Home | Global News | Your World This Past Week – February 2014

Your World This Past Week – February 2014

 

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Yusuf Alli – Cii News | February 2014/06 Rabi Uthaanil 1435

News that made headlines on various newswires around the world

MONDAY

DA leader Helen Zille said Agang SA leader Mamphela Ramphele had proven she could not be trusted to see a project to the conclusion.

She said they went through many false starts

Zille said that when Dr Ramphele insisted on Monday that they go public on Tuesday to announce her acceptance of the DAs offer of their presidential candidacy, they accepted that she had finally made up her mind.

Zille said Ramphele went back on the agreement to be the Democratic Alliance’s presidential candidate at a meeting on Sunday despite the party negotiating in good faith.

According to a joint statement issued by Ramphele and Zille on Friday, the Agang SA founder would be welcomed into the DA at a press conference in Johannesburg today

Yesterday Zille said Ramphele was playing a game of “cat and mouse” telling the media one thing, Agang supporters another thing and the DA another.

—–

According to reports, President Jacob Zuma was concerned about incorrect billing by the South African National Roads Agency Limited for e-tolls in Gauteng.

He said in an interview with SABC news that electronic mistakes are unacceptable because it is causing an unnecessary problem.

He said Sanral had to deal with the problem, adding that people can’t be billed wrongly.

Zuma’s comments follow reports that motorists received threatening SMSes and e-mails demanding payment for e-tolls without verification.

Some people reported receiving bills, despite living in a different province and having never used an e-tolled highway.

—–

Three people died when a private aircraft crashed at Lanseria Airport in Johannesburg

Lanseria Airport manager Gavin Sayce said something happened and it crashed on landing.

It was flying in from one of the local airports,” he said.

He said the aircraft was a twin propeller Beechcraft King Air 90. It crashed at about 07:00.

According to reports, the plane crashed and burst into flames while attempting to land in bad weather.

Sayce told Reuters he could not say whether the heavy rain had played a role in the crash.

Meanwhile, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba sent condolences to the families of people who died in the crash.

—–

A cinema in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar was struck by two blasts, killing at least five people and injuring at least 20 others.

The explosions took place yesterda in the Picture House, as it is known locally, in Qissa Khawani Bazaar.

Faisal Mukhtar, a senior police official, said that a stampede following the explosions was responsible for many of the injuries.

Jamil Shah, a spokesman for Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital, said three dead bodies and 31 injured people had so far been taken to the hospital.

Two of the injured later died in the hospital.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

—–

Three large explosions were heard in Yemen’s capital Sanaa, close to the defence ministry, the central bank and the former president’s home.

Rueters Reports said the explosions were followed by heavy gunfire

The third explosion occurred near the house of the former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Security vehicles immediately raced to the third site of the blasts and blocked all access to the area, while an ambulance transported four people injured on site.

The witnesses told Reuters that the blast near Saleh’s home appears to have been caused by an implanted explosive device in the area.

There was no immediate word on the total number of casualties or the cause of the blasts.

——

Syrian government forces attacked Aleppo with barrel bombs for a third day, with scores of people killed over the 72-hour period.

The latest attack in the country’s second city killed 16 today.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the bombing added to a toll of more than 120 people killed in similar attacks over the previous two days.

Barrel bombs have killed more than 700 people in Syria in the past six weeks.

Their use had been denounced as indiscriminate, not least by Western powers at last week’s peace talks in Switzerland.

Sunday’s attacks included a wave of barrel bombs in the residential district of Tareq al-Bab. A reported 21 people were killed, including 13 children, according to the observatory. Another 15 died in air raids and barrel-bomb attacks in other areas. The observatory reported 85 deaths to similar attacks on the city on Saturday.

The reports of fresh attacks come as a UN-organised meeting began in Rome to secure more donations for humanitarian aid for victims of the Syrian war.

——

Residents of Atteridgeville in Pretoria were left stranded as taxi operators went on strike.

Scores of residents waited for taxis to ferry them to their workplaces, but there was no sign of taxis around 8 am morning.

Taxi operators affiliated to the National Taxi Alliance prepared to march in Pretoria to protest against the government’s failure to issue operating licences to taxi drivers.

The operating licences will exempt taxi drivers from paying e-tolls.

The march was scheduled to start at 07:30. However, by 09:30 it had yet to begin.

—–

According to a statement posted online, Al-Qaeda’s general command disavowed all links with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

The statement, reiterated a previous peremptory statement in which the group’s chief Ayman al-Zawahiri ordered ISIL to disband and return to Iraq, and adding that Jabhat al-Nusra was al-Qaeda’s official branch in Syria.

Al-Qaeda said it was not linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, as it was not informed of its creation and did not accept it.

The statement criticised ISIL’s mode of operations.

The group affirmed its rejection from the sedition that is occurring in Syria between factions of jihadists, and from the blood that was shed by any party.

——-

Agang SA leader Mamphela Ramphele apologised for the unhappiness caused by her decision not to stand as the DA’s presidential candidate, but said she made the right decision.

She said she believed they had the opportunity to transcend party politics and engage South Africans in a conversation about the future.

However Ramphele said the last week demonstrated that, for some, this new way of thinking about the future will be hard to achieve right now.

The Agang SA leader said some people were not able to transcend party politics and the time for a partnership with the Democratic Alliance was not right.

Ramphele admitted that the decision to accept nomination to be the DA’s presidential candidate was a rushed one.

