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SANParks CEO accused of sexual assault 

May 11th 2021 at 10:21
By: Nica

South African National Parks (SANParks) CEO Fundisile Mketeni has taken special leave following sexual assault and assault complaints. 

The complaints were laid against him on Friday in Skukuza in the Kruger National Park. 

SANParks board chairperson Joanne Yawitch said Mketeni’s special leave was in line with SANparks’ “commitment to ethical conduct and the seriousness of the allegations”. 

Mketeni appeared in court on Monday, along with three other individuals accused of similar charges.

Two of the three are men also employed by SANParks.

“The board of SANParks views the allegations made in an extremely serious light and will allow the court proceedings to take their course and reach conclusions on the allegations,” Yawitch said.

“The board will however investigate whether the circumstances surrounding the allegations led to any improper or illegal conduct which may affect the employment relationship.”  

In Mketeni’s absence, the managing executive for conservation services, Dr Luthando Dziba, has been appointed acting CEO.

WATCH: Undertaker protest takes violent turn 

May 11th 2021 at 06:28

Stun grenades and rubber bullets were fired on Tuesday in a standoff between funeral parlours and police during a protest at the Home Affairs department in Pretoria.

Funeral parlours vowed to shut down all home affairs offices countrywide, after failed negotiations with the department.

Funeral undertakers protesting infront of the Home Affairs department in Pretoria. One of their main demands is that a Certificate of competence should not form part of designation number training and exam requirements. @KayaNews @KayaOnAir #FuneralUndertakers pic.twitter.com/EFeubd3qAz

— Kat Sekhotho (@KatSekhotho) May 11, 2021

The Department says it has “fulfilled its promise” to the Unification Task Team (UTT),  and the grouping of funeral associations and forums.

Funeral parlours said they wanted to engage with the department to sort out some of the challenges faced by the industry.

The sector wants the department to speed up the issuing of death certificates and to allow recognised funeral associations to register certificates, and also want to be granted Certificate of Competency (CoC).

Disgruntled funeral industry participants handed over their list of demands to the department’s head office on Tuesday and the department promised to respond in seven days.

This is when the participants started demonstrating and vowed to shut down all the home affairs offices until they received the response.

Government ‘lying about truce’

UTT has continued to lobby the government over the requirement of  a COC for the release of a body from state mortuaries, hospitals and forensic laboratories for burial.

Their grievance is that without a COC issued by the Department of Health to undertakers with cold storage facilities, small undertakers were unable to register any death at Home Affairs, book burial sites or cremate remains.

This week the department announced an engagement with UTT leaders. Director-general Tommy Makhode committed to consult his department and the SA Local Government Association for input into revising the regulations and implementation of issues related to the management of human remains.

The department said in a statement it had agreed with UTT that undertakers can be issued with a provisional registration, which would allow them to operate for a year while the parties find a lasting solution.

There’s a heavy police presence outside a Home Affairs office in Pretoria as various funeral parlor owners have blocked the entrance to the building. They are protesting over delays in death registration issues. @ZikhonaTshona reports.

Watch: https://t.co/iYbZOHQR6T pic.twitter.com/UlYoi2suQ2

— Newzroom Afrika (@Newzroom405) May 11, 2021

Disgruntled funeral industry participants handed over their list of demands to the department’s head office on Tuesday and the department promised to respond in seven days.

As part of this agreement, applications must provide proof of a cold storage facility lease agreement with a COC and the COC of the person (lessor) leasing the premises.

But the UTT has rubbished the contents of the statement, saying it was not what was agreed upon.

“We are being undermined. We were clear in that meeting but nothing in that statement reflects what we thought we agreed upon. Then what happens after 12 months? What will the process be from there?” spokesperson Muzi Hlengwa said.

Ace Magashule removed from from ANC’s special NEC meeting

May 8th 2021 at 06:04

The ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) has removed suspended secretary-general Ace Magashule from it’s special virtual meeting.

Magashule vowed to attend the special meeting during an interview with SABC on Friday. He insists that his suspension is invalid and that he still holds the office of secretary-general.

