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    Strong winds that toppled over heavy goods vehicles in the Western Cape were expected to continue on Saturday.

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    Cape Town -

    Strong winds that toppled over heavy goods vehicles in the Western Cape were expected to continue on Saturday, the SA Weather Services said.

    Warnings of gail force winds were issued for Friday and were expected to continue into Saturday.

    Western Cape traffic chief Kenny Africa said the four trucks were toppled over by the strong winds on Friday.

    “These were big trucks and they were fully loaded too...it was really strong winds,” he said.

    Africa said the toll road between Paarl and Worcester was still closed off as officials were still trying to remove the trucks.

    No injuries were reported. - Sapa


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    A body of liquor traders is set to challenge new legislation in the Western Cape surrounding the sale of liquor.

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    A body of liquor traders is set to do battle with Western Cape Premier Helen Zille and Finance MEC Alan Winde, heading to court to challenge new legislation in the province surrounding the sale of liquor.

    The group, the Mitchells Plain Liquor Traders Association, has already filed court papers in which they ask the Western Cape High Court to interdict the provincial government from shortening liquor trading hours in terms of the new law.

    In addition, the association has asked the court to interdict the provincial government from “enforcing a zoning scheme certificate for existing liquor licence holders”.

    The City of Cape Town and the provincial Speaker have also been cited as parties.

    In an affidavit before the court, association chairman Elton Oosthuizen said the body was formed when 27 liquor licence traders amalgamated in August 2009 to protect the interests of liquor traders in residential areas. Oosthuizen stressed, however, that the association’s members did not include shebeen owners, saying that liquor shop traders had an off-site consumption licence, which meant clients were only allowed to buy liquor and that there was no sit-down option.

    “It needs to be mentioned that the said amalgamation further strengthened the divide between the negative shebeen traders and the liquor shop trader. The applicant, through its executive committee, ensures that its members comply with every legal element in their business and the annual Sars returns,” he added.

    The association was informed that the new liquor law would allow municipalities to pass by-laws that would have a negative effect on their businesses. In addition, the association learnt that, in terms of the new law, trading hours would be shortened by two hours, Oosthuizen said.

    “The loss of the two hours of trading would constitute a severe blow to the economic viability of applicants’ business, bearing in mind that applicants’ peak trading hours are between 6pm and 8pm, when the clientele arrive from their places of employment.”

    Their

    fears turned to reality when Zille assented to the Western Cape Liquor Amendment Act in March.

    According to Oosthuizen, the association had no other option but to approach the court for relief.

    Zille, the Western Cape government and the chairman of the Western Cape Liquor Licence Tribunal have filed a notice of their intention to oppose the application, scheduled to go to court early next year.

    fatima.schroeder@inl.co.za

    Weekend Argus


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    A six-month-old baby at the centre of an international custody battle will remain in Cape Town for now, following a Western Cape High Court judgment.

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    Cape Town - A six-month-old girl at the centre of an international custody battle will remain in Cape Town for now, following a Western Cape High Court judgment this week.

    The child was born in the US earlier this year, to an American father and South African mother. Her mother was in the US on a Fulbright scholarship, and her father is a university professor.

    However, owing to the mother’s visa requirements, and the baby’s care requirements, the two travelled to Cape Town to live with the woman’s mother earlier this year.

    The baby has a severe reflux disorder that results in severe pain, crying and projectile vomiting. She needs constant care since she needs to be held upright after each feeding.

    In August, while in South Africa, the woman instituted divorce proceedings against the father of the child. She stated in her papers, however, that she intended to return to the US.

    She is in the process of applying for a specialised O-1 visa in the US, and has a job offer at a university in that country.

    The initial job offer required her to start in January, but the woman has pushed the start date until August next year.

    The father, however, instituted legal proceedings under the Hague Convention, claiming that an agreement that the mother and the baby would return to the US by December 29 would be breached.

    Acting Judge Judy Cloete ruled this week that the application was “premature since it is based on an anticipatory breach”.

    She stated that an express agreement between the two parties about the December return date did not exist.

    “It appears that although ideally he would have liked the respondent and the baby to return on December 29, 2012, there was no suggestion that if the respondent did not return with their daughter by that date, she would be in breach of any agreement between them,” the judge said.

    “The picture that emerges is that the applicant’s conduct subsequent to August 21, 2012 [when divorce proceedings were instituted] was really a knee-jerk retaliation against the respondent for having issued divorce proceedings against him.”

    Judge Cloete also states that “there is a grave risk that the baby’s return to the USA, at least without the respondent, would expose her to physical and/or psychological harm”. The judge ruled that “the applicant’s assertions of abduction are patently false”.

    She ruled that “costs be paid on the scale as between party and party as taxed or agreed.”

    Weekend Argus


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    Forest Whitaker, here to shoot the movie Zulu alongside co-lead Orlando Bloom, has plenty of nice things to say about Capetonians.

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    Cape Town - Oscar-winning Hollywood star Forest Whitaker, here to shoot the movie Zulu alongside co-lead Orlando Bloom, has plenty of nice things to say about Capetonians.

    After meeting locals in Hangberg, Khayelitsha, Kensington and Crossroads, the 50-year-old who won an Oscar in 2007 for his role as Uganda dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland is impressed by the commitment of locals to fight injustices yet “share so much”.

