The year that was 2016

With vi­cious wars among law en­force­ment agen­cies, wa­ter scan­dals and health tragedies, this year hasn’t been an easy ride

CityPress - - News - – Zinhle Mapumulo

CRIM­I­NAL JUS­TICE

The wars in South Africa’s law en­force­ment agen­cies have given Gen­er­a­tions, Mu­vhango and Isibaya a run for their money this year.

It was all there: pub­lic spats, at­tempted mur­ders, trea­son, back-stab­bing and con­spir­a­cies.

The star cast in­cluded Po­lice Min­is­ter Nathi Nh­leko, Fi­nance Min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han, Hawks head Mthandazo Ntle­meza, SA Rev­enue Ser­vice (Sars) com­mis­sioner Tom Moy­ane and National Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Prose­cu­tions Shaun Abra­hams.

In sup­port­ing roles were for­mer Hawks boss Anwa Dra­mat, In­de­pen­dent Po­lice In­ves­tiga­tive Direc­torate head Robert McBride, act­ing po­lice com­mis­sioner Kho­motso Phahlane, his pre­de­ces­sor Riah Phiyega, and ex-Gaut­eng Hawks boss Shadrack Sibiya, along­side fired Sars of­fi­cials, Sibiya’s re­place­ment Prince Mokotedi, rogue in­tel­li­gence agents and a few jour­nal­ists too.

The year started with a mas­sive hang­over from the saga in­volv­ing the ren­di­tion of five Zim­bab­weans, which cost Dra­mat and Sibiya their jobs and earned McBride a 20-month sus­pen­sion. They were all crim­i­nally charged in the be­gin­ning of the year, thanks to in­ves­ti­ga­tions pur­sued by Ntle­meza. Ntle­meza had us glued to our TVs this year. His hench­man, Nyameka Xaba, who leads the Hawks’ unit for crimes against the state, was the hatchet man re­spon­si­ble for in­ves­ti­gat­ing Gord­han, McBride, Sibiya and the fired Sars of­fi­cials. He went as far as ha­rass­ing jour­nal­ists in their news­rooms, and al­legedly kid­nap­ping a Sars of­fi­cial who was in pos­ses­sion of a doc­u­ment that scup­pered the case against Gord­han.

Abra­hams has been one of the top vil­lains of this year’s soapie. Af­ter it be­came known that the Hawks were in­ves­ti­gat­ing Gord­han a week be­fore he de­liv­ered his bud­get speech in Fe­bru­ary, Abra­hams charged him with fraud shortly be­fore he de­liv­ered his medium-term bud­get, send­ing the cur­rency and mar­kets into yet an­other tail­spin.

Abra­hams, who went to Luthuli House for a meet­ing a day be­fore his an­nounce­ment to “talk about #FeesMustFall protests”, then dra­mat­i­cally with­drew the charges, say­ing the Hawks messed up.

De­pend­ing on which side of the ANC di­vide you are on, Gord­han is the good guy who saved the coun­try from a down­grade and stopped Trea­sury from be­ing cap­tured.

The Hawks have vowed to charge Gord­han, who re­mains un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion, be­fore Christ­mas over his al­leged in­volve­ment with the Sars spy unit. City Press has learnt that they main­tain this po­si­tion, so let’s see what hap­pens this week. Whether Abra­hams has the guts for it this time round re­mains to be seen.

McBride would be the brood­ing-but-flawed ac­tion hero, go­ing af­ter Phahlane who may have been liv­ing above his means. To get his job back, he took Nh­leko on in the Con­sti­tu­tional Court and won. But now he has been charged in a bizarre case in­volv­ing Mokotedi – who moon­lights as a pas­tor – who has ac­cused him and foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tor Paul O’Sullivan of all sorts of things – from at­tempted mur­der to trea­son.

This is yet an­other case to fol­low next year, along with that of Phiyega who is fight­ing the Marikana Com­mis­sion’s re­port. She also plans to take on the board of in­quiry headed by Judge Neels Claassen, who rec­om­mended that she be fired.

We wish this was fic­tion, but it’s truly a re­al­ity se­ries that re­flects the sit­u­a­tion in our law en­force­ment agen­cies. We pre­dict it will only get worse next year.

– Abram Mashego

WATERGATE

Wa­ter and San­i­ta­tion Min­is­ter Nomvula Mokonyane will soon know her fate as the Spe­cial In­ves­ti­gat­ing Unit con­cludes its in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the bil­lions of rands in wa­ter con­tracts given to po­lit­i­cally con­nected busi­ness­peo­ple in Lim­popo.

