Home | Global News | Your World This Week – 04 April 2014

Your World This Week – 04 April 2014

News that made headlines on various newswires around the world

MONDAY

President Jacob Zuma broke his silence on the Nkandla report on Sunday, two weeks after it had been released by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

Zuma told a crowd in Gugulethu in footage broadcast by ANN7 that he did not use the public’s money in Nkandla, and insisted that he is not guilty.

Zuma said the tuck shop at Nkandla was opened by his first wife a long time ago and she had used to it support herself while he was in exile.

He and other leaders of the ANC held a series of rallies and meetings and campaigned door-to-door in communities across Cape Town on Sunday.

Zuma said The ANC was ready to win back the Western Cape and it welcomed former members back,.

—–

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said ANC leaders were attacking her over the Nkandla report so that they could get lucrative jobs after the elections.

She said she learnt to accept that people are doing what they think they need to do, and after elections people have to get into positions.

ANC chief whip Stone Sizani accused Madonsela of overstepping her mark with the report.

He said Madonsela was obliged to submit her report to Parliament and suggested that by waiting for a presidential response, she was flouting her accountability to the legislature.

Madonsela said in response at the time that she merely followed the law.

She told The Star she forgave the party for the remarks.

Her report found that President Jacob Zuma and his family unduly benefited from upgrades to his private Nkandla homestead, in KwaZulu-Natal.

—–

A man has been arrested for allegedly pouring petrol on his ex-girlfriend and setting her alight in Johannesburg.

The 41-year-old man was arrested on Sunday at Killkern Court on De Villiers street in the CBD.

The 36-year-old woman was doing housework when her ex-boyfriend came to her room.

Police say He argued with her about not answering her phone. She told him that her phone was broken and he threatened to shoot her.

The man then allegedly poured a litre of petrol over her, set it alight, and fled the scene.

The woman screamed for help and her roommate and neighbours came to her rescue.

They poured water over her and managed to extinguish the fire. She sustained injuries on her right leg.

He was expected to appear in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on a charge of attempted murder.

Pervez Musharraf, the former Pakistani president and army chief, was indicted by a special court on treason charges, and could face the death penalty if found guilty.

On Monday, Musharraf was read the indictment by the three-member bench, In the court room in Islamabad led by Justice Faisal Arab.

The special court had been hearing arguments pertaining to the dismissal of judges and suspension of the constitution by Musharraf on November 3, 2007.

Musharraf appeared in court in person for the first time since being hospitalised on January 2 while en route to an earlier hearing.

He had since been receiving treatment for a heart condition at the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology in Rawalpindi, the Pakistani capital’s twin city.

The former president has denied all charges, alleging that the case is politically motivated.

—–

Israel handed the Palestinians a proposal aimed at extending peace talks beyond an April 29 deadline in efforts to salvage negotiations.

According to a Palestinian official, Israel presented Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with a draft agreement on Sunday to push forward with the talks.

Israel broke a commitment to free 26 Palestinian prisoners on March 29, a key plank in the original US-brokered terms to relaunch the peace process.

Israel, on Friday, informed the Palestinians it would not free the prisoners as it had previously agreed, with the US State Department confirming it was working “intensively” to resolve the dispute.

The Palestinians said they will not even consider extending the talks without the prisoners being freed, but Israel has refused to release them without a Palestinian commitment to continue the talks, prompting a fresh crisis of confidence.

—–

Opponents of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi launched an Internet campaign against his bid to become the Egyptian president, leading to calls from the pro-Sisi camp for a ban on social media.

The Twitter hashtag, roughly translated from Arabic as “Vote for the Pimp,” was being used on Facebook and Twitter in several languages to mock Sisi’s announced plans to run in the presidential poll set down for April.

According to the tracking website, Keyhole, the hashtag achieved more than 100 million impressions within days of creation, and generated tens of thousands of messages on Twitter.

Keyhole stated that 23 percent of the hashtag’s impressions came from outside Egypt.

The word “pimp” is extremely offensive in Egyptian culture, but its use also mockingly referenced the North American meaning: showy, impressive, the boss of a gang.

—–

Two men found inside an ATM at a petrol station in Kwazakhele, Port Elizabeth, were arrested for malicious damage to property.

Police were responding to an alarm that had gone off at the petrol station on Salamntu Street.

While the police were still securing the scene, they noticed two men, 18 and 20, who were inside the machine.

No explosives were used and no money had been taken from the machine.

The two will appear in the New Brighton Magistrate’s Court on Tomorrow.

——

Three men died and two others were injured when two cars collided on the R510 near Malelane, in Mpumalanga.

On scene, ER24 paramedics found that three males in one of the vehicles had already succumbed to the fatal injuries they sustained.

Provincial rescue service personnel used jaws-of-life equipment to free the two men who survived the collision from their vehicle.

The two men were then immobilised on spine boards and treated for the moderate chest and leg injuries, before being taken to a nearby hospital for further treatment.

The cause of Sunday night’s accident was not known.

—–

The death toll from a mudslide in Washington state increased to 21, while four more bodies were located but not counted in the official tally.

A mudslide on March 22 ravaged the landscape in Oso, a rural area between Arlington and Darrington, crushing around 50 homes and destroying part of a state highway northeast of Seattle.

Emergency officials said 15 of the dead have been formally identified. There are still 30 people missing.

Jason Biermann, spokesman for the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management, said the challenge of identifying victims is becoming more complicated as search operations continue

The wet conditions made the rescue operation slow, but a break from the wet conditions was predicted.

Washington state officials said they were also concerned about flooding in the nearby waterway.

—–

Turkey’s ruling party claimed victory in the critical local elections that took place amid corruption allegations, damaging security leaks and online bans that have shaken Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

Addressing his supporters late on Sunday after the results were revealed, Erdogan said he would ”enter the lair” of his enemies and make them “pay the price” for plotting his downfall.

