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    When SA Navy divers reached the stricken Angolan yacht Bille they found the six crew members “shaken, traumatised, in an absolutely bad state”.

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    Cape Town - When SA Navy divers reached the stricken Angolan yacht Bille, 100 nautical miles north-west of the west coast, they found the six crew members “shaken, traumatised, in an absolutely bad state”.

    And the seventh crewman, António Bartolomeu, lay dead, half-on and half-off the deck, entangled in the rigging surrounding the yacht’s mast, which had killed him when it snapped.

    This was the grim scene that greeted senior navy diver aboard the SAS Isandlwana Petty Officer Godfrey Ditshego shortly after dawn on Monday.

    In heaving swells up to seven metres high, he commanded the rescue from his tiny rubber duck’s helm as his three fellow navy divers retrieved the crew in pairs.

    “It was a unique rescue because of the conditions – it was risky to even launch our vessel,” he explained.

    For four hours between 6.30am and 10.30am, they ferried the six Angolans back to the SAS Isandlwana that lay heaved to in the sea just short of a nautical mile away.

    The divers and the entire frigate’s complement were later profusely thanked by the injured, surviving Angolans, but Ditshego denied they were “heroes”, as suggested.

    “We were just doing our job,” he told the Cape Argus quietly.

    Earlier, the yacht Black Cat was the first of four Cape2Rio yachts the SAS Isandlwana encountered after racing out of Cape Town on Sunday night to find the stricken fleet and assist where necessary.

    Black Cat’s crew advised the captain of the frigate, Captain Musa Nkomonde, that they were “okay”, leaving the frigate to sail at top speed to the Bille.

    Such was the violence of the seas that once Nkomonde had realised how dangerous the rescue effort of its crew would be that he spent time alone in his private cabin, trying to decide whether to risk his navy divers’ lives in the attempt.

    Eventually, his decision was: “We’re going to go for it.”

    “I’m very proud of my crew,” Nkomonde said aboard his vessel on Tuesday.

    By last night, two yachts in the fleet – Peekay and Avante – had reached Yachtport in Saldanha, while three had arrived back in Cape Town: Avocet, FTI Flyer and Black Cat.

    Four more were limping home – Ava, DoDo, Isla and Indaba, on which one crewman had a broken rib.

    Bille is due to be retrieved by the Angolans after being abandoned at sea after the crew’s rescue.

    Of these 10, Peekay and Indaba plan to set sail again, with their crews undaunted by the storm of Saturday night.

    Far to the west, the fastest yachts in the fleet are flying towards Rio.

    By 3pm on Tuesday afternoon, Maserati had clocked more than 1 100 nautical miles in just over 72 hours, and DStv Explora and Scarlet Runner, of Cape Town and Australia, respectively, over 800 nautical miles.

    In contrast, the Cape Cat 44, Genevieve Too, had barely begun, having inched along covering just over 380 nautical miles in the first three days and with more than 3 000 nautical miles still to go.

    Cape Argus


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    Many Cape schools have managed to improve their matric pass rate despite gang violence disrupting classes.

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    Cape Town - Even in the face of dire circumstances such as gang violence disrupting classes, dedicated school communities have been able to improve their results, says Education MEC Donald Grant.

    On Tuesday, Grant visited several schools and district offices to offer congratulations on their matric results. His four-stop trip included two schools, Silverstream High School in Manenberg and Intlanganiso Secondary School in Khayelitsha.

    Grant acknowledged the good performance of matrics in Manenberg schools in the wake of what he said had been a difficult year for education in the area, with gang-related violence disrupting classes during August.

    He noted in particular the achievements of Silverstream High School, which had more than doubled its pass rate from 34.2 percent in 2012 to 69.1 percent.

    “We had trouble in the Manenberg area last year so they have reason to acknowledge themselves,” Grant said.

    “It was a team effort between teachers, pupils and the district office. It gives us a sign of hope that even in dire circumstances, they can turn things around.”

    Acting principal Leslie Pieters expressed his delight at the results. “I’m ecstatic. If we can sustain this, it will benefit the community,” he said.

    He said there had been instability during three of the four school terms last year.

    “In term one, there was the transport issue with the strikes. In term two, there was gangster activity in the school, and in term three, there was gang fighting outside of the school.”

    Pieters said the improved pass rate could not have been achieved without the hard work of all involved, including officials at the provincial education department.

    “Learners attended weekend classes and classes during the spring holiday. There are also those from the district office who helped with the curriculum and they need to be acknowledged as well.”

    Grant also congratulated teachers and pupils at Intlanganiso Secondary School in Khayelitsha’s Site C, which recorded a 94.1 percent pass rate – well up from 69.6 percent in 2012.

    Principal Tshemese Mntuwekhaya said there was still room for improvement and that he wanted his school to rival other top performing schools in the province.

    “The challenge for us is to benchmark ourselves against top schools like Westerford. If you set realistic targets, then our percentage must be up by 5 percent next year, which means in 2014 we must have a 99 percent pass rate – which is achievable,” he said.

    The school’s top performer was 17-year-old Chumisa Matiwane, who passed with five distinctions in what had been a difficult year for her as her mother died in March.

    Matiwane, who wants to study accounting or law, said her competitive personality had helped her reach the top.

    “I’m very competitive, so I’m used to being in the top 10. I also have a lot of opinions and people say I talk a lot,” she said.

    Matiwane revealed some of the secrets of her success to this year’s new matrics. ”They must study and work hard and build close relationships with their teachers. They should not let anyone put them down.”

    Her school was one of 21 in Khayelitsha that collectively improved their pass rate from 53.6 percent in 2009 to 74.2 percent in 2013.

    Grant said that since 2009, the number of successful matric pupils here had increased by nearly 1 000, from 1 538 candidates to 2 521.

    The Metro South District of the province had the biggest improvement in terms of the percentage of passes: 83 percent compared to 78 percent last year.

