Daily Archives: August 21, 2017

Minister Edna Molewa on North Gauteng High Court ruling

The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Dr Edna Molewa, has noted the North Gauteng High Court ruling relating to the issuance of a permit for the selling of rhino horn to breeder John Hume.

The domestic sale of rhino horn is legal following a Constitutional Court order in April 2017 upholding a 2015 High Court decision uplifting the 2009 moratorium on the domestic trade in rhino horn retrospectively.

Domestic trade in rhino horn is subject to the issuance of the relevant permits in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (Act No 10 of 2004) (NEMBA), its regulations and applicable provincial legislation.

However only the Minister has the authority to grant permits for the sale of rhino horn in the seven provinces where the Members of the Executive Council (MEC’s) responsible for Environmental Affairs have agreed that the Minister should be the issuing authority for permits relating to trade in rhino horn.

Mr. Hume applied for a permit for the sale of 264 rhino horn for what has been described in the media as ‘the world’s first online rhino horn auction’.

On 10 August 2017 the selling permit was issued by an official in the DEA, in the belief that she had the delegated authority to issue a selling permit. However, the permit was not handed to Mr Hume.

On Wednesday 16 August 2017, Mr Hume brought an urgent application for the permit to be issued.

The urgent application was brought with less than 48 hours’ notice. The Minister opposed the application and at the same time applied to have the unauthorised permit set aside.

Ruling

The application was heard on 20 August 2017. The Court refused to set aside the permit on the basis that the application to set aside the unauthorised permit was not urgent.

On the issue of the delegation of powers within the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), the judge acknowledged that this was a complex issue that could not be decided on an urgent basis by an urgent court without consideration of legal argument to be heard in the ordinary course.

The court ordered the Minister to hand over the original permit � issued in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004, to Mr Hume within 12 hours of the ruling.

It should be noted that the permit to be handed over to Mr Hume was issued with a number of conditions, including the following:

The permit holder can only sell rhino horn to a person who has a permit issued in terms of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 authorising him / her to buy rhino horn from Mr Hume (i.e. a buyer’s permit)

The permit does not authorise international trade in rhino horn.

The department must be granted access to the online auction to do the necessary compliance monitoring.

The department wishes to reiterate that the commercial international trade remains prohibited by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). South Africa is party to CITES.

Source: Government of South Africa

MEC Helen Sauls-August addresses Provincial Govan Mbeki Awards in Grahamstown, 25 Aug

EE Govan Mbeki awards to profile impact of human settlements projects in communities

Eastern Cape Human Settlements Development Projects built in both rural and urban areas have been able to change the living conditions for thousands of underprivileged people in the Province.

Census (2016) survey divulged that there is a gradual increase in the number of households living in formal dwellings over time from 65.1% in 1996 to 79.2% in 2016. The percentage of households living in traditional dwellings has also declined sharply from 18.3% in 1996 to 7% in 2016.

The Eastern Cape Province distribution of households whose main dwelling is a government subsidized dwelling increased to 386 802 in 2016. Those living in informal dwellings have decreased slightly from 16.2% in 1996 to 13% in 2016, according to a community survey done by Statistics South Africa in 2016.

The department has over 100 existing multi -year running projects which produce over ten thousand houses per year, including servicing sites; connection of basic services and building a number of community centres to bring social amenities within a radius of projects. In rural areas, water harvesting tanks and VIP latrines are given with the new houses.

The upcoming Provincial Govan Mbeki Awards will be a showcase of the successful projects which will go and represent the Province at the National Awards. In previous years, the projects from the province won numerous awards.

The purpose of the award is to showcase work done by the department with special emphasis to its programmes, promotes best practise in the delivery of the core mandate. The awards were named after the late Govan Mbeki in 2006 based on the role he played and vision he had on the preservation of human dignity and provision of human settlements for all.

Last year, the Province won in the categories of Best Enhanced Peoples Housing Process in Needs Camp and runners up in Best Rural Housing Project for Ebenezer rural project (Mbizana Municipality).

