Denel to claw back Mahumapelo bursary
State arms maker Denel has launched proceedings to recover a bursary worth more than R1m that was allocated to former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo’s son, Oarabile, to become a pilot. This comes after an investigation by Denel’s board found the bursary was illegally awarded. The finding was presented on Wednesday before parliament’s public enterprises committee by Talib Sadik, the chairperson of the audit committee at Denel. Sadik said the committee found that Oarabile’s bursary was not advertised in line with the parastatal’s policy and it had not been approved by their group bursary committee. Sadik also said the air school Oarabile was attending was not an approved study institution in terms of the Denel bursary policy. The bursary had been terminated and the matter referred to the police for criminal investigation, while the Special Investigating Unit had been asked to launch civil proceedings to recover the money from the Mahumapelos.
ANC backs Mkhwebane over fitness to hold office
ANC MPs rallied around public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and dismissed a request by DA chief whip John Steenhuisen to expedite a process to remove her from office. The national assembly's justice committee instead adopted an ANC resolution that it was premature to institute an investigation into Mkhwebane's fitness to hold office, and therefore dismissed Steenhuisen's request. The matter was put to a vote after about 90 minutes of debate on Wednesday. Steenhuisen wrote to speaker Baleka Mbete earlier this year requesting an inquiry into Mkhwebane's fitness to hold office. He cited a number of court findings against the protector. MPs argued that while they respected court rulings against Mkhwebane, those findings were not sufficient reasons to institute an inquiry into her fitness to hold office. The DA’s James Selfe said it was appalling for the ANC to reject Steenhuisen's request.
Fear staved off Day Zero in CT: study
Fearmongering did more to stave off Cape Town’s Day Zero than water restrictions. This is one of the main findings of a study by researchers from Stellenbosch University and the University of Cape Town, published in the journal Water Research. “Our findings suggest that Capetonians responded more strongly to the threat of waterless taps than to the implemented levels of water restrictions,” said Professor Thinus Booysen from the electrical and electronic engineering department at Stellenbosch University. Booysen, who did the study with economists Martine Visser (UCT) and Ronelle Burger (Stellenbosch), said on Wednesday: “Our study seems to indicate that while inciting some level of fearmongering may have been a risky strategy for the City of Cape Town to undertake, it may have been the single most successful intervention in changing Capetonians’ behaviour as far as water usage is concerned.”
Scrolls worth millions ruined in synagogue fire
Torah scrolls worth several million rand were destroyed in a fire at a Cape Town synagogue, the congregation's rabbi said on Wednesday. Sam Thurgood, the rabbi at the Arthurs Road synagogue, said five handwritten scrolls were destroyed or damaged in Tuesday night's fire, which started just before 11pm. It caused the collapse of the roof at the former Dutch church building, which was converted into a synagogue about 60 years ago. Thurgood said that while the cause of the fire was unknown, arson was not suspected. He also denied that Hannukah candles had been left burning inside the shul. Most of the damage was in the synagogue’s sanctuary, or ark, where congregants pray and where the Torah scrolls were kept. It is believed the fire started there. A Torah scroll is the holiest book in Judaism. “We still have a remnant of one of the scrolls, but the other four were burnt completely," said Thurgood.
‘Embarrassing’ load-shedding hits parliament
Power cuts hit parliament at 10.01am on Wednesday in Cape Town. It is unusual for the legislative seat of government to experience the power cuts being rolled out across the country. When the power went off MPs in the justice portfolio committee were considering the DA’s request to expedite the process of removing public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane from office. “This is embarrassing,” said one MP. Another asked the media in jest not to report on the power outage. But generators kicked in almost immediately at the building at 120 Plein Street, where the committee was meeting. The building is one of five that are declared national key points in the parliamentary precinct.
Miguel Louw’s ‘killer’ arrested
Mohammed Ebrahim, the alleged kidnapper of Durban schoolboy Miguel Louw, has been arrested for the child's murder. A butcher by profession, Ebrahim was arrested several days after the boy disappeared in July, but he was released on bail after facing charges of kidnapping. He appeared in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday after he was charged with murder. Louw’s decomposed remains were found in September in Phoenix, less than 100m from Ebrahim’s family home. He entered Miguel’s life as an acquaintance of the boy's mother, Raylene. The two worked at the same butchery. Ebrahim lived with Miguel and his mother at their Sydenham home for two weeks before mother and lodger had an altercation. When he was first arrested‚ he was found in possession of Miguel’s original birth certificate and Raylene’s identity document.