    All eight education districts in the Western Cape achieved pass rates above 80 percent.

    warren.fortune@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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  • 01/08/14--02:16: Fishermen win reprieve
  • Traditional line fishermen who failed to win renewed long-term fishing rights that came into effect on January 1 are celebrating a minor victory.

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    Cape Town - Traditional line fishermen who failed to win renewed long-term fishing rights that came into effect on January 1 are celebrating a minor victory in their battle with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

    On Tuesday, the department agreed that they could apply for exemptions to continue fishing, pending the outcome of their appeals against the refusal to grant them new rights.

    The department has also agreed to expedite the processing of these exemption applications, “to ensure deserving applicants would be able to go to sea as soon as possible”.

    This was the main outcome of a meeting yesterday between the department and the South African Commercial Linefish Association, which represents commercial line fishers and which is described by the department as “one of its key stakeholders”. The department has also agreed to make the score sheets for their failed applications available to the fishermen by Friday.

    Long-term fishing rights in eight fishing sectors expired on New Year’s Eve. Hours before this, 188 former line-fishing rights holders heard from the department that their applications had been unsuccessful. This meant they had to tie up their vessels and left their crews without jobs.

    Of the previous 303 rights holders, 115 were granted seven-year rights.

    The exemption agreement was announced after a meeting between Desmond Stevens, the department’s acting deputy director-general responsible for fisheries, and Wally Croombe, chairman of the association.

    Also present were fishermen from ports outside Cape Town and the leadership of the newly formed Traditional Khoisan Marine Hawkers Association.

    The department and the commercial linefish association agreed that unsuccessful previous rights holders would be permitted to apply for exemptions that would allow them to fish while they appealed against the dismissal of their applications.

    To gain an exemption, former rights holders based on the Cape Peninsula must prove they went to sea for at least 300 days between 2007 and 2012.

    Those in other Western Cape and Eastern Cape ports have to prove they went to sea for 120 days in that period, while those from KwaZulu-Natal must prove 150 sea days.

    When Croombe reported back to several hundred fishermen, crew members and hawkers at the Oceana Power Boat Club in Granger Bay, he was greeted with a huge round of applause.

    But his report-back disintegrated into chaos when Croombe suggested that the hawkers association had “gate-crashed” and nearly derailed his meeting Stevens.

    Hawkers association chairman Faldie Samuels grabbed the microphone and accused Croombe of racism and duplicity.

    He said the linefish association needed to incorporate hawkers and crewmen as equals in entering discussions with the department.

    “We are much more numerous and we represent the black economic empowerment in the industry. It is insulting that (Croombe) accuses us of gate-crashing,” he said, to cheers from some and jeers from others.

    Celebrations at the Oceana club were short-lived for another reason: the major concern about the appeal process remained unresolved.

    Marius van Wyk, who worked from Kalk Bay and had fished for 25 years when his application was denied, pointed to an obvious omission from the department’s announcement: as it stands, the department has officially set aside only nine rights for successful appeals, which means that 179 applicants would be left without any.

    The Cape Argus raised this with Stevens at the department’s press briefing earlier in the day. While Stevens said the appeals panel would give a “sympathetic ear” to fishermen who felt rights were unduly denied them, he made no commitment to extend the number of rights available for appellants.

    daneel.knoetze@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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    Officials were searching for the body of a mentally handicapped man swept away by flood water in the Langeberg district, the disaster management centre said.

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    Cape Town - Officials were searching for the body of a mentally handicapped man swept away by flood water in the Langeberg district, the Western Cape disaster management centre said on Wednesday.

    Spokesman Colin Deiner said the man had been missing since Tuesday. No further details were available.

    Parts of the Western Cape had experienced heavy rain since Monday. Near Laingsburg, parts of the N1 had to be closed due to flooding, but the road was reopened around 9am. Traffic on several major roads was also disrupted.

    “River levels are rising and should it pose a danger, the N1will be closed (again) as a precautionary measure,” said Deiner.

    There had been reports of flooding in some houses in the Breede River valley, Laingsburg, Hessequa, and George.

    “The residents from the Buffeljagsrivier informal settlement (in the Overberg district municipality) were accommodated in the Swellendam community hall. However, the weather is clearing and in all probability they will return to their homes during the course of the day,” Deiner said in a statement.

    Several farms had also been cut off due to the rain. Officials were monitoring rivers in the area, some of which were overflowing.

    Some government departments had sent officials to monitor and provide help in the affected areas. - Sapa


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    A man found in possession of abalone with a value of around R360 000 has been arrested in Beaufort West, Western Cape police said.

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    Cape Town - A 51-year-old man found in possession of abalone with a value of around R360 000 has been arrested in Beaufort West, Western Cape police said on Wednesday.

    Captain Malcolm Pojie said the man was arrested on Monday.

    Police patrolling the N1 near Beaufort West pulled over a grey Nissan X-Trail for a routine check just outside the town. Inside the vehicle they found 26 bags containing 1703 abalone weighing 300kg.

    The abalone was handed to the fisheries department for safekeeping.

    The man was expected to appear in the Beaufort West Magistrate's Court on Thursday on a charge of illegal abalone possession.

    Abalone fishing in South Africa was banned in 2008 in a bid to protect the shellfish from extinction. - Sapa


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    "It smelt like a dead rat or something. Someone went to look and discovered the bodies."

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    Cape Town - The decomposed bodies of a 17-year-old boy and a 50-year-old woman were found in Bonteheuwel on Tuesday.

    According to residents, the flat where the two bodies were found belonged to a woman they knew only as “Jenny” and her teenage son, “Tevan”, although police spokesman Elvis Mahote could not confirm the identies of the deceased.

    A neighbour, who was reluctant to be named, told the Cape Argus that on Saturday at around 2am she heard loud bangs coming from Jenny’s home.

    “It sounded like people moving cupboards. I woke up and then peeped through my window and saw Tevan come out. About 15 minutes later he went in again and the loud noise continued until it eventually went quiet,” she said.

    Jenny’s family declined to comment, saying they had not yet identified the bodies.

    “We don’t know whose bodies those are, so we can’t say anything,” said a family member.

