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Former police officer testifies in Neil Aggett inquest
24 January 2020, 8:16 PM

For the first time since the inquest into the death of anti-apartheid activist Neil Aggett began this week, a former police officer at the former John Vorster Square police station has testified.

Joseph Nyampule has taken the High Court in Johannesburg through the activities that took place at the notorious police station during the apartheid years.

He says he was tasked with taking care of detainees at the station.

Nyampule says he was stationed at the Hillbrow police station as a student police constable. He told the court that he was then moved to the then John Vorster Square Police Station to take care of detainees.

Through an interpreter, he recalls when he was briefed for the first time by Captain Arthur Conrad, the head of investigations of political detainees.

“Captain Conrad informed me that now I was going to be at the security branch. He further informed me that in that security branch there are rules which are to be observed. He explained to me that they were working with political detainees who want to topple the government.”

Nyampule says his job was to take care of the detainees and ensure that they showered every morning. He was told not to talk to detainees about anything besides work.

“My duties at the cells was that I was going to take the political detainees to the showers before they could be booked up to be taken to either to 10th  floor or anywhere for further investigations.”

Security police claim Aggett hanged himself outside his cell. But the picture painted by Nyampule makes it highly improbable that Aggett would have opened his locked metal cell door to hang himself.

“Police in uniform used his key to lock and also I will use my padlock to lock. The wooden door will also be locked by the police in uniform. Then it is where I will proceed to the tenth floor. I would take the key to the tenth floor to Captain Makgoro and then he would hand them to Captain Conrad. And from there I did  not know what Captain Conrad did with those keys.”

Former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, who was a detainee during the apartheid years, was also in court.

“There was a need and an opportunity to create a voice for people through the trade union movement. And of course, Neil found himself in the foot of a union which was fundamentally an import union. As activists, you needed to give that space to ordinary people to exercise their voice which had been tampered upon by the apartheid regime. But in whatever you do we all understood the enormous risks involved.”

The former security branch officer will continue with his testimony on Monday.

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Parent slams aftercare programme at Cape Town school
24 January 2020, 8:06 PM

A parent has criticised the policy of the after-school care programme of Milnerton Primary School in Cape Town as harsh, drastic, unfair and lacking ubuntu.

This after his 10-year-old daughter was banned for life from aftercare because her parents were late in picking her up on more than three occasions in a year.

The after school care programme at Milnerton Primary allows parents to be late three times per year. The 10-year-old’s parents admit they were late on six occasions, by a few minutes.

The father, Nathi Fokazi, says he’s concerned about the safety of his daughter who must now be at home alone as both parents are working.

He suggests a year’s ban would be punitive enough and could be acceptable. Fokazi says it’s unfair for the child to be punished for the transgressions of the parents.

“I wish the child could be reinstated to the aftercare facility. I heard from other parents that it has happened before and we’re not saying we are not at fault. What we are saying is for the school to reconsider their position because it’s not the child’s fault that she was picked up late and other aftercare facilities around here are very pricey and we cannot afford them, we rely on the aftercare that is provided by the school,” says Fokazi.

He says they are now being bombarded with calls from other nearby aftercare facilities offering their services but they charge at least three times more.

There won’t be any intervention from the Department of Education in the Western Cape. It says the school governing body regulates the after-care service.

“The Western Cape Education Department was informed that there was a letter sent to the parents that the learner would be disqualified from taking part in this aftercare facility because of transgressions in terms of the policy. The policy stated it clearly that if there are transgressions in terms of late coming three times, they will have to inform the parent that the learner can no longer attend and in this specific case it was six transgressions and it was decided by the SGB to stop the contract between the two,” says Department Spokesperson Bronagh Hammond.

The parents have approached the South African Human Rights Commission for assistance.

Environmental activists threaten court action over planned wind farm in the Cape West Coast
24 January 2020, 7:02 PM

Environmental activists and property owners along the Cape West Coast are threatening court action over the planned Boulders Wind Farm.

Government approved in principle, the 45-turbine wind farm project near Paternoster, St Helena Bay and Vredenburg.

It says the generation of 144 MW of electricity will result in significant socio-economic benefits at national, local and community level.

However, those opposed to the project are concerned about its impact on the environment, tourism and job creation in the West Coast region.

Renowned for its natural beauty and unspoiled vistas, Paternoster has become a popular holiday destination with the added bonus of job opportunities.

“We have got certain things that attract people here and these are the exact things they want to take away. With the wind farm, the one leg of our nature position gets immediately diluted and it’s also in a very prominent position that it’s in your face. The current one is subtle, it sits to the side so it doesn’t really bother you. It comes right into your face, affects the energy of the place and will affect the views from a lot of hotels, accommodation rooms in Paternoster and in that way affect the entities,” says Tourism owner Deon Brand.

Industry role-players say the visual impact of the planned Boulders Wind Farm will stretch for tens of kilometres along the pristine West Coast.

Environmental activists have questioned the selection of an environmentally sensitive area.

“The site is also situated in the middle, right between two internationally recognised birding areas, the Langebaan lagoon and the Lower Berg River Estuary with birds. In a survey done on the previous wind farm, 30 546 birds flew through that farm in 6 days or through this peninsula. Why would we jeopardise that, why would we jeopardise endangered species that are being killed by wind farms. When we put one wind farm next to another, we produce not two plus two but two to the power of two the impact becomes exponential. It rises not in a straight line graph, the impact on bats is absolutely unequivocal, the bat report states that there will be local extinction and zero chance of recovery, extinction,” says Peter Pickford, Wildlife Photographer & Environmental Author.

The department’s environmental authorisation however has a number of conditions, including additional research on the impact on birdlife.

“The chances of the negative impacts on tourism and property values to be realised, however, are small given the research findings of international studies. Due to concerns raised by the visual, the turbine layout was changed. Some of the wind turbines were relocated, to avoid visual concerns.  The wind farm is not permanent, and the turbines and other superstructure will be removed on decommissioning of the wind farm,” says Albi Modis from the  Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries.

Opposers say they will appeal against the granting of environmental authorisation and if needs be, take the matter to court.

An existing wind farm in the region, West Coast One, generates 94 megawatts.

Serena Williams knocked out of Australian Open
24 January 2020, 6:10 PM

Serena Williams is out of the Australian Open. The 8th seed and 23-time Grand Slam champion was beaten in three sets by China’s Wang Qiang.

Also out is Caroline Wozniacki, who was beaten by Tuinisia’s Ons Jabeur, in what turned out to be the last match of her illustrious career.

Wang played Williams in the quarter finals of the US Open last year and managed to win just one game. This time it was different from the outset, as she smashed winners and kept an out of sorts Williams off balance. She won the first set 6-4 with some powerful and smart tennis.

She was a break up in the 2nd set but Williams wasn’t conceding anything. She took advantage of Wang’s nerves to break her when she was serving for the set, and then demolished her in the tie break, taking it 7-2.

The two both upped their game in the decider, neither able to get past the others serve. That is until the final game, with Williams serving to extend the match. But she was on the back foot instantly. Although she threw away two match points, Wang managed to convert the third break to win the match 6-4 6-7 and 7-5.

Next she faces Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who beat former world number one and Williams’ good friend, Caroline Wozanicki in three sets. Wozniacki was playing her final professional tournament at the event she won in 2018.

“I think it was only fitting that my last match would be a three setter, a grinder and that I would finish my career with a forehand error. I think those are the things that I’ve been working on my whole career, and I guess this was just meant to be,” says Wozniacki.

World number one, local hero Ashleigh Barty, is also through after Thrashing Elena Rybakina in an earlier match, 6-3 6-2.

DA welcomes Modise’s decision regarding the Public Protector
24 January 2020, 6:00 PM

The Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Chief Whip in Parliament, Natasha Mazzone, says they welcome National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise’s decision to accede to their demands for an inquiry into the Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office. According to the DA, Mkhwebane is not fit to hold office.

The party made the initial request nearly two years ago but it fell away when the term of the fifth Parliament ended.

After the issue was revived after last year’s elections, Parliament adopted rules to make the removal of the head of a Chapter Nine institution possible.

Mazzone says the party is relieved that the matter will be given consideration.

“This has been long time coming and we have finally reached a stage where Parliament has adopted rules that allow for the removal for the head of a Chapter Nine institution. We are finally going to see accountability for what has been a disastrous tenure for this particular PP,” says Mazzone.

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