News in and around South Africa.
Cape Town – Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille says scathing allegations against her, which became public after a confidential special council meeting on Tuesday, are a malicious attempt to attack her as a whistleblower.
On Tuesday, it emerged that Craig Kesson, the executive director in her office, had made various allegations against De Lille, including that she planned to publicly discredit a senior City staffer, who questioned alleged tender irregularities, and asked that a report into a possible R43m loss regarding another tender be made to “go away”.
These allegations are contained in a 42-page affidavit by Kesson.
It is among a set of documents, relating to the special council meeting, which the City has made public in the interest of transparency.
On Thursday, De Lille issued a statement saying several stories had appeared in the media based on the documents made public.
Malice and sensation
“As it pertains to the affidavit, this is a malicious attempt to attack my integrity and track record as a whistleblower and corruption fighter in South Africa,” she said.
“This is sensation.”
On Tuesday, the council held a special confidential meeting and unanimously resolved that the City’s audit and performance audit committee be instructed to appoint an independent investigator to probe allegations against Kesson, City manager Achmat Ebrahim and Melissa Whitehead, the commissioner of the transport and urban development authority.
Documents relating to this meeting were uploaded to the City’s website later on Tuesday.
Kesson’s affidavit was among these and it contains allegations mainly against De Lille.
De Lille said her lawyers were compiling a comprehensive response to the allegations against he, which would be made public once complete.
‘Bring proof of corruption’
“I challenge those who seek to attack my track record to bring any proof that I benefited personally from any corruption or tenders,” she said.
De Lille said she wanted to remind South Africans that, under her leadership, the City of Cape Town had received four consecutive clean audits. She added that the City was the only municipality in the country to have done so.
“In the meantime, I stand resolute in my commitment to serve the people of Cape Town and I will not be distracted by these attempts to discredit my reputation as a corruption fighter,” De Lille said.
Divisions in City of Cape Town
Her reaction on Thursday to the allegations against her has again highlighted deep-rooted mistrust and infighting among some of the City’s most senior officials.
In September, tensions surfaced between De Lille and mayoral committee member for safety, security and social services JP Smith.
It emerged that De Lille had ordered the shutting down of the City of Cape Town’s special investigations unit (SIU).
Smith oversees the unit, which now has a new mandate.
Claims relating to the unit and against De Lille had been contained in a submission, dated August 20, which Smith made.
In it, Smith did not directly make accusations against De Lille, but said claims and rumours from others had been heard – the claims included that some City councillors may have been involved in a murder and that building done at her home may not have been legal.
In October, the DA placed both De Lille and Smith on special leave from party activities in the Cape metropole because of the spat.
Port Elizabeth – The sister of murder accused Christopher Panayiotou asked the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth on Thursday not to sentence him to life imprisonment for the murder of his wife.
Addressing the court on behalf of the Panayiotou family, Kalleope Panayiotou said there was more to the accused than what had been revealed in the media.
Her brother was found guilty of murder, after arranging to have his wife Jayde killed.
His co-accused, Sinethemba Nenembe, was also found guilty of murder and robbery, while Zolani Sibeko was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder.
Giving a bit of the accused’s background, Kalleope said that he had played first team hockey and was a prefect at his school in Uitenhage.
He was described as a hard and dedicated worker, with a keen business sense.
She recounted how, on a school trip, her brother had helped carry the gear of a friend who was not feeling well. This, she said, showed that he was a loving, compassionate and caring person.
Kalleope said the family loved Jayde and missed her dearly.
“We would like this court to know that we all loved Jayde dearly. She was an integral part of both our family and extended family. We feel the void that her death has left every day,” she said.
Family received death threats
However, she added that the family had been subjected to ongoing public onslaught and vile criticism, and even received death threats.
“Social media continues to crucify us. Despite receiving death threats, letters to our work places and homes, and being confronted in public spaces, we still keep quiet and to ourselves,” she said.
Ask for a lesser sentence
Kalleope added that her brother had co-operated with the police.
“He has always had impeccable manners and been a polite gentleman.”
“Although we respect the judgment of the court, as a loving family who chooses to support their son and brother and not desert him in his hour of need, we humbly ask for mercy in giving a lesser sentence than life,” she said.
Addressing her brother directly, Kalleope said his family supported him.
“We love you and will stand by your side. Have faith. We do not harbour any hate and hope that everyone eventually finds peace in some way.”
Panayiotou a psychopath
In his closing argument, state prosecutor Marius Stander submitted that, while Panayiotou may have been a kind man, he also had a very dark side.
“To stand up at a funeral and praise her and say that she was everything in his life, and then to watch the video. He falls closer to being a psychopath than a kind person,” he said.
Panayiotou’s defence advocate Terry Price objected to this, saying there was no evidence before the court that his client was a psychopath.
Stander said evidence showed Panayiotou had hired a vehicle for hitman Sizwe Vumazonke on April 8, 2015, which meant that, for 13 days he slept in the same bed as Jayde, knowing that she was marked for death. He still never backed out.
“I grow cold thinking what must have gone through her mind in the moments leading up to her death. This was a cold-blooded, execution murder,” he said.
Judge Dayalin Chetty is expected to impose a sentence at 9:30 on Friday.
Read Kalleope’s full statement below
Good morning my lord
My Lord, I’d like to kindly request that no photographs or recordings are taken
This address is not from me personally, but from all of us in the family.
I just wanted to thank this honourable court for allowing us to address this court on behalf of the Panayiotou family. A meaningful quote, whose source is unknown, reads as follows: “Family… where life begins and where love never ends.” This epitomises the close bond that holds our family together. We would like this court to know that we all loved Jayde dearly. She was an integral part of both our family and extended family. Christopher and Jayde’s relationship spanned a period of 10 years. Jayde and our family shared endless happy times together over these years. We feel the void that her death has left every day. We miss her dearly.
As a family, we, and we have no doubt the Inggs family [Jayde’s family] in particular, suffer the loss of Jayde constantly. We have respectfully not reacted to the ongoing public onslaught and often vile criticisms against our family. As if Jayde’s death and Christopher being found guilty are not enough for us to bare, social media continues to crucify us. Despite receiving death threats, letters to our work places and homes and being confronted in public spaces we still keep quiet and to ourselves. Our turmoil of emotions, also continue.
There is a lot more to Christopher as a person than how he is portrayed in the media. We were brought up in Uitenhage and are a close tight-knit family. This is evident in the support we have had from all our family members – grandparents, sisters, uncles, aunts, cousins and friends. We were brought up with a lot of respect and love. Christopher attended school in Uitenhage, where he was elected as a prefect in his final year and he represented the school as a first team hockey player.
We will never forget when Christopher was at school and he went on a school camp which all the senior learners attend. One of his group members was not feeling well and could no longer hike up the mountain (an approximately 24km hike), Christopher carried his gear and assisted him all the way to the top and continuously made sure he was by his side. This shows that Christopher is a loving, compassionate and a caring person. This is also evident from quotes from his teachers in an article written and titled “Gentle Giant”.
After school, he attended college and completed his Business Management Diploma. He then worked as an estate agent temporarily and a medical rep thereafter. He was hard-working and always reached his goals. Furthermore he worked as a manager in one of the retail supermarkets and was dedicated. He always wanted the best for his workplace. During this time he was elected as the Greek youth committee president for two consecutive years, where his main drive in organising events to fundraise towards the local community as well as contributing towards bursary funds for underprivileged youth.
Christopher, together with our father and uncle then decided to buy the OK Grocer in Algoa Park. Christopher always had good business sense and the day to day running of the business was left to him. He managed to quadruple the turnover and changed the business completely. We have worked with him in the family business and we can truly say that we have learnt a lot from him as he was committed and took pride in everything he did.
Christopher has taken everything that has come his way and cooperated with the police as testified by police officers in this case. He has always had impeccable manners and been a polite gentleman.
Although we respect the judgement of the court, as a loving family who chooses to support their son and brother and not desert him in his hour of need, we humbly ask for mercy in giving a lesser sentence than life.
To our brother and son, know that your family is supporting you. We love you and will stand by your side. Have faith. We do not harbour any hate and hope that everyone eventually finds peace in some way.
That is all, my lord.
JOHANNESBURG – The South African Weather Service has issued a watch for severe storms in Gauteng and surrounding provinces on Friday.
Affected areas include the northern half of KwaZulu-Natal, western and southern parts of Limpopo, eastern and central parts of the North West, Gauteng, north eastern parts of the Free State and the Mpumalanga Highveld as well as Escarpment.
According to eNCA meteorologist Candice McKechnie, large hail and damaging winds are possible in the areas mentioned above.
JOHANNESBURG – Suspended Gauteng Director of Mental Health, Dr Makgabo Manamela faced a tough grilling at the Life Esidimeni arbitration on Thursday.
Previous witnesses blamed her for the fatal marathon project that moved several ill patients to NGOs.
However, she says it was a collective decision and she shouldn’t shoulder the responsibility alone.
Manamela disputes all the evidence presented so far before the Life Esidimeni Arbitration.
An argument broke out between Manamela and a lawyer for families of Life Esidimeni victims.
Manamela was left scrambling under intense cross-examination at the Esedimeni arbitration hearings.
Manamela has acknowledged her department knew there weren’t enough beds for patients being moved to the Takalani facility.
She has explained why adult psychiatric patients were sent to a facility licensed to only accommodate children.
Manamela can’t explain why mental health patients died at NGOs.
ICYMI: ANC extends deadline for branches to hold nomination meetings
The ANC has extended the deadline for branches to hold their crucial meetings to nominate presidential candidates to Sunday November, 25, with secretary general Gwede Mantashe warning that there would not be any extensions.
Tsotsi’s damning revelations links Brown to Guptas
Former Eskom chairperson Zola Tsotsi has levelled more damning accusations against Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown, Toni Gupta and their close associate Salim Essa.
“There is a clear association between Minister Brown and the Gupta family,” he said.
Tsotsi told Parliament’s Eskom Inquiry that Brown invited him to her house after a new Eskom board had been appointed in December 2014.
“Tony Gupta and Salim Essa were present,” he said.
The matter was about the allocation of board members to different subcommittees. “Salim Essa would draw up his idea of board allocations up and send it to the minister,” he said.
Asked by Democratic Alliance MP Natasha Mazzone if Brown was taking instruction by Essa, he said: “I would not say she took instructions from them, but it seemed to me that I was not able to complete this exercise without the involvement of Mr Essa.
“I got a list and I changed the list on the basis of what I thought it should be. I sent it to the minister to get her concurrence. She changed it back to what it was when she originally sent it.
“My hands were tied.”
Asked by Mazonne why the Guptas had that power over him, he replied: “When I had the occasion to discuss something with him, and when I was not able to give it to him, he turned around and he said he must report me to Baba (President Jacob Zuma).
“The impression he gave me was that he had a very close relationship with Baba and that he could do anything. I think that was the source of his power.”
Asked what the Guptas asked for, he said they asked for three things that they directly wanted from me. “In all of them I was not able to assist them,” he said.
One of them was around the New Age deal, while the second was to do with leadership changes at Eskom.
In the third request, Tsotsi said the Guptas were interested supplying gas to OCGTs (Open Cycle Gas Turbine) to have access to the Western Cape market with them as the anchor tenant. He said he would like me to assist them to facilitate that.”
There was a memorandum of understanding with a company in place, so Tsotsti said this could not occur. “He then complained that we were dealing with Baba’s enemy,” said Tsotsi.
Pictured below is Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown.
JOHANNESBURG – ANC treasurer general, Zweli Mkhize says harsh action must be taken against those who manipulate party membership numbers.
The ANC has been plagued by allegations that enrollment numbers are being manipulated ahead of its elective conference next month.
The party has extended the nomination deadline to this coming weekend.
Mkhize is a recent victim of exclusion.
His name and that of his wife, May Mashego Mkhize, did not appear on the roll for the branch meeting at his own ward in Willowfontein, Pietermaritzburg.
They’ve been members of the branch for years.
According to Mkhize, “Going to the future, we are able to deal with the problems of manipulation of branches, gatekeeping, and there must be actions against those who are involved in deliberate exclusion of members of the ANC, because if we don’t have action, you will find that this practice doesn’t stop.”
As branch nominations for the December elective conference trickle in, the presidential hopeful is cautious.
Mkhize says he’ll accept whatever position he’s elected to.
“The conference will determine what we must do and I will accept what the conference decides.”
He says the governing party must end slate politics urgently to ensure inclusive and capable leadership.
JOHANNESBURG – The Democratic Alliance (DA) has laid criminal charges against the State Security minister, Bongani Bongo.
The DA claims Bongo is interfering in the inquiry into corruption at state-owned enterprises.
The DA laid the charge after Bongo was accused of trying to bribe evidence leader, advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara.
The party says the conduct goes against the Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act.
It says parliament should have acted after receiving the affidavit from Vanara.
According to John Steenhuisen, DA Member of Parliament (MP):
Portraits of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, left, and his wife Grace are seen outside the ZANU-PF office in Mbare, Harare.
Zimbabweans mobilised on Monday for what they hope is a final push to oust President Robert Mugabe, an increasingly isolated figure who faces impeachment proceedings as well as more street demonstrations after he ignored calls to resign and planned a cabinet meeting even though his onetime allies have disowned him. (Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi, AP)
JOHANNESBURG – The trial of Guatemalan Diego Novella is expected to resume in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday.
Novella is accused of allegedly murdering his American marketing executive girlfriend Gabriela Kabrins Alban at a boutique Camps Bay hotel in 2015.
He has pleaded not guilty and in his plea statement and claimed he had been in an abnormal mental state after having taken hallucinogenic substances.
On November 8, the court turned down a request by the defence for Novella to be placed under psychiatric observation for 72 hours. Earlier in the day, Judge Vincent Saldanha ordered that Novella be assessed by a district surgeon at Victoria Hospital to determine whether he was fit to proceed with the trial or needed to be admitted.
The doctor who examined him deemed a three-day observation period was unnecessary and premature.
Proceedings were stalled on November 7, when Novella had a meltdown in court that lasted for over two hours and ended with the victim’s father and stepmother, Howdy and Linda Kabrins, being ushered out of the courtroom for their own safety so that the accused could be taken down to court cells by at least four court security officials.
Novella’s outburst included shouting at Saldanha, demanding to speak to the Guatemalan consul, and refusing to hand back his defence lawyer’s cellphone. He also insisted that his lawyer place on record that he had used cannabis.
Despite defence lawyer William Booth’s objections, Saldanha insisted the trial resume as Novella was able to understand proceedings.
African News Agency