‘What mutton curry?’
A 2010 meeting between Vytjie Mentor and
Ajay Gupta at the latter’s Saxonwold home in Johannesburg did not happen, said Gupta in his affidavit to the Zondo state capture commission. The meeting, Mentor told the commission in August, was held over a meal of mutton curry. Ajay took exception to this, saying that his family is of the Hindu faith and thus are vegetarian.
Call to arrest Vaal River polluters
Environmental group Save the Vaal Environment (Save) are taking the government and the Emfuleni municipality to the Human Rights Commission to explain their inability to preserve the Vaal Rivier. The river’s pollution level is critical, with raw sewage and toxic material flowing into the Vaal. The inquiry is due to start on Tuesday, but the chairperson of Save, Malcolm Plant, has asked that those responsible for the crisis are tried in court and sent to jail.
Diners beat up rape suspect
Following the rape of a seven-year-old girl at the Dros steakhouse in Silverton, Pretoria, last Saturday the Dros group confirmed in a muted press release that the incident took place. The child was raped in the men’s toilets at the restaurant, for which a 20-year-old man was arrested. A witness told The Citizen that the mother found her daughter after she heard sounds coming from the toilet. The mother, the witness said, called for help from fellow patrons. Diners assaulted the suspect, who has since been charged with rape, possession of drugs, assault with intent to do bodily harm and intimidation.
Extradition treaty may see Ajay in SA
In a move that could force the Gupta brothers to return to South Africa should they be charged, Minister of Justice Michael Masutha signed an extradition treaty with his counterpart in the United Arab Emirates, Sultan Saeed Al Badi. The treaty has been in the works since 2010, and Ajay Gupta, who was declared a fugitive from justice earlier this year, lives in Dubai. Gupta is wanted by the Hawks for his alleged involvement in state capture.
SABC will retrench legally, it says
The public broadcaster’s turnaround strategy does not focus solely on retrenchments, the board’s chair, Bongumusa Makhathini, told
MPs this week, saying legacy, governance, regulation, policy, commercial and operational issues would also be dealt with. The broadcaster reported a R622-million loss last year. If there are retrenchments, the SABC will follow Labour Relations Act procedures to reduce its workforce of 3 400 employees.
Fewer dead rhino, more ‘incidents’
Far fewer rhino are being killed in South Africa. By this time last year, 691 rhino had been killed for their horns, said the department of environmental affairs. This year the number was down to 508. In the Kruger National Park, where about half of all rhino are killed, numbers dropped from 332 to 292, despite a jump in the number of “incidents” in which poachers were seen or recorded in the park. These “incidents” increased from 1 702 last year to 1 873 so far this year.
Environment minister dies
South Africa’s long-serving environment minister, Edna Molewa, died unexpectedly last Saturday morning. She was 61. A child of the North West, Molewa cut her teeth in decades of activism against the apartheid regime. She was the deputy president of the South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union. After democracy, she became the first woman to chair the parliamentary portfolio committee on trade and industry. She became the premier of North West in 2004, the first woman in the role, staying until 2009. Molewa became the environmental minister in 2010. The small department received consistent unqualified audits during her tenure. She was instrumental in international climate negotiations, culminating in the 2015 Paris Agreement, where she was lauded for bringing people and countries together to create agreement when everything seemed to be falling apart. During the Zuma years she was head of communications in the ANC Women’s League. Her funeral service will take place on October 6.
Taiwan finds a lone friend in Africa
Finding friends when you’re an enemy of China is tough. Fewer than 20 countries recognise the tiny nation-state of Taiwan as a country. Among them is Swaziland, renamed eSwatini by King Mswati III without consulting his people or Parliament. Mswati used his address to the UN General Assembly to say that Taiwan should have the “opportunity to partake and contribute to the United Nations development system”. Taiwan was once the darling of the Western world. Created in 1949 during the Chinese civil war, it became home to the pro-capitalist government of Chiang Kai-shek. The mainland fell to the control of Mao Zedong’s communists. Both sides claimed to be the real government of China. During the Cold War, most countries, including South Africa, decided the island was the capital of China. This changed as the Cold War ended and mainland China’s economy exploded. An increase in the amounts China could suddenly loan countries happened at the same time as those countries deciding that there was only one China and that China was run from Beijing. South Africa saw the light in 1998, recognising Beijing and downgrading relations with Taiwan. eSwatini is alone on the continent in not following suit.
Dlamini liable for 20% of court costs
Bathabile Dlamini, the former minister of social development, is personally liable for 20% of the legal costs incurred during the near-collapse of the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa), the Constitutional Court ruled this week. Dlamini could also be prosecuted for perjury, said the court, deferring the decision to the National Prosecuting Authority. Nongovernmental organisations Freedom Under Law and the Black Sash brought the case after a 2014 ruling that a contract signed between Sassa and Cash Payment Services to distribute social grants was illegal and invalid. This led to months when grant recipients did not get payouts. The South African Post Office has since won the contract to distribute grants.
Chip packets flood Royal Mail
Royal Mail has asked environmental activists to stop mailing empty chip packets. Under the hashtag #PacketInWalkers, people have been posting pictures of themselves mailing their empty chip (or crisps, as Britain has it) packets back to the manufacturers, Walkers. The campaign was backed by more than 300 000 signatures. Walkers creates 11-million bags of chips each day, and the country consumes six billion packets a year. Activists want the packaging to be more environmentally friendly. Walkers said its packaging will be plastic-free by 2025. Until then, Royal Mail has no option but to deliver the packets. By law, it has to treat the packets as mail if they have an address and a stamp. It has asked that people put the packets in envelopes. But this would be less photo-friendly.
Rest in peace: Edna Molewa