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Nkoana-Mashabane announces Inter-Ministerial Committee for GBV fight
31 August 2020, 6:13 PM

Minister for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane announced a six minister Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) that will focus on the fight against gender-based violence and femicide.

Nkoana-Mashabane was speaking during a security cluster dialogue on gender-based violence and femicide. The dialogue was held under the theme: “Improving access to justice for the victims and survivors of GBV and Femicide”.

It marks the closure of the 2020 Women’s Month programme and is part of the Justice Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster’s effort to fight the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide.

Nkoana-Mashabane says the IMC has a strategic plan that needs other role players in implementing. She decried GBV as a second pandemic following COVID-19.

The strategic plan has six pillars.  Six pillars are accountability, coordination, and leadership. Prevention and rebuilding social cohesion, efficient and sensitive criminal justice, adequate care, support, and healing to the victims. Building women’s economic power and financial access. Lastly better information management to inform action,” says Nkoana-Mashabane.

SA women should be able to walk down the streets without fear says Nkoana-Mashabane : 

A call for a united front against GBV 

Speaking during the same dialogue, Police Minister Bheki Cele said that it is everybody’s business to wage war on gender-based violence and femicide.

Cele said all gender-based violence and femicide victims should be able to access the criminal justice system.

“They should access a system that is efficient and sensitive to the needs of survivors while being accessible and responsible. In our response to gender-based violence, femicide, the police are making progress in resourcing specialised units that deal with gender-based violence and femicide cases with both funding and human capital. We have the FCS, that is the family violence and child protection, the sexual offenses unit has trained specialist detectives to investigate gender-based violence.”

Minister Bheki Cele calls on all South Africans to play a role in fighting GBV and femicide: 

Mokgoro says North West government will cooperate with PPE corruption investigations
31 August 2020, 5:28 PM

North West Premier Job Mokgoro says his administration will fully cooperate with law enforcement agencies on allegations of fraud and corruption in the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The SIU is probing three provincial departments and two municipalities.

Mokgoro made this commitment after tabling the province’s COVID-19 procurement expenditure report in Mahikeng. Over 200 companies are reported to have been awarded PPE tenders. However, a number of them are currently being investigated by the SIU.

Premier Mokgoro says two municipalities under investigation include the Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality in Mahikeng and the JB Marks Local Municipality in Potchefstroom.

“Government is aware of the reports that are in the public domain regarding COVID-19 expenditure in particular in the Ngaka Modiri Molema District and JB Marks Local Municipality. The expenditure matters relating to the two municipalities are currently with the law enforcement agencies and we are encouraged about the manner in which the law enforcement agencies are dealing with the matters.”

Internal audit

Mokgoro further says an internal audit of provincial departments is also under way.

“The audits focus among others on whether departments are assessed or managed the risk with regard to this expenditure and whether the prescribed procurement processes were followed, whether prices paid are market-related and in accordance with price determinations and whether the quality of goods received are compliant with prescribed standards. Where there are transgressions, necessary consequence actions will be taken and cooperation will be provided to law enforcement agencies.”

No stone to be left unturned

Spokesperson for the Special Investigating Unit Kaizer Kganyago says no stone will be left unturned.

“At the end of every investigation, we have three outcomes. One is that where we are able to set aside contracts and that one we’ve got control over as the SIU. The second outcome is the one of criminality.  Sometimes when we do an investigation we find criminality, in such a case we then refer that to the NPA for prosecution with the evidence. The last outcome will be disciplinary.”

Members of the public have weighed in on this matter.

“ I only want those people implicated to be investigated so that justice can prevail.”

The Special Investigating Unit says a preliminary report will be given to the President this on all investigations conducted.

What some public officials have said about COVID-19 corruption:

Case against police officers accused of killing Nathaniel Julies postponed
31 August 2020, 4:02 PM

The case against the two police officers accused of killing Eldorado Park teenager, Nathaniel Julies, has been postponed to the 10 September for further investigation.

The pair appeared in the Protea Magistrate’s Court in Soweto, south of Johannesburg, on charges including premeditated murder, defeating the ends of justice, and possession of prohibited ammunition.

The 16-year-old, who had Down Syndrome, was shot and killed near his home on Wednesday last week.

This sparked unrest in the community, where residents clashed with the police.

Chaos erupts in Eldorado Park after Julies’ murder: 

Community members also gathered at court today to demand that the officers be denied bail. They will remain behind bars until their next appearance.

Visiting the family last week, Minister Bheki Cele appealed to the residents to allow the law to take its course. He promised Julies’ family that if any wrongdoing is found on the part of the police officials, appropriate action will be taken.

ANC NEC member Bongani Bhongo to step aside from his duties
31 August 2020, 3:22 PM

African National Congress (ANC) National Executive Council Member and Home Affairs Portfolio Committee Chairperson Bongani Bhongo has confirmed that he will step aside from his duties.

The move comes after the party’s President Cyril Ramaphosa instructed all leaders charged with corruption, fraud, and bribery to step aside from government and ANC positions.

In the video below, University of Cape Town’s Richard Calland discusses corruption allegations within the ANC: 

The ANC will this afternoon brief the media and the nation on the outcomes of the special meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee held at the weekend.

Bongo is facing a charge of corruption in relation to an allegation that he offered a bribe to Ntuthuzelo Vanara, the evidence leader of the Parliamentary Inquiry into the alleged interference at Eskom by the Gupta family.

Meanwhile, President Ramaphosa has called on civil servants to set themselves apart from acts of corruption. He has made the call in his weekly letter to the nation ahead of September which is Public Service Month.

Ramaphosa says that the view that the public service is bloated is misplaced as its members play a critical role in keeping the country going.

In building a capable State,  the President says senior appointments must be based on expertise rather than political considerations, with civil servants being allowed to do their work without undue political interference.

He says the recruitment of high-calibre, qualified candidates as well as the continual upskilling of members will result in a well-governed state, able to meet the needs of the people.

President Cyril Ramaphosa says government will uncover all the criminal activity regarding corruption related to COVID-19: 

FEATURE: In conversation with UCT Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng
29 August 2020, 7:05 AM

South Africa celebrates Women’s Month each year to remember the more than 20 000 women who marched against the government’s pass laws in 1956. The month is also used to highlight advancements made in the development of women and to pay tribute to women who are breaking boundaries in different sectors. One such woman is the University of Cape Town Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng. She speaks to SABC’s Lerato Matlala about her challenges under COVID-19 pandemic.  

 

University of Cape Town’s Vice-Chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng says the biggest challenge about operating under the coronavirus pandemic has been uncertainty. The tertiary education sector, like other sectors, has had to deal with operational challenges posed by the pandemic.

In March, when President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the lockdown to curb the spread of the virus, universities were left to come up with new ways of doing things as contact lectures were cancelled. It’s been more than 155 days since the lockdown started.

Professor Phakeng says with a pandemic where a vaccine is not yet found, there is uncertainty in the academic programme.

“ You don’t know how it is going to behave tomorrow, next week, next month. You make decisions as you go along and some of those decisions might have to change. Uncertainty in terms of how you proceed in terms of the academic programme. We want to complete the academic year 2020. We made decisions about how the second semester is going to go, many of those decisions have to approved by the senate, some have to be approved by council which does not meet everyday. So, as the pandemic changes, you have to make decisions, get approval and it may be that as soon as you get approval the ground shifts,” says Phakeng.

Phasing-in of students

This week Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation Blade Nzimande announced that a maximum of 66% of students will be able to return to university campuses under Alert Level 2.

Nzimande was briefing the media virtually on the Level 2 lockdown revised regulations for the higher education sector. He said students who require laboratory and technical equipment and students who require practical placements to complete their academic year will be able to return from 1 September.

According to Phakeng, the next concern is going to be ensuring a safe environment for returning students and staff.

“The big challenge regarding staff and students is health and safety. With the lockdown being downgraded to Level 2, people have to come back to campus, staff, and students. When you bring students back, it necessitates bringing staff back. Bringing people back, you have to make sure that the environment is safe. That is just not about sanitising the place; it is also about making sure that there are no people coming in infected and end up infecting other people. So, organising sites for quarantining and then changing the rules, for example, for residences to make sure that students’ movement is regulated.”

2021 first years

The matric class of 2020 has had a difficult academic year with the disruptions brought about by the lockdown. Concerns have been raised about whether the class will be able to cover the year’s work as they prepare to go to tertiary.

Phakeng says the circumstances the class finds itself in could be better preparing them for life in tertiary.

“The opportunity is that students may come a little differently and maybe better prepared than students before because they have spent the year 2020 having to figure out learning on their own or connecting with a teacher online if they are lucky. They would have had to go through the year without much mediation by the teachers, which is something that they will have to learn, to learn to discipline themselves, to get focused irrespective of what happens in their environment. That is not a downside; that is an opportunity.”

The institution aims to use the national benchmark tests to find how exactly the students have been affected by the disruptions in learning.

“And we will then come up with strategies on how to deal with that.”

Commitment to the empowerment of women

Phakeng says she remains committed to the empowerment of women. In this regard, she founded the Mamokgethi Phakeng Scholarship. The scholarship supports African and coloured women who want to further their studies in any discipline. The first intake of students was last year and so far, two students have benefitted.

The funding comes from 10% of Professor Phakeng’s salary. “I am committed to gender equality. You cannot say that you are committed to gender equality and make it only lip service. I am putting my resources into that commitment. I need that 10% but I am going to deny myself that 10%.”

Phakeng who became the first black South African woman to get a PhD in Mathematics Education in 2002 hopes that through the scholarship more women will go on to achieve more.

The transformation of the UCT in a way that also represents women is one of the things that Professor Phakeng is proud of.

“Within two years the deanery at UCT has transformed to a point where, out of the eight, five of them are black, and out of eight, four of them are women. I think that is phenomenal. In the history of this institution, since its inception, they have never seen such a diverse team of deans.”

Below is the full interview with Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng:

 

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