    Speaking on Saturday at a University of the Western Cape event to mark the 174th Freedom of the Slaves Day, Whitaker was slimmer than his Amin character, and casual in grey suit and checked shirt.

    During question time he said he saw “individuals who came together to work as a community, to clean out or clear out”. They had a “clear understanding that together they can change a lot of things… Many individuals here fight against injustice. Some are confronted with life-threatening situations but they continue to strive to change things and to find solidarity. For me, that gives me hope. This is something that’s lacking in other countries. But in the people I met here, there was hope.”

    He had seen communities “trying to grab hold of themselves… and control their lives”

    “I never expected people to share so much. [And] they speak out a lot,” he said.

    Whitaker has also starred in The Colour of Money, Platoon, Good Morning Vietnam, The Crying Game, Phone Booth and Panic Room.

    The actor and director, who is a UN goodwill ambassador for peace and reconciliation, was joined on the podium by Stellenbosch University historian Professor Hans Heese and UWC political scientist Professor Keith Gottschalk.

    Whitaker said he was a descendent of a slave; his great great grandfather was a slave in the US.

    Recalling growing up in Los Angeles, he said it was a journey to break away from “the internal bondage of slavery that continues to plague myself and others”.

     

    “I questioned myself, whether I’m capable enough, strong enough, but I believed I deserved to find happiness.”

    Years of abuse had embedded feelings of worthlessness in the DNA of his slave ancestors.

    “These are the messages that move through our emotional and spiritual DNA, that we’re trying to break away from. Invisible chains hold us back.”

    He warned there was nothing “enlightening about shrinking… we are all meant to shine. Our light can break the shackles of our pain, and rid us of the enslavement of our minds so that we can be slaves no more,” he said.

     

    henriette.geldenhuys@inl.co.za

    Weekend Argus


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    A who’s who of dignitaries turned out to pay tribute to activist and professor Jakes Gerwel.

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    Cape Town - A who’s who of dignitaries, including Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Graca Machel, former president FW de Klerk and Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel, were among hundreds of people who turned out on Saturday to pay tribute to activist and professor Jakes Gerwel.

    Hailed as a man who “lived the values that he expected from the rest of us”, Gerwel died on Wednesday following triple bypass surgery. His memorial was held on Saturday at the University of the Western Cape, where he spent most of his working life.

    His son Hein said on Saturday that his fondest memory of his father was playing cricket with him in the backyard.

    “He was a big cricket fan and his advice to me was to always play it straight, whether it was in cricket or in life. He also taught me his own beliefs, such as focusing on what bound us together as human beings, instead of what divided us,” he said, thanking everyone for joining “us to celebrate the life of my friend and father”.

    Manuel

    described Gerwel as a humble man, who stayed out of the spotlight.

    “If I were to speak of Emeritus Professor Gert Johannes Gerwel, few would know who I was actually referring to. Just plain Jakes was adequate – never professor, Mr, sir or Dr – Just Jakes.

    “It speaks volumes about the man, his demeanour and integrity.”

    Manuel said Gerwel’s style was devoid of any preaching or pontification.

    “He lived the values that he expected from the rest of us,” he said, adding that he would most miss Gerwel when times were tough and his “sharp and perceptive intellect” and “calm reassurances” were needed.

    Manuel also read out a special message on behalf of Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Machel:

    “Jakes was part of our everyday lives for 18 years. He was a confidante, a son and family member to all of us. His wisdom and leadership will be sorely missed. He touched many, many lives, and it is difficult to find words to describe who and what Jakes was.”

    Writer, academic and close personal friend Njabulo Ndebele spoke fondly of Gerwel, lightening the mood when he joked about his hairstyles.

    “When I first met him in Soweto he sported an afro style, indicating he was an activist with a purpose. I’ve looked at the hair many times since then, and seen it transform into a push-back silvery grey of enormous dignity.

    “He possessed an inward gaze, always analysing the world around him. He had this ability to make people feel wanted and touched many.”

    David Kramer performed a rendition of his song So Long Skipskop in honour of Gerwel.

    Tutu closed the memorial with a prayer, joking that he was only there because he had a hotline to “you know who”.

    Gerwel was chancellor of Rhodes University and a former director-general in the Presidency. He was also the cabinet secretary during Mandela’s term in office.

    He sat on a number of boards and was the chairman of the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory.

    Gerwel is survived by his wife, Phoebe, children Hein and Jessica, and four grandchildren.

    A moment of silence for retired Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson, who died on Saturday, was also observed at the memorial.

    kowthar.solomons@inl.co.za

    Weekend Argus


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    Two people were killed and 369 people were displaced when a fire swept through the New Rest informal settlement, in Nyanga, the city of Cape Town said.

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    Cape Town - Two people were killed and 369 people were displaced when a fire swept through the New Rest informal settlement, in Nyanga, early on Sunday morning, the city of Cape Town said.

    Disaster management spokesman Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said Nkosiyedwa Nqandi, 38, and Msondezi Mponda, 30, were trapped in their shacks and could not escape the blaze. They were declared dead on the scene.

    The city's disaster response unit had handed out clothing, food parcels, blankets and building materials to those affected by the fires.

    Emergency trauma counselling had been provided to the families of those who died and to witnesses.

    Electrical cables were also burnt and the power supply was interrupted, said Solomons-Johannes.

    On Saturday night, six wood and iron dwellings burnt down in Vrygrond Informal Settlement in Muizenberg, displacing 20 people, he said.

