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    They’re calling it “Big Thursday” – one of the most anticipated waves of the decade.

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    Cape Town - They’re calling it “Big Thursday” – one of the most anticipated waves of the decade, as storm surf of gigantic proportions is expected to hit Hawaii.

    And a top South African big wave surfer is due to be there, and possibly surf the biggest wave of his life.

    “Oh my word, it’s really amazingly big,” said Cape Town surf forecaster Steve Pike, while studying weather charts on Wednesday.

    Hawaii News Now reported on Wednesday, echoing reports on CNN and other media, that the National Weather Service in the US expects the waves to peak at 12m to 15m faces, “the biggest and most dangerous surf of the season if not the decade”.

    “The waves are big, powerful and most positively deadly. The weight behind these waves can easily break bones and kill you and drown you,” said forecaster Mike Cantin. Another weather advisory warned: “Impacts, extreme, giant breaking surf. Anyone approaching the shoreline could face significant injury or death.”

    Hawaii News Now quoted John Cummings III, of the Department of Emergency Management: “Don’t go in the water on the Leeward and North Shore sides. The waves will be too big even for professional surfers and swimmers.”

    Even onlookers ashore were warned. “It could be the difference between life and death. You may be on rocks and think you are safe and that bigger wave set knocks you off and you’re gone,” said Cantin.

    Pike, of wavescape.co.za, told the Cape Argus: “As groundswells grow in size from the original storm winds, they speed up and grow longer. The crucial thing, though, is that the energy that propels them grows, extending deeper into the ocean. The swells about to hit Hawaii reach down about 300m.

    “People are going ballistic on Twitter. From what I can see from the actual forecasts, they’re due to get some of the biggest waves they’ve seen in recent years.”

    Pike said swells of 12m to 15m could produce wave faces of 21m to 24m.

    South African big wave superstar Grant “Twiggy” Baker is expected to be one South African who will be there.

    Baker rode what is probably the biggest wave yet ridden by a South African, the outside reef of Dungeons, at the mouth of Hout Bay, which is known as Tafelberg Reef – a monster of 18m-plus.

    “Riding waves this huge is something that even experts like Twiggy find exceptionally dangerous. Things can go wrong very quickly,” Pike explained.

    “There are now very good safety procedures, such as built-in flotation devices in wetsuits. Previously, big wave surfers often didn’t know which way was up, being pounded by tons of water, but this shoots you to the surface.

    “But still, if you get hit by a big wave board, which are heavily glassed, falling down the face of a wave, then you can still drown.

    “You can be knocked unconscious, and even if your flotation device is activated, you won’t necessarily be found in time in the space of ‘football fields of churning ocean’. Or your board can ‘tombstone’, get trapped by something underwater, and you get held down by your leash, and can’t escape.”

    Last week, Baker said on a Hawaiian TV station, as he arrived at Mavericks in northern California: “I’ve been in Europe for a couple of days. I’m jetlagged up, but s***, I’m on a roll, so let’s just keep on going!”

    Another Cape big wave surfer, Chris Bertish, is also on his way to the US to catch the looming swell.

    Cape Argus


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    Contract cleaning staff were greeted by poo-throwing locals as they returned to work at the Barcelona settlement near Cape Town.

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    Cape Town - City of Cape Town employees and contract cleaning staff were pelted with stones and faeces by angry Barcelona informal settlement residents on Wednesday.

    No injuries were reported.

    The city council workers and contracted cleaning services staff had returned to the area, in Gugulethu, to commence their normal cleaning schedule, after months of violent disruptions had prohibited them from doing so.

    On Tuesday, residents had had a go at a community leader, throwing faeces at the leader’s home.

    Mayoral committee member for utility services Ernest Sonnenberg said an agreement for the city employees and cleaning staff to work in the area on Wednesday followed a meeting he had had with Sannicare CC, the ward councillor and Barcelona leaders.

    “It is clear that this group does not represent the broader community, but rather some individuals with illegal interests who are prepared to jeopardise the wider community’s access to services,” he said.

    Ward councillor Mzwakhe Nqavashe was to meet residents on Wednesday night to discuss the matter. Thereafter a decision would be made on when the city staff and cleaners would return to the area.

    Sonnenberg said the city was committed to finding the best solution for all parties involved.

    “The city will continue to do all that it can to resolve this matter so that the whole community can receive the best level of services. As part of this commitment (to residents) we have already agreed to provide additional janitorial services in Barcelona.”

    Cape Argus


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    Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa wants to clean up “the rot” in the police service - and he needs your help to do it.

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    Cape Town - Minister Nathi Mthethwa wants to clean up “the rot” in the police service by targeting the recruitment process and, for the first time, he’s asking residents to help identify bad apples.

    Hundreds of Cape Flats hopefuls gathered at the Lentegeur civic centre yesterday to fill out application forms for the 668 posts available in the province. Other recruitment drives are taking place around the city.

    Addressing the applicants, Mthethwa was uncharacteristically scathing of the police. He admitted that the police force was bedevilled by criminals, corruption and officers who use unwarranted force.

    “There are those officers who have sworn to be public protectors, but who are in fact doing the exact opposite,” he said.

    “It is normally the job of dedicated staff to handle the recruitment process. But I have come here in support of our strategy to strengthen the human resources value chain – from recruitment to retirement.”

    Over the past week police have been criticised for killing four people during clashes with service delivery protesters in Mothutlung in the North West. Citing such killings, on Tuesday Human Rights Watch warned the government that human rights were “taking a turn for the worse” in the country. The police ministry in turn criticised the report for being “generalising and subjective”.

