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    A fire on Table Mountain has been brought under control, the city's fire and rescue services said.

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    Cape Town - A fire on Table Mountain in Cape Town was brought under control on Wednesday morning, the city's fire and rescue services said.

    Fire-fighters remained at the scene, spokesman Theo Lane said.

    Residents who were evacuated overnight are able to return home, Lane told EWN news.

    "This fire started around 1am this morning on the slope of the mountain and at this stage we don't know what caused it," said Lane.

    The blaze destroyed more than one kilometre of vegetation.”

    Four helicopters have been battling the blaze since early Wednesday morning.

    Earlier @trafficSA tweeted that Rugby Road, Beulah Terrace and Bridle Road have been closed in Oranjezicht. - IOL


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    About 500 protesters tried to set fire to a farm, hours after Cosatu announced the farmworkers strike had been called off.

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    Western Cape - The general strike by workers in the province’s agricultural sector has been called off indefinitely, Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich announced during a rally in De Doorns on Tuesday.

    The decision and the premise on which it was made was welcomed by farmers approached by the Cape Argus.

    Workers would be encouraged to unionise or to organise into collective bargaining bodies and to negotiate directly with their employers.

    This echoed the sentiments of Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies who addressed workers in De Doorns 24 hours before Cosatu’s announcement.

    “The demand for a R150-a-day living wage remains unchanged,” Ehrenreich said, adding that a demand for farmworkers to have a share in the profits of the export harvest had been added.

    “Workers will negotiate with their employers. We trust that agreements on farms could be reached through such a process.”

    Ehrenreich said strikes would resume on individual farms where agreements were not reached by January 9 next year.

    This would coincide directly with “one of the most critical periods in the harvesting process, ensuring that farmers are under maximum pressure to reach an agreement with their workers before then”.

    Unions, particularly Cosatu affiliate the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) and the independent Building and Allied Workers Union of SA (Bawusa), have been signing up new members since the strike began four weeks ago.

    But, in Fawu Western Cape chairman Timothy Ncwana’s words, the competition between the unions was distracting from the process of publicising workers’ grievances while the strike was still ongoing.

    Unions will now have carte blanche to recruit members.

    “But, workers rights will always be protected by Cosatu – whether they are members of a union or not. Cosatu commits to staying abreast of negotiations that will be ongoing, and will take steps to ensure that there is no abuse of workers in these negotiations,” Ehrenreich said.

    Anton Rabe, spokesman for Agri SA, welcomed the announcement.

    “From the beginning we have accepted that there are challenges in our industry. But throughout we have called for proper processes to be put in place to address these.

    “This is a welcome step in the right direction. I have remained an optimist from day one that we would end this process better than we started it,” he said, referring to the start of the strike on November 5 when vineyards in De Doorns were torched and shops looted.

    However, farmworker Monwabisi Kondile said he was unhappy because Cosatu had been “playing football with the workers”.

    He said at one moment they said they should strike and the next that they should not.

    The strikes due to resume on Tuesday had different levels of support in the province.

    In Ceres, Pieter du Toit of the Du Toit Group estimated that close to 100 percent of the workforce had gone to work on Tuesday.

    In De Doorns, while many workers supported the stayaway, many went to work.

    In these two areas the strike went ahead with few reports of intimidation and violence.

    By late on Tuesday, there was a tense stand-off between police and farmworkers in Rawsonville.

    Farmworkers allege that police opened fire with rubber bullets at a taxi rank at about 3pm.

    The workers had returned from a march, organised by the Farmworkers Coalition, during which a memorandum was handed over to the offices of Agri Wes Cape – which represents farmers’ interests – and the Department of Labour in Paarl.

    “The workers who left Paarl were in a good mood. The workers that are here are angry and tense,” said Colette Solomon, acting director of Women on Farms who was on the scene.

    She slammed the police for “inciting tension rather than defusing it”.

    But the police said they were attacked by stone-throwers before firing rubber bullets.

    In Montagu, two activists with Mawubuye Land Rights and three workers were arrested during a march, said Gavin Joachims, a colleague of the activists.

    Provincial police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Andrè Traut said seven people had been arrested for possession of an unlicensed firearm on the N1 outside Worcester.

    A .308 Mauser and 60 rounds of ammunition had been found in a vehicle and no one could produce a valid licence for their possession, Traut said.

    The suspects, aged between 33 and 66, were due in court once they had been charged, he said.

    Meanwhile, Franschhoek police confirmed that about 500 farmworkers took to the streets in the Groendal area on Tuesday, burning tyres and causing havoc on the town’s roads.

    Constable Marize Papier said the protesters were kept off the farms, and that no farms had been damaged.

    “At the moment everything is under control, it’s all quiet now.

    “There were about 500 workers and no one went on the farms and no one demolished any property,” Papier said.

    About 30 police officers had been deployed to the scene.

    Traut said a number of people were arrested for public violence.

    “I can’t give an exact number yet, but about 15 people were arrested and there were a number of people injured,” he added.

    daneel.knoetze@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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    A Cape teen shot himself in the head in front of his friends because he thought the gun he was playing with was empty.

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    Cape Town - A 15-year-old boy shot himself in the head in front of his friends because he thought the gun he was playing with was empty.

    Witnesses say Bruce Tobin pulled the trigger and stood swaying for a few seconds before crashing to the ground.

    Moments before the firearm went off, the teen said: “Ek gaan myself nou skiet [I’m going to shoot myself now].” But his grandmother Martha Michaels believes her grandson was murdered.

    Bruce, his aunt Natasha Michaels, 17, and three other friends were playing games in a Wendy house in his grandmother’s backyard in Liberator Street, Rocklands, Mitchell’s Plain, on Monday afternoon when the incident occured.

    “We were just chilling in the Wendy house, we were playing spin the bottle,” Natasha said.

    “He spun the bottle and then he took a gun from the front of his pants.

    “He spun it on the floor and then pointed it against the right side of his head and said, ‘Ek gaan nou myself skiet’ [I’m going to shoot myself now].

    “Cecil [a friend] told him not to play with the gun like that but he didn’t listen and then a shot went off. I heard nothing but a loud bang.

    “Bruce stood standing for a few seconds and then he fell on the couch. He tried to speak, but he couldn’t, blood kept rushing out of his head and his brains hung out.”

    Cecil van Wyk, 15, said just before Bruce pulled the trigger, he saw him remove three bullets from the gun.

    They did not realise one bullet remained in the chamber.

    “I watched Bruce take the bullets out of the gun and even the magazine was out. I was shocked when the shot went off,” Cecil said. “We all ran out after he fell.”

    Two small children who were watching television in the Wendy house’s other room ran to tell granny Martha what had happened.

    Martha, 62, is adamant that her grandson did not kill himself.

    “Something is not right, I don’t blame anyone but I think someone actually shot him,” Martha said.

    She says Bruce’s older brother is a gangster, who has been running from rivals for weeks.

    “One of the boys who was in the Wendy house is from a rival gang and when Bruce was shot, he ran out of the yard,” she said.

    “We tried to stop him, but he broke loose. And now the gun is also missing.”

    The heartbroken ouma said Bruce was a “well-mannered boy who enjoyed singing in church”.

    Police were unable to confirm the incident at the time of going to print.

    *This article was published in the Daily Voice

    * The intro to this story has been edited in response to reader complaints about insensitivity.


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    A case involving a girl, 13, being sold for sex, allegedly by her own mother, is "just the tip of the iceberg".

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    Cape Town - A case involving a 13-year-old girl being sold for sex in the Atlantis area is “just the tip of the iceberg”, councillor and community worker Barbara Rass has said.

    Rass, a founding member of the Atlantis Women’s Movement for the Abused and the House of Healing Shelter in the Western Cape, cared for the girl after it was reported that she had been sexually exploited.

    The case, which was first exposed by the Daily Voice, involves the girl’s mother and eight other people who are allegedly involved in the sex ring. The girl was sold for sex for as little as R20, the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court has heard.

    Rass said she sees girls on the N7 every day wandering aimlessly around.

    “This thing is huge. There are [many] more children involved.”

    The girl’s mother and stepfather - whose identities are being withheld - and three other people, Maranatha Lotrict, 28, of Frankdale, and Evelina Fortuin, 30, and Denise Muller, 33, both of the Philadelphia informal settlement outside Atlantis, have been arrested. Milnerton police spokeswoman Warrant Officer Daphne Dell said police were working to arrest four other people who had been linked. The four include three people from Mossel Bay and one from Cape Town.

    According to court documents, the mother sold her daughter for R100, R50 and R20 and watched while a number of men raped her in a secluded park or bushy area.

    The money was allegedly used to buy alcohol.

    The child reported the incident to her teacher and police later arrested her mother.

    During the mother’s first appearance on November 12, magistrate Zwelindumile Sogwagwa asked the prosecution whether she was mentally stable. The woman was sent to Victoria Hospital for evaluation. A doctor found she did not have psychiatric or psychotic tendencies.

    “(The mother) suffers from hypertension… she has no history of psychiatric problems,” the doctor, who evaluated the mother on November 15, said. “However, in answer to the main question, she is not psychiatric or psychotic. She is frail, physically and mentally, and deserves to be treated with kid gloves.”

    On Monday, police added Lotrict, Fortuin and Muller to the case. The State alleged the trio helped in the sale of the girl.

    One of their clients was allegedly a well-known city doctor. The identities of the remaining suspects will be made known once they appear in court.

    The provisional charges that the five face include rape and sexual grooming over a period.

    Dell confirmed that more arrests were imminent, but said there was no confirmation that a syndicate was operating in the Atlantis area.

    All five are to appear in court again next Friday.

    The girl is in a place of safety.

    jade.otto@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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    Xolile Mngeni has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of British tourist Anni Dewani.

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    Cape Town - Xolile Mngeni has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of British honeymoon tourist Anni Dewani.

    Judgment was handed down in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday.

    Last week Mngeni, 25, was found guilty of robbery with aggravating circumstances, premeditated murder and the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.

    He was acquitted on a kidnapping charge, as this formed part of a single chain of events leading up to the murder.

    Mngeni took the stand in his own defence, but failed to convince the court of his innocence.

    The Khayelitsha resident was found fit to stand trial despite having a malignant brain tumour.

    Judge Robert Henney said Mngeni had not taken the court into his confidence. He had offered only bare denials and a late revelation of alibi witnesses.

    Dewani was shot dead in Gugulethu on November 13, 2010, in an allegedly faked hijacking. She was on honeymoon with her husband Shrien at the time. Her body was found the next day in a curled up position on the back seat of the hijacked vehicle, with a single gunshot wound to the neck.

    Mngeni was fingered as the triggerman. Under a plea agreement, his accomplices, Mziwamadoda Qwabe, 25, and Zola Tongo were earlier sentenced to 25 years and 18 years respectively.

    The alleged murder mastermind, Anni's husband, Shrien Dewani, is still fighting extradition to South Africa. - IOL, Sapa


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  • 12/05/12--01:36: Schools in denial
  • This is the last week of the academic year for Western Cape pupils and children at the 20 schools facing closure may say goodbye forever.

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    Cape Town - Some of the 20 Western Cape schools facing closure are continuing to operate as normal although the provincial education ministry says it will continue to follow procedure on the closures.

    Friday will be the last day of the academic year for Western Cape pupils and children at the 20 schools may have to leave their classrooms for the last time.

    Eighteen of the 20 schools have however launched a court bid to stay open and according to the court papers intend to make their application in the Western Cape High Court on Friday.

    The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) plans to close the schools on December 31.

    Teachers at one of the schools, Protea Primary in Bonteheuwel, said they had not started packing up their classrooms and were not telling children to go to other schools.

    “We are just remaining positive. We are just carrying on as normal,” said John Stoffels, a head of department at the school.

    He said he couldn’t understand why the department was saying that the school was closing but the school had received textbooks for next year and had been asked to develop a school improvement plan for next year.

    Teachers said the planned closure had left them feeling demoralised. They said they were hoping to celebrate the school’s 50th anniversary in two years.

    WCED spokesman Paddy Attwell said the matter was now before the High Court. “We would advise the principal not to pre-empt the court, and to plan accordingly.”

    He said textbooks, workbooks and other materials would follow pupils to their new schools. For practical reasons, service providers delivered books to the schools that ordered them.

    Nettie Koordom, governing body chairwoman at Bergrivier NGK Primary in Wellington, said the school community was hopeful the court bid would have a positive outcome.

    “We are continuing as if the school is not going to close. We are not packing anything away,” she said.

    Attwell said the WCED could not suspend its placement plans at this stage.

    Bronagh Casey, spokeswoman for Education MEC Donald Grant, said the ministry intended to oppose the application and would be submitting its response soon.

    ilse.fredericks@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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    Just one heroin addict seeking rehabilitation can cost the province up to R22 000 for treatment.

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    Cape Town - Just one heroin addict seeking rehabilitation can cost the province up to R22 000 for treatment. And many of these patients have multiple relapses and can run up costs of around R100 000 a year.

    Shafiek Davids from the Sultan Bahu Treatment Centre referred to a study conducted by the Medical Research Council (MRC) which showed that in 2007 to 2008, an estimated 11 percent of heroin users were seeking treatment.

    During that period the number of heroin users ranged between 15 000 and 18 000.

    Davids said people in government knew a long time ago that the numbers were high.

    “Can you imagine how many users there are in the Western Cape today?” he asked.

    It is estimated that 18 percent of users are now seeking treatment.

    “Alarm bells should have gone off a long time ago,” Davids said.

    Chris Prins, a psychologist based at the Ramot Centre in Bellville, said that like alcohol, heroin had heavy physical effects in terms of with-drawal.

    “You feel very bad, they sometimes tell me that you feel like you’re going to die.”

    Prins said that there was a mis-conception that patients were left to sweat it out in a cold room on the floor.

    He said that for all drug addicts - whether they had taken uppers or downers - the end result was always depression.

    The Sultan Bahu Centre often refers heroin users to a treatment centre - the Opiate Detox Unit in Stikland.

    There, the Western Cape Health Department provides in-patient detoxification for addicts who stay between five and 10 days.

    The treatment does not cure the addiction, but treats the physical withdrawal, and patients can do psychosocial treatment in order to prevent relapses.

    The department uses a number of medications - mainly buprenorphine/ naloxone or methadone - along with a number of symptomatic medications and follows international treatment guidelines.

    The Health Department’s Faiza Steyn said that among the challenges the department faced was that heroin dependence was a treatment-resistant disorder and most patients had relapses - often soon after finishing their detoxification treatment.

    natasha.prince@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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    A man will appear in court after being found with an unlicensed firearm at a Worcester roadblock, Western Cape police said.

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    Cape Town - A man will appear in court after being found with an unlicensed firearm at a Worcester roadblock, Western Cape police said on Wednesday.

    Lt-Col Andre Traut said the man, 43, would appear in the Worcester Magistrate's Court on Thursday, on charges of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.

    He was one of seven men arrested at a routine roadblock on the N1 on Tuesday morning, during farmworker protests.

    “The suspects were driving in the direction of De Doorns when their vehicle was searched. A .308 Mauser and 60 rounds of ammunition were found in the vehicle and no one could produce a valid licence for the possession thereof,” Traut said.

    Six of the men were released after an investigation.

    AFP reported that the men were suspected to be members of the far-right Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging (AWB) but Traut did not comment on the allegation.

    Table grape harvesters began protesting in De Doorns in early November for R150 per day and improved living conditions. Most earned between R69 and R75 a day. The protests soon spread to 15 other towns, leading to violence and two deaths.

    Farmworkers suspended the strike to allow the Employment Conditions Commission to review the sectoral determination for agriculture, which stipulates minimum wages, number of leave days, working hours, and termination rules among others.

    However, many workers resumed the strike on Tuesday after Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant said it would be impossible to address their demands by their December 4 deadline.

    Cosatu announced on Tuesday evening that the strike had ended after it came to an agreement with Agri-SA to conduct negotiations on a farm-by-farm basis.

    Talks would be about the wage demand of a R150 per day, and a profit-sharing scheme.

    If no agreement was reached by January 9, workers on those farms would strike again.

    Sapa


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  • 12/05/12--02:18: Our home is an old skedonk
  • A couple who have been living in their car after falling on hard times are still managing to send their two children to school.

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    Cape Town - A Cape Town couple who have been living in their car after falling on hard times are still managing to send their two children to school.

    The family have been living in their Datsun Pulsar since they were evicted from a house they were renting in Ottery last year between July and August. Their children are aged nine and 16.

    Dennis and Amanda Minnaar park their dilapidated car, with all their belongings, outside Kenilworth Centre during the day and move to a quiet industrial area in the evening.

    The couple sell a few handmade products and second-hand hardware equipment to make ends meet.

    “We don’t let the heartaches of life keep us down and we are very blessed to have kids that are eager to go to school despite the conditions we live in,” Amanda said.

    She added that her family would help them whenever they could but that they had faith God would help them.

    Her husband, who worked for a security company before they started living in their car, fixes car suspensions and sells hardware products.

    “We talk to the kids and tell them not to let things get to them. We are positive something good will come our way, we will never give up,” Dennis said.

    A catering company used to help them with food but lately the Minaars have had to feed themselves.

    They wait until it’s dark before pouring water into a bucket to bathe. They use the toilet facilities at petrol stations in the area.

    “We are friendly with the people here and they are friendly with us, so when we need the bathroom at the garage they don’t mind,” Amanda said. She added that winter was especially difficult for them as their car is old and the nights were cold.

    “For me it is soul destroying to pass them on my way to work and they are dressing their children for school,” said Veronica Snyman who tries to help the family when she can.

    The children are in Grade 3 and Grade 10 and their fees are paid by a government subsidy.

    “I try to take care of them by giving them food but all they want is to find work somewhere to take care of their family,” Snyman said.

    She said she was certain people in the Southern Suburbs would assist the family if they were aware of their situation, especially as it was close to Christmas - traditionally a time for giving.

    yolisa.tswanya@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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    Prosecutors have been ordered to hand over accounting records to fraud accused and former Fidentia boss J Arthur Brown.

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    Cape Town - Prosecutors have been ordered to hand over accounting records to fraud accused Arthur Brown.

    Brown has claimed the documents are being withheld.

    The former Fidentia chief executive faces nine charges, for fraud, corruption, theft and money laundering, and has pleaded not guilty.

    Judge Anton Veldhuizen, who is presiding over Brown’s criminal trial, said he was not in a position to say that the accused did not need the documents to prepare his defence.

    The trial started last Tuesday, with the State’s first witness - chartered accountant and former Fidentia financial director Graham Maddock - still on the stand.

    Judge Veldhuizen said that, given Maddock’s testimony, some of the documents Brown had requested would have to be scrutinised.

    “I regard it as prudent and in the interest of justice and a fair trial of the accused that an order be made that these accounting records be made available to [him],” he said.

    It had become clear, he said, that a lot of Maddock’s evidence was probably not in dispute and that Brown had indicated that he would probably be in a better position to make “substantial admissions” if he had access to the companies’ accounting systems.

    Jannie van Vuuren, SC, for the State, said that the volume of files was “immense” and there would be a cost. But Judge Veldhuizen said if necessary the State would pay.

    The trial has been postponed to Monday to allow Brown time to sort the files.

    leila.samodien@inl.co.za

    Cape Times


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    Xolile Mngeni seemed shocked when he was sentenced to life for the murder of British tourist Anni Dewani.

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    The Western Cape High Court jailed Xolile Mngeni for life on Wednesday for the “callous slaughter” of honeymoon tourist Anni Dewani.

    Judge Robert Henney handed down 15 years for robbery with aggravating circumstances and five years for possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition, which would run concurrently with his life term.

    The judge said Mngeni, 25, had come across as a merciless and evil person who consistently showed no remorse.

    He went shopping for branded clothing mere hours after the murder, lied to the court, wasted time with a protracted trial and had maintained his innocence throughout despite overwhelming evidence.

    “The deceased in this matter did not suspect anything untoward when taken into Gugulethu to be callously slaughtered. She was totally defenceless and left to the mercy of Mziwamadoda Qwabe and the accused to be killed, after she was abandoned by her husband,” the judge said.

    Anni's father Vinod Hindocha, visibly emotional, nodded his head at this remark.

    “It's difficult to imagine the absolute terror and horror she must have endured when she stared down the barrel of the gun... it was an act of shameless cowardice when the accused shot her at point-blank range.”

    Dewani, 28, was killed in an allegedly faked hijacking on November 13, 2010, while on honeymoon with her husband Shrien. Her slumped body was found the next day on the backseat of the car.

    Mngeni's accomplices, Zola Tongo and Qwabe, were serving 18 years and 25 years respectively for their roles in the crime, in terms of a plea and sentencing agreement.

    British businessman Shrien Dewani, 32, who allegedly organised the hit on his wife, is in the process of being extradited from the UK to stand trial in Cape Town.

    A full extradition hearing was likely to be held in July.

    Shrien Dewani has repeatedly denied the allegations, and is undergoing treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

    In an order, Henney said the hotel receptionist who acted as the middleman in the supposed contract killing would not be prosecuted, following his testimony in Mngeni's trial.

    He said Monde Mbolombo was far from the perfect witness and had struggled to comprehend his role, but he was satisfied he had answered frankly and honestly nonetheless.

    Mngeni seemed shocked when his sentence was handed down, and stood wide-eyed, with his mouth agape.

    He propped up his skinny body by placing an arm on the dock.

    Hindocha and his son Anish stared at Mngeni, but he did not make eye contact.

    When considering Mngeni's health - he has a brain tumour - Henney said that in a constitutional democracy, the court should not lose sight of the element of mercy.

    “The element of mercy is based on one of our constitutional values, and that is human dignity.”

    However, his medical condition in the case of a contract killing was not a substantial and compelling circumstance to deviate from the minimum sentence for premeditated murder.

    The court had kept in mind the brutality of the crime, the “absolute arrogance and heartlessness” of Mngeni, the suffering of the Hindocha family, the message to other potential criminals and the country's tarnished image.

    “The perception is easily created that in this country, one can randomly, at a price, approach any person and such a person, without hesitation, would agree to commit such a murder,” Henney said.

    “I want to send home the message that the life of a human being at whatever cost is not cheap, no matter what the circumstances may be.” - Sapa


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  • 12/05/12--03:11: Cape Town's red robot rogues
  • City cannot install more cameras because courts lack capacity to prosecute more offences.

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    More than 80 drivers are fined every day for jumping red traffic lights in Cape Town, but the city cannot install more cameras because courts do not have the capacity to prosecute more offences, although mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said the city was prepared to pay R1.9 million a year to fund additional court capacity.

    There are 50 speed cameras in Cape Town and in the past year the city has issued about 1.5 million traffic and by-law fines, with about half the fines (740 000) issued for speeding.

    More than 30 000 fines were for jumping red lights. On average, 84 fines are issued every day for drivers disregarding red lights.

    Responding to a column by Tony Weaver in Friday's Cape Times, in which he called on traffic authorities to install more speeding and traffic signal cameras to reduce fatalities ahead of the festive season, Smith said the National Prosecuting Authority allowed the city to operate only 50 cameras.

    The column elicited numerous responses from readers.

    Smith said the city was negotiating with the Department of Justice to pay for more magistrates and prosecutors to increase capacity to process offences at the 11 traffic courts.

    He said that after drunk driving, speeding and disobeying traffic signals were the second highest causes of collisions and deaths.

    "The city has made provision for 100 camera sites which are predominantly placed at intersections with high crash rates. These cameras serve a dual purpose by recording red light offences and speed offences," Smith said.

    Deputy traffic chief André Nel said the number of cameras the city could install was limited because traffic/municipal courts could deal with only a certain number of prosecutions.

    "Every request for a camera has to go through the NPA and they insist that we only put cameras at high accident locations. We can put in more cameras, but court capacity is a concern," Nel said.

    Smith said: "The number of cameras cannot be increased as the NPA will not sign off on any more camera enforcement locations unless the cases can be effectively processed by the courts."

    The traffic department also has vehicles with dashboard recording cameras to assist with the prosecution of traffic offences.

    Smith said the city would fund R1.9 million a year for additional staff to be appointed at traffic courts.

    "The obvious thing now is to make sure courts have more capacity to process these fines. A very large number of our cases are falling off the court roll because of staff constraints," Smith said.

    He said increased capacity at courts could permit the city to issue more traffic notices and install more cameras.

    Smith said that deaths had consistently been reduced on the city's roads since 2008. Fatalities had dropped from 1739 in 2008 to 1321 in 2011.

    Smith added that the city's traffic fine recovery rate was at 40 percent, with most of the remaining fines being withdrawn or lowered by magistrates. The total amount of fines paid each month was around R13 million.

    "The point of our speeding cameras is to reduce the number of deaths, not for the sake of revenue. We are curtailed by the number of cameras and we are continuously getting requests from communities to install more cameras," Smith said. - Cape Times


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    The circumstances surrounding the murder of Anni Dewani will be revealed only when her husband Shrien stands trial, her father said.

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    Cape Town - The circumstances surrounding the murder of tourist Anni Dewani will be revealed only when her husband Shrien stands trial, her father said on Wednesday.

    “The story of my innocent daughter still remains incomplete. The full picture will only emerge when Shrien comes down to Cape Town and faces the trial and extradition that he has,” Vinod Hindocha said on the stairs of the Western Cape High Court.

    “Me and my wife, we have not slept a full night since Anni left us and Shrien holds the key to that... We need all the questions answered so that we can move on with our lives. It's hard without Anni.”

    On Wednesday, Hindocha and his son Anish sat in the courtroom where the Xolile Mngeni, 25, the man who shot Anni, was sentenced to life in prison.

    Hindocha said he had flown in straight from Shrien Dewani's hearing in the United Kingdom to look in Mngeni's eyes during sentencing.

    Dewani, 28, was killed in an allegedly faked hijacking on November 13, 2010, while on honeymoon with her husband. Her slumped body was found the next day on the backseat of the car.

    British businessman Shrien Dewani, 32, who is accused of organising the hit on his wife, is in the process of being extradited from the UK to stand trial in Cape Town.

    National Prosecuting Authority Western Cape spokesman Eric Ntabazalila said the full extradition hearing was set down for July 1 to July 5 in the Westminster Magistrate's Court.

    Shrien Dewani has repeatedly denied the allegations, and is undergoing treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

    Zola Tongo and Mziwamadoda Qwabe are serving 18 years and 25 years respectively for their roles in the crime, under a plea and sentencing agreement.

    The hotel receptionist who acted as the middleman in the supposed contract killing was released from prosecution because the court found his testimony in Mngeni's trial sufficient.

    Besides life imprisonment, Mngeni was sentenced to 15 years for robbery with aggravating circumstances and five years for possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition. These terms would run concurrently.

    He would be eligible for parole only in 25 years.

    Judge Robert Henney said Mngeni had come across as a merciless and evil person who consistently showed no remorse.

    He went shopping for branded clothing mere hours after the murder, lied to the court, wasted time with a protracted trial and had maintained his innocence throughout despite overwhelming evidence.

    “The deceased in this matter did not suspect anything untoward when taken into Gugulethu to be callously slaughtered.

    “She was totally defenceless and left to the mercy of Mziwamadoda Qwabe and the accused to be killed, after she was abandoned by her husband,” he said.

    “It's difficult to imagine the absolute terror and horror she must have endured when she stared down the barrel of the gun... It was an act of shameless cowardice when the accused shot her at point-blank range.”

    Mngeni had hoped to come away with a lighter sentence because of his rare brain tumour which was diagnosed last May.

    In May this year, there was no sign of the tumour after surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

    The court heard that should it return, Mngeni would probably have only two to five years to live.

    Henney said that in a constitutional democracy, the court should not lose sight of the element of mercy, based on human dignity.

    However, his medical condition in the case of a contract killing was not a substantial and compelling circumstance to deviate from the minimum sentence for premeditated murder.

    “Our courts here and elsewhere have said that mere ill health of a person who committed a serious offence cannot be regarded as a get-out-of-jail ticket.”

    The court had kept in mind the brutality of the crime, the “absolute arrogance and heartlessness” of Mngeni, the suffering of the Hindocha family, the message to other potential criminals and the country's tarnished image.

    “The perception is easily created that in this country, one can randomly, at a price, approach any person and such a person, without hesitation, would agree to commit such a murder,” Henney said.

    “I want to send home the message that the life of a human being at whatever cost is not cheap, no matter what the circumstances may be.” - Sapa


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    Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has found no substance to ANC claims that Naspers and the DA colluded to inflate the price of land sold to the city of Cape Town.

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    Cape Town -

    Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has found no substance to ANC claims that Naspers and the DA colluded to inflate the price of land sold to the city of Cape Town.

    However, she did find evidence of maladministration regarding details of the sale agreement, in a report released on Wednesday.

    She recommended that the city manager consider disciplinary action against officials.

    African National Congress Chief Whip Mathole Motshekga asked Madonsela in March to investigate claims that taxpayers were being disadvantaged.

    The allegation was that a foreshore parking lot bought by the city council for R106 million had been independently valued at R50m.

    Motshekga claimed the deal raised “serious” allegations about the relationship between the Democratic Alliance, which controls the council, and the media company.

    Releasing her report “Over a Barrel”, Madonsela said her investigation found no evidence of collusion, or that the sale price was double the actual market value.

    “No evidence could be found to indicate collusion between the city and Naspers to short-change taxpayers.... The transaction between the city and Naspers was above board and generally to the benefit of the public.”

    She said her investigation included seeking an independent valuation of the property, which was bought as part of the expansion of the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), in which the city is a shareholder.

    Although the allegation that the price was twice the market value proved unfounded, Madonsela noted that the sale price was R2m more than the initial evaluation and R1m more than the subsequent updated evaluation.

    Madonsela found that city officials had concluded a height restriction agreement with Naspers on the land, without first getting permission from the city council.

    This breached a by-law and amounted to maladministration, Madonsela said.

    She said city officials had failed to take charge of the negotiations with Naspers from the outset, leaving it to the convention centre until late in the day, and this too constituted maladministration.

    Madonsela recommended that the height restriction condition attached to the sale be referred to the council for consideration.

    Madonsela said the city manager should consider disciplinary action if officials were found to have neglected their duty.

    She said the mayor should set up a task team to look into additional complaints regarding the expansion of the convention centre.

    Motshekga welcomed and accepted Madonsela's findings.

    He said the sale of the land for R1m more than the final evaluation was surely the fault of city officials for failing to take charge of the process.

    “We believe that there is a direct link between this dereliction of duty, which saw CTICC and Naspers officials handling negotiations without involvement of the city, and the fact that taxpayers are now being expected to pay more than is necessary in this land deal.” - Sapa


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    Members of the ANC national executive committee task team were in Cape Town for the reconvened province’s nomination conference.

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    Cape Town -

    Members of the ANC national executive committee task team arrived in Cape Town on Wednesday for the reconvened Western Cape nomination conference.

    Their presence at the provincial general conference is seen as key to the province concluding its nominations for the ruling party's Mangaung national elective conference.

    Last week, two attempts to conclude the province's nomination process collapsed, as a result of the provincial executive committee not having the authority to rule over branch disputes. The NEC task team would now deal with this.

    NEC members present included Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane.

    Struggle stalwart Andrew Mlangeni, from the ANC electoral commission, was also present. Most voting delegates had arrived by 6pm.

    Western Cape ANC chairman Marius Fransman was optimistic there would be a clear indication of who branch delegates endorsed for ANC leadership posts before midnight.

    “We clearly believe that the conference will happen very smoothly, because the Western Cape leadership won't need to deal with disputes, as that will be done separately by the NEC task team.”

    He said delegates would register over the next few hours, before the nomination process got underway.

    “We must be confident here that round about 10pm we will see results.”

    Last week, divisions were evident during the PGC processes, which were adjourned without results. Some delegates were dressed in t-shirts with pro-Zuma slogans on them, others in attire which bore the faces and names of their preferences for the ANC's top six officials, including Kgalema Motlanthe for president. - Sapa


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    Dawn broke on Thursday without any announcement on who Western Cape ANC branches want to see as party president.

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    Cape Town - Dawn broke on Thursday without any announcement on who Western Cape ANC branches want to see as ruling party president.

    Delegates at the Provincial General Council (PGC) had cast their votes for the ANC top six in a secret ballot, and counting began just before 5am.

    It appears some of the disputes from ANC members who claimed the selection of delegates were done fraudulently was still underway.

    On Wednesday night, a brief fracas erupted outside the Cape Peninsula University of Technology hall where the PGC was being held.

    A group of members from ANC branches in the Boland region demanded access to the PGC to settle disputes about the selection of branch delegates.

    A woman from the New Rest branch in Wellington, Primrose Mbenene, told Sapa she and some fellow supporters were “robbed” of having a say on who their branch delegate for the PGC should be.

    She insisted she and fellow branch members were being sidelined because they supported Kgalema Motlanthe to replace Jacob Zuma as ANC President at Mangaung.

    Mbenene said over the past few weeks several branch meetings were postponed because they didn't have a quorum.

    “They then take out people to a shebeen to have a meeting,” she said.

    She said they lodged five complaints over the election of their branch delegates to the ANC's provincial office and had yet to get a response.

    Another woman, claiming to be the deputy chairwoman of the Ward seven branch in Wellington, Elsie Magoda, said she was originally meant to be a delegate.

    Magoda alleges the chairman of her branch made members sign for another delegate “in the middle of the night.”

    “I was a delegate but they stole it from me. It's fraud,” she said.

    Members of the ANC National Executive Committee Task Team arrived in Cape Town on Wednesday afternoon to hear and rule on disputes.

    NEC members present included Public Service and Administration minister Lindiwe Sisulu, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, Communications Minister Dina Pule and Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane.

    Struggle stalwart Andrew Mlangeni, of the ANC Electoral Commission, was also on attendance.

    Delegates were expected to conclude their nominations for the 80 member ANC NEC, before announcing the results of the top six vote.

    Divisions remained evident at the PGC with some branch delegates singing pro-Zuma songs, while others chanted the word “change” several times.

    The latter wanted to see a change in leadership, insisting Motlanthe should replace Zuma at the party's elective conference which is due to start in Mangaung on December 16. - Sapa


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    Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe has been chosen as the Western Cape ANC nominee for party president.

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    Cape Town - Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe has been chosen as the Western Cape ANC nominee for party president, provincial secretary Songezo Mjongile said on Thursday.

    Motlanthe won by a small margin receiving 99 votes to President Jacob Zuma's 90.

    Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula was endorsed for the position of Secretary General with 96 delegates supporting him against current SG Gwede Mantashe's 85.

    A revote was called for after nominees for the positions of deputy president, deputy secretary, chairperson and treasurer general failed to get an outright majority.

    Delegates were gathered at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, where the provincial general council was being held, since 4pm on Wednesday. - Sapa


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    Five speed-over-distance cameras, such as on the R61, will be installed around Cape Town

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    Super-smart camera networks - to nab speeding drivers - are to be installed in five sites across Cape Town.

    New plans for “average speed over distance” cameras were announced by the City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith on wednesday.

    Among them are the M3, Table Bay Boulevard, Nelson Mandela Boulevard and other roads yet to be decided. There is already an Asod system on the M5 - but no further exact sites have been identified other than somewhere on the M3, which runs between Hospital Bend and Lakeside.

    A new Asod network has also been launched on one of the province’smost dangerous, just outside Beaufort West and 31.7km towards Three Sisters.

    NO FATAL CRASHES

    The project was initially implemented in October 2011on a 71.6km stretch of road between Beaufort West and Aberdeen on the R61 - the longest camera network of its kind in the world.

    Transport MEC Robin Carlisle’s office said of the plan: “Prior to the initial implementation on the R61 stretch from Beaufort West to Aberdeen, there had been a reported 509 crashes in total, 75 of which being fatal crashes resulting in the loss of 149 lives - this over the previous 12 years.

    “Since the implementation of Asod on the R61 stretch, we have received no reports of any fatal crashes on that stretch.”

    “We are very proud to add yet another weapon to our law-enforcement arsenal.”

    “This new Asod now means that 103.3km of the province’s most dangerous roads are now covered by this camera enforcement network,” Carlisle said. “This will have a profound effect on our continued battle to reduce the carnage on the road.

    “The figures show that our efforts are working; we have achieved the fastest and most significant road death reduction in the world, a reduction of 28 percent since we started with Safely Home in 2009.

    “A major challenge has been the ill-discipline that exists among motorists on the road.”

    “Vehicles driving below the speed limit of 120km/h have risen from 61 percent to 74 percent, and conversely, those driving over the speed limit have gone down from 39 percent to 26 percent.

    “This is a remarkable improvement that shows that more and more drivers are in fact slowing down.”

    Carlisle said his department and partners Sanral were looking at extending the network to Touws-rivier and the R27.

    “Roads are becoming increasingly dangerous, and slowing down is often the difference between life and death,” Carlisle said.

    HOW IT WORKS

    The Average Speed Over Distance system calculates the average speed of a vehicle from the time it passes the first camera until it passes the second camera.

    The average speed is then determined by what it has taken a vehicle to travel from point A (where the first camera is located) to point B (where the second camera is located).

    Reaching point B in a time shorter than is determined by the distance and the speed limit, means that the driver is speeding. - Cape Times


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    "Unfortunately, we don't take children like that" - these words outraged a mom who attempted to enrol her autistic son in gym.

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    Cape Town - “Unfortunately, we don’t take children like that” – these were the piercing words that outraged a Pinelands mother who attempted to enrol her “high-functioning” autistic son in a supervised gym class.

    Shannon Gukelberger, mother to 14-year-old Luc, considered to be “high functioning” on the autism spectrum, said she felt discriminated against by staff at the Virgin Active gym in Claremont.

    The gym’s spokesperson has since admitted that it was the wrong choice of words and has apologised.

    The Club V classes are supervised and are for children between the age of eight and 13.

    While Luc is 14 years old, socially he is considered to be in the nine to 10-year age group, and because of his medication his growth is slower and his frame slightly smaller than other boys his age.

    Luc, who has an above-average IQ, enjoys science and history and aircraft. However, he struggles socially with other children his age. He has sensory integration problems – a heightened sense of touch – and he does not have a short-term memory.

     

    She had approached a sales representative about enrolling Luc in Club V for children.

    “I told him that my child is a high functioning autism child and he cannot be unsupervised.”

    The sales representative said he would speak to the manager. When Gukelberger approached the sales representative five days later she said he “appeared quite apprehensive”.

    Gukelberger said she was told: “Unfortunately, we don’t take children like that.”

     

    Gukelberger tweeted about the incident and received a response to her tweet asking about the incident. She also received an e-mail from the gym’s manager, John Justus, who said that they did accept children with special needs but that Luc was already 14-years-old and that they could not allow him to join “purely from an age perspective”.

    “His age was not mentioned to me by the sales guy,” Gukelberger said.

    She has since cancelled her gym contract.

    “As a mother of a child like this – you spend your whole life fighting for your child to have a normal life,” she said.

    On Wednesday, Virgin Active apologised.

    Virgin Active spokeswoman Les Aupiais said that Virgin Active should have apologised and that the gym would apologise sincerely: “We were wrong, we should’ve apologised, we’ll find a solution.”

    natasha.prince@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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    The announcement by Cosatu that the Cape’s agricultural strike was called off has met with mixed reaction from farmworkers.

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    Cape Town - The announcement by Cosatu that the province’s agricultural sector strike was called off has met with mixed reaction from farmworkers.

    On Wednesday,many were split on whether they supported the decision.

    Criticism of Cosatu’s lack of direct consultation with workers was key to Robertson farmworker Brendan Daniels’ decision to oppose the union’s announcement.

    “We have waited a long time for the 4th of December to make our voices heard. This dispute needs to be sorted out now, before we lose momentum… Why did Cosatu negotiate on our behalves behind closed doors in Cape Town? Why did the government get involved?

    “This is an issue between farmworkers and their employers. Agri SA should have come to our meetings and listened directly to the people,” he said.

    Monwabisi Kondile, a worker from De Doorns, said Cosatu had played “football with the people - telling them one thing, and then changing their minds at the last second”.

    Cosatu’s provincial secretary, Tony Ehrenreich, had said “fruit will rot on the trees” and that “the strike was off” in addresses within hours of one another in De Doorns on Tuesday.

    Kondile said: “It will not be easy for us to organise and to negotiate with the farmers directly [as suggested by Cosatu]. This divides our people, and the farmers will be able to intimidate us.”

    Another farmworker and activist, who declined to be named, said Cosatu had sold out the workers.

    “This is what the farmers wanted, and now Cosatu are exposed for being on the side of farmers and the government who have been wanting to end the strike from the beginning.”

    But these opinions were balanced by the large number of workers - especially in Ceres and De Doorns - who did not support the December 4 strike, going to work as usual.

    For De Doorns farmworker Cornelia Mtsila this was an indication that workers in the province had lost unity of opinion on how to proceed.

    She expressed frustration at Cosatu’s “exclusion of worker representatives” in the call for higher wages since the strikes began in November.

    In spite of this, she said Cosatu calling off the strike reflected the sentiment of the majority of workers in De Doorns.

    “Many people in De Doorns are concerned about going hungry and money for Christmas. When we lose our unity on this issue, we lose our strength,” she said.

    Many other workers interviewed by the Cape Argus in De Doorns raised similar concerns.

    That workers were divided on whether to continue with strike action was evident at a meeting where Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies addressed the crowd.

    He said he was there to report back to workers on steps his department and government had taken to address the issue of poor conditions and wages in the agricultural sector.

    daneel.knoetze@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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