found in the sea is linked to another bag found washed up on another beach.



    Cape Town - Police are probing whether a bag of suspected drugs found in the sea off Mossel Bay two days ago is linked to a similar bag found washed up on another nearby beach days earlier.

    If it is cocaine, each bag would be worth R9 million.

    On Monday, provincial police commissioner Arno Lamoer said the Organised Crime Unit was investigating whether there was a connection between the two bags.

    “It’s the same modus operandi,” he said.

    On Christmas Day, a lifeguard spotted a bundle, a black bag attached to a rope and drum, floating at Mossel Bay’s Hartenbos beach.

    A substance, believed to be cocaine contained in 25 packets, was found in the bag.

    On Monday, Lamoer said a second bundle was discovered on Sunday off Pinnacle Point in Mossel Bay.

    He said the bundle comprised a blue bottle attached to a togbag that was under the water.

    Another 25 packets of a substance, believed to be cocaine, were in the bag.

    Lamoer said the discoveries of the bags showed that criminals were using different methods to get drugs into the province and instead of transporting drugs via roads, they were turning to the sea.

    He said police were “not winning the war” against drugs, but they were making an impact on the movement of drugs in the province.

    Quenton Brink, Mossel Bay’s harbour master, said security measures there were fully compliant.

    He said criminals were not targeting the harbour.

    Cape Times

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    A Chinese man swept off the rocks in Hermanus died en route to hospital, the National Sea Rescue Institute said.


    Cape Town - A Chinese man swept off the rocks between the Windsor Hotel and the Old Harbour, Hermanus, on Monday died en route to hospital, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said.

    The unidentified man was apparently swept off the rocks by a wave and out to sea, where he was caught in rip currents.

    “On arrival… a man was located in the surf and recovered from the surf on to the sea rescue craft where NSRI medics initiated CPR,” said NSRI spokesman Craig Lambinon.

    The man was brought to New Harbour aboard the sea rescue craft where paramedics continued with CPR.

    Continued CPR efforts were performed on him en route to hospital, but, when efforts were exhausted, he was declared dead.

    This was one of a number of similar incidents on the coastline over the past few days and included the rescue of a father, his daughter and nephew by a bystander in Hermanus on Sunday.

    According to reports, the father, Lionel Cunningham, was with his daughter, 15, son,11, and a 12-year-old nephew when they were all knocked off some rocks by a wave.

    Cunningham managed to help his son back to shore, but on returning to rescue his daughter and nephew, he also got caught in the strong current.

    “The father and bystanders assisted the son off the rocks and then the father jumped into the sea to attempt to rescue his daughter and his nephew, but reports suggest that he was then also caught in the rip current,” said Lambinon.

    They were eventually rescued after bystander Favvas Nel jumped into the water and saved all three family members.

    Nel and the family members were all taken to hospital to be treated for cuts, shock and exhaustion.

    Meanwhile, at Muizenberg’s Sunrise Beach, an 18-year-old from Cafda Village went missing and is feared drowned after he was swept out to sea while swimming on Sunday.

    The teenager could not be found despite the combined efforts of the NSRI and a police dive unit.

    The man was one of three who was caught in the current.

    A 25-year-old female from Westridge was rescued by a bystander while the woman’s husband rescued her 15-year-old niece.

    In another incident on Saturday, an EMS ambulance arranged a meeting with a fishing trawler at a rendezvous point at Buffels Bay, in order to assess and give medical assistance to an ill fisherman aboard the trawler.

    The vessel had been 17 nautical miles south of Cape Point when the emergency call went out.

    “An EMS paramedic was taken to the rendezvous with Abraham T (the fishing trawler), aboard the sea rescue craft, and the patient was brought ashore in a stable condition at Buffels Bay.

    The 50-year-old Khayelitsha man has been transported to hospital by EMS ambulance for further medical treatment,” said Lambinon.

    Cape Argus

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    The closure of portions of Long Street on New Year’s Eve could be the start of a New Year’s resolution for the City of Cape Town.


    Cape Town - The closure of portions of Long Street on New Year’s Eve could be the start of a New Year’s resolution for the city.

    If all goes well, the evening road closure – granted by the City of Cape Town to keep partygoers and bar owners safe on the busy night – could become a year-round feature.

    The idea was spearheaded by the bar, Beerhouse, in collaboration with several other business owners in the street, to turn the “heart and soul of Cape Town” into a more attractive and secure place.

    “Tonight is the perfect opportunity for us to work together and help create an environment we and our patrons want to be part of,” said Beerhouse in a statement. “Previous experience has shown the sheer number of people coming to the CBD to celebrate New Year causes havoc on the road. This is further aggravated by cars… trying to move through thousands of unmanaged people, drinking and partying in the street, making the road their dance floor.”

    The city will close off the road from 8pm to 4am.

    Ward councillor Dave Bryant said businesses on Long Street had lobbied for the road closure. The plan was finalised only at “the last minute”, but he it would benefit partygoers.

    He said the closure’s chief benefit was an open and clear road for emergency vehicles. “If you see that road at night it is filled with stand-still traffic and nothing is moving through there.”

    There will also be increased control over who enters the area, as well as better observation opportunities for security officials.

    Clubs and bars on Long Street will be providing their own security guards to aid CCID security guards and SAPS officials who will be patrolling the street on Tuesday night.

    Bryant was looking forward to the results of the trial run.

    “If this works out well, we can start looking at making this a regular closure in the city.”

    Cape Argus

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  • 12/31/13--01:35: Brass Bell in nasty race row
  • Staff at the Brass Bell allegedly turned away scores of black people who tried to gain access to nearby tidal pools.


    Cape Town - The DA has called for an investigation into an alleged racist incident by staff at popular Kalk Bay restaurant Brass Bell, who, it is alleged, turned away scores of black people who tried to gain access to the municipal tidal pools behind the establishment.

    According to the DA provincial spokesman for community safety, Mark Wiley, restaurant staff had on December 26 reportedly turned away and redirected people to the harbour beach after they locked a door that leads to the footpath from the station subway to the beach.

    “The city must investigate this and lay criminal charges. Should these allegations prove correct then they must be condemned in the strongest terms… there is no place for racism in South Africa today and no argument can justify these reported actions,” said Wiley.

    But the restaurant has rejected the racism claims, with owner Tony White saying the restaurant never turned anybody away, but merely advised the crowds not to use the footpath for “security and safety reasons”.

    “Nobody was barred from going to the beach. There were hordes of people who came to the beach.

    “All we did was to give instruction to our security personnel to persuade people not to go and warn them about the dangers of using the tidal pool as it was half-empty and therefore not safe to use,” he said.

    “We didn’t target any race, the only people we targeted and persuaded not to use the pathway were people with alcohol… those who looked suspicious and gangster-like, and women with young children as it was not safe for children to swim there seeing that the pool was half empty.”

    The footpath, which has traditionally been used by fisherman and harbour beachgoers for generations, is mainly used to access the beach and the municipal tidal pools. But it has become controversial lately following the “illegal” construction of deck extensions at the restaurant.

    In addition to the two decks that White had erected near the children’s tidal pool, he had also put a door along the walkway which is used by residents and the public to walk from the harbour to Main Road.

    In recent months, White was ordered by the provincial Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning to dismantle the deck extensions and restore the public area to its previous state.

    Its investigation found that he had contravened the National Environmental Management Act by building the decks.

    This followed a complaint by residents who were annoyed by the erection of the two decks near the tidal pools.

    Residents complained that no public participation had taken place.

    They called the construction work by White “privatisation” and a “takeover” of a public area.

    Tony Trimmel, the chairman of Kalk Bay and St James Residents and Ratepayers Association who saw footage of the crowds being turned away, described the alleged racial incident as “unacceptable, disgusting”.

    “It’s not only disgusting for Kalk Bay residents, but it is disgusting for all South Africans who have every right to use those tidal pools.

    “It reminds us of times gone by where people of colour were not allowed to go to those pools simply because of their skin colour.

    “We shall never accept such behaviour again… it has no place in the new South Africa we live in,” he said.

    White said he was amazed at the “sudden interest” shown by the residents association after “I restored the pools from a derelict state into a beautiful establishment for everyone to enjoy”.

    Cape Argus

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    Rob Meek posed for a photo with family and friends at a beach house to mark the new year - seconds later, he was murdered.


    Cape Town - Rob Meek, one of South Africa’s top sailors and urban designers, posed for a photograph with family and friends at a Wild Coast beach house at midnight to mark the new year – seconds later, he was murdered.

    One of three armed men wearing balaclavas, who had apparently intended robbing the group, shot him and then the three ran away.

    The 62-year-old Newlands resident’s daughters, Louise, 28, and Claudia, 25, tried in vain for two hours to resuscitate him at a nearby hospital.

    On Wednesday, Rob’s wife, Di Meek, 59, tearfully speaking to the Cape Times from the Wild Coast, described in detail how moments after cheering and opening bottles of champagne to celebrate the start of 2014, her husband was killed.

    She said her family, including her mother, Jean Almon, 83, and close friends, totalling nine people, had been staying at a self-catering beach house near Port St Johns since December 27.

    Meek said the area, with three cottages at beach level, was isolated. On the last day of 2013 her family and friends had spent the day swimming and having fun with local residents. The group decided that instead of going to another cottage to celebrate New Year’s Eve, they would spend the evening, their last night in the Eastern Cape, at their house.

    “We had a nice feast,” Meek said, adding they had prepared food including oysters and mussels.

