News in and around South Africa.
East London – As the rain poured in Ngcobo, devastated police officers, government officials and residents prayed outside the Ngcobo police station after pathologists removed four bodies – that of three police officers and a soldier.
Provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Liziwe Ntshinga, who had been at the horror scene since early hours, was joined by transport, safety and liaison MEC Weziwe Tikana, ANC provincial chairman Oscar Mabuyane and local priests to pray for healing after the horror killing of the officers at the police station.
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula, who asked to be excused from Parliament, also arrived in Ngcobo, along with national police commissioner General Khehla Sitole, around 16:00.
Mbalula spoke after the prayer and he hoped by the time the hero cops would be buried, their killers would be behind bars.
‘We must be ready for these thugs’
“This tragedy must change the situation in our police stations. We must be ready for these thugs all around our country.”
“Our police stations must not close down because we must continue to do our jobs.”
“General Sithole and chairman Mabuyane, we will visit the bereaved families and bury these heroes the way they deserve,” he said.
He added that the children of the dead cops will be sent to school until their finish.
Mabuyane said the incident is a message that thugs are doing as they please and calls for the community to work with the cops in capturing the thugs.
“We send our condolences to the families. Cops are fighting to keep us safe and we must also do our part to ensure that they are safe and people must report crime ASAP. We wish something like this never happens again,” added Mabuyane.
As the prayers were held inside the police station, the police van of an additional two police officers – whose bodies were found later in the morning – was wheeled into the police station with its front damaged.
The unknown gunmen, who apparently covered their faces with balaclavas, are said to have bombed a Capitec ATM just after midnight and of making off with an undisclosed amount of money.
Then their killing spree began. They entered Ngcobo police station and without warning, opened fire on officers who were on duty.
Two members were killed instantly and the retired soldier, who rushed to the scene, was shot dead as the suspects fled.
News24 previously reported that national police spokesperson Vishnu Naidoo said three officers were killed at the police station. However, Eastern Cape police spokesperson Captain Khaya Tonjeni clarified that only two were killed inside the community service centre.
Another officer, who was also shot but survived, has been discharged from hospital.
An unmarked police van returning from patrols, encountered the suspects at the station’s exit.
The suspects shot at the van, killing one police officer. The second officer pretended to be dead as the suspects took their firearms.
Soon afterwards, a marked SAPS van also returned from patrols and the gunmen shot both occupants dead.
Their bodies were loaded into the van and gunmen drove about six kilometres, near Nyanga High School.
Once they reached a steep hill, they released the van down the slope until it crashed at the bottom.
The two officers’ bodies were discovered in the early hours of yesterday.
Female officers at the station were unharmed but were traumatised and were attended to by counsellors.
According to preliminary investigations, it appears that members were shot execution style.
The suspects are said to have stolen 10 weapons from the police station, including two rifles. Ten officers were on duty at the station at the time of the tragedy.
Ntshinga vowed that the suspects would be caught, hopefully by the end of the day, and that a massive countrywide manhunt was under way, which the community also participating in.
Chairperson of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Police, Francois Beukman, said the killing of the six officers was a national tragedy.
“The committee extends its heartfelt condolences to the families of the killed officers, their colleagues in the South African Police Service (SAPS) and to the community of Ngcobo,” he said.
Meanwhile worried residents have called for more to be done to ensure the safety of police, especially those who work night shifts.
Zandisile Xhakashe said he heard the gunshot and thought that a robbery was happening at a nearby township.
“The gunshots went on for some time and then become quiet and started again. I woke up and heard that the shooting happened at the police station. I was worried sick because my cousin also works there,” said Xhakashe.
Meanwhile Nompindelo Makaleni said popular TV shows such as Uzalo, that portray gangsterism, was the to blame for the attack.
“This is sad. Innocent people died in a brutal manner. More police need to be deployed here, even [the] military is needed. People see the violent acts in shows and do them in real life,” she said.
Johannesburg – The ANC Youth League (ANCYL) in the North West has called for a forensic investigation into the provincial health department.
This comes after the North West legislature laid criminal charges against the head of the province’s health department, Thabo Lekalakala, after a marathon interrogation over a contract given to a Gupta-linked company, which also paid for his junket to India in 2017.