Watergate is a se­ries of City Press ex­posés that be­gan with how a po­lit­i­cally con­nected com­pany, LTE Con­sult­ing, ir­reg­u­larly ben­e­fited from R5 bil­lion in wa­ter projects in the prov­ince – with­out go­ing to ten­der.

In July, City Press re­ported that Mokonyane per­son­ally in­ter­vened and de­layed the launch of the Le­sotho High­lands Wa­ter Project to se­cure a slice of the R26 bil­lion project for LTE and politi­cians in Maseru.

Wa­ter scientists and ex­perts warned the de­lays could re­sult in se­ri­ous wa­ter short­ages in Gaut­eng should there be a drought be­tween 2019 and 2025.

For­mer pub­lic pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela also grilled Mokonyane on her con­tri­bu­tion to the de­lays, and re­ferred some of the is­sues em­a­nat­ing from that meet­ing to the Au­di­tor-Gen­eral for fur­ther scru­tiny.

City Press un­der­stands that the Au­di­tor-Gen­eral is now con­duct­ing a per­for­mance au­dit of the Le­sotho High­lands Wa­ter Project, which will be re­leased next year.

Two months ago, Mokonyane also ap­pointed an in­ter­nal team to probe “ten­der ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties” and it is ex­pected to wrap up their work next year.

– Sipho Masondo

HEALTH The year 2016 was a mixed bag for South Africa’s health.

The good: In July, lo­cal re­searchers re­ceived the green light to pro­ceed with a large-scale HIV vac­cine trial, the largest in the coun­try’s his­tory, which was an­nounced at the In­ter­na­tional Aids Con­fer­ence held in Dur­ban in July.

The HVTN 702 trial, launched in Pre­to­ria, Cape Town and Dur­ban last month, aims to de­ter­mine if the HIV vac­cine is safe, tol­er­a­ble and ef­fec­tive in pre­vent­ing in­fec­tion among South African adults.

The vac­cine is the mod­i­fied ver­sion of a vac­cine tested in Thai­land in 2009 that showed the vac­cine was safe and re­duced HIV in­fec­tion by 31.2%.

Fol­low­ing the suc­cess of the Thai trial, South Africa launched two tri­als aimed at test­ing whether South Africans would show the same im­mune re­sponse as the Thais. The re­sponse was sim­i­lar and, in some cases, much bet­ter.

How­ever, re­sults from the cur­rent trial are ex­pected only in 2020, which means we have to wait a few years to find out whether the vac­cine works.

The hope­ful: Pub­lic hear­ings into what is driv­ing up the costs of pri­vate health­care fi­nally be­gan in Fe­bru­ary, al­most two years af­ter the Com­pe­ti­tion Com­mis­sion an­nounced its in­ten­tion to hold an in­quiry into the health mar­ket pric­ing sys­tems. We heard from pa­tients who pay for­tunes for med­i­cal cover, but when the time comes for med­i­cal schemes to de­liver, they ei­ther paid less, re­jected the claims or paid noth­ing at all be­cause they had no money. Schemes also told their side of the story, blam­ing doc­tors who some­times charge more than 300% of the scheme rates. Doc­tors hit back, blam­ing schemes for de­vel­op­ing tar­iff fees that barely cov­ered their costs. The hear­ings are still to be con­cluded as some sec­tors have not been cov­ered or in­vited to make pre­sen­ta­tions. The bad: In Septem­ber, Gaut­eng health MEC Qedani Mahlangu re­vealed that 36 psy­chi­atric pa­tients had died in the care of NGOs in which they were placed af­ter the de­part­ment cut its con­tract with Life Esidi­meni. That num­ber has since in­creased to 39, with an­other pa­tient dy­ing shortly af­ter be­ing ad­mit­ted to Steve Biko Aca­demic Hospi­tal in Pre­to­ria last week. Health Min­is­ter Aaron Mot­soaledi or­dered an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by Health Om­buds­man Pro­fes­sor Male­ga­puru Mak­goba, who said that while his probe was com­plete, he was still go­ing through all the re­ports and could only de­liver a com­plete re­port to Mot­soaledi early next year. Mak­goba’s re­port is ex­pected to re­veal the con­di­tions un­der which the pa­tients died and rec­om­mend min­i­mum health stan­dards for psy­chi­atric pa­tients.

QEDANI MAHLANGU

PRAVIN GORD­HAN

NOMVULA MOKONYANE

ROBERT MCBRIDE

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