    Also on Saturday, 30 adults and seven babies were displaced when 15 shacks burnt down in Onverwacht Informal Settlement in Strand.

    The causes of the fires were being investigated. - Sapa


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    A 26-year-old man has been arrested in Oudtshoorn after drugs were found in his colon, Western Cape police said.

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    Cape Town -

    A 26-year-old man has been arrested in Oudtshoorn after drugs were found in his colon, Western Cape police said on Sunday.

    Police, acting on a tip off, stopped a Volkswagen Polo on the N12 between Oudtshoorn and George on Saturday afternoon, Captain Bernadine Steyn said.

    The vehicle was searched but no drugs were found. The signs of nervousness prompted police to take the man to a local hospital, she said.

    “X-rays were taken that revealed two bullets in the colon of one of the men that were passed spontaneously. A total of 99 Mandrax tablets and four grams of tik with an estimated street value of about R7140 were seized,” Steyn said.

    The man would appear in the Oudtshoorn Magistrate's Court on a charge of possession of drugs on Monday. - Sapa


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  • 12/02/12--23:19: Cape Town sees the light
  • Tens of thousands of Capetonians descended on Adderley Street for the annual switching on of the city’s festive lights.

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    Cape Town - Tens of thousands of Capetonians descended on Adderley Street for the annual switching on of the city’s festive lights on Sunday night, officially marking the start of the festive season in Cape Town.

    More than 5km of rope lighting and 4 000 bulbs were switched on by Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille after 9pm.

    About 2 000 people participated in the event’s official activities, and many more were involved in the build-up.

    This year’s event saw about 80 000 people descend on CBD for last night’s switching-on ceremony.

    Bernadette Rautenbach, from Plumstead, said she thoroughly enjoyed the ceremony.

    “This is my first time here. We’ve been here for a couple hours now and we’re having a wonderful time,” she said.

    She got into the spirit of things by donning a big Afro wig, and was seen jamming to the music that was being played by the many acts on stage.

    Various lights and bulb creations have been put up in Adderley Street with a 6m-high Christmas tree at the entrance of the Company Gardens.

    Fifteen-watt bulbs were used in the decorations previously, but have been replaced with seven-watt energy-efficient bulbs.

    Myroenesa Ahmed, who was spotted selling toys with lights, said she used this time of year to sell various “lighting toys” around town in keeping with the lights theme.

    “I sell shoes and accessories during the week, and every year this time I sell these lights, and it is definitely worth it,” Ahmed said.

    She said while there were more people in the CBD on Sunday compared with previous years, very few people were buying.

    About 25 municipal employees were involved in making, assembling and installing the various designs and light crossings.

    For the first time, a Christmas tree has been erected on the Grand Parade.

    Sunday’s festivities were highlighted by spectacular performances by popular South African artists under this year’s theme of “Our City, Our People”.

    Some of the country’s top artists, including jazz musician Jimmy Dludlu, songbird Lira, hip-hop master DJ Ready D and pop band Freshlyground, performed at the switching-on ceremony.

    yolisa.tswanya@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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  • 12/03/12--00:24: 400 flee raging fires
  • Three people died and more than 400 were displaced after fires ripped through five informal settlements across Cape Town.

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    Cape Town - Three people died and more than 400 were displaced after fires ripped through five informal settlements across the city at the weekend.

    A huge fire broke out at the New Rest informal settlement in Nyanga early on Sunday, destroying 118 shacks. Two people were killed in the blaze and 360 people left homeless.

    Makarina Giladile, who lost everything in the fire, said he was asleep when the blaze started. He said everything had been destroyed in one fire.

    “I was still sleeping when the fire started and by the time the fire got to us we couldn’t get any of our things out,” Giladile said.

    He said he and his family of seven were left with only the clothes on their backs. “We went to buy Christmas clothes for the children in November and now those are also all gone,” a distraught Giladile said.

    Nkosiyedwa Nqandi, 38, and Msondezi Mponda, 30, who died in the blaze, were trapped in their shack by the blaze.

    They were pronounced dead on the scene by paramedics.

    The city’s disaster risk management spokesman Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said the city assisted those affected with food parcels and blankets - and trauma counselling for the families of the dead and the eyewitnesses.

    “The fire also damaged the overhead electricity infrastructure that interrupted the power supply. Technicians of the electricity services department are in the process of restoring the service in the area,” Solomons-Johannes said.

    In a second fire, in Eastridge, Mitchells Plain, on Saturday, fire engines were dispatched from Mitchells Plain, Gugulethu and Belhar to help fight the blaze.

    A 45-year-old woman died and two structures were destroyed. Fifteen people were left homeless.

    A fire in Khayelitsha’s Monwabisi Park left person one injured and displaced eight others.

    Two wood-and-iron structures were damaged.

    A fire in the Vrygrond Informal Settlement in Muizenberg destroyed six structures and resulted in 20 people being left destitute.

    A fire in Strand on Saturday left 30 people homeless. Fifteen homes were gutted.

    Solomons-Johannes said the cause of the fires was under investigation and the police had opened inquest dockets.

    yolisa.tswanya@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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  • 12/03/12--00:31: 'R150 a day or we stay away'
  • Farmworkers have reasserted their demand for a daily wage of R150, and with no offer on the table, strikes are set to resume.