Several news outlets are reporting that the corruption-accused politician was given the boot from the meeting. It is unclear at this stage what the removal from the meeting means. However, expulsion from the party has been said to be on the cards.

On the agenda for the special meeting is the party’s step aside resolution, the appeals process for implicated members, and of course, Magashule’s defiance to adhere to the policy.

ALSO READ: Magashule: My suspension is a ‘banishment order’ similar to apartheid

During Magashule’s suspension, he has been barred from:

  • Carrying out the duties and responsibilities of his office as secretary-general,
  • Representing  the organisation publicly  and or in any other form,
  • Making public pronouncements  on matters  related to the organisation, and
  • Engaging in the mobilisation of ANC structures, any other organisations  or individuals, including  on your stepping aside and matters related thereto.

As a result, he was not allowed to attend the meeting at all and his removal is in line with the suspension protocols.

Asked if he expects to be expelled from the ANC at the weekend’s NEC meeting, he told the SABC the NEC could not be a judge and jury.

ALSO READ: Is there any way for Cyril and Ace to save this toxic relationship?

“There are processes which one will argue when I appear before the appeals body. The NEC has been conflicted in this matter. They have been the judge, prosecutor, investigator and jury.

Expulsion from the ANC

There is a real chance that Magashule could be expelled from the party following his actions this week.

After the ANC’s national working committee (NWC) said that it supports the NEC’s decision on the step aside resolution, Magashule was officially suspended from duty.

The organisation had decided that all members implicated in serious criminal offences need to step aside within 30 days or be suspended. Magashule was the first test for the resolution after repeatedly refusing to step aside.

Also this week, he penned a letter stating that he was in turn summarily suspending party leader Cyril Ramaphosa over allegations that his CR17 campaign fund received irregular contributions. Ramaphosa has not been charged in a court of law with any crimes.

This move has lead many commentators and analysts to believe that the NEC, and Ramaphosa as party head, have little choice but to eventually expel Magashule from the party.

‘Rogue elements’

The Citizen’s Brian Sokutu reports that political analysts expect the NEC to stamp its authority against its rogue elements within the party.

Independent political analyst, Dr Ralph Mathekga, said the NEC should “assert itself on its party resolution to suspend Ace Magashule – failure to do so will spell a disaster”.

“There is no more runway for more excuses on this one.

“The NEC has been pushed to a corner to do the right thing and we expect the ANC’s decision-making body to come out resolute,” said Mathekga.

Concurring with Mathekga, University of South Africa political science, professor Dirk Kotze, said: “While it may be difficult to predict the nature of discussions at the NEC meeting, what is clear is that the issue of stepping aside has been finalised, with no different decision expected to come out of the NEC.

“What may possibly become a matter for discussion is what action to be taken against Magashule for trying to suspend President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“The response from most leaders in the ANC has ranged from perceiving that as a disgraceful conduct, some not taking it seriously.

“They have taken this as not being a valid step because he was himself suspended at the time.

“In terms of Rule 25.70 of the ANC’s constitution says the secretary-general can suspend a public representative, but with the authority of the ANC – meaning he cannot do it on his own.

“Even if he was not suspended, he did not take such a decision on behalf of the NEC.

“No such NEC instruction was given to him, making his ‘suspending the president’ not being in line with the ANC constitution.”

This is a developing story. More to follow.

Additional reporting by Brian Sokutu, Neo Thale and News24 Wire.

Chaos erupts as Prince Misuzulu Zulu is named as new king

May 7th 2021 at 13:30

Prince Misuzulu Zulu has been announced as the new king of the Zulu nation.

In a reading of the late regent Queen Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu’s will by royal house lawyer advocate Griffiths Madonsela on Friday evening, Prince Misuzulu was named as his late mother’s preferred candidate to ascend to the throne.

The will reading took place at KwaKhangelamankengane Palace in Nongoma.

Immediately after the announcement, the occasion turned into chaos, with heckling and commotion, after Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi – the traditional prime minister of the Zulu nation – instructed Prince Thokozani Zulu to sit down.

