Thursday, August 1 2019

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You paid R3.5m for state’s Geneva ‘jamboree’: DA

The newly established employment and labour department spent a whopping R3,429,695.97 on a 12-day trip for 35 delegates to Geneva, Switzerland. The delegates accompanied President Cyril Ramaphosa to a conference hosted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) last month. Now the DA wants minister Thulas Nxesi to provide a detailed report of what was achieved by the delegation, and how it has addressed SA’s unemployment crisis. DA MP Michael Cardo said the public deserved to know why it was necessary for Nxesi’s department to send one of the largest delegations to Geneva, with it costing SA taxpayers millions. “In the face of unprecedented levels of unemployment and economic stagnation, austerity measures are a necessity for government … the jamboree to Geneva seems difficult to justify,” he said on Wednesday. Details of the “junket” were revealed in a written reply to a parliamentary question Cardo posed to Ramaphosa.

Strikers ‘stole’ 40 buses to blockade streets

Striking municipal workers allegedly stolen dozens of buses without permission to blockade roads during the wage strike that caused traffic chaos in Tshwane. “At least 40 buses were returned to the municipal bus depot east of the city just before midnight. This came after the buses were removed from the depot by drivers and used to blockade streets, which caused turmoil when traffic came to a standstill,” the city said on Wednesday. “The city of Tshwane has, as of [Tuesday] recovered municipal buses that were taken by drivers without authorisation on Monday.” Pay negotiations between the city and SA Municipal Workers’ Union entered their third day at the national bargaining council as the union demanded an 18% hike, on par with what some senior city managers reportedly received. Bus operations remain suspended.

Cape Town’s ‘brownish tap water’ safe to drink

The city of Cape Town has moved to allay fears about “discoloured tap water” in some areas, saying tests confirmed it did not pose a health risk. Residents were, however, advised to continue boiling water if they noticed discolouration. The city sent out an advisory late on Monday cautioning residents that “water in the distribution system is currently discoloured over a large part of the eastern, central and southern suburbs” due to a “process control fault” at its Faure water-treatment plant. “As a safety precaution, residents are advised to boil the water before drinking, especially if it appears discoloured.” Tests indicated that the water did not pose a health risk, the city said on Tuesday evening. “An error in the dosage of this chemical led to the water retaining its brownish colour.” The Faure treatment plant provides about a third of the water consumed by residents across the city.

Second man arrested for Table Mountain murder

Cape Town police have arrested a second suspect in connection with the murder of Russian hiker Ivan Ivanov on Chapman’s Peak near Hout Bay. Western Cape police spokesperson Sgt Noloyiso Rwexana said on Wednesday: “Following the death of a 44-year-old hiker who was stabbed while hiking on Chapman’s Peak at the weekend, detectives have been hard at work following up leads. In the early hours of [Wednesday] they apprehended a 24-year-old suspect at the Hout Bay harbour. Another suspect was arrested by neighbourhood watch members on the day of the incident with items that are believed to be possessions of the victim.” The man is set to appear in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

De Lille promises to fix smelly courts

The department of public works and infrastructure has set aside more than R260m for the repairs and refurbishment of court buildings across the country. She said on Tuesday that the total budget for repairs and refurbishment of court buildings was R260m, of which R229m had been allocated for repairing and refurbishing 105 courts. “But what worries me is that the department has only spent R24m in the first quarter of this year,” said De Lille. She said she had received complaints across the country about the poor state of court buildings. “In Pinetown [west of Durban], there are reports that rats are eating the lunch and snakes are eating the rats. Coupled with this, there’s a persistent stench of sewage,” De Lille said. The department had budgeted R2.5bn for repairs and refurbishment across all areas during the current 2019/20 financial year.

Mkhwebane denies report of Gupta link

Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has rejected a report claiming she had financial links to the controversial Gupta family. Investigative journalism organisation Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project reported on Tuesday that Mkhwebane was “flagged” by global banking giant HSBC as having financial links to the Guptas. “Mkhwebane rejects with contempt the claims … that she was flagged by international banking institution, HSBC, as having financial links to the Gupta family,” Mkhwebane’s spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said. According to the OCCRP investigation, Mkhwebane received a payment of more than $5,000, which was paid into her FNB account in June 2014. “Adv Mkhwebane would like to place on the record the fact that she heard for the first time from the OCCRP last Thursday that she had been flagged. HSBC has never brought this flagging to her attention and she has absolutely no links with the Guptas,” Segalwe said. Mkhwebane had been a target of “dirty tricks” and this was “yet another example of the onslaught”.

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