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  • 03/20/13--04:01: Cape goes after rats
  • The City of Cape Town was taking steps to go after the municipality's rat population, the City said.


    Cape Town - The City of Cape Town was taking steps to go after the municipality's rat population, the City said on Wednesday.

    “As with all large cities throughout the world with an ever increasing population, the problem of rat infestation in Cape Town is a reality, but steps are being taken by the City to curb the problem,” said health spokesman Lungiswa James in a statement.

    “The primary cause of rat infestation is the prevalence of food waste.”

    James said in areas with high rat populations, it had been found that some residents dumped their rubbish next to collection bins rather than inside them, or left their rubbish out for days before collection day.

    The city had appointed waste contractors to collect waste in both formal and informal areas, provided rodent-proof dumping containers, and performed on-going community and school education on waste management.

    “Baiting has been increased over the last few years, particularly in the breeding seasons of spring and autumn,” said James.

    The municipality had budgeted R530 843 for rat poisons, with this amount excluding salaries and vehicle costs for teams doing the block baiting.

    Special pest control partnerships had been undertaken in areas well known to be affected by rodents and a complaints-based pest control service was provided to previously disadvantaged communities.

    Business premises such as hotels, restaurants and food outlets were routinely visited by environmental health practitioners and where rodent control was found to be inadequate, the business owner is asked to fix the situation.

    The City had also engaged in a public-private partnership project within the CBD to reduce the rodent population.

    “We appeal to residents to help us curb the rat problem by keeping their area clean of all solid waste, and by disposing of waste correctly,” James said.

    Western Cape premier Helen Zille took to social networking site Twitter to announce that she had been bitten by a rat, The Star reported.

    Zille tweeted her 251 000 followers around 6am on Tuesday: “The weirdest thing just happened. I went to fetch the newspapers at the gate when a rat darted out, and bit me on my toe!” This was retweeted 268 times. Her followers on Twitter were quick to chime in with advice and suggestions which included go to the doctor, improve security at her Leeuwenhof home, and post a photo.

    Later Zille posted: “I have just looked up on Google. It says no one in the US has ever got rabies from a small rodent. But I will ask my doctor. tks for advice.”

    Soon afterwards she uploaded a photograph of her toe.

    Her spokesman Zak Mbhele tweeted: “I know the City Bowl rats are mutant freaks of nature but if they're starting to take nibbles out of people, we're in trouble...” - Sapa

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    One of the founding members of the anti-apartheid SA Cricket Board of Control has been honoured with an honorary doctorate from UWC.


    Cape Town - One of the founding members of the anti-apartheid South African Cricket Board of Control (SACBOC) has been honoured with an honorary doctorate from the University of the Western Cape.

    Hassan Howa was posthumously honoured with an honorary degree (DPhil in Community and Health Sciences) on Monday.

    The university said Howa, who was born in District Six and matriculated from Trafalgar High School, had worked for a family business. He later took up the challenge of cricket administration and the promotion of the sport, and was a founding member of SACBOC in 1947.

    “As the country began to feel the grand impact of the apartheid government on all spheres of life, the right to sport became increasingly prescribed and Howa found it impossible to remain quiet in the face of such injustices. Howa then refused to co-operate with the apartheid-endorsed cricket establishments in the Western Cape,” the university said.

    “He argued for the creation of an overarching body that would transcend all boundaries to pursue non-racist sport and he was instrumental in the founding of the South African Council on Sports, where he lobbied for the expulsion of South Africa from international participation.”

    The university said that through SACBOC, Howa led a fearless campaign throughout the 1970s against “white” cricket.

    He galvanised the support of communities and community organisations, and, with the support of international organisations, the campaign succeeded in ensuring that the Springboks were banned from participation in international cricket.

    “Despite constant harassment and persecution by the security police who kept a close watch on his movements and activities, Howa never relented on his fundamental purpose and mission. The boycott campaign let to the isolation of apartheid sport as part of the international campaign to bring an end to the apartheid regime.”

    Cape Argus

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    The reasons for granting an urgent interdict stopping the closure of 17 schools were handed down by the Western Cape High Court.


     Cape Town - The reasons for granting an urgent interdict stopping the closure of 17 schools were handed down by the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday.

    Judge Elizabeth Baartman briefly entered court room two to explain that the interdict was granted in December and that the court was now providing reasons for the judgment.

    The majority judgment by Baartman and Judge Siraj Desai was not read into the record. The minority judgment by Judge Dennis Davis was also not read in.

    The main reason for granting the interdict rested on the schools' argument that provincial education MEC Donald Grant failed to meaningfully consult with them on the closures.

    The applicants' lawyer Norman Arendse had argued that the Schools Act of SA required Grant to allow schools governing bodies and communities a “reasonable opportunity” to make submissions to him.