    Yet Mthethwa, who has defended police who killed 34 miners at Marikana in August 2012, on Wednesday called on the press and residents to report police officers who used excessive force on duty.

    To prevent police ranks from swollen by such “undesirable individuals”, he said they would publish the names of short-listed applicants and call for public comment.

    Brigadier Novela Potelwa, spokeswoman for the Western Cape police commissioner, said: “Members of the community will be invited to view the list and to disclose incriminating information about the applicants who appear upon it.”

    The police service maintains that its baseline assessment of new applicants is thorough, yet it admits that some unsuitable applicants may be disingenuous about their commitment to serve the country and to protect the public.

    After Mthethwa’s welcome to the applicants, Major-General Lineo Ntshiea briefed the group on the two-year training and assessment period successful candidates would go through before they became police officers. There were groans and laughter when she highlighted the strict physical fitness training, adding that most criminals were “very” fit and that “fat” police officers would have little chance of chasing down a suspect.

    Niyaaz Rykliff, 28, from Mitchells Plain, is applying for a second time. A Safety in Society graduate from False Bay College, Rykliff said his experience of being robbed at gunpoint on numerous occasions during his youth had encouraged him to apply.

    “I want to help my community. If I’m successful, I’d like to become an investigating officer one day because I enjoy problem solving. It is something that I am good at.”

    daneel.knoetze@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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    A Cape Town commission investigating the efficacy of police in Khayelitsha got a tour of a notorious “field of death”.

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    Cape Town - The “Field of Death” was one of Cape Town’s crime hot spots that the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry was shown during in loco inspections on Wednesday.

    “This is the execution place. If you do something wrong, whatever you do, we bring you here and arrest you… there is rape and robbery here in the area… so people are just sick and tired of it,” said single mother Thobeka Mhlawuli.

    Commissioners Kate O’Regan and Vusi Pikoli and advocates involved in the inquiry were shown the field at the Enkanini informal settlement.

    On Wednesday, the commission was told by community members in Enkanini that kangaroo court hearings occurred regularly and on an organised basis.

    The commission visited Enkanini, an informal settlement along Baden Powell Drive, because it had been identified as one of the worst spots for vigilante action.

    Speaking to the commission in an open field where most of the vigilante attacks have taken place, resident Mpumi Fani said when a suspected robber or thief was caught they were tied up and the community committee would call a public meeting to discuss their punishment.

    He said if the suspect was caught during the day, when most residents were at work, a meeting would be held when they returned.

    The suspect was kept in a secure place, usually an unoccupied shack.

    “If the thug hurt someone when robbing them or holds them at gunpoint, the community doesn’t hesitate, they get killed,” Fani said.

    But if the “thug” had stolen without violence they were beaten with sjamboks and sticks, he said.

    Asked why they did not call the police when they caught a suspect, Fani said the response time was slow and sometimes police never arrived.

    He said it was impossible to prevent angry residents from attacking suspected criminals.

    Another resident, Lindile Dyantyi, who is also a member of the committee, told the Cape Times that every year more than 50 alleged criminals were badly injured, beaten to death or set alight.

    “Since I have been here from 2006, I would say there had been more than 50 incidents a year where thugs are beaten up by community members.

    “It is not a good thing to beat someone for a small thing like a phone, but the community has had enough of these thugs,” Dyantyi said.

    He said in some instances the community removed criminals from the area by forcing their families to send them to the Eastern Cape.

    The commission was shown another open field, behind Kuyasa train station, where three men were set alight in 2012 for allegedly stealing a generator from a church.

    In Site B, the commission visited Thandazo Road which has been described as a hot spot for muggings.

    A resident, who did not want to be named, said a part of the street intersecting with Bida Crescent was a meeting place for youth gangs.

    “There is a camera (CCTV) here but we don’t know whether it works or not because when these kids start stabbing each other on the road the police never respond. Even when residents call they come only when the fighting has stopped,” the resident of U-Section said.

    She said residents had recently formed street committees to patrol the area.

    “We don’t see police here, so we basically have to fight for ourselves. They never come. They only come when the crimes are finished and done, so what’s the use of them?”

    Mhlawuli said she had witnessed many community arrests, “prosecutions” and executions carried out by angry and frustrated residents on the field.

    Asked what would make her stop supporting vigilante actions, she said “more police visibility”.

    “When they come here they only go to the shebeens to close them and then they leave. They don’t walk around, see things, do patrols, and stay and watch.”

    Several other hot spots were visited.

    Social Justice Coalition community support officer Welcome Makele led the commission to Harare Park, where he told them gang violence was prevalent.

    “There’s lots of gangsters here and the police are aware of that. Nothing has improved here and this area is still dangerous,” he said.

    “They are shooting with lots of guns, there is robbery, and they are stabbing people.”

    Makele’s job includes accompanying crime victims to police stations to help them open cases against criminals.

    At one of the stops in Ilitha Park, another open field was shown to commissioners.

    “The kids are going to school when they get robbed here and the workers who go to the train station in the early hours of the morning get robbed here,” he told the commission.

    At the corner of Thandazo Drive and Bida Crescent, the commission was greeted by more community members, who complained of police inefficiency, despite a CCTV camera installed overhead.

    “This road is the meeting point for the school gangsters when they fight at this junction,” Makele said.

    A man living on the corner, who refused to be named for fear of retaliation by criminals, said robbers frequented the spot to target people on their way to and from work.

    The commission’s hearings start in Khayelitsha on Thursday.

    Western Cape Premier Helen Zille established the inquiry in August 2012 after receiving numerous complaints about police inefficiency in Khayelitsha.

    Cape Times


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    Mayco member JP Smith in head-on collision with attitude from the southern suburbs.

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    Cape Town - Loquacious motorists who insist on driving and talking had their cellphones confiscated on Thursday morning in an operation by traffic officials.

    Mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, accompanied officers in an unmarked ghost squad vehicle who stopped three motorists and impounded their devices.

    “We had a head-on collision with attitude from the southern suburbs,” Smith said.

    “We started in the CBD and moved up into the residential areas, off the main routes - I’ve had complaints that we only tackle the freeways.

    “Every morning when I leave my home I also see loads of talkers.”

    “But, as Murphy’s Law would have it, we saw no talkers in the suburbs. So we went up Nelson Mandela Boulevard and pulled three cars off just below the University of Cape Town.

    “The first guy claimed ignorance - he was holding his phone against his steering wheel.

    “The next two, both women, were highly belligerent. One said she had only taken a photograph, not phoned or texted, but the officer explained to her that one is forbidden from operating a phone in any way, by hand.”

    The trio were fined R500 each.

    Their handsets were sealed in boxes; they would be able to collect their phones on Friday morning, 24 hours later, once they’d paid a R1000 release fee.

    “I think we’re seeing an improvement,” Smith reported, “but we still saw three people talking in 60 seconds, while we were fining one driver.

    “It’ll be like alcohol and roadblocks - people will only start changing their behaviour when everybody knows somebody who’s had a phone confiscated.”

    Cellphone use was “one of the four big killers - speed, alcohol, safety belts and distracted driving”.

    All traffic units are now able to confiscate cellphones - initially it was only the ghost squad.

    Cape Argus


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    A Cape Town council employee reportedly seen at the EFF rally in Khayelitsha "can belong to any party he chooses".

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    Cape Town - The City of Cape Town says one of its employees, who was reportedly photographed at an EFF rally over the weekend, is not a political appointee and can therefore be a member of any party he chooses.

    Pictures of a man believed to be Steven Otter, who has served as a spokesman for the Independent Democrats, and later for Transport MEC Robin Carlisle in the Western Cape government, have been doing the rounds on social media.

    The Cape Argus also snapped the EFF member at the event.

    Otter, who now works for the City of Cape Town as a support officer in the Transport for Cape Town directorate, has in media reports denied that he was at the rally. He said he was in Betty’s Bay for the weekend with his family.

    De Lille offered a similar response in media reports.

    Otter was De Lille’s spokesman when she was leader of the Independent Democrats and she was the first person he called when he was arrested last year for allegedly insulting a police officer.

    Otter said he could not respond to questions because he was about to go into a meeting.

    Melissa Whitehead, the commissioner of transport for Cape Town, said Otter had been seconded last year to the city by the provincial government. His contract with the province was due to end in May.

    Whitehead said Otter was involved in transport issues, and he was not involved in anything political.

    Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for Transport for Cape Town, said that as it was every citizen’s constitutional right to belong to a political party, it would not be necessary for the city to comment on Otter’s political membership.

    “Regardless of whether he is or isn’t (a member of the EFF), employees in the city are not prohibited from joining political parties.”

    Questions around Otter’s choice of attire have risen in the past.

    In 2012 he claimed that he was demoted from his position as the media liaison for the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works because of the way he dressed and his vegetarian diet.

    anel.lewis@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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    Four new schools and 17 replacement buildings will be completed in the Western Cape this year.

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    Cape Town - Twenty-one schools – four new and 17 replacement buildings – are to be built across the province this year.

    This forms part of the Western Cape Education Department’s plans to complete 72 new and replacement schools from 2013/14 to 2015/16.

    During this time the department plans to complete 26 new schools, 46 replacement schools, five classroom replacement projects and construct 124 Grade R classrooms.

    Planning had started on an additional 11 new schools and 16 replacement schools, said department spokesman Paddy Attwell.

    When schools opened last week, three replacement schools – Fairview Primary and Plantation Road Primary in Grassy Park, and Kathleen Murray Primary in Grabouw – were completed and opened.

    Attwell said these schools had been built using prefabricated materials. “The WCED is replacing schools built of prefabricated materials. Many of these schools, known as plankie skole, are in a poor state of repair.

    “We have improved the specifications for both new and replacement schools.

    “Facilities include media centres or libraries, laboratories, kitchens for the feeding scheme, computer facilities and workshops where required.”

    He said staff and pupils at the three replacement schools were happy with their upgraded buildings.

    But, Attwell said, there had been some teething problems in the first week. “Kathleen Murray Primary has applied for an additional teacher because their enrolment grew by a further 40 pupils at the start of the year.”

    Aubrey de Wet, principal of Fairview Primary, said the old school building had been “dilapidated”.

    “The boards were rotten. The building was lying at a 15° angle. The prefabricated building was completely demolished. The new building is standing where it was.”

    He said some parts of the new building had yet to be completed including the landscaping, parking lot and fencing.

    De Wet described the new school as “beautiful, wonderful”. “We have a very beautiful computer centre. We have a wonderful dancing studio. We are very happy to be in a better facility than what we had.”

    Plantation Road Primary principal Cedric Meyer said there was improved safety and lighting, and more space in the new building. “The previous building was a prefabricated building. The walls were rotting, the walls were moving. It became a safety hazard and a health hazard for the children.

    “The kids feel more relaxed, more at ease.”

    He said a number of items, including the gates and paving, needed to be completed.

    The four new schools expected to be completed this year are Brakenfell High, Masakhane Primary, Silversands High and Wellington Primary.

    Attwell said new schools were being built in areas where there was “growing demand for schools because of inward migration and new housing developments”.