    Mahote said a post mortem examination would be conducted to determine the cause of death and a murder case docket had been opened for investigation.

     

    Residents said that although Jenny had been living in Boekenhout Street for a long time “she was a very kind lady who kept to herself”.

    They called the police after noticing a stench coming from Jenny’s home.

    “It smelt like a dead rat or something. Someone went to look and discovered the bodies,” the neighbour said.

    No arrests had been made and police said the circumstances surrounding the incident were still unclear.

    zodidi.dano@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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    Education department hits out at Zille's demand for independent audit of exam results.

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    The Department of Basic Education has lashed out at the DA, calling the party a bad loser for requesting an independent audit into the credibility of the 2013 matric results.

    The dramatic surge in the number of candidates who passed their matric exams in Mpumalanga and the North West was yesterday labelled questionable and unrealistic by DA leader Helen Zille.

    This follows the announcement of the 2013 results on Monday, at which Minister for Basic Education Angie Motshekga lauded the class of 2013 for achieving the highest pass rate since 1994 – which shot up to 78.2 percent from 2012’s 73.9 percent.

    The Western Cape achieved a pass rate of 85.1 percent, but the country’s usual top performer slipped to fourth.

    North West leapt by 7.7 percentage points to rank second at 87.2 percent and Free State jumped 6.3 percentage points to claim top spot as South Africa’s most successful matric class. Mpumalanga came in below the Western Cape but jumped 7.6 percentage points to 77.6 percent.

    Education department spokesman Panyaza Lesufi saw Zille’s call as a case of sour grapes. He said the call for an investigation was probably motivated by the DA being unhappy with the Western Cape having – in recent years – slipped from being the best-performing province to position four.

    While the DA-run Western Cape improved its pass rate to 85.1 percent last year, the increase was by a modest 2.3 percentage points.

    “In 2008, when the Western Cape improved by 7 percent to occupy position one, no investigation was requested. It is clear the DA think they have the birthright to be the number one province at all costs. They are indeed poor competitors, it is either them or no one.”

    Zille had called for an independent audit and attacked the credibility of these results.

    “The credibility of the 2013 results has already been called into question by a number of educational experts, who pointed out that the results are too far a departure from the trends over the last several years,” she said.

    Some of the increases “in one year are near impossible to achieve in one school, let alone across an entire province”.

    Robert Prince, UCT’s director of the Alternative Admissions Research Project, agreed that the sharp increase in passing matrics was a cause for concern.

    “There is this constant push and drive within the department and schools to improve this number every year, and the question is: at what cost?”

    Zille complained that outside of the Western Cape, matric markers were not tested for their competence, subject knowledge or ability to interpret answers that were phrased differently from the exam memorandum.

    Umalusi is the organisation that gave the green light to release the results. Its chairman, Sizwe Mabizela, expressed concern last week that the appointment of markers in some provinces was subject to political and union pressure.

    Zille said: “This is completely unacceptable and undermines public confidence in the marking process.”

    The DA leader also said it was clear that many schools were trying to work weaker students out of their system. “This practice of ‘culling’ academically weak students is reflected in the extraordinarily high dropout rates between Grade 10 and Grade 12 in some provinces.” -Cape Argus


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    Rescue craft were expected to be dispatched from Hout Bay on Wednesday afternoon.

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    Cape Town - Rescue craft were expected to be dispatched from Hout Bay on Wednesday afternoon to continue rescue operations after rough seas affected various yachts in the Cape to Rio race, the National Sea Rescue Institute said.

    “NSRI Hout Bay will launch sea rescue craft later today, 8th January, to rendezvous with the bulk carrier JS YANGTSE off-shore of Mouille Point to take over the two French crew members who abandoned their yacht IDEFIX 2 at sea, and they will be brought into the Port of Table Bay,” NSRI spokesman Craig Lambinon said.

    The IDEFIX 2 was not part of the race, but reported an emergency when it became caught up in the same gale force winds as participating yachts.

    The yacht, which was unable to sail, was adrift at sea about 216 nautical miles off the Cape Town coast.

    “The bulk carrier JS YANGTSE, the nearest ship at the time, agreed to rendezvous with IDEFIX 2 on the request of MRCC (Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre) but by the time she arrived at the co-ordinates IDEFIX 2 had drifted away and could not be found or raised by phone or radio,” Lambinon said.

    “JS YANGTSE started an increasing box search plotted by MRCC, and despite at one point being released from the search, then after MRCC Reunion established contact with the yacht, JS YANGTSE eventually found IDEFIX 2 and rescued the two French sailors.”

    Wednesday's rescue efforts follows similar operations on Tuesday in which two yachts were towed to safety.

    The yachts had to withdraw from the race due to problems brought on by the storm.

    “Tuesday, 7th January, NSRI Mykonos launched sea rescue craft to rendezvous with yacht AVA off-shore of Saldanha Bay. A tow-line was rigged and yacht AVA and her crew were brought safely into port at Saldanha Bay under the tow of the NSRI Mykonos sea rescue craft,” Lambinon said.

    Ava's two crew members were treated for minor injuries.

    Another yacht, ISLA, was towed safely into Table Bay harbour on Tuesday. -Sapa


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    Search for man who fell from bridge yields women sheltering from storm.

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    Robertson - The bodies of two women who were caught in the current of an overflowing river were found late on Tuesday afternoon.

    The women were part of a group of five who had taken refuge under a bridge over the Hoops River in Robertson.

    Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said the bodies had been fished from the water during a search for another man who had fallen into a river from the rural town’s Adderley Street bridge.

    On Tuesday and Wednesday morning streams and rivers overflowed and roads were blocked off by scattered debris as parts of the Western Cape were inundated with over 110mm of torrential rainfall.

    The N1 running through Laingsburg was closed to traffic as part of the highway was flooded by an overflowing river.

    Roads in Beaufort West, Ashton and Swellendam were also flooded.

    On Liesbeek Parkway, a tree caught in the storm toppled into the road, blocking off traffic for a few hours.

