News South Africa: Today’s latest news and headlines, Thursday 17...

South Africa: Today’s latest news and headlines, Thursday 17 September


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Stay up to date with all the latest news in South Africa by reviewing the day’s biggest headlines on Thursday 17 September.

While President Cyril Ramaphosa has revealed that South Africa will move to Level 1 lockdown at midnight on Sunday 20 September, with restrictions on travel and alcohol sales being afforded a reprieve, serious questions still loom over government’s inability to crack down on coronavirus-related corruption.


Level 1 lockdown: Light at the end of the tunnel

South Africa will soon be moving to a lighter level of lockdown, as confirmed by President Ramaphosa during a national address on Wednesday night. The latest announcement, which is to be followed by numerous regulatory reprieves, comes after almost six months of varying lockdown levels since late March.

The move to Level 1 lockdown, supported by the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, is a result of South Africa’s dwindling caseload, with medical experts deeming the surge to have been surpassed in mid-August. The danger of a ‘second wave’ of infections still remains and, as such, government will not be taking the country ‘back to normal’ just yet.

Major changes announced by President Ramaphosa include the lightening of the night-time curfew, opening up to international travel — albeit with strict measures in place — and increased operating hours of liquor outlets.

ANC members who misused state resources face criminal charges

Eight members of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), who led a delegation to Zimbabwe last week and, in the process, misused National Defence Force (SANDF) resources, could be gripped by the long arm of the law.

This comes after Kobus Marais, the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Shadow Minister of Defence, laid criminal charges against the Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu, Secretary-General Ace Magashule, Nomvula Mokonyane, Tony Yengeni, the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Enoch Godongwana, Dakota Legoete and ANC Chairperson Gwede Mantashe.

Magashule, who, upon the delegation’s arrival back to South Africa, denied that the party had abused state resources by chartering a military plane was later forced to eat his words when the ANC admitted that it had done wrong. The ruling party vowed to repay government for costs incurred during the excursion. Marais argued that while the reimbursement was a positive note, it would not mitigate legal consequences for breaking lockdown regulations, saying:

“Just like ordinary South Africans who now bear the burden of potential criminal records for breaking lockdown regulations, the ANC delegates who undertook this illegal trip in an Airforce jet, must face the legal consequences. They admitted to a crime and must now face criminal charges.”

President Ramaphosa may face motion of no confidence

President Ramaphosa may soon face a motion of no confidence in Parliament. The African Transformation Movement (ATM) has written to the Speaker of Parliament, requesting that the president be held to account for “failing South Africans”. The party, which holds just two seats in Parliament, listed Ramaphosa’s failures as:

  • Rising irregular expenditure among state owned enterprises
  • “Lying” about the load shedding situation
  • Poor economic growth and dwindling GDP
  • A rise in corruption, inequality and unemployment
  • Porous borders with neighbouring countries
  • A rise in gender-based violence

The party added that Ramaphosa’s response to the pandemic and lockdown further warranted a motion of no confidence.

George Bizos laid to rest

Legendary human rights lawyer, George Bizos, who defended numerous anti-apartheid activists, most notably, Nelson Mandela, will be laid to rest today after passing away at age 92 on 9 September. President Ramaphosa declared that Bizos be honoured with a Special Official Funeral Category 1.

Bizos’ funeral service will take place at the Greek Orthodox Church in Johannesburg, followed by the burial at Westpark Cemetery in Randburg.

Ramaphosa described Bizos as one of ‘best legal minds’, adding:

“He was also one of the architects of our constitution and contributed immensely and he will sorely be missed and we dip our head in honour of the contribution that George Bizos has made to our democracy. We will forever remember his contribution.”


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