    He said that failing to do so amounted to a “material irregularity, which vitiates the closure decisions”.

    Grant announced last year that 27 schools faced possible closure for various reasons. Public hearings were advertised, held and attended by school governing bodies, parents and civil society.

    Following these hearings, Grant announced in October that he had decided to only close 20 of the schools after careful consideration.

    He said these schools either had low enrolment numbers, multi-grade classes or a decline in pupil numbers.

    Desai found that the department's public hearings were conducted in a “peculiar manner”, without two-way debates or any consultation processes.

    “The hearings were patently farcical,” Desai said in his judgment.

    “They were merely platforms for the Western Cape education department to passively listen to the community and then report back to the MEC.”

    He said that public hearings implied at the very least a public dialogue, if not debate, with the elected representatives or delegated officials.

    The court said public hearings assumed greater importance in this matter. The right to a basic education was accorded due importance in the Constitution and the affected schools, largely rural, had an “unfortunate legacy” which had to be prioritised if the imbalances of the past were to be redressed.

    There was also a significant number of schools involved, and each school was located in a marginalised community.

    “Viewed cumulatively, these factors warrant a proper dialogue with the affected communities to enable them to make an informed decision with regard to the future schooling of their children.

    “The public dialogue must be a genuine attempt to reach an agreement which best suits the interests of all and enhances the values enshrined in the Constitution.”

    The court thus found that the hearings did not meet this criteria and that Grant's conduct fell below the standard required by the Constitution and the relevant statutory provisions.

    In the minority judgment, Judge Dennis Davis said that after “anxious reflection”, he would only have made an order in the case of two schools.

    It was his finding that Grant had showed “commendable commitment to compel compliance with the requirements of the act as I have interpreted them”.

    His view of the act was that Grant had complied with the act in allowing representations, and that there was no legal basis for importing the concept of “meaningful engagement” into the wording of that section.

    Davis' opinion was that the act ultimately empowered Grant to make the final decision on school closures.

    He said the applicants had failed to make out a case that a right to education had been compromised.

    The interdict was against Grant, his department, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, and Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Jeff Radebe.

    It prohibited these parties from closing or merging the schools and moving pupils, teachers, and resources.

    It also compelled the parties to take all reasonable steps to ensure necessary services were provided to the schools.

    Eighteen schools originally contested the closure, but one of the institutions, Tonko Bosman in Somerset West, agreed to closure.

    The main review application was likely to be heard in May. - Sapa

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    A proposal to ban Sunday liquor sales could prove ruinous for businesses.


    Cape Town - Liquor traders fear they may face closure because of a by-law to be implemented next month. Traders who operate on Sundays are to be stripped of their special licences as the City of Cape Town bans alcohol sales on that day of the week.

    “I will lose 52 trading days a year. This closure will make my business financially (unviable) and will force it to close,” said Vaughan Johnson, owner of the Vaughan Johnson Wine Shop at the V & A Waterfront.

    Johnson, who has been trading seven days a week for 21 years, said the by-law sent a “dangerous” signal to the tourism industry.

    “This law restricts tourists from coming in and buying a bottle of wine to enjoy on a Sunday afternoon. They will be horrified by this.”

    Johnson said Sunday traders had not given the city any problems and should not suffer because of alcohol abuse by other parties.

    “Any alcohol abuse that may take place in Cape Town happens 20km away from the Waterfront in the former township areas, where illegal shebeens have traded 24 hours a day, seven days a week, secure in the knowledge that the police are unwilling or too scared to enforce the law.”

    Harley’s Liquor and Wine Specialists on the corner of Wale Street and Buitengragt have been trading with a Sunday licence for 16 years.

    Manager David Mokhosoa says closing on Sundays would lead to losses of more than R1 million a year.

    “I’m not happy at all. We will lose so much and jobs are on the line. People will… go to pubs instead, so how is this going to help?”

    Midmar Liquors has been selling alcohol to the public and to restaurants on Sundays for the past 10 years.

    “Restaurants usually run out of alcohol on the Saturday and end up coming to us to restock on Sunday. Where will they go now?” said manager Grant Marais.

    He was unsure how great an effect the by-law would have on his business.

    “It’s all hearsay right now,” he said.

    “We haven’t even been told about the by-laws, so we don’t know the facts. I’m guessing they’ll probably tell us three days before the month ends.”

    Some traders have agreed to appeal against the by-law as soon as it comes into force.

    The SA Liquor Traders Association has expressed its support for local traders.

    “Banning sales of alcohol on Sunday is not the solution. It will have a ripple effect and many will suffer,” association chairman Saint Madlala said. He believed closure would promote illegal trading and perpetuate the problems the by-law aimed to curb.

    “If the demand is high and the supply is low, business can be made. In this case, illegal business will be made to compensate for the laws.”

    Madlala said the main problem with alcohol abuse was a lack of law enforcement and education.

