News From The Mother Land


Mluleki Ndobe arrested for Sindiso Magaqa’s death

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Sindiso Magaqa. File photo. Image: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Sibusiso Msibi

Senior ANC KwaZulu-Natal provincial leader Mluleki Ndobe has been arrested in connection with the 2017 murder of former ANC Youth League leader Sindiso Magaqa.

The party’s provincial secretary has confirmed to TimesLIVE that Ndobe was first taken in for questioning and later arrested.

“It’s very shocking. It is a set back for the ANC,” Ntuli said.

Police minister Bheki Cele’s spokesperson, Reneilwe Serero, said: “I can confirm one senior official from Harry Gwala District Municipality has been arrested. At this stage I can not divulge the name until their court appearance which will be in the next 48 hours.”

Ndobe is the mayor of the Harry Gwala district municipality and serves in the provincial working committee of the ANC.

He previously served as the deputy provincial secretary.

“It’s of great concern to us but we are a law abiding party so we will await the outcome of the legal case,” Ntuli said.

Ndobe was refused entry to Magaqa’s home following his murder by angry protesters.

In September 2017 Magaqa died at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital from gunshot wounds after an assasination attempt two months earlier.

At the time his family claimed that he was poisoned, but a post-mortem found that this was not true.

Last year, one person was arrested in connection with the case and appeared in the Umzimkhulu Magistrate’s Court.

KZN police spokesperson Thulani Zwane did not want to comment on Ndobe’s arrest and referred all questions to Cele.

Arrest of senior ANC official for Sindiso Magaqa’s death ‘no surprise’

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Sindiso Magaqa. File photo. Image: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Sibusiso Msibi

One of the two councillors who were injured in an ambush which claimed the life of former ANC Youth League secretary Sindiso Magaqa said she is not surprised that a senior ANC official has been arrested in connection with the murder.

Jabulile Msiya spoke to TimesLIVE shortly after the news broke that Mluleki Ndobe, Umzimkhulu District Municipality mayor and former ANC deputy secretary in KwaZulu-Natal, had been arrested on Sunday morning in connection with Magaqa’s murder.

“I am not surprised that a senior comrade has been arrested, I am shocked but also relieved,” she said.

Ndobe was one of three ANC leaders who were barred by Magaqa’s supporters from entering the family home shortly after he died.

Msiya said she was told by Magaqa’s acquaintances and former Youth League supporters who had prevented Ndobe from paying their respects to the family that “some senior politicians in the province were involved in Sindiso’s murder”.

Msiya, who was injured when unknown gunmen opened fire on the vehicle in which they were sitting with Magaqa, said although she had been provided with bodyguards and felt relatively safe, she would not feel “100 percent safe” until all those who were involved in Magaqa’s slaying were brought to book.

“We are praying that the police try and convict whoever was responsible for this,” Msiya added.

Police minister Bheki Cele’s spokesperson Reneilwe Serero confirmed Ndobe’s arrest.

“I can confirm that a senior official from Harry Gwala District municipality has been arrested. At this stage I can not divulge the name until their court appearance which will be in the next 48 hours,” she said.

ANC secretary in KwaZulu-Natal Mdumiseni Ntuli said the party was shocked. “It’s very shocking. It is a setback for the ANC.”

Magaqa died in September 2017 at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital from gunshot wounds after the assassination attempt two months earlier.

Dianne Kohler Barnard in new racism scandal

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DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard is being taken to the Equality Court for racist remarks that she made. Image: Michael Hammond

DA parliamentary operations director Louw Nel has hauled MP Dianne Kohler Barnard before the Equality Court for making racist remarks at a police portfolio strategy meeting.

Sources say that Kohler Barnard referred to black people as ‘criminals who were out to harm whites’ during the course of that meeting.

It is believed that Nel was dissatisfied with the way DA chief whip John Steenhuisen had dealt with the matter.

Read the full story in the Sunday Times.

South African youths march for action against climate change


Grade 11 learner Zenile Ngcame of Masiphumelele High School raises her fist during a protest for action against climate change outside Parliament in Cape Town. Image: Ashraf Hendrick

Thousands of school students across South Africa called on government to act against climate change. Youths demonstrated at Parliament in Cape Town, the Union Buildings in Pretoria, and the Department of Energy in Durban.

Similar protests are taking place on Friday in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and North America. The worldwide effort has been organised under the hashtag#ClimateStrike.

In Cape Town, over a thousand learners from numerous schools across the province gathered with bright coloured posters outside Parliament. They chanted, “Stop denying! Our earth is dying”, “Mother earth, can we fix it? Mother Earth, yes we can!” and “Change your mind, not your planet.”

Sarah Farell and Nur Felix performed Bob Marley’s “Get up, stand up”. Farrel, one of the organisers, said that the protesters were demanding that government halt new fossil fuel projects. They also called for much more renewable energy by 2030. “We want it to be right, front and centre, because it is exacerbating poverty. It is making peoples lives worse,” she said.

During the 2019 Budget Speech, Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni acknowledged the seriousness of climate change. He said that steps are being taken at Eskom to expand renewable energy. He promised that a carbon tax would be in effect by 1 June 2019.

“When I was 11 years old, my parents took me on a trip around Africa, and because of that, I felt first hand the dramatic effects of climate change,” said Ruby Sampson, a Grade 12 student at Wynberg girls high. Inspired by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, Sampson joined the movement and started organising Cape Town to join the global protest.

Cape Town school children held placards denouncing climate change denialism. Image: Ashraf Hendricks

Thunberg started the #FridaysforFuture movement in August 2018. The movement mobilises learners across the globe to protest against climate change on Fridays.

