Today's Big Stories

ISIS teen's first class seat, Eskom+govt injection, the Hawks+crime syndicates

ISIS-suspected teen's flight traced

EWN's Emily Corke and Shamiela Fisher on this story: the State Security Ministry is investigating exactly how a 15-year-old school girl was able to book, pay for and plan a trip to meet an Islamic State (Isis) recruiter. The Cape Town teen was taken off a British Airways plane bound for Johannesburg on Sunday afternoon, just moments before take-off, after evidence was found linking her to communication with the terrorist group. The ministry said it was concerned that Isis had direct access to her at such a young age, and was investigating whether other children had been recruited. The teenager was tracked all the way to her first class seat after she’d left her family home with her passport and cash in-hand. The ministry is now trying to establish who she made an online payment to in the weeks leading up to leaving home this past weekend

Meanwhile, the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) will host a workshop on Wednesday to raise awareness around the dangers of militant groups such as ISIS.

Read more on that here.

Eskom and government's battle to save it

EWN's Gia Nicolaides on this story: Eskom on Tuesday said while it remained financially constrained, government wouldn't allow the ailing utility to become bankrupt. Concerns have been raised for several months about whether the power utility could continue providing electricity while it was cash-strapped and, more recently, its credit rating was lowered to junk status. Eskom however said with government's assistance and a cash injection expected soon, it would be able to continue powering the country. Eskom raised issues about its financial status earlier this year with several plans discussed on how to keep the utility going. Energy expert Ted Blom said the situation was dire. “It’s reached a critical stage and if something isn't done within days, not weeks or months, we’ll see Eskom falling over.” But Eskom's Khulu Phasiwe said they would manage: “The government won’t let Eskom go to the gutter; they are assisting us.” The utility is waiting for a cash injection of several billion rands by June.

First on EWN: crime syndicates and The Hawks

EWN's Barry Bateman on this story: police officials have told Eyewitness News that the ongoing battles in the organisation's leading crime fighting unit are crippling its ability to generate intelligence, which is evident in the police's annual reports. Two senior Hawks officials are accused by the Police Ministry of orchestrating the illegal rendition of five Zimbabweans in 2010. It’s understood informants are now reluctant to cooperate with their handlers because they fear the police have been infiltrated by the same criminal syndicates they're reporting on. Police annual reports studied by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) show a decrease in the production of intelligence over the past three years, which correlates with the upward trend of crimes committed by syndicates. Officials have told EWN that informants don't know who to trust as its emerged the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) is also probing allegations that such gangs have infiltrated the police. The ISS’s Johan Burger says criminal groups have taken advantage of the situation: “Criminals see these types of internal battles happening within the police service, they see signs of weakness in the police service. They see a police service increasingly looking inward.” The police did not respond to questions.

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