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Today — May 14th 2021Your RSS feeds

Watch: Black actress says she identifies as white in shock interview

May 13th 2021 at 13:56

Mari van Heerden, a black South African woman, is slowly but surely creating a racial fire storm on Twitter, all thanks to an explosive interview in which she reveals that she considers herself white.

Van Heerden is a known soap actress, having starred in shows like Villa Rosa and 7de Laan. In an exclusive sit-down with media personality Relebogile Mabotja on her YouTube show Unpacked, she spoke candidly about her upbringing in an all-Afrikaans family in the North West and how it impacted her racial identity.

Mari Van Heerden: ‘I don’t identify as black’

In the clip, which has garnered close to 90 000 views, Van Heerden speaks of how she “never learnt” to be black.

“I don’t identify as being black. I was brought up white, so I couldn’t learn how to be black. So now, from the beginning, I was raised white… I always thought of marrying a white man. It’s not like I can’t identify with being black, it’s just that I never learnt how to and I never had the opportunity to learn from black people,” she said.

😳😳 pic.twitter.com/xUdtXXokkQ

— Nhlakanipho Mkhize (@DrMkhize4) May 12, 2021

Van Heerden was brought up in Ramokokastad by her grandmother who worked for an Afrikaans family on a farm. Her grandmother had taken Van Heerden from her parents when she was just a toddler, allegedly because she was being ill-treated and was eventually adopted by the family.

Twitter reacts to Mari van Heerden clip

Twitter has been awash with reactions to the clip. here’s what some had to say.

So this is not a sketch. Its real?

— Nhlakanipho Mkhize (@DrMkhize4) May 12, 2021

The person who chose this exact extract had an agenda. If people actually listen to the whole interview they might be less judgemental and more empathetic. She has a story to tell and it's not all pretty. She just did her best to live the life that she was given ❤

— Bathabile Ramalapa (PhD) (@drbathabile) May 13, 2021

‘I wasn’t black enough and I wasn’t white enough’

She has also revealed some of the social struggles which came with being a black girl in an Afrikaans school.

“It was difficult because I couldn’t fit in anywhere. I wasn’t black enough and I wasn’t white enough,” Van Heerden said.

Her adoptive father, Klasie van Heerden, featured in the interview and spoke of the change she brought into their lives.

“She was immediately taken in… There was no race discrimination among us. Our hearts were being changed as Mari grew into the family. We had to have our hearts change because it was a very difficult time. Living on a farm and living in a difficult time,” Van Heerden said.

Her full name is Mari Molefe van Heerden and said she’d decided to keep her biological father’s surname and stay connected to her roots.

You can watch the full interview here.

Yesterday — May 13th 2021Your RSS feeds

Unpaid Denel workers killing themselves, living out of their cars

May 13th 2021 at 06:31

Denel workers are suffering without their salaries. Two have taken their own lives, while others have to send their children to school in winter with clothes that are noticeably too small for them. Many have lost their cars and many stand to lose their homes. And some of them are always, always hungry.

A look at the Denel Group’s website shows that its values are:

  • Performance: we embrace operational excellence
  • Integrity: we are honest, truthful and ethical
  • Innovation: we create sustainable investment solutions
  • Caring: we care for our people, customers, communities, nations and the environment
  • Accountability: we take responsibility for all our actions.

It is hard to believe that a company with these kinds of values would let its workers go without salaries or only 20% of their pay each month. The fact is Denel workers are suffering and feel they have been forgotten by the company, government and the rest of the country, says the wife of one of the employees.

ALSO READ: Denel on the verge of imploding

Some families lost all their income because both parents work for Denel. They have lost their cars and will probably also lose their homes over the next few months if they can’t pay their home loans. People who never thought they would go hungry have to swallow their pride and ask for food parcels, she says.

One of the employees lost her house but was lucky enough to keep her car. She only has a place to sleep with family, but has to keep her clothes in the boot of her car. The back seat is her kitchen where she makes sandwiches before work.