The legislature’s health and social development committee, which held a sitting from early Tuesday evening until the early hours of Wednesday, was looking into claims that a healthcare organisation called Mediosa was awarded a R30m, three-year contract by the province’s department of health in advance and without it going out to tender.
News24 earlier reported that Lekalakala admitted on Tuesday evening, while being interrogated by the committee, that a delegation from the department was taken to India just seven days after the health group received the payment.
Tshiamo Tsotetsi, spokesperson for the ANCYL in the province, said the league was calling on North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo to withdraw his participation in any process aimed at resolving issues facing the health department in the province, including instituting a forensic investigation, as this would rob the process of any credibility since he was potentially directly involved in the matter.
Tsotetsi said the premier was the chairperson of the executive committee that undertook to place three provincial departments under administration in April 2015, the department of health being one of them.
HOD ‘known as a bully’
“We call on the premier to withdraw his participation and allow the upper sphere of government to institute the forensic investigations on the matter at hand. He must allow the process to be credible and dignified,” Tsotetsi said.
“Our call for the premier to withdraw his participation is further informed by the confession under oath by the health [head of department] Dr Thabo Lekalakala, that the trips he undertook to India were authorised by the Premier Supra Mahumapelo, with all expenses paid for by Mediosa (a so-called Gupta-linked) company.
“It is also public knowledge that the North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo is allegedly a component and an ally of the Gupta patronage and possible criminal network, which will therefore suitably link him directly to the confessions under oath by the Health department HOD Dr Thabo Lekalakala,” Tsotetsi said.
ALSO READ: Gupta friends in state’s health pie
The EFF in the province said it was vindicated by Lekalakala’s admission of corruption to the legislature.
“The HOD, who is also known as a bully, notorious for intimidating staff members in the department of health refused to produce the service level agreement (SLA) between the department of health and Gupta-owned Mediosa company,” said EFF chairperson Betty Diale.
Diale said the EFF had opened a criminal case against Lekalakala with the Hawks and called for his suspension.
Gupta link allegations ‘far-fetched’
“The EFF is also calling for the resignation of both Premier Supra Mahumapelo and MEC Magome Masike respectively,” Diale said.
“The EFF is calling on the people of North West to stand up for a final push in the removal of the last vestiges of the Gupta parasitic network promoted by Premier Supra Mahumapelo and his zombified stooges.”
Asked for comment on the allegations that Mahumapelo was a Gupta ally, Mahumapelo’s spokesperson Brian Setswambung said: “The allegation is not only far-fetched, it also has no substance and seeks to distract Mahumapelo’s attention from the real issue, which is to fight greed, crime and corruption in the province as he has been doing. Mahumapelo has recently acted very swiftly when he proactively facilitated the SIU (special investigation unit) investigation into the department of public works and roads in the province.”
He said the premier’s office had yet to receive a report on the meeting between the department of health and the portfolio committee.
“The office of the premier will not be deterred from proceeding with the forensic investigations which are [a] critical part of the ongoing initiatives to fight greed, crime and corruption,” Setswambung said.
“In respect of Dr Lekalakala’s trip to India, we can confirm that the premier signs permissions for such trips in principle after an MEC shall have recommended. In this case MEC Masike had recommended that the premier grants permission for Lekalakala’s trip,” he said.
CAPE TOWN – Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba says the budget was a tough balancing act, with cuts in certain areas and tax increases in others.
Gigaba joined eNCA Moneyline’s Siki Mgabadeli to discuss his budget speech.
On Wednesday afternoon the minister announced increases in VAT and other taxes to generate an additional R36-billion this financial year.
Watch the full interview above.
JOHANNESBURG – Police Minister Fikile Mbalula says the robbers who stormed an Eastern Cape police station and killed five officers and a retired soldier must be arrested within 72 hours.
“These good-for-nothings that killed our police here must be arrested, so that we can set an example to others that this is not a banana republic. Criminals can’t just come in and do as they please. You can’t do as you please here. It can’t be that when you have the police working here people just come in and shoot. The law should not allow that,” Mbalula said on Wednesday afternoon.
On Wednesday morning, a group of armed suspects entered the Engcobo Police Station and opened fire, killing three police members instantly.
According to police, the retired soldier was also shot dead as the suspects fled.
The suspects are still at large.