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    Cape Town - Farmworkers have reasserted their demand for a daily wage of R150. With no offer from farmers on the table, and with Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant saying a new sectoral determination for a minimum wage would take at least four months, strikes in the agricultural sector are set to resume on Tuesday.

    “The farmers have intimidated us with dismissal, but we have gone too far to turn around now. They can’t intimidate us, we have lived under intimidation for 18 years since democracy,” said Merchia Adams of Mawubuye Land Rights, which convened a meeting in Ashton on Sunday.

    There would be a complete stayaway on Tuesday.

    “People will block the gates of the their respective farms to prevent scab labour from entering,” she added.

    Support for a stayaway was also agreed upon at a Women on Farms meeting in De Doorns on Sunday.

    Over the weekend, the Cape Argus interviewed a group of workers at the Keurboschkloof export grape farm in De Doorns.

    Many workers in De Doorns agree that the successful strike at Keurboschkloof in September was the catalyst for the recent unrest on farms which spread province-wide.

    Between September 17 and 22, workers on Keurboschkloof picketed outside the farm gates after being unfairly dismissed for refusing to accept a cut in their wages.

    A committee elected by the workers negotiated with a senior stakeholder at SA Fruit Exporters, resulting in about 300 dismissed workers being reinstated.

    After the celebration of that victory, workers at Keurboschkloof watched in despair as the strike in De Doorns descended into violence and a competition between two unions - the Cosatu-aligned Fruit and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) and independent Black Association for the Agricultural Sector.

    Jesaja Louw, regional chair for Fawu in Worcester, said the competition was inevitable.

    Yet, Timothy Ncwana, Fawu’s provincial chairman, condemned a recruitment drive, saying it was “not the right time”.

    “First the unions must assist the workers in getting their demands. Then, once they are happy, we can work on signing people up,” he said.

    Owen Maromo, an activist with a refugee rights NGO, which advised Keurboschkloof workers during the September strike, said communication from the unions to the people in De Doorns had been lacking since the broad-scale strike began.

    Maromo, an upstart politician who had to flee Zanu-PF persecution in Zimbabwe in 2008, said he was fired from a grape farm for his involvement in Keurboschkloof and had been sidelined, intimidated and silenced by “opportunistic politicians” who had claimed to represent the workers.

    His disillusionment with ANC councillors was shared by Keurboschkloof worker Cornelia Mtsila who alleged Nelie Barends, an ANC councillor and private labour broker, had tried to bring in scab labourers to undermine the September strike.

    “Now he is claiming to represent the workers. This is only a political game to score points for them,” she said.

    Barends confirmed he was approached by farmers for scab labour, but said he had been misinformed and that he retracted this scab labour when he found out no agreement had been reached with striking workers.

    After a farmworkers’ meeting on the De Doorns sports field on Sunday, where there was no clear leadership present, Maromo broke his silence.

    In an argument with Louw, Maromo said unions and politicians had failed the workers. “People are confused. There is no communication, and there are virtually no farmworkers officially representing the cause,” he said. “If workers’ committees and farmers sat down opposite each other from the beginning, this would have been sorted out a long time ago.”

    Cosatu said on Sunday that despite unions’ best efforts, it appeared they would not be able to avert the resumption of the strike tomorrow.

    “What we know is that workers have called for one day of action across the whole agriculture sector across South Africa on December 4,” it said.

    AgriWes Cape declined to comment.

    daneel.knoetze@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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    Western Cape law enforcement agencies seized drugs worth more than R500 000 over the past week.

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    Cape Town - Western Cape law enforcement agencies seized drugs worth more than R500 000 over the past week, including 200 parcels of dagga found in the car boot of a Rawsonville man at a roadblock.

    Lead SA, in collaboration with SAPS, Metro Police and Traffic and Provincial Traffic, kicked off Drug Watch last week to help clamp down on the drug trade, and give readers and listeners a way to report illegal drug activity.

    Since the launch, more than R1million in drugs have been seized and about 3 000 arrests drug-related have been made.

    Law enforcement agencies have intensified anti-drug efforts on the roads over the festive season after their success at Cape Town International Airport forced drug traffickers to move their trade onto national roads.

    Police spokesman Frederick van Wyk said dagga was found in the boot of a car belonging to a 41-year-old man who was arrested at the scene. He said the dagga was worth R182 000.

    Van Wyk said they also arrested 1 349 people for drug-related offences during the past week.

    This week’s drug busts totalled R500 506.

    Some of the biggest busts were:

    * Dagga worth R445 615

    * Mandrax tablets worth R26 650

    * Tik worth R13 625

    * Heroin tablets worth R8 100

    * Khat worth R5 900

    Last week police seized drugs to the value of R590 673 and 1 625 people were arrested on various charges across the province.

    Van Wyk said the areas where they made the biggest drug arrests were Mitchells Plain with 94 people, Manenberg with 88 people and Delft where 77 people were arrested.

    In Kraaifontein 49 people were arrested while 42 people were arrested in the Cape Town CBD and 35 people in Gugulethu.

    In Steenberg, 32 people were arrested, 31 people were arrested in Elsie’s River and 30 in Bishop Lavis and Milnerton respectively.

    Director at Cape Town Drug Counselling Centre Ashley Potts said that about 70 percent of his patients were on tik, followed closely by heroin and dagga.

    He was speaking in a video presented during the launch of Drug Watch.

    Meanwhile Crime Line head Yusuf Abramjee said they hope to use the Western Cape as a pilot project for Drug Watch over the next three months to see if they can take it to other parts of the country because “drug dealers are operating in all corners of South Africa”.

    People also came forward with their stories including Valerie Le Bon, 50, who said that her 29-year-old son, Enrico, was addicted to cocaine and did not want to get help.

    A Grassy Park man, Emmanuel Cooper, said his mother, Stella, had been missing since last month and a family member, who is addicted to tik and serving a sentence for housebreaking at Pollsmoor Prison prison, had confessed to killing her.

    Van Wyk said on Sunday that they were still searching for Stella’s body.

    Send anonymous tip-offs about illegal drug activity to Crime Line on 32211. SMSes cost R1.

    neo.maditla@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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  • 12/03/12--01:27: Festive death toll rising
  • At least 15 people have died in car crashes in the Western Cape since the start of the summer holidays.

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    Cape Town - At least 15 people have died in car crashes in the Western Cape since the start of the summer holidays.

    In the latest incident on Sunday, two people were killed when their car rolled on Lansdowne Road in Cape Town.

    Metro EMS spokeswoman Angelique Jordaan said paramedics arrived on the scene shortly after 4am.

    “When we arrived there was only one white car which had rolled off the road,” Jordaan said.

    “There were two people in the car, a male and female occupant in their late 20s. They were both declared dead on the scene.”

    She said paramedics had used the jaws of life to remove one of the bodies from the car.

    Provincial traffic chief Kenny Africa said at least 15 fatalities had been reported, with four deaths occurring at the weekend.

    Last year more than 1 556 people died on the country’s roads between December 1 and January 5, and 163 of those deaths were on Western Cape roads.

    Africa said a driver and a passenger died on Saturday morning after their car crashed in Murraysburg.

    On Saturday afternoon, one person died when a car and a truck were involved in a head-on crash on the N1 outside Three Sisters, Africa said.

    On Friday morning, a driver died on the road between Laingsburg and Matjiesfontein after his vehicle veered off the road and crashed into a rest area on the side of the road, Africa said.

    Later that day, one person died in a crash on the N1 when four students were driving from Cape Town to Joburg, he said. Three students were taken to Beaufort West Hospital. Three were from Wits University and the fourth was from the University of Johannesburg.

    Africa said fatigue was the biggest cause of collisions during the festive season because people who did not plan their trips properly did not rest enough during the long drives.

    “People want to drive late at night and in the early morning, but we always tell them to rest every two hours and get out of their cars and stretch their legs. But some people don’t do it,” he said. “Fatigue is a killer whether we like it or not.”

    Africa said traffic police had arrested a driver for speeding in Aberdeen. “He was driving at 183km/h in a 120km zone.”

    Africa said provincial traffic police had manned 24 roadblocks over the weekend when 3 539 cars were stopped, 1 114 people were tested for alcohol and 26 people were arrested for driving drunk.

    “Overall R198 000 worth of fines were issued this weekend,” Africa said.

    Meanwhile, Transport and Public Works MEC Robin Carlisle has passed the Western Cape Provincial Road Traffic Act.

    Carlisle explained on Sunday that the law enabled him to carry out investigations at any drivers’ licence testing station without requiring permission from the national Transport Department.

    “By January 2013 I will publish conditions for use of blue lights in the province, restricting such use to emergencies. I will also issue a regulation requiring all vehicles overtaking cyclists, to ensure that there is a safe distance of at least 1.5m between them before passing,” Carlisle said.

    “This will be accompanied by law enforcement actions against cyclists who do not ride in single file, or who fail to stop at red robots or stop streets. Whilst we have reduced annual cyclist deaths in the province from 57 in 2008 to 35 in 2011 (reduction of 39 percent ), this figure is still too high.”

    Carlisle said that this festive season motorcycle incidents were the only road deaths on the increase.

    “Everything else has gone down except motorcycle incidents.”

    Gary Ronald, spokesman for AA South Africa had the following tips for drivers:

    * Preparation is key. Make sure you know the exact route you will be taking to get to your destination and that you understand the estimated length of the journey.

    * Consider travel times. If you are planning a long journey, such as Johannesburg to Cape Town, you may be tempted to leave home before the sun is up.

    * Split long distances. For long journeys it is recommended to stop halfway and stay over.

    * Avoid quiet, long stretches. It is easy to get distracted on long roads that seem to go on forever.

    * Regular stops are also essential for refuelling. Do not get caught out with an empty fuel tank on a quiet stretch of road.

    neo.maditla@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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    The Western Cape Education Department is continuing with its plans to close 18 schools at the end of the year.

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    Cape Town - The Western Cape Education Department is continuing with its plans to close 18 schools at the end of the year despite a court bid to stay open.

    Education MEC Donald Grant plans to oppose an application by the schools for an interdict preventing closure.

    Reasons for the closures included dwindling pupil numbers, multi-grade teaching and inadequate infrastructure.

    The schools, their governing bodies and the SA Democratic Teachers Union lodged an application at the Western Cape High Court a week ago, asking for an interdict to stop the closures on December 31 and for Grant’s decision to be reviewed and set aside.

    The matter is set down for hearing on Wednesday.

    Grant’s spokeswoman, Bronagh Casey, told the Cape Times on Sunday that he had received the legal papers on Tuesday.

    “The [MEC] is currently studying the papers and is taking legal advice. This is an extensive process that requires careful reading and consideration. We are intending to oppose the application.”

    Casey said the process to close the schools would continue.

    “The department will continue to follow procedure on closing the schools, in line with national guidelines and legislation. Arrangements are going ahead as per normal. The schools are scheduled to close on December 31, 2012.”

    Grant had released a plan for pupils affected by the school closures, which included details of the schools they would attend next year and whether they would be eligible for transport and fee exemptions.

    “Our district offices are working with principals to facilitate the transfer of learners and staff at receiving schools,” Casey said.

    She said department staff were also checking on assets at each of the schools.

    “District officials are liaising with principals to ensure that school inventories are complete. The department will only move furniture and other assets once the schools have closed at the end of term.”

    Casey said plans were also under way to inform teachers where they would be placed next year.

    “The department has completed a personnel plan in consultation with unions. The WCED has issued letters informing staff where they have been placed. Most teachers are following the learners to their new schools.”

    The two schools not part of the litigation are Hoopsrivier NGK Primary in the Cape Winelands and Langkloof Primary in the Eden and Central Karoo.

    In an affidavit submitted to the court, Henry Hockey, the acting principal at Beauvallon Secondary School in Valhalla Park, said the school closures were unlawful and unconstitutional.

    He said the closures did not take into account the best interests of the pupils.

    Hockey said there were “no placement plans or meaningful placement plans in place”.

    In certain cases, the alternatives were “wholly unsatisfactory” and would expose pupils to “the risk of death, injury and serious harm in many cases”, he added.

    michelle.jones@inl.co.za

    Cape Times


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    The young driver of the car that crashed into a bus - killing him and two friends - did not have a driver's licence.

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    Cape Town - The matric student who was behind the wheel of the car when it smashed into a bus - killing him and two pals - did not have a driver’s licence.

    And Cape Town Transport Minister Robin Carlisle confirmed that the driver of the Golden Arrow bus involved in the horrific crash has an “unblemished” record.

    “Yes, that is true [that Keenan had no driver’s licence],” Carlisle told the Daily Voice.

    “There is no doubt... these youngsters came across a red light and the bus driver didn’t have a choice. The bus driver’s record is unblemished so far.”

    Keenan Smith, of Strandfontein, had changed driving seats with his friend, Nazan Klaasens, 20, who had borrowed his mother’s white Toyota Corolla after a night out in the city.

    Keenan and his two friends - Leigh Anne Swail, 18, and young mom Kelly-Jade Ford, 18, all Mondale High School matriculants - were crushed to death in the horrific collision in the early hours of Saturday, November 24, between Church Way and Spine Road, Strandfontein, .

    The bus driver will now be cleared of culpable homicide charges.

    “According to SAPS, from what we have been told verbally, the driver is going to be cleared and Keenan was not in possession of a valid licence,” a source says.

    Legal experts also say it’s highly unlikely Nazan will face any charges.

    “There is no way the licence holder can be charged for the accident - I mean, it’s not like he even had his hands on the wheel,” said well-known attorney William Booth.

    “Even if Nazan was awake, Keenan was the driver so Nazan can’t be prosecuted for anything because it’s not his fault. It’s like a barman seeing a drunk man leave the bar and enter his car.”

    Meanwhile, Golden Arrow have confirmed the bus driver involved in the crash is still in a “state of shock”.

    Spokesperson Bronwen Dyke also hit out at claims made on social networking sites over the past week that he is to blame for the tragedy.

    “The bus driver is also struggling to come to terms with what happened and does not deserve the contempt that is being directed towards him,” Dyke told the Daily Voice.

    “From what I see online, a large number of people have been... laying blame at Golden Arrow’s door and there is a lot of misinformation out there.”

    Keenan and Kelly were laid to rest over the weekend. Keenan’s devastated family were not available to comment.

    Daily Voice


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    Sentencing proceedings in the case of a Western Cape bus driver convicted of killing 23 people has been postponed.

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    Cape Town - Sentencing proceedings in the case of a Western Cape bus driver convicted of killing 23 people were postponed by the Cape Town Regional Court on Monday.

    The court heard that the driver, Siza Nonama, could not appear as he was ill. His lawyer Thabo Nogemane presented a medical certificate.

    Magistrate Bruce Langa accepted the certificate from the Crossroads clinic and postponed the matter until next Thursday.

    “A warrant of arrest has been authorised, but will be held over until December 13, on condition that the accused will present himself,” Langa said.

    Nonama would be arrested and his bail of R10 000 would be forfeited if he did not appear on that day.

    Under a plea agreement, he admitted 23 counts of culpable homicide in October.

    He was driving a bus from Leeu-Gamka to Cape Town on May 5, 2010, when it crashed near De Doorns in the early hours of the morning.

    Three children were among the dead. Fifteen people were seriously injured.

    Nonama admitted that he sped down the Hex River pass and did not slow down in the rain. He lost control of the bus, it veered off the road and overturned.

    He did not have the required driving licence and the vehicle was overloaded, with 78 people on board instead of the 64 it was certified to carry.

    The bus had failed a roadworthiness test five months before the crash, for having defective brakes, a cracked front windscreen and oil and diesel leaks.

    The vehicle belonged to Nonama's brother Malinga.

    Both were initially charged with murder. Charges have been provisionally withdrawn against Malinga.

    Sapa


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  • 12/03/12--04:21: Four held for ATM bombings
  • Four men were arrested in Paarl in the Western Cape in connection with the bombing of an ATM.

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    Cape Town - Four men were arrested in Paarl in the Western Cape on Monday in connection with the bombing of Automated Teller Machines (ATM), Western Cape police said.

    Lt-Col Andrè Traut said the group were arrested at their Mbekweni home around 2.40am, in an “intelligence-driven operation”.

    The men, aged 21, 27, 33 and 37, were found with commercial explosives, two illegal firearms and SA police service uniforms.

    Their white VW minibus was confiscated.

    Traut said the investigation was at a sensitive stage. He could not say how many bombings the group was linked to and whether further arrests were expected.

    At least 20 ATMs had been blown up in the province since the beginning of the year.

    Sapa


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    The extradition hearing of Shrien Dewani, accused of ordering his bride's murder during their honeymoon, has been postponed until July.

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    London - A British judge on Monday adjourned the extradition hearing of Shrien Dewani, accused of ordering his bride's murder during their South African honeymoon, until July.

    Chief magistrate Howard Riddle told a London court that Dewani, whose extradition was halted in March over mental health concerns, would face a five-day hearing from July 1 following a review hearing on April 11, if he is deemed fit enough to stand trial.

    “We have a review hearing, effectively, on April 11. Mr Dewani will be bailed to that date,” Riddle said.

    Dewani's 28-year-old wife Anni, a Swede of Indian origin, was killed in November 2010 during an apparent hijacking in Cape Town just two weeks after their wedding.

    A South African man was found guilty of her murder last month and two other local men jailed over the killing say Dewani, 32, ordered the hit.

    Dewani, who was not in court on Monday, is being treated at a secure mental hospital and claimed last July that he needed a year to be treated for depression before he could face extradition.

    Riddle said he could now be moved from a secure clinic in Bristol, southwest England, to a more open facility following improvements in his mental health.

    The court heard that Dewani's depression has improved from “severe” to “moderate”, although it remains at the borderline of severe and he continues to suffer from flashbacks.

    Riddle said it was “in the public interest for Mr Dewani to get better” before he is sent to South Africa. - AFP


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    Sentencing proceedings for convicted paedophile Johannes Kleinhans were delayed because of an incomplete psychiatric report.

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    Cape Town - Sentencing proceedings in a case involving a convicted paedophile were delayed in the Parow Regional Court on Monday because of an incomplete psychiatric report.

    The sentencing of Johannes Kleinhans, 74, was postponed until December 13.

    He has been convicted of 95 counts of indecent and sexual assaults on three young girls, and possession of child pornography.

    Defence attorney Johannes Grobbelaar said he appointed a psychiatrist in early November to compile a report on Kleinhans, and that this would be crucial to the sentence imposed.

    Grobbelaar said the psychiatrist had seen Kleinhans twice, and needed three more days to complete the report.

    In earlier proceedings, prosecutor Herculine Swart told the court Kleinhans's victims, who had poor backgrounds, came to regard him as a father figure because of the gifts, money, food and clothing he gave their parents.

    The girls and their families had addressed Kleinhans as “Uncle Ian”.

    Swart said Kleinhans abused this “self-created fatherly” relationship, and his position of authority over the girls.

    She said Kleinhans converted a house in Parow into a private gymnasium, which only the three girls knew about.

    He stocked it with exercising equipment, liquor, sex toys and condoms.

    Kleinhans used to hold several directorships, but was forced to resign as a result of the case. - Sapa


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    Along with the 1.5-metre rule come fines for cyclists who ride abreast or jump red lights.

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    A crackdown on cyclists who break the law is looming - just as new legislation is ushered in to protect riders. Western Cape transport MEC Robin Carlisle announced at the weekend that the Western Cape Provincial Road Traffic Act was passed by the provincial legislature late last week.

    “While much of the new act is largely administrative, it empowers the provincial minister of transport to regulate certain matters to increase road safety in the province,” he reported. This would include the a new rule long-awaited by cyclists - the regulation requiring all vehicles overtaking cyclists to ensure that there was a safe distance of at least 1.5 metres between them before passing.

    But Carlisle also warned: “This will be accompanied by law enforcement actions against cyclists who do not ride in single file, or who fail to stop at red robots or stop streets.”

    LARGE GROUPS

    Co-chairman of the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour, David Bellairs, said in response: “The vast majority of cyclists who are injured or killed are individuals riding alone and riding responsibly. The message that is developing within cycling circles is ride in large groups and motorists will be forced to notice.”

    He was therefore excited about the new “1.5m” law, which he said would protect exactly these lone cyclists. Similarly, he was “100 percent in support of cyclists becoming more law-abiding on the road”.

    “In the same way that there are motorists who give motorists a bad name, so that there are cyclists who give cyclists a bad name.

    “So, absolutely, there is no question that not obeying the rules of the road is wrong.

    “If we as cyclists are going to command the respect of motorists on the road, then we need to be behaving responsibly as the law currently is.”

    Bellairs added, however, that he would also like to see some road rules pertaining to cyclists, reviewed.

    “What we need to do is look for best practices in terms of motorists and cyclist. In some parts of the world, stop streets and traffic lights should be used as yield signs.”

    A Cape Town-based expert in legal matters pertaining to cycling, advocate Lance Burger, questioned the motives of a crackdown on cyclists.

    PROMOTING ROAD SAFETY

    “The goal to promote traffic safety - to reduce or eliminate death and injury and to a lesser extent property damage as a result of traffic collisions - should be the primary and overriding consideration.

    “Cyclists going through stop streets (or red traffic lights) do not kill anybody other than possibly the cyclists themselves. That does not happen, as the instinct of self preservation prevents cyclists from doing so in dangerous situations where they might be killed or injured by motorists,” Burger argued.

    “Spending enforcement resources on prosecuting cyclists for the reasons stated is not going to promote traffic safety. It will detract from traffic safety by diverting resources from other more pressing enforcement needs.”\

    There were, he believed, many motorists “who particularly dislike cyclists and are vocal about it”.

    “These vocal motorists are part of the affluent minority that own private motor cars.”

    He alleged that the intended enforcement against cyclists was “to appease this group”.

    “Before deciding to do so, the traffic authorities should first consider whether it actually promotes traffic safety or not.

    “The traffic authorities should rather spend their resources on enforcement against minibus taxi drivers, who are responsible for a disproportionate number of traffic collisions,” Burger charged.

    Carlisle has yet to announce the full details about both the 1.5m law and a crackdown on law-breaking cyclists.

    If any road user jeopardised the safety of other traffic users, or themselves, a traffic officer could intervene.

    The City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, said he agreed that any measures to protect cyclists from death or injury should by accompanied by a crackdown on cyclists who endangered road users through their riding.

    “We have to get them to take reciprocal steps,” Smith said of drivers and cyclists alike.

    “Certainly the Cape Town traffic department will do its best, but we also need to conscientise cyclists about looking after their own safety. And this may mean, in extreme cases, fining a cyclist who brazenly breaks the laws of the road.”

    Traffic authorities indicated the average fine for not stopping at traffic lights was R500, and this applied to cyclists too.

    HOW GOOD DRIVING WILL PAY

    At the same time, Western Cape drivers are to be tempted to behave on the roads this festive season - with hard currency.

    This is the latest in a series of drives to “change behaviour” in various spheres of life, and follows a visit by experts from the US earlier this year.

    The first project to be rolled out was the “know your status and win” HIV education plan.

    Now Cape drivers stand to win R50 000, divided between two lucky draws before Christmas and early in the new year. But they only qualify - and here’s the rub - if they are “fine-free” during the festive season.

    JA, WELL, NO FINE

    Any drivers who receive traffic fines from any municipality in the province will be automatically disqualified. First, a draw will take place. But the eNaTis system will then be used to check if the winner was fined during December or not - and those fined will be weeded out until a “clean” winner is found.

    The provincial government’s spokesman Nick Clelland said the technique was part of “behavioural economics” and was known as “promoting the right identity” - in other words helping to to establish a culture of “obeying the rules of the road”, and thus being “fine-free” the norm.

    In contrast, more than 100 drivers were arrested for driving drunk and several fines issued during roadblocks across the city at the weekend.

    The roadblocks were part of the city’s festive season clampdown on drunk driving.

    The Metro Police and city traffic services arrested 113 drivers for driving under the influence of alcohol in patrols in Khayelitsha, Gordon’s Bay, Langa and other parts of the province.

    Metro Police deputy chief Yolanda Faro said motorists were stopped for vehicle roadworthiness checks and driver fitness.

    “One driver was also arrested for reckless and negligent driving: the suspect was speeding away from the roadblock after he failed to stop when he was pulled over by the officers. This resulted in a high-speed chase through the streets of Langa and along the N2 highway where he was eventually pulled over and arrested in Mfuleni,” Faro said.

    ROBBER RESCUED

    While issuing fines, the officers also rescued an alleged robber from a mob in Graceland, near Govan Mbeki Road in Khayelitsha. Earlier in the week the officers arrested five suspects for the possession of illegal narcotics, ammunition and stolen property during patrol in Hanover and in the CBD.

    Faro said drivers should be vigilant and refrain from drinking and driving.

    “We are two weeks away from our first festive season long weekend and want to urge all road users -drivers, pedestrians and passengers - not to drink and drive nor drink and walk,” she said. - Cape Argus


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    A Western Cape mother and daughter want over R3.2 million in damages after police apparently shot them and then arrested them.

    |||

    Cape Town - A Western Cape mother and daughter want over R3.2 million in damages after police apparently shot them and then arrested them, it was reported on Tuesday.

    The Cape Times reported that Felicia Mafumana, 47, and Thabisa Mafumana, 24, were shot during a fracas in Philippi on February 24, 2006.

    It is believed a young couple and police officers got into an altercation in Chris Hani street that evening, with residents gathering around to criticise the way the officers were behaving.

    Court papers alleged that a policewoman drew her weapon and fired a few shots into the crowd. Two bullets hit Thabisa, at least one in her left leg fracturing her thigh bone.

    Her mother ran towards the noise and was shot and wounded in the stomach.

    While they were being treated, they were placed under arrest for public violence but were later released on warnings.

    The pair reportedly appeared in the Western Cape High Court on Monday, where the defendant, the office of the Minister of Safety and Security, asked for the matter to be postponed.

    The matter would be argued later on Tuesday. - Sapa


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