The elections were widely seen as a vote of confidence for the rule of Erdogan, and his supporters celebrated the victory throughout the night.

Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) got 45.6 percent of the votes.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) scored 27.9 percent and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) held 15.2 percent

Both the CHP and AKP blamed various media outlets with manipulation on results and called on their members not to leave ballot boxes they had been monitoring.

—–

In a rare census of the population in decade, a decision by Burma to ban Muslims from registering as Rohingya had sparked anger among the oppressed minority, amid calls to the government to ensure freedom and safety for all citizens.

In the first national census in 30 years, Rohingya Muslims would not be recognized like other ethnic groups in the restive Burma, according to the government that wants to register them as “Bengali”.

Government spokesman Ye Htut said if a household wants to identify themselves as ‘Rohingya’, they would not be registered.

The census aims to reach 12 million households in Burma, ending its mission on April 10.

Described by the UN as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities, Rohingya Muslims are facing a catalogue of discrimination in their homeland.

They have been denied citizenship rights since an amendment to the citizenship laws in 1982 and are treated as illegal immigrants in their own home.

The Burmese government, as well as the Buddhist majority, refuse to recognize the term “Rohingya”, referring to them as “Bengalis”.

Rights groups accused the Burmese security forces of killing, raping and arresting Rohingyas following the sectarian violence last year.

Over the last two years, Buddhists mob attacks have left hundreds of Rohingya Muslims killed and evacuated more than 140,000 from their homes.

—–

Ukraine’s defence ministry said it noticed a gradual withdrawal of Russian troops from its border that may be linked, to Washington’s latest push for a diplomatic solution

Ukraine’s defence ministry spokesman, couldn’t confirm how many soldiers the drawdown involved or the number of troops still stationed at Russia’s border with its former Soviet satellite.

US and EU officials estimated over the weekend that Russia’s sudden military buildup along Ukraine’s eastern frontier had reached 30,000 to 40,000 soldiers.

Kiev’s Centre for Military and Political Studies analyst Dmytro Tymchuk said that his sources had told him that Russia had only 10,000 soldiers remaining near the border by this morning.

Russia’s swift takeover of Crimea, following the ouster of Moscow ally Viktor Yanukovich as Ukraine’s president in late February, has caused the biggest crisis in East-West relations since the Cold War.

—–

TUESDAY

Authorities were racing the clock to find the “black box” of missing Flight MH370 before its signal goes silent, after Malaysia admitted it got the last words from the cockpit of the doomed plane wrong.

Australian vessel Ocean Shield, fitted with a US-supplied black box detector known as a towed pinger locator left Perthon Monday, expected to take up to three days to reach the search zone in the remote southern Indian Ocean.

A black box signal usually lasts only about 30 days and fears mounted that time would run out, after the Malaysian Airlines plane carrying 239 people veered off course and vanished on 8 March.

Australian Defence Minister David Johnston admitted there was only a slim chance it would be found as debris needed to be positively identified first to nail down a crash site.

—–

Egypt’s Anti-Coup Alliance said it wouldboycott the upcoming presidential election in the country.

The coalition, which includes the Muslim Brotherhood, said the decision was made on the ground of the illegitimate ouster of Mohamed Morsi.

Morsi was the first democratically elected president of Egypt who was overthrown in July 2013.

Magdi Qorqor, a spokesman for the alliance, said the coalition opposed the election since the polls were the result of an “illegal political process.”

On March 30, Egypt’s electoral commission announced that the first round of the presidential poll was scheduled for May 26-27 with results expected by June 5.

Last week, the country’s former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who led the overthrow of Morsi, announced his resignation as defense minister in order to run for presidency.

Amnesty International says 1,400 people have been killed in the political violence since Morsi’s ouster.

——-

A meeting between Rea Vaya bus operators and the SA Municipal Workers Union was scheduled in a bid to resolve a bus strike.

Piotrans spokesperson Dumisani Mntambo said the company would meet with the union’s attorneys this morning to finalise the agreement reached overnight

Rea Vaya bus drivers embarked on a strike yesterday, leaving commuters around Johannesburg stranded.

The drivers demanded that labour brokers be banned, the code of conduct be reviewed, senior staff members choose their shifts, and the union to be introduced during the induction of new workers.

—–

Eskom said it would rework maintenance plans on South African power plants to ensure the state-owned utility had enough electricity supply to meet demand, after a boiler incident cut 600 megawatts of capacity.

On Sunday Excess pressure in a boiler at the Duvha coal-fired plant in the Mpumalanga province caused the facility’s third unit to trip.

Duvha has six units, each with the capacity to generate 600 megawatts.

An investigating team of engineers were unable to start its probe yesterday because they had to wait for the boiler to cool down.

While the system is very tight, Eskom said they weren’t predicting any load-shedding.

—–

Vodacom and MTN would have to halve the rate they charge to connect calls from rival networks to 20c a minute.

This was despite the South Gauteng High Court ruling yesterday that amended regulations published by the industry regulator in the Government Gazette were illegal and invalid.

However the tariff would not be in force for long because Judge Haseena Mayat suspended her finding on the regulations for six months only.

During this period the Independent Communications Authority of SA would complete a costing exercise and review the future of call termination rates.

The ruling meant smaller operators Cell C and Telkom Mobile will be entitled to apply an asymmetric rate.

They could charge 44c a minute to receive calls from Vodacom and MTN but they would pay less to these.

—–

Russian energy giant Gazprom announced a more than 40-percent increase in the price of gas exports to Ukraine, scrapping a previous discount amid mounting strains between the two countries.

Ukraine would now pay a price of $385.5 per 1,000 cubic metres of gas, raising the price from $268.5 per 1,000 cubic metres which was agreed in December.