    On Tuesday the rain wrought more havoc in the countryside. Houses in Zwelentemba and Avian Park, both in the Breede Valley municipal area, were flooded after hours of rainfall.

    In the Langeberg municipality, causeways were closed off after they were flooded by the overflowing Hoops and Keisie rivers.

    Residents of the Buffelsjags River informal settlement and the Bontebok National Park in Swellendam were evacuated on Monday evening as a precautionary measure – the park was still closed on Tuesday.

    In Robertson, the town’s roads were flooded after the area experienced more than 110mm of rainfall.

    The R60 between the rural town and Ashton was also temporarily closed as traffic officials removed debris from the road.

    “It was quite something,” said commuter Geoff Bird.

    “The rain was really coming down, and all these plants and rocks washed across the road into Ashton.”

    Bird encountered the roadblock en route from Oudtshoorn to Cape Town on Tuesday morning. Most of his drive was spent under thick gray clouds, the countryside around him obscured by a wall of heavy rain.

    “Visibility was at best 30m, it was scary stuff,” he said. “The roads were waterlogged, and I could feel my car struggling to grip on to the road when I drove through the deeper puddles. But there were still guys speeding all around me.”

    With more rain forecast throughout the week, Agri Wes-Cape chief executive Carl Opperman has warned farmers to prepare for floods. He said the heavy rainfall, which is unusual for January – a month usually known for drought and fires – could not have come at a worse time as many farmers were harvesting their crops.

    “While we have had no reports of flood damage, too much rain could cause the fruit to take up too much water and burst.”

    Farmers have been advised to move stock from the low-lying areas and move equipment away from the rivers.

    “It could be rough, but it is still better than dealing with fires or drought. Once the rain is gone we can go back to business as usual,” said Opperman.

    kieran.legg@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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  • 01/08/14--20:06: Heavy rain causes havoc
  • Heavy rainfall caused severe flooding with a man feared to have been swept away by flood water in the Western Cape.

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    Cape Town - Heavy rainfall caused severe flooding on Wednesday, with a man feared to have been swept away by flood water in the Western Cape.

    Parts of the Western Cape have experienced heavy rain since Monday.

    Near Laingsburg, parts of the N1 had to be closed because of to flooding, but the road was later reopened.

    Traffic on several major roads was also disrupted.

    Officials were searching for the body of a mentally handicapped man, who went missing on Tuesday and was thought to have been swept away by flood water in the Langeberg district.

    Several farms had also been cut off due to the rain.

    There were reports that some houses in the Breede River valley, Laingsburg, Hessequa, and George had been flooded.

    Western Cape disaster management spokesman Colin Deiner said residents from the Buffeljagsrivier informal settlement (in the Overberg district municipality) were being accommodated in the Swellendam community hall.

    Some government departments had sent officials to monitor and provide help in the affected areas.

    Officials were also monitoring rivers in the area, some of which were overflowing.

    In the Eastern Cape, eight children, aged between seven and 18, were rescued from the Thina River after heavy rain in the Mpindweni area, police said.

    The children, aged between seven and 18, were rescued on Tuesday, said Warrant Officer Steve Leslie.

    Twenty children were swimming in the river when it began raining, raising the water level. Twelve of them got out and called residents for help. The children were rescued and taken to safety, he said. - Sapa


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    Zuma accused Zille of having "that old mentality that black people are not intelligent, if they succeed it must be probed".

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    Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma has accused DA leader Helen Zille of still having “that old mentality that black people are not intelligent, if they succeed it must be probed” – after Zille questioned matric pass improvements in various provinces.

    Zille said the surge in the number of successful candidates in Mpumalanga and the North West was questionable and unrealistic, and called for an independent audit of the results.

    But Zuma, speaking on Wednesday in Kanyamazane in Mpumalanga, while on walkabout on the ANC’s 102nd birthday on Wednesday lashed out in a barely disguised reference to Zille: “They’ve always said that a black person cannot pass, we’re passing now.

    “I heard this white person saying let there be an investigation, they can’t pass like this, and I said to myself, this person.” still has that old mentality that black people are not intelligent, if they succeed it must be probed.”

    The original Zulu quote was translated by eNCA.

    ANC spokesmen failed to respond for comment on Wednesday night to confirm that the nuance of Zuma’s comments had been correctly interpreted.

    Zille had argued that while the Western Cape achieved a pass rate of 85.1 percent, slipping to fourth, the North West leapt by 7.7 percent to rank second at 87.2 percent and the Free State jumped 6.3 percent to claim top spot as South Africa’s most successful province. Mpumalanga came in below the Western Cape but jumped 7.6 percent to 77.6 percent.

    Zille said: “The credibility of the 2013 results has already been called into question by a number of education experts, who pointed out that the results are too far a departure from the trends over the last several years.”

    The National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), agreed with Zuma: “The DA has exposed itself as a party that distrusts black people and still subscribes to outdated colonial preconceptions and stereotypes…

    “The DA has tried to hide its total distrust of black people by portraying itself in public as a rehabilitated political party that has left behind its dark past as an apartheid collaborator and enabler…

    “Their (white people) superiority complex made them to be cynical and doubt the aptitude of black people and treat them as ignorant and semi-literate imbeciles,” Nehawu said.

    Department of Basic Education spokesman Panyaza Lesufi said the calls for an investigation were probably motivated by the DA being unhappy with the Western Cape having – in recent years – slipped from being the best performing province.

    Zille on Wednesday night declined to comment, but her chief of staff, Geordin Hill-Lewis, said: “It is only January and President Zuma has already lowered the tone of the national debate.

    “He is already showing that the ANC’s strategy in this election campaign will be more of the same – deflect attention away from the real issues by sowing racial division and animosity.

    “If President Zuma is confident in the credibility of the matric marking process, then he needn’t be so defensive, he should just show us the evidence. And he should tell us why his government has bowed to union pressure and refused to implement Umalusi’s repeated calls for matric markers to be competency tested. The Western Cape is the only provincial government in SA that does this. He could also explain why the two provinces (North West and Free State) with the best results are also the two with the highest dropout rates.”