Source: Government of South Africa

Eskom explains Mabelane, Khalima reinstatement

Eskom says there is nothing untoward about the suspension and subsequent reappointment of Edwin Mabelane and Charles Khalima.

There’s nothing untoward about the processes and/or decisions regarding certain employees about whom media reports emerged this week. While we can confirm that suspensions occurred, in line with our procedure on the basis of preliminary precaution with pay and with immediate effect, the affected individuals were called upon to make written representations to motivate why the preliminary decision to suspend should not be made final, said Eskom’s Group Executive: Human Resources, Elsie Pule.

Speaking on Saturday, Pule said the executives were expected to submit their representations within two working days of receipt of the letter, which they did.

Media reports state that the executives were involved with a procurement deal with Trillian, the company said to have received payments for its contracts with Eskom where it is alleged that little work was done.

Media reported that the executives were reappointed two days later.

Upon receipt of their representations on 17 August 2017, the respective line managers of these employees, assisted by Human Resources, considered them and in turn decided to lift the preliminary suspensions, said Pule.

Pule said Mabelane and Khalima could therefore not be procedurally kept away from work. She emphasised that the process followed is in strict compliance with the Eskom Disciplinary Procedure, as well as established labour law principles.

Former acting CEO

When coming to the disciplinary matter against acting former group chief executive Matshela Koko, Pule said Eskom has received a report by both Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr and Nkonki Incorporated.

As far as the disciplinary matter against Mr Koko is concerned, the report by both Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr and Nkonki Incorporated went through an entire process of edification, as critical documents, presentations and submissions by various parties internally and externally were required in strict accordance with a fair process, she said.

Among the milestones for the matter were that there has been a board decision to proceed with a disciplinary process and the termination of special leave as well as the intention to suspend, the suspension itself as well as the notification for the hearing and charges among others.

All these milestones are vital in ensuring a fair outcome, and unfortunately they could not have been achieved without spending some time addressing them, said Pule.

In July, the power utility announced that it had received a report regarding allegations of impropriety on the former acting group chief executive.

On Saturday, Pule explained that Eskom appreciates the national interest attached to the matter and therefore the utility sought to be extremely meticulous so as to carry aboard the interest of both Eskom and the employee in question.

I can confirm that we are gone through all the critical hoops and are at a stage when the commencement of the hearing will occur in the short while subject to the tying up of the last loops, she said.

Source: South African Government News Agency

Food Insecurity, Poverty Force Kenyan Girls Into ‘Survival Sex’

WASHINGTON � Women and girls as young as 12 from Kenya’s countryside are being forced into sex work to support families affected by prolonged drought. They have little or no education and travel at least 50 kilometers (30 miles) to reach urban areas, working in unsafe conditions far from their homes.

Since I was raped, I entered into prostitution, because I saw that is something that my family depends on, a 24-year-old mother told the International Rescue Committee (IRC). It is not something good, but the need to care for these children is what forces me, because I don’t have anywhere else to run to, the woman said.

The IRC has been working in Turkana, a region in northwestern Kenya with over 276,000 people in need of food assistance. Turkana, which borders both Uganda and South Sudan, also suffers from Kenya’s second-highest HIV infection rate, according to Mercy Lwambi, the women’s protection and empowerment manager for IRC.

The impact of drought on rural communities such as those in Turkana’s countryside can be particularly harsh. In addition to soaring food prices, rural families face decimated livestock and diminished crops. With grim prospects for survival and a dire need for money, young girls find themselves in early marriages, child labor and forced prostitution.

Rampant abuse

As crippling drought lingers, survival sex, in particular, has proliferated. Child sex workers in Turkana make, on average, about 50 shillings, or less than 50 cents, per client. But it’s not uncommon for no payment to be made or for money to be stolen from the girls.

Most of the time, their clients steal the little money they give them. So, their clients pay them for the work, then beat them up or take the money, or their clients intoxicate them with alcohol and have sex without pay, Lwambi said.

Without a support system, girls trapped in sex work face the constant risk of beatings, psychological abuse and sexually transmitted diseases, particularly HIV.

In addition to prostitution, the IRC has also documented an uptick in gender-based violence and the rape of children, underscoring how humanitarian crises disproportionately affect girls.

Helping with support, information, protection

Until root causes are addressed, IRC acknowledges that eradicating survival sex isn’t realistic. So, they focus on providing support, information and protection. Outreach activities include a mix of clinical care and psychological assistance.

Education on safe sex practices is central to IRC’s work, and helping girls look out for one another is another important strategy.

So telling them to work in groups if they have work, to work in groups so that, if they are two or three, the chances of them being taken advantage of by a client…is reduced, Lwambi said.

Slow government response

The government of Kenya needs to do more to protect young girls ensnared in sex work, according to Lwambi.

Subsidies could go a long way toward protecting Kenya’s most vulnerable populations, Lwambi said.

For sex workers, the girls engaged in sex work, we are looking for the government to provide for these families for food or safety net programming so that they’re able to have resources to be able to take care of their daily needs, she said.

The government has money to spend, but funds aren’t necessarily diverted into social programs. Kenya just held its most expensive election, and the public and private spending [were] both at an all-time high, according to Quartz, a digital news source.

An old problem

Child prostitution fueled by poverty is not a new problem in Kenya.

In 2008, the United Nations Children’s Fund estimated that 30 percent of girls in coastal Kenya were forced into prostitution. More recently, in 2014, Reuters reported that “in Nairobi’s overcrowded slums, hungry children often trade their bodies for a few coins or food.”

The facilitation of child prostitution and child sex tourism in Kenya were not criminalized until 2006, according to the U.S. State Department’s 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report. The report went on to state that “girls and boys are exploited in commercial sex throughout Kenya, including in sex tourism in Nairobi, Kisumu, and on the coast, particularly in informal settlements; at times, their exploitation is facilitated by family members.”

Drought conditions ease

Drought conditions show some signs of easing. The most recent Early Warning Bulletin for Turkana county by Kenya’s National Drought Management Authority found that recent rainfall will raise water levels, improve vegetation and benefit the condition of livestock, improving the overall food security picture.

The U.S.-funded Famine Early Warnings Systems Network forecasts that conditions in Kenya will shift toward minimal and stressed levels of food insecurity, the lowest levels on their scale, from October to January. However, much of Turkana will continue to experience crisis levels of food insecurity.

Meanwhile, funding shortfalls have hindered humanitarian organizations in every country affected by prolonged drought and severe food insecurity. For the IRC, that’s meant cutting back on their support programs and laying off staff.

Donors should reinstate funding now, supporting girls to get out of commercial sex work and have better and safer opportunities to feed themselves and their families, said Conor Phillips, Kenya country director at the International Rescue Committee.

Source: Voice of America

South Africa: Van Niekerk Backs Off From Zurich With Injury

Two-time world champion Wayde van Niekerk has withdrawn from Thursday’s 400-metre race at the Diamond League meeting in Zurich, Switzerland with a recurring back injury.

Van Niekerk, also the Olympic champion and world record holder, has had to manage the niggle throughout the season, indeed for much of his stellar career, but managed to overcome the setback to retain his one-lap crown and also take the 200m silver medal at the IAAF World Championships in London last week.

‘This injury has plagued me throughout the summer and I had to receive treatment from Dr Muller-Wohlfahrt,’ Van Niekerk said. ‘Obviously you don’t want your competitors to know if you’re struggling in any way, so I’ve kept it quiet until this point.’

Returning to training this week after his successful campaign at the World Championships, the versatile 25-year-old sprinter felt the back injury flare up again.

After consultation with coach Ans Botha, it was decided to avoid the risk of competing again at this late stage of the season, as a precaution in the build-up to the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia in April.

‘I’m bitterly disappointed I won’t be competing in the last Diamond League event of the season as I haven’t won a Diamond League Final before and was hoping to get my hands on one of the fiercely contested Diamond trophies, but we feel it is in my best interest to recover fully, in order to ensure I can take on the 2018 season in good health and at full strength,’ Van Niekerk wrapped up.

Source: South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee