Daily Archives: June 19, 2017

Western Cape Education on estimated costs of damage to schools

Estimated costs of damage to schools reaches R124 million

The storm that hit the Western Cape on Wednesday, 7 June, damaged 170 schools, according to the latest report compiled by the Western Cape Education Department (WCED). In addition, two were damaged by the inferno that engulfed the Southern Cape.

The extent of damage at each school varies but includes roof damage at 102 schools, damage to fences at 27 schools, structural damage at 14 schools and damage to mobile classrooms at 4 schools. Schools have also reported other damages which include fire damage, fallen trees and damage to electrical components.

An estimated cost of repairs and/or replacement roughly stands at around R124 million. This figure is however not final as some schools are still being visited by various roleplayers from the WCED and the Department of Transport and Public Works (DTPW) and a proper assessment of damages is being compiled. Only once we have concluded this process will a more realistic cost of damage be available.

I must take this opportunity to commend all officials from the WCED and from the DTPW for trying to initiate the repair process as quickly as possible.

I am informed that as cases were reported to the Safe Schools Directorate, the information was immediately passed onto the DTPW who sent out inspectors to visit sites and assess damages. Our priority was to make schools operational as soon as possible, where possible. Officials that visited schools immediately took action in ensuring that where possible, school sites were made safe for use so that learning and teaching can continue with limited interference.

The WCED and DTPW teams meet every third day to assess progress and discuss strategy.

I must thank Minister Donald Grant and his officials for the excellent cooperation and collaboration in dealing with this matter.

A total of 55 schools that were visited for inspection were immediately repaired which means that learning and teaching could resume almost immediately.

The DTPW has procured contractors to execute reparation works at 27 schools and as the visits conclude today, contractors will be procured for those schools too.

At the 4 schools where the mobile units were damaged, we are in the process of repairing or replacing these units.

13 schools that are on leased land were damaged in the storm. The WCED and DTPW have ensured that all leased schools that reported storm damage were visited and made safe. The WCED contacted the owners to advise them of the damage and request that they make the necessary repairs be effected. The WCED will monitor this process.

In some cases, where minor damage has occurred or where damage did not affect teaching or learning at the school, the school will be advised to use their Norms & Standards Funding to do the necessary repairs.

A number of corporate donors have indicated that they are willing to offer assistance and for this we are extremely grateful. We are in the process of determining where best their support can be utilised.

I must also thank all my officials, school principals, and teachers and in some cases parents for their support and their willingness to work with our officials in meeting these challenges positively.

Source: Government of South Africa

Government allowed to recover R1.125bn from Absa

Pretoria – Government is allowed to recover R1.125 billion in misappropriated public funds from Absa Bank and its predecessor Bankorp.

This follows a proclamation by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane on Monday when she released a report into misappropriate use of public funds pre democracy.

The Public Protector investigated the matter after the complainant, Advocate Pual Hoffmann, alleged that government and the Reserve Bank failed to implement the recommendations by UK-based asset recovery agency, Ciex, and to recover the money from Bankrop Limited, which eventually becomes a part of Absa, without providing reasons to that effect.

The Ciex report alleged that R24 billion was unlawfully given out to Bankorp from 1985 to 1992 by the Reserve Bank (as a lifeboat/gift). It then provided Absa with a further R2.25 billion in bailouts from 1992 to 1995.

Briefing the media in Pretoria on Monday, Mkhwebane said the two investigations into the matter established that the financial aid given to Bankorp/Absa was irregular, but the correct amount attributable was R1.125 billion.

Mkhweban said Ciex was paid 600 000 British pounds for services which were never used by government. No evidence could be found that any action was specifically taken in pursuit of the Ciex report.

The amount given to Bankrop/Absa Bank belonged to the people of South Africa. Failure to recover the ‘gift’ resulted in prejudice to the people of South Africa as the funds could have benefited the broader society instead of a handful of shareholders of Bankrop/ABSA Bank.

The public protector report found that the failure by government and the Reserve Bank was inconsistent with the Constitution and it constitutes improper conduct and maladministration.

The South African Reserve Bank in granting the financial aid failed to comply with section 10 (1) (f) and (s) of the South African Reverse Bank Act No.90 of 1989. The Ministry of Finance had a duty as obliged by section 37 of the South African Reverse Bank Act of 1989 this failed to adhere to section 195 of the Constitution by failing to promote efficient and effective public administration.

Some of Mkhwebane remedial action include that the Special Investigation Unit re-open the case and recover the funds which she said were given unlawfully to Absa.

The public protector refers the matter to the Special Investigating Unit to reopen and amend the proclamation R47 of 1998 published in the Government Gazette dated 7 May 1998 in order to recover misappropriated public funds unlawfully given to Absa in the amount of R1.125 billion and to investigate alleged misappropriated public funds given to various institutions as mentioned in the CIEX report, Mkhwebane said.

The Public Protector said the Reserve Bank must fully cooperate with the SIU and also assist it in recovering the funds.

Another recommendation is that the Portfolio Committee on Justice must initiate a process that will result in the amendment of section 224 of the Constitution to emphasize that the Reserve bank must promote a balanced and sustainable economic growth, while ensuring that the wellbeing of the citizens are protected.

Source: South African Government News Agency

Cameroon Detains 30 of Its Soldiers Fighting Boko Haram

YAOUNDE � Cameroon has detained 30 of its soldiers fighting Boko Haram in the northern part of the country. The Defense Ministry says the soldiers abandoned their positions in a protest over pay and working conditions.

Military officials in Cameroon say the incident happened earlier this month. Several dozen Cameroonian soldiers erected barricades near the country’s border with Nigeria and asked to be immediately replaced. The soldiers were part of the Multinational Joint Task Force fighting Boko Haram since 2015.