The previous discount was part of a financial lifeline Russia’s President Vladimir Putin offered to Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovich after his decision to ditch a pact with the European Union in favour of closer ties with Moscow.

The move fuelled three months of protests which forced Yanukovich to flee to Russia in February.

The gas price increase by Gazprom was a new blow to the Ukrainian economy which needs an international rescue to stave off the risk of default.

Ukraine agreed last week to raise domestic gas consumer prices by up to 50 percent in order to meet a key loan condition from the International Monetary Fund.

—–

Western Cape’s top cop said an additional police station for Khayelitsha had been prioritised for the new financial year.

Provincial commissioner Arno Lamoer was testifying on the last day of phase one of the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry into alleged police inefficiency in the area.

Makhaza, an area consisting of formal and informal housing, currently falls under the Harare police station.

Residents argue the Harare station, which covers many other areas in Khayelitsha, could not cope with the workload officers currently have to deal with.

The land for the police station had been identified.

The commission was set up by Western Cape premier Helen Zille after complaints of police inefficiency in Khayelitsha.

The move was met with resistance by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa who went as far as the Constitutional Court to block the commission. Mthethwa lost his court bid in October last year.

—–

Two Tunisian policemen were convicted of raping a woman and sentenced to seven years in prison in a case that has captured international attention for the victim.

Earlier in court the two policemen denied the charge, instead accusing the woman of seeking to have relation with them, provoking an emotional outburst from the alleged victim.

The defendants said they found the woman, known by her pseudonym Meriem Ben Mohamed, and her boyfriend having relations in their car in a Tunis suburb.

Three officers faced trial over the September 2012 incident and two of them were accused of rape.

According to the charges, they then took the woman to a police car, where two of them took turns to rape her, while the third policeman allegedly tried to extort money from her fiance at a bank cashpoint.

He was given a two-year prison sentence

—–

A 19-year-old youth was hit by a bus on Blouberg Road in Tableview, Cape Town

ER24 spokesperson Luyanda Majija said it appeared as though he was killed on impact.

The youth was on his way to work when he attempted to cross the busy road and was hit by the bus.

The deceased was found to have sustained suspected multiple severe fractures.

The bus driver and the passengers were unharmed in the incident.

—–

Human rights sources say 12 Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire during the month of March, recording a rise in the number of victims in comparison to past months.

Ahrar Center for Prisoner Studies stated that 12 Palestinians were killed by Israeli gunfire in March 2014 including 6 victims in besieged Gaza Strip and 6 others in occupied West Bank.

Ahrar Center’s monthly report documented 364 arrests in occupied West Bank during March including 83 detainees from occupied Jerusalem.

The arrests were carried out during raid campaigns, clashes with Israeli forces and at checkpoints that were erected throughout the West Bank.

For his part, director of the center Fouad Khuffash said that West Bank cities and villages were daily subjected to Israeli raids and search campaigns

—–

Aid groups warned of humanitarian crisis in western Myanmar, as thousands of people, mainly Muslims, were facing food and water shortage.

Humanitarian aid workers, who were forced to flee the region due to violence, warned that in the next two weeks, food stocks will run out and at least 20,000 displaced people living in camps would be without clean water in 10 days.

Tens of thousands of displaced people, mostly stateless Rohingya Muslims, live in bleak camps in the troubled state of Rakhine.

According to UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the displaced people are completely reliant on humanitarian deliveries, which have stopped as a result of the unprecedented attacks on relief organizations.

Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar account for about five percent of the country’s population of nearly 60 million.

They have been persecuted and faced torture, neglect, and repression since the country’s independence in 1948.

Hundreds of Rohingyas are believed to have been killed and thousands displaced in attacks by Buddhist extremists.

The Myanmar government has been repeatedly criticized by human rights groups for failing to protect the Rohingya Muslim community.

—–

Gauteng hospitals have been described as “Killer hospitals” as the number of “adverse” incidents, including neglect and sexual assault of patients, increases.

The medical union Hospersa said the problems were not just in Gauteng.

It described a clinic in Mpumalanga that has no running water and a Northern Cape clinic at which a security guard had to help the single nurse on duty deliver a baby.

According to figures released by Jack Bloom, Gauteng DA spokesman on health, there were 373 serious events at Gauteng hospitals in 2012, including patient suicide and mistakes by healthcare workers.

There were 532 such events between January and September last year.

A doctor working at a Johannesburg hospital said: “The issue is one of incompetence of the people managing the department, region, and institutions, resulting in a completely dysfunctional system.”

——-

According to the business day, Draft amendments to the Employment Equity Act may be detrimental to KwaZulu-Natal’s Indian population, because they propose that top management positions be allocated according to the country’s economically active population.

In KZN, Indians account for 12 percent of the EAP, but only 3 percent nationally.

The amendments were published for comment in February.

According to the draft regulations,companies employing more than 150 people apply national EAP demographics for management and professional posts.

In a letter to The Mercury, lawyer and blogger Saber Jazbhay said the amendments reminded him of the apartheid-era Job Reservations Act.

DA leader in KZN, Senzo Mchunu, said the regulations were racial discrimination and, if adopted, would put Indian South Africans out of jobs “almost immediately”.

He said Indian South Africans also suffered under apartheid and deserve to be treated with respect in the empowerment process.

Michael Maeso, head of employment law at Shepstone & Wylie, said that even if the amendments were legislated, employers would not need to dismiss staff.

He said is put pressure on companies to think very seriously about their openings and to have employment equity,” he said.

—–

The UN’s refugee agency said it was prepared to help evacuate some 19,000 Muslims at risk of attack from mainly Christian militias in the conflict-torn Central African Republic.

Anti-balaka militias control major routes to and from Bangui as well as a number of towns and villages in the southwestern part of the country.