    Cape Argus

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    Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has “withdrawn” an agreement for a substantial increase in tariffs for matric markers.


    Cape Town - Teachers’ unions have joined forces to fight a decision by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to “withdraw” from a collective agreement that would substantially increase the tariffs for matric markers.

    The SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu), National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa) and the SA Teachers’ Union (Satu) are among the unions that have approached the Labour Court in Johannesburg to have the termination of the agreement declared unfair and unlawful.

    In a statement earlier this month, Naptosa said that during 2010 teachers’ unions in the Education Labour Relations Council had negotiated a 100 percent increase in the tariffs for matric markers and other examination related work.

    The union said Basic Education director-general Bobby Soobrayan signed the agreement in April 2011 but in November it was announced that the agreement “was said to be incorrect, invalid, not mandated and could not be funded”.

    The matter had been set down for hearing on Monday but according to Sadtu the department failed to file their answering affidavit on time. The matter was postponed to Tuesday.

    “We are still baffled by the fact that nothing has been done to the director- general Bobby Soobrayan who allegedly signed the collective agreement without following proper internal processes. Our members are suffering as a result of the director-general’s conduct and the future of our Grade 12 learners is at risk as our members are not going to administer and mark both the supplementary and final examination scripts for the year 2013,” Sadtu said.

    Motshekga’s spokeswoman Hope Mokgatlhe referred the Cape Argus to a previous statement the department had released on the issue.

    It stated that collective agreement was entered into on April 7, 2011.

    “The agreement was introduced to align the collective bargaining processes with the published gazette (Government Notice 187; Gazette 34079) of 2011. However, the tariffs inserted on page three of the Collective Agreement were in conflict with the above-mentioned gazette published in February 2012.”

    The department said the error was picked up and communicated to the unions.

    “The financial implication of the error was that the provinces would have had to pay an additional R700 million, which was not in their budgets.”

    According to the department’s statement, the senior manager and middle manager responsible for the error were disciplined and given final written warnings for their negligence.

    “As a result, the department did not proceed with the implementation of this erroneous agreement.”


    Cape Argus

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    Sixty-one children and three teachers were stung by bees at a school in Bellville, Cape Town.


    Cape Town - Sixty-one children and three teachers were stung by bees at a school in Bellville, Cape Town, on Wednesday morning, paramedics said.

    “Reports indicate that the children were at a school for special needs when the swarm of bees went on a rampage, stinging everything in their way,” Netcare 911 spokesman Chris Botha said.

    The children were aged between five and 10. By the time paramedics got to the school four children in a critical condition had been taken to hospital in private transport.

    “Thirty-five people were treated on scene by nursing staff while 26 children were treated by paramedics before they were transported to nearby hospitals,” he said.

    “The exact cause for the bees becoming aggressive is still unknown at this stage.” - Sapa

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    The City of Cape Town has been told that Sanral intends resuming the N1-N2 Winelands toll highway project.


    Cape Town - Cape Town has been told by the SA National Roads Agency Limited that Sanral intends resuming the N1-N2 Winelands toll highway project, the City said on Wednesday.

    Mayoral committee member for transport Brett Herron said a review application currently before the Western Cape High Court was yet to be decided.

    Sanral previously agreed it would take no further steps towards implementing the toll road project pending the city's review application, he said.

    It undertook to provide the city with 45 days' notice of its intention to start working on the toll project.

    “Such notification was received on 6 March 2013. This means that Sanral could commence work on the project by 20 April 2013 without first resolving the City's concerns,” Herron said in a statement.

    “The City does not believe that Sanral has been transparent in its engagement with the city, and hence we will ask the court to compel Sanral to provide all information necessary regarding this project as a matter of urgency.”

    This would allow the review process to be concluded fairly and speedily, he said.

    Herron said Sanral had so far refused to share information relevant to the costs of upgrading and tolling the N1 and N2, the likely magnitude of the toll fees, and the impacts on road users, the local economy and the city.

    In March last year, the City filed an application in the Western Cape High Court to review the decision by Sanral and some ministers to toll the highways.

    “This review has not yet been concluded and the City believes that Sanral's decision to go ahead with this project... undermines the right of the City and its people to have the court determine the lawfulness of the project before it commences.”

    Herron said the City had made every reasonable effort to resolve the dispute through an inter-governmental dispute process.

    “We believe the decisions which authorised the tolling of the N1 and N2 are unlawful, unreasonable and procedurally unfair,” he said.

    Sanral general manager Vusi Mona confirmed that its legal team did issue the notification as “certain road sections are deteriorating at a fast pace.

    “Please note that Sanral will not provide further comment as the matter is sub judice,” he said. - Sapa

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    Two “compromising” photographs of acting judge Patrick Maqubela were handed to the Cape Town High Court.