Company value: Caring: we care for our people, customers, communities, nations and the environment.

Another employee hanged himself on Christmas Day because the future was so bleak. Another was in a bad accident last year and lived in constant pain after breaking almost every bone in his body. Denel refused to board him. When his mother died, he sent his wife to Cape Town to bury her. While she was gone, he shot himself.

ALSO READ: Cash-strapped Denel must dig deep to pay salaries

People are resigning in droves, but those close to retirement stick around to get their pension. If they resign, they first have to pay tax before they get their money because Denel did not pay their PAYE to SARS although it reflects on their pay slips. Sars only advises them to get their money back from Denel, the employee’s wife says.

Company value: Integrity: we are honest, truthful and ethical.

Pension payments have not been made for the past six months. Some employees’ medical aid has been stopped because no payments were made. People collecting chronic medication suddenly found they had to pay cash at the pharmacy – if they could afford it.

ALSO READ: Denel executive and staff salaries cut amid cash crisis

Staff at Denel Corporate still get their full salaries, the wife says. In her husband’s office, the fluorescent light has not been working for the past few months. Because the windows are tinted, he has to open them to get light. Now he has to wear a thick jacket in the office because it is cold with the windows open and the air conditioning does not work.

People who cannot afford to pay for fuel to travel to work can work from home, but they must buy their own data, despite promises that they will receive extra money for this.

Company value: Accountability: we take responsibility for all our actions.

People who resign go to work in Saudi Arabia or the UAE where they work on the contracts Denel lost. The wife tells US that Denel recently won a R7 billion missile contract from Egypt. The government refused to guarantee the R100 million required and by the time an Egyptian bank agreed to finance the deal, it was too late and the project was awarded to a French company.

Company value: Innovation: we create sustainable investment solutions.

Before yesterdayYour RSS feeds

SANParks CEO takes special leave amid allegations of sexual assault

May 11th 2021 at 12:54

The South African National Parks (SANParks) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Fundisile Mketeni will take special leave from his work engagements in light of assault and sexual assault allegations.

According to SANparks, the complaints against Mketeni was lodged on Friday, 7 May in Skukuza, Kruger National Park.

CEO AND THREE OTHERS IN COURT ON SIMILAR CHARGES

SANParks Board Chairperson Joanne Yawitch said, in a media statement, that the CEO has taken special leave while he allows the law to takes its course.

“In line with SANParks’ commitment to ethical conduct and the seriousness of the allegations, Mr Mketeni has requested to take special leave until such time that this matter has been resolved and the law has taken its course.”

According to Yawitch, Mketeni appeared in court on Monday, 11 May, together with three other individuals on similar charges. The accused reportedly include two men, also employed by SANParks and a woman who is not an employee.

SANPARKS TAKES ALLEGATIONS IN SERIOUS LIGHT

Yawitch added that there will be an internal investigation to ascertain whether there were any improper or illegal conduct.

“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.

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

In the interim Dr Luthando Dziba, the Managing Executive of Conservation Services, has been appointed as Acting CEO.

READ: SANParks laments arrest of employees for alleged rhino poaching

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.

Marikana murder trial: Ex-top cop, five others back in court

May 9th 2021 at 13:48

The trial against former North West deputy police commissioner Major-General William Mpembe and five others continues in the North West High Court on Monday.

Mpembe, retired Colonel Salmon Vermaak, Constable Nkosana Mguye and Warrant Officers Katlego Sekgweleya, Masilo Mogale and Khazamola Makhubela are on trial for events relating to the deaths of three miners and two police officers in Marikana in August 2016.

They are facing five counts of murder, attempted murder, defeating the ends of justice and contravening the Commission’s Act by giving false information to the Marikana Commission of Enquiry.