Ramaphosa: Yes, or course we will differ. Mr [Mmusi] Maimane, Rev [Kenneth] Meshoe, Sello Malema, we will differ on a whole number of things. One thing we will agree on, is advancing our people. That is why we are here.
JOHANNESBURG – Cyril Ramaphosa’s ascent to the presidency has brought hope to South Africans, former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said on Tuesday.
”His election has put the country a whole on the pedestal of hope… but a pedestal of hope is just a pedestal. It gives us higher ground to jump on to the next phase… it is not a summit,” said Madonsela, as she launched her eponymous foundation on Constitution Hill in Johannesburg.
”It will take all of us to join hands with the president and political parties to build a South Africa of our dreams…we cannot expect government to do everything.”
She said she welcomed former president Jacob Zuma’s resignation last week following pressure from the governing African National Congress (ANC) for him to leave office just less than four years into his second term.
”I welcome Zuma’s resignation and the dignity through which he addressed the nation…as captain of the ship there has to be people following you, whether you are doing good or bad… but when you get to a point where those people are not hopeful or persuaded by you anymore, then you have to step aside.”
Madonsela now chairs Stellenbosch University Law School’s social justice arm.
She launched the Thuli Madonsela Foundation on United Nations’ World Social Justice Day. Her organisation would focus on social justice work with communities.
Madonsela said everyone has a role to help uplift a fellow citizen, especially young people.
”We are lucky that we do not have incidents of terrorism yet… To ensure that does not happen, we need to make sure that young people are never left behind. It doesn’t take a lot to lift up someone else… such an act makes a big difference.”
”People left behind are not sorry cases as perceived… it is not true that poor people do not do anything for themselves, they do everything in their power to better themselves.”
She said she is not considering taking another role within the state but would focus on her academic work and community activism through her foundation.
African News Agency
Johannesburg – Just how close the Guptas have become to the ruling Dubai monarchy, could play a role in whether they are extradited to South Africa to face trial for the alleged crimes they have committed.
In a move that surprised many, the Hawks swooped in on Saxonwold last week, February 14, searching for Ajay Gupta, the eldest of the notorious trio of Gupta brothers, who they believed was still in South Africa.
SPECIAL REPORT: #GuptaLeaks
However, according to the Indian press, he was attending a wedding in India before flying out of the country, escorted by local protection officers. Where he flew to from there, isn’t clear, although News24 has learnt from sources within Dubai that he is at his mansion in the plush suburb of Emirates Hills.
There is no doubt that his brother Atul was in Dubai, at least on February 8. He was there when he signed an affidavit that forms part of his application to have a preservation order obtained against him, by the NPA’s Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU), set aside.
In the court papers, dated February 8, Atul acknowledged that the affidavit was signed and sworn in Dubai. The affidavit was stamped and signed by a commissioner of oaths at the South African Consulate in Dubai.
With the Hawks and the Minister of Police making it clear that they consider Ajay Gupta to be a fugitive from justice, although they have not yet stated for what crime he is being sought, there could soon be moves underway to have him extradited from whatever country he is in. It seems most likely to be the UAE or India.
If he is in India, the process could be easier as South Africa has an extradition treaty with the Asian country. There is, however, no agreement between South Africa and the UAE. But that does not mean that South Africa cannot apply to the UAE to have him extradited – the process will just be slightly more complicated than if a treaty had been in place.
South Africa went through this process in the extradition of George Louca, the man who was accused of killing strip club king Lolly Jackson. Louca ran away to Cyprus. He was arrested there after the South African authorities appealed to their Cypriot counterparts and Louca appeared in a local Cypriot court.
‘Extradition agreement’ in progress
The extradition process took several months, but he was brought back to South Africa to face trial. He died of lung cancer before his case was ever finalised.
Last week, British peer Lord Peter Hain, in an “ideas for action” document, called for an extradition treaty between South Africa and the UAE.
Hain said Dubai was the “main centre for collecting cash to make cash payments to bypass anti-money laundering laws”.
“At the moment, we don’t have any [extradition] agreement with the UAE, but we are in the process of doing this, [we] just need Cabinet’s approval,” said spokesperson for the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development Stephans Mahlangu to Fin24.
