News in and around South Africa.
The North West health department on Wednesday extended the suspension of its head of department Dr Andrew Thabo Lekalakala.
Provincial health spokesperson Tebogo Lekgethwane confirmed the extension to News24, saying it would allow the investigation into Lekalakala to be completed.
“Charges against him were delayed since more [things] kept coming up during investigations. All these necessitated to the extension of his suspension,” Lekgethwane said.
He said following the completion of the department’s inquiry, charges would be instituted against Lekalakala and disciplinary action would then take place.
Earlier on Wednesday, health officials protested outside the health department’s offices against Lekalakala’s return, whose initial suspension had ended.
Lekgethwane said the officials blocked entrances to the offices with stones and other objects.
“The MEC and administrator had to meet with the officials and explain to them that processes to extend Lekalakala’s suspension were unfolding as investigations would be concluded,” Lekgethwane said.
Former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo suspended Lekalakala in April over a contract given to Gupta-linked healthcare company Mediosa.
Mediosa, which also paid for Lekalakala’s junket to India in 2017, was allegedly awarded a R30m, three-year contract by the health department in advance and without it going out to tender.
Mahumapelo at the time had instituted forensic investigations into the health department following allegations against Lekalakala regarding the Mediosa contract.
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HARARE – Zimbabwe’s former president Robert Mugabe is back in Singapore for medical check-up, a local privately-owned daily reported Wednesday.
The 94-year-old ex-ruler “slipped out of the country two weeks ago after his blood pressure suddenly rose to dangerous levels,” one unnamed source told the NewsDay.
But another unidentified source who confirmed the trip, told the paper that “it’s nothing serious. It is the usual check-ups and this one, in particular was scheduled.”
Mugabe was accompanied by his wife Grace, the paper said.
Mugabe in Singapore amid health fears
FORMER President Robert Mugabe reportedly flew to Singapore for medical check-ups two weeks ago, with sources saying the 94-year-old ex-leader was rushed out after his health suddenly deteriorated. https://t.co/9ov9nYZEip
— NewsDay (@NewsDayZimbabwe) June 20, 2018
The first source added that Mugabe had “trouble with his eye, which previously has been diagnosed with a cataract”. No officials or close family sources were available for comment.
Mugabe ruled Zimbabwe from the country’s independence from British colonial rule in 1980 until he was ousted in November 2017 following a brief military takeover.
He was replaced by his former deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa, a favourite of the military who was seen as Mugabe’s possible successor.
Mugabe has been in increasingly frail health and has reportedly battled prostate cancer.
His former spokesperson George Charamba, had four years ago denied speculation about Mugabe’s failing health, saying he only had trouble with an eye which had developed a cataract.
In recent years, he has made several trips to Singapore, a popular medical tourism destination, for undisclosed medical conditions.
The legal team for murder accused businessman Jason Rohde on Wednesday accused the State of “character assassination” against its pathologist Dr Reggie Perumal after the prosecutor highlighted cases where his expert opinion was irrelevant.
During Perumal’s cross-examination in the Western Cape High Court, prosecutor Louis van Niekerk focused on his CV and cases he had mentioned during his evidence-in-chief as having worked on.
These included his input into the forensic investigations of the deaths of Solomon Mujuru, the husband of former Zimbabwean vice-president Joice Mujuru, and former South African cricketer Tertius Bosch.
Van Niekerk said the courts never ended up adjudicating his expert opinion in some of the cases he mentioned and it was not relevant to raise them in the first place except for “a bit of name dropping”.
He continued that it was interesting to hear about the cases but they gave no indication of the quality of his opinion.
Before Perumal could respond, defence lawyer advocate Graham van der Spuy sprang up and said he did not know if the State was engaging in some form of character assassination.
“What is my learned friend trying to achieve by this?” Van der Spuy asked.
Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe said she did not perceive the State to be assassinating Perumal’s character because the prosecutor had set out the mentioned cases in his CV.
Van Nierkerk said his intention was to examine Perumal’s expert opinion.
State wants to question Perumal about Van Breda case
Salie-Hlophe replied that Perumal’s CV gave her the impression that he was extremely experienced in forensic pathology and court proceedings.
Perumal was hired by Rohde to conduct a second autopsy on his wife Susan, after her death at the Spier wine estate on July 24, 2016.
Rohde has pleaded not guilty to killing her and staging a suicide.
The State questioned Perumal’s credibility on Tuesday by referring to two past cases where a court had rejected his testimony.
On Wednesday, the court heard that the State wanted to ask Perumal questions about his involvement in the trial of Henri van Breda.
Van Breda was recently given three life sentences for axing his parents and brother to death, and seriously injuring his sister.
However, Van Niekerk said it would be fair to first give the defence time to read through the lengthy judgment.
The trial resumes on Thursday morning.
HARRISMITH – The N3 freeway linking Johannesburg and Durban remains blocked at Van Reenen’s Pass.
Truck drivers are believed to be behind the blockade.
— N3 Toll Concession (@N3Route) June 20, 2018
Protesters blocked the N3 Toll Route in both directions at Van Reenens Pass between Harrismith and the Tugela Toll Plaza towards Ladysmith on Wednesday morning.
Law enforcement and emergency services officials were deployed to the area, but it was not immediately clear why the drivers were blocking the highway.
Con Roux of the N3 Toll Concession said there were extensive backlogs in both directions.
He said at this stage, there was no indication when the road would be reopened.
— Cephas Marikisi (@cephasmzw) June 20, 2018
Roux urged motorists to avoid travel in the area and if necessary, to use alternative routes such as the R74 via Oliviershoek Pass.