ALSO READ: Video depicting bodies of two cops and three miners played in court

“Several key witnesses have already testified when the matter appeared at the high court on 12 October 2020. Among those were a crime scene expert from the SAPS, a CCTV operator from Lonmin Mines and a videographer from the SAPS.

“More key witnesses are expected to give evidence when the trial commences tomorrow,” National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Regional Spokesperson Henry Mamothame said in a statement.

‘Concealed information’

The suspects allegedly concealed information on circumstances surrounding the death of Modisaotsile Sagalala, who died in a police canter when striking miners participated in a wage strike on 16 August 2012.

“It is alleged they were shot by police following confrontation. It is also alleged that Sagalala, who had a gunshot wound on the chest and handcuffs at the back, died in a police canter following his arrest with other miners.

“His lifeless body was subsequently discovered at the temporary detention center that was set by the police in the Lonmin mines premises, referred to as the Hub, when miners were offloaded to be processed,” Mamothame said.

Mamothame further said that police allegedly passed off Sagalala’s body as if he had died in hospital although the body was reportedly to have been certified dead by paramedics at the hub.

“General Mzondase Mpembe and three other senior police officers failed to report this matter to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) and they misrepresented facts at the Farlam Commission which was set to establish truths surrounding the deaths of miners during the strike,” he added.

Additional reporting by News24 Wire

Eastern Cape abaThembu royal sentenced to life for rape

May 8th 2021 at 12:50

An AbaThembu royal family member was sentenced to life behind bars for the repeated rape of two teenagers.

The 32-year-old’s traditional authority covers the Khonqeni and Xhongorha areas, near Mthatha.

The Bityi Regional Court in the Eastern Cape jailed Avelile Sakhisizwe Mtirara, who raped two of his relatives between 2016 and 2017.

The court heard that he called each teen to his rondavel, which was not far from the main house, and raped them. He threatened to kill them if they told anyone.

However, they told their aunt about their ordeals.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Luxolo Tyali said the chief denied raping the girls and claimed that they were part of a conspiracy to dethrone him.

“The court found him guilty as charged and agreed with the prosecutor’s submission that Mtirara had abused his position of trust, both as an older relative and a traditional leader to whom the community looks up,” Tyali added.

The court sentenced Mtirara to life imprisonment on Thursday for the rape of the younger teen and eight years for the rape of the other one.

The sentences will be served concurrently.

NPA ‘on brink of making progress’ on state capture investigations

May 8th 2021 at 08:55

The National Prosecuting Authority’s Investigating Directorate (ID) is “on the brink of making significant progress” on state capture investigations, said the National Director of Public Prosecutions, Shamila Batohi.

Addressing the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services on Friday, regarding the NPA’s annual performance plan and budget, Batohi described the ID as a “game-changer”.

However, ID head Hermione Cronje was cautious about providing information on the Guptas and their associates, notably Salim Essa’s extradition to South Africa.

ACDP MP Steve Swart said it is “disgraceful” that they are sitting overseas.

“We can confirm that they are not yet in South Africa,” Cronje said. “We’ve certainly not relented.”

She said they are getting cooperation from a number of other countries in this regard.

Batohi said the ID is working very well with the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), also known as the Hawks, and that the ID brings a whole new methodology.

“The really big cases, that people want to come to court, have not yet come to court,” Batohi said.

However, she believes the hard work of the past two years has laid a solid foundation.

She said the change in the Zondo Commission’s regulations, to allow law enforcement agencies to access evidence presented at the commission, has made a big impact.

They are, however, wary of bringing cases to court, where evidence is still going to be led at the commission.

She said: “The ID is, in fact, poised to make significant progress on priority matters.”

She added that they are “on the brink of making significant inroads”.

The ID is also working with the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) to regain money stolen through formal partnerships.

In March, Cronje told the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) that they are close to “pulling together the strands” in Transnet’s alleged corrupt purchase of 1 064 locomotives, involving Essa. She also provided details of the intricate case.