    Cape Town - Two “compromising” photographs of acting judge Patrick Maqubela were handed to the Cape Town High Court on Wednesday.

    The photographs were handed to the court orderly face-down, and were passed face-down to the judge.

    The media was not allowed to see the photographs and the judge ordered that they be sealed and kept in a safe place.

    “These photographs are indeed compromising, and no one may have access to them without my permission or permission from another judge in my absence,” said Judge John Murphy.

    Maqubela's wife Thandi is charged with his murder. She and co-accused Vela Mabena, her business partner, have pleaded not guilty to the murder charge.

    Thandi Maqubela has also pleaded not guilty to additional charges of forgery and fraud.

    Prosecutors Bonnie Currie-Gamwo and Pedro van Wyk allege that she forged her husband's signature on his will, and then fraudulently presented the forged will at the Johannesburg office of the Master of the High Court.

    Broeksman handed the photographs to Maqubela on the witness stand and asked: “Do you recognise these compromising photographs?”

    She said she did and explained that her husband had shown them to her, and said they had been sent to him by a police officer.

    She said she regarded the photographs as blackmail.

    A police officer had had a “corrupt relationship” with her husband, and he had often demanded money from her husband.

    She said there were more photographs in her possession, “even more compromising then these”.

    The trial continues on Monday. - Sapa

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    The City of Cape Town wants to move from a “red-tape” to a “red-carpet” approach with the regulation of informal traders, Mayor Patricia de Lille said.


    Cape Town - The City of Cape Town wants to move from a “red-tape” to a “red-carpet” approach with the regulation of informal traders, Mayor Patricia de Lille said on Wednesday.

    This had much to do with how the city facilitated business planning and operations, and how it could increase opportunities, she said at a summit for informal traders at the civic centre.

    “At this level, we are faced with the challenge of balancing the need for economic activity against the needs of the general public to use and enjoy open spaces, be they roads or public squares, for example.”

    She said there was a commitment to get the balance right so that the forces complemented rather than competed with each other.

    In order for equal representation of interests, traders had to be formally recognised.

    According to the City's website, individuals were required to apply for an informal trading permit and had to be bona fide informal traders with no formal shop.

    Those who were unemployed and who operated for at least 45 hours a week would get preference over casual traders.

    Informal trading markets had been built in Nyanga, Gugulethu, Philippi, Ntlangano, iSithandathu, Hanover Park and Lentegeur.

    De Lille said the purpose of the summit was to encourage traders to give their input on policies, strategies and by-laws.

    “I believe that this summit allows us to take some important steps towards realising those ambitions, by helping us create a common agenda.”

    The informal trading sector produces about 12 percent of Cape Town’s economy and employs 18 percent of its economically active residents. - Sapa

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    A Western Cape prison warder was arrested for possession of 50 Mandrax tablets.


    Cape Town - A Western Cape prison warder was arrested on Wednesday for possession of 50 Mandrax tablets, said the department of correctional services.

    “He was suspected of continuously picking up the drugs after they had been dropped at a public toilet of a local filling station,” said spokesman Simphiwe Xako.

    The warder was an employee of the Goodwood management area.

    Western Cape regional commissioner Delekile Klaas commended the arrest.

    “We also want to sound a very strong warning to all our officials to refrain from any criminal activities, as this is not in keeping with the aspirations of the White Paper on corrections, which calls for the ideal correctional official,” said Klaas. - Sapa

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    Thandi Maqubela claims she was followed to the Eastern Cape by a policeman who blackmailed her husband, an acting judge.


    Cape Town - A police officer who had been blackmailing her acting-judge husband “followed” Thandi Maqubela to the Eastern Cape after his death.

    This was Maqubela’s explanation for what was behind the State’s cellphone evidence - an integral part of their case - against her.

    Maqubela took the stand in the Western Cape High Court for a second day yesterday.

    She testified that a Joburg policeman had been blackmailing her husband Patrick with “compromising” photographs of him.

    Two of the photos were presented as exhibits to Judge John Murphy, who immediately sealed them at the request of Maqubela’s defence counsel Marius Broeksma – meaning no one could access them without the permission of a judge.

    Maqubela identified the police officer only as “Captain Solani”. She said the officer had been demanding money from her husband, which he could not afford.

    Her husband had told her that Solani was sending the photos because he could not afford the money the officer was demanding. He had sent several messages to her husband’s cellphone number in 2008, one of which had contained his banking details. Another had said her husband had to send money “or else”.

    Maqubela said she had confronted Solani and told him that if he didn’t stop, she would report him to the police minister. There had been a further phone call to her husband from the officer on May 22, 2009.

    She testified that the acting judge, who the State alleges was murdered on June 5, 2009, had asked her to change her travelling patterns because the policeman had been following her. She said she also had a strong suspicion about the captain’s involvement in an attempted burglary at her home in April 2010 after she was released on bail.