    He said these four schools would enrol pupils from next year.

    michelle.jones@inl.co.za

    Cape Times


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    Grave concerns over the failure of Khayelitsha police to do their work are justified, Social Justice Coalition advocate Ncumisa Mayosi said.

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    Cape Town - Grave concerns over the failure of Khayelitsha police to do their work are justified, Social Justice Coalition advocate Ncumisa Mayosi said on Thursday.

    Ncumisa outlined her case during opening statements before the Khayelitha commission of inquiry in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, into allegations of police inefficiency.

    “During the course of these hearings we will set out to place evidence before the commission which shows beyond any shadow of a doubt that the community's complaints are justified,” she said, speaking in Xhosa.

    A list of why there was a breakdown in trust between residents and police was presented.

    “Members of the Khayelitsha community routinely experience violations of their constitutional rights in their dealings with police,” Mayosi said.

    Focus would be placed on how women and girls bore the brunt of violent crimes in the area.

    “Girls and women are often beaten and raped whilst walking to and from communal toilets or fetching water from communal taps close to their homes; while domestic abuse poses a threat to women in their own homes,” Mayosi said.

    The police's inability to protect residents from harm had led to an “erosion” of trust and faith in the SA Police Service.

    “The brutal acts of vigilantism that have claimed dozens of lives in recent years are a shocking end result of this erosion.”

    Residents would testify about how the lack of police visibility had made it possible for criminals to continue terrorising them.

    Mayosi emphasised that the aim of the commission was not to conduct a witchhunt.

    “We are here to find solutions... this is not an attack on police,” she said.

    “It is not about pointing fingers at specific officers and calling for them to lose their jobs.”

    Earlier, evidence leader Thembela Sidaki told the commission proof would be provided that court cases against criminals were routinely withdrawn due to poor police investigations.

    Sidaki was the first to give the commission - led by retired judge Kate O'Regan and advocate Vusi Pikoli - his opening remarks.

    A full witness list would be made available soon, but Sidaki said it would include experts on crime data, community organisations, victims of crime, and their families.

    “We shall also focus on children and the youth, who are vulnerable in society,” he said.

    “We shall lead evidence of sexual violence and domestic violence.”

    The commission began its hearings after two days of inspections in loco.

    The commission visited crime hotspots and police stations on Tuesday and Wednesday in a bid to see first hand the circumstances the victims of crime live in, and the conditions residents and police are subjected to.

    Western Cape premier Helen Zille established the inquiry in August 2012 after receiving numerous complaints about police inefficiency in the Khayelitsha area.

    Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa opposed the decision to set up the inquiry, but this was dismissed by the Constitutional Court in October 2013.

    Sapa


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    It was virtually impossible to adopt conventional policing strategies against crime in Khayelitsha, a lawyer for the police said.

    |||

    Cape Town - It was virtually impossible to adopt conventional policing strategies against crime in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, a lawyer for the police said on Thursday.

    Norman Arendse outlined to the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry - sitting in Khayelitsha - how police faced an uphill battle due to a historical distrust by residents, and infrastructural constraints in the area.

    The lack of infrastructure, coupled with unemployment, was a breeding ground for crime.

    “None of the strategies proposed by NGOs... will make a difference,” Arendse said.

    “The only solution is to eradicate these informal settlements... the lack of footpaths, the lack of roads... the absence of lighting make policing virtually impossible.”

    The police wanted to improve efficiency and build a constructive relationship with the community, he said.

    “Where there are instances of ill discipline and misconduct the police would welcome the identification of such conduct in order that disciplinary action can be taken against these police officers.”

    Turning to the acts of mob justice which NGOs claimed were a result of police inaction, he said these were pure acts of criminality and part of a “culture of distrust rooted in a history of disdain for those in authority, including police”.

    Arendse made reference to how officers were put at risk daily because of this distrust, and because they were patrolling areas with no roads, footpaths or lighting.

    Earlier, the main complainant, the Social Justice Coalition, told the commission grave concerns over the failure of Khayelitsha police to do its work were justified.

    “During the course of these hearings we will set out to place evidence before the commission which shows beyond any shadow of a doubt that the community's complaints are justified,” advocate Ncumisa Mayosi said, speaking in Xhosa.

    A list of why there was a breakdown in trust between residents and police was presented.

    “Members of the Khayelitsha community routinely experience violations of their constitutional rights in their dealings with police,” Mayosi said.

    Focus would be placed on how women and girls bore the brunt of violent crime in the area.

    “Girls and women are often beaten and raped while walking to and from communal toilets or fetching water from communal taps close to their homes; while domestic abuse poses a threat to women in their own homes,” she said.

    The police's inability to protect residents from harm had led to an erosion of trust and faith in the SA Police Service.

    “The brutal acts of vigilantism that have claimed dozens of lives in recent years are a shocking end result of this erosion.”

    Residents would testify about how the lack of police visibility had made it possible for criminals to continue terrorising them.

    Mayosi emphasised that the aim of the commission was not to conduct a witchhunt.

    “We are here to find solutions... this is not an attack on police. It is not about pointing fingers at specific officers and calling for them to lose their jobs.”

    Earlier, evidence leader Thembela Sidaki told the commission proof would be provided that court cases against criminals were routinely withdrawn due to poor police investigations.

    Sidaki was the first to give the commission, led by retired judge Kate O'Regan and advocate Vusi Pikoli, his opening remarks.

    A full witness list would be made available soon, but Sidaki said it would include experts on crime data, representatives of community organisations, victims of crime, and their families.

    “We shall also focus on children and the youth, who are vulnerable in society,” he said.

    “We shall lead evidence of sexual violence and domestic violence.”

    The commission began its hearings after two days of inspections in loco. It visited crime hotspots and police stations on Tuesday and Wednesday in a bid to see first-hand the circumstances the victims of crime lived in, and the conditions residents and police were subjected to.

    Western Cape premier Helen Zille established the inquiry in August 2012 after receiving numerous complaints about police inefficiency in Khayelitsha.

    Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa opposed the decision to set up the inquiry, but this was dismissed by the Constitutional Court in October 2013.

    Sapa


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    A pre-trial conference to expedite the trial of a man accused of defrauding his employer of R1.2 million was set by a cape Town court.

    |||

    Cape Town - A pre-trial conference to expedite the trial of a man accused of defrauding his employer of R1.2 million was set by the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court, Cape Town, on Thursday.

    Magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg scheduled the conference for February 28.

    Michael Jason du Plessis, 35, former Conti Kitchen Cape Town branch manager, has been charged with 105 counts of fraud and one of money laundering. He was not asked to plead on Thursday.

    Prosecutor Jacques Smith alleged that Du Plessis, from Kommetjie, duped Conti Kitchens' customers into paying deposits into his own bank account, for work done by the firm.

    Du Plessis was the branch manager from February 2001, and allegedly defrauded his employer of R1 296 886 between March 2011

    and November 2012.

    According to the charge sheet, Conti Kitchens is owned by the couple Steven and Julia Pollard. One of Du Plessis's duties was to provide customers with written quotations for work to be done at their homes. He allegedly duped unsuspecting customers into paying deposits into his own account at Capitec, instead of the firm’s account at FNB.

    The pre-trial conference was scheduled after a defence application for the withdrawal of the charges was rejected.

    Sapa


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    A man was arrested for allegedly stabbing a man to death on Christmas day last year in Thembalethu near George.

    |||

    Cape Town - A man was arrested on Thursday for allegedly stabbing a man to death in Thembalethu near George, Western Cape police said.

    The 21-year-old allegedly killed Ayanda Wanner, 19, in the early hours of Christmas Day last year, Captain Bernadine Steyn said.

    He apparently had an argument with Wanner at a bar.

    Wanner and his friend then left the bar and while they were walking home, the alleged killer and his friends approached them on Sandkraal Road.

    The two men started arguing again and the 21-year-old took out a knife and allegedly stabbed Wanner once in the left side of his chest.

    Wanner was taken to a nearby hospital, where he died on New Year's eve.

    The man would appear in the George Magistrate's Court soon.

    Sapa


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    More police visibility in Khayelitsha will reduce high crime levels, a clergyman told a commission investigating alleged police inaction in the Cape Town area.

    |||

    Cape Town - More police visibility in Khayelitsha will reduce high crime levels, a clergyman told a commission of inquiry investigating alleged police inaction in the Cape Town area on Thursday.

    Bishop Derick Mtsolo, chairman of the Western Cape Minister's Forum, was one of the first witnesses to be called on day one of the commission's hearings in Khayelitsha.

    “We need to see the police regularly..., otherwise the criminals, they take that gap,” Mtsolo said.

    An increased police presence would also make residents feel safer.

    Mtsolo had lived in Khayelitsha since 1990, and said he had seen first hand the damaging effect crime had on the community.

    “We see men are beating their wives, fathers raping their daughters. We hear about them and we witness them.”

    Mtsolo referred to Khayelitsha as an “abnormal community”.

    “The reason I say our community is abnormal is because the days we living in now and the days before are not the same... in other words we live in fear.”

    Mtsolo did not believe that the police should be demonised, and said: “We need to work together with the police. Let's not fight with them, because they are our brothers and sisters.”

    Mtsolo said the war on crime could not be won without community help.

    “If we, as a community, can make sure we know Khayelitsha belongs to us, it's our society, you will see the crime levels drop down,” he said.

    Advocate Norman Arendse, for the police, told the commission it was virtually impossible to adopt conventional policing strategies against crime in Khayelitsha.

    He outlined how police faced an uphill battle because of historical distrust by residents, and infrastructural constraints in the area.

    “None of the strategies proposed by NGOs... will make a difference,” Arendse said.

    “The only solution is to eradicate these informal settlements.... The lack of footpaths, the lack of roads... the absence of lighting make policing virtually impossible.”

    The police wanted to improve efficiency and build a constructive relationship with the community, he said.

    “Where there are instances of ill-discipline and misconduct, the police would welcome the identification of such conduct in order that disciplinary action can be taken against these police officers.”

    Turning to the acts of mob justice which NGOs claimed were a result of police inaction, he said these were pure acts of criminality and part of a “culture of distrust rooted in a history of disdain for those in authority, including police”.

    Arendse made reference to how officers were put at risk daily because of this distrust, and because they were patrolling areas with no roads, footpaths, or lighting.

    The main complainant at the commission is the Social Justice Coalition.

    Its advocate Ncumisa Mayosi told commissioners that concerns about the failure of Khayelitsha police to do their work were justified.

    “During the course of these hearings we will set out to place evidence before the commission which shows beyond any shadow of a doubt that the community's complaints are justified,” Mayosi said, speaking in Xhosa.

    A list of why there was a breakdown in trust between residents and police was presented.

    “Members of the Khayelitsha community routinely experience violations of their constitutional rights in their dealings with police,” Mayosi said.

    Focus would be placed on how women and girls bore the brunt of violent crime in the area.

    “Girls and women are often beaten and raped while walking to and from communal toilets or fetching water from communal taps close to their homes; while domestic abuse poses a threat to women in their own homes,” she said.

    The police's inability to protect residents from harm had led to an erosion of trust and faith in the police.