She said they were drafting an indictment in the case of Eskom and the then Gupta-owned Tageta, planning to have it before court later this year.

In the 2019–2020 financial year, the NPA had a 92.3% conviction rate for complex corruption cases, convicting 233 people from the private sector on corruption, and 183 from the government.

The following year, the conviction rate was 93%, in which 150 people from the private sector and 220 government officials were convicted. These numbers are unaudited.

The NPA plans to maintain this conviction rate in the current financial year.

Batohi’s presentation to the committee was generally well-received.

#LiveYourWild with SANParks this May at selected national parks

May 5th 2021 at 15:21

If you need to get out of the house, keep reading. South African National Parks (SANParks) is offering a discount at selected national parks during May.

SANParks is currently offering a 40% discount on new online bookings for stays between Monday, 3 May and Tuesday, 11 May 2021 at a selection of parks and camps around South Africa

SANParks 40% discount offer

The discount only applies to the cost of the specified accommodation and camping. No discounts will be offered on conservation fees, Wild Card purchases, activities, meals, etc.

SANParks said in a statement the 1% Community Fund charge will be calculated on the discounted reservation cost. Get 40% off when you book at the following parks and camps:

  • Addo Elephant National Park:
    • Narina Rest Camp
    • Alexandria (Umsitsi Cottage and Langebos Huts)
    • Spekbook Rest Camp
  • Agulhas National Park
  • Augrabies Falls National Park
  • Bontebok National Park
  • Camdeboo National Park
  • Garden Route National Park:
    • Storms River Mouth Rest Camp
    • Wilderness Ebb-and-Flow Rest Camp
    • Knysna
    • Nature’s Valley
  • Golden Gate Highlands National Park:
    • Glen Reenen Rest Camp
  • Kruger National Park:
    • Mopani Rest Camp
    • Pretoriuskop Rest Camp
  • Marakele National Park:
    • Bontle Rest Camp
  • West Coast National Park

The reservations will be subject to the terms and conditions of the SANParks online booking system and reservations made through any other channel are not entitled to the discounts. The discounts are not available to the Travel Trade.

Now read: Portugal extends travel ban on South African nationals

Shepherd Bushiri head of security in court on corruption charge

May 5th 2021 at 11:26

Controversial Kenyan pastor Shepherd Bushiri’s head of security and his wife, a senior member of the SAPS, appeared in the Pretoria Magistrates Court facing charges of corruption this week.

Rosey Resondt, a 45-year-old brigadier who works as a member of the SAPS National Organised Crime Unit appeared in court with her husband, Clifford Cornelius Resondt, who works as the head of security for Shepherd Bushiri.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) national spokesperson Sipho Ngwema said that the couple had appeared in court on charges of corruption after Clifford had been arrested on 20 January 2018 for allegedly raping a child. 

“An amount of R500 000 was transferred from the Shepherd Bushiri Ministries to Rosy’s account on the 22 January 2018 and the amount reflected on the parents of the child’s home loan account,” Ngwema said.

“The same day when the money reflected on the parents account, the child dropped the charges against the husband.”

Ngwema said that during the next court appearance the rape charge against him had been withdrawn.

Ngwema said that the couple was this week granted bail of R15 000 each under strict conditions. 

“Bail conditions were that they should attend court for the duration of the court proceedings. They must not intimidate witnesses and must report to their closest police station (Olivenhoodbosh police station) on Mondays,” Ngwema said.

He said the couple was also ordered to hand over their passports to the SAPS investigating officer and restricted from travelling to any SA ports of entry.

“The husband should not travel outside Gauteng and Rosy should submit her work travel itinerary to the investigating officer before travelling,” he said.

Rosy was ordered to hand over her third passport within 14 days and the couple was ordered not to apply for new passports 

Matter postponed for further investigation.

