Daily Archives: November 15, 2017

Crystal meth bust at OR Tambo Airport

Crystal meth worth an estimated at R4 530 000 was intercepted at OR Tambo International airport on Wednesday, said the South African Revenue Service (SARS).

The bust was made by SARS Customs officials who intercepted a passenger from Lagos, Nigeria, arriving from Ethiopia carrying 15.1kg of crystal/ephedrine meth.

The passenger was intercepted with two pieces of check-in luggage that were searched to reveal a whitish rough substance that was concealed at the bottom. A drug test for crystal/ephedrine meth was conducted which tested positive, said the revenue service.

The passenger was handed over to the South African Police Service (SAPS) for further investigation.

The successful operation was a result of a joint collaboration involving SARS, SAPS and officials of the Airport Company of South Africa.

Source: South African Government News Agency

PARLIAMENT REGISTERS CONCERN ABOUT UNPROFESSIONAL VITRIOLIC ATTACK ...

Parliament wishes to register its extreme concern about the astonishingly vitriolic attack on the Presiding Officers of Parliament by Cape Town Press Club secretary Mr Donwald Pressly.

What is so important about ANC thugs wanting to advertise their press conference which is NOT our function, asked Mr Pressly in one of a series of Whatsapp messages in reply to a request that he alert the club members about a mid-term report briefing on the work of the fifth Parliament. National Assembly Speaker Ms Baleka Mbete and National Council of Provinces Chairperson Ms Thandi Modise were to address the briefing

Mr Pressly’s livid refusal to let the Press Club members know about the briefing was unwarranted and at odds with the club’s stated objectives � to promote the professional, social and other interests of Cape Town’s Press, media and communications industries, and thereby to endeavour to enhance, uphold and defend the fundamental rights of freedom of speech, conscience and association, principles secured in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.

The Cape Town Press Club prides itself on being the oldest such club in South Africa � established, as it says, in 1975 for free speech. Given its history and the fact that several of its members report on Parliament and have been allocated office space by Parliament in the precinct, it is reasonable to expect the club to take Mr Pressly to task for his unwarranted derogatory remarks about the national legislature’s leadership.

It would be regrettable, indeed, if the impression was to be created that Mr Pressly’s hostility is shared by other members of the club.

Source: Parliament of the Republic of South Africa

Cameroon, UN Tackle Huge Birth Registration Backlog in North

MAROUA, CAMEROON The United Nations is helping Cameroon register thousands of births on its northern border with Nigeria that have gone unreported over the past four years amid the Boko Haram conflict. The first phase of the initiative has just wrapped up in Maroua, the capital of the Far North region.

Hundreds of school children cue up at the Government High School in Mozogo in northern Cameroon to receive their birth certificates.

Among them is 13-year-old Mohamadou Dani who was sent home from the entrance exam for secondary school last year because he had no record of his existence.

He says he is thankful as he can now go to school without fear because he has a birth certificate and books.

Cameroon’s government estimates that 30 percent of children nationwide lack birth certificates, but the situation is particularly bad in the north near the border with Nigeria. There, as many as 80 percent of children lack birth certificates.

It is not uncommon for parents to wait until a child is preparing to start school to obtain a birth certificate, but mass displacement due to the Boko Haram conflict has complicated matters.

The government estimates that less than five percent of births in the region have been registered since 2013 as both families and officials fled atrocities.

Cameroon’s minister of public service, Michel Ange Angouing, says birth certificates are important to individuals and the state, which needs an accounting of its citizens. He says he is urging all birth registration officials who have been absent to return to work immediately.

A regional military offensive begun in 2015 has weakened Boko Haram, retaking much of the territory the militants once occupied.

UN partnership

Over the past two months, Cameroon’s government has partnered with the U.N. to issue 17,000 birth certificates in the Far North region.

Allegra Baiocchi, the UN resident coordinator in Cameroon, says a birth certificate is a fundamental human right.

“Birth certificates allow you to go to school, allows you to move, allows you to eventually one day get a job, allows you to vote. So it is a fundamental piece of paper for everyone,” said Baiocchi.

As the exercise continues, local school authorities have also been instructed to admit all children, giving the parents until the first official exam to provide the birth certificates.

However other challenges remain.

A difficult task

Birth registration centers are very far from some of the villages. As many as 70 percent of babies in the region are delivered at home by traditional health attendants so their mothers lack conventional medical records. And given the mass influx of Nigerian refugees, it can be difficult to establish the parents’ nationalities.

Communities on both sides of the border with Nigeria speak the same languages, like Kanuri and Hausa, and some mothers are afraid that they may be sent back to Nigeria if they disclose their nationality.

In 2015, the government of Cameroon and the U.N. Refugee Agency began issuing Nigerian children’s birth certificates with the hope their government will accept them when the refugees return.

Source: Voice of America

Greener livestock supply chains offer quick wins in climate battle

Bonn, Germany – The agricultural sectors are where efforts to end hunger and prevent planetary overheating can come together, and improving livestock supply chains is a fast way to start, FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva said today.

“Low carbon livestock is possible,” he said on the margins of the Conference of the Parties (COP23) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Agriculture accounts for a large share of greenhouse gas emissions but is also the “most exposed of all economic sectors to the effect of climate change,” Graziano da Silva said. He noted that adverse effects disproportionately burdened the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, most of whom live in rural areas relying on farming, forestry and fisheries for their livelihoods.

He spoke at a side event held by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, a voluntary partnership of 122 governments, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations committed to improving air quality and protecting the climate through actions to reduce short-lived climate pollutants.

Short-lived climate pollutants such as methane, hydrofluorocarbons and soot can provide for up to 0.9 degrees Celsius in avoided warming by 2050, making a significant contribution to the target of the Paris Agreement, according to CCAC.

Methane and mitigation

Almost two-thirds of the poorest rural households raise and rely on livestock. “With improved and climate-smart practices, we can quickly achieve more sustainable, ‘greener’ livestock supply chains,” Graziano da Silva said.

Reducing enteric methane emissions is one of the most cost-effective climate change mitigation strategies, linking it to increased productivity and improved food security is a natural and urgent action, he said.

Readily available practices in livestock feeding and manure management, along with better use of technologies such as biogas generators, could help the livestock sector cut its GHG output by up to 30 percent, he noted.

Short-lived climate pollutants carry greater global warming potential, and reducing them has an accelerated impact compared to carbon dioxide.

Greening the livestock sector can lead to “fast wins while contributing to adaptation, sustainable development and food security”, Graziano da Silva added, noting that FAO and its partners stand ready to assist countries worldwide to achieve such wins.

FAO is working with the Climate and Clean Air Coalition on reducing enteric methane emissions in Latin America, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Home Affairs launches improved Refugee Travel Document

In another major step towards better refugee and asylum-seeking management, the Department of Home Affairs this month introduced a hugely improved refugee travel document.

The new version Machine Readable Travel Document for Refugees has been designed and developed using the latest passport production technology and security standards to include a pure polycarbonate data-page for personalisation by laser engraving. It is fully compliant with the UNHCR and ICAO (International Civil Aviation Authority) guidelines.

The earlier version was introduced in 2009, but the new version was necessitated after the UNHCR and ICAO published comprehensive international guidelines.

Machine-readable travel documents are more secure. Because security considerations play an ever-increasing role due to the risks of document and identity fraud, they not only increase security and trust among States, but also enhance the level of confidence in the users, in this case, refugees, who will travel with them. They facilitate the safe and regular movement of refugees and thereby reduce the risk of exploitation, abuse, violence and human trafficking.

The improved Refugee Travel Document has the following new features;

Enhanced security features enabled by more advanced production technology

The name of the document has been changed from Passport to Travel Document

The following return class has been inserted; the holder is authorised to return to the Republic of South Africa within the period of validity specified in this document .

A page (30) has been included to add the names of parents of a refugee child to minimize risks such as abduction and child trafficking. It will be left blank for now until the finalisation of the enhancements of the Department’s National Immigration Information System.

The amendment of the endorsement to specify the applicant’s country of origin in the travel document to which he/ she is not allowed to travel to.

The introduction of the new document is part of a process that seeks to markedly improve the management of refugees coming into and leaving South Africa. From a peak of over 200 000 refugees and asylum seekers coming into the country in 2008 and 2009, the numbers have decreased drastically to 71 914 in 2014, 62 159 in 2015 and 35 377 last year. In addition, an improved Border Management Bill is making its way through the parliamentary processes.

We are giving further effect to our strong human rights culture that was introduced from 1994 to replace the crime of apartheid while ensuring that the right to security for citizens as well as migrants are upheld, said Ms Fatima Chohan, the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs.

As a country, we must strike a balance between our humanitarian values and our responsibility to ensure safety and security for all citizens and migrants alike, she said.

This development is also another step in our efforts to improve services in the country, mainly to our citizens, but also to migrants who find themselves in difficulties in their home countries, she said.

Our Moetapele programme is aimed at constantly improving the quality of service delivery in a wide range of areas such as, among others, the provision of visas and passports and the issuing of birth certificates within 30 days of birth, she said.

According to Ms Sharon Cooper, Regional Representative of the UNHCR, the issuance of travel documents to refugees and stateless persons builds on a longstanding tradition, dating back 95 years, to the Nansen passport provided under the auspices of the League of Nations.

The right of every refugee and stateless person to a travel document issued by their country of lawful stay is outlined in article 28 of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and in article 28 of the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons, respectively, she said.

Travel documents have concrete benefits for refugees. Having a legal identity, including through the issuance of travel documents, is a critical component of international protection. Travel documents can enable access to basic services and rights, allowing refugees to pursue education or work abroad.

They also allow refugees to seek possibilities for family unity, further strengthening their self-reliance and resilience of refugees, as well as their ability to lead independent and stable lives. Furthermore, travel documents can facilitate solutions, allowing refugees to take up opportunities for resettlement and voluntary repatriation, according to Ms Cooper.

The promotion of travel documents to refugees and stateless persons is a core part of UNHCR’s international protection mandate and it is with the mentioned benefits in mind that we welcome the launching of the new version of the MRTDs in South Africa.

As with the previous documents, applications for the Refugee Travel document must still be lodged at Refugee Reception Offices. After this, an interview will be conducted with refugee to establish the purpose of travel and the destination as well as to inform him/her of the consequences should he/ she travel to his/ her country of origin from whom he/ she fled due to persecution. The latter could lead to withdrawal of his/ her refugee status should he/ she travel to his country of nationality).

Holders of valid Refugee Travel Documents will still be allowed to use the existing travel documents until the date of expiry. The document will be valid for the same period of the validity of the Section 24 refugee permit.

Source: Government of South Africa

Eskom distances itself from enquiry comments

Eskom has distanced itself from utterances made by its officials at the Parliamentary enquiry.

Eskom wishes to state that it distances itself from utterances made at the Parliamentary enquiry by its board spokesperson Khulani Qoma and head of legal and compliance Suzanne Daniels, said the power utility on Tuesday.

In a statement, Eskom chairperson Zethembe Khoza said the manner in which Qoma spoke at the resumption of the enquiry about the shareholder representative, Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown, is not part of the Eskom culture.

There have been several witnesses that have been called to give their testimonies who have clearly represented their own interests at the expense of the organisation and the country at large.

We understand that Eskom will be given an opportunity to make a formal presentation at the Parliamentary enquiry where it will give an honest, transparent and truthful account of events, said Khoza.

Source: South African Government News Agency

Provincial Commissioner praises investigators for securing hefty ...

NELSPRUIT: The Provincial Commissioner of the police in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Mondli Zuma praised the Investigating Team for the commitment and sterling work they have put in ensuring that another menace is removed from society and sent to where he belongs. His praises comes after a 24-year-old man was handed a thirty year prison sentence by the Eerstehoek Magistrates’ Court at Elukwatini early this month, for raping three women around the Tjakastad area, near Badplaas.

The accused, Nhlanhla Surprise Mabuza’s reign of terror was first realised in June 2013. On that year, Mabuza who was only 20 years old at the time, preyed on a 33-year-old woman who was on her way to fetch her children from their baby-sitter, at about 20:30, within the area. The accused manhandled the victim, overpowered and raped her. At that time, she could not recognise him as he was wearing balaclava. After her ordeal, a similar rape incident took place at another section within the area, in which a 16-year-old girl who was sent to a nearby tuck shop was accosted by an unknown man and forcefully taken to a secluded spot where he raped her.

Another incident took place two years later, in August 2015, in which two women who were sleeping in their shared room were accosted, robbed of cash and one of them raped.

During sentencing, the Magistrate praised the Investigating Team for being able to synergistically knit all evidence and positively linked the accused through blood samples and an assiduous investigation. He also thanked the victims for standing firm against their attacker by providing vital evidence that helped the court to pin down the villain, hence the meted sentence.

General Zuma believes that this sentence will serve as a deterrent to other potential offenders.

Source: South African Police Service

Mugabe Latest Leader Over Years Taken Into Custody

Zimbabwe’s army has taken President Robert Mugabe and his wife into custody, triggering speculation of a military coup, though the military’s supporters have called it a bloodless correction. It wasn’t clear exactly where the 93-year-old Mugabe and his wife were, but army Major Gen. Sibusiso Moyo said they were being held by the military.

Unlike the Mugabes, many foreign leaders in recent history have been ousted from power and detained as the result of interventions by foreign armies or other external circumstances. Those include Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, who was captured by American forces in 2003, and Panama’s Manuel Noriega, a onetime U.S. ally ousted by an American invasion in 1989. More recently, Lebanese leaders and citizens insist their prime minister, Saad Hariri, has been detained by Saudi Arabia in a regional power play.

The Mugabes, however, have joined the ranks of world leaders who were removed from power and taken into custody as a result of developments in their own countries.

Here’s a look at some other cases of world leaders who were detained following dramatic changes in domestic politics:

Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic

The former Serbian strongman was ousted from power by a pro-democracy movement and massive street protests in October 2000 in Belgrade after he refused to recognize an apparent electoral loss. The army and police had refused to crack down against the protesters despite his orders and some of the elite troops joined the street uprising. The protesters burst into national parliament and set it on fire. They also attacked the state-run TV headquarters, beating up some reporters and its director who were widely perceived as Milosevic’s cronies.

Milosevic recognized the electoral defeat only after the then Russian foreign minister, Igor Ivanov, came to Belgrade to persuade him to step down a few days after the riots. Milosevic, who was widely seen as the driving force behind the violent breakup of Yugoslavia, was arrested and jailed in April 2001 by the new Serbian authorities. In June 2001 he was handed to the U.N. war crimes court in The Netherlands, which charged him with masterminding Serb atrocities throughout the wars that tore apart the Balkans in the 1990s. The trial was repeatedly delayed by Milosevic’s ill health and his propensity for grandstanding in court. He died of a heart attack in March 2006 in his prison cell in The Hague.

Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania

Romanian leader Nicolae Ceausescu, who held an iron grip on his people through the Securitate secret police, was toppled in 1989 as communism collapsed across Eastern Europe. The beginning of the end came with an uprising in the southwestern city of Timisoara on Dec. 15 that left dozens dead. On the morning of Dec. 22, Defense Minister Vasile Milea died from gunshot wounds and the military began to desert the regime.

Ceausescu attempted to turn the tide in a speech, but the crowd rushed toward him and stormed the Communist Party headquarters. Security guards hustled the Ceausescus into a waiting helicopter that headed to the Ceausescus’ summer palace and then to the southern city of Pitesti. The pilot falsely claimed the helicopter was at risk at being shot at and landed. The couple flagged down two rides; one driver faked engine trouble and dropped them off and the last one took them to an agricultural center in the town of Targoviste and told them they’d be safe. They were locked in an office and then arrested by soldiers.

Defense Minister Victor Stanculescu was a key organizer of the couple’s show trial on Christmas Day. Ceausescu called the proceedings a Soviet plot. They were found guilty of genocide and ruining the economy and sentenced to death. Images of their bullet-ridden bodies were broadcast around the world.

South Korea’s Park Geun-hye

Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye has been in jail since March and on trial for corruption since May. She spoke out recently, claiming she was a victim of political revenge, a likely reference to the millions whose weekly protests helped drive her from power. A small but growing number of Park’s supporters – many in their 50s, 60s and 70s – regularly rally in front of the courthouse, calling her downfall unfair and demanding her release.

Among the key charges are that she colluded with a longtime friend to take tens of millions of dollars from companies in bribes and extortion, and allowed the friend to pull political strings from the shadows. Park says she is innocent. She reportedly called her months of detention a wretched and miserable time, and said she never abused her power or accepted illicit requests for favors while in office. Park is the daughter of a dictator who ruled the country in the 1960s and 70s before his 1979 assassination. She became South Korea’s first female president in early 2013.

Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak

Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s president for 29 years, stepped down in February 2011 in the face of a popular uprising and was arrested two months later when the military junta ruling the country at the time came under mounting pressure to put him on trial. A career air force officer, Mubarak, now 89, faced trials on charges that ranged from ordering the deadly shooting of hundreds of protesters during the 18-day uprising against his rule to corruption. At the end, he was convicted of corruption for which time served in detention covered his sentence. He left for home in March this year, ending a nearly six-year legal saga which had not seen the disgraced leader spend a single day in a prison cell. He has spent that time either in a private hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh – his favorite city – a state-of-the-art military hospital on Cairo’s eastern outskirts or a Nile-side military hospital in a leafy Cairo suburb.

A recent photo of Mubarak on a golf buggy while holidaying in an exclusive sea resort in Egypt enraged activists, who alleged that his trial was politically manipulated and that the powerful military ensured that he, as one of their own, was comfortable in detention, not like the thousands of Islamists and secular pro-democracy activists in jail since a general-turned-president led the military’s ouster of a freely elected president, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi.

Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, was arrested by the military barely a year after taking office. Morsi, who hails from the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, proved to a divisive president, prompting millions of Egyptians to take to the streets in June 2013 to demand that he steps down. At the end, it was the military that removed him on July 3 that year.

After four months of detention at a secret location, Morsi made his first appearance in court, charged with the killing of protesters outside his presidential palace in December 2012. He later faced a series of trials on a wide range of charges, including espionage, conspiring with foreign groups against Egypt and breaking out of prison. He has had at least one death sentence overturned, but is now serving several lengthy prison sentences.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan

In Pakistan, the all-powerful military has ruled the country for half of its 70-year history and no prime minister has ever completed their five-year term in office. The country’s most charismatic and popular leader, Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who served from 1973 to 1977, was overthrown by the military and ultimately executed. Bhutto’s left leaning Pakistan People’s Party won a majority in Pakistan’s 1970 general election but a war with neighbor India in 1971 and a civil war that led to the creation of Bangladesh from what had been East Pakistan resulted in elections being nullified and Bhutto taking power as martial law administrator. He brought in a new constitution in 1973 that made the presidency largely ceremonial and was sworn in as prime minister, the most powerful civilian post in the new constitution. Bhutto ordered new elections in 1977 and his party won by a large majority, but the opposition charged him with electoral fraud. The army chief at the time Gen. Zia-ul Haq mobilized Pakistan’s religious right parties to agitate against Bhutto and eventually used the ensuing chaos to take over and impose martial law and bring in rigid Islamic laws. Bhutto was imprisoned. He was sentenced to death on March 18, 1978 on the charge of having ordered the assassination of a political opponent. After an appeal to a higher court, he was hanged.

Bhutto’s daughter, Benazir Bhutto, had struggled against the Zia-ul-Haq regime. She faced long spells of detention, went into exile and returned in 1986 to a mammoth reception in Lahore. Zia-ul Haq died in a military plane crash in August 1988 and Bhutto was elected Pakistan’s first woman prime minister. Her government was dismissed, however, by army backed President Ghulam Ishaq Khan in 1990 on corruption charges. The same president dismissed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government in 1993 on corruption charges. Sharif was later ousted in a military coup in 1999 by Army chief at the time Gen. Pervez Musharraf who charged him with treason and eventually sent him into exile in Saudi Arabia for 10 years.

Zhao Ziyang of China

China’s Premier Zhao Ziyang, a leading reformer, was purged by China’s ruling Communist Party in 1989 at the height of the student-led democracy movement that saw massive protests centered on Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Zhao had gone to the square on May 19 and tearfully appealed to student hunger strikers to go home, saying I came too late. Zhao disappeared the next day after the government declared martial law.

Zhao was stripped of power shortly after the June 3-4 military crackdown on protesters – though his fate only became known more than a month later.

Zhao was purged for supporting the demonstrations though the conservatives who drove him from power blamed his policies for causing inflation, a widened income gap, corruption and other problems. He was placed under house arrest and was occasionally spotted playing golf in the suburbs and touring the provinces, though state media never reported on him. He remained under house arrest until his death in 2005.

Isabel Peron of Argentina

In the early hours of March 24, 1976, a military junta toppled the government of Maria Estela Martinez de Peron, who is commonly known as Isabel Peron. The widow of former strongman Juan Domingo Peron was flown away by helicopter from the presidential palace, and the military junta remained in power until 1983.

Human rights groups estimated nearly 30,000 people were killed or forcibly disappeared during the systematic crackdown on dissidents known that followed. Martinez de Peron lived under house arrest in southern Argentina for five years after her overthrow and now lives in quiet exile in Madrid.

Chile’s Salvador Allende

Chilean President Salvador Allende committed suicide on Sept. 11, 1973 rather than surrender to troops led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who launched a bloody 17-year dictatorship.

Allende took office in 1970, though he won just 36 percent of the vote and faced a hostile Congress. He embarked on what he called “the Chilean path to socialism,” nationalizing the copper industry that had been dominated by U.S. companies and using the money to fund land redistribution while improving health care, education and literacy.

His embrace of socialism, which included a three-week visit by Cuban leader Fidel Castro, was a Cold War nightmare for U.S. President Richard Nixon, who approved a covert campaign to aggravate the country’s economic chaos and helped provoke the military takeover.

Source: Voice of America