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    The gruesome double murder of two women whose bodies were found in a vineyard on a farm remains a mystery.

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    Cape Town - The gruesome double murder of two women whose bodies were found in a vineyard on a farm outside Rawsonville remains a mystery.

    Police are calling on people to come forward with information that could help with the investigation.

    Speaking to the Cape Argus on Wednesday, Rawsonville police officers admitted they had no leads in locating the victims’ next of kin or a suspect.

    The women, both in their twenties, had multiple wounds.

    Helene Zeeman, whose husband Danie owns Witelsboom, the farm where the bodies were found, said the nature of the murder was unprecedented in terms of violent crime in the region.

    “We have the odd report of a quarrel that leads to a stabbing from time to time, but this was obviously a callous and cruel murder,” said Zeeman.

    The farmworker who made the grisly discovery on Tuesday afternoon said he did not think the women were from the Slanghoek area.

    Pieter Muller, a worker on Witelsboom farm, initially stumbled across one half-naked body.

    “By looking at the woman I could tell that she wasn’t a farm person,” he said.” I spoke to police later in the day and they told me there was no sign of a struggle. This leads me to think that the murder may have happened elsewhere and the bodies were probably dumped there.”

    Muller had seen hair sticking out from one of the vineyards from the back of a bakkie while he and other workers were en route to a nearby stream to collect water.

    “I thought it was maybe a baboon that had got stuck in the wires, so I told the driver to stop and walked towards the scene,” he said.

    But he found the body of a woman: rigged into an upright position, dressed only in a T-shirt and with severe facial swelling.

    Muller told of other details, relating to the woman’s injuries and state of decomposition.

    “It was absolutely shocking. I walked back with my hands on my head, I was simply too dumbstruck to warn the other men. They ran and went to look for themselves,” he said. “I did not sleep at all (on Tuesday night).

    ‘‘We are not used to such things. These are things that you hear about happening out there in the cities, not here on the farms.”

    Witelsboom lies in the Slanghoek area of the Breede River Valley, popular among tourists because of its pristine environment, wine tasting and the upmarket Goudini Spa.

    Zeeman said she hoped the police would crack the case quickly.

    “It is very concerning, especially because that area is so accessible. Often we have people coming for braais and picnics on the river on that stretch of our farm. I’m just glad that it wasn’t one of our own people who suffered that terrible fate, but that doesn’t take anything away from what those poor women had to go through.”

    She said they all wanted to know who was responsible.

    “We want to see them behind bars,” she added.

    Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel André Traut said the victims had sustained multiple wounds.

     

    “The motive is unknown and no one has been arrested.

    “The circumstances are being investigated. Any person who can shed light on the matter is kindly requested to contact Crime Stop on 086 001 0111.”

     

    daneel.knoetze@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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    “With or without the DNA results from the police, we will have a memorial service for her,” Jennifer Williams mother said.

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    Cape Town - Although DNA results are not available yet to confirm whether a body found in Ottery is that of 12-year-old Jennifer Williams, the family of the missing girl will hold a memorial service for her on Thursday morning.

    Jennifer’s mother, Rachel Williams, told the Cape Argus on Wednesday she was adamant that the body found by police in a field off Plantation Road, Ottery, was that of her little girl.

    “With or without the DNA results from the police, we will have a memorial service for her. We are sure it’s her and we don’t want to wait a day longer to put her to rest,” she said.

    Jennifer was last seen swimming in an inflatable pool outside her sister’s house in Parkhurst Walk, Parkwood, on December 20. At the time she was wearing a black-and-yellow two-piece swimming costume. She had also been wearing pink slippers.

    Last Thursday, a badly decomposed body was found by a passer-by behind the old Ottery reformatory.

    Provincial police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel André Traut said on Wednesday that the investigators were waiting for the results of DNA tests and forensics analysis. There had been no new developments, Traut said.

    Williams said she had caught sight of Jennifer’s unopened Christmas presents on Wednesday and “had a long cry”.

    “This whole thing is making me emotional and the waiting is very upsetting. We just want closure… I don’t know how much of this we can take,” she said.

    On Monday, Parkwood residents, some of them children, with weapons, went on the rampage after Gerald Croudes, 62, suspected of having been involved in Jennifer’s disappearance, was granted bail.

    He was taken in for questioning after police found the body.

    Meanwhile, Khayelitsha mother Abongile Mgwebi, 28, is slowly losing hope for the safe return of her five-year-old daughter, Lilitha.

    Lilitha disappeared on Christmas morning. She was allegedly snatched while playing with friends a few metres from her home in the Green Point informal settlement.

    “We have looked everywhere, including the hospitals, and there is no sign of her. It’s like she vanished into thin air. I am hurting,” Mgwebi said on Wednesday.

    Traut said a police hunt was on for Lilitha and there were no new leads.

    nontando.mposo@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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    Bongiwe Mabede had only enough time to grab her children and run before flames engulfed her shack.

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    Cape Town - As she breathed in smoke, the walls around her heating up, she had only enough time to grab her children and run before flames engulfed her shack.

    Bongiwe Mabede, a young mother of two, is one of 3 000 people who were forced to abandon their homes after a fire swept through the BM Section of Khayelitsha on New Year’s Day, destroying more than 800 shacks and killing three men.

    She is being sheltered at the OR Tambo Hall in Khayelitsha, sharing food and a sleeping space with over 650 people.

    “I have lost everything. There is just nothing for me anymore.”

    Out at the BM Section of the informal settlement, residents can be seen scouring through the skeletal frames of their old homes.

    The City of Cape Town not only has plans to rebuild the area, but is also going to give the informal settlement an upgrade. Mayoral committee member for human settlements Ernest Sonnenberg said plans for upgrading the area had been in the works for a long time.

    At the moment, the city’s Informal Settlements Department was working to improve safety measures against fire and floods, and provide access to electricity for all residents.

    Sonnenberg urged residents rebuilding their structures to position them at least three metres apart, to make it easier for firefighting vehicles to access the area.

    The public has been invited to provide relief to the victims of the fires by making donations. Pick n Pay, which has already donated R20 000 to relief organisations, has set out special trolleys at all their Western Cape stores where shoppers can leave donations of food, clothing and other essentials.

    The city has also set up an account for donations from the public.

    Name of account holder: City of Cape Town; Financial institution: Absa Bank Ltd; Bank account number: 4056584569 Branch: Public Sector – Western Cape; Branch code: 632005; SWIFT number: ABSAZAJJCCT; Reference number: 192110255

    kieran.legg@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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  • 01/03/13--01:07: Castrated dog to return home
  • A dog found castrated in Mfuleni last week, possibly for muti, has been treated and will go home soon.

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    Cape Town - A dog found castrated in Mfuleni last week, possibly for muti, has been treated and will go home soon.

    The Cape Argus reported this week that Bobby had gone missing on Christmas Day.

    When the owner returned from his other home in Town 2, Khayelitsha, he discovered that Bobby had been castrated. He then took his dog to an animal clinic in Khayelitsha.

    On Wednesday, Lazola Sotyingwa of the Mdzananda Animal Clinic said their vet had operated on the dog and a catheter was inserted before the dog was stitched up again.

    “The catheter is out now and the dog is still with us. We will probably send it home before the end of the week,” he said.

    Sotyingwa said that he had been back to Mfuleni to speak to residents about the incident and many believed that the dog was castrated for its genitals to be used for muti.

    Sotyingwa said that he wanted to get the police involved because the animal clinic did not have the capacity to investigate what happened: “If someone can do something like this to a dog, what will they do to a child?”

    He said that there was also a need to educate residents about animal rights: “That’s why the owner came here first. He did not know he could lay a charge with the police… The more people know, the more they can respect animals.”

    neo.maditla@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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    Cyril Karabus’s ordeal in Abu Dhabi may be over in two days if prosecutors fail to come up with missing medical records.

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    Cape Town - Cape Town professor Cyril Karabus’s ordeal in Abu Dhabi may be over in two days if prosecutors fail to come up with the missing original medical records required by the judge for him to stand trial.

    This is according to his lawyer Michael Bagraim, who told the Cape Argus on Wednesday that he was “upbeat” that the case would be thrown out of court in two days if the missing medical records didn’t surface.

    Karabus’s trial was postponed for the 13th time on Wednesday after prosecutors failed, yet again, to produce the missing medical records that are the “key” in proving his innocence.

    Karabus, 77, an emeritus professor at the University of Cape Town, is being detained in Abu Dhabi on charges of manslaughter and falsifying documents.

    He was arrested on August 18 while in transit in Dubai on his way to South Africa after his son’s wedding in Toronto, Canada.

    Speaking from Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, Karabus told the Cape Argus that he was “tired and frustrated” by the lack of information he was getting from the courts.

    “I don’t know if or when I will have to appear in court again,” he said.

    Karabus’s wife, Jenifer, told the Cape Times earlier this week that she believed the South African embassy had done nothing to help her husband.

    “They gave him newspapers in prison and the consul was there in court, but otherwise they have done sweet diddly.”

    Prosecutors argue that in 2000, when Karabus worked as a locum at the Sheikh Khalifa Medical Centre in Abu Dhabi, he failed to give a blood transfusion to a three-year-old Yemeni cancer patient, causing her death.

    A specialist paediatric oncologist, Karabus was tried and convicted in absentia in the UAE in 2002, on charges of manslaughter and falsifying documents, and was sentenced to three years and six months in jail. His sentence included the payment of about R230 000 “blood money” – to the victim’s family.

    The medical file includes Karabus’s notes, laboratory reports, as well as details of the girl’s three-week period before he started treating her.

    “The judge indicated in court that this would be the last postponement. He gave prosecutors two days to come up with the originals.

    “He said without them he won’t have enough to prosecute Karabus and there won’t be a trial,” said Bagraim

    On Sunday, the judge will decide whether Karabus will later stand trial or not.

    Karabus, who has a pacemaker, is living with Dr Elwin Buchel, the former head of gastroenterology at the University of Pretoria.

    Bagraim explained that the missing medical file had been a “massive problem” since Karabus’s nightmarish experience had begun.

    “We suspect they (medical records) were destroyed a long time ago and no one is going to find them. We hope, come Sunday, Karabus will be able to come home,” he said.

    nontando.mposo@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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    A team of Cape reptile lovers have landed a catch of crocs that even Crocodile Dundee would have been proud of.

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    Cape Town - A team of Cape reptile lovers have landed a catch of crocs that even the famed Aussie Crocodile Dundee would have been proud of.

    The tale begins at the time of heavy floods on the Garden Route some years ago, probably in 2006, when it is said baby crocs escaped from a hatchery on a croc farm.

    Since then, locals have been spotting the prehistoric creatures in the Little Brak and Brandwag area, outside Mossel Bay.

    An organisation named the South Cape Hunters and Conservation Society members monitored the crocs over a three-month period. CapeNature then approached the local Cango Wildlife Ranch for help.

    The tourist attraction’s spokeswoman, Tammy Moult, reported: “We agreed to capture as many crocodiles as possible, and assist in distributing them to like-minded facilities.”

    The total number of crocodiles that escaped is unknown. However, it has been confirmed that there are still a large number of crocodiles – ranging from 1m to 3.5m – in the rivers.

    In December, Cango Wildlife Ranch’s managing director, Andrew Eriksen, and a team of 11 staff set out for an adventurous croc-wrangling day in the Brandwag area.

    “Their mission was to capture all the estimated 500 crocodiles,” Moult said. “The crocs ranged from a mere 75cm to over 3m in length. Our experienced team left no leaf unturned and managed to capture a whopping 494 crocodiles in just one day.”

    She reported that CapeNature had approved the removal of the crocodiles, the goal being to avoid any incidents or possible attacks, making the area safe for the families who live there.

    “Four of the largest crocodiles captured now find sanctuary in our Jumping Jaws exhibit, while the rest were transported to a crocodile farm near Bela Bela in Limpopo. A successful day was had – luckily with more sweat than blood and tears. Our team was key in making the area safe for locals – and, most importantly, we saved nearly 500 crocodiles from slaughter by local farmers,” Moult said.

    Cape Argus


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    The Western Cape’s top matriculant, Nita Wiegman, is a farm girl from apple, wine and whale country.

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    Cape Town - The Western Cape’s top matriculant is a farm girl from apple, wine and whale country, but with her nine distinctions Nita Wiegman has blitzed her 44 700 fellow Grade 12s.

    Nita lives on her family’s farm in the Hemel en Aarde Valley, near Hermanus, and attended Hermanus High School in the whale-watching town.

    The Wiegman family had received a call “out of the blue” in which she was asked to stand by to be flown up to Gauteng for a function last night, where she was personally congratulated by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.

    “I’m blown away – this took me completely by surprise,” she told the Cape Argus today from OR Tambo International Airport, before boarding a plane back to Cape Town.

    She said she had written nine subjects – English home language, Afrikaans first additional language, maths, maths third paper, accounting, life sciences, physical sciences, life orientation and advanced programme maths.

    “I haven’t been given my marks yet, but was just told which subjects I received distinctions for,” she explained.

    And how many was that?

    “All nine,” she said shyly.

    Just what did it take to pull off such a feat?

    “Yes, I worked hard. I was also involved in a lot of sport and cultural activities – such as tap dancing,” Wiegman said.

    “It’s all about balance.”

    “So I did my little bit of studying every day – probably two to three hours a night.

    “And then at weekends I spent most of my time catching up on the work I might have missed during the week.”

    She also played hockey and tennis and took part in athletics.

    Her elder brother, Adrian, or “AD”, as he is known, who also received distinctions for all his subjects in 2011, is now studying engineering.

    Following him into university, she will study medicine at Stellenbosch University, in residence at the Tygerberg campus.

    Her father, Ian, said of his high-achieving daughter: “Yes, I suppose she is a farm girl, but she’s led a very balanced life!”

    His wife, Miralese, teaches at the school and the couple were exceptionally proud, he said.

    The young star returns to work at her holiday job at Creation Wines in the Hemel en Aarde Valley, where she has worked for the past few weeks, but takes a “well-deserved break” from Monday, until her next long journey towards becoming a doctor begins.

    Cape Argus


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    Thousands of matric pupils around the Western Cape have broken a number of records in this latest matric exam.

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    Cape Town - Thousands of matric pupils around the Western Cape were waiting outside their schools on Thursday morning in anticipation of the release of their exam results.

    The Western Cape’s matric class of 2012 have broken a number of records, with the province earning 3 846 more passes than in 2011.

    The province achieved a pass rate of 82.8 percent and 36 992 passes, the highest since the introduction of the national senior certificate in 2008.

    “The class of 2012 will be remembered for their quality performance and the new records they have set,” said Education MEC Donald Grant.

    The national pass rate also showed an increase from 70. 2 percent in 2011 to 73.9 percent in 2012.

    “This growth is very encouraging, bearing in mind that when we came into office we had put the targeted growth at 75 percent by 2014. Now, at 73.9 percent, our target is within reach,” said Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.

    Of the 623 897 students who wrote the National Senior Certificate exam, more than 136 000 achieved results that qualified them to go to university. Another 135 000 achieved results that qualified them to attend other higher education institutions.

    The Cape Argus will publish the results on Friday.

     

    The class of 2012 had more maths passes and physical science passes than in 2011, and more candidates earned passes that could qualify them for bachelor degree and diploma study.

     

    Gauteng was the top-performing province in 2012 with a pass rate of 83.9 percent. Western Cape was second, while Eastern Cape obtained the lowest pass rate at 58.1 percent.

    “While we are excited about the record quantity of passes achieved this year, we are even more excited about the quality of those passes. With justification I can best describe the class of 2012 as quality performers,” said Grant.

     

    More good news was that there was a reduction in the province in the number of underperforming schools (achieving a pass rate of below 60 percent) in the province. In 2011, 30 schools were classified as underperforming and in 2012 this decreased to 26.

     

    At South Peninsula High School, the top 25 achievers started filing in shortly before 10 am. In hushed voices, parents and pupils huddled around lists posted on a notice board. Gasps, sighs of relief, exclamations, handshakes and smiles filled the hall.

    Luke Collar, 18, was delighted. Planning to study computer science at Stellenbosch this year, Luke needed an average of at least 70 percent to qualify for a bursary. He got 75 percent.

    “Oh my word!” exclaimed Laaiqa Holliday, when her finger ran down the list and came to a rest on her name and results. After hugs and a few tears, she told the Cape Argus: “This (being in the top 20 achievers) is such incredible news. In my entire life I have never put so much work into an exam, and I’m glad that all the pressure and expectation from my parents and teachers paid off.”

    She plans to study law this year.

    Earlier this morning, Brian Isaacs, principal at South Peninsula, phoned his star matric pupil, who is on a pilgrimage in Mecca, to inform her of her stunning results. Shagufta Zalgoankir got 7 distinctions and an average of 90.57 percent.

    Cape Argus


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    A dark cloud hung over Newlands cricket grounds after the news broke that John Eugene Commins had been murdered.

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    Cape Town -

    A dark cloud hung over Newlands cricket ground on Thursday after the news broke that former Western Province cricketer John Eugene Commins was murdered at his family home in Newlands on Wednesday night.

    The 71-year-old, who played for Western Province Cricket Union in the ’60s, is the youngest brother of Western Province CEO Kevin Commins and the uncle of former Proteas cricketer John Commins.

    Commins shared the house on Oak Avenue in Newlands with his wife Cherie.

    The couple were at home at 10.45pm on Wednesday when three men climbed through an open bedroom window and tied them up in separate rooms.

    Police said the men held Commins’s wife and tied her up, ordering her not to scream.

    The home invaders then ransacked the house, before making off with jewellery and an undisclosed amount of cash.

    After they were gone, Commins’s wife managed to untie herself and make her way to her husband. But by the time she found him tied up on his bed he was already dead. Police said they found no signs of visible injury. At this stage, they believe Commins was suffocated, but a post-mortem is being conducted to determine the exact cause of death.

    At the time of going to print, the identity of the suspects was still unknown and police are not sure which direction the suspects fled after leaving the house.

    Residents in the upmarket area remained tight-lipped on Thursday, with an eerie silence descending on Oak Avenue. “I didn’t see or hear anything,” said Commins’s next door neighbour over the intercom before hanging up.

    The Western Province Cricket Association showed its support by lowering the flags at Sahara Park Newlands in tribute to the former cricketer.

    “What was planned as an occasion for joy and the sharing of memories has been plunged into (sorrow),” said the organisation in a statement.

    Andre Odendaal, CEO of the Western Province Cricket Association, said Commins had collected tickets to come and watch the Sunfoil Test Series on Wednesday.

    “He was meant to come watch (Thursday), meet all his ex-union buddies and catch up with old friends,” said Odendaal. “It was a real shock to get the news. He would’ve been sitting up in the box with his daughter.”

    In a statement sent to the Cape Argus, the Commins family said: “We are absolutely devastated at the sudden and tragic death of our father, grandfather and husband: John Eugene Commins.

    “We are overwhelmed at the messages of support and condolences. He was our mentor and hero, he will leave a gaping hole in our lives. From Cherie, Donne, Greg, Brendon, Amanda, Noah, Ben, Sam.”

    Cricket SA and Castle Lager’s farewell day for Mark Boucher, which was scheduled to take place on Friday, has been postponed at the request of the former Proteas wicketkeeper – John Commins’s daughter, Donne, was Boucher’s agent. “Donne has been very close to me for most of my career and has been much more to me than a business partner,” said Boucher.

    Jacques Kallis tweeted: “Thoughts and prayers with @DonneCommins and family. Tragic news. Something really has to be done about the crime in this country #deathpenalty”

    kieran.legg@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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    The Muslim Judicial Council has condemned the Cape’s traditional Kaapse Klopse festivities.

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    Cape Town - The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) has condemned the Cape’s traditional Kaapse Klopse festivities, describing the colourful celebrations as “degrading and undignifying”.

    The MJC’s fatwa committee has issued a formal fatwa against the annual January 2 parade, although it is not clear when, or if, the command was effectively communicated.

    In a letter, committee head Y Karaan explained: “We make clear distinction between the coons and the Malay choirs. As for the coons, it is our view that it is not permissible to participate in their activities as that is generally degrading and undignifying for Muslims to dance around in public with all coloured painted faces and all coloured clothing.”

    It was acknowledged that the minstrels’ parade originated as a celebration at the end of slavery, “expressing joy and pleasure of the attainment of freedom from slavery in 1834”.

    “However, the coons dancing through our streets are under no circumstances fitting expression of thanksgiving to Allah for emancipation in this day and age.”

    The fatwa committee had thus decreed that “it is not permissible for a Muslim to belong to them neither to participate in it neither to pay a fee to see the carnival nor to watch it”.

    The Malay choirs, by contrast, remained an authentic cultural expression of the Cape Malay community.

    The MJC objected to Muslims “jumping around in the streets like coon (troupes) or dancing about on a stage” at choir gatherings that were mixed with coon celebrations, and said this would “not be tolerated”.

    In particular, the MJC warned against “some unsavoury language used in some songs”.

    Kevin Momberg, spokesman for the Cape Town Minstrels Carnival Association, said: “We respect the MJC, but according to us the Muslims were always part of the minstrels, so we would like to know more about what their decision is based on.

    “More than 60 percent of our minstrels are Muslims, so it puts them in a difficult position.”

    Momberg said he did not believe the MJC’s statement had affected the festivities on Wednesday.

    It could not be established on Thursday when the fatwa was issued by the MJC.

    Cape Argus


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    Peak View High in Athlone, recently earmarked for closure, has managed to increase its matric pass rate from 18.9% to 74.4%.

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    Cape Town - A year ago it was labelled the worst performing school in the province after achieving a matric pass rate of just 18.9 percent.

    And Peak View High principal Oswald de Villiers said that things got even worse just days later when education officials came to the school “and told us in no uncertain terms that you, the class of 2012, don’t stand a chance of passing if you stay at the school”.

    But the Athlone school refused to accept this prediction even after Education MEC Donald Grant indicated his intention to close the school.

    And on Thursday they proved all their critics wrong.

    Loud cheers erupted when De Villiers announced that the school’s 2012 pass rate was 74.4 percent.

    “I am ecstatic… I feel we have been vindicated. We have shown the WCED (Western Cape Education Department) that their reasons for wanting to close us were flawed,” he said.

    The number of pupils who passed matric at the school have increased from seven in 2011 to 32 in 2012.

    The school’s top pupil, Grant Johnson, who earned a distinction, said he never thought of going to another school, despite the school’s poor performance in 2011.

    “What people said about the school was not important. I have a home here. We worked hard and our teachers are always there to help us.”

    Last year, teachers told the Cape Argus that the reason for the school’s poor performance was that 24 Xhosa-speaking pupils had failed English home language and the department hadn’t provided support programmes for this subject.

    Grant announced in October 2012 that the school would not be closed.

    On Thursday, ANC Western Cape leader Marius Fransman visited Peak View, Zonnebloem Nest and Beauvallon high schools, three schools targeted by Grant for closure “due to poor performance”.

    Beauvallon earned a pass rate of 51.5 percent compared to 24 percent in 2011, while Zonnebloem’s pass rate was 96.6 percent, compared to 85.2 percent in 2011.

    In response to a call by Fransman for Grant’s resignation, Grant’s spokeswoman, Bronagh Casey, said Fransman “has demonstrated the complete inability to understand the information that has been made available by the WCED”.

    “Fransman seems to forget that the minister decided not to close Peak View and Zonnebloem. He overturned the recommendations by the department to close these schools after the public hearings,” she said.

    Casey said the WCED had expected to see an increase in the results at Peak View.

    “In October, Minister Grant said that Peak View must be given an opportunity to improve its results across all grades given that the isi-Xhosa home language was introduced as a subject only in 2012. This would then counter the failures in English home language at the school.

    “We are delighted that Minister Grant’s decision to not close Peak View based on changes to the language issue has ultimately translated into improved results,” Casey said.

    ilse.fredericks@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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    There was a tense stand-off in Khayelitsha when the ANC called a meeting with residents displaced by the New Year fires.

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    Cape Town - There was a tense stand-off in Khayelitsha on Thursday when the ANC called a meeting with residents displaced by the recent fires and charged that the city council was not looking after the displaced people.

    Local DA representatives were forced to leave the meeting when ANC provincial leader Marius Fransman told the crowd to send them “back to their white bosses to tell them that you are suffering”.

    Fransman, together with provincial ANC Youth League leader Khaya Yozi and SACP provincial general secretary Khaya Magaxa, told more than 800 residents at the meeting that the City of Cape Town only caters for whites.

    More than 4 000 people were displaced and three died when a wild fire ripped through the BM settlement, destroying almost 800 shacks.

    The Western Cape ANC leadership arrived at the OR Tambo Hall on Thursday afternoon after calling for a meeting with residents to “intervene” in the humanitarian relief effort. Fransman first met church leaders and community leaders to “devise a plan of action”, and a committee was elected.

    Addressing residents, Fransman said: “There is no proper disaster management with this incident. The city is not proactive enough. No one sees the plight of people living in this centre. People have to sleep on the cold floor, they are given a few pieces of bread and a bottle of juice…”

    He said the committee would be the link between the City of Cape Town and those living in the centre. Fransman said the committee would focus on co-ordinating food and donations, setting up a database of those living in the centre and “getting the city to be more active”.

    A confrontation followed when DA PR councillor in Khayelithsa Puliswa Marman and three other women, dressed in DA clothing, walked in. Fransman said: “Tell those women in the DA T-shirts that they must go back to their white bosses and to tell them that you are suffering. They must go back to where they came from… ” Fransman said as the crowd cheered.

    Some shouted derogatory comments at Marman. A group of about five men then surrounded her, telling her to leave the hall. She at first refused, but left as the situation intensified. Outside, she said she and DA MP Masizole Mnqasela wanted to address the residents on the progress made with the relief.

    “We are planning to hand over more blankets and food to the people. The ANC has used this incident as a way to score political points,” she said.

    Cape Town Disaster Risk Management spokesman Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said assistance offered to people included blankets, clothing and food. Those who lost their identity and social grant documents would be helped. He said engineers had surveyed the site.

    The city would plan a layout for the affected area, including roads. “ We will also provide services such as water, electricity and temporary roads,” he said.

    Cape Times


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    Owners of a chicken farm outside Cape Town suspect a fire at one of their broiler houses was a result of arson.

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    Cape Town - Owners of a chicken farm in the Fisantekraal area outside Cape Town suspect a fire at one of their broiler houses was a result of arson.

    A security guard was burnt and 10 000 chickens killed in the fire which broke out early on Thursday at Astral Foods.

    The company expects that many of the 8 000 chickens which survived the blaze would die later from smoke inhalation. Damage to the property is estimated at R2 million, said Theo Delport, managing director of Astral’s poultry division.

    “There are 10 such broiler houses on that farm. We are incredibly lucky that the fire did not spread,” he added.

    Just over half of the company’s Western Cape 1 000 workers have been striking since November 21.

    A night watchman, who was tending to the broiler house at the time of the fire, tried to extinguish the blaze, but was trapped in the building. The man managed to escape by breaking a hole in the wall. He was treated in hospital.

    In December the Cape Argus reported that striking farmworkers of Astral Food’s poultry division allegedly set alight a stack of straw outside a Fisantekraal facility.

    “We have been subjected to a lot of violence and intimidation since the start of the strike. Strikers have blocked entrances to our facilities and attacked our cars at times. It is, however, understood that it is a small minority of strikers that have resorted to these methods,” said Delport at the time.

    On Thursday, Delport said that a criminal element had used the strike to try to bring the company to its knees.

    The Food Allied Workers Union (Fawu), which has has negotiated with Astral Food on wages, has previously condemned the use of violence.

    Talks between Astral Food and Fawu stalled when the union offices closed over the holiday period.

    Mlungiseleli Ndongeni, Fawu provincial secretary, could not be reached for comment and Delport said he did not know when negotiations would resume.

    daneel.knoetze@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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    A girl who lost everything on New Year’s Day when a fire destroyed hundreds of shacks in Khayelitsha, has failed matric.

    |||

    Cape Town - She lost everything but the clothes on her back when a fired a raged through BM Section in Khayelitsha on New Year’s Day.

    “I heard someone calling outside that there was a fire. Everything burnt,” said the 18-year-old former pupil at Matthew Goniwe Memorial High in Khayelitsha.

    On Thursday, she had to borrow clothes when she went to school to fetch her results.

    The teenager, who now lives with an aunt, broke down in tears when she realised that she had not passed matric.

    She was too emotional to speak.

    Elsewhere on the schoolgrounds there were tears of joy. The school achieved an 83.7percent pass rate.

    Among the top achievers were Sive Nondala, 18, who earned distinctions in Xhosa, maths and physical science and is planning to study medicine at UCT.

    He said hard work had been the key to his success.

    Mncanca Yandisa, 20, was all smiles when he got his results.

    He had fallen ill in May last year and missed his June exams. He failed his September exams and was overjoyed when his final results showed that he had passed.

    “I’m so happy,” he said.

    While the school’s pass rate was slightly down from the 2011 pass rate of 87,6percent, more pupils passed in 2012.

    A total of 128 candidates passed in 2012 compared to 99 in 2011.

    The number of pupils earning passes that could earn them entry to bachelor degree study also increased from 46 to 52.

    Principal Ntomboxolo Mqumbisa said the 2012 results had encouraged the school to work harder.

    “We will have to strategise again and this year’s results will have to be better.”

    ilse.fredericks@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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    Police are no closer to establishing the identities of two women whose bodies were found dumped in a vineyard.

    |||

    Cape Town - Police are no closer to establishing the identities of two women whose bodies were found dumped in a vineyard near the farming town of Rawsonville on New Year’s Day.

    Police have released a picture of a necklace that was found on one of the women in the hope that someone may recognise it.

    If anyone does recognise it, they should contact

    Warrant Officer Gideon Geldenhuys of the Rawsonville police at 079 497 4992.

     

    An officer at the Rawsonville police station said that fingerprints were taken from the victims and investigating officers were waiting to see whether results would lead them to an identity.

    Since Wednesday, no one has stepped forward to open a missing person’s case in the area, nor has there been any response to the police’s appeal to the public for information that could lead to the identification of the women and the arrest of a suspect.

    On Wednesday, police remained tight-lipped on the murder docket and the victims.

    No meaningful description of either of the women was given in a police press release on the incident – the victims were identified merely as two women in their late twenties.

    The man who discovered one of the bodies, Pieter Muller, a farmworker on Witelsboom farm in the Slanghoek Valley, said it was too decomposed and swollen to make any meaningful inferences about the woman’s appearance.

    Speaking to the Cape Argus on Wednesday, Muller described the scene where the body was discovered as “horrific”.

    “I have not been able to sleep since I saw her rigged up in the wires of the vineyard like that. It was truly awful. The image is just replaying in my head,” he said.

     

    daneel.knoetze@inl.co.za

    Cape Argus


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    There were tears of joy and sobs of heartache as matriculants picked up their results across the Western Cape.

    |||

    Western Cape - There were tears of joy and sobs of heartache on Thursday as matriculants picked up their results.

    At Rustenburg Girls’ High School, traditionally one of the city’s top performing schools, the mood was upbeat. It was the number one school in the city last year and this year it boasted a 100 percent pass rate.

    But across town in Manenberg, principal Dawood Tregonning of Silverstream High School was grappling with the news that they had one of the lowest pass rates in the Western Cape at 34.2 percent.

    Rustenburg principal Laura Bekker said the school was unlikely to retain its position as the top performing school this year. She attributed this to the fact that fewer matrics wrote exams this year than last.

    The school’s top performer Alexandra Mould, received eight distinctions with an average mark of 93 percent.

    Also among the top performers was Kayla-Paige Raper, 18. Raper, who also received eight distinctions, said she had never achieved results anywhere near as good as the ones she received on Thursday. She will go on to study mechanical engineering.

    There were celebrations all round at Hermanus High School after it scored a 100 percent pass rate.

    The school’s top achiever, Nita Wiegman, 18, was the only Western Cape matriculant to be honoured with an award from the Department of Basic Education.

    She was the second best achiever in the category for quintile 5 schools.

    Her results included 100 percent in maths, 98 percent in physical science and 99 percent in accounting.

    Prinicipal Werner Ladewig said 19 of the school’s candidates had passed with distinction while 31 passed with B symbols. He said the school believed in extending pupils’ knowledge by offering additional subjects like dance and information technology.

    Rondebosch Boys’ High School also celebrated a 100 percent pass rate.

    A disappointed Tregonning told the Cape Argus they “meticulously” followed the syllabus and provided extra weekend classes for their Grade 12 pupils: “We anticipated better and were aiming for at least an 80 percent pass rate.”

    Bronagh Casey, spokeswoman for Education MEC Donald Grant, said the school faced many challenges during the exam period, such as gangsterism in the area, which was “disruptive”.

    “We will continue to support this school in 2013 to ensure that they improve their results,” she said.

    Other poor-performing schools included Naphakade Secondary School in Malmesbury, with a 35.8 percent pass rate, and Simon Estes Music High School in Ottery, with a 36.6 percent pass rate.

    Casey said the top performing school still needed to be identified according to the department’s set criteria and would be announced on January 9. The department will also announce the top individual performers and a range of merit awards in different categories to schools around the province.

    Cape Argus


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    Police are searching for three men believed to be involved in the killing of Western Province cricketer John E Commins.

    |||

    Cape Town - Police are searching for three men believed to be involved in the killing of Western Province cricketer John E Commins.

    The 71-year-old Commins and his wife, 70, were sleeping in separate bedrooms of their home in Newlands on Wednesday evening when they were awoken by three men and tied up, said Lt-Col Andre Traut on Friday.

    “The suspects then ransacked the house, removing an undisclosed amount of cash including foreign currency from the safe, as well as jewellery, before fleeing from the scene in an unknown direction,” Traut said.

    The wife managed to untie herself before going to help Commins in his bedroom, where she found him tied up and dead.

    “Police at this stage believe that the deceased could have been suffocated. There were no signs of any visible injury, however a post mortem will be held to determine the exact cause of death,” said Traut.

    Police believe the three men gained access to the house through an open window in the wife's bedroom.

    Flags are flying at half-mast at Sahara Park Newlands in Cape Town after the news filtered through about the death of Commins.

    “We are deeply sorry to hear the horrific news about John and send our condolences to his family,” said Cricket SA acting CEO Jacques Faul on Friday.

    “What should be a happy occasion at Newlands Ä as we celebrate the Proteas' superb performance against New Zealand Ä has turned into a sad one, and our thoughts are with his wife and family.”

    Commins played 10 matches for the then WP Cricket Union between 1961 and 1968 and, as a leg-spinner, took 27 first-class wickets at an average of 27.77, with a best bowling performance of five for 32.

    He was the youngest brother of former WP CEO Kevin Commins and uncle of John Commins, who represented the Proteas in the 1990s.

    Commins' daughter, Donne, manages many past and present South African cricketers, including Mark Boucher.

    It was decided to postpone a planned farewell for Boucher at Newlands on Thursday to next month, when the Proteas take on Pakistan in Cape Town.

    “We need to recognise the significant role the Commins family has played in cricket in South Africa,” Faul said.

    “Not only did the two Johns play cricket for us and Kevin play a role in the administration of Western Province, but Donne is a very professional agent who has benefited a lot of our cricketers.”

    Western Province Cricket Association president Beresford Williams expressed his “shock and horror” at his passing and extended the condolences of the entire South African cricket family to the Commins family. - Sapa


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    The Abu Dhabi attorney-general while probably decide whether or not to prosecute Professor Cyril Karabus on Sunday.

    |||

    Abu Dhabi -  The decision on whether or not to prosecute Cape Town doctor Professor Cyril Karabus, 77, is likely to go before the Abu Dhabi attorney-general on Sunday.

    Karabus was last in court on Wednesday, for his 13th appearance, following his arrest in August last year on charges of manslaughter and falsifying documents.

    The charges against Karabus, a retired paediatric oncologist and a professor emeritus at UCT, relate to the death of three-year-old Sarah Adel Abdulla, whom he treated for acute myeloid leukaemia in 2000 while doing a locum at the Sheikh Khalifa Medication Centre in Abu Dhabi. Karabus was later tried and found guilty in absentia.

    However, his lawyers were able to overturn the conviction on the grounds that he had no knowledge of the charges or conviction, and had not been able to defend himself. He was recharged following his arrest. On Wednesday the matter was again postponed as the prosecutors have yet to provide the child’s medical records, which would prove or disprove their case.

    Karabus’s attorney, Michael Bagraim, said the judge had indicated that Wednesday’s postponement would be the last. The prosecution was given two court days to produce the child’s file to the attorney-general, who would then make the decision whether or not to proceed with the prosecution.

    The file includes Karabus’s notes, lab reports, and details of the three-week period before he started treating the girl. ”We consider this an empty prosecution,” Bagraim said.

    Weekend Argus


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    Cosatu's Tony Ehrenreich said farm strikes would continue indefinitely until the workers’ demands were met.

    |||

    Cape Town - Wage talks with farmers in the Western Cape have failed, and the farmworker strike will resume on Wednesday, Cosatu announced on Friday.

    Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Cosatu regional secretary Tony Ehrenreich said the strikes would continue indefinitely until the workers’ demands were met.

    Their demands include a R150-per-day wage and a “coherent land reform programme”.

    In November last year, table grape workers in De Doorns started striking, protesting against low wages of around R70 per day, and strikes soon spread to 15 other towns. Violence marred the strikes and two people were killed.

