Keep informed and up to date with all the latest news in South Africa by reviewing the day’s biggest headlines on Thursday 15 October.
While South Africans eagerly await President Cyril Ramaphosa’s presentation of the post-pandemic economic recovery plan during a special parliamentary sitting, Police Minister Bheki Cele attempts to quell tensions in the Free State after being given an ultimatum by fed-up farmers. In sports news, the catastrophic collapse of Cricket South Africa — owing to years of mismanagement — has forced Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa to intervene.
TODAY’S LATEST NEWS IN SOUTH AFRICA, THURSDAY 15 OCTOBER
President Ramaphosa reveals post-pandemic economic recovery plan to Parliament
The global coronavirus pandemic, which forced most countries into varying states of lockdown, has decimated economic prospects. This is especially true for South Africa, which, prior to the pandemic, teetered on the brink of recession and struggled to contain a mounting unemployment rate.
Three months of hard lockdown cost the country a further 2.2 million jobs, with billions of rands lost due to industrial dormancy and state funds diverted to immediate financial relief efforts. The overarching economic contraction is expected to intensify as South Africa’s tax base dwindles and the push to secure foreign investment is scuppered by rating agencies’ ‘junk status’.
This dire situation forms the backdrop for President Ramaphosa’s presentation to Parliament today. The South African Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, developed in consultation with various stakeholders in both the public and private sectors, intends to plot a progressive socioeconomic course going forward.
Coinciding with government’s controversial decision to extend the National State of Disaster, Ramaphosa is expected to focus on job creation, raising taxes, saving flailing state owned enterprises and cracking down on corruption. South Africa’s embattled power utility, Eskom, which is regarded as the single biggest threat to the country’s economic prospects, will come under the microscope, with Ramaphosa due to expand on the state owned enterprise’s contentious unbundling and nuclear options.
As a result of the economic recovery plan’s urgent unveiling, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has requested a postponement of the medium-term budget policy statement which was originally due to be delivered on 21 October. Parliamentary speaker Thandi Modise confirmed that Mboweni had applied for a week’s extension citing the need for more time to prepare following Ramaphosa’s presentation.
Free State farmers give Cele 21 days to deliver rural safety plan
Rural communities in the Free State have demanded that Police Minister Cele devise and implement a safety strategy aimed at keeping farmers and their workers safe. This follows a recent spate of farm attacks which have rocked the agriculturally-driven province.
Cele, who engaged with communities in Paul Roux and Bethlehem on Wednesday, was reprimanded by farmers for failing to heed warnings delivered years ago. A gathering of farmers at the Mitz Agricultural Union hall near Bloemfontein gave Cele a three-week deadline to finalise and implement the rural safety plan.
Cele acknowledged the vulnerability and frustrations of farming communities and assured those in attendance that the finishing touches — including the identification of crime hotspots — were being added to the rural safety plan.
The police minister’s tour of the Free State comes amid boiling tensions after the murder of 21-year-old farm manager, Brendin Horner. Two suspects charged with Horner’s murder appeared in the Senekal Magistrate’s Court last week. Farmers from across the province staged a protest outside the courthouse, which took a violent turn when clashes with police officers erupted.
Senekal businessman Andre Pienaar was arrested for his role in the unrest. Charged with attempted murder, malicious damage to property and public violence, Peinaar was denied bail earlier this week.
Cele, who visited Horner’s family as part of his plan to quell tensions in the area, confirmed that a heavy police presence will be deployed to mitigate violent clashes between protesters and political antagonists.
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader, Julius Malema, has vowed to attend the next hearing with the party’s ‘Ground Forces’ and arrest any protesting farmers. Malema has been reported to Parliament and faces criminal charges for ‘inciting violence’ and inflaming racial tensions in Senekal.
The suspects, Sekwetje Mahlamba and Sekola Matlaletsa, are expected to reappear in court on Friday.
Kinnear murder case moves to Bellville Regional Court amid safety concerns
The trial of Zane Killian, the former professional rugby player turned cell phone tracker who is charged with the murder of Anti-Gang Unit top cop Lieutenant-Colonel Charl Kinnear, will move to Bellville Regional Court on 26 October.
The latest development comes amid serious safety concerns raised during Killian’s brief appearance at the Bishop Lavis Magistrates Court. Killian was flanked by a contingent of heavily armed police officers, some wearing balaclavas to conceal their identity. It’s alleged that Kinnear’s assassination was connected to an ongoing investigation into a national gun trafficking scheme involving crooked cops and underworld bosses.
