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  • 01/28/13--04:17: Man dies in shack fire
  • A man died in a shack fire in Gugulethu on Monday morning, a Cape Town city official said.


    Cape Town - A man died in a shack fire in Gugulethu on Monday morning, a Cape Town city official said.

    The blaze started around 3.20am at the Barcelona informal settlement, disaster risk centre spokesman Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said.

    Three shacks were destroyed, displacing three people.

    Zanemzula Maxwell Mkunqwna, 37, sustained serious burns and died at the scene. The fire was extinguished just after 4am. The cause was being investigated.


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    A shoot-out with police took place when the driver of a minibus taxi refused to pull over in Philippi.


    Cape Town - A shoot-out with police took place when the driver of a minibus taxi refused to pull over in Philippi.

    At 3.45am yesterday police officers signalled the minibus taxi to pull over near the bus depot in Philippi East.

    The taxi driver, however, attempted to flee and passengers opened fire on the officers, according to provincial police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel André Traut.

    “Police returned fire and after a pursuit the vehicle was stopped,” he said.

    He said one of the occupants of the taxi was wounded during the shoot-out. Four others were arrested as they attempted to flee. Five other occupants were also taken in, but were later released.

    “The circumstances are being investigated and their motive for shooting at the police still needs to be determined,” Traut said.

    Meanwhile, three people were arrested for being in possession of an illegal firearm in Johndown Walk in Hanover Park.

    Around midnight on Saturday the three suspectswere searched by officers on patrol in the area, according to the police.

    They were found with a 9mm Z88 firearm in their possession. The firearm’s serial number had been filed off. Sources said it was believed to be a police firearm, but Traut said that the ownership of the weapon was yet to be determined.

    The three suspects were detained and are expected to appear in court today.

    Cape Argus

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    Police found 24-year-old Devan Claasen lying between two blocks of flats. He was shot in the head outside his home.


    Cape Town - Police found the body of Devan Claasen lying on the ground between two blocks of flats in Hanover Park at 10pm last night.

    The 24-year-old painter had been shot in the head outside his home in the block known as Recife Court, where he lived with his parents and three siblings.

    Claasen’s family believes he was the victim of a gangster’s gun, in an area where gangsterism is prevalent.

    Nobody knows exactly what happened. Claasen had gone outside at about 9.40pm, when the blocks of flats were striped by the dark shadows of night and the eerie yellow light from the lampposts. Shots rang out.

    Claasen’s last words before he died were aimed at the children from the block of flats – he shouted at them to get inside.

    “He was a very humble and decent guy; he would always be there for you when you asked him for help,” said his heartbroken younger brother Deon this morning.

    “We still all lived together here at the flat and Devan was not a member of a gang.

    “But he had friends who were linked to certain gangs and that was the problem.

    “These people, they see you walking or talking with somebody who is a member of another gang and they assume you are a member of that gang too. That is how it works here.”

    Devan’s mother, Mary, was too distraught to speak about her son this morning.

    The last time Deon saw his brother alive was early yesterday when he left for work at Cape Town International Airport.

    “The gangs around here ruin our lives. They are an everyday influence and it is very bad.

    “Just think of the children who have to grow up here and live through all of this,” Deon Claasen said.

    Police liaison officer Lieutenant-Colonel Andre Traut said police were investigating the shooting and a possible link to gangsterism.

    Devan Claasen was declared dead at the scene by a paramedic, Traut said.

    “The circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting of Devan are unknown at this stage and no one has been arrested as yet,” Traut said.

    “We will also investigate if the shooting was gang related.

    “A murder case docket was registered.”

    Cape Argus

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    The police ministry is still contemplating whether to approach the Constitutional Court over the establishment of the Khayelitsha commission of inquiry.


    Cape Town - The police ministry is still contemplating whether to approach the Constitutional Court over the establishment of the Khayelitsha commission of inquiry.

    “We are still considering that. We are to engage with the legal team and no final decision has been reached on the process,” police spokesman Zweli Mnisi said.

    “We will issue a statement by late this afternoon (Monday) or maybe tomorrow.”

    The Social Justice Coalition (SJC) earlier said Mthethwa's legal team contacted it on Monday to ask for an address to serve Constitutional Court appeal papers at.

    “They are serving the papers on our correspondent attorneys in Johannesburg. It is expected today but I wouldn't be surprised if it's tomorrow,” SJC lawyer Sanja Bornman (SUBS: CORRECT) told Sapa.

    Western Cape premier Helen Zille established the commission in August last year to investigate the state of policing in the Cape Town community, following a spate of vigilante killings by Khayelitsha residents.

    Zille tasked the commission with investigating allegations of a breakdown in relations between residents and police members.

    Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa approached the Western Cape High Court late last year for an urgent interdict against the commission's establishment, arguing it would affect the independence of the SA Police Service (SAPS). His application was dismissed in mid-January.

    The commission had been due to complete its work and hand in a completed report by February 24.

    Commission secretary Amanda Dissel said this work would not be completed in time because of the complexity of the issues being dealt with.

    It planned to begin with its hearings towards the end of February and would announce dates closer to the time.

    It had written to Zille asking for an extension of the deadline for the submission of its report.

    Zille's spokesman Zak Mbhele said on Monday the premier was still considering the request.

    “We are considering the request for the commission's timeframe to be extended by another six months to August. We need to look at the budgetary implications of doing that,” he said.

    The commission had invited Khayelitsha residents to visit its local office between 9am and 1pm on weekends, until February 28, to make statements.

    Those who could not make it during the week were invited to make an appointment on Saturdays. - Sapa

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    A man and a woman have appeared court for alleged possession of “magic” mushrooms due for usage at a trance party, police said.


    George, Western Cape - A man and a woman have appeared in the George Magistrate's Court for alleged possession of “magic” mushrooms worth about R20 000 on the street, Western Cape police said on Tuesday.

    Captain Malcolm Pojie said the 25-year-old man and 23-year-old woman were arrested on Friday. They appeared in court the same day.

    The woman could not be linked to the crime and was released. The man was granted bail of R1500 bail and the case was postponed until July 25.

    They were arrested on Friday, after police received a tip-off about a package of drugs at George post office.

    “With the... stake-out that ensued, members witnessed how a man who was accompanied by women took possession of the suspicious package,” Pojie said.

    “Further information revealed that the package was posted to George from Kokstad (in KwaZulu-Natal) and destined for usage or distribution at a trance party in George.”

    The package contained 390g of mushrooms. - Sapa

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    Western Cape police have arrested a man with contraband cigarettes worth R310 000.


    Cape Town - A man has been arrested for possession of contraband cigarettes in Bellville, Western Cape police said on Tuesday.

    Captain Frederick van Wyk said the 24-year-old was arrested on Monday following a tip-off.

    “(Police) spotted a white Mercedes-Benz panel van which drove into the premises of a residence. The driver got out of the vehicle and started unloading boxes,” said van Wyk.

    Police confiscated 50 boxes each containing 50 cartons of cigarettes, worth an estimated R310 000 on the street.

    The Jordanian man was expected to appear soon in the Bellville Magistrate's Court. - Sapa

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    Police have warned of the dangers of using classifieds sites after a woman was hijacked by a man who saw her ad on Gumtree.


    Cape Town - Police have warned of the potential dangers of buying or selling using classifieds websites such as Gumtree.

    This comes after a 46-year-old woman was hijacked at gunpoint in Kenilworth on Sunday by a man who said he was interested in buying a watch she had advertised on Gumtree.

    She arranged to meet the man at about 5pm in the McDonald’s parking lot on the corner of Wetton Road and Rosmead Avenue.

    A few minutes later a witness saw a VW Polo speeding across the Wetton Road bridge over the M5.

    The witness went to the McDonald’s car park where he spoke to the woman. She told him the hijacker, who identified himself as “Clint”, had asked to be driven to an ATM.

    Seconds after getting into the car, Clint pulled out his firearm and pushed her out of the car. He tried to speed off, but a nearby ADT guard was alerted and opened fire, wounding Clint.

    Clint returned fire and drove down Wetton Road, where the witness saw him crash into a vehicle at an intersection. No one was injured.

    Clint ran up the street and got into a waiting red car, which sped off.

    Traut said: “While these classifieds sites are great, free-of-charge platforms to advertise your goods, people need to be aware that criminals exploit websites such as Gumtree to target victims. A site like Gumtree gives criminals the necessary opportunity to do their homework, to gather information about you and/or a product and then to formulate a plan for a crime.”

    Hanif Loonat, chairman of the province’s community police forum, said offences originating from interactions on Gumtree had been “creeping into crime stats” over the past three years at an alarming rate.

    This latest incident comes a few weeks before four men accused of murdering 21-year-old Olwyn Cowley go on trial in the Western Cape High Court.

    Cowley disappeared on August 30 after setting out to meet people who were interested in buying his BMW 325ti, which he had advertised on Gumtree. His body was found at Monwabisi beach near Khayelitsha the next day. He had been shot in the head. His abandoned car was found in Mitchells Plain.

    Traut advised the following:

    * Be cautious of anyone met through online interactions, whether on classifieds websites or elsewhere. Automatically consider that they could be a potential danger.

    * Always arrange to meet prospective buyers/sellers in safe environments where there are many people around and only during daylight hours. He said the space outside police stations could be used to deter criminals.

