Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula / Image via Twitter: Minister of Transport |Mr Fix

South Africa: Today’s latest news and headlines, Monday 12 October

Gauteng has only three operational MetroRail lines and blame is being placed squarely on Transport Minister Mbalula.


Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula / Image via Twitter: Minister of Transport |Mr Fix

Never miss a beat when it comes to the latest news in South Africa; be sure to check out the country’s biggest headlines on Monday 12 October.

As Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula comes under fierce fire for the breakdown of Gauteng’s railway system, government moves ahead with its plan to accelerate land reform by passing the revised Expropriation Bill onto parliament. In sports news, uncertainty reigns supreme as the Springboks delay confirmation of participation in the Rugby Championship which kicks off in early November.


Calls for Mbalula to be arrested over railway system’s collapse

Railway infrastructure in Gauteng has been torn apart, with trains, responsible for transporting millions of residents to and from places of employment in the province’s central business districts, unable to get back on track.

Wanton vandalism and theft have dwindled MetroRail’s services down to just three functioning corridors; Pienaarspoort to Pretoria, Tembisa to Elandsfontein and Soweto to Johannesburg. Gauteng Metrorail spokesperson Lillian Mofokeng added that costly diesel locomotives were being used as part of a contingency plan, owing to the ‘loss’ of electrical cables. Mofokeng elaborated on the dire state of affairs, saying:

“Management is concerned about the ongoing theft of cables and infrastructure components which make it impossible for MetroRail to provide reliable train services for millions of commuters.”

On Sunday, the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) in Gauteng called for Mbalula’s arrest, adding that several affiliated organisations — including the SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco), the Congress of SA Students (Cosas), and the SA National Cargo Transport and Drivers Association (SANCATDRA) — would embark on a march to the provincial premier’s office on Monday.

While the march is expected to deal with multiple issues, the MKMVA took direct aim at the Mbalula, saying:

“Among other issues, the march is focusing on the plight of the poor and forgotten freedom fighters, rampant corruption in the country, the demand for the arrest of apartheid killers, the arrest of transport minister for the damaged railway network, the plight of truck and taxi drivers, crime and gender-based violence.”

Facing fierce public criticism over the railway system’s collapse, Mbalula recently launched a ‘Security Plan’ — spearheaded by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (Prasa) — which insourced over 3 000 security guards to protect vital infrastructure.

State Capture: Former Free State MEC Zwane in the hot seat

The former MEC of Corporate Government and Human Settlements in the Free State, Mosebenzi Zwane, will testify before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture today. Zwane’s appearance follows in the wake of several arrests associated with testimony concerning Free State tender scandals.

Details around a dodgy asbestos clearing tender, elaborated upon before Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo of the State Capture Commission by businessman Edwin Sodi, sprung the Hawks into action. Free State Human Settlements Department Head Nthimotse Mokhesi, former Provincial Human Settlements MEC Sarah “Olly” Mlamleli and Human Settlements Supply Chain Manager Director Mahlamola Matlakela were all netted in the swoop.

Zwane, who is expected to testify about a tormented R1 billion housing project, resigned in 2018 amid allegations of corruption associated with the scandal-ridden Vrede Dairy Project and proximity to the infamous Gupta brothers. Zwane faced a flurry of criminal charges, including treason, corruption, extortion, fraud and theft.

Zwane’s testimony also coincides with unconfirmed reports of Ace Magashule’s imminent arrest. Magashule, the African National Congress’ (ANC) Secretary General, served as Premier of the Free State and has been implicated in numerous corruption scandals, the most damning of which involves the Vrede Dairy Project.

Criminal charges laid against Julius Malema for ‘machine gun’ taunts

In addition to being reported to Parliament’s Ethics Committee, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader, Julius Malema, and Member of Parliament, Nazier Paulsen, face criminal charges for ‘inciting violence’. In response to the violent protests in Senekal — which were led by fed-up farmers following the brutal murder of 21-year-old farm manager, Brendin Horner — Malema and Paulsen took to social media to voice threats of reprisal.

The Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Chief Whip, Natasha Mazzone, confirmed that criminal charges would be laid against Malema and Paulsen, saying:

“We call on the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, to act against Malema and Paulsen and ensure that their war talk, and incitement to commit violence is investigated criminally.

We also call on President Cyril Ramaphosa to publicly condemn the EFF, and for Parliament to investigate and take necessary action against them.”

Following the protest, which spiralled out of control when farmers clashed with police officers and attempted to enter Senekal’s courthouse to demand that the suspects charged with Horner’s murder be released into the hands of the community, Malema and Paulsen fired back.

Both EFF members posted images and video footage of machine guns, saying that they were “ready” to fight. Additionally, Malema called on EFF members to “protect democracy” in a show of force at the next trial date. Paulsen posted a video of a machine gun firing into the air with the caption:

“Ek kan nie wag nie [I cannot wait]…”

The two suspects accused of killing Horner are due to reappear at the Senekal Magistrate’s Court on 16 October.

Push for land expropriation moves ahead, now up to Parliament

South Africa is one step closer to realising the contentious land expropriation without compensation project. This after the inter-ministerial committee (IMC) on land reform confirmed that the Revised Expropriation Bill had been gazetted and would be subject to parliamentary processes.

IMC Chair, Deputy President David Mabuza, met with members of the committee on Sunday afternoon. Public Works Minister Patricia de Lille applauded government’s work on the accelerated land reform programme which intends to redress socioeconomic inequalities.

Recent progress concerning the Expropriation Bill comes just days after Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Thoko Didiza announced that 700 000 hectares of under-utilised state-owned land would be released for agricultural purposes. The land will be leased to emerging farmers for a period of 30 years, with government providing technical support and services.

Police Minister Cele visits Senekal in an attempt to quell tensions

Police Minister Cele will visit the family of Brendin Horner, the 21-year-old farm manager whose brutal murder has inflamed tensions in the small town of Senekal on the Free State. Cele confirmed that his trip to Senekal, ahead of the next court date on 16 October, will involve mediation with the community, intended to avert clashes which dominated proceedings last week.

Cele added that he was engaging with political proponents, including the Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus), which has stood in solidarity with the farmers, and the EFF, which has vowed to retaliate against the protesters. The police minister condemned the violent scenes which played out during the first court appearance but added that, as a representative of the state, he would do everything in his power to “diffuse the tensions that are high”.

Speaking on the callous killing of Brendin Horner and the recent spate of farm murders, Cele said that “there is a sickness out there”.

Bafana coach Ntseki under fire after loss to Zambia

Just days after a lacklustre draw with Namibia, Bafana Bafana failed to redeem themselves in a match-up against Zambia on Sunday night, losing 2 – 1 in a match that has drawn criticism to coach Molefi Ntseki.

Nteski blamed the early loss, through injury, of Lyle Foster, as a major factor in Bafana’s loss to Zambia. The coach’s post-match analysis has, however, drawn fierce criticism from Bafana fans, with many arguing that Nteski lacked the agility to adjust to changing game plans and strategies.

Ntseki, while still confident that Bafana will qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), said that the team ‘played with no confidence’ following Foster’s injury.

Springboks delay Rugby Championship confirmation as clock winds down

The Springboks will have to clear “several hurdles” before confirming defence of the Rugby Championship title between 7 November and 12 December 2020. This is the latest work from SA Rugby after the initial deadline for confirmation was set to Friday 9 October.

While SANZAAR, the body which oversees rugby in the southern hemisphere, confirmed all Rugby Championship fixtures, times and venues last week, the Springboks have still not been cleared to compete. According to a statement issues by the Springboks, coronavirus-related regulations had thrown a spanner in the works:

“The South African government lifted the ban on international sporting participation a week ago and directions to manage such participation were published on Wednesday evening.”


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