    Zille was also earlier backed in querying the results by various experts.

    Robert Prince, director of UCT’s Alternative Admissions Research Project, agreed that the sharp increase in passing matrics was a cause for concern: “There is this constant push within the department and schools to improve this number every year, and the question is: at what cost?”

    Political commentator James Myburgh agreed the extent of “culling” had to be investigated. Myburgh argued that the two top-ranked provinces owed their position to “a massive dropout rate post-Grade 10”.

    “One of the ways schools and provincial administrations have been traditionally able to increase their pass rates is by ‘culling’ weaker pupils between Grades 10 and Grade 12. In other words. huge numbers of ill-educated pupils fall or are pushed out of the system before they even sit down to write final National Senior Certificate examinations,” Myburgh said.

    If one looked at the percentage of matrics who passed against the number who were in Grade 10 two years ago, the Western Cape came out tops nationally.

    Cape Argus


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  • 01/08/14--21:37: Floods hit Laingsburg
  • Laingsburg is again under siege, hit by what some say is the worst flooding since the terrible flood of 1981.

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    Cape Town - Laingsburg is again under siege, hit by what some say is the worst flooding since the terrible flood of 33 years ago that wiped out half the buildings in town.

    On Wednesday, the N1 was closed for several hours as farms were cut off and crops submerged. Communication systems were failing amid dramatically rising river levels and some homes had to be evacuated.

    A joint operations centre has been set up in the Karoo town and a number of rescue resources, including helicopters, are on standby in case the situation becomes worse.

    On Wednesday, Laingsburg residents described to the Cape Times how continuous rain and thunder showers had pummelled the area and how one resident, who had survived the first flood 33 years ago, had to be medically treated after suffering a panic attack.

    “It’s just about as bad as it was during the 1981 flood,” Francis van Wyk, 75, who experienced the first flood and started a museum around the event, said.

    “It’s an experience of a lifetime to be going through it again,” she said.

    On January 25, 1981, a flood there resulted in 104 people being killed and 185 houses and 23 business premises being destroyed.

    On Wednesday, the Buffels, Wilgenhout and Baviaans rivers in the Laingsburg area flooded.

    Telephone, cellphone and internet connections in Laingsburg were intermittent as a result of the weather and at one stage, part of the N1 highway had been closed due to flooding.

    The province’s disaster management chief director, Colin Deiner, said it was expected to rain in Laingsburg until tomorrow, but the amount expected to fall was set to decrease progressively.

    A spotter aircraft was meant to have flown over the area to assess damages on Wednesday, but Deiner said the weather had been unsuitable for this.

    He said there was concern for some farmers in the area.

    Agri Wes-Cape chief executive Carl Opperman said farms below the Floriskraal Dam, which reached a capacity of more than 150 percent, had experienced damage.

    Those farmers were involved with producing onion and carrot seeds.

    Opperman said vineyards had also been affected, as had apricot, peach and pear crops.

    He said it was too early to determine the extent of the damage.

    “We’re battling to get hold of people.

    “There are no communications. Some people are completely cut off,” Opperman said.

    He said the weather front, that initially hit on Tuesday afternoon, had been “totally unexpected”.

    Laingsburg mayor Wilhelm Theron said it was “definitely” the worst flooding since 1981 and the rain had resulted in some damage to his farm in the area.

     

    His wife, Annalie Theron, said she had heard that a lucerne farmer about 5km outside of Laingsburg had “lost everything”.

    She said a golf course in Laingsburg had been damaged.

    “It’s basically a river bed,” Theron said.

    Holes number four and five on the golf course had completely washed away.

    “We are very scared at the moment. If there’s more rain, we’ll have a problem,” Theron said.

    Marisa Vieila, who runs a guest establishment outside of Laingsburg, said she had tried several times to get hold of people in the town, but it appeared phones were not working.

    She had eventually managed to get hold of a relative who told her it was “raining terribly”, there had been hail and people had been advised to stay in the town as roads could flood.

    According to a disaster management statement, other areas affected by the heavy rain included the Breede Valley where some homes were flooded.

    In Kannaland, 10 people, five of them children, were rescued from a farm that had been cut off by floodwater.

    The statement said Department of Water Affairs staff had been deployed across the province to monitor flooded rivers and affected dams.

    On Tuesday in Robertson, five homeless people had been trapped under a bridge in rising water during heavy rain. Three were rescued and two washed away.

    Their bodies were discovered in the Montagu area.

    The body of a mentally ill man, who had fallen into a river in a separate incident in Robertson, was yet to be found.

    caryn.dolley@inl.co.za

    Cape Times


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    Ex-gangster Rashied Staggie has officially cut all ties with the Patriotic Alliance, which he joined as an ordinary member.

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    Cape Town - Former Hard Livings gang boss Rashied Staggie has officially cut all ties with the newly formed Patriotic Alliance (PA), which he joined as an ordinary member after being placed on day parole in September last year.

    As a family they had decided to withdraw from the PA, Staggie’s wife, Rashieda, said on Wednesday.

    “There are no personal reasons why we are doing it, except that as a family, my husband especially feels it’s time that he focuses solely on his family.”

    Flanked by her four children – Nashiefah, 22, Saadiqa, 18, Nabeelah, 19, and Emanuel 14 – and Staggie’s nephew Jason, Rashieda Staggie said the recent controversy about Staggie’s parole being revoked, was “very difficult” for the family.

    “To watch him go back to prison, after spending so little time with him, just makes all of us emotional. My husband is a changed man, everyone could see it,” she said.

    The PA was launched in November by ex-convict Gayton McKenzie and businessman Kenny Kunene.

    Kunene confirmed that Staggiehad informed them of his decision formally to withdraw his support from the party and from politics in general.

    “We fully understand what he and his family are going through. It is a difficult time for them. We have accepted his resignation as an ordinary member of the PA,” the pair said.

    When asked if the family blamed the PA for Staggie’s parole being revoked, Rashieda said she was not blaming anyone.

    Despite denials by the family that the political party was partly to blame for Staggie’s parole being revoked, police sources confirmed that PA members had taken Staggie to a known Mitchells Plain gang boss’s house.

    Staggie apparently admitted to the parole board that he had been in Mitchells Plain.

    His three daughters asked why authorities had treated their father differently to any other criminal.

    They said their father had a tagging device and knew he was being followed by police. “Why would he after a decade in jail risk it?” they questioned.

    Rashieda, who recently visited Staggie in jail, said that while her husband was “sad and emotional”, he had encouraged the entire family to “accept the decision”.

    “When he came out it was really an overwhelming experience for us… To think that all of a sudden he had to go back to prison, it really makes me emotional,” she said.

     

    Staggie is set to reappear before the parole board next month. His family and his close friend pastor Ivan Waldeck asked the board to give him another chance.

    Waldeck said his company, Ukonwaba Investments, would have a job for Staggie if he was released on parole again.

    Staggie was ordered back to Pollsmoor on December 4 after enjoying day parole from September 23.

    He was sentenced in 2003 to 15 years in prison on charges of kidnapping and rape, and in 2004 he received another 13 years for gun theft from a police armoury. The sentences ran concurrently and he spent more than a decade behind bars before his release on day parole.

    warda.meyer@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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    It was the end of Ishmael Phamoli’s last shift at Vizual Security when he climbed into the minibus taxi.

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    Cape Town - It was the end of Ishmael Phamoli’s last shift at Vizual Security when he climbed into the minibus taxi early on Tuesday.

    The 23-year-old was on his way home to fetch his clothes in De Doorns, and was due to travel back to Cape Town yesterday to start an electrical engineering course at Northlink College this year.

    He was one of nine passengers who died after their taxi smashed into a stationary truck on the N1 near De Doorns.

    Other than Phamoli, seven of the dead guards have been identified: Prieska Nkabi, Mziwakhiwe Ngxingweni, Alfred Sobuza, Priscilla Esterhuizen, Fundile Gladile, Joseph Rasemeni and Moses Masimini.

    Nine other passengers survived.

    Sammy Setaka, Phamoli’s sister, said the family were both extremely sad and angry.

    “He was coming from night shift, his last shift at the company.

    “I can’t accept it – especially the way it happened. He was also very young.”

    She said Phamoli lived with their father in De Doorns township.

    “When I heard that there was an accident, I didn’t think he was in the taxi because he would have started his N2 electrical course soon, and I thought he was in Cape Town already. I phoned and phoned him.

    “What makes me angry is to see in the media that it was a careless mistake, and that the driver survived.

    “My father is taking it very hard.”

    Wendy Struyweg, spokeswoman for Vizual Security, said the company had visited the families of the dead guards yesterday.

    A memorial service would be held soon.

    Provincial Department of Health spokesman Mark van der Heever said that, while eight survivors had been discharged from hospital on Tuesday, one victim remained in a critical condition at Tygerberg Hospital Intensive Care Unit.

    Police spokesman FC van Wyk said the investigation was ongoing.

    natasha.bezuidenhout@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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    Police say a Sexy Boys gang leader and three relatives, among them a 15-year-old boy, have been arrested for alleged drug dealing.

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    Cape Town - Police say a Sexy Boys gang leader who visited former Hard Livings gang head Rashied Staggie in prison, and three relatives, have been arrested for alleged drug dealing in Mitchells Plain.

    Police say among those arrested was a 15-year-old boy, whose parents were also arrested.

    The four suspects are expected to appear in the Bellville Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.

    On Wednesday, police announced they had arrested a Sexy Boys gang leader.

    But Jerome “Donkie” Booysen, who a Hawks investigating officer previously identified as a head of the Sexy Boys, said police had “their facts all wrong”.

    In a phone interview with the Cape Times, Booysen said he was not aware of any Sexy Boys gang members having been arrested.

    Police spokesman Frederick van Wyk said officers involved in Operation Combat, a police operation clamping down on gangsterism, received information on Tuesday that the Sexy Boys gang was responsible for supplying drugs in Mitchells Plain.

    He said at 5pm officers went to an address in Boston, Bellville, where 2.5kg of tik, 583 mandrax tablets, scales and R75 000 cash were seized.

    A Sexy Boys gang leader, 45, his wife, also 45, and a 35-year-old man were arrested.

    “The 15-year-old boy was caught while running out of the house by the Tactical Response Team members… with some of the drugs in his possession,” Van Wyk said.

    He said the 45-year-old Sexy Boys leader had been identified as having visited Staggie at a prison in Worcester before Staggie’s release on day parole. Staggie was released on day parole on September 23, but was ordered back to Pollsmoor Prison on December 4 for breaking his parole conditions.

    Last month, the Correctional Services Department said Staggie had violated parole conditions by meeting gangsters and paying “unauthorised visits”.

    On Wednesday, Van Wyk said the Sexy Boys gang members arrested were linked to Durbanville and Bellville drug cases where a garage alongside a house had been set alight “to get rid of the evidence” in February.

    A month later, police spokesman Andre Traut had told the Cape Times that the three houses raided in that incident, where “chemicals together with equipment” were confiscated, had belonged to Booysen.

    But Booysen had told the Cape Times he was not involved in the houses that were raided. “It’s not even my land. I was renting it out,” he had said.

    Two years ago during the bail application of Serbian fugitive Dobrosav Gavric in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court, the investigating officer, Paul Hendrikse, testified that Booysen was a leader of the Sexy Boys gang and a suspect in underworld figure Cyril Beeka’s murder.

    Gavric, who is wanted in Serbia for murdering two people and assassinating Serbia’s most feared warlord, Zeljko Raznatovic, was driving the vehicle in which Beeka was shot dead on March 21, 2011.

    Hendrikse had testified that shortly before Beeka was killed, Beeka and Gavric had visited Booysen at his Belhar home.

    Shortly after the killing, Hendrikse said, Booysen had arrived at the scene.

    André Naudé, who had been a chief executive of the controversial bouncer company Specialised Protection Services, previously told the Cape Times it was backed by Booysen and Sea Point businessman Mark Lifman, whose name also cropped up in the Beeka case.

    Lifman and Naudé were facing legal action for allegedly running a bouncer company illegally.

    caryn.dolley@inl.co.za

    Cape Times


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    A couple died in an accident on the N1 near Leeu-Gamka, while their year-old baby escaped unharmed.

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    Cape Town - A couple died in an accident on the N1 near Leeu-Gamka, while their year-old baby escaped unharmed.

    Provincial traffic spokesman Jacques Mostert said a minibus taxi had crashed into a trailer and then collided with the couple’s car on Wednesday.

    Their baby was placed in the care of social workers, Mostert said. The minibus driver survived, but it could not be established whether he had been injured.

    Mostert did not know where the couple were from, but said they were travelling south, towards Cape Town.

    The accident occurred a day after nine security guards employed by Vizual Security died and eight others were injured when the minibus taxi in which they were travelling crashed into the back of a stationary truck on the N1 near De Doorns.

    One of the injured guards, Nceba Makwetha, who is to be married in March, is fighting for his life in hospital.

    He was taken by ambulance to Worcester Hospital and transferred to Tygerberg Hospital.

    EMS spokesman Mark van der Heever said Makwetha had surgery and remained in intensive care on Wednesday.

    “The patient had severe pressure on his brain. Doctors tried to relieve some of the pressure. He is in a critical condition.”

    Makwetha’s fiancée, Asanda Malgas, did not want to comment on his condition, but said the couple were planning to get married in March.

    Cassie Carstens, the director of Vizual Security, a Cape Town company, said: “We have never lost so many employees at one time. They are sorely missed. We are doing our best to deal with the situation.”

    Staff from Cape Town had been called in to perform the duties of those who died, Carstens said. This was a temporary measure until people from Worcester could be recruited.

    *Transport Minister Dipuo Peters is expected to release the festive season road accident figures on Thursday.

    jason.felix@inl.co.za

    francesca.villette@inl.co.za

    Cape Times


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    The SA Weather Service has issued a severe weather alert warning of localised flooding in some areas in the Western Cape.

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    The South African Weather Service has issued a severe weather alert warning of localised flooding in the Overberg, Cape Winelands, Cape Metropole, Central Karoo and Eden District for Thursday and Friday.

    - Cape Winelands District Municipality: Rainfall has decreased in the area, however the weather service has indicated that 20mm of rain is expected overnight. In Zweletemba the fire brigade is pumping water out of affected homes.

    - Langeberg: The body of a mentally challenged person has not yet been recovered after he is believed to have been swept away by an overflowing river. The search is still under way. All major routes are open, with some secondary roads in the area still closed.

    - Laingsburg: SAPS Joint Operational Centre in Laingsburg remains active. Farms in the Vleiland area are still cut off, however, no lives are in danger. The Wilgenhout, Baviaans and Geelbek rivers have subsided but not the Buffels River. The Floriskraal Dam in the Laingsburg area is about 150.44 percent full.

    Colin Deiner, chief director for Western Cape Disaster Management, said: “A spotter aircraft has been arranged to assess the farms’ accessibility and damages.”

    - In Slangrivier and Heidelberg, 30 and 60 houses respectively were affected by rain.

    The Department of Water Affairs has deployed officials across the province to monitor the flooded rivers as well as safety at affected dams such as the Floriskraal Dam.

    An increase in water levels is expected in the Buffels River downstream of Floriskraal Dam, later in the Groot River at Vanwyksdorp and in the Gourits River due to the sharp increase of flow into the Floriskraal Dam.

    Residents from the Buffeljagsrivier informal settlement in the Overberg district municipality were being accommodated in the Swellendam community hall.

    An increase in dam levels was reported: Buffelsjags Dam 130.98 percent, Floriskraal Dam 150.44 percent and Prins River Dam 129.62 percent.

    The Western Cape Disaster Management Centre said it had been monitoring heavy rains experienced throughout the province due to a cut-off low.

    The weather services also issued a weather warning for heavy rainfall expected in the West Coast District today.

    No significant incidents were reported in the City of Cape Town but all disaster management and engineering teams were placed on standby. Routine monitoring is under way at high risk areas such as Diep River, Elsieskraal and the Lourens River.

    An unconfirmed number of houses were flooded in Zweletemba in the Breede Valley. The local emergency services and engineering department are attending to the community.

    Two secondary roads in Greyton and Riviersondend are closed.

    There were reports that houses in the Breede River Valley, Laingsburg, and George had been flooded. - Cape Argus


    0 0

    A “dastardly act, so devastating, so utterly senseless” was how Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu described the murder of Rob Meek.

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    Cape Town - A “dastardly act, so devastating, so utterly senseless” was how Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu described the murder of respected architect, sailor and family man Rob Meek.

    Tutu was addressing a gathering of relatives, friends and colleagues at St George’s Cathedral who bade farewell to Meek who was laid to rest on Thursday.

    The cathedral was packed to capacity with mourners standing in the doorways and sitting on the steps of the altar.

    Meek, 62, was described as a man who was respected for his coolness and integrity.

    Meek, his wife Di, daughters Louise and Claudia and a small group of friends had gathered on the stoep of a rented holiday cottage on Transkei’s ruggedly beautiful Wild Coast to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

    At the stroke of midnight, the party was accosted by three armed men with balaclavas, who ordered them to the ground. A shot was fired, hitting Meek in the groin.

    The family had planned to return to Cape Town in time for the start of the Cape2Rio yacht race.

    Tutu questioned why such an act could happen to such a devoted father and husband, and he spoke fondly of Meek’s visits with Di to the cathedral.

    Close family friend Pat Goss said Meek had left “a substantial legacy of beautiful things” he had created in Cape Town, in Knysna and in other places, but that his most beautiful legacy was his children.

    Referring to the day Meek died, Goss spoke of how three “misguided youths” had made their way to the deck, presumably to rob the family, how one single shot was fired and how they left without taking a single thing.

    “What a terrible waste,” he said.

    “Hamba Ngoxolo – Go in Peace dear Rob… we shall celebrate your life for a long, long time to come.”

    Colleague Erky Wood described Meek as having a critical mind.

    “He spoke less of his own work but highly of others’ work,” he said.

    He quipped about sailing misadventures with Meek and how Meek often poked fun at himself.

    He noted how, messages of support to the family described Meek as a gentle man, committed, professional and a mentor.

    “We have lost Rob here and now, but we will never lose his spirit to what is right and true.”

    Bob Dylan’s Blowing in the Wind was sung by Chris Shaw and Dave Bryant, and Freshlyground singer Zolani Mahola led the congregation in a rendition of Amazing Grace.

    In a moving tribute, his daughters Louise and Claudia remembered their father’s words of encouragement and advice, his love for liquorice, poetry and music, and joked how he wore his wetsuit backwards with the zip in the front.

    “Because ‘that’s what sailors do,’ he said,” the sisters said.

    On behalf of his sailing friends, Phil Gutsche bade farewell to his fellow crewman who he said had lived “a full sailing life”. Gutsche said his death had brought tears to many hardened sailors.

    Meek had participated in almost every yachting event South Africa had to offer.

    A memorial service was held later at the Royal Cape Yacht Club in the harbour.

    natasha.prince@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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  • 01/10/14--01:44: Dad bust for killing son
  • Cops have charged a dad with murder after he allegedly buried his 14-month-old son in a shallow grave under his bed.

    |||

    Cape Town - Police have charged a father with murder after he allegedly buried his 14-month-old son in a shallow grave under his bed.

    Zolani Malanga, 32, is expected to appear on Monday at the Bellville Magistrates’ Court for the murder of his son Zondre Parks.

    Cops are trying to determine how Zondre died.

    They are not sure if he was buried alive, poisoned or suffocated to death.

    Police spokesperson Elvis Mahote says: “A 33-year-old father has been charged after the dead body of his baby was found buried in a grave inside his shack.”

    Malanga was allegedly found with the naked corpse of his son inside his shack during the early hours of on Thursday morning in Botterboom Street, Delft-South.

    The shallow grave could still be seen under Malanga’s bed.

    Zondre’s distraught mother Nadia Parks, 35, says she and Malanga had a rocky relationship and that he was a maintenance dodger.

    Nadia says that although Malanga never supported his son, he often fetched him for small visits.

    It was one such visit that ended in tragedy on Wednesday night.

    She says Malanga came to her home at 9pm, while she was playing with Zondre.

    “He asked to take Zondre to the shop and said I must put a warm top on for him,” says Nadia.

    “I didn’t think he was going to be away for long.”

    But after a while, Nadia became worried when they did not return.

    “I walked down the street and I sent my seven-year-old son Nevan to look at the shop,” she says.

    “I then SMSed his (Malanga’s) uncle and asked if Malanga was there with Zondre.”

    Sick with worry, Nadia says she also contacted the detectives dealing with her maintenance case against Malanga.

    Then she received an SMS from the uncle saying she should come fetch Zondre.

    “It was already after 11pm. I SMSed back it was late and that Malanga should bring the child back to me,” says Nadia.

    Another hour passed before a police van came to collect her and took her to Botterboom street.

    It was there where she saw a hive of activity – including police vans and an ambulance.

    “A captain told me my child is late and that he is sorry, I already knew my child is gone,” she says.

    “I asked to see his body because I wanted to see his smile, his dimples.

    “I saw the grave was inside his shack, Zondre lay stiff with his arms and legs pulled out.”

    Malanga’s aunts, who are 46 and 36 years old, say they were alerted to Zondre’s death after Malanga’s drinking buddy came to them to say he had done something to the boy.

    “Malanga told the friend he took a decision about his child.

    “The friend came inside and told the uncle what Malanga,” says the 36-year-old aunt.

    She says her husband went into the shack and found Malanga on his bed.

    “My husband asked him where the child is, Malanga said he killed the child,” she says.

    Malanga then allegedly started digging up the tiny body.

    Daily Voice


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    The sister of alleged Sexy Boys gang leader Jerome “Donkie” Booysen was released on R20 000 bail after she appeared in court on a charge of drug possession.

    |||

    Cape Town - The sister of alleged Sexy Boys gang leader Jerome “Donkie” Booysen was released on R20 000 bail after she appeared in the Bellville Magistrate’s Court on Thursday on a charge of drug possession.

    Taressa Small, 45, her husband, Leon Small, 45, alleged to be a leading figure in the Sexy Boys gang, and another relative, Jonathan Solomons, 35, were arrested in a police sting on Tuesday in which tik and mandrax with a street value of R800 000 were confiscated.

    Police seized 2.5kg of tik, 583 mandrax tablets, scales and R75 000 in cash at a house in Kronkel Road, Boston, near Bellville.

    A 15-year-old boy was also arrested, but was released the same night. He is to face charges when he appears in court with his parents next week.

    On Thursday, the court heard that a large amount of drugs as well as a firearm, whose licence had expired, and ammunition were found at the house.

    The State said Taressa Small had no previous convictions, there were no cases pending against her and it would have no objection to her being freed on bail.

    Bail of R20 000 was granted.

    The State asked that Leon Small and Solomons remain in custody until it had been established whether there were any outstanding cases against them.

    According to the charge sheet, the Smalls have been married for 20 years and have four children.

    Noorudien Hassan, for the Smalls and Solomons, told the court that Leon Small was facing charges of possessing an illegal firearm and possession of drugs and ammunition.

    He asked that the case be postponed for seven days.

    The two men remain in custody.

    On Wednesday, police identified Leon Small as a leading figure in the Sexy Boys gang and the person who had visited former Hard Livings leader Rashied Staggie at Worcester Prison before his release. Small is allegedly linked to Durbanville and Bellville drug cases.

    The matter was postponed to January 16.

    natasha.bezuidenhout@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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