Daily Archives: August 29, 2018

Germany Returns 27 Sets of Colonial-era Remains to Namibians

A Namibian delegation on Wednesday took possession of the remains of 27 countrymen whose bones were taken by German colonial forces more than a century ago for pseudo-scientific racial experiments.

At a church ceremony in Berlin, two skulls in glass boxes along with a coffin covered with a Namibian flag were placed in front of the altar ahead of the handover.

The repatriation of the remains is a reminder of Germany’s short-lived past as a colonial power in Africa which included the bloody suppression of a Herero and Nama uprising between 1904 and 1908 that left tens of thousands dead.

“We intend to do something today we should have done many years ago, namely to give back mortal human remains of people who became the first victims of the first genocide of the 20th century,” German Lutheran Bishop Petra Bosse-Huber told the fully packed church.

Germany is returning 19 skulls, five full skeletons and bone and skin fragments that were stored in hospitals, museums and universities for decades.

In the early 20th century, German scientists tried to prove the “racial superiority” of white Europeans over black Africans by, for example, analyzing the facial features of the skulls, well before Nazi-era scientists conducted similar experiments on Jews and others.

“These skulls tell the story of brutal, godless colonial past and its consecutive suppression of the Namibian people. They say, ‘Never again!'” Lutheran Bishop Ernst Gamxamub from Namibia said during his sermon.

It was the third time Germany has returned human remains to Namibia. In 2011, 20 skulls were handed over from Berlin’s Charite Hospital. In 2014, both Charite and the University of Freiburg gave back 32 skulls and skeletons.

Historians say German Gen. Lothar von Trotha, who was sent to what was then South West Africa to put down an uprising by the Hereros against their German rulers in 1904, instructed his troops to wipe out the entire tribe. About two-thirds of all Hereros were killed, and the order also affected smaller tribes.

In 2004, then-Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul traveled to Namibia and offered Germany’s first apology for the massacre, which she said was “what today would be labeled as genocide.”

Michelle Muentefering, a deputy foreign minister, told the Namibian delegation earlier this week that “We want to help heal wounds.”

Germany and Namibia have been negotiating about possible compensation for the descendants of the victims since 2015. When the remains are returned to Namibia on Thursday, Muentefering will travel along for another round of negotiations in Windhoek.

During the church ceremony, dozens of protesters stood on a square outside the church holding signs saying “Repatriation without an official apology?” and “Reparations now! Nothing about us, without us… the objectification stops now.”

Source: Voice of America

SARS to assist deaf community

To mark the commemoration of Deaf Awareness Month, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) is set to assist the deaf community with their tax affairs.

Specific SARS branches across the country will assist the deaf on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The initiative will see South African sign language interpreters being availed to the specific branches over the course of September.

The service will be rendered at the following branches:

Tuesdays � Roodepoort, Worcester, Pretoria North (4 and 11 September) branches and the Pretoria CBD branch (18 and 25 September);

Wednesdays – Alberton branch (5, 12, 19 and 26 September); and

Fridays – Vereeniging, Polokwane, Durban CBD, Mthatha and Nelspruit branches (7, 14, 21 and 28 September).

The public is requested to disseminate the message to all the deaf in their respective communities and to note that this service will also be extended to other members of the community who need to visit the SARS branches, said the revenue service on Wednesday.

The initiative will afford deaf taxpayers with a unique opportunity to attend to their tax affairs.

SARS has pledged to improve accessibility for the deaf and blind communities, and to educate the general public about tax matters, it said.

In June, acting SARS Commissioner Mark Kingon announced a shorter tax season timeframe that will run three weeks shorter than in the past.

This year’s tax season which kicked off in July runs 18 business days shorter than usual, and will conclude on 31 October 2018.

Source: South African Government News Agency

Police condemn unprofessionalism depicted on video on social media

Management of the police in Gauteng have noted with concern a video on social media showing a woman allegedly certifying documents in the Client Service Centre at Mamelodi police station.

It can be confirmed that the woman is an employee of the South African Police Service and, is in terms of the Schedule under section 6 of the Justices of the Peace and Commissioners of Oaths Act, 1963 (Act 16 of 1963), authorised to certify documents.

It must be registered however, that the manner in which the woman is dressed while rendering a service to the public, is inappropriate and can therefore not be condoned. The matter will thus be addressed with the employee.

“Professionalism goes hand in hand with our concerted efforts geared at improving service delivery levels at all police stations. This is the context within which we remain purposeful in enhancing all front-line service delivery points towards regaining public confidence and strengthening relations between the police and the public,” said Gauteng Provincial Commissioner of police, Lieutenant General Deliwe de Lange in condemning the unprofessional attire worn while rendering a service to the public.

Source: South African Police Service

NCOP Returns to Free State to Check up on Progress with Delivery of Health Services

Exactly one year after the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) visited the Free State province to assess the delivery of healthcare services, the council this week returned to the province to follow up on the provincial department of health’s implementation of its recommendations.

In August last year the NCOP, through its flagship programme of Taking Parliament to the People, conducted oversight visits to various healthcare facilities, including clinics and hospitals in the Mangaung and Xhariep district municipalities. The NCOP also conducted public hearings, where people were given an opportunity to voice their concerns. A report with recommendations was subsequently debated and adopted by the NCOP and later sent to all the spheres of government to act on the recommendations.

This week, a multidisciplinary delegation of NCOP permanent delegates, members of provincial legislatures (MPLs) and municipal councillors split into eight sub-groups to revisit several facilities in the province to follow up on the implementation of its recommendation, as well as report back to the citizens.

One of the first health facilities to be visited was the Klipfontein Clinic, outside Thaba Nchu, where the delegation was not impressed with the slow progress one year later. Mr Eddie Makue, Chairperson of the Select Committee on Trade and International Relations, led the delegation. Some of the findings from last year included a lack of toilets, an open septic tank, and inadequate space, as the clinic is in a four-roomed structure with no little space for a waiting area.

Clinic Manager Mr Joseph Moselesele told the delegation that only two areas have seen any progress since the NCOP visited the clinic in August last year. The septic tank was closed and the toilets were under construction.

The clinic still only opens on Mondays and Fridays, and the other three days in the week it operates a mobile point across nine villages and several farms. Members of the NCOP found this arrangement unacceptable, with NCOP delegate Mr Mntomuhle Khawula asking what happens when people get sick on the other days when the clinic is closed.

This is not the arrangement we were briefed about last year when we came here. I don’t think there has been much progress, he said.

The lack of perimeter fencing in the facility did not only pose security risk, but it is a huge health risk, as children play around the yard and there is no proper waste control system. The lack of a waste control system is a huge risk for infection control. It can cause outbreaks of diseases in the village. It is very important to address that urgently, said delegation leader Mr Makue.

He also urged the Free State Department of Health to make sure that people in the rural areas have the same right to access quality healthcare services as residents of urban areas. Very often we forget about people in rural area. People in rural villages have the same rights as people in the city. They must have access to healthcare that is competent, affordable and that will enable them to live a full life, Mr Makue said.

Responding to most of the outstanding recommendations, health officials made promises of addressing them by March next year, a deadline the NCOP found unacceptable. This answer of before the end of the financial year is unacceptable. Don’t postpone everything to the end of the financial year, added Mr Makue.

Source: Parliament of the Republic of South Africa