    * Always inform loved ones of your whereabouts before meeting a prospective buyer/seller.

    * Meet prospective buyers/sellers while being accompanied by friends or trusted acquaintances.

    Cape Argus

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    Khayelitsha kids whose parents say they are unable to find places for them at local schools have started attending classes in a church.


    Cape Town -

    About 80 Khayelitsha children whose parents claim they have been unable to find places for them at local schools have started attending classes in a one-roomed church, where they are being taught by volunteers.

    On Monday, Grade 1 to 4 pupils at the makeshift school in Zwelitsha were reading and writing inside the room, some seated next to a pulpit.

    Outside, Grade R pupils were singing songs with a teacher while Grade 5, 6 and 7 pupils sat on benches in the shade, writing in their books.

    Grade 4 teacher Pamela Kaba said the school’s 12 voluntary teachers all had the necessary qualifications. The school opened on Friday.

    The situation in Zwelitsha has been in the spotlight for almost two weeks.

    At a press conference last week, Education MEC Donald Grant said that on the first day of school the Western Cape Education Department was provided with a list of 400 children needing placement.

    But the department found that most of the children were already enrolled in schools and only 138 actually needed places.

    Grant said that when officials went to the area in the first week of the school year, they were locked inside a school building by residents demanding that a mobile school be built.

    Grant said officials and the Khayelitsha Development Forum had met 50 principals in Khayelitsha and established that 686 places were available in primary schools and 120 in secondary schools.

    A registration point was set up at the forum’s offices on Thursday.

    On Monday, Mayor Sizani, who has two children attending the church school, said all the nearby schools were full.

    “To get there to the registration point is too far and I don’t have money for a taxi.”

    Sizani said that even if the department agreed to transport the children to existing schools, he felt that they were still too young for this.

    Another parent, Zanele Ntunzi, who brought her son to school, said she did not know the department had set up a registration point.

    “I’m happy about this school because it’s not far from my home.”

    Bronagh Casey, spokeswoman for Grant, said the department had received reports of the “so-called” school.

    “It is unfortunate that the Zwelitsha community has not heeded our call to register at one of our schools. The department has already matched the 138 learners on the list given to us by the community with schools in Khayelitsha in their relevant grades. We will continue to try and engage with these parents through different communication channels,” she said.

    A sign would be placed at the school on Tuesday. It would say that the school was unregistered, and any child attending classes there was not officially at school. There would also be a telephone number which parents could call if they wanted to register their child.

    “The department has fulfilled its obligation to ensure that there are places for these learners. The parents must fulfil their duties by ensuring that they enrol their children at a school,” Casey said. “Parents are reminded that failing to enrol their child is in clear violation of the law.”

    Cape Argus

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    A Cape community have rallied behind a “trusted” informal car guard who they say is being victimised with fines from metro police.


    Cape Town - The Muizenberg community have rallied behind a “trusted” informal car guard who they say is being victimised with fines from the metro police for accepting money from motorists.

    Charles Mbalanda was recently fined by metro police after they saw a motorist pay him R20 for looking after his car and possessions.

    Mbalanda has been working at the parking lot in front of Gary’s Surf School in Muizenberg for six years and is trusted not only to watch people’s cars while they surf or swim but he has also held on to their car keys and other belongings.

    Mbalanda was fined R200 by metro police for accepting money from a motorist and a further R500 after arguing about the fine.

    “I have been working here for six years with no problems, I don’t steal. They saw someone give me money and I asked why I’m being fined because I am not robbing anyone or doing anything wrong,” Mbalanda said.

    Muizenberg residents are up in arms that Mbalanda is being given fines, saying he adds security to the area.

    Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith said that while the city did not have a formal process for car guards to operate legally they took action in terms of the National Road Act when there were complaints about car guards.

    Muizenberg resident, Tony Rozemeyer said: “I have supported Charles for a long time. I don’t understand how him watching our cars and being paid for it is an offence. This man is highly trusted, he could’ve driven off with my car long ago and he never asked for a cent. Everyone just trusts him and supports him.

    “We understand metro police have to enforce the law but he is not soliciting money in any way so it’s not an offence the way he (Mbalanda) is doing it. If anything, if Charlie is not here then all kinds of guys and even kids pitch up to solicit money from people for watching their cars,” Rozemeyer said.

    Residents have started a petition which has around 300 signatures in support of Mbalanda and condemning the metro police’s actions and saying he was being discriminated against.

    Gary Kleynhans, owner of Gary’s Surf School, said: “Charlie’s been here for a long time, people trust him. Before he came there were some radical car guards here, all kinds of things were happening and guys even got into fights over R2. Weekends when other car guards are here, metro police have no problem so it’s clear he’s being victimised.”

    Smith said law enforcement officers often turned a blind eye to informal car guards as they have become generally accepted in South African cities as people who are not formally employed seeking income.

    “However, when there are complaints from the public who feel threatened or who have been harassed, law enforcement staff must intervene and deal with the situation accordingly,” Smith said.

    He said in this instance, the area has had disturbances and riotous behaviour by informal car guards.

    “If the actions of the car guards do not generate complaints and the people in the area think they are adding value, the city is not trying to impose a prohibition that would be largely unworkable and would prevent people from trying to earn some form of income in the context of serious unemployment all around us.

    “The problem is with the conduct of certain ‘informal car guards’ who threaten, intimidate or even damage cars when they don’t get their way or are not ‘paid’,” Smith said.

    Cape Times

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    A mentally handicapped Gugulethu man has died in a shack fire his brother says was started by a burning cigarette.


    Cape Town -

    A mentally challenged man has died in a shack fire in Gugulethu and his brother is adamant the fire was started by a burning cigarette.

    The body of Zanemzula Mkunqwana, 37, was found by firefighters after the blaze in the shack was doused by 4am in the Barcelona settlement.

    Cape Town disaster risk management spokesman Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said the fire destroyed four adjacent shacks, leaving seven people homeless.

    Mkunqwana’s brother, Nkululeko Apleni, 33, said they and their cousin, Anele Mkunqwana, 30, were asleep in the shack when the fire broke out just after 3am.

    He believes the fire was started by a burning cigarette outside the shack.

    “Youths smoke at night and early morning. They just drop their cigarettes on the ground and I firmly believe it started the fire,” Apleni said.

    “We could not get (Zanemzula) out of the shack because it was too dangerous.”

    Throwing his hands in the air, Apleni said: “I am saddened by the death of my only brother... he was a true friend.”

    The city’s disaster response team have provided food parcels, blankets and building material.

    Some of the victims of the fire in Khayelitsha’s BM Section informal settlement are still staying in the OR Tambo Hall. The New Year’s Day fire destroyed more than 821 shacks. More than 4 000 people were left homeless by the blaze and most were moved to the hall.

    About 200 people are left at the hall. Most of them say they are fed up with the cold floor and lack of privacy.

    Loyisa Thamo, 23, wants the government to start building houses to “put an end to unfairness”. She is staying in the hall with her six-year-old daughter, Liyema, and year-old son, Lwazi. “We don’t deserve this. We have been living here for a month and it is becoming unbearable.”

    Land next to the hall has been earmarked for homes for the fire victims and construction has begun.

    Cape Times

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    The mother of the Cape Town student who was beaten into a coma at the weekend said her son’s condition was not improving.


    Cape Town - The mother of the first-year college student who was beaten into a coma at the weekend said her son’s condition was not improving.

    Jean Lambrechts, 19, was out with friends in Edward Street in Bellville in the early hours of Saturday, heading towards Stones, a club and pool hall.

    While moving through an underground car park Lambrechts and his four friends were apparently intercepted by a gang of eight men. Lambrechts’s friend, Juan Strydom, said the men were well-dressed and “seemed like they had been at the clubs”. The men immediately started threatening them.

    “The big guy pulled off his shirt and asked us if we wanted to start something,” he said.

    When Lambrechts intervened to try to calm things down he reportedly caught a punch on the jaw.

    “They stomped on his head twice, I could see him lying on the ground and they just kept kicking him,” said Strydom. Then the gang descended on him and he was forced to defend himself.

    Lambrechts was rushed to hospital, where doctors discovered he had bleeding into the brain. During an emergency operation, in which his skull was opened, two clots of blood were removed.

    His mother, Henrieta Sauer, said he had not opened his eyes or spoken a word since the incident.

    Apart from a small reduction in the swelling on his face, the Prestige Academy student had shown no signs of improvement. And now he was running a fever of 39ºC (normal is 37ºC).

    Sauer and her daughter have been staying at the hospital, trying everything to get a response from her son, from talking to him to tickling his feet.

    “I would give anything just to have him open his eyes,” said Sauer. “If he has other problems after that, I can deal with that. I can walk down that road with him.”

    Sauer said she wanted to thank everyone for their messages of support.

    “I’m getting SMSes from complete strangers and they are helping me through this terrible time.”

    Meanwhile, Steven Harmsen called the Cape Argus and said he had been involved a similar incident six years ago.

    “I was coming out of the Stones club in Table View when a gang of guys attacked me and my friend,” said Harmsen.

    The attackers were well-dressed and didn’t seem like gangsters. One of the men had a length of rope with keys dangling from the end which he used to whip them.

    “In the end I had cuts all over my body and face, and bruises everywhere,” said Harmsen. “We reported it to the police but never heard about it again.”

    Cape Argus

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    Luella Ritz is counting herself lucky to be alive after a brick was thrown at her car while she was driving to Cape Town’s airport.


    Cape Town - She hit the brakes as the brick smacked into her windscreen. The cars behind her swerved, skidded and hooted.

    Luella Ritz is counting herself lucky to be alive after someone threw a brick at her car while she was driving to Cape Town International Airport on Sunday.

    Ritz, a Joburg radiologist who had been in Cape Town for a conference, was on her way back from Spier on the N2.

    As she approached the enclosed bridge just before the exit on to the R300, she noticed a group of people looking down from the top.

    “All of a sudden I just heard this ‘smack!’,” she said. “Then I saw a brick bouncing along the road.”

    She said other cars had to swerve to avoid the rebounding projectile.

    “The brick missed the glass section of the windscreen by just a few centimetres… it hit the metal bracket,” she said. “I could’ve been seriously injured or dead.”

    Ritz notified traffic authorities about the incident.

    Rock-throwing on the notorious N2 “hell run” has caused injuries and claimed lives in the past.

    In 2006, Nolan Daniels, 48, died after a piece of brick was flung through his windscreen. The projectile struck his head and the Kuils River man later succumbed to his injury in hospital.

    Last June, former Proteas spinner Paul Adams was driving along the N2 in Cape Town when a brick hit his windscreen. The Cape Cobras coach wasn’t injured.

    Police said there hadn’t been any reported incidents of rock-throwing on the N2 in recent months, but they have urged motorists to come forward and report incidents.

    Police added that motorists should not stop their cars after being struck with a brick as it was often a ploy by criminals to hijack vehicles or rob their occupants.

    Robin Carlisle, Western Cape transport MEC, said however sporadic these incidents were they were unacceptable.

    He said a project was under way to deal with the problem, with options such as taller barriers on the pedestrian bridges, security cameras and more visible policing.

    “We take this issue very seriously and are intent on sorting it out,” he told the Cape Argus on Monday.

    Cape Argus

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    An executive in a company owned by the Guptas donated money to the DA, its leader Helen Zille said.


    Cape Town - An executive in a company owned by the Guptas donated money to the DA, its leader Helen Zille said on Tuesday.

    She said the DA made a “commitment of confidentiality” to its donors, but that media reports claiming she had solicited funds from the Guptas had prompted her to speak on the matter.

    “When I heard this, I decided to take the unprecedented step of telephoning our donor to ask him to release me from our commitment of confidentiality,” she said in a statement.

    “He declined. He said he did not want his name in the papers. He is not a Gupta. He is an executive in a company owned by the Guptas,” said Zille.

    “I gave him the undertaking I would not mention his name, but I said, given the wild and unfounded speculation (masquerading as fact), I would have to set the record straight.”

    Unsourced reports about funding for the DA surfaced on Saturday.

    The Weekend Argus quoted unnamed sources as saying Zille went to the Gupta family's estate in Saxonwold, Johannesburg, in 2011 to ask for a donation.

    She left with a “substantial” cheque, believed to be several hundred thousand rand, the paper reported.

    Zille said in the run-up to the 2009 elections, DA North West leader Chris Hattingh contacted the fund-raising office, and said a long-standing acquaintance of his wanted to donate to the party's election campaign.

    Zille met the donor and received a R200 000 pledge.

    “The donor then suggested that I come and fetch the cheque at the Guptas' house in Saxonwold, and it transpired that he was a senior executive in one of the Guptas' companies.

    “I and my colleague Ian Davidson duly went to the Guptas' home, ate some of the most delicious food I have ever eaten, and received the cheque for R200 000 from the individual,” she said.

    It was a personal cheque from his personal bank account and did not come from a Gupta company or from the Guptas.

    The businessman pledged another R100 000 in his personal capacity later during the campaign, said Zille.

    In 2010, when he pledged another R100 000, the cheque was made out in the name of a company of which the donor is a senior executive. This company was either partially or wholly-owned by the Guptas, said Zille.

    It was not one of their known companies like Sahara Computers or The New Age newspaper.

    In 2011, Hattingh asked Zille to approach the executive again.

    “By this time, I was becoming concerned about news stories linking donations from companies associated with the Guptas to the ANC's power abuse and political patronage,” she said.

    “Even though it was stressed that the person would make the donation in his individual capacity, I did not think it wise to pursue the relationship. I therefore declined the request for an appointment.”

    The same happened in 2012 and Zille declined the meeting again.

    On Monday, The New Age newspaper quoted ANC Western Cape leader Marius Fransman as saying the DA had received a R4 million donation last week, and had used the money to refurbish its offices in Cape Town.