Murder Latest: Miguel Louw killer sentenced to 34 years in jail

May 5th 2021 at 11:00

Phoenix man, Mohamed Ebrahim Vahed, 43, was sentenced to 34 years and six months imprisonment in the Durban High Court on Wednesday.

This is after he was convicted for the murder and kidnapping of nine-year-old, Miguel Louw, in July 2018.

National Prosecuting Authority spokeswoman, Natasha Kara, said Vahed had also been found guilty of theft and was sentenced to 25 years, eight years and 18 months for the three offences.

Vahed had occasionally stayed with Miguel and his family in Sydenham because he sometimes did odd jobs for them. Sometime prior to the boy’s disappearance, Vahed had told Miguel’s mother, Raylene that he was attracted to her. She turned down his advances, and he became angry and warned that he would “show her”.

A few days later, Vahed stole Raylene’s and the children’s ID documents and birth certificates. On 17 July 2018, Vahed fetched Miguel from school, something he had never done before, and bought him food at a nearby KFC outlet. They then boarded a taxi which went towards the direction of the Durban CBD.

Miguel was not seen alive again.  

Police arrested Vahed a few days later but he maintained his innocence, denying that he had anything to do with the child’s disappearance. Miguel’s body was found in a bushy area a few metres away from Vahed’s home in Phoenix on 3 September 2018.

“Although the cause of death could not be properly ascertained as the body was in a state of decomposition and skeletisation, the autopsy report said suffocation could be considered,” Kara said.

Senior State Advocate, Kelvin Singh presented video footage showing Vahed and Miguel in the fast food outlet and boarding a taxi. The video was of Vahed showing Miguel what appeared to be the ID document and birth certificates. These items were found in Vahed’s possession when he was arrested.

Adv Singh also presented cell phone evidence which placed Vahed at specific locations, linking him to the crime. 

Vahed’s defence was that he did not kill Miguel, as he was in police custody, the state led entomological evidence that the insects found on the body show that he died shortly after he went missing, probably the same day or the following day.

The state submitted Victim Impact Statements compiled by Miguel’s mother, sister Mikayla and grandmother, Arlene Omardeen.

Omardeen described Miguel as a loving and gentle child. She said that his death had caused her world to collapse and she was still grieving the loss. Raylene said that her life was happy and complete with her two children but that ended abruptly when Miguel went missing.  She spent days crying and had sleepless nights. She said the fact that they could not view his body, due to the decomposition, had worsened the trauma. Mikayla said that she and Miguel had been inseparable as they shared everything. She said that her heart was broken and full of sadness.

Director of Public Prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal, Adv. Elaine Zungu said: “Although we cannot bring back the life that was tragically lost, we hope that the family finds solace in that justice has  been done. Commendations to the prosecution and investigation team on a job well done, bearing in mind that they had to rely on forensic evidence and minimal circumstantial evidence. The sentence and conviction in the matter is welcomed.”                                                            

Supra Mahumapelo suspended from ANC for five years

April 28th 2021 at 12:08

Former premier of the North West province and current ANC member of Parliament (MP), Supra Mahumapelo, has suspended from the ruling party for five years.

This after he was found guilty of misconduct, along with provincial ANC Women’s League acting secretary Bitsa Lenkopane, by the North West provincial disciplinary committee (PDC). The hearings were held on Monday and Tuesday (26-27 April).

ALSO READ: ‘Honourable route’ – DA lauds Madikizela for resigning as Western Cape leader

“After considering the aggravating factors as submitted by the presenter of evidence on behalf of the ANC represented by the IPC in the North West province, the committee therefore concluded on the following, that both members are hereby suspended from the ANC for a period of five years with immediate effect. That both respondents must be removed from the lists of public representatives of the ANC,” said PDC chairperson Wendy Matsemela.

Mahumapelo will have to be replaced as MP and Lenkopane as member of the provincial legislature (MPL), and News24 reported that part of his sanction includes subjecting himself to a mentorship programme for political leadership, under former president Thabo Mbeki’s tutelage, for three years.