    “The brutal acts of vigilantism that have claimed dozens of lives in recent years are a shocking end result of this erosion.”

    Residents would testify about how the lack of police visibility had made it possible for criminals to continue terrorising them.

    Mayosi emphasised that the aim of the commission was not to conduct a witchhunt.

    “We are here to find solutions.... This is not an attack on police. It is not about pointing fingers at specific officers and calling for them to lose their jobs.”

    Earlier, evidence leader Thembalihle Sidaki told the commission proof would be provided that court cases against criminals were routinely withdrawn because of poor police investigations.

    Sidaki was the first to make opening remarks before the commission, which is led by retired judge Kate O'Regan and advocate Vusi Pikoli.

    The commission began its hearings after two days of inspections in loco.

    It visited crime hotspots and police stations on Tuesday and Wednesday in an attempt to see first hand the circumstances under which the victims of crime live, and the conditions to which residents and the police were subject.

    Western Cape premier Helen Zille established the inquiry in August 2012 after receiving numerous complaints about police inefficiency in Khayelitsha.

    Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa opposed the decision to set up the inquiry, but this was dismissed by the Constitutional Court in October 2013.

    Sapa


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    Free health services at Western Cape facilties could soon be over for those engaging in "irresponsible behaviour".

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    Cape Town - The next time you drink alcohol or use drugs and end up in a Western Cape provincial health facility as a result of injury or illness linked to an unhealthy lifestyle, be warned: you might end up footing your own bill irrespective of your economic status.

    Western Cape Premier Helen Zille cautioned that the time of getting repetitive free health services could be over for those engaging in “irresponsible behaviour” such as excessive drinking and drug abuse, if the provincial government’s mooted policy became a reality.

    But the SA Medical Association (Sama) and Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) have warned that such a move would only discriminate certain categories of patients and that it would trample on patients’ rights to confidentiality – a fundamental basis of medicine.

    Such a policy, aimed at enhancing wellness and making people co-responsible for their health, is being explored by Health MEC Theuns Botha.

    Speaking at the opening of a revamped paediatric ward in Victoria Hospital in Wynberg on Thursday, Zille said one option of deterring irresponsible behaviour was charging patients for care given instead of giving them free health care.

    Zille spoke of her frustration with the burden of lifestyle diseases caused by such behaviour in the province. These included alcohol and drug abuse, sedentary lifestyles, smoking and unprotected sex.

    She hinted that Botha was exploring an idea where patients who were considered “irresponsible” would be treated for free during their first visit, be given a warning the second time, and would be charged the full cost for their treatment if they were treated for a third time with the same problem.

    Botha said if such a policy became a reality it would mean that patients would not be charged according to the “means test” as was the case currently, but according to their ability to be responsible towards their health.

    “We are still investigating the measures of how to make people co-responsible for their health. We might have to adjust our policy of a means test. Even though people are poor and can’t pay for their health care, somehow they seem to afford paying for alcohol and drugs for instance… it doesn’t make sense. We have to stop the draining of our health care budget and save it for those with unavoidable diseases.”

    Professor Sebastian van As, head of the trauma unit at Red Cross Children’s Hospital, said that although it was true that behavioural problems such as drinking had put a lot of strain on the health budget, “one has to be careful on how such a policy would be implemented”.

    He said alcohol had been associated not only with violence and injuries, but with major infections such as HIV/Aids, TB, and also with adverse mental illness.

    “So-called accidental injuries often can be prevented and are not inevitable, but one has to ensure that they don’t only single out alcohol and drugs. There are many factors which form part of this behaviour such as obesity and smoking and it would be tricky to determine which behaviour is irresponsible,” he said.

    Dr Mark Sonderup, deputy chairperson of Sama, described the proposal as a populist statement, which had been made by other politicians in the world.

    “Fortunately, all over the world such ideas have died the natural death they deserve because politicians aren’t doctors. Such an approach would be terrible not for only affected patients, but doctors involved. It is a judgmental approach that tramples on a fundamental basis of medicine – the doctor-patient relationship. What they are proposing would lead to a breakdown of that doctor-patient relationship, which should be confidential at all times. Doctors are not there to judge or penalise patients, but treat them. Such an approach would drive patients underground,” he said.

    Bongani Lose, provincial spokesman for Denosa, said charging patients for treatment based on their behaviour was not only discriminatory, but it would have “devastating consequences as it would drive patients away”.

    “Patients will no longer open up to health workers about their problems if they are going to be judged. So what good will this exercise do? The government should rather invest in interventions that address these social problems instead of penalising patients. It would be wrong to do that,” he said.

    sipokazi.fokazi@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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    When a patrol intercepted three vessels fishing illegally off the Cape coast they found "modern-day slaves".

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    Cape Town -

    When a fisheries patrol vessel intercepted three foreign vessels fishing illegally off the coast they found “modern-day slaves” forced to live and work in appalling conditions.

     

    Some of the crew, mainly Indonesian and Taiwanese, had been working on the tuna fishing vessels for between three and five years without being paid.

    On Thursday, Ceba Mtoba, chief director of control and surveillance at the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said in terms of the SA Maritime Safety Authorities regulations, the vessels were not fit to sail.

    “(The crew) were living in pathetic conditions. It was absolutely terrible, completely inhumane to treat people like that,” Mtoba said.

    Bernard Liedemann of fisheries’ law enforcement said on Thursday: “It was basically modern-day slavery. If we had not intervened, this treatment would have gone on unnoticed. At least we have got these vessels out of commission.”

    The fisheries patrol vessel Victoria Mxenge escorted the vessels from offshore of Camps Bay to Cape Town harbour and seized the vessels.

