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Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

Max du Preez Forced to Remove Social Media Posts Linking to SAA Documents

A Rumour of SpringThe ongoing controversy surrounding South African Airways – which saw an interdict being brought against Business Day for publishing internal documents – has developed even further with threat of a court order against political commentator and award-winning author Max du Preez for sharing the documents in question on his social media.

“My different posts and tweets with the link to the document were shared well over 2 000 times – and then shared again and again. It is today truly a public document,” the author of A Rumour of Spring: South Africa after 20 years of Democracy writes in a post on Facebook, explaining why he complied and deleted the posts in question.

Du Preez goes on to say, “This legal action only applies to me,” noting that it will not affect anyone who might have shared or liked his links on either Facebook or Twitter.

Read Du Preez’s explanation of the situation, published on his public Facebook page:


SAA is a state owned enterprise – owned by the people of South Africa. It has been seriously mismanaged, to the point that it is bankrupt and unable to meet its financial commitments. Many billions of state (our) funds have been spent to prop it up, but the rapid decline continues. It is not a private company; it should not have secrets from us, the owners.

So when I learnt that SAA management had obtained a court order to prohibit some media outlets from reporting on a memo to management by SAA’s legal people – painting a very dark picture – I posted a link to that document on Twitter and Facebook. I believed that it was our right as citizens to know what kind of crisis SAA was in. I did not believe the court order applied to me.

I have more than 14 000 Twitter “followers” and about 24 000 people follow my Facebook posts.

My different posts and tweets with the link to the document were shared well over 2 000 times – and then shared again and again. It is today truly a public document.

Last night the SAA’s lawyers phoned me and demanded that I take the tweets and posts down immediately or they would get a court order to force me to do so. I eventually got them to agree to give me time until this morning to try and put up a legal defence. The lawyers said they would launch a court application in Johannesburg at 10:30 this morning (Thursday) if the tweets and posts were not removed.

I had no intention to show contempt to the court in question, even though I believe it should never have made the decision it did. I regard our judicial system as a key pillar of our democracy and freedom.

I told the SAA lawyers that the decision to force me to remove the internet link to the document was silly, ridiculous and absurd because many thousands of South Africans have now read the document. It made no impression on them.

The little legal advice I could get in such a short time indicated that I could run a risk of incurring vast legal costs if I opposed the SAA’s court application and that there was a chance that I could lose.

I think the point has been made. The truth is out. I have achieved what I wanted to achieve.

I have just removed the FB posts and the tweets with links to the SAA memo.

This does not mean FB and Twitter users that had shared my posts and tweets are vulnerable or under any obligation to remove their tweets and posts. This legal action only applies to me.

Antoinette Slabbert reported on the dispute between SAA and Moneyweb, Business Day and Media24 – the three news outlets being taken to court for the way they have covered the story:

This follows SAA indicating on Wednesday that it is not prepared to abandon the interdict it got against the three news outlets on Tuesday. The interdict was to prevent the publication of a leaked internal report by its General Manager: Legal, Risk and Compliance, Ursula Fikelepi.

SAA got the interdict in the early hours of Tuesday morning after an unopposed application in the South Gauteng High Court. The airline contends that the report contains a legal opinion and is as such privileged and not for public consumption.


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Darrel Bristow-Bovey: The Heartbreaking Irony of the ANC’s Response and the Beautiful Unity of #FeesMustFall

One Midlife Crisis and a SpeedoDarrel Bristow-Bovey, author of One Midlife Crisis and a Speedo, recently wrote two columns about the #FeesMustFall protests in Cape Town.

In the first column, Bristow-Bovey comments on the “heartbreaking irony of watching the ANC forget the lessons that the National Party learnt from them about the radicalising effect of using violence against a peaceful, disciplined citizenry”.

Read the article:

There has for such a long time been such a disjuncture between official government responses and the felt reality of the people they govern that Jacob Zuma’s ANC simply isn’t used to looking at the world and recognising what it sees. They’re too weighed down by arrogance, whiskey and red wine, so smothered by party lines, patronage and self-interest that they can no longer see or speak the truth, possibly not even to themselves. The result is the machinery of state turning into an irony machine.

The ironies flew around like water bottles. There were the visuals on eNCA of minister Nhlanhla Nene sedately telling his good story, allocating fresh millions to the nuclear deal and urging more direct foreign investment while simultaneously on the screen and outside the children of the people inside were singing the songs their parents wrote, being choked and manhandled for demanding equal access to the future.