Lenkopane’s mentorship will take place under ANC veteran and former ambassador to the United States, Barbara Masekela’s guidance, for five years.

“Both respondents are advised of their right in respect of the appeal or review the verdict or sanctions accordingly with the national disciplinary committee of appeals in terms of rule 25.36 and rule 25.38 of the ANC constitution, respectively. The said application for appeal or review must be lodged with the national disciplinary committee of appeals within 21 days from the date of the receipt of the ruling,” Matsemela said.

ALSO READ: ‘Step aside’ resolution must be suspended, says Mahumapelo

The guilty verdicts are linked to the pair instituting parallel rallies which sought to sow division in the province

Last week, Mahumapelo was temporarily suspended for publicly telling JB Marks municipality mayor Kgotso Khumalo on 22 March not to resign, despite the mayor having been arrested in 2020 and still facing criminal charges.

Additional reporting by News24 Wire

Two accused in Soweto ‘witch’ murder appear in court

April 12th 2021 at 12:35

 

Two men have appeared in the Protea Magistrates’ Court for the murder of 58-year-old Jostina Sangweni, who was beaten and burnt after being accused of being a witch in Mapetla, Soweto, last week.

Taelo Dipholo, 28, and Collen Sello, 27, were arrested in Mapetla on Saturday.

“Sangweni was allegedly burnt by members of the community following accusations that she was a witch. It is alleged that she was attacked for wearing a traditional healers’ attire,” the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said in a statement.

“The NPA is working closely with the police to guide the ongoing investigation into her death and the possibility of more arrests cannot be ruled out at this stage.”

Sangweni’s family had taken her to a traditional healer’s home, but she wandered off. According to Sangweni’s son-in-law Jabulani Moagi, she had been diagnosed with schizophrenia after she started to “lose her mind”.

“A couple of weeks after the diagnosis she was still getting worse and one of the elders in the family suggested that she should be taken to a traditional healer.

“We took her to Mapetla in Soweto and that’s where she got lost,” Moagi said.

Moagi said that his mother-in-law was apparently afraid and went into a house nearby to seek help because she was not familiar with the area. That was when she was accused of witchcraft, beaten up and doused with petrol.

“When we heard that she was lost, at around 11pm, we tried searching for her. But after a while we decided to go to the police station and report her missing. We gave the police her description and they immediately searched for her.

“The officer said he had someone who matched the description, who was nearly burnt by an angry mob.

“When we arrived at the crime scene, she was motionless and badly burnt but still alive, so we hurried her to the [Chris Hani Baragwanath] hospital where she died,” Moagi added.

Additional reporting by Reitumetse Makwea

DA MP gets R500 bail for attempted murder

April 6th 2021 at 13:41

A Democratic Alliance (DA) MP in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) has appeared in the Alice Magistrate’s Court for attempted murder.

Mlindi Nhanha is accused of shooting at his brother-in-law, Mxolisi Daniel, on Sunday 3am in Dyamala, after Daniel intervened when Nhanha allegedly assaulted his wife, Vatiswa.

“It is alleged that he [Nhanha] assaulted her. Vatiswa’s 40-year-old brother, Mxolisi Daniel then allegedly chased him out of the homestead.

“It is claimed that Nhanha became violent towards his brother-in-law and went to his car, took his firearm, shot at him but missed,” the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said in statement.

ALSO READ: Cop demands bribe from undercover colleague at illegal roadblock

Daniel reported the matter to police and Nhanha was arrested on Monday. His firearm was also confiscated.

However, Daniel has since withdraw his case, saying that he and Nhanha had ironed out their differences.

“The NPA will, however, study the docket and make a decision whether or not to proceed with the case.

“Nhanha was released on R500 bail and the case was postponed to 7 June 2021,” the NPA said.

Nhanha is also the DA’s spokesperson in the Eastern Cape.

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