    Her gardener had seen two policemen at the premises, and when he tried to approach them, they ran away.

    One of them, however, had left behind a cap, which Broeksma also presented to the court.

    It is the State’s case that over the weekend following the acting judge’s death, Thandi had moved from Cape Town to Joburg, then to East London and Qumbu, and finally back to Cape Town. Her husband’s cellphone had been triggered in all the same areas that weekend.

    She denied having her husband’s cellphone and said she did not know who had it.

    When Broeksma asked her what she thought happened with regards to her husband’s cellphone “following” her to the Eastern Cape, she replied: “I wouldn’t know what happened, but I know I was followed.”

    She said she suspected it was Solani and “whoever he was working with”.

    She hadn’t, however, seen anyone during her trip.

    The acting judge, prosecutors allege, was suffocated with a piece of cling wrap, which was found in a wastepaper basket in the main bedroom of his Bantry Bay, Cape Town, flat where his body was found on June 7, 2009. His wife’s thumbprint and palm print were on the cling wrap.

    When Broeksma asked her how her fingerprints got on the plastic, she said she had no idea, but it was in the house and she had been living there.

    Maqubela has yet to be cross-examined by the State.

    The trial is set to resume on Monday.

    The Star

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    The City of Cape Town plans to transform a notorious Belhar drug den and shebeen into a symbol of hope for the community.


    Cape Town - The City of Cape Town plans to transform a notorious Belhar drug den and shebeen known as the Little House on the Prairie into a symbol of hope for the community.

    This comes after the Western Cape High Court granted a final eviction order against the residents of the property from which suspected gang boss Quinton “Mr Big” Marinus allegedly operated.

    In December 2011, Acting Judge Judith Cloete ordered that the occupants of the land vacate the premises within two months, but they later appealed against the decision.

    Jeffrey Blankenberg, who was married to Marinus’s sister, Desiree, has been leasing the property from the city since 1992. The order was made after the court found that Blankenberg had breached the lease agreement by conducting illegal activity and erecting unlawful structures.

    The city said that the final order was a significant victory in its fight against drugs and drug dealing. “The city has taken a tough stance against the gangsterism and illegal activities being conducted at this property. The court’s ruling allows us to draw a line under almost a decade’s legal wrangling to expel the criminal gang activity and drugs from this city-owned property,” said JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security.

    The court found that the city had followed due legal process and that there was no reason why the eviction order should not be granted. The court also found that:

    l the city’s arguments that illegal activities were taking place at the property were valid.

    l it would be unfair for the city to keep the occupants on property which they did not qualify for in terms of the housing allocation process.

    l there was also no evidence that children, elderly people or disabled people lived on the premises.

    “The city is currently exploring a number of possibilities for the plot, including the establishment of a multi-purpose safety and security facility. It is envisioned that whatever the city creates there, will stand as a symbol of our victory over gang violence and drugs in the area,” Smith said.

    The occupants have until April 30 to vacate the premises.

    Cape Argus

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    Some of the schools identified for closure last year say they are still going strong despite the uncertainty hanging over them.


    Cape Town - Some of the schools identified for closure last year say they are still going strong despite the uncertainty hanging over them.

    Seventeen Western Cape schools facing closure last year were given a lifeline when an interim interdict was granted in the Western Cape High Court in December, preventing Education MEC Donald Grant from closing the schools on December 31.

    Pupil numbers at Bergrivier NGK Primary in Wellington had increased, said Nettie Koordom, chairwoman of the school’s governing body.

    “Last year was stressful but now it is going well. We have received several sponsorships and we no longer fear that the school will be closed.”

    Mabel Valentine, principal of Protea Primary in Bonteheuwel, said the school’s pupil numbers had remained constant.

    “Everyone is glad to be here and that they didn’t have to go to another school.”

    Brenda Davids, principal of Lavisrylaan Primary in Bishop Lavis, said pupil numbers at the school had taken a dip and two teachers had decided to go to other schools.

    “Otherwise we are are still going strong and have the support of our parents.”

    Grant said he was thankful that the high court had finally given the reasons for the December judgment yesterday.

    “We have been waiting for the reasons for the order for the past three months. We can now consider what motivated the majority decision of the court to grant the interdict,” he said.

    “We will consider the reasons carefully with our legal advisers, along with the minority dissenting judgment and will act on the advice of our legal advisers.”

    Western Cape Education Department spokesman Paddy Attwell said the department was still supporting the schools.

    Asked if there were any plans to close any schools this year, Attwell said it was still too early in the year to say.

    The Save Our Schools (SOS) campaign’s Magnus De Jongh said SOS hoped the department would come to its senses and allow the schools to remain open.

