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Posts tagged ‘Cape Land of South Africa’

South African police kill man after fatal mosque attack

June 14, 2018

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A man fatally stabbed two people on Thursday and wounded several others at a mosque near Cape Town before police shot and killed the attacker, authorities said. The assailant, believed to be in his thirties, charged police who had tried to persuade him to surrender after the attack in Malmesbury in Western Cape province, police said.

“He ignored the calls and tried to attack police. He was shot and killed in the process,” said a statement from police, who did not immediately comment on a possible motive for the attack. A man said his father had been sleeping in the Malmesbury mosque when he was killed just ahead of the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

Suad Bassa, son of Ismail Bassa, said in an interview with the News24 outlet that the attacker also injured his brother when they confronted him. “It’s sad, but Allah has taken him away in the place that he loved the most,” Suad Bassa said.

News24 video footage showed the body of the attacker lying in an open area cordoned off by police tape. On May 10, assailants killed one person and injured two others in a similar attack on a mosque in the eastern town of Verulam, near Durban. No arrests have been made.

South Africa’s Muslim Judicial Council said it was “shocked to its core” by the attack in Malmesbury and that its president and his deputies were heading to the mosque. “We do not have any further details as yet but we urge the community not to jump to any conclusions until clarity can be given,” the council said.

The Democratic Alliance, an opposition party that runs Western Cape province, condemned the attack and said South Africans have the right to religious freedom. “An attack on people while they worship is a direct attack on the constitution and the freedoms we enjoy in this country,” the party said.

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Ex-South Africa leader’s corruption case adjourns until June

April 06, 2018

DURBAN, South Africa (AP) — Former South African president Jacob Zuma sat in the dock of a packed courtroom on Friday to face corruption charges in a long-running case that fueled the public anger that finally forced him from power.

Zuma, 75, appeared relaxed during the brief hearing during which the case was adjourned until June 8. He later emerged from the courthouse in the coastal city of Durban to address a large crowd of supporters, many sporting regalia of the ruling African National Congress party.

The charges are politically motivated, Zuma said. The ruling party leadership had instructed Zuma to resign in February after a leadership crisis that destabilized the ANC, which was already weakened by other scandals during Zuma’s presidency.

At the hearing, Judge Themba Sishi said Zuma was free “on warning.” Zuma supporters gathered near the courthouse to declare that the former leader is not guilty of fraud, racketeering and money laundering. Durban is in Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal.

“Hands off Zuma,” they chanted. The corruption charges were recently reinstated after being thrown out nearly a decade ago and relate to an arms deal in the 1990s, when Zuma was deputy president. Zuma, who resigned Feb. 14, says he has not done anything wrong.

He was replaced as president by his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa, who has promised a robust campaign against corruption and also seeks to rebuild a ruling party whose moral stature has diminished since it took power at the end of white minority rule in 1994.

S Africa to give state burial to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

April 02, 2018

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Nelson Mandela’s ex-wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, an anti-apartheid activist in her own right whose reputation was sullied by scandal, has died. She was 81. Madikizela-Mandela will be honored by a state funeral on April 14, preceded by an official memorial service on April 11, said President Cyril Ramaphosa after visiting her home in Johannesburg’s Soweto township Monday evening.

Ramaphosa described Madikizela-Mandela in a televised tribute as a “champion of justice and equality” and a “voice for the voiceless.” The woman many South Africans have described as the “Mother of the Nation” and a champion of the black majority, died “surrounded by her family and loved ones,” according to a statement released by Madikizela-Mandela’s family.

Madikizela-Mandela was the second of Mandela’s three wives, married to him from 1958 to 1996. Mandela, who died in 2013, was imprisoned throughout most of their marriage, and Madikizela-Mandela’s own activism against white minority rule led to her being jailed for months and placed under house arrest for years.

“She kept the memory of her imprisoned husband Nelson Mandela alive during his years on Robben Island and helped give the struggle for justice in South Africa one of its most recognizable faces,” the family said.

