Category - South Africa

South Africa arrests hundreds over xenophobic violence

Police arrest more than 300 for crimes against migrants, after violence kills eight and displaces more than 1,000.

Al Jazeera, April 20

South Africa’s government has vowed to crack down on xenophobic violence, after arresting more than 300 people for a range of crimes against migrants.

Authorities said on Sunday in Johannesburg that 307 suspects had been arrested for a range of xenophobic-related crimes.

Security agencies have also increased the police presence on the ground after at least eight deaths in anti-immigrant violence in the past week.

“They have actually pushed other people to leave their own comfort zones, their homes,” David Mahlobo, the minister of state security, said.

More than 1,000 people have been displaced after violence against foreign nationals flared up on March 30 in the country’s coastal province of KwaZulu-Natal, whose capital is Durban.

Vale Nelson Mandela / Madiba

Photograph by Alf Kumalo

Photograph by Alf Kumalo

The world has lost it’s greatest son of this past century. “I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”

My favourite quote “The important thing is to give happiness to people.”

Adam Roberts at Slate covers some of the warts as well.

Free Mandela


Remembering Mandela
I have fought against white domination,
and I have fought against black

I have cherished the ideal
of a democratic and free society in
which all persons live together in
harmony and with equal opportunities.

It is an ideal which I hope to live
for and to achieve.

But if needs be,
it is an ideal for which I am
prepared to die. ~ Nelson Mandela

When I visited South Africa in 2007, it was clear Mandela’s ideal remains just that, an ideal. This was evident in the following stark poem published by the Sowetan newspaper on Freedom Day.

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World Leaders Should Probably Tape This To Their Walls

A Haaretz Op-Ed opines that Israel should follow Nelson Mandela’s lead in trying to come to grips with the Palestinian question:

The first and clearest lesson one can learn from Mandela is that peace is only achievable if the putative peacemakers believe in it. “One cannot be prepared for something while secretly believing it will not happen,” Mandela once said. Does Israel’s current leadership truly believe in peace? Avigdor Lieberman and Naftali Bennett are on record as saying that they don’t. Netanyahu maintains that he does, though I can’t help looking for the fingers crossed behind his back whenever he says it.

Peace is both an abstract concept – “a winner is a dreamer who never gives up,” according to Mandela – and a very finite calculation of profit and loss. Peace means making compromises – and Mandela came perilously close to losing his base of support among South Africa’s blacks in compromising to the extent that he did. He was prepared to take significant risks in the interest of peace. Are Israel’s leaders prepared to do likewise?

Mandela was able to take risks and make compromises because he believed in what he was doing and he had a clear vision of the South Africa that could emerge. Addressing the court at the conclusion of his trial for treason in 1964, he said: “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

And there it is: one has to wonder what the Israeli leadership really wants. Hegemony? Over a billion Muslims, most of whom could care less whether Israel lives or dies, and a minority of whom want to destroy that nation?

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National Security Archives – All things nuclear Pakistan, South Africa, Brazil, China

pak nuke reactorNational Security Archives: Washington, D.C., April 23, 2013 – China was exporting nuclear materials to Third World countries without safeguards beginning in the early 1980s, and may have given Pakistan weapons design information in the early years of its clandestine program, according to recently declassified CIA records. The formerly Top Secret reports, published today by the National Security Archive and the Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, are the CIA’s first-ever declassifications of allegations that Beijing supported Islamabad’s nuclear ambitions.

The newly released records, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and Mandatory Declassification Review process, indicate growing U.S. concern from the 1960s to the early 1990s about the intentions of other embryonic or potential nuclear states, including Brazil, Argentina, South Africa and Libya. Among the disclosures in these reports:

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HIV rampant among South African schoolgirls

Country’s health minister says more than quarter of schoolgirls HIV positive, because “sugar daddies” exploiting them.

Al Jazeera, March 14

As many as 28 percent of South African schoolgirls are HIV positive, because older men are exploiting them, according to the country’s health minister.

Aaron Motsoaledi said on Thursday that four percent of schoolboys have the virus, proving it is “sugar daddies” who are responsible.