WATCH: Prince disrupts prayer service at Zulu queen’s funeral

Prince Thokozani, late King Goodwill Zwelithini’s son with another queen, was trying to address the gathering.

#sabcnews #sabckzn Chaos has erupted at Kwakhethomthandayo ending the meeting where Regent Queen Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu nominated her son Prince Misuzulu Zulu. There was a hand from someone who called Thulani was about to ask a question, hauling started pic.twitter.com/NMROu4AYCD

— Nonkululeko Hlophe (@Leko3) May 7, 2021

SABC News reported that gunshots were heard amid the commotion and that Prince Misuzulu and his siblings were whisked away to safety.

Earlier on Friday, Prince Misuzulu made his first public appearance since the death of Queen Mantfombi Shiyiwe Zulu last week and disrupted memorial proceedings.

The prince was accompanied by Zulu regiments marching into the marquee where the official memorial of the queen was taking place with prayer in session.

This is a developing story.

Magashule: My suspension is a ‘banishment order’ similar to apartheid

May 7th 2021 at 12:04

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule says the conditions of his suspension are draconian and akin to apartheid.

In an exclusive, wide-ranging interview with the SABC News’ Samkele Maseko and Bulelani Phillip, the beleaguered Magashule reiterated that the step-aside guidelines were being implemented hypocritically remove him.

During Magashule’s suspension, he has been barred from:

  • Carrying out the duties and responsibilities of his office as secretary-general
  • Representing  the organisation publicly  and or in any other form
  • Making public pronouncements  on matters  related to the organisation
  • Engaging in the mobilisation of ANC structures, any other organisations  or individuals, including  on your stepping aside and matters related thereto

He added that the criminal charges against, where he is implicated in corruption related to the Free State asbestos audit, were bogus because he was being charged with “oversight and negligence”.

Magashule: I’m saying the ANC is acting in an unfair manner, I have not committed any crime, I’ve been charged with oversight, what is that? #sabcnews

— Natasha Nokuthula Phiri (@NatashaN_Phiri) May 7, 2021

“I’m being follow. I’m bugged. I can’t believe I’m still living in apartheid. They arrest you and the next thing you are poisoned in prison,” Magashule said.

ALSO READ:  Could Magashule’s outcome see a formation of a new party?

Asked about his relationship with his deputy, Jessie Duarte, who served him with his suspension letter, Magashule said he was “dismayed” but he continued to have a “wonderful” relationship with her.

“I know comrade Jessie. We have been in the trenches together,” said Magashule.

Magashule reiterated his commitment to the ANC, saying he would stay in the ANC until he dies.

“I will never allow any individual to take the ANC away from me,” he said.

Asked if he expects to be expelled from the ANC at the weekend’s special national executive committee (NEC) meeting, he said the NEC could not be a judge and jury.

Magashule also said he respected every leader of the ANC, when quizzed by Maseko about “hating President Cyril Ramaphosa”.

Magashule said he would attend the weekend’s special NEC) meeting, despite his suspension letter written on Monday and leaked on Wednesday, clearly indicating he would not be allowed to participate in any party duties while he is suspended.

Watch the interview below, courtesy of the SABC News.

READ NEXT: ANC NEC in ‘do or die’ meeting over step aside resolution

Zulu royal family to meet at 5pm for reading of queen’s will

May 7th 2021 at 08:11

AmaZulu traditional prime minister prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi has announced that the Zulu royal family will be meeting later on Friday afternoon to listen to the reading of queen regent Shiyiwe Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu’s will.

WATCH: Prince disrupts prayer service at Zulu queen’s funeral

Speaking at a special memorial service in honour of the monarch at KwaKhangelamankengane Palace in Nongoma, Buthelezi said the royal family would meet at 5pm.

Mantfombi passed away last week at Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg at the age of 65. She was laid to rest at a private burial on Thursday.

The reading of the queen’s will happens amid divisions within the royal family over how the succession battle should be handled. The late king Goodwill Zwelithini’s first wife is heading to court to interdict the coronation of a new ruler of the AmaZulu nation.

Queen Sibongile Dlamini is challenging the king’s will in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on the basis that they were married under civil law, which prohibits polygamous marriages.

Queen Mantfombi was appointed regent of the Zulu nation in March, following the death of Zwelithini.

Her first son, prince Misuzulu Zulu, is widely speculated to be the one who will ascend the throne.

‘She spoke with love, listened with patience’

Earlier, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma paid tribute to Mantfombi , describing her as a monarch who cared for the downtrodden despite the elevated position she occupied.

Dlamini Zuma said Mantfombi was a unifier of the Zulu nation and eSwatini. The queen was the daughter of the late king Sobuza and sister of king Mswati III of eSwatini.

“We have drunk from the cup of her wisdom, which she exercised with humility. We had seen her direct the young women towards tradition, education and service to the community through initiatives such as uMkhosi Womhlanga (Reed Dance) and many others.

“We have seen her protect our young, fighting for the safety of women against gender-based violence and substance abuse just as a mother hen would do,” Dlamini Zuma said.

“She was very kind. she spoke with love, listened with patience and acted with compassion.”

The minister said the government had been looking forward to working with the queen as the regent until an official successor was named.

She said Mantfombi was going to be a very capable regent who put the interests of the people first.

“We were certain that our ancestors and the universe had favoured us with the right calibre and temperament of a leader, who would not only hold forth but advance amaZulu and our nation to greater and more caring heights.

“For us, she was the centrepiece by which we would reconstruct and reconfigure the traditional systems of commerce, governance and diplomacy, so that we can build resilient, sustainable and prosperous communities that participate on an equal footing with all other nations of the continent and the world.”

ALSO READ: What you need to know about the late Zulu Queen Mantfombi

UPDATE: Magashule suspending Ramaphosa is NOT fake news

May 5th 2021 at 18:51

Earlier this evening, many media outlets received a statement that purported that ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule had suspended ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa.

While the statement seemed official, the ANC later said it was fake.

This statement coincided with the leaking of a letter between Magashule and Ramaphosa on Monday, regarding the step-aside resolutions.

ALSO READ: First take: Ace suspends Cyril – what in the actual hell?

The ANC initially told The Citizen the letter from Magashule suspending Ramaphosa was not real.

“In this digital age, anyone can create anything. Any communication about the ANC would have come from us,” ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe told The Citizen. However, Mabe later went on TV to say the opposite and confirmed that the letter was real. An official ANC statement also confirmed it.

Mabe has intimated on Newszoom Afrikathat Magashule is most likely mistaken if he believes he has the power to reinstate himself and suspend Ramaphosa

@MYANC response to the statement by Secretary General Comrade Ace Magashule. pic.twitter.com/yV7KSgOUCG

— African National Congress (@MYANC) May 5, 2021

Parts of the press release stemmed from Magashule’s official letter to Ramaphosa on Monday declaring that his CR17 campaign had been reported to the Serious Offences Directorate of the ANC, where Magashule indicated that Ramaphosa himself should let the party know that Ramaphosa’s suspension would be in the best interests of the party.

Below is the full Wednesday letter from Magashule to Ramaphosa, as released (or leaked).

pic.twitter.com/2FuK6oNyJL

— Ace Magashule (OFFICIAL) (@Magashule_Ace) May 5, 2021

The Citizen initially apologised for the mistake and retracted the article in its entirety, which turned out to be unnecessary.

ALSO READ: Hmmm … Ace Magashule’s little chess picture made the game all too clear

Zulu kingdom devastated as regent Queen Mantfombi passes away

April 29th 2021 at 15:25

Queen Shiyiwe Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu, regent of the Zulu Nation, has tragically died.

In a statement on Thursday evening, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi announced that the late King Goodwill Zwelithini KabhekuZulu’s widow had passed away unexpectedly, leaving the royal family “utterly bereft”.

Queen Mantfombi, 65, was announced in March 2021 as the interim ruler of the Zulu nation pending the installation of a new king to succeed the late King Zwelithini.