    During their investigation another seven vessels belonging to the same owner were later found docked in Cape Town harbour. The vessels had fake registration documents. There were 75 crew on the 10 vessels.

    The fisheries department established that:

    * The tuna on board had no catch documentation and was probably caught illegally.

    * The crew were living in cramped, dirty conditions and some had to sleep on the floor on old blankets or bits of cardboard.

    * The toilets were broken and filthy.

    * Some crew had been away from their countries for up to five years and had not been paid in that time.

    * Crew said two vessels belonging to the same owners had sunk at sea.

    * Two crew members had died at sea in unknown circumstances.

    Fisheries contacted the Indonesian and Taiwanese authorities and alerted the Department of Home Affairs, who took the crew into care at Lindela Repatriation Centre until they could be repatriated.

    There was a total of about 160 tons of frozen tuna on board the vessels, some of which may have been fished in South African waters. The department seized all the vessels and the tuna, which is being kept in cold storage. In terms of the agreement, the skippers were left on each vessel for safety reasons.

    Then on December 29 two of the fishing vessels, Samudera Pasific No 8 and Berkat Menjala No 23, snuck out of Cape Town harbour and have not been seen since.

    On Monday, fisheries asked for Interpol Purple Notices so that other vessels might be able to locate the escapees, and also to warn other countries of the potential threats posed to the safety and security of the people on board.

    “It was a well-planned escape. We don’t know if they have crew on board or where they got the crew. Everyone is looking out for them, but they have not been seen.

    “It is possible that the vessels have been sunk purposely. They would have organised a waiting vessel, transferred the crew and then sunk the vessels to escape prosecution – but that has not been confirmed,” Liedemann said.

    The vessels that are still in the harbour are the Bahari Nusantara, the Bahari Nusantara No 83, No 19, No 5 and No 26; the Bintang Sumudra No 11, the Sumudra Gilontas No 231 and the Mahklta Abadi.

    The fisheries department is pursuing the owners and is in the process of getting the vessels forfeited to the department.

    Officials face a problem about what to do with the 160 tons of frozen tuna, mainly yellowfin and albacore. In terms of international agreements, illegally fished tuna may not be traded.

    “But it is all fit for human consumption, so we’re taking legal advice on what we can do with it, whether it can be donated,” Liedemann said.

    Home Affairs spokesman Lunga Ngqengelele said on Thursday that he was aware of the situation, and confirmed that the crew had been sent to Lindela. He could not confirm whether all crew had been repatriated, and referred the Cape Times to the provincial manager, who was not available for comment.

    Cape Times


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    The annual Community Chest Carnival at Maynardville has been cancelled for the first time in 65 years.

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    Cape Town -

    There will be no tombola or beer garden in Wynberg next month, as the iconic Community Chest Carnival, which raises funds for more than 300 charities, has been cancelled for the first time in 65 years.

    Community Chest chief executive officer Lorenzo Davids said without corporate and individual donations of goods that could be sold at the carnival, the event was no longer financially viable. “The bottom line is that we wouldn’t be able to generate money for charity and we can’t ethically (have) the carnival and tell the public that it’s for charity.”

    If the March carnival had to go ahead, it would run at a loss of about R200 000. Davids said the decision to pull the plug just weeks before the event would have taken place, was “tragic and devastating”.

    There had been a dwindling in support from corporates and individual donors over the past five years, to the point where donations had dropped by 70 percent.

    The charity environment had changed, with corporates not wanting to donate to a community carnival. Individuals were opting to take their second-hand goods to places like Cash Crusaders, where they could get some money in return. There was also increased competition for donations. “We have not been immune to these funding challenges.”

    But Davids was confident that the Community Chest’s board and management team would be able to come up with a more effective financial model in time for the carnival next year.

    They planned to meet the City of Cape Town, the provincial government and other donors in March.

    He added: “But we are not going to reduce the funding we have always given to our charities.” The Community Chest would approach corporates and sponsors for direct funding so that charities would still get financial support.

    anel.lewis@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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    The boyfriend of the Clovelly teen accused of killing her mother is going to apply for bail soon.

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    Cape Town - The boyfriend of the Clovelly teenager accused of killing her mother would apply for bail, the Simon’s Town Magistrate’s Court heard on Thursday. Phoenix Racing Cloud Theron, 19, and Kyle Maspero, 18, are in police custody for allegedly murdering Theron’s mother, Rosemary.

    Their co-accused, Godfrey Scheepers, 20, who is out on bail, sat clutching his girlfriend’s hand on Thursday before being called to the dock.

    In March last year, Rosemary Theron was reported missing from her Fish Hoek home.

    Months later the three were arrested after Scheepers told police he helped move Rosemary’s body from a Fish Hoek field to a dune in Baden Powell Drive.

    Wearing a blue T-shirt with a cartoon printed on it, Maspero stood next to Theron, who wore a floral summer dress.

    William de Grass, for Maspero, told the court his client would apply for bail next month.

    Meanwhile, Theron appointed a new attorney, Francois van Zyl, who asked the State for a copy of his client’s statement.

    The State alleges that Theron and her mother had an argument. When her mother went out a bit later, Theron and Maspero smoked drugs and discussed how they would kill Rosemary.

    It is alleged that when she returned Theron hugged her mother and apologised while Maspero strangled Rosemary with a rope.

    Outside court Michelle Searle, 42, a family friend who said she was like a sister to Rosemary, said the family was still shattered.

    “Her (Phoenix) cousins and family adored her as this talented girl who was an A student.”

    She added that the family would like a proper memorial for Rosemary whose body still had not been released.

    “Police say there are still tests being done and keep postponing the release of the body.”

    Searle, who attended court proceedings for the first time, said she had known Rosemary since the age of 14.

    “We travelled together, lived together and performed together.

    “The weekend before she was murdered Phoenix and Kyle still came to visit me.”

    The matter was postponed to March 14.

    natasha.bezuidenhout@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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    The police want to interview a taxi driver in connection with the shooting incident that claimed a young mother's life.

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    Cape Town - Police are looking to question the driver of the minibus taxi in which two people were shot dead on Tuesday.

    Lesline Mentor, 26, was shot dead while travelling to work in a taxi on Concert Boulevard in Retreat at around 8.10am. The young mother from Lavender Hill was on her way back to work after maternity leave.

    Mentor would have been back at work in March, but returned earlier to support her five-month-old baby girl.

    She was a cashier at Pick n Pay Plumstead.

    A 30-year-old man, believed to be the owner of the taxi, was also killed in the shooting.

    Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said they were eager to question taxi driver Ricardo Jacobs.

    “Steenberg police are eager to question Ricardo Jacobs, who resides in St Montague Village, in connection with the double murder. We have reason to believe that he can assist us with our investigation. It is believed that Ricardo was the driver of the taxi during the incident.”

    Anyone with information on Jacobs’s whereabouts can contact Warrant Officer Loganathan Chetty on 021 702 9000 or 083 365 9232.

    natasha.bezuidenhout@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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    She was raped and set alight. And yet despite her pain, the little girl only wants to know how her mother is.

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    Cape Town - She was raped, doused in petrol and set alight. And yet despite her pain, the little girl only wants to know how her mother is.

    This heartbreaking scene was painted on Thursday by the child’s grandmother.

    “She’s talking. But she’s still in a lot of pain. She’s been sleeping all the time, after she has her injections for the pain.”

    Her grandmother said the first thing she had said through the bandages, plasters and the pipes that help keep her alive was: “How is Mom?”

    No members of the Delft family have been named, at the request of hospital authorities and police, who want to protect the child’s identity for her safety.

    The grandmother said the girl’s mother had collapsed on Tuesday when her daughter’s alleged rapist had appeared in court.

    The grandmother said the mother was now being treated at another Cape Town hospital, which is also not being named.

    The grandmother reported: “I saw my grandchild on Tuesday, when she came out of theatre. She was bandaged all over.”

    “I don’t know if she will survive – she burned so much.”

    Of her own state, she admitted, speaking in Xhosa: “When I speak about this, my heart is not okay. But I feel a bit better, knowing he (the alleged perpetrator) is no longer in the community.”

    The hospital where the child is being treated, said on Thursday yesterday: “The nine-year-old girl is still in a critical but stable condition in the intensive-care unit, but the medical team are satisfied with her progress at the moment.”

    Cape Argus


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    The SA Police Service is facing a barrage of sales in execution following judgments against cops in courts in Limpopo, Pretoria, Johannesburg, and Cape Town.

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    Pretoria - The SA Police Service is facing a barrage of sales in execution following judgments against police members in courts in Limpopo, Pretoria, Johannesburg, and Cape Town.

    The judgments were for claims including car accidents, unlawful arrest and detention, and labour issues, police ministry spokesman Zweli Mnisi said.

    The warrants of execution were issued against the ministries of police and safety and security after the police failed to pay the damages.

    Mnisi said 18 sales in execution were due to be held next Friday at the SAPS headquarters in Wachthuis, Pretoria, and at the safety and security ministry.

    Mnisi said the list from the sheriff arrived on Tuesday. He said its legal team had followed up and only eight cases remained that had not been paid, but were being attended to. The other 10 were for sheriff costs, he said.

    “Measures have been put in place to ensure that judgments are paid within the prescribed period. We have therefore emphasised to management that there needs to be more stringent measures to ensure compliance.

    “Steps have been taken by all our provincial offices to ensure that a legal official attends court so as to avoid situations where judgment is granted against the SAPS and we are not aware of it,” he said.

    Sapa


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    Two men were shot dead in Mitchells Plain on Thursday night. One was shot in a drive-by and the other in his car.

    |||

    Cape Town - Gun violence flared up in Beacon Valley, Mitchells Plain, on Thursday night when two rival gang members were killed in separate shootings. A third man was injured in the first of the two shootings.

    The victims were from the Americans and Mongrel gangs.

    One of last night’s shootings happened in Peugot Avenue, near the Mitchells Plain police station.

    “At about 9.16pm (police) received a complaint that two men were shot while they were sitting in a motor vehicle,” said police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk.

    “The deceased aged 31 years (had) multiple bullet wounds to his head and body and was declared dead on the scene.

    “It is alleged the deceased and the other victim aged 29 were shot by a suspect who fired several shots at them. The wounded victim sustained a bullet wound to his leg. Murder and attempted murder cases were opened.”

    Half an hour later, a 38-year-old man was shot while walking on Hengelaar Street nearby. He was declared dead on the scene.

    Community Policing Forum spokesman for the area, Michael Jacobs, said shootings were becoming more brazen and that the “gang battle for turf” was becoming a “fight to the death”.

    What was even more worrying was that one of last night’s shootings had taken placewithin sight of a police station.

    “That is a concerning detail,” said Jacobs. “There have been a lot of community mobilisation and police foot patrols in recent weeks. It’s almost as if the gangsters are sending a message by shooting even where police are patrolling, even in front of a police station. They have become emboldened.”

    No one has been arrested for either of the shootings and police have asked anyone with information to contact Warrant Officer Dedrick April at 084 516 7263.

    daneel.knoetze@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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