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Protea Glen residents threaten to shut down the area
4 January 2018, 3:28 PM

Residents of the tornado-struck Protea Glen area in Soweto have threatened to shut down the area, if Thursday’s afternoon’s meeting with stakeholders does not yield the desired outcomes. They have invited the country’s major banks and construction companies responsible for financing and building the houses.

Many of the houses are inhabitable. Some residents have been forced to sleep in tents and vehicles following last week’s devastating storm that hit several areas south and west of Johannesburg.

On Tuesday residents barricaded roads in the area in an effort to draw attention to their plight.

Phelelani Sindane of the Protea Glen Crisis Committee, says, “We wouldn’t like to keep on blockading the roads. The reason for us to blockade the road was to have an opportunity where we can engage stakeholders, even government. So, now that they are coming on board, it is unlikely that we will have blockages. But in the event because you cannot trust these people, in the event that they don’t show up today, then tomorrow (Friday) we will be left with no opportunity, but to block entrances again.”

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Professor Kgosietsile described as one of the most influential poets in SA
3 January 2018, 8:47 PM

Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa has reacted to the passing of Poet Laureate Keorapetse Kgosietsile by describing him as one of the most influential and exceptional poets South Africa has ever produced.

Mthethwa made the comments in a post on twitter. In other reactions, the African National Congress (ANC) in Johannesburg has described Kgosietsile as a giant of the struggle.

The ruling ANC hailed the contributions of the internationally renowned writer, activist and revolutionary.

In a statement, the ANC said the tributes pouring in from around the world for the national Poet Laureate, fondly known as Bra Willie, are an indication of the breadth of his influence on young and old alike – and the impact of his work.

“Comrade Kgositsile has left an indelible mark on the cultural and artistic life of not only the land of his birth, but also of Tanzania, Kenya, Botswana, Zambia and Harlem, New York,” the party said.

The ANC said Kgositsile was an ANC stalwart who dedicated his life to the liberation of South Africa, and that he was a founding member of the ANC’s Department of Education in 1977 and Department of Arts and Culture in 1983.

“A prolific and celebrated writer and poet, he was bestowed with the Order of Ikhamanga in 2008. During his time in the United States he wrote extensively on the influence of jazz music on African-American culture and on the unity of the African diaspora. He was a passionate pan-Africanist whose work was infused with his commitment to the ideal of a free, prosperous and united African continent. The tapestry of South African cultural life is all the poorer at his loss and the ANC joins all South Africans in mourning the passing of this great man.”

The ANC called on government to forge ahead with its quest to make more African literature available in the country’s schools in order to expose new generations of South Africans to the works of Bra Willie and many others.

The ANC extended its condolences to the Kgositsile family and wished them strength during this difficult time.

“Hamba Kahle Bra Willie; legend, patriot, revolutionary.”

President Jacob Zuma has also paid tribute to Kgositsile. In a statement, the Presidency said Zuma had “learned with sadness of the passing of renowned and highly respected author and poet and a giant of the struggle for liberation”.

The Presidency noted that Kgositsile was South Africa’s first National Poet Laureate and a recipient of the National Order of Ikhamanga for his contribution to the field of literature.

“Today our country mourns the sad passing of one of the giants of our liberation struggle who was renowned for his accomplishment as well in the education, arts and culture sectors. He was highly regarded even beyond the borders of our country and was a celebrated arts intellectual in the continent. We extend our deepest condolences to the family. May his soul rest in peace,” said President Zuma.

Kgosietsile was admitted to hospital shortly before the New Year and passed away around midday on Wednesday.

“His untimely death happened today (Wednesday) at 11h50 and he passed away after a short illness. He had complications, blood circulation and had an operation today (Wednesday) and passed away. He had been in hospital from just a bit before the New Year,” says family friend, Mandla Langa.

Kgosietsile is the former husband of Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete with whom he had three children. As an influential ANC cadre in the 1960’s, he went into exile in the United States where he made an extensive study of African-American literature and culture.

Speaking to the SABC, his lifelong friend Professor Muxe Nkondo who worked with him for over 40 years said Professor Kgositsile will be remembered for his courage to speak his mind. Additional reporting by ANA.

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Eskom defends reinstatement of senior executives
3 January 2018, 7:42 PM

Power utility Eskom says it is ready to defend itself if the Democratic Alliance (DA) takes legal action against the company’s decision to reinstate two of its senior executives.

Matshela Koko and Prish Govender were cleared of any wrongdoing at a disciplinary hearing following allegations of malpractice and corruption.

Koko resumes his position as Eskom Head of Generation, while Govender has been reinstated as head of group capital.

The DA says Koko’s disciplinary process was a sham.

However, Eskom Spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe says the process was transparent and conducted professionally.

“This notion that Eskom did not do anything essentially to protect the integrity of the hearing is incorrect. We have noted that the DA is saying that they are going to take the matter to court and we welcome everyone’s opinions about how this company should be run because it is a public institution. But if they do go to court, Eskom will be able to present its case there to show that the whole process was done in a very professional and transparent manner.”

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Political parties send messages of encouragement to matriculants
3 January 2018, 6:41 PM

As the matric class of 2017 in public schools anxiously wait for the release of their results, political parties in Parliament are sending messages of encouragement to them.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga will release the results on Thursday evening.

Political parties in Parliament say they share the anxiety of 2017’s matriculants.

African People’s Convention (APC) leader Themba Godi says the whole class has to be congratulated for surviving 12 years of schooling.

“We firstly want to congratulate the students who were able to sustain their schooling from Grade 1 right up to matric. Reaching matric is, in itself, an achievement and we are hoping that they will all do well and they will either find entry at universities or TVET college to improve their qualifications or skills. We need educated young people in this country for the economic development of our country.”

Both the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and United Democratic Movement (UDM) also congratulated matriculants who sat for 2017’s exams. They have urged those who failed, to get up, shake it off, and go back to school.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa says, “ We have gone through that phase all of us and we hope that students will accept the results. Those who have done well will celebrate, but obviously there will be those who will be unlucky. But they must hang in there. There is hope.”

Democratic Alliance (DA) Spokesperson on Basic Education Nomsa Marchesi echoes these sentiments.

“It must be nerve-wrecking at this moment because in a couple of hours the results are going to be released and I believe that a lot of learners are going to be very anxious. But for those who did well we would like to congratulate and best wishes for the future; to those who did not there is another opportunity.”

Basic Education Chairperson Nomalungelo Gina has appealed to parents to be supportive of their children no matter what the outcome of the results.

Gina says this is a difficult period for learners and they need all the family support they can get.

“We know very well even the parents are anxious; everyone is anxious to hear about the results, but we really rely on the support that the parents will give to their learners. We know parents can contribute to pressure. We plead with parents to be supportive.”

Motshekga’s official announcement of the results will be broadcast live on SABC public broadcasting stations and on SABC 1 and SABC Channel 404 on Wednesday around 6pm at Radio Park in Johannesburg.

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Protea Glen storm victims blame shoddy workmanship by contractors
3 January 2018, 5:25 PM

Residents of the tornado-struck Protea Glen area in Soweto are adamant that their houses were destroyed by the hailstorm because of the shoddy workmanship by contractors.

More than 50 bonded houses in the area were destroyed by last week’s hail storm.

Perimeter walls have collapsed and cars badly damaged by the flying objects.

Residents are now sleeping in the open as they wait for assistance to rebuild their homes.

Homeowners are trying to rebuild roofs of their damaged houses. They say this is the only option they have to cover their heads while waiting for a permanent solution to their plight.

Father of four, Kgosi Papane, says he is forced to sleep in a six-meter square tent erected inside his yard with his wife while his children have been accommodated by family members.

“We sleep in a tent. We can’t sleep in this house. As you can see, it is dilapidated. This is a timebomb waiting to explode. The whole thing that is left here will just fall off. As you can see, the tent is underneath a tree and whenever there is wind blowing, the tent also does the same thing. Obviously, if it’s like this they will have to give me the whole money to build a new house. I’m not going to settle for them to come to me and say to me no we can fix this house. No, I’m not going take that.”

Happy Mabale was alone in his home when the hailstorm struck. He shares the experiences of which he says he remembers vividly.

“I thought I was going to die because, as I tried to run to this room, I could (hear) things started falling around me. I just thought this is it, I am going to die today and I was like, ‘so, God separated me from my family so that I can die alone?’ I was so terrified.”

Thamani Netshiongolwe says the shoddy construction work contributed to extensive damage to his house. He estimates it runs into hundreds of thousands.

“Here it can be more than R200 000 honestly speaking. The way I looked because when we check the house there are lots of cracks. I think they used material that is not strong because there are so many cracks on the house. It also indicates that the material they used is cheap. We just pray to God that maybe one of the good days we will get our house rebuilt.”

On Tuesday, residents barricaded roads including the R559 towards Randfontein, west of Johannesburg. It is believed the protest was sparked by government’s apparent slow response to assist those affected by the storm which left many homes destroyed.

“This morning (Wednesday) we are continuing with the monitoring of the area in Protea Glen Ext 16 where there was a protest yesterday (Tuesday). Today (Wednesday) it is clear the motorists are moving, but we will continue monitoring the situation,” says Gauteng Police Spokesperson Kay Makhubele.

The City of Joburg is compiling a report on damaged property and it is expected to be released on Friday.

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