“This has taken us by surprise and left us utterly bereft. It is true that the Lord alone knows the days that He has allotted to each one of us.

ALSO READ: What you need to know about Queen Mantfombi Dlamini Zulu

“On behalf of the royal family, I wish to assure the nation that while we are all rightly grief-stricken, there will be no leadership vacuum in the Zulu nation,” Buthelezi, prime minister of the Zulu nation, said.

“Further announcements on Her Majesty’s funeral and the necessary arrangements will be made in due course.”

Queen Mantfombi is Eswatini’s King Mswati III’s sister and got married to King Zwelithini in 1977. They have eight children.

King Zwelithini passed away on 12 March, following his admission to hospital in February to deal with his diabetes.

Queen Mantfombi’s death is the third to befall the Zulu royal family in recent months.

Prince Lethukuthula Zulu, the first-born son and eldest child of King Zwelithini and Queen Sibongile MaDlamini, died in November last year.

AmaRharhabe Queen Noloyiso Sandile died in July 2020 following a short illness. She was King Zwelithini’s sister and widow of King Maxhoba Sandile.

Additional reporting by Vhahangwele Nemakonde

UK imposes sanctions against controversial Gupta family

April 26th 2021 at 14:42

The United Kingdom announced that it has imposed sanctions against the controversial Gupta family, and its associate, Salim Essa.

This was announced on Monday by the UK’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab under the new Global Anti-Corruption regime.

“Corruption has a corrosive effect as it slows development, drains the wealth of poorer nations, and keeps their people trapped in poverty. It poisons the well of democracy,” said Raab.

“The individuals we have sanctioned today have been involved in some of the most notorious corruption cases around the world.”

He said that global Britain is standing up for democracy, good governance, and the rule of law.

Estimates suggest over 2% of global GDP is lost to corruption every year.

The UK is committed to tackling this problem and targeting those who enable it.

Today, UK Foreign Sec @DominicRaab launches our new Global Anti-Corruption Sanctions regime.

— Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (@FCDOGovUK) April 26, 2021

“We are saying to those involved in serious corruption, we will not tolerate you or your dirty money in our country.”

“Individuals involved in some of the world’s most serious cases of corruption will no longer be able to channel their money through UK banks or enter the country thanks to new sanctions announced by the Foreign Secretary today,” reads the statement.

Raab said that corruption hurts individuals and undermines global trade, development, and the rule of law.

“Over 2% of global GDP is lost to corruption every year, and corruption increases the cost of doing business for individual companies by as much as 10%.”

Corruption also threatens our national security by exacerbating conflict and facilitating serious and organised crime, creating space for terrorist and criminal groups like Daesh and Boko Haram to operate.

He said that the new regime will allow the UK to combat serious corruption, in particular bribery and misappropriation.

“It will promote effective governance, robust democratic institutions, and the rule of law – demonstrating our power as a force for good around the world.”

ALSO READ: Guptas had their own ATM, state capture advocate reveals

The UK’s first wave of sanctions under this new sanctions regime is targeting:

  • Those involved in the diversion of $230 million of Russian state property through a fraudulent tax refund scheme uncovered by Sergei Magnitsky – one of the largest tax frauds in recent Russian history
  • Ajay, Atul, and Rajesh Gupta, and their associate Salim Essa, for their roles in serious corruption. They were at the heart of a long-running process of corruption in South Africa which caused significant damage to its economy
  • Sudanese businessman Ashraf Seed Ahmed Hussein Ali, widely known as Al Cardinal, for his involvement in the misappropriation of significant amounts of state assets in one of the poorest countries in the world. This diversion of resources in collusion with South Sudanese elites has contributed to ongoing instability and conflict
  • Several individuals involved in serious corruption in Latin America, including facilitating bribes to support a major drug trafficking organisation and misappropriation that has led to citizens being deprived of vital resources for development

The sanctions target 22 individuals involved in notorious corruption cases in Russia, South Africa, South Sudan and throughout Latin America.

Sandton City evacuated after bomb threat

April 24th 2021 at 13:12

The Sandton City Shopping Centre in Johannesburg is being evacuated, following a telephonic bomb threat late on Saturday afternoon.