    They had dinner at 11.30pm and, in keeping with tradition, did their “highlights” – each person around the table was given a chance to speak about their year.

    About a minute before midnight, one of them set up a camera with a self-timer so a photograph of the whole group could be taken at midnight.

    “We moved out on to the deck overlooking the sea. The flash went off. We popped some champagne. We all cheered.

    “You can see in the photo my husband had turned around. He’d already seen the three guys,” Meek said.

    She said three men wearing balaclavas approached them. She said they looked as if they were holding pieces of wood, as residents had done earlier while offering to make bonfires. “My husband said: ‘They’ve got guns,’” Meek said.

    Meek, who had seen three guns, did not recall hearing the three men ask for anything.

    She lay flat on the deck.

    “They looked nervous. I heard a shot. I just saw my husband... There was no provocation.” After the shot went off, wounding Rob in the groin area, Meek said, the gunmen ran away. They had not stolen anything.

    She, her family and friends managed to fashion a tourniquet to try to staunch the blood flowing from Rob’s wound, and they carried him up a steep hill from the house to a vehicle.

    “We got him into the back seat. My daughters sat and spoke to him. I was driving.”

    Meek said at a nearby “TB mission hospital”, two doctors tried to save Rob. Her daughters also tried to resuscitate him and “kept pumping him with oxygen”.

    “They just tried and tried… They were amazing… He was the most incredible father to his children.” Meek said they had wanted to donate their blood to him, but the hospital had not been equipped for that.

    “I didn’t think he’d die because he’s so fit and so strong,” she said.

    Meek and her daughters stayed at the hospital overnight. She said she was thankful that earlier in the evening Rob had spoken fondly of his daughters.

    “When we were doing our little highlights around the table, he told them he loved them and how proud he was of them,” she said.

    No arrests were made.

    Rob had planned to return to Cape Town on Thursday so he could be back in time for the start of the Cape to Rio yacht race on Saturday..

    On Wednesday yachtsman David Abromowitz described Rob, the eldest of three brothers, as “a gentle giant”.

    “He was a wonderful yachtsman, such a quiet, unassuming guy... His brother (Geoff) is probably South Africa’s finest yachtsman. Robbie wasn’t far behind,” he said.

    A message on the Royal Cape Yacht Club’s website said: “Thank you Rob for a lifetime of positive sailing. We love you and are devastated by your tragic passing.”

    Rob was a founding member of GAPP Architects and Urban Designers. On Wednesday a director of the company, Sally Tsiliyiannis, said Rob had been a “peacekeeper” and had not liked confrontation.

    She said: “While GAPP has lost one of its founding members, both an astute colleague and special friend, South Africa has lost one of the finest urban designers in the field.

    “With particular experience in waterfront developments both at home and abroad, Rob leaves behind a gap that will be hard to fill.”

    Cape Times

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    Joseph Leibrandt dashed to rescue his grandson from a burning shack, but the flames were too fierce for him to save the boy.



    Cape Town - Joseph Leibrandt dashed to rescue his grandson David Matthews, 4, from a burning shack in the Egoli informal settlement near Grassy Park, but the flames were too fierce for him to save the boy.

    Ten shacks were razed by the fire – believed to have been started by a candle – leaving 40 people homeless.

    David’s mother, Shireen Mathews, 27, awoke at about 2am on Tuesday and found the shack in which she was sleeping with two children was on fire. She rushed out with her younger child, Ursulla, to get help from her parents, who lived next door.

    Leibrandt hurried to the shack to try to save David.

    “It was too late. The blaze was too strong and flames were coming out of the door. I tried all I could, but it was too late. I suffered burns trying to save him,” Leibrandt said.

    “His mother knocked at the door and she was shouting that her shack was on fire. The side where the bed was had burned completely,” he said.

    He suspected the candle was the cause of the fire.

    “We have no electrical connections. We use candles and it is sad because we have been staying here for almost 30 years now. The candle fell and the fire started,” said Leibrandt.

    “The shack was made of cardboard and plastic, that’s why this happened too fast.”

    David’s grandmother, Mildren Leibrandt, 51, said: “Everything was already destroyed when the firefighters arrived.

    “David was taken out of the shack already dead. He was a lovely boy.

    “I can’t even describe how we feel.”

    When the Cape Times went to the scene on Wednesday, residents were helping to rebuild the shack, while the family were gathered at the Leibrandts’ home.

    Matthews was in shock and could not be interviewed.

    In Valhalla Park, residents who lost their homes in a fire early last week say they are planning to petition the City of Cape Town about the quantity of building materials they have been given, which they say is inadequate.

    Each household has been given 25 corrugated sheets, one window, one door and about 15 planks to build temporary structures.


    The fire destroyed 350 homes, leaving about 1 400 people homeless.

    Cape Argus

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