Kinnear’s closest colleagues, who worked with him on the firearm registry investigation, have said that they fear for their lives; some have even gone into hiding.
Prosecutors say that Killian, who was arrested in Springs a few days after Kinnear was shot outside his home in Bishop Lavis, had been tracking the top cop’s mobile phone for months. The consistent tracking ceased minutes after Kinnear’s murder.
Killian is due to appear at the Bellville Regional Court — which is better equipped to manage security details and ensure that the accused makes it to trial — for a bail application hearing on 26, 27, and 30 October.
Bosasa’s Angelo Agrizzi denied bail despite cries of ‘ill health’
Former Bosasa Chief Operations Officer, Angelo Agrizzi, has been denied bail by the Palm Ridge Commercial Crimes Court.
Agrizzi, who arrived at court carrying a portable oxygen pump after missing his previous arraignment due to hospitalisation, faces one count of corruption alongside Africa National Congress (ANC) MP Vincent Smith. While Smith was granted R30 000 bail, Agrizzi was less lucky in his appeal on Wednesday.
State prosecutors argued that Agrizzi was likely to abscond, if given the opportunity, pointing to an Italian passport — previously hidden by the former Bosasa bigwig — and offshore assets worth over R34 million. Agrizzi’s lawyer, Manie Witz, argued against the state’s opposition, noting that his client had cooperated with the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture and, considering his ill health, should be afforded a reprieve.
Ultimately, the judge — who cited difficulties faced by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in extradition processes — decided that rather than granting bail and risk losing Agrizzi, the former Bosasa boss would stay behind bars.
Smith is due to reappear in court on 3 December 2020.
Eskom: R44 million fraud exposed, leads to arrests and over 5 000 disciplinary proceedings
More than 5 000 Eskom employees are likely to face disciplinary action after the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) released its report on sub-contractor corruption at the embattled power utility. Said SIU head Advocate Andy Mothibi presented the damning report to the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts on Tuesday and detailed how R44 million in kickbacks had been paid to four Eskom employees who had recently been arrested.
Mothibi explained that a total of R136 million was paid to two-subcontractors and further red flags were raised during an intense lifestyle audit process. SIU lead investigator at Eskom, Claudia O’Brien, said:
“So far, we have referred eight of these officials for disciplinary proceedings and seven officials have resigned. In the appropriate instances, we will still proceed with referrals to the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority], while 19 investigations are still ongoing.
We have made 5 512 referrals to Eskom to institute disciplinary proceedings. Sixty of these referrals are in respect of officials, who are either doing business with Eskom or who failed to declare their interests in outside business entities.”
The latest swoop comes amid a fierce crackdown on corruption which has seen senior public officials and those entrusted with managing state owned enterprises arrested and prosecuted for malfeasance.
Springboks given new deadline to confirm Rugby Championship participation
SA Rugby has until Friday to confirm the Springboks’ participation in the 2020 Rugby Championship. This is the third delay in the controversial processes; the Springboks were initially requested to confirm participation last week but, citing intense deliberations, requested an extension.
SANZAAR, the organisation which oversees rugby in the southern hemisphere and recently ratified all Rugby Championship fixtures to include the Springboks, granted SA Rugby a 48-hour extension on Wednesday.
During engagements with SANZAAR, Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber raised concerns over his players’ fitness levels and match readiness, noting that he would prefer the team to play at least six internationals before heading to Australia for the Rugby Championship. This seems highly unlikely seeing as the Springboks are due to kick-off against Argentina on 7 November in Brisbane.
Added complications concerning lockdown regulations and travel restrictions have only added to the uncertainty.
CSA collapse forces government’s hand, minister Mthethwa steps in
Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa on Wednesday warned that he might be forced to intervene directly in the running of Cricket South Africa (CSA).
Government interference in any national cricket board can lead to the member nation being suspended from the ICC and could put future international tours in jeopardy.
In a statement issued by Mthethwa’s office on 14 October a deadline of 27 October was set for CSA to provide the ministry with detailed reasons why he should not “exercise his right to intervene”.
Mthethwa’s office has confirmed that the minister has informed the International Cricket Council of his intentions. The ICC does not permit government interference in member bodies and recently suspended Zimbabwe from international competition after the parastatal sports commission suspended the board.
A planned one-day international tour by England in November and December now appears to be in doubt and not just because of the ongoing governance crisis.
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Read the original article on The South African