    Cape Argus

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    With a series of spectacular explosions the navy completed its job on the wreck of the Seli 1


    Cape Town - With a series of spectacular explosions the navy completed its job on the wreck of the Seli 1 on Wednesday.

    The joint task team monitoring the operation said that while the wreck was still visible its structure had been significantly weakened.

    “It is expected that it is now sufficiently weakened to enable the ocean forces to collapse it on to the seabed during the upcoming winter, as originally intended,” said Wilfred Solomons-Johannes, spokesman for the city’s Disaster Management.

    The navy’s diving team and Department of Transport representatives would do further assessments of the wreck to determine if the operation had been successful, he said.

    The task team reported that minimal quantities of oil released from the wreck had been promptly contained and dealt with. Marine life had been “largely unaffected”.

    Solomons-Johannes added: “Given that the wreck has been substantially weakened, it constitutes a danger and is therefore unsafe. People must remain clear of the wreck at all times.”

    The Seli 1 ran aground in 2009. After its owners abandoned it, has been mouldering on the seabed off Blouberg for the past four years.

    The task team thanked the residents of Table View and the people of Cape Town for their co-operation during the operation.

    Cape Argus

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  • 03/21/13--02:29: Bees attack school outing
  • A routine physical education exercise turned into a nightmare for pupils, teachers and staff at a Cape Town special needs school.


    Cape Town - A routine physical education exercise turned into a nightmare for pupils, teachers and staff at a special needs school in Stikland when a swarm of bees attacked them.

    The children were aged between five and 10.

    Sixty one pupils and three teachers from the Cheré Botha School were stung – 28 pupils, two of the teachers and four class assistants were taken to the local Melomed Hospital in Bellville, the Kuils River Netcare facility, and Tygerberg and Karl Bremer hospitals with minor to serious bee stings yesterday morning.

    Principal Joey van der Westhuizen said teachers and class assistants took a group of pupils for a walk on the school grounds as part of their daily routine.

    The route includes passing an area littered with bee hives, with bees flying across a relatively large space. As they were making their way back, the children were attacked by the swarm of bees, said Van der Westhuizen.

    Western Cape Education Department spokesman Paddy Attwell said some of the pupils were admitted for overnight observation.

    A 10-year-old girl was admitted to Karl Bremer Hospital while three others were taken to Tygerberg Hospital.

    The three were in stable conditions, said Tygerberg Hospital spokeswoman Laticia Pienaar.

    The 10-year-old was also said to be in a stable condition.

    Netcare 911 spokesman Chris Botha told Sapa that reports indicated that a swarm of bees “went on a rampage, stinging everything in their way”.

    “The exact cause of the bees becoming aggressive is still unknown,” he said.

    Cheré Botha School was developed to support pupils with special educational needs. It was established by Mike and Gloria Botha in 1981 and named in memory of their daughter Cheré, who was born on September 17, 1976, with Down syndrome and who died of leukaemia on June 27, 1980.

    Cape Argus

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    The United Arab Emirates court has found Prof Cyril Karabus not guilty, the international relations department said.


    Pretoria - The United Arab Emirates court has found Prof Cyril Karabus not guilty, the international relations department said on Thursday.

    “He was in court today and the court has found him not guilty,” spokesman Clayson Monyela said.

    “As the South African government we are quite pleased that finally he is a free man.”

    Earlier this week it was understood that a UAE medical review committee had absolved Karabus from all blame.

    He was convicted in absentia in the UAE on charges of manslaughter and falsifying documents after the death of a three-year-old cancer patient.

    He was sentenced, in absentia, to three years in jail.

    Karabus, 77, is an emeritus professor at the University of Cape Town and is a specialist paediatric oncologist.

    Unaware of the charges and sentence, he was arrested and charged in Dubai on August 18, while in transit on his return to South Africa from Toronto, in Canada, where he had attended his son's wedding.

    Monyela said the South African government had taken various measures to plead Karabus' case.

    “We see this as a vindication of what the professor was saying all along,” he said.

    “We as government also feel vindicated.”

    Monyela thanked everyone who was involved in the matter. - Sapa

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    Cape Town’s Pakistani community are in shock following a gun attack on six men which left four dead.


    Cape Town - Cape Town’s Pakistani community are in shock following a gun attack on six men at a Rocklands house which left four men dead and two fighting for their lives in hospital.

    Abdul Jabbar Memon, Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner in Pretoria, has condemned the attack and called for a speedy and transparent investigation.

    Yesterday, a few hundred Pakistanis protested outside the Mitchells Plain police station, chanting “we want justice”, “no bail” and calling for the police to protect foreigners.

    Later, a bigger crowed picketed outside Parliament, most of them carrying placards reading “no bail for killers”.

    The dead were identified as Muhammad Shafique, 42, Adnan Haider, 23, Ghulam Baqar, 23, and Shazad Ahmad, 39. Two others are in hospital in a critical condition.