Chris Watters of Chris Watters Attorneys, said that the fact that South Africa does not have an extradition treaty with the UAE does not stop a person from being extradited from there. He said an extradition treaty between two countries merely streamlines the process. Without an extradition treaty, it becomes a diplomatic process, where one head of state talks with another to make the request.
In the case of Ajay, a different process may be used and that is through Interpol.
Watters said that, once South Africa has issued a charge sheet, we can call on Interpol to issue a red notice. This means that if any of the Guptas are red-flagged and they travel through an Interpol country (which is almost every country in the world), they have to be arrested.
Watters said that, after an arrest has taken place, the fugitive’s return to South Africa will depend on an extradition process and, depending on the laws of the country where they are held, the fugitive can be held with or without bail until that process is seen through.
Watters said that some red notices are published on Interpol’s website and some are not. This is done to encourage alleged perpetrators to travel unknowingly and then they are arrested when they go through international airports.
A former member of Interpol explained that, if an extradition is taken through diplomatic channels, which is what is likely to happen between South Africa and the UAE, it means a formal request must be made between one head of state and their counterpart. First, police must make sure the accused is in the country they are making the request to, and that the country must believe that they meet the requirements for extradition, which is done through the foreign country’s local court.
If South Africa does apply for Ajay or any of the other Gupta brothers to be extradited, the UAE could be willing to comply because both countries are part of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, which was passed by the UN General Assembly in 2003.
Dubai investigating alleged money laundering
The convention sets out the rules regarding extraditing those accused of corruption and it requires the requested state to either extradite the fugitive, or prosecute the fugitive in its own courts.
The convention says that, if a state that makes extradition conditional on the existence of a treaty, receives a request for extradition from another state with which it has no extradition treaty‚ it may consider this convention the legal basis for extradition.
The UAE has cooperated with extraditions of fugitives in the past, with or without extradition treaties.
In a press release, the International Criminal Cooperation Department at the Directorate General of Criminal Investigation in the UAE said that, between 2002 and 2004, there were 227 fugitive criminals which were tracked down and exchanged with foreign countries, including those they had signed extradition treaties with and those they had bilateral agreements with.
There have also been signs that Dubai-based institutions were not impressed with the negative publicity the Guptas have brought to the UAE.
After News24 visited the country in September last year, and revealed that many of their businesses there appeared to be nothing more than shells to launder money, Dubai’s Central Bank announced they would be looking into alleged money laundering by the family.
The president of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which represents the business interests of over 200 000 companies, said at the time that the allegations were being discussed at the highest level.
However, one hitch in the plan could be the question of how close the Guptas have got to Dubai’s ruling monarchy.
In News24’s trip to the city, it was suggested the brothers, who have a history of making strong connections with political leaders, could have a relationship with Dubai’s ruling elite.
And, the monarchy in Dubai could block the extradition of any suspects.
According to the Citizen newspaper, UAE law firm Hadef & Partners, said the monarchy can turn down extradition requests on grounds such as “the person is a UAE national” or if the accused is seen to have committed or is associated with a “political crime“.
We might have no choice but to wait and see what happens.
Initially, forecasters had predicted 12 April as a day the Mother city runs dry before it was pushed back by four days to 16 April.
Since then, it has been pushed back twice from April to May and May to June.
While the city is thriving to reach its target of 450 megalitres per day, Maimane has since lauded efforts that have brought down water daily usage by three megalitres as a step towards the right direction.
“Over the past week, consumption has averaged 523 ML per day,” Maimane said in a statement.
“We must all continue to use under 50L per day so that Day Zero can be pushed even further back and it can be defeated altogether.”
Composite Business Cycle Indicators
Ramaphosa promises corruption crackdown at maiden SONA
Time could be up for certain people at state institutions, as President Cyril Ramaphosa has promised strong action against corruption in his maiden State of the Nation Address, which he delivered on Friday.
Ramaphosa entered a jovial and relaxed National Assembly just before 19:00 on Friday to the customary standing ovation, following Parliament’s presiding officers.
The mood in the Assembly, however, did not deter him from taking a clear, firm stance on his plans to end corruption at state institutions and state-owned enterprises (SOEs), as well as the private sector.
Those who got in the way would be dealt with.
“This is the year in which we will turn the tide of corruption in our public institutions,” he told a packed joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament.