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Gupta associate to appear in court
29 September 2021, 9:31 AM

A man suspected of being the middleman in the Transnet, Regiments Capital and Trillion corruption saga, is expected to appear at the Palm Ridge Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

The suspect was arrested at the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Kempton Park on Tuesday night. Trillion is linked to the Gupta family and Transnet paid them millions of rands for consultancy services.

The suspect is also linked to thefts by Regiments Fund Managers from the Transnet Second Defined Benefit Fund. The National Prosecuting Authority’s Investigating Directorate, Sindisiwe Seboka, says the members of the police apprehended him while he was boarding a flight to Dubai.

“The arrest emanates from money laundering of the proceeds from contracts that were improperly awarded by Transnet to Regiments Capital and Trillian. The suspect was apprehended before boarding an international flight to Dubai at 7pm this evening (Tuesday). He is expected to appear at the Palm Ridge Specialised Crimes Court.”

Zondo hears how Guptas used complicated network system to launder money

In June, the director of investigations at London-based Shadow World Investigations, Paul Holden, explained to the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture how the Guptas used a complicated and broad network system to launder stolen money.

The global organisation investigates cases of grand corruption and corporate malfeasance.

Holden testified that money that was received through corrupt contracts would go through several local and international shell companies.

He says their investigations show that the funds would then flow to some sort of endpoint offshore with most of the money ending up in Hong Kong and China.

Holden says the laundering system they used was complicated but had a pattern.

“Combined private investigations is a firm we have identified in the report as receiving quite a large amount of state contracts from different sources providing amongst other things security services. And it made quite substantial payments to first-level laundry network.”

“And that’s R1.75 million and it made that payment to Mejul. Mejul then transfers R1 554 245.16 to an entity called Sammid Bullion Group. The Sammid Bullion Group is what I call the spider web,” says Holden.

 

Ramaphosa authorises publication of SIU report on Digital Vibes saga
29 September 2021, 7:41 AM

President Cyril Ramaphosa has authorised the publication of the final Special Investigating Unit report into the multi-million rand Digital Vibes contract.

This relates to the National Department of Health’s awarding of a National Health Insurance media campaign and subsequent COVID-19 communications to Digital Vibes.

In June, President Cyril Ramaphosa placed Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on special leave so he could respond to allegations against him in the Digital vibes saga.

Mkhize later resigned.

Digital Vibes, run by Mkhize’s close associates, received R150-million from the health department for grossly inflated communications services through an allegedly unlawful.

Presidential report:

Mkhize may have acted criminally in Digital Vibes contract: SIU

In September, the SIU said Mkhize may have acted criminally in the appointment of a company linked to his associates to provide communication services to the department.Digital Vibes was awarded a R150 million COVID-19 media campaign contract with the Department of Health.

The SIU has told the Standing Committee on Public Accounts that Mkhize failed to act according to the constitution and the law and that his actions led to the department incurring irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

Lead investigator in the case Johnny Le Roux says the SIU has referred seven matters to the Health Department for disciplinary action against officials.

The unit has also referred other matters to the NPA and the Hawks for possible criminal prosecution.

“Here we have referred 19 matters to the NPA on 8 July 2021 and it again involves senior management, middle management, junior management and private individuals. The charges range from fraud, corruption, money laundering and the progress is that criminal referral was submitted to the NPA or Hawks. The case has been registered in Pretoria and we are constantly meeting with Hawks on these matters,” says Le Roux.

Unpacking the Mkhize, SIU, Digital Vibes saga

North Korea tests new hypersonic missile as it ramps up weapons systems
29 September 2021, 6:49 AM

The projectile North Korea fired off its east coast on Tuesday was a newly developed hypersonic missile, state news media KCNA reported on Wednesday, the latest in a series of new weapons tested by the state.

North Korea fired the missile towards the sea off its east coast, South Korea’s military said, as Pyongyang called on the United States and South Korea to scrap their “double standards” on weapons programmes to restart diplomatic talks.

The development of the weapon system increases North Korea’s defence capabilities, KCNA said, describing the hypersonic missile as a “strategic weapon”.