They posed a particular threat to Muslims in the PK12 neighbourhood of the capital, in Boda, Carnot and Berberati to the west and Bossangoa further north.

UNHCR spokeswoman Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba said they fear for the lives of 19,000 Muslims in those locations”.

She said the UNHCR stands ready to assist with their evacuation to safer areas within or outside of the country.

She pointed out that so far “the only thing keeping them from being killed right now is the presence of (international) troops.

According to UNHCR numbers, 637,000 people in total are now displaced inside the country, including 207,000 in Bangui, while 82,000 mostly Muslim Central Africans had streamed into neighbouring countries in the past three months.

The increase in violence has claimed more than 60 lives in the capital since March 22.

—–

WEDNESDAY

President Jacob Zuma was expected to account to Parliament over his role in the R246 million spent on upgrades to his private home in KwaZulu-Natal.

Zuma thus far said he would not pay back any of the funds as he did not request the upgrades.

Two weeks ago Public Protector Thuli Madonsela released her findings, which found he had improperly benefitted from the upgrades.

—–

The Johannesburg High Court heard an urgent application by the ANC to stop the DA from sending out an SMS accusing President Jacob Zuma of stealing public money.

The African National Congress wanted the court to compel the Democratic Alliance to comply with the Electoral Act in terms of the prohibition of publishing of false information.

This was in response to an SMS sent by the opposition party which the ANC claimed was based on a “deliberate lie” and targeted Zuma.

Last month, the DA said it welcomed the court challenge.

——

More than 150,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said more than 51,000 of them are civilians, including nearly 8000 children.

The opposition, including fighters from the Free Syrian army and other groups like the Jabhatun Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant had lost 38,000 members.

The Syrian army of Bashar al Assad has lost 58,000 forces, including more than 35,000 soldiers.

Among those killed fighting on the government side are 364 members of Lebanon’s Shia Hezbollah movement.

The conflict in Syria began in March 2011 with peaceful anti-government demonstrations, inspired by similar movements elsewhere in the region.

After a regime crackdown that saw protesters killed, part of the opposition took up arms and the conflict spiraled into civil war.

—————–

The department of justice said people found dealing in or in possession of nyaope or other altered drugs can now be prosecuted.

Spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said this came after Justice Minister Jeff Radebe and Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi signed off on the amendment of the Drugs and Trafficking Act on 28 March.

Prior to the Act being amended, there were no laws in place to deal with new narcotic substances which were created by modifying a substance’s chemical structure to varying degrees, or finding chemicals with entirely different chemical structures that produce similar effects.

Mhaga stated that in the instance of nyaope, a person could be charged for unlawfully being in possession of ARVs and heroin.

The two drugs were some of the substances that were combined to make the cheap street drug.

—–

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said the current whistle-blower protection law contains gaps that need to be plugged.

She said apart from the narrow jurisdiction, there were other shortcomings, including the fact that the Protected Disclosures Act did not expressly define what would constitute retaliatory action, by those in positions of power against those who dared to lift the lid on wrongdoing.

She was participating in a discussion in Stellenbosch on the reform of the whistle-blower protection law, where the deputy minister of justice and constitutional development, John Jeffreys, alluded to the pending reform process.

She welcomed announcements that government planned to fast-track amending the act.

Madonsela gave examples of cases in the public sector and the corporate world where wrongdoing was brought to light through whistle-blowing.

She mentioned the arms deal, the bread price-fixing scandal and the police leases’ investigation.

—–

Chile declared three northern regions hit by a 8.2 magnitude earthquake to be disaster areas.

At least five people were known to have died and tens of thousands of people have been evacuated.

The quake struck about 86km north-west of the mining area of Iquique

Waves of up to 2.1m have hit some areas and there have been power cuts, fires and landslides.

The government said the declaration of a disaster in the Arica, Parinacota and Tarapaca regions was aimed at “avoiding instances of looting and disorder”.

President Michelle Bachelet said the country had “faced the emergency well” and called on those in affected regions “to keep calm and follow instructions from the authorities”.

—–

NATO said it would suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation with Russia because of Moscow’s occupation and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region.

The decision was taken by the military alliance’s foreign ministers in Brussels who urged Russia in a statement “to take immediate steps … to return to compliance with international law”.

NATO and Ukraine announced in a joint statement after their ministers met that they would intensify cooperation and promote defence reforms in Ukraine through training and other programmes.

The suspension of military cooperation came as NATO reportedly said it had seen no sign that Russia was withdrawing troops from the Ukraine border.

Tension between Ukraine and Moscow has continued, with Russian energy giant Gazprom announcing a more than 40 percent increase in the price of gas exports to Ukraine.

—–

An investigation was launched following the death of a Grade 10 pupil who was allegedly beaten with a belt by his teacher.

The Star reported that Sizwe Kubheka died at Sebokeng Hospital last Tuesday, a week after the alleged beating at Tharabollo Secondary School in Palm Springs.

He and his classmates reportedly made a noise in class which infuriated his teacher, and led to the beating.

Sizwe complained of a headache when he arrived at home, and his condition deteriorated over the next week.

Attempts to seek medical help were hampered by the family’s inability to organise transport, or doctors not being available when they arrived to see them.

His mothersays by the time he died, he was deaf and had blood clots coming out of his mouth and nose.

Gauteng police say the teacher was arrested and has appeared in court.

Investigators are waiting for the results of a post-mortem to indicate the cause of death, and whether to charge the teacher with murder.

—–

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, signed a request to join several UN agencies in a move that could derail a US push to revive faltering peace talks with Israel.

Abbas said the Palestinian leadership has unanimously approved a decision to seek membership of 15 UN agencies and international treaties, beginning with the Fourth Geneva Convention

His comments came after he signed the demand during a meeting at his Ramallah headquarters in the occupied West Bank.