According to a Twitter post by the centre the threat was received at approximately 17:35, leading to the decision the evacuate all customers from the mall.

Sandton City confirms that a telephonic bomb threat was received on Saturday, the 24th of April 2021 at 17h35.

The safety and security of shoppers and tenants is of the utmost importance to Sandton City, and all security protocols have been put in place.

— Sandton City (@SandtonCity) April 24, 2021

It is not yet clear who the threat came from, and whether there is any actual danger present. The police could also not yet comment on the veracity of the threat.

As a precautionary measure, the decision was made to evacuate Sandton City with immediate effect.

Sandton City, together with the South African Police Service and emergency services, continue to monitor the situation closely; and all necessary precautions shall be adhered.

— Sandton City (@SandtonCity) April 24, 2021

Several customers and staff members from shops in the centre have posted pictures and videos of the evacuation online.

Evacuation in Sandton City.

Whats going on? pic.twitter.com/mGb0g1QGv1

— Engineer Matšhela Koko (@koko_matshela) April 24, 2021

 

There was a bomb threat in sandton city today we all had to evacuate ???? pic.twitter.com/XM5MPWDhhR

— akilwolfpire (@akilwolfpire) April 24, 2021

OMG aleged bomb scare in Sandton City…mall being very proactive and evacuating everyone. Was so quick and well coordinated effort by the security team pic.twitter.com/j2JBzRqt8N

— Thula Sindi (@thulasindi) April 24, 2021

This is a developing story, and more information will be added as it becomes available.

Ramaphosa announces local government elections date

April 21st 2021 at 14:19

 

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the date for the 2021 local government elections.

In a statement on Wednesday evening, the Presidency said elections would take place on Wednesday, 27 October.

“This will be the sixth time under South Africa’s democratic dispensation that voters will elect leadership and public representatives at metropolitan, district and local level,” the Presidency said.

“The minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs will follow the necessary legal process to proclaim the date and undertake other requirements.

“The president urges eligible – and especially first-time voters – to ensure they are registered to participate in the elections which provide the basis for development and service delivery closest to where citizens live.”

Although some opposition parties, such as the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), wanted the elections postponed, Ramaphosa hinted last week that they would go ahead this year as scheduled. The EFF cited the inability to campaign due to Covid-19 restrictions as the reason behind their call for a postponement.

Addressing a by-election campaign in Durban last Thursday in his capacity as ANC president, Ramaphosa said as the ruling party they believed that the upcoming local government elections should go ahead, adding that the governing party was ready for them.

Earlier in April, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) told Parliament that they were ready to deliver free and fair elections when called upon to do, adding that the Constitution did not allow for a postponement.

IEC vice-chairperson Janet Love said not having the election would lead to a legitimacy problem for current councillors when their terms end.

Commission deputy CEO for election operations Masego Sheburi elaborated on the issue, saying the Constitution placed a ceiling of five years on municipal councillors’ terms.

“The Constitution further dictates an election must be held within 90 days of the expiry of the term,” he said.

Additional reporting by Eric Naki

WATCH: Derek Chauvin found guilty of murdering George Floyd

April 20th 2021 at 17:07

 

Minneapolis – Fired police officer Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of murdering African-American George Floyd.

Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter on Tuesday in the death of Floyd in a case that roiled the United States for almost a year, laying bare deep racial divisions.

A racially-diverse jury of seven women and five men in the Midwestern city of Minneapolis took less than two days at the end of a three-week trial to find the white officer guilty in unanimous decisions on all three charges he faced.

Chauvin, 45, could be handed decades behind bars for Floyd’s May 25, 2020 killing, which sparked protests against racial injustice around the world last year and is being seen as a landmark test of police accountability.

The 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department faces a maximum of 40 years in prison on the most serious of three charges he faced – second-degree murder.

He was seen on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as the 46-year-old black man lay handcuffed facedown in the street complaining he “can’t breathe”.

Floyd family lawyer Ben Crump hailed the verdict as a landmark victory for civil rights that could be a springboard to legislation to reform police forces in their dealings with minorities.

