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Parliament raises concern on increasing murder rate in SA
31 July 2020, 4:44 PM

Members of Parliament’s Police Committee have raised concern about the continued increase in the murder rate in the country. Police Minister, Bheki Cele, presented the crime statistics for the last financial year 2019-2020 to the Committee on Friday.

According to the latest stats, the murder rate has increased by 303, with a total of just more than 21 000.

Sexual offences increased by 873, bringing the total to just over 53 000. Inanda, north of Durban, has recorded the highest number of rapes in the country followed by nearby Umlazi.

During the previous period, Inanda police station recorded the highest number of sexual offences. Cele says he believes that alcohol has played a role in these crimes.

“Our most problematic areas here will be Umlazi and Inanda. That is what the figures are telling us they have nothing to do with the Stats under lockdown. Those lockdown stats will come quarterly. One other problem we found with Inanda is that most of the people they are rape coming from shebeens. Murders would go with these rapes so which means alcohol does play a role here on these matters.”

Advocacy Manager at Women and Men Against Child Abuse, Ngaa Murombedzi on the crime stats:  

Chairperson of the Committee, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, says the increase remains worrying.

“Violent crimes like murder and sexual offences have increased over a three-year period. A little bit adds to a bigger increase. How will (we) reduce violent crime by 50% over 9 years if the murder rate keeps going up?”

The Freedom Front Plus leader, Pieter Groenewald, says the country is clearly becoming more violent.

Cele defended that the year-on-year increases are smaller every year. “Some form of stabilisation … flattening the curve. If (you) look at stats, we are trying to stabilise. As you can see, murder, from a thousand went half and half again. Several stations moved out of the top 30; some stay at 30. If (you) look at Nyanga Police Station, moved from one to four so shows stabilisation.”

 Minister Bheki Cele releases 2019/20 national crime statistics: 

With sexual crimes showing an increase of more than 800 cases during the reporting period, MPs such as Sheik Emam from the NFP, Jacqui Mofokeng from the ANC and Zandile Majozi from the IFP expressed concern.

“Twelve women raped; 14 sexually assaulted. Can’t deal with GBV. Can we get a protection order register? So, we can track how many people committed that crime.”

Cele says statistics are very important as they help police in their crime combating formulation strategy.

Wave of crime in Eastern Cape

Reacting to the crime statistics, the Democratic Alliance in the Eastern Cape expresses concern over the wave of crime in the province.

The opposition party says 11 people are being murdered daily in the province, adding that the high rate of theft has had a negative impact on rural communities.

Over 3 000 people have lost their lives at the hands of criminals in the province while there is a total of  68 545 contact crimes recorded in the Eastern Cape in the last financial year.

The DA’s shadow minister of Safety and Security Bobby Stevenson explains, “What we need to fix this is a collective afford from the community from saps, businesses and security companies and municipality working in a new partnership so that we can take back control of our streets. SAPS alone cannot do it, we need a new model partnership to make eastern cape safe for everyone.”

Independent Crime Analyst Dr. Chris De Kock weighs in on the latest crime stats:

South Africans push back against 5G towers in their backyards
31 July 2020, 3:23 PM

Tens of thousands of South Africans have written complaints to the government over a new policy that would let mobile networks build cellphone infrastructure like 5G towers on private land, which they say could devalue their property.

Since Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams gazetted the policy last week, dissent has poured in through the website Dear South Africa, which collects online submissions to challenge or co-form policies before they become law.

“There are concerns about radiation, about the resale value of properties and about this being used as an excuse to expropriate land without compensation,” the group’s founder, Rob Hutchinson, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation over the phone.

South Africa is one of the most unequal countries in the world, according to the World Bank.

These divides are seen along digital lines, too, with a study by the Research ICT Africa think tank showing only 11% of households have broadband internet access – hampering access to online education, among other services.

The government’s proposal says network operators “have the right to enter upon and use public and private land”, citing the need for “high speed, high quality networks” to ensure that “rural areas do not lag behind”.

But critics worry this is a ruse to exploit private property owners.

“This policy proposes that network operators can erect infrastructure on private land, and property owners cannot charge an access fee and are liable for any damage to the infrastructure,” said Hutchinson.

According to the draft policy, owners can charge a “reasonable” access fee if the network operator makes any intrusive changes to their land but are liable for any damage they cause to communications facilities.

Damage to property caused by the network provider must be repaired by the company and the property owner is entitled to reasonable compensation, the policy said.

The Department of Communications and Digital Technologies was not immediately available for comment.

MTN Group, Africa’s largest mobile network operator by subscribers, welcomed the rapid rollout of cellphone infrastructure.

“This lag in providing services does little to enable a digital environment for all,” said Jacqui O’Sullivan, the company’s executive for corporate affairs in South Africa, stressing that the policy is still in the draft phase.

“The draft document is open to comment by all interested parties, including MTN, ensuring that the final document is a robust and balanced document that addresses the concerns of all parties,” O’Sullivan said over WhatsApp.

More than 42 000 submissions were collated through the Dear South Africa site from across all nine provinces in the country, detailing concerns over the public’s right to privacy, property ownership and a healthy and safe environment.

“Private property is owned by us private individuals, therefore I refuse to be bullied by the govt to erect infrastructure at no cost on my property,” wrote a resident whose name was anonymised by the platform.

“Private property is private (bought and paid for). The health risks are unknown. No thank you,” wrote another.

O’Sullivan at MTN said 5G is safer than people think.

“While there are allegations that 5G is already causing health problems, including the novel coronavirus, there is absolutely no scientific evidence to support this,” she said.

Hutchinson said giving residents the chance to air their complaints now could help them avoid the “expensive and lengthy process” or protecting their property rights later.

“Raising your concerns through an official channel provides a legal opportunity to shape policy before implementation,” he said.

Unite in the fight against further looting of COVID-19 relief fund: COPE
31 July 2020, 3:07 PM

The Congress of the People (COPE) is calling on opposition parties, the religious and other sectors of society to unite in the fight against further looting of the COVID-19 relief fund.

COPE says the alleged scandal involving President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko, her husband King Madzikane Diko, Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku and his wife Loyiso is just the tip of the iceberg.

Gauteng ANC asks Bandile Masuku and Khusela Diko to step aside pending probe:

Diko’s husband’s company, Royal Bhaca Projects, was allegedly awarded an irregular tender for the supply of Personal Protective Equipment from Gauteng’s Health Department.

COPE National Spokesperson Dennis Bloem says: “This COVID-19 PPE’s looting is happening in all the provinces. COPE is saying the solution to stop this corruption is for all opposition parties, civil society organisations, community-based organisations and faith-based organisations to come together to save our country from further destruction.”

Meanwhile, several NGOs have expressed disappointment and anger over reports of widespread corruption involving funds meant to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic in Gauteng.

The organisations, including the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, Corruption Watch, OUTA and Section 27 say it’s troubling that over 90 companies that received purchase orders from the Department of Health are under investigation.

They also welcomed Premier David Makhura’s decision to place Health MEC Bandile Masuku on leave pending an investigation, over his alleged involvement in a R125-million Personal Protective Equipment contract.

The NGOs have commended the Gauteng provincial government’s decision to give priority to a Special Investigating Unit investigation into PPE procurement processes.

Makhura announced on Thursday that over 100 companies are under investigation over PPE contracts worth about one-billion rand.

Click video below, Gauteng ANC decision is unfortunate, irrational: King Madzikane Diko II:

Zimbabwe businesses closed, streets deserted on day of protests
31 July 2020, 3:05 PM

Zimbabwe’s businesses were shut and streets deserted in the capital Harare early on Friday as security forces increased patrols to stop anti-government protests called by activists over corruption and economic hardship.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is under pressure to revive a stricken economy, has said the protests constitute an “insurrection” by the opposition.

In central Harare and nearby Mbare township – a hotbed of past protests, businesses, including banks and supermarkets, were shut as police and soldiers patrolled the streets.

“Workers were told not to come today just in case there was trouble,” said a security guard, who identified himself as Martin, having a meal of tea and sweet potatoes at a bank.

Security forces increased check points on roads leading into central Harare.

A journalist in the second biggest city Bulawayo said businesses were also closed with few cars on the road.

Scores were killed during a crackdown on the last major protests in January 2019 and the government shut the internet.

Zimbabwe’s worst economic crisis in more than a decade is marked by inflation running above 700%, acute shortages of foreign currency and public hospitals crippled by strikes and a lack of medicine.

Critics say Mnangagwa is exploiting a COVID-19 lockdown to stifle dissent. Mnangagwa imposed an overnight curfew and restricted free movement last week to curb coronavirus infections.

Malema calls for presidential spokesperson’s dismissal
27 July 2020, 2:40 PM

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema is calling for the dismissal of Presidential Spokesperson, Khusela Diko.

The move comes amid mounting calls for Diko’s suspension following reports of involvement in alleged corruption over her husband’s R124 million tender awarded by the Gauteng government to supply PPE.

There are concerns that Diko might have used her position and relationship with City of Johannesburg MMC for Group Corporate and Shared Services to garner the tender.

Masuku is married to the Gauteng Health MEC, Dr Bandile Masuku.

Speaking during his visit to the late struggle stalwart Andrew Mlangeni’s home, Malema said President Cyril Ramaphosa must lead by example.

‘The President must do an honourable thing and ask her to step aside in defence of the integrity and the image of that office, but the president won’t do so himself because the president is the same person who is protecting the document in court which are supposed to be revealing who got him the office of the president, so if he was a transparent man the anti-corruption man like he protected himself he would not have a problem in releasing those document he sealed in court, if he can lead by example, all those people would follow.

In the video below, EFF leader weighs in on alleged COVID-19 corruption:

 

“How can a spokesperson for the president continue to speak on behalf of the president because the president is supposed to champion anti-corruption programme.”

“How is she going to speak when the husband is deeply involved in corrupt activities? She’s probably part of the company or she’s probably herself filled in the documents.”

Malema says the party is also not surprised by the corruption that emerged from the R500 billion COVID-19 relief fund that was intended to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.

The African National Congress (ANC) in Gauteng has meanwhile summoned Diko and the Masukus to a meeting to discuss the matter.

EFF Statement on PPE Tender Awarded to Husband of Presidency Spokesperson Khusela Diko pic.twitter.com/GIZUgG6Mkb

— PRO AFRICANS-EFF (@Rebaone59275709) July 21, 2020

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