He said this was not a move against America, or any other party, but it is the right of the Palestinians, and they agreed to suspend it for nine months.

During the nine months of talks Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said they would not do this, But they were promised nine times the release of this last batch of prisoners.

Israel has refused to release the final batch of 26 prisoners, using it as a bargaining chip to try and extend talks beyond their April 29 deadline.

The Palestinians have also repeatedly threatened to resume their action through international courts and the UN over Israel’s settlement expansion on occupied territory in the West Bank and in annexed Arab East Jerusalem.

——

Scholars from Tunisian universities launched a campaign against any normalization of cultural and academic ties with Israel.

The campaign started in the capital, Tunis, as university scholars, public figures and intellectuals signed a charter to prohibit ties with Israelis.

The campaign has been hailed by students and ordinary citizens who call for the criminalization of ties with Tel Aviv.

Mohamed Naceur from the University of Jendouba says they are teaching important values to their students, adding that the isolation of this regime is possible.

Tunisians have frequently condemned the passive attitude of some countries in the region towards the Palestinian tragedy in the occupied territories.

Last month, Tunisians held a demonstration in the capital against Israeli crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The protesters torch Israeli flags and chanted anti-Zionist slogans, calling for a national protest against Zionism.

—–

As the search for flight MH370 airliner continued in the Indian Ocean, a senior police official in Malaysia said the reasons for the mysterious disappearance of the missing plane may never be known.

Police Chief Khalid Abu Bakar said that the criminal probe could go on and on and on, and they have to clear every little thing.

He said at the end of the investigations, they may not even know the real cause, or know the reason for this incident.

A recent probe was reportedly focused on the possibility of sabotage, hijacking or psychological problems among crew or passengers.

Last week, US Navy Captain Mark Matthews said that the search for the Malaysian plane could take years, as the lack of information about where the plane has gone down seriously hampers the ability to find it.

—–

A prominent Muslim Kenyan scholar who was accused by the United States and UN Security Council of supporting the Somali rebel group al-Shabab, was killed on the Kenyan coast.

The death of Abubakar Shariff Makaburi was announced at a Muslim-dominated area near Mombasa.

He was an imam at a mosque in Kisauni.

The police chief for Kisauni area, Richard Ngtia, said he was killed as he left a court compound about 15 km north of the port city of Mombasa.

The imaam and another man were outside the court waiting to be picked up when another vehicle approached and the men were sprayed with bullets.

Makaburi’s death could stir fresh unrest in the coastal area where most of Kenya’s Muslims live.

Two other leading Muslic scholars have been killed in the past two years.

—–

Anglo American Platinum said it was desperately trying to sustain the company and retain jobs during the ongoing strike in the platinum sector.

It had been over two months since around 80,000 members of Amcu downed tools at Amplats, Impala Platinum (Implats) and Lonmin, demanding a basic salary of R12,500 per month.

The strike had resulted in losses of more than R10 billion to date.

Amplats spokesperson Mpumi Sithole said not only is the company suffering, but its employees and their children are suffering as well.

The strike in the platinum sector may result in thousands of job losses this year as Amplats struggles to turn a profit.

Last week, Amplats CEO Chris Griffith said the mines in Rustenburg had no chance of being profitable in the next two years and shutting down some shafts had become a real option.

—–

Egyptian security sources revealed details of a meeting between Egyptian and Israeli military officials which took place two weeks ago.

The same sources uncovered two secret visits by the Egyptian coup leader and presidential hopeful Al-Sisi to Israel in the past two months, where he met with Israeli PM Netanyahu to coordinate joint security and political issues.

In exclusive statements to Quds Press news agency, the sources said that Netanyahu offered Al-Sisi $80 million support for his presidential elections campaign.

He also promised to convince the US to continue military assistance to Egypt, and to convince US President Obama to meet Al-Sisi in return for pressuring Abbas to accept the Jewishness of Israel.

Moreover, Netanyahu urged Al-Sisi to pressure Abbas to stop his campaign against Dahlan, because it only serves the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.

A number of Israeli political and security experts warned their government officials not to publicly support Al-Sisi because that would harm his image in the eyes of Egyptians.

——

Transport Minister Dipuo Peters said Gauteng motorists had run up more than half a billion rand in overdue fees since the province’s e-tolling system started on December 3 last year.

She said as at March 1, an amount of over R543 Million worth of invoices were transferred to the Violations Processing Centre.

The VPC is the debt-collection division within the South African National Roads Agency Limited responsible for the collection and processing of overdue e-toll transactions.

In her response to the parliamentary question posed by Democratic Alliance MP Ian Ollis, Peters also revealed that an amount of over R54 million excluding VAT has been spent in the collection of the debt.

This figure included R32.8 million “for postage and printing of invoices” and a further R21.9 million for “the cost of debt collection processes”.

However, responding to a second parliamentary question, Peters said of the total of R543.5 million transferred to the VPC, only around R50 million or 9.21%, had been paid as at February 28.

—–

Two people including a police brigadier-general were killed and seven others have been wounded after a series of explosions outside Cairo University in Giza governorate.

Officials said the first two bombs went off seconds apart, and that the explosive devices had been concealed in a tree between two security posts.

A third explosion went off shortly afterwards near a police checkpoint, although there was no confirmation about the number of casualties.

The explosions happened at the university’s engineering faculty during clashes between students and security forces.

The country’s security forces have been targeted in frequent attacks since since a military coup toppled former President Mohamed Morsi last summer.

Though usually limited to the restive Sinai peninsula, attacks have spread to major urban areas in the mainland.

—–

A Human bomber wearing the Afghan security forces uniform detonated himself at the gate of the Interior Ministry in central Kabul, killing at least six police officers.

The ministry confirmed the deaths and said that the bomber detonated himself near the administration buildings.

The Taliban reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that the bomber had penetrated a “third ring of security” at the ministry.