“Politicians have been ignoring it for generations but you have activists and scientists that have been telling us that this has been coming for many decades,” Sampson said. Looking around, she said about the protest, “It’s overwhelming but fantastic” that all these people have joined.

About 50 people gathered outside Pretoria’s Union Buildings.

“Climate change is important for the youth Read More

At Ethiopia flight memorial, white roses mark passing of lives

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – An aircraft hangar in the Ethiopian capital was filled with the white roses as aviation staff gathered on Sunday to remember the two pilots and six crew, who perished along with 149 passengers in the Ethiopia Airlines crash a week ago.

Relatives mourn next to the coffins of Ethiopian passengers and crew members, during a memorial service for the victims of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, at the Holy Trinity Cathedral Orthodox church in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 17, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

Weeping women held slender single stems in their shaking hands and banks of the flowers, traditionally used to mark the passing of lives, were placed in front of a row of empty coffins at the ceremony.

A band – some of the musicians in tears – played traditional Amharic music. The music stopped temporarily as band members ran to comfort bereaved relatives who lunged forward, wailing to grieve over the coffins.

“Our deep sorrow cannot bring them back,” an Orthodox priest in a traditional black turban and black robes told the crowd.

“This is the grief of the world,” he said, as Ethiopian Airlines staff sobbed in each other’s arms.

At least the crash had taken place in Ethiopia – the holy land – he said, prompting “amens” from the crowd.

In faraway Paris, investigators are examining black box recorders to determine why the aircraft plunged into field shortly after take off from Addis Ababa, searching for similarities to an October Lion Air crash that killed 189 people.

Both crashes involved the same model of plane – a Boeing 737 MAX 8 – causing aviation authorities to ground the model around the world after last week’s accident.

But in the Ethiopian capital, families and airline staff were focused on honouring their dead.

In the aircraft hangar, a banner offered “deepest condolences and comfort” to the families of the deceased crew.

A female flight attendant spoke warmly of the deceased captain, Yared Getachew.

“He was a really nice person, a good person, all the words you can find to talk about a good person apply. He was a very kind human being,” she said, before dissolving in tears.

A service for the families of passengers is scheduled later on Sunday. Relatives of the families – more than 30 nationalities were onboard – will gather beneath the pink stone spires of Addis Ababa’s Holy Trinity Cathedral.

The families have been given charred earth from the crash site to bury, because most of the bodies were destroyed by the impact and fire. Identifying the small remains that have been collected may take up to six months.

Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

Experts begin examining Ethiopia jet cockpit recorder

Cyclone Idai batters Zimbabwe, at least 31 people dead

HARARE (Reuters) – At least 31 people have died in eastern Zimbabwe while dozens were missing as homes and bridges were swept away by a tropical storm, state television reported on Saturday.

Cyclone Idai, which brought floodwater and destruction to areas of Mozambique and Malawi, hit Zimbabwe on Friday, cutting off power and communications.

Pictures shared on Twitter and television footage showed roads, houses and bridges that were washed away while communication towers were knocked down and electricity cables blocked roads in Chimanimani district, 410 kilometres (255 miles) east of the capital Harare.

State television ZBC said 31 people had died in the district while more than 70 people were missing.

The information ministry said the army had moved in to rescue 197 pupils trapped at a local school.

“This a very challenging operation as it’s being undertaken as a ground effort because of unsafe weather conditions for air efforts,” the ministry said in a statement.

Joshua Sacco, a member of parliament in Chimanimani earlier told Reuters the district had been cut off from the rest of the country as the storm left a trail of destruction reminiscent of Cyclone Eline in February 2000, which devastated southern Zimbabwe.

Sacco said the death toll was expected to rise as rescue efforts continued.

Chimanimani, which borders Mozambique, has been worst affected, with the storm causing floods as well as destroying crops and plantations, Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Information said.

Air force helicopters were rescuing people, but flights were being slowed by heavy winds.

Zimbabwe has faced a severe drought this year that has damaged crops and a United Nations humanitarian agency says 5.3 million people will require food aid.

The country’s meteorological services expect rains to continue throughout the weekend.

Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Alexander Smith and Marie-Louise Gumuchian

Gunmen attack Mali army base, kill at least 16 soldiers-sources

BAMAKO (Reuters) – Gunmen attacked and briefly seized a Malian army base overnight, killing at least 16 soldiers and destroying five vehicles in central Mali’s Mopti region, two local councillors in the area where the attack happened said on Sunday.

The base is in the village of Dioura, the mayor of the nearest town Kareri, Youssouf Coulibaly, told Reuters by telephone from inside it. Central Mali has in the past few years been overrun by jihadists with links to al Qaeda.

“I’m currently inside the base and there were many deaths here. We’ve counted 16 so far,” he said. Army spokesman Colonel Diarran Kone confirmed the attack but gave no further details.

Violence by jihadist groups has worsened almost every year since it first exploded in Mali in 2012, when Islamists and allied Tuareg rebels took over the north and advanced towards the capital Bamako, until a French-led intervention pushed them back the following year.

Groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State used central and northern Mali as a launch pad for growing numbers of attacks across the Sahel region, especially on neighbours Niger and Burkina Faso, despite the presence of 4,500 French troops.

Central Mali is the locus of the Macina Liberation Front, led by Salafist preacher and militant leader Amadou Koufa. French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly claimed in November that Koufa had been killed in a raid by French forces.

But at the end of last month Koufa appeared in a new propaganda video mocking French and Malian forces.

Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Keith Weir and Emelia Sithole-Matarise