The great spook purge ‘aimed at Zuma loyalists’
The minister of state security has ordered a re-vetting of all intelligence officials in a bid to root out spies accused of looting the slush fund of up to R1bn. But insiders at the State Security Agency say the exercise is nothing but a purge of spooks deemed loyal to former director-general Arthur Fraser and, by extension, former president Jacob Zuma. In a terse communiqué to staff on Tuesday Dipuo Letstatsi-Duba announced she would be re-vetting all agents using the intelligence divisions of the SA Police Service and the SA National Defence Force. This was due to “recent developments in the SSA, which border on serious misconduct and ill-discipline by intelligence officers”. The misconduct “borders on a serious security risk and threatens the integrity of the institution”. She said she took the drastic decision when staff revolted at plans to change the management and reporting lines at the agency.
Ex-cop arrested over rape suspect’s escape
A former police constable has been arrested for allegedly helping a suspected rapist escape from custody in Wolmaransstad, North West, police said on Sunday. Lieutenant Colonel Adele Myburgh said the 38-year-old ex-constable was arrested by the provincial organised crime unit on Friday. In August, Johannes Batsibile was arrested after he was linked to 28 cases of rape and one case of murder. Myburgh said it was believed that Batsibile was a friend of the ex-constable from Wolmaransstad. The former constable allegedly helped Batsibile escape from the town's holding cells. The escape was shortlived as he was re-arrested shortly afterwards. The ex-constable is expected to appear in the Wolmaransstad Magistrate's Court on Monday.
‘Bird Island’ author Minnie’s death ruled suicide
The preliminary investigation into the death of co-author of controversial book The Lost Boys of Bird Island, Mark Minnie, shows his death was a suicide. Minnie‚ 58‚ was found dead on August 13 with a gunshot wound to the head on a friend’s smallholding in Theescombe, Port Elizabeth. Former policeman Minnie and journalist Chris Steyn wrote the book, which implicated high-ranking National Party cabinet ministers and a businessman in the abuse of young boys during the 1980s. The gun found lying next to Minnie’s body was owned by his friend and former colleague, Brent Barnes. Forensic results confirmed that gunshot residue was found on Minnie’s hands and clothing, as well as on the firearm. Police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu said the forensic results confirmed suicide. A police handwriting expert also confirmed the suicide note was written by Minnie. “Chrissy‚ don’t give up now‚” Minnie wrote to Steyn in what he called his “last piece of writing”.
Cash-strapped varsities pay bosses huge salaries
Cash-strapped universities have cut spending, but the executives who run them are pocketing multimillion-rand salaries. Of SA’s 26 universities, 19 have disclosed the 2017 annual salaries of their vice-chancellors. They range from R2.5m to R4.5m. Stellenbosch University vice-chancellor Wim de Villiers tops the list. His R4.5m included a R30,000 bonus. Close behind was former University of Venda head Peter Mbati, who pocketed R4.2m. Former University of Johannesburg vice-chancellor Ihron Rensburg received R17.6m last year, the final year of his 10-year tenure. Of this, R13.7m was in retention incentives accumulated over the 10 years, which works out to an average annual incentive of R1.3m. The salaries and perks paid out to some vice-chancellors - the academic world’s equivalent of CEOs - have sparked calls for the department of higher education to investigate.
Guard one of 7 held for fire-hit building
City Power security officers arrested seven suspects for cable theft early on Sunday morning in Johannesburg's inner city. The officers are part of teams deployed to protect the critical underground tunnels in the CBD that house valuable equipment, including cables that ensure the city has power all the time, said City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena. "City Power security spotted a suspicious Hyundai truck near Helen Joseph Street and attempted to stop it. The truck driver did not stop but sped off. The officers gave chase and the vehicle finally stopped around Braamfontein," he said. Seven suspects were arrested in possession of 48m of 120×4 core copper cable, two flat-screen TVs and 136 circuit breakers. "The suspects stated that they stole the items at the Bank of Lisbon, the building that burnt in Johannesburg two months ago," said Mangena. One of the suspects is a security guard from Mjayeli security services who was deployed at the same building, he said.
Soweto author Tlali honoured by Google
Late author Miriam Tlali, who was named as an icon of the acclaimed series 21 ICONS South Africa, an annual collection of photographs and short films of South Africans who have reached the pinnacle of achievement in their respective fields, has been honoured by Google in SA. Born on November 11 1933 in Doornfontein, Johannesburg, Tlali grew up in Sophiatown. Her family was forcefully removed to Moroka, Soweto, in 1962. She later lived in the same house. Tlali, who died in 2017, was the first black woman in SA to publish a novel, Muriel at Metropolitan, a semi-autobiography which was based on her time as a clerk at a furniture store in downtown Johannesburg during the height of apartheid. She was also the author of the critically acclaimed Amandla, which reflected on the 1976 student uprising.