Other options include:
The R34/N11 – Vrede/Newcastle/Ladysmith
The R23 – Heidelberg/Standerton/Volksrust/Ladysmith
— Natal Towing Association (@nataltowing_nta) June 20, 2018
Motorists have been urged to obtain real-time traffic updates from the 24-hour N3 Route Helpline on 0800 63 4357; or to get traffic updates on Twitter using the handle @N3Route.
Three minibus taxi owners and a bystander were injured in a shooting at Cape Town’s busy Joe Slovo taxi rank near Canal Walk shopping mall on Tuesday morning.
“Police are on the scene at the Joe Slovo taxi rank, Milnerton, where unknown persons opened fire and wounded four persons this morning,” said police spokesperson Captain FC van Wyk.
Omuramba Road South is closed between Racecourse Road and Freedom Way, said Western Cape traffic chief Kenny Africa.
Meanwhile, Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations spokesperson Besethu Ndungane said he was trying to get to the scene to find out what had sparked the shooting, but was stuck in gridlocked traffic due to a protest on Mew Way.
His initial suspicion is that the shooting may be related to the route disputes that have plagued the city in the past weeks, but he said he could not say for sure until he got there to speak to everybody on the scene.
Comment from the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association was not immediately available.
Taxi operators declared a truce and signed a peace accord at the end of May after Western Cape Transport MEC Donald Grant threatened to shut down all ranks in the city to stop the war over routes.
The Joe Slovo rank is a major connecting rank to other destinations in the city.
This is a developing story.
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CAPE TOWN – The man who murdered three-year-old Courtney Pieters will be back in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday.
Mortimer Saunders admitted to killing the Elsies River toddler last year.
Last week, a DNA expert testified that he had found a positive match of the accused’s semen on a top worn by Pieters on the day she died.
Saunders has confessed to poisoning, beating, choking and suffocating the child, but he denies raping her.
The State has not accepted his pleas and is prosecuting him on charges of premeditated murder and rape.
A pathologist is expected to take the stand on Tuesday.
An attempted cash-in-transit heist was foiled in Mooinooi in the North West on Monday night when the driver managed to get himself and his armoured car to safety after coming under fire, police said on Tuesday.
National police spokesperson Colonel Brenda Muridili said the driver was shot at on the road towards Majakaneng at about 19:00.
With bullets hitting his vehicle, he came to a halt when one of the tyres was hit. He stopped the vehicle and waited for the robbers to approach him.
As they came closer, he sped off on the flat tyre and only stopped when he arrived at a filling station to get help.
Majakaneng and Mooinooi are between Hartbeespoort Dam and Rustenburg.
“It is commendable,” said Muridili of the driver’s actions.
The company’s name was not immediately available.
NIU swift reaction commended
In the meantime, police are still investigating the heist on a G4S armoured truck on Jakes Gerwel Drive near the Philippi police station, in Cape Town, on Monday morning.
Attempted CIT Heist.
Majakaneng/MooiNooi. Driver managed to drive off and stopped at a petrol station. Vehicle shot several times. pic.twitter.com/rzCqoZi9xR
— Yusuf Abramjee (@Abramjee) June 18, 2018
“The police’s national intervention unit (NIU) responded swiftly to the crime scene resulting in a shootout between the robbers and the police; no injuries have been reported,” said Muridili.
In that robbery, the attackers blew up the side of the van to get to the money, abandoning a BMW on the scene as they made their getaway from the bridge where the attack occurred.
Muridili said that acting national commissioner Lt-Gen Sindile Mfazi commended the NIU’s swift reaction to the Cape Town heist, because robbers only got away with some of the money that was scattered at the scene after the explosion.
“We have declared that the high density stabilisation operations, launched earlier this month, will utilise medium to high risk operatives hence the quick response by the NIU. We will continue to hunt down the perpetrators that continue to threaten the authority of the state,” Mfazi said in a statement.
National commissioner Khehla Sitole is currently out of the country.
The Directorate for Priority Crimes, known as the Hawks, is investigating and anybody with a tip-off is asked to pass it on to Crime Stop at 08600 10111.
• Editor’s note: This article is updated each time new information becomes available.
JOHANNESBURG – Uber drivers are back on the roads after a strike.
Teresa Munchick from The Movement, an organisation representing Uber drivers, said drivers lost income.
On Monday, some drivers gathered to hand over a memorandum to Uber and Taxify bosses.
— Mr GoodNews (@MalaitaSA) June 18, 2018
The drivers are unhappy about the 25 percent service fee, charged by Uber, per ride.
They also voiced their concerns over the fuel price increase.
Two people have been killed and one was injured when the vehicle they were travelling in crashed into a tree off the N3 in Umshwati, in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands on Sunday evening.
The accident occurred near the Wartburg turnoff shortly after 17:00, ER24 spokesperson Russel Meiring said.
Meiring said ER24 paramedics, along with other services, arrived on the scene at 17:21 and found a vehicle at the bottom of a small embankment.
“One patient was found walking around on the scene while the body of a woman was found lying a few metres away from the vehicle. A man was found inside the vehicle,” he said.
Meiring said paramedics found that the man and woman had both already succumbed to their numerous injuries.
“Nothing more could be done for them and they were declared dead,” he said.
He said the other man was assessed and found to have sustained moderate injuries.
“He was treated and transported to a nearby hospital for further treatment,” he said.
Local authorities were on the scene for further investigations, added Meiring.