In a follow-up article, Bristow-Bovey explains how unlikable and silly he ordinarily finds national anthems, and how surprisingly beautiful he found the student protesters’ rendition of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika outside of parliament last month:

But then, last week, in the days following the march to parliament, I saw a clip that had been recorded on a cellphone. The gathered students start singing the national anthem. A little way into the first stanza the first stun grenades go off. There‘s some running and alarm and the camera swings round like it‘s Cloverfield or The Blair Witch Project, but the kids keep singing. Then the first stanza ends and the next wave of grenades go off, but the kids keep going, they sing the next stanza, Die Stem, and I became quietly emotional.

This is an unfashionable thing to say in today‘s revolutionary moment when the word “white” can only be used as a pejorative adjective — “white supremacy”, “white capital”, “white privilege” — but I watched the crowd of black kids and white kids standing together, singing Nkosi Sikelel‘ iAfrika and Die Stem while stun grenades went off around them, and I know it was just an illusion but it was very beautiful.

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Read Thabo Mbeki’s Prescient Speech on the Relationship between the State and Universities – from July

Thabo Mbeki and the Battle for the Soul of the ANCA speech made by former president Thabo Mbeki at the University of Johannesburg in July has taken on new significance in the context of the student protests taking place around the country.

Mbeki was the keynote speaker at the Times Higher Education (THE) Africa Universities Summit at UJ. The theme at the event was “Moving Africa’s universities forward: building a shared global legacy”.

In his talk, Mbeki emphasised the importance of convincing Africa’s “so-called political class” and – vitally – universities that they are at the centre of the development agenda.

Read the Mail & Guardian’s report:

He said when African countries gained their independence from colonialism, universities “were indeed situated at the centre of the African development agenda”.

But then the “healthy relationship between the state and the university was weakened and destroyed” by, in part, “the perception among the African ruling elite that universities were serving as centres of political opposition to this elite”.

“This led to the impoverishment and weakening as well as the marginalisation of the African University from both the State and the development agenda.”

This resulted in many African countries coming to consider expenditure on universities “as a burdensome but unavoidable cost rather than an absolutely necessary and beneficial investment”.

He said African countries needed a clear message from their political leadership.

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Max du Preez: Why I Changed My Tune About #FeesMustFall After Witnessing #NationalShutDown

A Rumour of SpringMax du Preez, author of A Rumour of Spring: South Africa after 20 years of Democracy, has issued an appeal to all South Africans to support the current university students protests.

In his column for News24, Du Preez admits that he too first mumbled disapprovingly into his beard about the students who were disrupting classes but after yesterday’s violence he realised that these students need to succeed in their cause.

“We need every one of these protestors to graduate with a good qualification if we want South Africa to be a winning country one day,” he writes.

Read the article:

University fees are too high for most students and prospective students.

A report commissioned by the department of Higher Education last year found that South Africa only spends 0.75% of its GDP on tertiary education. This is less than the average in Africa, much less than the world average and a whole lot less than the average in developed countries.

The government threw the report in the rubbish bin.

I must admit that I, too, was mumbling in my beard when I watched the hyperbole, the militant statements and threats and the singing and dancing at campuses.

Misdirected anger

But I had to remind myself that this was South Africa: nobody takes notice of your grievances if you simply hand over a petition.

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Coroner’s Inquest Into Anni Dewani’s Death Will Resume – Family Continues Their Search for Answers

Anni Dewani: A Father's StorySenior coroner Andrew Walker ruled last week that without new evidence the inquest into the death of Anni Dewani will not be continued.

The Guardian reported Walker as saying: “I don’t have sufficient cause to resume an inquest. In these proceedings, the matter will now rest.”

Last month, the Dewani family asked for an inquest to be conducted, seeing as Shrien Dewani had never testified in public about Anni’s murder. The family hoped that the inquest would force him to be called as a witness in the case.

Read the article:

Anni’s family argued that there were still many unanswered questions about how she was killed and asked for a full inquest to resume. But at North London coroner’s court on Friday, senior coroner Andrew Walker said: “I don’t have sufficient cause to resume an inquest. In these proceedings, the matter will now rest.”

Walker said: “The fact that there are differing accounts of how Mrs Dewani came by her death does not, in my view, mean that the matters have not already been sufficiently established in public proceedings.”