However, Madikizela-Mandela’s political activism was marred by her conviction in 1991 for kidnapping and assault, for which she was fined. She faced these allegations again during the 1997 hearings before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a panel that investigated apartheid-era crimes.

As a parliamentarian after South Africa’s first all-race elections, she was convicted of fraud. Still, Madikizela-Mandela remained a venerated figure in the ruling African National Congress, which has led South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994.

She continued to tell the party “exactly what is wrong and what is right at any time,” said senior ANC leader Gwede Mantashe. The ANC, which was the main movement against apartheid, had lost popularity in recent years in part because of scandals linked to former President Jacob Zuma, who resigned in February.

Nobel laureate and former archbishop Desmond Tutu, a periodic critic of the ruling party, noted her passing by describing Madikizela-Mandela as “a defining symbol” of the fight against apartheid. “She refused to be bowed by the imprisonment of her husband, the perpetual harassment of her family by security forces, detentions, bannings and banishment,” Tutu said. “Her courageous defiance was deeply inspirational to me, and to generations of activists.”

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called Madikizela-Mandela “a leading figure at the forefront of the fight against apartheid in South Africa,” his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. Guterres said “she was a strong and fearless voice in the struggle for equal rights and will be remembered as a symbol of resistance,” Dujarric told reporters at U.N. headquarters in New York.

Madikizela-Mandela had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year, according to her family. She had back surgery a year ago. After hearing of her death, some people gathered Monday evening outside Madikizela-Mandela’s home in the Soweto area of Johannesburg to sing tributes. She had attended Easter services in Soweto over the long weekend.

The family said it will release details of her memorial and funeral services when they are finalized. Madikizela-Mandela’s story was told in biographies and novels as well the Hollywood movie “Winnie,” starring Oscar-winning actress and singer Jennifer Hudson.

The young Winnie grew up in what is now Eastern Cape province and came to Johannesburg as the city’s first black female social worker. Her research into the high infant mortality rate in a black township, which she linked to poverty caused by racism, first sparked her interest in politics.

In 1957, she met Nelson Mandela, an up-and-coming lawyer and anti-apartheid activist 18 years her senior, and they married a year later. The first five turbulent years of their marriage saw Mandela going underground to build the armed struggle against apartheid, and finally to prison in 1963, while his wife gave birth to two daughters.

Madikizela-Mandela always was aware of the danger of being in the shadow of her husband’s all-encompassing personality. Even before they were separated by Nelson Mandela’s long stay in prison, she had become politicized, being jailed for two weeks while pregnant for participating in a women’s protest of apartheid restrictions on blacks.

The apartheid police later harassed her, sometimes dragging her from bed at night without giving her a chance to make arrangements for her daughters. In 1977, she was banished to a remote town, Brandfort, where neighbors were forbidden to speak to her. She was banned from meeting with more than one person at a time.

The woman who returned to Johannesburg in 1985 was much harder, more ruthless and bellicose, branded by the cruelty of apartheid and determined vengeance. In her book “100 Years of Struggle: Mandela’s ANC,” Heidi Holland suggested that Madikizela-Mandela was “perhaps driven half-mad by security police harassment.” In an infamous 1986 speech she threatened “no more peaceful protests.”

Instead, she endorsed the “necklacing” method of killing suspected informers and police with fuel-doused tires put around the neck and set alight. “Together hand-in-hand, with our boxes of matches and our necklaces, we shall liberate this country,” she said.

Madikizela-Mandela complained bitterly on a North American tour after she was forced to testify to South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1997 that the commission never asked her about the treatment she suffered over 18 months in solitary confinement.

The Mandela marriage that survived decades of prison bars dissolved with a formal separation in 1992, two years after Nelson Mandela was released. “Their personal relationship broke down,” said George Bizos, a human rights lawyer who represented Nelson Mandela at the 1960s Rivonia trial that led to his long imprisonment.