    Zille said there was a risk associated with the confidentiality of donors.

    “Such as the opportunity this creates for people with malicious agendas - such as Marius Fransman - to invent insane allegations, such as that the DA received R4 million from the Guptas to renovate our Cape Town offices,” she said.

    “That is so ludicrous that most thinking people would just dismiss it.” - Sapa

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  • 01/29/13--03:36: ‘Worst fire in 30 years’
  • Homes have been gutted and farms evacuated in a Franschhoek blaze described as the worst to hit the area in 30 years.


    Western Cape - Homes have been gutted and residents of two farms were evacuated on Monday night in the Franschhoek blaze that has been described as the worst to hit the area in at least 30 years.

    Working on Fire’s Linton Rensburg said helicopters and water bombers had been out since first light on Tuesday morning.

    “Five teams – comprising 25 crew members each – also arrived from the Eastern Cape and the Free State on Tuesday morning and were deployed. Another five teams are now on standby in other provinces, too.”

    Reinforcements from Port Elizabeth’s fire department were due to arrive this afternoon.

    In Franschhoek, residents, firefighters and volunteers battled a blaze throughout the night to keep flames away from homes.

    About 6 200 hectares of veld have been burnt.

    At Wemmershoek Dam, residents fought fires in their backyards until the early hours of Tuesday morning to save their houses.

    “It was an amazing sight – the whole community just got together and helped.

    “It was worrying, because all through the night trees came crashing down around us and some of the roads were blocked,” said Wemmershoek Dam resident Eugene Williams.

    “Many of us haven’t slept a wink, and you’ll see people standing side by side with the firemen up the hill. I’ve lived here for 30 years.

    “We get fires from time to time, but I have never experienced anything like this.”

    The residents of two Franschhoek farms, Durr and Edenvale, were evacuated on Monday night, and two buildings were gutted.

    On D’Le Arc Orleans, sprinklers were running around the clock to save fields of lucerne as flames were bearing down on the farm.

    Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said there have been no reports of death or serious injury relating to the Franschhoek fires.

    Provincial traffic chief Kenny Africa said the Huguenot Tunnel at Du Toit’s Kloof was still open on Tuesday morning, but warned of reduced visibility because of thick smoke on the road network between Franschhoek and Paarl.

    At Val de Vie wine, polo and residential estate near Paarl, firefighters were working on the northern perimeter fence to keep flames from the property.

    Marketing director Ryk Neethling said: “The fire jumped the R301 at around 1am this morning. But we cleared a piece of land a few weeks ago – to prevent the land from being able to be set alight – and that saved us. The wind was exceptionally strong, the flames around four storeys high, so if we had not cleared that land, we could have been in trouble.

    “But the fire is under control and we are not under threat.”


    With fires raging across the province and a spate of fires in the City of Cape Town over the past 24 hours, resources were thinly stretched, said Royston Harris, station commander for the Cape Winelands fire department.

    Harris said the situation had reached code red status and the heat and windy conditions that spurred the fires on since Sunday were expected to continue today.

    “We are expecting winds of 40 knots and temperatures around 37°C. This makes our job increasingly difficult,” said Harris.

    The Cape Town fire department has been fighting fires in Atlantis, Mitchells Plain, Eerste River, Mfuleni and Gugulethu since yesterday.

    In the Cederberg near Clanwilliam, a fire has been burning since last week. About 25 000ha have burnt outside Clanwilliam since a lightning strike sparked the blaze.

    Liesl Brink, spokeswoman for CapeNature, whose volunteers are assisting fire departments across the province, said fires had also been reported around Tulbagh, Eden Valley and Uniondale.

    “In addition to the ground resources, Working on Fire Western Cape has also deployed 10 helicopter water bombers, eight spotter planes and eight fixed-wing water bombers and 37 pilots to the Western Cape to assist with suppressing these veld fires,” said Shane Christian, Working on Fire’s general manager.

    “Aerial firefighting resources have become a critical component of integrated fire management and they play a leading role in quickly suppressing fires in an initial aerial attack which consists of water bombing fires.”

    Harris said firefighters would be dispatched to the upper reaches of the Wemmershoek mountains to battle the flames where they were most intense.

    He said Paarl was not in immediate danger, but with an unfavourable wind direction, the flames are still moving in the direction of the N1. On the other side of the Huguenot tunnel, the fire is reportedly making its way down Du Toit’s Kloof.

    Meanwhile, Sapa reported on Tuesday morning that the fire on the Cederberg mountain has been contained.


    Cape Argus

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    Accountant Graham Maddock continued his technical testimony in the Fidentia embezzlement case in the Western Cape High Court.