    Police confirmed that a 28-year-old man had been arrested. A firearm and a stolen safe were recovered. A black Mercedes Benz 200, hijacked on Monday, reportedly led the police to the suspect.

    The dead men were relatives, friends and employees of Abid Hussain, a prominent businessmen who is married to a South African woman and has lived in Mitchells Plain for 16 years. South Africans and Pakistanis in Rocklands described Hussain as a benevolent and popular man in the community.

    His company, Eastern Distributors, distributes bread to supermarkets. The company recently landed a lucrative contract with Albany Bakeries, which reportedly angered a rival distributor.

    Friends of the dead men named the man they believed to be the mastermind behind the killings, saying he was a business rival of Hussain.

    Hussain is abroad, but his wife, Rukshana Hussain, was at home when two gunmen stormed into her Rocklands home shortly after 10pm.

    She said a tall skinny man wearing a cap had come into the lounge while she and her brother-in-law Ghulam Baqar were watching TV.

    A tearful Hussain said: “He asked Baqar to show him to the safe. Then he said ‘what is your name’ and Baqar answered him. Those are the only words that were exchanged. The man raised his gun and shot Baqar twice. He turned, stopped, and then shot him a third time.”

    Hussain believed that asking for Baqar’s name indicated that it was a targeted hit, and not merely an armed robbery. Moments later, a second gunman opened fire in the next room, where two men were shot dead and two were injured.

    Hussain said one of the injured men, identified only as Asif, survived a murder attempt a little over a week ago. He was shot in the shoulder while delivering bread.

    The fourth man to be shot dead was outside the house in Uranus Street.

    As the gunmen were fleeing, a neighbour, who asked not to be named, came out with his firearm. But as he pursued the assailants, he was shot at.

    Police and paramedics were called. Family and friends argued with the police, calling for the bodies to be covered, especially the body outside.

    “These are not dogs, they were human beings. Especially to us as Muslims, this is incredibly degrading – to see our brothers lying like dead animals,” said Rana Ahmed, a business partner of Hussain.

    But police said they needed to secure the scene for forensic investigation and could not allow family and friends inside.

    Ahmed spent most of yesterday morning negotiating with police to access the house to retrieve the dead men’s passports, so they could be returned to Pakistan as soon as possible.

    Raymond Wanewich, a neighbour and member of the local block watch, said that he comforted one of the dying men for at least an hour before he died.

    “He had a pulse all that time and he was coming in and out of consciousness. I told the paramedic, but he said that there was nothing that could be done for him. He was as good as dead, they told me,” Wanewich said.

    The murders have spotlighted the vulnerability of immigrants on the Cape Flats, and sparked an emotional reaction from Pakistanis across the city. Among those protesting outside Parliament was Amir Nadeem, 31, who moved to Mitchells Plain from Pakistan seven years ago. Nadeem’s brother, who came to South Africa with him, was murdered two years ago.

    “They arrested a man. But a few weeks later I saw him by the shopping centre. He laughed at me and did this,” he said, raising his middle finger in the air.

    “He got out on R500 bail. We say, not again! No bail!”

    Iftikhar Butt, general secretary of the Pakistani Community Welfare Association of the Western Cape, said Pakistani men and women fled to South Africa to escape from the violent conflicts which marred their home country.

    “There are suicide bomb attacks in many of Pakistan’s cities. These force people to consider immigration, but after today they are not sure whether it was wise to move here. Many of the young men are afraid and they want to go home.”

    Cape Argus

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    A hunch led an Mfuleni policewoman to the body of a woman buried in her own backyard.


    Cape Town - A hunch led a Mfuleni policewoman to the body of a woman buried in her own backyard.

    The body of Hazel Nkomo, 43, pictured, was found in a grave behind her home in Kala Walk. Two dogs, the family pets, were buried on top of her.

    Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk said Nkomo’s husband, Nothununu Mfazwe, told police he last saw his wife on February 16. She was reported missing on March 14.

    “The Mfuleni SAPS missing person officer, who was investigating the case, visited the husband at the house yesterday. The officer insisted on looking around the house as she had met the wife before.”

    The officer noticed a smell in the yard, but Mfazwe reportedly told her it was caused by the two dead dogs.

    “The officer insisted on digging up the dogs,” Van Wyk said.

    “After the dogs had been dug up, the husband said that he would go next door to borrow a shovel. He went, but did not come back.”

    The woman’s body was found under the dogs.


    Siwakhile Nqgayimbana, Nkomo’s brother-in-law, said the family had reported Nkomo missing after they became suspicious about her disappearance.

    He said the couple had been married for 10 years and had two children,aged nine and six.

    Police have opened a murder docket. No arrests have been made.

    Cape Argus

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    The City of Cape Town will challenge Sanral in court after it announced plans to resume work on the N1/N2 toll road.


    Cape Town - The City of Cape Town is to urgently challenge South Africa’s road building company in court after it announced it planned to resume work on the controversial N1/N2 toll road.

    The N1/N2 Winelands Toll Highway Project is on hold, pending the conclusion of an earlier legal challenge by the city.

    But now the city fears that the SA National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral) intends to start work on the toll roads as soon as April 20 without first resolving the city’s concerns.

    On Wednesday, mayoral committee member for transport, roads and stormwater Brett Herron said Sanral sent a notice to the city on March 6 saying it had “indicated its intention to conclude a concession contract with the preferred bidder – the Protea Parkways Consortium – or if necessary the reserve bidder, at an unspecified time after April 20, 2013”.

    Herron said: “Sanral has also notified the city that it intends commencing with construction work, but it refuses to tell the city what work it plans to do, or when it will do it.”

    He said the city was “gravely concerned” by Sanral’s notification because the city believed Capetonians had still not yet been given a full understanding of the financial implications of the project.

    He claimed Sanral had thus far refused to provide:

    l Information relevant to the costs of upgrading and tolling the N1 and N2.

    l The likely magnitude of the toll fees.

    l The impacts on road users, the local economy and the city and a review application, currently before the Western Cape High Court, still to be decided.

    In November 2011, the city filed an urgent interdict application to halt the project, after which Sanral agreed it would take no further steps towards implementing the toll road project pending the city’s review application being heard. It also undertook to provide the city with 45 days’ notice of its intention to start work.

    On March 28 last year, the city filed its application in the high court to review the decisions of Sanral, the minister of transport and the minister of environmental affairs, which make it possible for Sanral to toll the N1 and N2 into Cape Town. This review process has not yet run its course, prompting the city to now threaten renewed legal action.

    “The city does not believe that Sanral has been transparent in its engagement with the city, and hence we will ask the court to compel Sanral to provide all information necessary regarding this project as a matter of urgency,” said Herron.

    He said the city did not want the toll road to be built before residents had a full understanding of the fees and cost implications, as had happened in Gauteng.

    Sanral could not be reached for comment.

    Cape Argus

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    There was bubbly for Professor Cyril Karabus when he heard he'd been acquitted, but he's not heading home just yet.


    Cape Town - There was a bottle of bubbly for Professor Cyril Karabus when he heard he’d been acquitted of manslaughter in the United Arab Emirates on Thursday (UAE), but he’s not heading home just yet.

    His Cape Town lawyer, Michael Bagraim, has warned that the prosecutor has 10 days to lodge an appeal.

    “While we wait for them to decide whether to appeal or not, we can’t get Karabus’s passport back. But it’s unlikely they will as they didn’t say anything after the verdict was handed out.”

    While the family are hoping the paediatric oncologist will be home in time for his 78th birthday on April 1, Bagraim said it could take a fortnight.

    And he said he had asked Deputy Minister of International Relations Marius Fransman to put pressure on the UAE to release Karabus’s passport. “We are going as fast as we can to bring him home. It’s been a stressful time and Karabus’s heart has taken a lot of strain.”

    But on Thursday was a day for celebration. Bagraim said: “He and fellow South African Dr Elwin Buchel have purchased a bottle of bubbly. We are still smiling. A true feeling for Human Rights Day.”

    Karabus was arrested in Dubai after travelling back from his son Matthew’s wedding in Canada on August 18. He was left with just his toothbrush. It emerged that Karabus, who had spent five weeks working as a locum at the Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi, had been convicted of manslaughter in absentia after the death in 2002 of a three-year-old Yemeni girl suffering from leukaemia.

    Karabus was accused of failing to give her a vital blood transfusion.

    But earlier this week, after a seven-month ordeal, Karabus heard the UAE Medical Commission had absolved him of any wrongdoing. The decision was confirmed by an Abu Dhabi court on Thursday.

    Karabus’s other son, Michael, told the Cape Argus on Thursday: “It’s almost too good to be true. It’s been seven months of nothing and then all of a sudden it’s over.”

    He heard the news from his dad at about 9.30am on Thursday. “He wasn’t in the courtroom when they delivered the verdict; he was outside waiting to go in. He was tried in absentia and given his freedom also in absentia.”

    His siblings are travelling from Canada and London to prepare for his homecoming. Michael said they hoped his father would be home for his birthday.

    Fransman told the Cape Argus Karabus’s freedom was a result of South African “solidarity”.

    “We are overjoyed it’s finalised. There was tremendous solidarity between civil society, the media, business and government.”


    Also waiting to see Karabus will be his two-month old grandson Gabriel. Karabus was to have assisted at the birth. Karabus’s daughter, Dr Sarah Karabus, a paediatrician, said her father would have a medical check-up before he left Abu Dhabi to make sure he is fit to fly.


    Cape Argus

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