“Nelson Mandela called two other senior members of the ANC after his release and he actually said, ‘I love her, we have differences, I don’t want to discuss them, please respect her,'” Bizos said. “And he shed tears to say that we have decided to separate. He loved her to the end.”

The couple divorced in 1996, two years after Mandela became president in South Africa’s first all-race elections, with Mandela accusing his wife of infidelity. As the mother of two of Mandela’s children, Madikizela-Mandela and her ex-husband appeared to rebuild a friendship in his final years.

After Mandela’s death, however, she became involved in disputes over his inheritance.

AP writer Edith M. Lederer contributed from the United Nations in New York.

South Africa’s ruling party finally turns against Zuma

February 14, 2018

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa’s ruling party on Tuesday disowned President Jacob Zuma after sticking with him through years of scandals, ordering him to resign in an attempt to resolve a leadership crisis that has disrupted government business in one of Africa’s biggest economies.

The announcement by the African National Congress did not immediately end the protracted turmoil in a party that was the main movement against white minority rule and has led South Africa since apartheid ended in 1994. If the politically isolated president defies the party’s order, the matter could go to parliament for a motion of no confidence that would further embarrass the party once led by Nelson Mandela.

Ace Magashule, the ANC’s secretary-general, said he expected Zuma to reply to the directive on Wednesday. Another senior party official suggested that Zuma would be unwise to flout the edict of the party, which is eager to recover from internal disarray ahead of 2019 elections.

“A disciplined cadre of the ANC, you are given a chance to resign on your own, but if you lack discipline you will resist,” party chairman Gwede Mantashe said at a provincial rally, according to South African media.

“Once you resist, we are going to let you be thrown out through the vote of no confidence because you disrespect the organization and you disobey it, therefore we are going to let you be devoured by the vultures,” Mantashe said.

Business leaders welcomed the ANC’s decision to recall Zuma, saying the country needs to focus on economic growth and address social problems such as unemployment. ANC leaders must act “swiftly, but constitutionally” to remove Zuma so the “work of recovering our future, which was imperiled by his ruinous regime — characterized by incompetence, corruption, state capture and low economic growth — can begin in earnest,” said Bonang Mohale, CEO of Business Leadership South Africa, a group that promotes development.

“State capture” is a term used in South Africa to describe the alleged looting of state enterprises by associates of Zuma, who denies any wrongdoing. A judicial commission is about to start a probe of those allegations. Separately, Zuma could face corruption charges tied to an arms deal two decades ago.

The main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, said Tuesday that it had been informed by the chief prosecutor that his team will provide its recommendation on Feb. 23 about whether to prosecute Zuma on the old charges. The charges had been thrown out but the opposition fought successfully to get them reinstated.

In another scandal, South Africa’s top court ruled in 2016 that Zuma violated the constitution following an investigation of multi-million-dollar upgrades to his private home using state money. “We are determined to restore the integrity of the public institutions, create political stability and urgent economic recovery,” said Magashule, once a staunch supporter of Zuma.

The ANC secretary-general spoke respectfully of Zuma, saying he had “not been found guilty by any court of law” and that the decision to recall him was not taken because he had done “anything wrong.” Zuma had agreed to resign and wanted to stay in office for several more months, but the national executive committee decided at a 13-hour meeting that he had to leave at once, Magashule said.

The ANC said it wants Zuma to be replaced by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was elected party leader in December and has vowed to fight corruption. Zuma, who took office in 2009 and is in his second five-year term, has not made any public appearances in recent days.

Government leaders hope the standoff can be resolved ahead of the unveiling of the national budget in parliament on Feb. 21, which would go some way toward reassuring investors that the country is getting back on track. Zuma did not give the state of the nation address last week because of the political crisis, and a regular Cabinet meeting scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed.

A motion of no confidence sponsored by an opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, has been scheduled for Feb. 22 in parliament. Opposition parties want the vote moved up to this week and then want parliament to be dissolved so that early elections can be held.