A spokesman for the ministry says it happened outside the main gate, adding that as soon as the bomber saw some policemen he detonated his explosives.

The Afghan capital is on high alert ahead of an April 5 presidential election which Taliban have vowed to disrupt.

——

A powerful earthquake measuring 7.8 rocked northern Chile late at night, just a day after a deadly 8.2 jolt in the same region.

Sirens rang as a tsunami warning was issued and thousands of people in the north who had just endured the latest quake were again ordered to evacuate inland from coastal areas.

The new temblor struck 20km south of the city of Iquique.

There were no immediate reports of fatalities or major damage from the new quake.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, who was assessing damage in the northern city of Arica far north of the capital Santiago, was among those evacuated to higher ground.

Thousands of Chileans had just returned home after spending the night on hills following Tuesday’s 8.2-magnitude earthquake that killed six people and sparked tsunami fears as far as Japan.

—–

Protesters had reportedly taken to the streets in Tzaneen over service delivery.

Demonstrators blocked the streets with burning tyres and rocks, then proceded to loot shops owned by foreign businessmen.

Othman Patel, a businessmen operating in the area says he was left with nothing.

THURSDAY

Pakistan’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, who is on trial for treason, narrowly escaped an assassination attempt as a bomb went off shortly before his convoy was due to pass, police said.

The bomb was planted on Musharraf’s route from an army hospital where he has been staying since January to his home on the outskirts of Islamabad.

Nobody was injured and there have been no claims of responsibility so far.

Senior police official Liaqat Niazi said four kilograms of explosive device planted in a pipeline under a bridge exploded around 20 minutes before the former president was supposed to cross the spot.

He said the former president was taken home via an alternative route.

This is the fourth attempt on the ex-general’s life, with the first three occurring while he was in office.

The Taliban have vowed to send a squad of suicide bombers to kill him, and security threats have prevented him from appearing at all but two of his treason hearings.

——

A man who was arrested for rape yesterday committed suicide inside the holding cells of the Hercules police station in Pretoria, hours after his incarceration.

Police spokeswoman Sergeant Obakeng Mabaso said that police arrested the man at around 11am yesterday.

When police returned to the cell in which he was placed, the man was hanging from the ceiling by his pants.

Best Care Ambulance services spokesman Xander Loubsher said the man was dead on their arrival.

The matter was handed over to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate for investigation.

—–

A shooting has left at least four people dead, including the gunman, and 16 injured at a US Army base in Fort Hood, Texas, the site of another mass shooting in 2009.

Fort Hood commander Lt Gen. Mark Milley said that the shooter was a serving soldier and that he had died on the scene from self-inflicted gunshot wounds after being confronted by a military police officer.

He said there was no indication the incident was linked to “terrorism”.

Milley said the soldier had served in Iraq for four months in 2011, and he was being treated for depression and anxiety, and was being evaluated for possible post-traumatic stress disorder.

Fort Hood is one of the most heavily populated and used army bases in the US and is known for sending more troops to Iraq than any other US military base.

In 2009 13 people were killed and more than 30 wounded.

In September, a gunman opened fire at the Washington Navy Yard, killing 12 and wounding four before being slain by police.

—–

The Media Review Network welcomed the meeting between the Government, the ANC and the Muslim Judicial Council, held at the MJC offices in Cape Town.

This followed reports in the Egyptian media, in late February, which indicated that a South African government delegation led by Minister of State Security, Mr Siyabonga Cwele, met with the illegal military regime in Egypt.

South African Muslims were alarmed at reports which implied that coup leader, General Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, received approval from Minister Cwele for a number of requests.

The ANC and government delegation included Mr Gwede Mantashe, Ms Jesse Duarte, Dr Zwele Nkhize and the Minister of State Security, Mr Siyabonga Cwele.

The assurances given included amongst others that Egypt’s suspension from the AU remains, that South Africa does not subscribe to undemocratic changes to elected governments; and that the rule of law and democracy must be restored in Egypt.

—–

Jewish settlers assaulted a number of Palestinian worshipers after they stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound yesterday.

Groups of settlers broke into the mosque through Bab al-Magharbeh and started to provoke the Palestinian worshipers by chanting racist slogans.

The worshipers protested the settlers and succeeded to expel them from the area.

On Tuesday around 300 settlers raided, the al-Aqsa mosque following calls from Jewish rabbis to storm the Islams Third holiest mosque.

The rabbis also called for the storming of the mosque in the middle of the month, which would coincide with their so called “Passover” festival.

—–

The UN food agency said world food prices reached their highest level for 10 months in March due to poor weather in major producing countries and the crisis in Ukraine, a top grain exporter.

The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organisation said its monthly food price index rose to the highest level since May 2013.

The rise in cereals prices reflected concern about supplies from Ukraine, one of the top producers in the world and a key exporter to North Africa.

FAO senior economist Abdolreza Abbassian said that the initial fear over disruptions in grain shipments from Ukraine had subsided.

It also downgraded its forecast for global cereal supplies this year to 702 million tonnes from an earlier estimate of 704 million tonnes made last month.

The rice harvest, however was predicted to rise by 0.8 percent to 500 million tonnes although FAO said rice production was not keeping up with population growth.

—–

The IEC said applications for special votes for the general election would open on Monday.

Special votes will be cast on 5 and 6 May, as opposed to 7 May when the rest of the country’s eligible voters would cast their votes.

There are two categories of special votes.

The first is for those who qualified for a home visit due to physical infirmity, disability or pregnancy.

The second category of special votes is for people who would be absent from their voting district on election day.

They could cast their votes at the voting stations where they registered on either 5 or 6 May, between 07:00 am and 5pm

To apply for either category of special vote, voters needed to complete a VEC 1 form, available on the IEC website or from local IEC offices.

—–

Security chiefs said the killings of protesters in the Ukrainian capital Kiev in February during the anti-government demonstrations took place under the direct leadership of ousted President Viktor Yanukovich.

The charges were made by the prosecutor general and heads of the Interior Ministry and state security.

They blamed the deaths of at least 100 demonstrators, many of whom were killed by police snipers, on the disbanded Berkut riot police.

Acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said Yanukovich issued the “criminal order” to fire at the pro-EU protesters while agents from Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) helped him plan and carry out the deadly assault between February 18 and 20.

At least 12 members of the disbanded Berkut unit have been detained suspected of “mass murder”.

——

The ANC expressed concern over statements by political parties calling on the Electoral Commission of SA’s chairwoman Pansy Tlakula to resign.

The party’s spokesman Jackson Mthembu said they view the call for the resignation of the IEC chairperson, as opportunistic, malicious and designed to cast doubt over the credibility of the general election of 2014.

Opposition parties said they were worried about the credibility of the May 7 elections.

The forum consists of the African Christian Democratic Party, AgangSA, the Azanian People’s Organisation, the Economic Freedom Fighters, Freedom Front Plus, Inkatha Freedom Party, United Christian Democratic Party, and the United Democratic Movement.

At a media briefing with the forum on Tuesday, EFF leader Julius Malema called on Tlakula to resign, to avoid the possibility of civil war and disputed election results.

He said “she has seven days to step down or appropriate action will be announced regarding what is going to follow.”

Mthembu said the “threats of a civil war” was a dangerous statement to make.

—–

The number of Syrian refugees registered in Lebanon exceeded one million, in what the UN refugee agency called a “devastating milestone” for a small country with depleted resources, and brewing sectarian tension.

Refugees from Syria, half of them children, now equal a quarter of Lebanon’s resident population.

UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres described the figure as a devastating milestone worsened by rapidly depleting resources and a host community stretched to breaking point.

He said tiny Lebanon had now become the country with the highest per capita concentration of refugees worldwide, and is struggling to keep pace.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Syria’s three-year war so far has killed more than 150,000 people, while half of the population is estimated to have fled their homes.

Of those who have fled Syria, nearly 600,000 have registered as refugees in Jordan and around 670,000 in Turkey.

The UNHCR registers 2,500 new refugees daily in Lebanon.

—–

The United Nations confirmed that it received letters from Palestinians to join 13 international conventions and treaties.

On Wednesday UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq confirmed the delivery of the applications to Robert Serry, the UN’s Middle East envoy, who was expected to deliver the originals to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon today.

Once the applications have officially been received at the UN headquarters, “we will be reviewing them to consider the appropriate next steps,” Haq added.

The letters include the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and conventions against torture, corruption and the prevention of genocide.

The Palestinian UN Ambassador Riyad Mansour said the membership in the treaties would come into effect 30 days after the secretary general receives the letter of accession.

The Palestinian officials also delivered a letter asking to become a party to the Geneva Conventions to a Swiss representative, and a letter to join The Hague Convention (IV) respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land to a representative of the Netherlands.

Acting Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas signed the 15 requests during a televised ceremony on Tuesday.

Abbas said he made the decision because Israelis failed to keep their promise to release the final batch of 26 prisoners.

—–

African and European leaders continued crisis talks on the “terrifying” violence in the Central African Republic, where peacekeepers have been unable to stop a deadly spiral of Christian-Muslim strife.

As leaders of the two continents were heading for Brussels for a mammoth summit, 13 EU and 12 African leaders met UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon on the situation in CAR.

The UN chief is seeking endorsement from the Security Council for a 12000-strong peacekeeping force to take over from the 8000 African and French troops there.

On the eve of the summit the EU finally decided to send 1000 troops to CAR.

Ban warned the situation could spiral into genocide amid reports of child decapitations, cannibalism and lynchings.

—–

World number three platinum producer Lonmins CEO said most of the strikers at want to return to work amid a crippling walkout now in its third month.

Most workers say they want to come back to work,” said Ben Magara, chief executive of the firm, which made world news in 2012 when police gunned down 34 strikers in one day at its Marikana mine.

The firm conducted surveys via text messages and automated voice messages (AVM) with 20,000 of their 23,000 strikers.

According to Lonmin In replies to text messages 6,500 wanted to end the strike with the firm’s current wage offer, while 67% of respondents in the AVM survey indicated the same,

Intermittent wage strikes have plagued the platinum industry since 2011, in a country that holds around 80% of the world’s known reserves.

Top global producers Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum, and Lonmin, have been adamant AMCU’s demands are unrealistic and unaffordable

—–

FRIDAY

Heavy rain and flooding killed at least 16 people and left 10,500 homeless in the Solomon Islands’ capital Honiara, with another 30 missing and the death toll expected to rise.

Entire communities were swept away as the city’s main river, the Matanikau, burst its banks last night.

The waters brought down bridges and inundated the downtown area in a disaster said to be one of the worst ever faced by the Pacific nation.

Save the Children’s Solomons head of logistics, Graham Kenna said that 16 evacuation points had been set up to shelter more than 10,000 homeless people, a huge proportion of the population in a city of only 70,000.

The flooding followed days of heavy rain which was forecast to continue.

——

One man was sentenced to life and 23 others to varying prison terms for raping a teenager who was kidnapped and held for several weeks in southern India 18 years ago.

The 16-year-old victim was abducted in 1996 and raped in homes, hotels, cars and public buses by the attackers over the next one and a half months.

The men convicted in the case included a retired professor, lawyers, businessmen and government officials.

Prosecutor Anella George said the high court in Ernakulam town in Kerala state sentenced 23 of the defendants to 7 to 11 years in prison.

George said a court had acquitted all but one of the accused in 2005, But India’s top court ordered a retrial last year, which was completed in six months.

——-

The DA has welcomed as a victory for freedom of speech a court ruling that the SMS in which it accused President Jacob Zuma of stealing public money was fair comment.

Democratic Alliance Gauteng premier candidate Mmusi Maimane said this is both a victory for freedom of speech and for the truth about upgrades to Zuma’s home at Nkandla.

The DA’s SMS read: “The Nkandla report shows how Zuma stole your money to build his R246m home. Vote DA on 7 May to beat corruption. Together for change.” It was sent to prospective voters in Gauteng.

The African National Congress brought an application for the DA to retract the SMS, stop sending it and apologise, or be fined up to R200 000.

Acting Judge Mike Hellens dismissed the ANC’s application with costs.

The court found that the SMS constituted fair comment.

—–

The Israeli regime cancelled an already delayed release of a fourth group of Palestinian prisoners amid an impasse in the US-brokered talks between Tel Aviv and the Palestinian Authority

A source who spoke on condition of anonymity, reportedly cited Israel’s chief negotiator Tzipi Livni as saying that the regime would not go ahead with the promised release of 26 Palestinian inmates.

According to the source, the Tel Aviv regime made the announcement after the Palestinian Authority officially requested accession to several international treaties.

The Israeli-PA talks reached a new deadlock when the Tel Aviv regime refused to free the last batch of 104 Palestinian prisoners in late March as part of a deal for the resumption of US-sponsored negotiations.

The move prompted the Palestinians to respond by applying to join 15 international agencies on April 1.

On Thursday, Yasser Abed Rabbo, the deputy head of the Palestinian Liberation Organization criticized Tel Aviv’s refusal to release the final group of Palestinian inmates and said, “Israel has a habit of evading agreements and conventions it has signed.”

The PLO official also added that the basis for future talks with the Israeli regime must change.

The PA also refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, saying it would not accept any agreement with the regime which fails to include East al-Quds (Jerusalem) as the capital of a future Palestinian state

—–

According to EWN reports, the decision to suspend Congress of South African Trade Unions general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi had been declared invalid, unlawful and has been set aside in the South Gauteng High Court.

It reported Judge Phineas Mojapelo sying although Cosatu was authorised to suspend Vavi, the Central Executive Committee failed to comply with the federation’s constitution as they did not vote.

Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said they will respect the decision of the court and discuss it at next week’s CEC meeting.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa has supported Vavi since news of his suspension emerged.

Last week, Numsa said if the court ruled in Vavi’s favour, action should be taken against Cosatu’s national office bearers who suspended him.

Numsa would also find out the next week if its application to have a disciplinary hearing against Vavi scrapped has been successful.

—–

The Pakistani Taliban extended a March ceasefire until April 10, following the release of a batch of low-level prisoners by the Pakistani government.

The government began negotiations with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan through intermediaries in February to try to end the group’s bloody seven-year insurgency.

Spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said in a statement they will extend the ceasefire till April 10 and directed all Mujahideen to suspend their actions against government and security forces.

A day earlier, the Interior Ministry said 19 Taliban prisoners it described as “non-combatant” had been released, in a move designed to invigorate a peace process with the group.

The talks with the group centre on the fate of 800 prisoners being held by the government who the Taliban insists are “innocent” family members.

—–

Nigeria could leap-frog South Africa to become Africa’s biggest economy, when the results of a new way of calculating national output are announced.

The National Bureau of Statistics said it will unveil the new figures on Sunday, with widespread expectations that the recalculation will catapult the continent’s most populous nation into top spot.

United Nations statisticians recommend that countries rebase their gross domestic product calculations every five years to reflect changes in production and consumption,

However Nigeria had not recalculated GDP since 1990.

Nigeria, Africa’s leading oil producer and exporter, has seen high rates of growth in recent years, making it an increasingly attractive investment destination for overseas firms.

—–

The Constitutional Court set aside a high court order and allowed informal traders in Johannesburg to return to their inner city stalls.

The court interdicted the city and its metro police from interfering with the operations of the traders.

The city was ordered to pay the costs of both court applications.

The traders took the city to the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg after being removed from their trading posts.

They wanted to be allowed back to their spots and wanted a review of the city’s conduct.

The high court refused to grant the traders an interim order and struck the matter off the roll for lack of urgency.

The Constitutional Court found that the eviction of traders involved constitutional issues of considerable significance.

In his ruling Judge Dikgang Moseneke said the ability of people to earn money and support themselves and their families is an important component of the right to human dignity.

—–

Two Palestinians have suffered wounds during Israeli aerial attacks this morning on different areas of the Gaza Strip.

A Palestinian information center reporter in Gaza said that Israeli warplanes bombed Abu Jarad site in Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza and another site belonging to Al-Qassam Brigades of Hamas in Gaza city.

Other air raids were reported on empty areas in Gaza.

Two civilian workshops were also bombed in the attacks.

A spokesman for the health ministry said that a one-year-old child and a young man suffered moderate injuries during the raids and were taken to Shifa hospital.

The Hebrew radio, in turn, claimed that the Israeli air forces targeted at dawn Friday several sites in Gaza in response to Palestinian rocket attacks on empty areas in the Negev on Thursday.

—–

The Constitutional Court set aside a high court order and allowed informal traders in Johannesburg to return to their inner city stalls.

The court interdicted the city and its metro police from interfering with the operations of the traders.

The city was ordered to pay the costs of both court applications.

The traders took the city to the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg after being removed from their trading posts.

They wanted to be allowed back to their spots and wanted a review of the city’s conduct.

The high court refused to grant the traders an interim order and struck the matter off the roll for lack of urgency.

The Constitutional Court found that the eviction of traders involved constitutional issues of considerable significance.

In his ruling Judge Dikgang Moseneke said the ability of people to earn money and support themselves and their families is an important component of the right to human dignity.

—–

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