Colonel Didier Badjeck, spokesperson of Cameroon’s military, said the protest was “unacceptable.” He said so far 30 of the soldiers who took part have been arrested.

He said the minister of defense gave instructions that the protesters should be arrested so that this bad memory can be forgotten. He said he does not understand what went wrong in the minds of the soldiers to abandon the commitment and oath they took to defend the nation with honor and loyalty even to the ultimate sacrifice.

Badjeck says investigations are ongoing to fish out those who may have masterminded the unrest.

Military officers who did not join the protest tell VOA the soldiers were disgruntled that they are not receiving the same allowances as their peers serving in the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Central African Republic, who they said get an additional bonus of $500 per month.

But Cameroon’s government says soldiers fighting Boko Haram are not U.N. peacekeepers and are not entitled to the same allowances. The force fighting Boko Haram is a regional mission organized through the Lake Chad Basin Commission.

Colonel Akoutou Mvondo, Cameroon’s director of military justice, says Cameroon has paid salaries and allowances to soldiers sent to the front in the north, but he declined to say how much.

He said the military hierarchy took time to explain to these soldiers that their allowances and bonuses were to be paid from contributions of member states and that while waiting for the contributions, each country would pay its soldiers taking part in the war, according to agreements made with its soldiers.

Mvondo said soldiers who took part in the protest may be charged with acts of revolt or rebellion under the military justice code, pending results of the investigation.

The 8,700-strong regional force fighting Boko Haram is led by Nigeria and includes troops from Cameroon, Niger, Chad and Benin.

Donors, including Nigeria and the European Union, have pledged at least $250 million to fight the insurgents but that remains well short of the force’s original projected budget of $700 million.

Source: Voice of America

Arts and Culture hosts Anti-femicide Imbizo in Soweto, 23 Jun

MRM, Arts and Culture hosts imbizo on anti femicide in Soweto

The Moral Regeneration Movement (MRM) in partnership with the Department of Arts and Culture will host an imbizo on Anti Femicide to confront the callous murder of women and girls. The event takes place on Friday 23 June 2017 at Regina Mundi Catholic Church in Soweto under theme, Respect Human Dignity and Equality to promote ethical and moral values, irrespective of social origin, gender, race, age, status and class.

Presently, the country is experiencing an alarming number of women and children murders. The latest police statistics revealed that 65 women have been killed in 30 days. There may well be many others who have quietly been disposed of under similar circumstances.

This barbarism has sent shock waves among our people. Public protest marches are indicative of the shock and anger that has erupted in our communities across race and colour, young and old, men and women, said Moral Regeneration Movement Chairperson Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa

The MRM enjoins people to commit themselves to: Respect the worth of all individuals; Fight against the physical and emotional harassment of women that result in rape and other forms of abuse; eradicate the abuse of children brought about by social ills such as malnutrition, child labour, drug trafficking, pornography and prostitution; care for all who are weak and disadvantaged: the poor, the aged, the disabled and all those unable to care for themselves; oppose any form of physical, emotional, and /or psychological abuse or ill-treatment of another human being; overcome discrimination on the basis of status, custom, culture, race, gender, sexual orientation, health-status and tradition, and work for the physical security and protection of all people.

It is from this perspective that government, the youth, business, labour, cultural and religious formations, political parties and civil society ought to come together to discuss national plans to strengthen social cohesion in the country.

Source: Government of South Africa

DESPARATE FAMILIES SEEK COURT ORDERS TO COMPEL AUTOPSIES TO BE CARRIED OUT

JOHANNESBURG, Desperate families have approached the courts to compel forensic officers who are striking illegally in South Africa’s Gauteng Province to return to their jobs so that autopsies can be carried out and they can retrieve the bodies of their relatives in order to perform the last rites.

The Gauteng health department needs to get tough with the forensic officers who are striking illegally, and an urgent court order should be brought against the illegal strikers who disrespect the dead, says the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party.

A number of families have secured court orders to force post-mortems at Gauteng state mortuaries to be carried so that they can get the bodies for burial because the strike by about 180 forensic assistants has dragged on with no end in sight, says DA spokesperson Jack Bloom.

I know of three court orders brought by Muslim families who are religiously required to bury (their dead) within 24 hours of death. It is tragic that the court has to step in because of the pathetic mishandling of this strike by the Gauteng Health Department, Bloom said here Sunday.

The families are hopeful that the backlog of more than 200 bodies will be speedily cleared when military health personnel were brought in to assist last week, but the number of autopsies carried turned out to be only seven.

Pathologists, meanwhile, had heroically worked without assistants over the long weekend, but new bodies were coming in all the time and they could not cope. As there was no refrigeration space, bodies were being piled on top of each other.

The unions representing them claimed that the forensic officers were not striking but were working to rule by only doing what was in their job descriptions.

However, Bloom countered: I have established that their duties explicitly include the following as contained in a recent job advertisement for a Grade I forensic pathology officer: ‘Assist in rendering an efficient forensic autopsy process (which includes evisceration, scribing, and typing) in accordance with set standards and guidelines by assisting the forensic pathologists in autopsies’.

The department needs to get tough with forensic officers who are striking illegally, some of whom have incited angry relatives against pathologists who fear for their safety.

The department has already agreed to danger pay and to the reversal of the occupational specific dispensation (OSD) which was disastrously implemented in 2009 and resulted in a pay cut for forensic officers, said Bloom.

There was no reason for the strike as remaining grievances could be addressed in the bargaining chamber, but the problem was that the department had low credibility because of previously unfulfilled promises in this matter.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK