Today's Big Stories

Government declares WAR on SAA, the Post office and Eskom

The WAR on SAA, the Post Office and Eskom: an announcement by cabinet this morning that it’s launched a technical team 'war room' to implement a new Eskom turnaround plan and that SAA is now being moved from the Ministry of Public Enterprises to the National Treasury. EWN Senior Correspondent, Gia Nicolaides:

It was clear they were saying there are problems with these entities. Deput PRes Ramaphosa has been appointed by the President to spearhead the turnaround of SAA, the Post Office and Eskom. There was a larger emphasis on Eskom however, with the launch of a 5 point plan to address the strain on our electricity system. Government is looking at a period of the next 30 days for Eskom to present a finance plan on how they will keep going, in order to keep the lights on. They are also looking at accelerating a substitution program for diesel with gas. Government is finding new way to generate power, using an energy mix with coal, solar, wind, hydro, gas and nuclear energy.

Energy expert, Chris Yelland on converting our power stations to be gas-operating:

They can be converted, but the problem is to get the gas from abroad to South Africa, one has to construct gas terminals and piping infrastructure from the terminals to the power stations. These things are in themselves not insurmountable, but they do take time. These are not immediate solutions. We've been importing diesel and only now are we starting to talk about gas infrastructure - I find that shocking."

SARS scandal: there have been several developments around the South African Revenue Services (Sars). On Friday, Sars Commissioner Tom Moyane announced he was suspending Deputy Commissioner, Ivan Pillay and the Head of Strategic Planning, Peter Richer. The suspensions are based on the findings of the Sikhakhane Panel which investigated claims of a rogue unit within the organization. But in EWN bulletins this morning, the attorney for that panel Imraan Mohamed confirmed that that panel actually made findings against Pillay and Richer:

We need to give context to the investigation panel. Our role was to assist the investigation panel and it's purpose was to investigate allegations. What it wasn't doing was take testimonies, so it wasn't a commission of enquiry nor a disciplinary hearing. No findings were made against any third party nor the Acting Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ivan Pillay. The commissioner would be acting well within his power (to suspend people) and is entitled to investigate allegations and suspend employees during the investigation.

SARS Deputy Spokesperson, Marika Muller:

Commissioner Moyane received the report of the panel and considered it. The decision was made in this light. The SARS disciplinary code makes it clear that a suspension is a precautionary measure and it doesn't constitute either a presumption or a finding of guilt against the suspended employee. However, given that this matter is likely to be the subject of further legal engagement going forward, it would be inappropriate for Sars to comment any further.

Finding Fana: in Pretoria, the former advisor to then Defence Minister Joe Modise, Fana Hlongwane, has yet to appear in front of the Seriti Commission into the Arms Deal. His lawyers are now arguing that no one should be allowed to take a picture of him. EWN Senior Correspondent, Barry Bateman:

The argument from his advocate says it would constitute on his right to privacy, and his right to safety and security and this would be a violation of all these particular rights. This does essentially have an impact on the media as this is a public commission and we along with other media houses are going to be opposing this application by Fana Hlongwane. We don't know what expensive information he will bring here because he keeps saying his life would be endangered but as to exactly how he would be endangered is currently unclear.

Meanwhile, during the Midday Report, Fana Hlongwane made his appearance before the commission and allowed pictures:

The latest on the 6 Kraaifontein bodies: in the Western Cape, police are now investigating after six people were found dead having been stabbed and tied up in Kraaifontein. EWN Correspondent, Lauren Isaacs:

We don't know who these people are, they have not been identified yet and police have asked people to come forward with any information. While gang violence is rife in Kraaifontein, it is generally in the area of Wallacedene. These bodies were found in a farm area. There has been a perception that this could be a vigilante attack, but this is speculation that needs to be investigated.

EFF off to Con Court: a comment in the EWN bulletins this morning from the Economic Freedom Fighters is that they are now going to the Constitutional Court, because they say no judge will hear their case against Parliament’s decision to suspend its MP's for shouting 'Pay Back The Money' in the National Assembly. EFF National Spokesperson, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi:

Our lawyers were shocked when they were being dismissed by the Judge President of the Western Cape High Court, Judge Hlophe, saying people in overalls won't be heard. We are willing to put our lawyer under oath on the stand, on some of the comments (Judge Hlophe's utterances). But we are dealing with a man who had been accused of meddling with the 2008 corruption case of Jacob Zuma, so it wouldn't be the first time that Judge Hlophe would be interfering with cases relating to the ANC and Jacob Zuma. Let's hear what the Constitutional Court says and we've also written to the JSC and he needs to be held to account for his utterances.

Children and cellphones: a report in the Times quotes the Cancer Association of SA (Cansa) as saying that young people and children should not use cell phones as the radiation could seriously damage their brains. Cansa Head of Health, Professor Michael Herbst:

It's unfortunately a quote that shouldn't have been out in the media. CANSA is aware of the good work of Dr Devra Davis, but the jury is still out on the case of cancer with children. It's not the position of the Cansa Association and we are aware there's a lot of research being done. We are aware there is some amount of radiation coming from a phone. We do advise that children should rather send text messages and use the phone's speaker function when using devices. And women also need to take better care than men, and that has to do with the thickness of the skull, where women's skills are typically thinner than those of men. The skulls of children are also developing and therefore also vulnerable.

Mugabe's new Deputies: in Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe has now appointed Justice Minister, Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko as his new Vice Presidents after sacking Joice Mujuru earlier in the week. EWN Zimbabwe Correspondent, Ryan Truscott:

The fact that he (Mugabe) didn't chose a woman as one of the Vice's has got people talking, because since Majuru's appointment, there's been an unwritten rule that one of the Vice Presidents would be a woman. Let's also not forget that Mnangagwa is also nicknamed 'The Crocodile' indicating he's very cunning. There has also been some speculation that Majuru will form an alliance with another party or potentially start her own party.

Calendonian to become inner city park: on the Wednesday edition of the Midday Report, we heard from the manager of the Arcadia Shepherds Football Club who claimed that the City of Tshwane was trying to demolish the Caledonian Stadium because the club had always been a thorn in the flesh of government. Acting Mayoral Spokesperson for the City of Tshwane, Lebohang Matji:

We are not demolishing the stadium. We've done a heritage impact assessment on the stadium and we've found that it is delapidating. We are preparing it for other activities to benefit more people through converting it to an inner city park. It will no longer be a football club. The Arcadia Sheperds will have to move, but there are other places in the city that they could move to. We understand their history, but the attitude we are getting from them is 'we are not going to move'.


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