Today's Big Stories

The British American Tobacco smuggling scam goes international

The British American Tobacco smuggling scam

EWN reports from this morning note that a document has been submitted to Parliament claiming there is evidence that British American Tobacco (BAT) has been involved in what looks like cigarette smuggling. The claim comes from the former Sars spokesperson Adrian Lackey, where he says that evidence that he was made aware of shows that both BAT South Africa and BAT UK were working with current and former State Security officials in "...a range of illegal activities which had cost the fiscus hundreds of millions of rand...”:

Lackey resigned from Sars as part of the fallout from claims of a rogue spy unit within the organization. Executive Director at the National Council Against Smoking, Dr Yussuf Saloojee:

The claim is based on reasonably good international evidence which shows that there has been secret smuggling around the world. Why would they do this? To increase their profits. When prices of cigarettes go up, the response is that smokers stop smokings, so cigarettes are smuggled (away from formal market channels of distribution) so that smokers can buy lower priced cigarettes. Smuggling doesn't cost cigarette companies any money at all. Sars needs to look at this very closely because there have been claims of relations between Sars employees and those of the BAT and beyond that, this is a national health issue.

The statement in response from the British American Tobacco South Africa

March Against Xenophobia

In the Joburg city centre at the moment is the start of a massive march against xenophobia that been arranged by a group of civil society organisations. EWN's Gia Nicolaides:

This where a stage has been set up with large screens and various dignitaries are expected including Mayor Parks Tau. And we all have to mark at Mary Fitzgerald Square out here.

Executive Director of Section 27 and one of the key coordinators of this march, Mark Heywood:

It's been a large effort, following a few of us sitting down and agreeing that we need to send a strong message to the world that we as South Africa do not stand for this violence and that xenophobia does not belong to us. Over 200 organisations have indicated that they will be a part of this march. We also feel that the xenophobia is linked to various social issues and we have to redirect our efforts to ensure everyone's dignity.

Gauteng DA's Moodey not contesting top spot

Exlusive confirmation in the EWN bulletins in the last half hour from the DA’s Gauteng Leader John Moodey that he will not be contesting the position of national DA leader, which means he will not be going up against Mmusi Maimane:

I have made the decision after a gruelling two week consultation with my family and other leaders in the part and I've decided I will not be contesting this leadership at this stage. I have looked at the whole political scene at this point in time and I've decided to focus my energy on Gauteng, because there is a bigger picture here. The bigger question for me is 'how do I continue to build on the successes of the DA here in Gauteng?'

Noakes responds on action from HPC

On the Wednesday edition of the Midday Report, we spoke to the Nutrition Information Centre at the University of Stellenbosch, who suggested that the right food to use to wean a young baby was some form of porridge. It was in respose to a Health Professions Council (HPC) investigation into Professor Tim Noakes, who is accused of advising a mother on twitter to feed her baby a high fat, low carb diet. Emeritus Professor at the University of Cape Town, Tim Noakes:

The paediatricians I've looked at say you should wean children on meat so they can get iron and the issue is that children who are breast-fed for their first six months won't get iron. In order to help the brain to grow, you have to provide the child for the first 2 years with fat and five or six minerals and it turns out that an animal-based food contains all of those and porridge doesn't.

Eskom's Molefe's plans to go direct

A Wednesday comment by the current Acting CEO of Eskom Brian Molefe is that the utility could by-pass councils and supply electricity directly to consumers through pre-paid meters. Independent municipal analyst, Paul Berkowitz:

Most areas, Eskom sells wholesale to municipalities and they in turn sell retail to consumers, while in some areas, they are a direct-from-Eskom consumer. I don't think Mr Molefe's plan is going to fly because it's so politically risky because many of those homes with these meters might be alienated from a voter perspective.

Cele vs Phiyega

A series of Wednesday comments made by former National Police Commissioner Bheki Cele is that the police service is bleeding under its current Commissioner, General Riah Phiyega. He was talking to 702’s Xolani Gwala. Head of the Governance, Crime and Justice Unit at the Institute for Security Studies, Gareth Newham:

There are several indicators that show that his comments may be true, with the increased numbers for robbery, armed robbery and murders. Crime intelligence outputs have deteriorated by half last year. There are arguments to be made that there's a serious leadership problem at the South African Police Services at the moment.

Zibi on Hashtag Activism

An opinion piece in today’s Business Day newspaper by its Editor Songezo Zibi in which he says the revolution will be re-tweeted:

It's a problem because from an activism point of view, it means people just talk and do nothing beyond that, and the action element is missing. Until the marching is perhaps consistent with the demands of society, then it doesn't really serve the purpose that people think it does. We need to recognise the impact is limited until someone recognises what you're expressing and pursues it.

Chiefs' league champions

A famous victory by Kaizer Chiefs on Wednesday night following their hammering Polokwane City 4-1 and thus taking the league with three games still to play. Soccer analyst and football legend, Marks Maponyane:

What happened this season was actually better than the last season. This time, they've been really consistent and the difference between winning and losing a championship has to do with their defence and their defence has been very solid. They won the league in style.

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