    Cape Town - Accountant Graham Maddock continued his technical testimony in the Fidentia embezzlement case in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday.

    Prosecutor Jannie van Vuuren led Maddock through numerous pages of Fidentia Holdings' bank account records from 2003.

    When asked who instructed him to pay certain clients from this account, Maddock often replied “Mr Brown”, to which former Fidentia Asset Management chief executive J Arthur Brown shook his head.

    Brown has been charged with four counts of fraud, two counts of corruption, one count of money-laundering and two counts of theft.

    Van Vuuren asked the accountant about a R210 000 payment that June for “Paradys Eiland”.

    “Paradys Eiland was a property in Hartenbos that the company purchased because it had an interest in it,” Maddock explained.

    Judge Anton Veldhuizen wanted to know which company he was referring to. Maddock said he was referring to Fidentia Holdings.

    “It was a piece of ground that the group wished to develop,” he said.

    Veldhuizen asked who the ground was registered to, or who the contact person was, but Maddock could not recall.

    “I never saw the land, but I believe it was undeveloped,” Maddock said.

    Van Vuuren quizzed him about a payment described as motor vehicle costs in May 2003 to Table Bay Motors.

    Maddock explained that four cars were purchased from the dealer; two Toyota Saharas and two Toyota Lexus'. Van Vuuren said the invoice also showed towbars and fridges were bought for each of these vehicles, which Maddock confirmed.

    The biggest chunk of money that went missing from Fidentia was R1.47 billion invested by the Living Hands Umbrella Trust, which paid money from the mineworkers' provident fund to the widows and orphans of workers killed in mine accidents.

    The Transport Education and Training Authority had invested about R245 million.

    The trial continues. - Sapa

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  • 01/29/13--04:07: By-elections for KZN, WCape
  • The Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal will hold three by-elections on Wednesday.


    Johannesburg - The Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal will hold three by-elections on Wednesday, the IEC said.

    More than 22 000 people had registered to cast their votes in the three wards, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said in a statement on Tuesday.

    In KwaZulu-Natal, members of the African National Congress and the Democratic Alliance were expected to challenge each other for the position of uMngeni municipality councillor. The ward was previously represented by a DA member who had since resigned.

    Two by-elections were scheduled for the Western Cape. One for the city of Cape Town and another for the Witzenburg municipality.

    In Cape Town, the ANC, the Congress of the People, the National Freedom Party, the United Democratic Movement, and the DA would contest a ward previously held by a DA member whose party membership had been cancelled.

    In Witzenburg, three ANC members, an NFP candidate and DA member were contesting a ward also previously held by a DA member whose membership had been cancelled.

    Eighteen voting stations would be open from 7am until 9pm on Wednesday. - Sapa

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    An Abu Dhabi prosecutor has given up his search for the missing original records that are required to prosecute professor Cyril Karabus.


    Cape Town - An Abu Dhabi prosecutor has given up his more than five-month search for the missing original records that are required by the judge to prosecute Cape Town professor Cyril Karabus – a development which could see Karabus finally being set free.

    Karabus’s lawyer, Michael Bagraim, said yesterday that the prosecutor had indicated that he planned to ask the court to drop the three-year-sentence imposed on Karabus.

    Karabus, 77, of Kenilworth, was tried and convicted in absentia in the United Arab Emirates in 2002, and sentenced to three years for falsifying documents and six months for manslaughter.

    This was after he worked as a locum at the Sheikh Khalifa Medical Centre in Abu Dhabi in 2000.

    Prosecutors argued that he failed to give a blood transfusion to a three-year-old Yemeni cancer patient during an operation. She later died of myeloid leukaemia.

    His sentence also included paying about R230 000 “blood money” to the victim’s family.

    A specialist paediatric oncologist, Karabus has been detained since August 18.

    Bagraim said that if the court dropped the main charge of falsifying documents, the second charge of manslaughter for supposedly not giving a blood transfusion to the patient was also likely to be dropped.

    “The prosecutor has informed our attorneys in Abu Dhabi that they have now given up on the search and that without the originals they can’t press ahead with the forgery charge,” he said.

    Bagraim believes they have “overcome 90 percent of the hurdle” towards bringing Karabus home, as the first charge carried a heavy sentence.

    Cape Argus

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    Police divers and sea rescue volunteers continued their search for a man who was swept from rocks at the whale-watching point near Gordon’s Bay.


    Cape Town - Police divers and sea rescue volunteers continued today their search for a man who was swept from rocks at the whale-watching point near Gordon’s Bay.

    The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Gordon’s Bay duty crew were called at 1.40pm yesterday when a drowning was reported, said spokesman Craig Lambinon.

    NSRI boats and other emergency services went to the scene, where a man’s colleagues reported that the victim had been swept off a rock and that he had disappeared under water almost immediately.