Eyewitness News reported that following the coroner’s ruling on Friday, the Dewani family announced that they will be looking for alternative legal options to find the truth about what happened the night Anni died.

Read the article:

Coroner Andrew Walker told Anni’s family he couldn’t imagine what they’d gone through since her murder in Cape Town five years ago but said holding an inquest would serve no purpose.

This setback and the collapse of the trial against Dewani appears only to have further resolved her family to find answers.

Although they’ve ruled out a private prosecution in the past they say they’re taking legal advice on how to pursue their search for the truth further.

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Eddie Jones Led Japan to Victory and will Soon Coach the Stormers, but What Does that Mean? – Gavin Rich

Gavin Rich has written an article for SuperSport in which he reflects on the impact that Eddie Jones – the coach responsible for South Africa’s recent defeat by Japan in the 2015 Rugby World Cup – will have when he becomes the new Stormers coach.

Politically IncorrectMitch: The Real StoryThe Poisoned Chalice


The author of The Poisoned Chalice and co-author of the autobiographies of John Mitchell (Mitch: The Real Story) and Peter de Villiers (Politically Incorrect: The Autobiography) writes: “Rugby players play a rough game but yet they are a sensitive bunch away from the field.”

Rich wonders how Jones will approach the Stormers and whether or not he will be able to make “hard unemotional decisions”.

Read the article:

Seeing all the interviews with Jones that followed the Brighton game got me thinking. How is he going to treat Stormers veterans such as Jean de Villiers, should he decide to play on, when he takes over the reins in the Cape? Is Jones going to be sensitive and pay deference to De Villiers on the basis that he has been a Stormer for so long, or is he going to make the hard unemotional decision that South Africa coaches are perhaps incapable of?

The Japanese targeted De Villiers in Brighton, and the Bok captain made it worse by exhorting his fellow players to follow a game plan that was completely contrary to what the coach had asked for. You just have to read what Heyneke Meyer said during the build-up week, and how much it differed from what was carried out on the field in Brighton, to realise that the coach was ignored.

Last month, Rich wrote an article about the contradictions in Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer’s speeches and said that the World Cup pressure is enough to make any coach “batty”. He analysed Meyer’s decisions and said that “the transformation drive is falling short”.

Read the article:

If you listen to him closely there are enough contradictions in what Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer says in press conferences to suggest an element of panic in some of his thinking.

Indeed, I do sometimes wonder if the past few weeks have seen the manifestation in Meyer of “Mad Coaches Disease”, the strange affliction that causes Bok coaches to become different people to who they were when they started off in the job and to forget some of the core imperatives of their coaching philosophy.

While it might be considered strange, we should stop short of calling it unexplained. The pressure of being Bok coach, and the contradicting demands of different lobby groups, make it a job that could drive anyone batty.

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Rhino Poaching is a Gathering Storm – Killing for Profit Author Julian Rademeyer (Video)

Killing for ProfitFor World Rhino Day, Julian Rademeyer has shared a video in which he talks about the current rhino crisis and his award-winning book, Killing for Profit: Exposing the Illegal Rhino Horn Trade.

“South Africa is home to over 70 percent of the world’s last remaining rhinos,” Rademeyer says. “Since 2008 we’ve lost well over 4 000 rhino. That is 14 times the number that we lost in the preceding 27 years. This is a gathering storm. And we haven’t seen the worst of it yet.”

In Killing for Profit, Rademeyer investigated ivory syndicates: “The book was the highlight of my career. I wanted to find out who the poachers were. Who were these kingpins in the shadows?”

He continues: “I’ve been in positions in the past when I’ve been threatened, been warned off.”

Another problem to consider, according to Rademeyer, is the positive difference made to people’s lives by poaching money. “It’s given communities who had nothing a new lifeblood. And that is a really difficult challenge to face,” he says.

Part of the solution, Rademeyer says, could be rhino farming, which could satiate the market. But we need a plan B.

“You have the perception if you talk to Mozambicans, if you talk to black South Africans, that an animal has more value to activists than a human life,” he says. “We need to reach a point where South Africans as a whole view conservation as part of their natural heritage, something they can be proud of, something that defines South Africa.”

Watch the video, which was created by the Black Rhino Project:

(Warning: Not for sensitive viewers)

from Black Rhino Project on Vimeo.


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This World Rhino Day, Meet Sudan – the Last Male Northern White Rhino in the World

Killing for Profit22 September is World Rhino Day, so take a minute to meet Sudan, the last male northern white rhinoceros in the world, and see what you can do to help his kind.

Sudan is kept at the Ol Pejeta reserve in northern Kenya, where five keepers give him round-the-clock care and protection from poachers.

Watch a video about Sudan, and find out what you can do to spread the word:

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The average lifespan of a rhino is 35, meaning there is not much hope that 42-year-old Sudan will produce any offspring. However, a groundbreaking new breeding project is providing some hope for the northern white rhino.

There’s quite a lot of northern white rhino semen stored around the world, says Vigne, but “what there isn’t is a method of preserving female rhino eggs”, so if the females here, and one in a San Diego zoo die, so does the plan to perpetuate the sub-species.

“The really key thing here is that the females stay alive,” says Vigne – long enough for scientists to successfully extract their eggs.

If this pioneering process works, the northern white’s egg and frozen sperm would be implanted into a southern white rhino in South Africa or a European zoo.

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Meanwhile, South African private game reserves are beginning to sell their rhinos, as it becomes more expensive to protect them from poachers. Julian Rademeyer, who recently won the prestigious Marjan-Marsh Award for his book Killing for Profit: Exposing the Illegal Rhino Horn Trade, says criminals are coming up with “incredibly ingenious schemes and scams”, a situation exacerbated by the slow bureaucratic processes that exist to fight them.

It took South Africa a decade to end “pseudo hunts” by mainly Asian poachers posing as tourists to exploit a legal loophole and export horn legally, says Rademeyer.

After the Ukrainian and Czech tourists that followed were stopped, gangs started bringing Asian prostitutes from Johannesburg to pose as hunters and export horn in their names.

Rademeyer describes it as “like the drugs war” with a trail of criminal elements stretching far across countries and continents, including neighbouring Mozambique whose poachers cross into Kruger and whom South Africa cannot extradite.

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Image: Kenyan Facts on Twitter

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What Went Wrong when the Springboks Lost to Japan? Peter de Villiers Explains (Video)

Politically IncorrectFormer Springbok coach Peter de Villiers has told eNCA in no uncertain terms what he thinks went wrong on Saturday when South Africa lost their first match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup against Japan.

The Japanese team showed great flair and discipline as they beat the Boks 34-32. “We never thought the loss against Argentina would become a highlight,” De Villiers says, “can we sink any lower than this?”

De Villiers says he’s been critical of Heyneke Meyer’s agenda and dishonesty. “I don’t understand why nobody can see that this man can’t take our rugby to where it should be – no one respects us anymore. What are we respected for now?”

De Villiers says during the match he could see that things were going very wrong. “We can’t defend properly, and when we have the ball we don’t understand taking the space, we don’t understand taking the ball.”

De Villiers says he was very impressed with the way in which Japan created space for themselves and put the Boks in “no man’s land with defense”: “We never earned the right to run the ball once.”

Watch the video:


In another video, shared by Estelle Bronkhorst on YouTube, De Villiers gives advice to the Springboks: “We must very quickly become a team over there – get structures that everybody believes in.”

Watch the video:


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Inventors, Philosophers, Artists, Scientists … Not Homo Naledi – Tom Eaton Celebrates the Heritage that Matters

The Unauthorised History of South AfricaTom Eaton, the wit responsible for The Unauthorised History of South Africa by Stienie Dikderm and Herodotus Hlope, has written a column about Homo naledi, the human ancestor recently discovered in the Cradle of Humankind.

In the article, Eaton says, “I know I’m not going to celebrate Naledi as part of my human heritage”. He sidesteps the massive excitement about the fossil discovery, but not because of religious belief or paranoia about racism like many people making themselves heard on social media.

Eaton rejects the family connection with Homo naledi, while recognising the species’ place in his genetic make-up, because he cannot identify with ancestors who “passed on almost nothing to their children except their DNA and their fleas”. Instead, this heritage month, Eaton is celebrating the “inventors, philosophers, artists, even a few warriors” and “the scientists who try to drag us out of the muck despite our determination to return there”.

Read the article:

Homo naledi is a racist plot using pseudo-science to link Africans to sub-human, baboon-like creatures.

It sounded mad, and Mathole Motshekga and Zwelinzima Vavi were jeered on social media for expressing it. I joined the chorus, because gigantic ignorance should not be tolerated in our leaders. But

I can also understand where such paranoia comes from.

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