—–

Johannesburg Metro Police Department said taxi drivers involved in today’s strike over operating permits and e-tolls do not have permission to embark on go-slows on major highways.

There have been reports of taxis blocking off the N1 Highway toward Pretoria and parts of the N3 Highway.

Members of the NTA made their way to Transport minister Dipuo Peters, to hand over a memorandum of demands.

JMPD’s Edna Mamonyane said they’ve asked that the drivers go towards Pretoria because they don’t have permission to blockade the freeways.

—–

A Moscow school student shot a teacher and a police officer dead and held more than 20 other students hostage in a classroom before he was disarmed and detained.

According to police, in a rare school shooting in Russia, the attacker entered his school in northern Moscow with a rifle, and held students and a teacher hostage in a biology classroom.

Police later said the attacker had been detained and had been led out of the school and into a waiting car.

According to the Lifenews website, he initially shot one police officer and then opened fire at others who arrived at the scene.

The shooting sent dozens of students scurrying out the school while a police helicopter landed in a snow-covered field outside.

—–

Former president Nelson Mandela left an amount of R50 000 to certain members of his staff.

Justice Dikgang Moseneke, one of the executors of Mandela’s estate, made the announcement during the reading of Mandela’s will at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory in Johannesburg.

The staff members include his former PA Zelda la Grange.

Mandela also left amounts of R100 000 to educational institutions he attended during his lifetime.

Mandela left R1.5m and future royalties to the NRM Family Trust.

The executors said the provisional balance of the estate is about R46m.

—–

Official data revealed on Friday showed that 1,013 Iraqis were killed during the first month of this year as a result of the ongoing violence in the country.

The data, which was collected by the ministry of health and interior ministry, showed that 795 of those killed were civilians while 122 were military personnel; the rest were police officers.

All lost their lives in violent incidents.

More than 2,000 people were wounded in the same period, including 1,633 civilians, 238 soldiers and 153 policemen.

The Iraqi armed forces said that it killed 189 armed insurgents and arrested 458 more in January.

According to the data, the number of casualties last month is the highest since April 2008, when the figure was 1,073.

——

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema said that the ANC had abandoned the principles of Nelson Mandela.

Speaking at an EFF rally in Daveyton, on the East Rand yesterday, Malema berated people who planned to vote for the ANC merely because of the party’s liberation struggle history.

He drew similarities between the ANC and the apartheid state.

“We have honoured them [the ANC] for 20 years by voting for them. But we will never eat the history of the ANC, Robben Island and MK.”

“We have honoured Mandela and we respected him. When Mandela left us he did not leave behind the ANC we knew.”

“Mandela did not say that we must vote for corrupt people, a government that kills people,” he said.

Malema implored the people at the rally to heed Mandela’s advice.

“Mandela said that if the ANC does to us what the apartheid government did to us, we must do to the ANC what we did to the apartheid government,” he said.

The EFF leader said he knew the secrets of the ANC leaders and as the national election approached he would reveal them.

“They are thugs. They are rotten from the head and the entire body; all of them are the same,” he said.

—–

The Automobile Association said if the rand’s depreciation continued unchecked, a petrol price of R16 per litre is possible in the medium-term.

On December 27, a dollar cost R10.35. By January 27 it cost R11.20.

Meanwhile, international petroleum prices have ticked up slightly since the AAs our last review of fuel price trends in mid-January.

Last week, SA Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus said the weak rand exchange rate affected the petrol price, which in December and January increased by an accumulative 55 cents per litre.

A further increase in the petrol price of 30 cents per litre was expected in February due to the weak exchange rate.

The AA expressed concern that the knock-on inflationary effect of the recent fuel price hikes will send further shocks into the economy.

—–

Hundreds of taxi operators braved the rain to hand over a memorandum of grievances to the transport department in Pretoria.

The protest was organised by the National Taxi Alliance,which complained that the government had failed to issue drivers with operating licences exempting them from e-tolling.

Hundreds of taxi operators carried placards insulting President Jacob Zuma at a march against e-tolls in Pretoria today

Many carried knobkerries and waved placards proclaiming “Shower man can go to hell”, in reference to Zuma’s rape trial in 2006, during which he said he had showered to prevent contracting HIV.

Other posters read “Zuma, you are a liar”, “Panzi, or [down with] Dipuo Peters” and “No to e-toll”.

Protesters sang struggle songs such as “mzabalazo uya phumelela” (The struggle continues).

Commuters were left stranded because of the strike, with many queuing for taxis to ferry them to their workplaces.

—–

TUESDAY

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema warned that South Africa can expect a revolt if police continue to shoot at protesters.

Speaking in the village of Relela near Tzaneen in the Limpopo province he said that police need to change their attitude.

Three people were apparently killed by police in the area over the last 10 days.

Malema addressed residents of the village saying the more police shoot innocent souls, the more they are evoking the fighting spirit of the people.

The protests were initially sparked after a 20-year-old woman was found murdered and mutilated on 24 January.

KgomotsoRagolane’s right hand had been cut off and her cellphone and house keys placed inside her stomach, which had been cut open.

Two people were taken in for questioning but later released. Residents burnt their houses down on 25 January.

——

Protesters in Zandspruit, near Honeydew, were throwing stones at cars, resulting in the closure of Beyers Naude Drive in Gauteng.

Johannesburg metro police Captain Tsekiso Mofokeng said Residents wanted better service delivery in the area.

No cases were opened and no injuries were reported.

Senior Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said Beyers Naude Drive was closed off between Johan road and Pieter road.

Minnaar advised motorists to use alternative routes such as Johan road.

—–

The DA had denied a report that a donor was behind the merger talks between the DA and Agang SA leader Mamphela Ramphele.

The party’s spokesperson Mmusi Maimane said “there can be no donor that can force us to make such a decision.”

However, DA leader Helen Zille confirmed to a local radio station that a donor put pressure on Ramphele to merge Agang with the DA.

Zille would not say who the donor was.

The DA leader later tweeted: “Just about every donor told Mamphela they would not fund Agang, with almost identical politics to the DA. Makes sense for united opposition.”

—–

Sectarian fighting in the Central African Republic town of Boda has left at least 75 people dead in recent days.

While many of these were Chrisitians, the number of Muslim dead was unknown as they were buried soon after the attacks.

There had been widespread reports of revenge attacks by Chrisitisn on the Muslim minority since Seleka fighters withdrew from the capital Bangui last month.

The Seleka armed forces were mainly Muslim with many coming from neirghbouring Sudan and Chad.

Human Rights watch has warned that Muslims could be wipeout from the country if the international community does not do more to stop the violence.

France, the former colonial power, has 1,600 troops in the country, working with some 4,000 troops from African countries to help.

——

The UN is seeking $2bn this year to combat food insecurity in Africa’s Sahel region, where 1.2 million people have been forced to flee their homes because of violence.

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos announced the appeal in Rome, saying “more people than ever” were at risk of hunger.

The UN projects 20 million people to be at risk of food insecurity in the Sahel region, with 2.5 million needing “urgent lifesaving food assistance”.

According to the UN, five million children younger than five in the region will suffer from malnutrition this year.

At the event in Rome, the UN launched a three-year response plan, to help the Sahel.

The Sahel covers parts of Gambia, Senegal, southern Mauritania, central Mali, Burkina Faso, southern Algeria and Niger, northern Nigeria and Cameroon, central Chad, southern Sudan, northern South Sudan and Eritrea.

—–

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi backed Khayelitsha residents’ frustration with policing in the area, and described his own family’s heartbreak after a young relative was murdered.

Vavi supplied the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry with an affidavit, saying police had waited five days before breaking the news of the death of his sister’s granddaughter to the family.

Busisa Siziba was allegedly beaten to death by her boyfriend, and found lying in the streets of Harare on January 17.

Vavi said the incident happened on January 17, but police only came to report the death to his sister five days later.

He said if these kind of incidents were happening in Khayelitsha, one can only imagine what is happening in the rural areas where police visibility is rare.

Earlier at the welcoming commission, Vavi spoke about people losing faith in the police and opting to give power to taxi drivers, adding that our justice system is collapsing.

—–

Traffic officials couldn’t believe their eyes when they pulled over a car and found it was being driven by a 10-year-old boy.

Volksblad reported that the boy’s father was sitting next to him, drinking a beer.

A baby was also in the car at the time.

A traffic department spokesperson said officers noticed the Toyota Corolla was driving erratically in Bloemfontein on Saturday and pulled it over.

The boy was apparently sitting on a cushion, and was not wearing a seatbelt.

According to Volksblad, the father told officials that the child wanted to drive, and he had agreed.

The father was fined R1 000 for allowing a minor to drive without a licence, and a further R750 because the car’s licence had expired.

The car was impounded until the fines were paid.

The spokesperson told Volksblad that the father’s actions were highly irresponsible, as he was showing his son it was okay to drink and drive and drive without a license.

——

Negotiators representing the Pakistani government and Taliban didnt meet for preliminary peace talks that were meant to be taking place following a spate of killings.

Two teams, nominated by the government and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), were due to gather in Islamabad today to chart a preliminary “roadmap” for the talks.

However reports say the government committee wants clarification from the Taliban committee on certain issues so the formal meeting is not going to happen today.

Last week, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif named a team to begin dialogue with the Taliban, who have been waging a violent insurgency since 2007.

Many observers had been anticipating a military offensive against TTP strongholds in Pakistan’s tribal areas, following a bloody start to the year on both sides, with the government responding to Taliban violence with raids on Waziristan strongholds.

—–
The ANC apparently forgot to inform its members that the proposed DA protest march had been called off.

From 7am people started gathering in Sauer Street outside Luthuli House, in full ANC party attire, chanting struggle songs.

ANC Gauteng provincial secretary David Makhura said they had not been told that the DA march had been called off.

He said the ANC were there to welcome the DA and educate them about theireconomic policies that the DA were going to be marching about.

Makhura said there would not have been violence, he said.

The DA had applied for permission to march on Tuesday in its fight for jobs, but this was denied by metro police, who claimed it was a security risk.

The Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court overturned this on Sunday.

The DA said a new date for the protest march would be set once logistics had been put in place.

—–

Aid Agency Gift of the Givers said communication had been lost with the kidnappers of South African Pierre Korkie.

This came Four days before al-Qaeda’s ransom payment deadline.

The organisation’s Imtiaz Sooliman said they have no indication of Pierre’s state of health and no proof of life at this stage and to complicate matters further all communication with al-Qaeda have been lost for eight days.

Sooliman said this was the longest and most worrying period of silence in talks with them.”

Gift of the Givers negotiator Anas al-Hamati and his family had to flee Yemen after negotiations soured.

The kidnappers had accused him of keeping the ransom money for himself.

Korkie’s kidnappers refused to accept that the South African government was not willing to pay the $3m (about R32.5m) ransom.

Korkie, a teacher, and his relief worker wife Yolande were kidnapped by al-Qaeda militants in Taiz, Yemen, in May.

Yolande Korkie was released and returned to South Africa on 13 January.

——

A library and a house were set alight by disgruntled residents from Zithobeni near Bronkhorstspruit.

Gauteng police said the incident happened at 03:00 today No one was injured.

Three people were in the house at the time but escaped when the fire started.

Spokesperson Johannes Japhta said it was not known if the home owner worked for the Tshwane municipality, but he had previously been a community policing forum member.

Last week, violent service delivery protests erupted in the area, east of Pretoria, as Protesters torched the Zithobeni satellite police station and municipal offices.

The City of Tshwane said disgruntled residents were protesting over the inability to buy prepaid electricity due to a system failure.

However, residents told Eyewitness News that they were being charged too much for water and electricity services which they say they’ve gone without for more than three weeks.

At the weekend, residents warned they won’t stop setting state property alight until government took them seriously.
—–Top of Form

 

Iraqi officials said a new string of bombings in and around Baghdad had killed at least seven people.

A police officer said a parked car bomb ripped through an outdoor market in Baghdad’s western Shurta district this morning, killing four people and wounding 11.

Another car bomb, in the south-western Maalef neighbourhood, killed two people and wounded nine.

In the northern suburb of Taji, a roadside bomb struck a police convoy, killing one policeman and wounding four.

Two medical officials confirmed the casualty figures.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorised to talk to media.

The explosions came a day after at least 23 people were killed in a series of car bombings in and around the Iraqi capital.

—–

Wage talks between the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and the world’s top three platinum producers resumed.

There were hopes that progress will be made by the end of the week to end a nearly two-week strike, costing the industry R197m a day.

Members of the hardline Amcu walked out at Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Lonmin last month demanding monthly wages be more than doubled.

The strike has hit around 40% of global platinum supply.

Baxter, the chief operations officer at the Chamber of Mines estimated that the daily cost to the country is closer to R400m a day.

On Sunday Government mediators said they had made a proposal to end the strike but did not give details.

—–

More than 100 people arrested after deadly rioting following a police raid on a Kenyan mosque were charged for being members of Somalia’s a al Shebaab Rebel Group.

A local police chief Robert Kitur said they received information that there was a so called jihad convention in the mosque and that’s when we moved in.

Judge James Ombura ordered the 129 men be held in prison until Friday to allow prosecutors to finish their investigations, when the accused are expected to enter a plea.

Kenyan police have in the past linked the Musa mosque to recruitment for al Shebaab.

Al Shebaab claimed the September 2013 attack on Nairobi’s Westgate mall, in which at least 67 people were killed.

Sympathisers and sleeper cells for al Shebaab have been blamed for a series of deadly but much smaller attacks over the past two years in Kenya.

Security sources said the authorities are weighing the closure of the mosque.

—–

With consumers already cash strapped on the back of interest rate hikes, rising food costs and bearing the brunt of a weaker rand, the petrol price is about to hit its highest level in South Africa’s history.

From midnight, a litre of petrol would cost 39 cents more, while diesel will increase by 24 cents a litre.

This would see motorists paying just under R14 for a litre of petrol – the highest level in the country’s history.

Economists are now urging South Africans to tighten their belts and prepare for uncertain economic times.

The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry says the latest fuel hike will hit businesses hard in the long run.

Chamber President Janine Myburgh said there’s no way for businesses to absorb the costs.

—–

WEDNESDAY

Protesters in the Bronkhorstspruit area, east of Pretoria, set alight several buildings including a clinic.

Police spokesperson Johannes Japhta said “A clinic, house and a hall were burnt down in Rethabiseng,”.

Seven buildings had been set alight as a result of the protests in the area as protests had spread to nearby townships.

Two people were arrested in Rethabiseng and will be charged with public violence and illegal public gathering.

More than 50 people were arrested after a library and a house were set alight yesterday by disgruntled Bronkhorstspruit residents.

Last week, violent service delivery protests erupted in the area. Protesters torched the Zithobeni satellite police station and municipal offices.

—–

Nine miners were unaccounted for after a fire broke out at Harmony Gold’s Doornkop mine last night.

The fire occurred about nearly 2 kilometers underground, and was first reported at about 6pm.

The company said rescue teams were immediately dispatched underground, but access to the affected area is being hampered by smoke and a subsequent fall of ground.

Operations at the mine have been suspended.

Contact was made with eight employees in a refuge bay, and rescuers are trying to reach these employees and establish the whereabouts of the nine employees who are unaccounted for.

The mine is situated west of Johannesburg.

—–

The KwaZulu-Natal provincial government said it would work with Toyota SA to strengthen the automobile sector in South Africa.

Toyota announced at the official launch of the new Toyota Corolla at Durban’s Prospecton that it had invested R1bn in the manufacturing facility to produce a new model Toyota Corolla.

KwaZulu-Natal premier Senzo Mchunu said the Toyota Durban manufacturing plant had an annual production capacity of about 220 000 units and contributed in the creation of more than 8 000 jobs in both Durban and Johannesburg.

“The new model would be built in left hand and right hand drive variants and it would be available both for local and export markets,” Toyota spokesperson Leo Kok said in a statement.

Mchuni said the provincial government was considering establishing an automotive supplier park at the old Durban International Airport, which is near the Toyota plant.

Toyota SA produced its one millionth Corolla in December last year.

—–

The United Nations had accused both sides to the Syria conflict of grave violations against children.

According to a new UN report Children caught in the Syrian war are being recruited as child soldiers, used as human shields, and tortured.

The report found that in the early stages of the nearly three-year conflict, the Syrian government troops were largely responsible for grave violations against children.

It went on to say that as the conflict intensified and armed opposition became more organised they committed an increasing number of child abuses.

The UN chief Ban Ki-moon said government forces “were responsible for the arrest, arbitrary detention and torture of children for their perceived or actual association with the opposition, and for using children as human shields.”

Witnesses have told UN investigators that the majority of children were held in the same cells as adults and that children as young as 11 were tortured.

The report found that some of the treatment children were subjected to included “beatings with metal cables, electric shocks, including to the genitals; the ripping out of fingernails and toenails, mock executions, cigarette burns, and exposure to the torture of relatives.”

—–

Bashar al Assads’s aerial campaign on the city of Aleppo had continued unabated.

Barrel-bombs have claimed at least 156 people in the last 4 days alone, the vast majority of them civilians, many of whom were women and at least 40 of them were children.

On Saturday, the most brutal day so far, 85 people were killed, including 65 civilians, 10 of whom were children.

The bombs also struck a school and masjid in the Masaken Hanano district killing several more children.

Altogether, 15 Aleppo neighbourhoods have been targeted including the Kurdish Sheikh Maqsood district which was hit yesterday.

This week’s attacks bring to more than 700 the number of people who have killed by barrel-bombs since the beginning of December

In the meanwhile

More than 1800 fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Shaam and other Islamist groups and secular opposition have been killed during infighting amongst themselves.

At least another 215 were civilians either caught in cross-fire or car bombs carried out by ISIS.

A number of other dead bodies remain so far uncategorised.

The Al Qaeda leader had distanced itself from ISIS and the infighting has resulted Assad forces moving into weakened Opposition territory.

—–

A new strain of the bird flu virus has proven fatal for the first time after it jumped from birds to humans and is worrying scientists.

The latest strain, previously unknown in humans, called H10N8, killed a 73-year-old Chinese woman in December

Now Chinese authorities confirmed a second human case of the new strain of a second woman, who remains critically ill in a hospital.

Another new strain of bird flu, H7N9, has already infected at least 286 people in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, killing around 60 people.

Chinese scientists, who conducted a genetic analysis on samples of the H10N8 virus from the woman who died, said it was a new genetic reassortment of other strains of bird flu viruses, including one called H9N2 that is relatively well known in poultry in China.

—-

Just four-and-a-half years after winning a R10m Lotto payout, a former police officer has landed in hot water for allegedly committing a house robbery.

Dayalin Maslamoney, who left the police force after his unexpected windfall in June 2009, was arrested on Sunday along with another man.

They are alleged to have posed as bogus policemen and robbed 3 people of R250 at a house in Boom Street in Pietermaritzburg.

A former multi-millionaire, Maslamoney is apparently “down and out on his luck” and unemployed, reportedly having spent his fortune on cars, a house and living it up with his friends.

Shortly after he won R10 498 000, his wife instituted a high court action interdicting him and Absa Bank from in any way touching his winnings pending the outcome of the divorce action she intended to launch at that time.

Yesterday, Maslamoney and his co-accused, Zaheer Khan, made an appearance before Pietermaritzburg magistrate Celemusa Zungu.

The case was postponed to 11 February for further investigation, with both men remanded in custody.

—–

At least 25 people have been killed and 41 others injured after a series of blasts rocked central Baghdad, near the heavily fortified Green Zone where key government offices are located.

The deadliest of attacks took place across the street from the Foreign Ministry building, when two parked car bombs went off simultaneously in two different parking lots.

Those explosions killed at least seven people and wounded 15.

Shortly afterwards, a human bomber walked into a nearby falafel restaurant where he set off his explosives-laden belt, killing five people and wounding 12.

A parked car bomb went off in Khilani Square in the Iraqi capital’s commercial centre, killing four people and wounding eight.

Two medical officials confirmed the causality figures.

All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorised to talk to media.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombings.

——

A detainee at the notorious US prison, Guantanamo, had filed a lawsuit urging American officials to free him as the war in Afghanistan is ending, the Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.

According to international law, prisoners of war should be released after the end of the hostilities.

Fawzi Odah, 36, was captured in Afghanistan shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

Washington accused Odah, a Kuwaiti national, of acting as an al-Qaeda agent recruiting militants.

Odah’s lawyers say President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union address that “by the end of the year, America’s longest war will finally be over. So, they argue, as the Afghan war is now coming to an end their client must be released.

More than 150 detainees are still held at Guantánamo, most of them without any trial.

Amnesty slammed President Obama for not closing the prison as he had promised in 2009 when he first came to office.

—–

There was a heavy police presence in Ekangala township, near Bronkhorstspruit, as police tried to maintain order in the protest-hit area.

More than 10 police vehicles blocked the road leading into the township to stop residents going to the main road.

Residents were protesting since Thursday about the high price of electricity.

Earlier, police said several buildings had been set alight, including a clinic.

The protests had spread to nearby townships.

—-

THURSDAY

The bodies of eight missing miners were found after a fire broke out at Harmony Gold’s Doornkop gold mine, west of Johannesburg.

The mineral resources department said one missing worker had still not been found at the time of issuing the statement

A fire broke out on level 192 of the mine, over 1 700 metres underground on Tuesday after a seismic event triggered a fall of ground.

Eighteen people were reported missing at the end of the shift on Tuesday night.

Eight other miners were brought to the surface later on Wednesday and were all unharmed.

Harmony spokesperson James Duncan confirmed eight bodies had been recovered.

—–

Protest action led to a road near Sir Lowry’s Pass Village near Somerset West in the Western Cape being closed.

Protesters took to the streets but Eyewitness News said it is unclear what they were demonstrating about.

Western Cape Traffic Chief Kenny Africa said the road going from the N2 highway towards the village had been closed but the highway itself was open to traffic.

Meanwhile the situation in Bronkhorstspruit remained tense.

A local high school also informed parents that there would be no teaching on Thursday due to the protest violence.

Various buildings in the area, including a clinic, library and a resident’s house have been torched.
The protesters were demanding improved service delivery.

—–

Yemen’s Shia Houthi rebels were moving towards the capital Sanaa after a ceasefire with Sunni pro-government tribesmen broke down.

The Houthi rebels were reported to be backed by Iran.

International media had reported that they have already taken control of Raydah, 60 kilometers north of Sanaa.

They have also launched an attack on Arhab district and taken up positions on a hill overlooking Sanaa’s International Airport.

The Yemeni government is a strong ally of the U.S.

The government has also taken on Sunni fighters branded as extremists and part of Al Qaeda.

A bomb targeting a bus carrying Yemeni soldiers in the capital Sanaa killed two people on Tuesday.

—–

Human Rights Watch said Iraqi authorities were detaining thousands of women illegally and subjecting many to torture and ill-treatment, including the threat of sexual abuse.

In a report, the HRW said many women were detained for months or even years without charge before seeing a judge

Security forces often questioned them about their male relatives’ activities, rather than crimes they themselves were believed to have committed.

In custody, women described being kicked, slapped, hung upside-down and beaten on the soles of their feet, given electric shocks, threatened with sexual assault by security forces during interrogation, and even raped in front of their relatives and children.

The report is based on interviews with imprisoned Sunni and Shia women and girls, although Sunnis make up the vast majority of the more than 4,200 women detained in Interior and Defence Ministry facilities.

The release of women detainees was a main demand of Sunnis who began demonstrating late in 2012 against the Shia-led government, which they accuse of marginalising their community.

—–

Egypt Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi said Egypt does not want to escalate conflicts with the Gulf state of Qatar but will not remain silent if there is a “direct” interference in its domestic affairs.

el-Beblawi was speaking while a visit to Saudi Arabia.

He noted that the differences with Qatar, which hosts dozens of fugitive Muslim Brotherhood members and critics of the current military-backed interim government, are going out of ordinary.

Ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty said the diplomat was told Egypt wanted Qatar to extradite critics of Cairo’s army-backed government, including the Egyptian-born Imaam who supports the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Abdelatty told journalists that recent comments by Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, who said Saudi support for the military government was wrong and should be withdrawn, were unacceptable and criticized Doha for its refusal to hand over wanted Egyptians.

Once close Qatari-Egyptian ties have soured since Cairo’s army last July ousted Mursi, who was strongly backed by Doha, following mass protests against his one-year rule.

—–

The DA’s parliamentary leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko, said that the saga between her party and AgangSA leader Mamphela Ramphele had left the DA disappointed rather than embarrassed.

Speaking at the launch in Durban of her biography, she said the drama had left her frustrated.

However, she added that the DA’s reputation had not been tainted by Ramphele’s reneging on an agreement that she would be the DA’s presidential candidate in the elections later this year.

Mazibuko said Ramphele was the one who had approached the DA with the idea of merging the two parties before the elections.

She said her party was putting the saga behind it to focus on campaigning for the elections.

Mazibuko said the DA’s federal executive would meet on February 15 to appoint its presidential candidate.

—–

Zindzi Mandela said reports on Winnie Madikizela-Mandela getting nothing from Nelson Mandela’s estate were mischievous.

In a statement, she said Winnie never attended the reading of the will as she didn’t regard herself as a beneficiary.

She described the reports “mischievous and sensationalist”.

Madikizela-Mandela was Mandela’s second wife.

The anti-apartheid veteran and ANC MP was left out of the will made public by executors in Johannesburg on Monday. Her children and grandchildren were the beneficiaries.

She said her mother would continue to mourn Mandela according to traditional protocols.

—–

Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse a violent crowd protesting in Sebokeng over housing service delivery.

Sebokeng is the same area where a man was shot dead on Wednesday morning during violent protests.

Many roads in the area were blocked again as residents demand RDP houses, which they say were promised to them by Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane.

The police’s Tsekiso Mofokeng said they were monitoring the situation, and were pleading with the community not to be violent and to use the avenues that are being provided to resolve matters of concern.

Emfuleni municipality Mayor Greta Hlongwane tried to address residents yesterday, following a meeting between protest leaders and community safety MEC Faith Mazibuko.

But residents wanted Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane instead.

—–

According to an official from the Palestinian Authority ministry of endowments, Israeli forces forbade the athaan being given in the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron 49 times in the month of January.

Director of the Hebron office of the ministry of endowments Sheikh Taysir Abu Sneinah said the pretext was that the sound of the call to prayer annoyed Israeli settlers performing Jewish rites in the part of the mosque known as the Tomb of the Patriarchs that has been taken over by Israeli forces.

Abu Sneinah denounced the “abusive Israeli practices” against Palestinian places of worship.

Hebron is a frequent site of clashes due to the presence of 500 Israeli settlers in the Old City, many of whom have illegally occupied Palestinian houses and forcibly removed the original inhabitants.

They are protected by thousands of Israeli forces.

—-

Die Burger reported that Students apparently lied to the South African government student loan and bursary scheme (NSFAS) in order to get loans.

This was revealed during a meeting in parliament, where the department of higher education and training supplied information about financial aid at universities.

At the meeting problems in paying out loans to students were also discussed.

The department informed a parliamentary standing committee that only half of the students who qualify for financial aid could be assisted.

This was because there was not enough money available to help everyone who applies to NSFAS.

Msulwa Daca, head of NSFAS, said the organisation was trying to develop a system to prevent students from abusing the financial aid available.

—–

AL Jazeera was served with a list of 20 people being pursued by Egypt’s government in connection with a case against its journalists but that only nine of those named were on its staff.

In a news bulletin, the Doha-based organisation said that the list was accompanied by several formal charges that were different for each named individual.

Three of the Al Jazeera employees listed had been in detention since December 29th – correspondent Peter Greste and producers Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy.

The others named were Egyptian producers and engineers working for the network in Qatar, all of whom refute the charges levelled against them, Al Jazeera said.

A journalist from the Al Jazeera Arabic channel, Abdullah Al Shami, has been in custody since August and is in the third week of a hunger strike to protest his imprisonment.

—-

Egypt’s army said that a Kuwaiti newspaper “misinterpreted” remarks by Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in which he said he would seek the presidency,

The army says he would only announce such a decision to the Egyptian people.

Kuwait newspaper Al-Seyassah ran an interview with Sisi in which he was quoted as saying he would run in the presidential election due to be held before mid-April.

Army spokesman Colonel Ahmed Ali said in a statement that Sisi’s decision “to put forward his candidacy or not is a personal decision which he himself will take before the great Egyptian people.

Earlier on Thursday, Al-Seyassah newspaper published an interview with Egypt’s defence minister, quoting him as saying he would run in the presidential elections, due to take place by mid-April.

With no obvious candidates so far competing in the race, if Sisi decides to run his chances of becoming the country’s next president are high.

If he wins, he will be the sixth army officer to rule Egypt since 1952, with Morsi being the only civilian to have filled the post.

—-

Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane condemned the violent protest in Zithobeni, near Bronkhorstspruit, east of Pretoria, where several municipal buildings were torched.

“Destroying essential public amenities such as libraries and police stations is not the right way of demonstrating unhappiness,” she said in a statement.

Mokonyane urged communities to access available platforms to raise their genuine concerns so that perpetrators of violent crimes can be isolated and exposed.

Protests erupted in the townships of Zithobeni, Rethabiseng, and Ekangala near Bronkhorstspruit over the high price of electricity.

Police said several buildings had been set alight since last Thursday, including a clinic, a library, and a hall

—–

Pope Francis has came under pressure to punish bishops who covered up for paedophile priests.

This comes after a UN human rights panel accused the Vatican of systematically protecting its reputation instead of looking out for the safety of children.

Officials strongly defended the church, accusing the UN committee of allowing itself to be swayed by pro-gay ideologues.

The Vatican announced in December that the new pope would create a commission to study how to prevent abuse and help victims, but no firm details about its makeup or scope have been released since.

The report puts pressure on Francis to take decisive action.

The Vatican has yet to sanction any bishop for having covered up for an abusive priest, even though more than a decade has passed since the scandal exploded in the US and countless law enforcement investigations around the world made it clear the role bishops played.

—–

SA is soon to undergo another shift in ATMs as a company plans to introduce machines that don’t require a card with a PIN to draw cash.

Instead, the technology will rely on a fingerprint reader to verify the identity of a banking customer and permit access to an account.

Lumidigm, the company developing the technology for SA says the use of biometrics as a method of identity is far superior to a PIN

The technology has seen some success in Brazil and in Kenya, the technology is used alongside the PIN card as a second form of authentication to cut down on bank fraud.

In the US, Bank of America is also looking at the introduction of biometric ATMs, though it is expected that rollout is some years away.

——

FRIDAY

President Jacob Zuma announced that the fifth national general elections will be held on 7 May 2014,

Zuma said these are historic elections as they take place during the 20th anniversary of our freedom from apartheid bondage.

Zuma said he met the Independent Electoral Commission and premiers yesterday, and  was satisfied that the IEC preparations were at an advanced stage.

He urged the youth to vote and said they should take the benefits of freedom forward.

The electoral term of the present government will come to an end on 22 April.

The president said he was proud of the manner in which government adhered to the constitutional and democratic processes in the country.

—–

Another two workers have died at mines belonging to Harmony Gold, just days after eight workers were killed following an underground fire at the company’s Doornkop Mine, west of Johannesburg.

Harmony Gold said a worker was killed in a blasting accident at its Joel Mine in the Free State, while another death was reported at its Kusasalethu Mine near Carletonville.

All blasting at the company had since been halted and its CEO Graham Briggs says all workers on duty today will be safety shifts.

Earlier today, questions were asked about mineworkers’ compliance with safety regulations and equipment used in underground emergencies following the deaths at the Doornkop mine.

The bodies of the eight men were found on Thursday after a fire broke out underground on Tuesday.

—–

Protesters barricaded the Old Pretoria Road and the N4 highway in Majakaneng near Brits, in the North West.

Colonel Sabata Mokgwabone says the protesters are angry over an apparent lack of water in their area, and motorists were being directed to use alternative routes.

Protesters were splitting into groups and burning tyres along the roads.

They looted shops owned by foreigners in retaliation to police shooting rubber bullets at them.

A cement truck was also torched by residents demanding better service delivery.

—–

Aid agencies working in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem have expressed alarm at a spike in Israeli demolitions of Palestinian property, which coincides with renewed US-backed peace negotiations.

Aid organizations say the number of demolitions increased by almost half between July 2013 and the end of the year, compared to the same period in 2012.

The displacement of Palestinians increased by nearly three-quarter.

The International Red Cross announced this week it would stop delivering tents to Palestinians made homeless by demolitions in the Jordan border region of the occupied West Bank, citing Israeli obstruction and confiscation of aid.

Aid groups like Oxfam and Christian Aid says International and local aid organisations have faced increasingly severe restrictions in responding to the needs created by the unlawful demolition of civilian property.

—–

Two explosions have been heard in the space of two minutes in a busy district near Egypt’s capital.

Al Jazeera sources, quoting the security directorate, said the two blasts occurred in Giza and went off on Giza Bridge near where Central Security Forces vehicles were parked.

AFP news agency said four Egyptian policemen were wounded in the attack, citing an interior ministry official.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blasts.

Police cordoned off the scene, where a lightly damaged police truck appeared to have borne the brunt of the blast.

State television reported that the attack targeted a checkpoint set up to counter a scheduled protest by former president Mohamed Morsi’s supporters, who had called for rallies later in the day.

It is thought the explosive devices were homemade and detonated close to Istiqama Mosque and Giza Square.

—–

Syrian Anti Government fighters freed hundreds of inmates as part of an offensive aimed at capturing key government symbols in and around the northern city of Aleppo.

A human bomber blew himself up at the gates of a Syrian prison and rebels stormed in behind him.

Government forces, meanwhile, dropped crude “barrel bombs” in deadly airstrikes as both sides escalated their fight for the strategic city ahead of a second round of peace talks set for next week.

Opposition leaders threatened to suspend the talks over the barrel bombings.

According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, in the past six days alone, the makeshift weapons – containers packed with explosives, fuel and scrap metal – have killed more than 250 people in Aleppo, including 73 children.

Videos uploaded by activists showed the aftermath, including men weeping amid ravaged buildings and corpses covered with blankets on the pavement.

In other developments, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government said it has reached an agreement with the United Nations to let hundreds of trapped civilians leave besieged parts of the city of Homs and permit UN humanitarian relief convoys to enter.

A convoy of United Nations buses has arrived in the besieged central Syrian city of Homs to start the initial evacuation of 200 women and children.

The humanitarian breakthrough comes as the Syrian deputy foreign minister has said the government will take part in a second round of peace talks in Geneva.

Footage broadcast on state television and other networks showed elderly and apparently frail men wrapped in blankets being helped into a bus by Red Crescent volunteers.

The convoy arrived after an uneasy ceasefire came into effect after the implementation of a truce discussed at peace talks in Switzerland last week.

An expected delivery of humanitarian aid and food has been delayed until Saturday.

—–

A long-awaited first round of peace talks between the Pakistani Taliban and the government has been held in Islamabad after numerous delays and growing doubt over the chance of their success.

The two sides met yesterday for a preliminary meeting likely to chart a “road map” for future discussions, amid deep scepticism over whether dialogue can yield a lasting peace deal.

In a statement after the meeting, which lasted over three hours, the two sides stressed their commitment to dialogue.

Both committees concluded that all sides should refrain from any act that could damage the talks.

Both condemn recent acts of violence in Pakistan, saying such efforts should not sabotage the talks.
—–

The African National Congress in Gauteng called on the South African National Roads Agency Limited (to urgently rectify its billing problems and to stop threatening e-toll paying motorists.

Last month, Sanral spokesperson Vusi Mona told motorists to ‘raise their IQ’s’ after questions were raised about the validity of e-toll bills being sent via SMS.

Sanral said dispute channels set up to assist motorists are working and those who’ve received incorrect bills should use those channels.

President Jacob Zuma recently put pressure on Sanral to deal with billing bungles being reported since the launch of the system two months ago.

Mona says complaints received through the dispute channels are being dealt with.

—–

Residents of Hebron, near Pretoria, promised to continue their protests until government answers their demands.

Roads in and around the township were barricaded with rocks and burning tyres as residents expressed their anger.

Meanwhile, protesters barricaded the Old Pretoria Road and the N4 highway in Majakaneng near Brits, in the North West.

The protesters were angry over an apparent lack of water in their area, and motorists were being directed to use alternative routes.

On Thursday, protesters looted shops owned by foreigners in retaliation to police shooting rubber bullets at them, said resident Pule Rakomane.

Also Residents of Boiketlong in Sebokeng, south of Johannesburg, want to be addressed by President Jacob Zuma, not Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane.

Mokonyane was expected to address the community of Boiketlong, as residents continued to barricade roads with stones and burning tyres.

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