    The strike was called off last month after Agri-SA agreed to negotiations on a farm-by-farm basis.

    Ehrenreich and several organisations present at the press conference, including the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu), Women on Farms and the Commercial Stevedoring Agricultural and Allied Workers Union (CSAAWU), said last month’s strikes were not organised by the unions. They had, however, undertaken to negotiate with the government and Agri-SA on the workers’ behalf.

    Ehrenreich added that negotiations undertaken on a farm-by-farm basis had not gone ahead. Farmers had stalled the process, and in the few cases where farmers had been willing to negotiate, “no substantial progress had been made”.

    Activist Nosey Pieterse, representing the Bawsi Agricultural Workers Union of South Africa, said the farmers had shown a “hardening of the heart”.

    “The workers agreed at a mass meeting held in Franschhoek on Thursday that they will strike until a negotiating partner comes to the table,” he said.

    Ehrenreich said the strike would take place “primarily in the Western Cape”, but could spread to other areas as the R150-per-day demand was a national one.

    Fawu provincial organiser Sandile Keni said the union was still willing to negotiate with farmers, but that they would also be making a call at a later stage to other industries represented by the union who might also go on strike.

    The organisations added that they were appealing for an international boycott of the farmers.

    Ehrenreich said they were calling on big international communities and companies to stand up against the low wages paid to farmworkers.

    CSAAWU assistant secretary general Karl Swart said the boycott was pay-back for the “economic boycott” that farmers imposed on workers, by not paying wages, or living wages, which affected all aspects of their lives.

    “We are calling for an international fruit and wine boycott so these people know that this is blood fruit and blood wine,” he said.

    Sapa reports Agri-SA as saying that Cosatu has brought nothing but demands and threats of anarchy to the negotiating table.

    President of the farmers’ organisation Johannes Möller said they had made several proposals during talks. These included participating in the process to re-evaluate the minimum wage for workers, and allowing farmers to discuss salaries and bonuses with workers.

    He said if the strike went ahead next week, they would be forced to advise farmers to restructure agriculture. This would probably include moving the farming of labour-intensive commodities to neighbouring countries, where the risk of labour unrest was lower.

    Möller was also critical of Cosatu’s boycott threats.

    “Due to the scarcity of agricultural products, I doubt they will be successful… for one of the governing parts of the tripartite alliance to make threats of sanctions against agriculture is highly irresponsible.”

    bianca.capazorio@inl.co.za

    Weekend Argus


    0 0

    Wage talks with farmers in the Western Cape have failed, and the farmworker strike will resume, Cosatu said.

    |||

    Western Cape - Wage talks with farmers in the Western Cape have failed, and the farmworker strike will resume on Wednesday, Cosatu announced on Saturday.

    Speaking at a press conference, Cosatu regional secretary Tony Ehrenreich said the strikes would continue until demands were met.

    The demands include a minimum daily wage of R150 and “coherent land reforms”.

    In November last year, table grape workers in De Doorns started striking, protesting wages of around R70 a day, and strikes soon spread to 15 other towns. Violence marred the strikes, and two people were killed.

    The strike was called off last month after Agri-SA agreed to negotiations on a farm-by-farm basis.

    Ehrenreich and several organisations present at the press conference, including the Food and Allied Workers Union, Women on Farms and the Commercial Stevedoring Agricultural and Allied Workers Union, said last month’s strikes were not organised by the unions. They did, however, undertake to negotiate with the government and Agri-SA on behalf of the workers.

    Ehrenreich added that negotiations undertaken on a farm-by-farm basis had not gone ahead. Farmers had stalled the process and, in the few cases where farmers had been willing to negotiate, “no substantial progress had been made”.

    Activist Nosey Pieterse, representing the Black Association of the Wine and Spirits Industry, said the farmers had shown a “hardening of the heart”.

    “The workers agreed at a mass meeting held in Franschhoek on Thursday that they will strike until a negotiating partner comes to the table,” he said.

    Ehrenreich said the strike would take place “primarily in the Western Cape”, but could spread to other areas, as the demand for a daily wage of R150 was a national one.

    Fawu provincial organiser Sandile Keni said the union was still willing to negotiate with farmers, but that they would also be making a call at a later stage to other industries represented by the union, who might also go on strike. Fawu added that they were also appealing for an international boycott of the farm produce.

    Ehrenreich said they were calling on big international communities and companies to stand up against the low wages paid to farmworkers.

    CSAAWU assistant secretary-general Karl Swart said the boycott was payback for the “economic boycott” that farmers imposed on workers by not paying wages or living wages, which affected all aspects of their lives.

    “We are calling for an international fruit and wine boycott so these people know that this is blood fruit and blood wine,” he said.

    Agri-SA has been reported as saying that Cosatu had brought nothing but demands and threats of anarchy to the negotiating table.

    The president of the farmers’ organisation, Johannes Möller, said they had made several proposals during talks.

    These included participating in the process to re-evaluate the minimum wage for workers, and allowing farmers to discuss salaries and bonuses with workers.

    He said that if the strike went ahead next week, they would be forced to advise farmers to restructure agriculture.

    This would probably include moving the farming of labour-intensive commodities to neighbouring countries, where the risk of labour unrest was lower.

    Möller was also critical of Cosatu’s boycott threats.

    “Due to the scarcity of agricultural products, I doubt they will be successful.

    “For one of the governing parts of the tripartite alliance to make threats of sanctions against agriculture is highly irresponsible.” - Sunday Independent


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