Unlike ballistic missiles that fly into outer space before returning on steep trajectories, hypersonic weapons fly towards targets at lower altitudes and can achieve more than five times the speed of sound – or about 6 200 km per hour.

The test could mean the North is joining an accelerating race to deploy the weapon now involving the United States, Russia and China.

North Korea has been steadily developing its weapons systems amid an impasse over talks aimed at dismantling its nuclear and ballistic missile arsenals in return for US sanctions relief.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un did not inspect the launch, according to the report.

“In the first test-launch, national defence scientists confirmed the navigational control and stability of the missile,” the report said.

It said the missile, called Hwasong-8, performed to its technical targets “including the guiding manoeuvrability and the gliding flight characteristics of the detached hypersonic gliding warhead.”

NEXT GENERATION OF ARMS

Hypersonic weapons are considered the next generation of arms that aim to rob adversaries of reaction time and traditional defeat mechanisms.

The United States on Monday said it has tested an air-breathing hypersonic weapon, marking the first successful test of the class of weapon since 2013.

In July, Russia had successfully tested a Tsirkon(Zircon) hypersonic cruise missile, a weapon President Vladimir Putin has touted as part of a new generation of missile systems without equal in the world.

Chang Young-Keun, a missile specialist at the Korea Aerospace University, said the North’s test of the hypersonic gliding vehicle (HGV) was likely a failure, given the flight was clocked at Mach 2.5, citing a reported assessment by South Korean military intelligence.

“The North’s HGV technology is not comparable to those of the US, Russia or China and for now seems to aim for short-range that can target South Korea or Japan,” Chang said.

North Korea last week said it was willing to consider another summit with the South if mutual respect between the neighbours can be assured, following South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s call for a declaration to formally end the 1950-1953 Korean War.

The denuclearisation negotiations, initiated between former US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in 2018, have stalled since 2019.

The two Koreas both test-fired ballistic missiles on September 15, part of an arms race in which both nations have developed increasingly sophisticated weapons while efforts prove fruitless to get talks going on defusing tensions.

Algeria to start Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine production
29 September 2021, 5:54 AM

Algeria will start production of COVID-19 vaccine Sinovac in partnership with China on Wednesday with the aim of meeting domestic demand and exporting the surplus, the Prime Minister’s office said on Tuesday.

The government has said production capacity will stand at 1 million, 2 million and 3 million doses in October, November and December respectively, before reaching 5 million doses per month from January.

The North African country has been importing vaccines, mainly Sinovac, since the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020.

The government aims to vaccinate 70% of Algeria’s 45 million people. The Sinovac vaccine will be produced in the eastern city of Constantine in partnership with state pharmaceutical products company Saidal.

Algeria also plans to begin production of Russia’s Sputnik Vaccine by the end of this year.

Procuring of Sinovac

In July, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) outlined the processes to be taken by government and health authorities in procuring Sinovac’s COVID-19 jab.

SAHPRA authorised Sinovac’s CoronaVac jab for use with conditions under Section 21.

The double-dose shot, developed by a Chinese pharmaceutical group, is approved for people between the ages of 18 to 59.

Eastern Cape women rescued from traditional healer after 9 months of captivity
29 September 2021, 5:33 AM

Eastern Cape police have rescued a 21-year-old woman who was allegedly held captive by a traditional healer for nine months.

The woman from Lusikisiki was taken to the healer in Port St Johns to treat her for a mental illness. Her family says they agreed on R2 000 payment for her work. But according to them, the healer reneged and demanded R10 000 or a cow for the woman’s release after she was healed.

The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, narrates her ordeal.

“My stay there was the worst. I was always beaten up and tied to a chain. They would make me work in the garden the whole morning. They would tell me every day that my mother doesn’t even come to check on me. I was constantly told that I should work hard because I couldn’t pay.”

Police spokesperson Priscilla Naidoo says at the time of the rescue, the woman had chains on her ankles.

“It is further alleged that the traditional healer tied her up because while receiving treatment she absconded several times to visit her boyfriend who resides in the same area. Police untied her and placed her in the custody of her parents. The woman did not want to open a case against the traditional healer.”

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