“Painfully earned justice has finally arrived for George Floyd’s family. This verdict is a turning point in history and sends a clear message on the need for accountability of law enforcement,” Crump tweeted.

“Justice for Black America is justice for all of America!”

Earlier on Tuesday, US President Joe Biden called for the “right” verdict in the racially charged trial of an ex-policeman accused of murdering George Floyd and described the case as “overwhelming”.

Ramaphosa announces new SANDF chief

April 14th 2021 at 12:54

 

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has a new chief.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that from 1 June 2021, Lieutenant-General Rudzani Maphwanya will take over as chief of the SANDF.

“Lt-Gen Maphwanya is a highly decorated officer with vast operational experience. His military career began in 1978 in Umkhonto we Sizwe, and since 1994, he has held numerous positions in the SANDF.

“He was appointed as general officer commanding the South African Special Forces in 2006 and as general officer commanding the SA Infantry Formation in 2016.

“In 2019, Lt-Gen Maphwanya was appointed as chief of Joint Operations,” Ramaphosa said.

WATCH: Ramaphosa announces Military Command Council appointments

He will also be promoted to rank of general upon assuming his new role.

Maphwanya takes over from General Solly Shoke, who has been chief of the armed forces since 2011, and will serve for a period of five years.

Ramaphosa’s announcement was also accompanied by new appointments to the Military Command Council (MCC), which is the highest decision-making body in the SANDF.

  • Major-General Wiseman Simo Mbambo is appointed as chief of the South African Air Force
  • Major-General Siphiwe Sangweni as chief of Joint Operations, effective from 1 June 2021
  • Major-General Ntshavheni Maphaha is appointed as Surgeon-General, with effect from 1 November 2021

Major-General Thalita Mxakato, as chief of Defence Intelligence, will become the first woman to be appointed to the military command of the SANDF, with effect from 1 June 2021

“This is a significant – and long overdue – development in the ongoing effort to advance the position of women in our armed forces,” Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa added that upon taking up their positions, the three majors-general (besides Surgeon-General Maphaha) would be promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general.

“These appointments demonstrate the value of effective succession planning and the development of talent across all institutions as critical as the South African National Defence Force,” the president said.

SA suspends rollout of Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine

April 13th 2021 at 13:20

 

Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize says South Africa is “voluntarily suspending” its intended rollout of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Covid-19 vaccine, after the United States paused their rollout due to reported blood clots in recipients.

“We have determined to voluntarily suspend our rollout until the causal relationship between the development of clots and the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is sufficiently interrogated,” Mkhize said.

“Sahpra [South African Health Products Regulatory Authority] will collate information from Johnson & Johnson, the FDA [US Food and Drug Administration] and other regulatory bodies to make a thorough assessment of the situation and advise us,” Mkhize said.

ALSO READ: USA may ‘pause’ J&J vaccine use as SA awaits 30m doses

However, he intimated that there was no need to panic, saying these reports were expected and adding that no clots had been reported in South Africa, “and this is after having inoculated 289,787 healthcare workers under the Sisonke Protocol”.

Top US health authorities on Tuesday recommended a “pause” in the use of the vaccine “out of an abundance of caution” as they investigate any links between it and blood clots.

The news comes two weeks after President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed that South Africa had secured 30 million J&J Covid-19 vaccines.

Mkhize, however, also announced that amid the intended rollout pause, South Africa had secured 10 million additional Pfizer vaccines, with two million due to be delivered next month – bring the secured Pfizer vaccines to 30 million doses.

“This also reassures us that, in the extremely unlikely event that Johnson & Johnson rollout is completely halted, we will not have any impediment to proceed with phase two of the rollout with Pfizer.

“We are confident that the rollout of Johnson & Johnson will resume and so, with 30 million doses of Johnson & Johnson and 30 million doses of Pfizer secured, we now have enough doses to exceed the 40 million we were targeting this year,” Mkhize said.

Watch the briefing below, courtesy of the SABC.

Additional reporting by AFP

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