    “Information from the missing man’s colleagues is that the missing man is a construction worker on a Gordon’s Bay building site who had joined colleagues at lunch time on the sea front, on rocks, when a wave swept the man off the rocks,” Lambinon said.

    During a search that continued till dusk yesterday, police divers and rescue volunteers failed to find any sign of the man.

    The search resumed at 8am.

    Cape Argus

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    A news report on a contract between the Western Cape and TBWA/Hunt Lascaris is incorrect, the provincial government said.


    Cape Town - A news report on Tuesday on a contract between the Western Cape and marketing agency TBWA/Hunt Lascaris is incorrect, the provincial government said.

    “The New Age’s front page lead today is as hysterical, inaccurate and obstinate as a rebuked three-year-old. Fine for a three-year-old Ä not so much for a national newspaper,” Western Cape spokesman Nick Clelland said in a statement.

    “The headline and story are factually inaccurate, misleading and clearly motivated by animus (ill-will). Consequently, we will be submitting a formal complaint to the Press Ombudsman.”

    The newspaper said it would be available to comment later on Tuesday.

    The headline of report read: “Zille in contract fix”.

    According to the article the communications contract was supposed to end on December 31. Documents seen by the newspaper reportedly state that the TBWA/Hunt Lascaris contract had been renewed and the company would be paid R6 million for the first six months of 2013, and a further R1m a month for the remaining six months.

    The documents also reportedly reveal that Western Cape provincial government director general Brent Gerber wrote in a letter at the end of May that there was a decision not to extend the contract, and that premier Helen Zille agreed.

    Clelland said the new contract was an extension of current service.

    “(This is) ... perfectly allowable in terms of the existing contract with TBWA. (It) was made by the director general, not the premier,” he said.

    “This was made clear to the journalist in our response to him yesterday (Monday).”

    Clelland said the extension was done to ensure that the tender process for a new communications contract was correct.

    “This fastidious attention to detail has, as can be expected, taken longer to complete than originally planned.”

    Clelland said The New Age's journalist was told that comments to the newspaper on the issue should be attributed to him, however the report credited Zille's spokesman Zak Mbhele.

    The previous communications tender was awarded to TBWA/Hunt Lascaris in 2010.

    In August 2011, the African National Congress asked Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to investigate whether the contract was irregular, following a report by the Sunday Times that correct supply chain management procedures had not been followed.

    In her final report on the tender, Madonsela made four findings of maladministration and none of unlawfulness. She did not recommend that the contract be scrapped.

    Clelland said the entire exercise was “a storm in a teacup stirred up by our political opponents”.

    “Today’s (Tuesday) instalment is but the latest in a slew of ad-hominem (personal) attacks on Premier Zille over the last week,” he said.

    “(The) ... story read with others on the front page lifts the veil on The New Age and they stand exposed as the political mouthpiece they really are.” - Sapa

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    Women at the SA Infantry School at the Oudtshoorn military base were being humiliated for falling pregnant, the SA National Defence Union said.


    Oudtshoorn - Women at the SA Infantry School at the Oudtshoorn military base were being humiliated for falling pregnant, the SA National Defence Union (Sandu) said on Tuesday.

    “The female members of the SA National Defence Force involved are entitled by their contract of service to full maternity benefits,” spokesman Pikkie Greeff said.

    “This makes the conduct of the commanding officer concerned all the more ludicrous and obscene.”

    In a letter written to Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula on Tuesday, the union called on her to suspend the commanding officer, failing which it would help the women approach the Equality Court.

    SANDF spokesman Xolani Mabanga said he was not aware of the letter.

    On Monday the officer called in at least seven women instructors at the base and reprimanded them “heavily” for falling pregnant, the union wrote in the letter.

    The women were told they were a disgrace to the defence force and would be transferred to other units as they were “unwelcome” at the base.

    “The officer also told them that he would personally apologise to the new recruits for the 'poor quality of instructors' who fall pregnant,” the union wrote.

    A pregnant trainee at the base committed suicide as a result of the treatment, the union claimed.

    Mabanga said Sandu was aware of rules and regulations governing the behaviour of defence force members.

    “Most of those in charge at Sandu were once members of the defence force and are fully aware of the rules regarding the conduct of officers as per the Defence Act.”

    He said the union had a personal agenda against the Oudtshoorn base and its commanding officer.

    “There are females in many other bases who fall pregnant. Why are they concerned about Oudtshoorn only?” Mabanga asked.

    He said the union was fully aware why the woman trainee committed suicide at the base.

    “I do not want to discuss the suicide out of respect for the woman's family... she left a suicide note, the contents of which the union is fully aware.” - Sapa

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