Zuma has survived similar motions in the past, but ruling party members now see him as a political liability ahead of next year’s elections and likely would vote against him on the orders of the party leadership.

South Africa ruling party’s fight for its future kicks off

December 16, 2017

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The fight to replace South Africa’s scandal-prone President Jacob Zuma began Saturday as thousands of delegates of the ruling African National Congress gathered to elect a new leader, with Zuma acknowledging “failures” that have threatened the party’s future.

The reputation of Nelson Mandela’s liberation movement has been battered during the tenure of Zuma, whose second term as party president is up. The new ANC leader is likely to become South Africa’s next president in 2019 elections.

The two clear front-runners are Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, former chair of the African Union Commission and Zuma’s ex-wife. The selection is expected to be announced on Sunday.

Voters are frustrated with the ANC as Zuma’s administration has been mired in scandal and corruption allegations. Africa’s oldest liberation movement, which celebrated its 105th anniversary this year, led the fight against the system of white minority rule known as apartheid and has governed South Africa since the first democratic elections in 1994.

Observers say the party needs to restore its reputation or it could be forced into a governing coalition for the first time. Party divisions run so deep that analysts say either outcome, Ramaphosa or Dlamini-Zuma, could mean the end of the ANC’s dominance as members of the losing faction could form a new party.

“We must attend to enormous challenges facing our movement,” Zuma told the gathering, which opened with emotional appeals for unity. He pushed back against allegations of graft, asserting that “theft and corruption” in the private sector is just as bad as in government and that “being black and successful is being made synonymous to being corrupt.”

But Zuma said “greed is posing a serious threat” to the party and pointed out warnings that the ANC could implode. “We need to find ways of protecting the ANC from corporate greed,” he said. He rejected the party’s “petty squabbles” that have distracted its work and said challenges to inclusion are “killing our movement.” He also lashed out at the media, the judiciary and civil society, accusing them of fighting the ANC or interfering in party matters.

The president defended the party’s worth despite the challenges, saying it continues to stand for millions of people on the fringes of society. “A heavy responsibility lies upon the shoulders of delegates here … to renew our movement and to restore its timeless values,” he said. “We must give people reason to have faith.”

Zuma didn’t endorse a successor, saying any of the seven candidates would make a “first-class president.” He said he met with them and all agreed to abide by the party’s selection. Zuma could carry on as head of state until 2019, when his term ends, or he could step down or be ousted before then by the new party leader ahead of the general elections. He said “I bear no grudge” against those who already have urged him to step aside.

Under Zuma, unemployment has risen to nearly 30 percent and economic growth has slumped, briefly dipping into recession this year. More than 55 percent of the country lives below the poverty line. Ramaphosa, who helped negotiate an end to apartheid and has become one of the wealthiest men in a democratic South Africa, has pledged to crack down on corruption and get the economy back on track. Dlamini-Zuma, a doctor and former government minister and an ally of the president, has promised to bring more black South Africans into the fold through “radical economic transformation.”

The president told the gathering that land, for example, “must be distributed in an equitable manner while enhancing its productivity and ensuring food security.” Some South Africans worry, however, that Dlamini-Zuma would be influenced by her ex-husband and perhaps shelter him from prosecution. Others were excited by the idea of her taking charge.

“Now I want a woman president,” said Lerato Godi, a delegate from North West province. The growing frustration around Zuma led the party to suffer its worst-ever performance in municipal elections in 2016, with its vote share falling below 60 percent for the first time.

“Anyone who wins we are going to support and rally behind,” said Sasekani Manzini, a spokeswoman for the ANC in Mpumalanga province. She said she supports Dlamini-Zuma but “we want to see a united ANC.”

South Africa sees protests against murders of white farmers

October 30, 2017

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Thousands of white farmers have snarled traffic on some major roads in South Africa in what they call the Black Monday protest against the high rate of murders of farmers. Convoys of hundreds of slow moving trucks and cars brought traffic to a crawl on highways leading from farming areas to Cape Town, Pretoria and Johannesburg and white farmers and their supporters wore black in memory of farmers killed. The protests have been peaceful and the South African police have accompanied the demonstrators.

The protests are backed by AfriForum, a lobby group which promotes the rights of South Africa’s white minority, especially the Afrikaner population descended from Dutch settlers. AfriForum claims that 70 white farmers have been murdered in 341 attacks on farms so far this year.

The rate of murders of white farmers is much higher than South Africa’s general murder rate, said Ian Cameron, AfriForum’s head of community safety, speaking at the Afrikaners’ Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria where hundreds of protesters gathered.

“A farmer has 4.5 times more chance of being murdered in South Africa, than an average South African,” said Cameron, according to the African News Agency. “That means a farmer is three times more likely to be murdered in South Africa than a police officer in this country. So farmers have by far the most dangerous job of all people in this country, at the moment. We cannot allow this to continue the way it is.”

The protest has been criticized by the Black First Land First group which claimed in a series of tweets that white farmers are perpetrating violence against black people.

South African opposition protests Zuma, who celebrates 75th

April 12, 2017

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Tens of thousands of South Africans on Wednesday marked the 75th birthday of President Jacob Zuma with a protest against him, pushing for his resignation because of scandals and his dismissal of a widely respected finance minister. The president, meanwhile, danced at a party where well-wishers said they loved him.

The rally in the capital, Pretoria, which followed nationwide protests on Friday, comes amid sharp criticism of Zuma within the ruling African National Congress party, although the president still commands the support of powerful ANC factions. Zuma, who is in his second five-year term after becoming president in 2009, has become a flashpoint for concerns about government corruption and mismanagement in one of Africa’s most powerful economies.

“Take a permanent holiday!” said one protest sign mockingly wishing a happy birthday to Zuma. Some demonstrators carried a mock coffin covered with a South African flag. Crowds gathered at a central square and marched peacefully to the Union Buildings, which house Zuma’s offices. Police estimated the crowd size in Pretoria at 30,000. Protest organizers said the number was higher.

The protest united groups with sharply different ideologies. The Democratic Alliance, the main opposition party, includes many members of the white minority that still controls much of the economy 23 years after the end of apartheid. The smaller Economic Freedom Fighters party, led by former ruling party member Julius Malema, says it seeks the rapid transfer of land and industry to South Africa’s poor black majority.

“All political parties have come together to send one message,” Malema said. “Zuma must leave office, and the soonest he does that, the better, because this country must recover economically.” Later Wednesday, Zuma attended a birthday party for him in the Soweto area of Johannesburg, sitting in a high-backed armchair on a stage before dancing. Supporters praised him, saying he would overcome political challenges and serve out his term until 2019.

Zuma last month fired Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, who coincidentally turned 68 on Wednesday, in a Cabinet reshuffle. Some top ruling party leaders openly criticized the decision. Two agencies, Fitch and Standard & Poor’s, responded by lowering South Africa’s credit rating to below investment grade, raising concerns about a weakening currency and price increases in a country with high unemployment.

In a birthday message, the ruling party commended Zuma for his record as an anti-apartheid leader and tenure as president. Zuma spent 10 years in the same Robben Island prison where Nelson Mandela was held, but his anti-apartheid record has been overshadowed by scandals, including the spending of millions of dollars in state funds on his private home. He paid back some money after the Constitutional Court ruled against him last year.

On Monday, Zuma said many white demonstrators calling for his resignation are racist. Opponents described the remark as an affront to legitimate protest. Key allies, including the South African Communist Party and the country’s biggest labor group, have urged Zuma to resign. The divided ANC, however, is seeking to project an image of unity and says it will defeat an opposition bid to oust Zuma in a parliamentary vote of no confidence.

A small opposition party has opened a court challenge to try to have the vote conducted by secret ballot, which analysts believe could allow some ANC lawmakers to vote against Zuma with less fear of reprisal from ruling party loyalists. The vote, originally scheduled for April 18, has been delayed pending the outcome of the legal challenge.

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