“It is clear that it is not young boys who are sleeping with these girls. It is old men,” the Sowetan newspaper quoted Motsoaledi as saying.

“We can no longer live like that,” he said.

A Perfect Place For Bloodythirsty NRA Members To Move To

To understand South Africa’s gun culture, it’s crucial to go back nearly two decades. In 1994, apartheid ended. The official system of racial segregation, in place since 1948, took rights away from black Africans and gave virtually all power in every aspect of life to whites.

For generations, violence born out of apartheid spawned a kind of arms race; blacks and whites fought against each other, and everyone else armed themselves, afraid to be caught in the cross fire.

Gun violence was at a record high as the country made its first effort to become what archbishop and peace crusader Desmond Tutu envisioned — a rainbow nation.

Sort of sounds familiar, doesn’t it? A waning white majority panicked over the rise of people of darker complexion purchases crates of guns to protect itself in an overheated paranoid delusion. Read More

New Video Shows South African Police Bragging About Mine Protest Killings

New video, made using a mobile phone, has surfaced in connection with the shooting of 34 miners in protests at the Marikana platinum mine in South Africa.

The new footage is thought to have been filmed by the police themselves and shows officers bragging about the killings.

The video goes on to show further shootings, undermining claims that the police fired in self-defense.

Here’s the Channel Four report.

ANC Chair: Israel “far worse than Apartheid South Africa”

South Africa’s ruling African National Conference, the political movement which fought apartheid and which was once led by Nelson Mandela, has backed the Palestinian-led campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel at its annual conference. During the debate, ANC Chairperson, Baleka Mbete said that she had been to Palestine herself and that the Israeli regime is not only comparable but “far worse than Apartheid South Africa.”

Source: Electronic Intifada

South African police unit prosecuted for fighting violence with thuggery

CSM, By Aislinn Laing

The elite South African police unit operating in Durban had previously won praise for its high arrest and conviction rates of dangerous criminals.

An elite South African police unit that has previously won praise for its high arrest and conviction rates of dangerous criminals is facing prosecution over accusations it was operating a death squad that executed suspects with impunity.

The Durban Violent and Organised Crime Unit, or Cato Manor police, as it is also known, is famous in the eastern seaside city for its high-speed car chases, energetic shootouts, and seemingly fearless operatives.

In a country like South Africa, whose violent crime rates continue to be among the highest in the world despite some gains in recent years, their tough stance was encouraged by politicians and police chiefs. They have spoken of a “shoot to kill” policy and encouraged officers threatened by gun-toting criminals to “take them to the nearest mortuary.”


Gloomy outlook ahead for South African economy

Mail & Guardian, Faranaaz Parker, October 11

Economists are pessimistic about the long-term impacts of the contagion of strikes that has seized the country these past few weeks. The rand dropped to a three-and-a-half-year low on Monday but on Wednesday, senior government officials gave mixed signals regarding the effect of the strike on the economy.

Speaking in Tokyo, where the International Monetary Fund and World Bank are meeting, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said while the strikes, combined with “gloomy news coming from Europe”, hurt the rand he was confident the currency would recover.

“I’m sure we’ll bounce back and get to some level of new normality,” he told Reuters.

Gordhan gave assurances government was “putting immense efforts to bring together the employer community, trade union movement and the government itself in order to stabilise the situation rapidly as possible.”

But on the same day Reserve Bank Governor Gill Marcus said the violent strikes in the mining sector and the killings at Marikana hurt the country’s international investment reputation. She pointed out the R5.6-billion in net equity market outflows on Monday as evidence of this.

“That’s an indicator of a loss of confidence. It’s a huge indicator for us of loss of confidence,” said Marcus, who described the outlook as “deteriorating rapidly”.

Wildcat strikes spread through the platinum belt after Lonmin agreed to a 22% wage hike with non-unionised workers last month. Mining companies have now begun to take a hardline stance towards the strikes, withImplats firing 12 000 workers last week, and Gold One and Bokoni following suit this week.