Friday, July 26 2019



‘Batchelor was my bud’: arrested PI breaks his silence

Investigator claims soccer hero came to him for help, as mourners say 'Batch' was trying to get off a bad path

Graeme Hosken
4 min read

From Bokkie to a Bok: Meet Herschel Jantjies’s very proud parents

They tell us about their joy last Saturday, and of how they brought up their son to be SA's new sports star

Aron Hyman
6 min read
Ideas FREE

Penny for my thoughts: the convicted racist was once my friend

When Penny Sparrow died of colon cancer on Thursday, writer Nivashni Nair was sad. She explains why

Nivashni Nair
3 min read



SKA’s first telescope is set to unleash an explosion of data

The 15m radio telescope can open a new window into how it all began

Dave Chambers
Cape Town bureau chief
3 min read

‘Callous’ car dealer meets its match as buyer of dud car fights back

He's won an important victory over them, but vows that his fight for justice is far from over

4 min read

Simply un-bee-lievable: firm stung by its Tango with the truth

Watchdog swats aside a Spanish plant breeder’s claim that its mandarins are ‘bee-friendly’

Dave Chambers
Cape Town bureau chief
1 min read

Breaking the chains of poverty with numbers and letters

A publishing house and a varsity have joined to help the children of Western Cape farm workers become literate

2 min read



A slow, sticky drop in time proves there are no happy endings

The world's longest-running continuous science experiment reminds us that speed isn't everything in life

4 min read
Ideas FREE

Every time Zuma hits the spy button his scapegoats get closer to home

He used to say these devils were in the CIA and ‘White Monopoly Capital’, now he’s finding them inside his office

Tom Eaton
4 min read


People cool off in the futuristically designed 'Badeschiff' (pool ship) on the Spree river in Berlin.
TOO COOL FOR NORMAL POOLS People cool off in the futuristically designed 'Badeschiff' (pool ship) on the Spree river in Berlin.
Image: Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch

Six things about SA you need to know

SABC pleads for ‘safe space’ for journos

The SABC has condemned threats directed at its journalists, saying they need a "safe space" in which to work without intimidation. The broadcaster said it was extremely concerned about "death threats" aimed at its reporters, and added that "political and corporate bullying" remained pervasive, some of it on social media. Phathiswa Magopeni, group executive of news and current affairs, said: "The continuing intimidation of our journalists, who are committed to delivering untrammeled news and current affairs content to the South African public, is in itself a threat to the public mandate, in as far as safeguarding and strengthening the country’s democracy through critical watchdog journalism.” SABC spokesperson Vuyo Mthembu said the response was prompted by threats made generally on Twitter and other social media platforms, and not because of specific instances of intimidation of any one journalist.

Robbers try to bite motorist’s hand for ring

In a bid to rob a motorist of his wedding ring, two armed men tried to bite his hand in the middle of Johannesburg’s rush-hour traffic. Duncan McLeod, founder and editor of TechCentral, said he was driving up Republic Road towards Randburg at about 6.45pm on Wednesday when he was attacked. Traffic was heavily backed up. He saw a man approach from the opposite side of the road and as he moved to wind up his window the man tried to grab the key. During the tussle an accomplice tried to snatch McLeod's cellphone, but McLeod fought him off. This man demanded his wedding ring. "I refused … and then the second accomplice went into the car and tried to bite my hand and I smacked him on the head. He pulled out a gun and pointed it at my head. "I … gave them my phone and wedding ring." The men fled.

Mayor’s aide collapses after drinking water

Acting Durban mayor Fawzia Peer's assistant, Hazel Pillay, was rushed to hospital on Thursday after she drank water and collapsed in her city hall office. Peer confirmed the incident, which occurred at about noon. She said she was not fully aware of the circumstances or whether Pillay had been drinking bottled water. "She was alone there [at the office]. She has been complaining and saying she's been feeling sick in this office," Peer said. A month ago Peer was taken to hospital after drinking water, allegedly tainted with paraffin, at a municipal council meeting. However, test results show there was nothing wrong with the water. Peer is acting in the place of Zandile Gumede, who was asked to take a leave of absence after being charged in relation to a R208m refuse-removal tender.

Hope for women in polygamous marriages

Government has moved a step closer towards legalising equal proprietary rights between men and women engaged in monogamous and polygamous customary marriages. This is according to Jackson Mthembu, the minister in the presidency, who told a post-cabinet meeting press conference in Cape Town that justice minister Ronald Lamola would soon be tabling proposed legislation in parliament aimed at ending gender-based discrimination in polygamous marriages entered into before 1998. Mthembu said the Recognition of Customary Marriages Amendment Bill of 2019 was now ready to be submitted to parliament for processing and approval, before it can be signed into law.

Thieves swipe 250 school computers

An NGO that deploys online English literacy programmes in underprivileged primary schools has called on the police to intensify its investigation into the spate of thefts of computers it has donated to Gauteng schools. The Click Foundation said on Thursday it had lost 258 laptops in robberies and burglaries in seven schools in Gauteng since the beginning of the year. There was also a burglary at a school in the Western Cape, where four computers were stolen. The foundation’s office manager, Sihle Khanyile, said the thefts were setting back their efforts to help pupils to learn. Khanyile said there were a number of requirements schools had to satisfy before the foundation could work with them – they needed a computer lab, an alarm system and a strongroom with a safe. The foundation arranged insurance for the laptops.

City Power hit by ransomware virus

Johannesburg's City Power confirmed on Thursday that it was the target of a ransomware virus that had encrypted its computer databases, applications and network. "The virus has attacked our database and other software, impacting most of our applications and networks," said City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena. He likened the incident to a "blackout" of their IT systems, adding that an IT team had been working since 1am on Thursday to fix the problem. "This has affected our customers' ability to vend, that is buying electricity, uploading invoices or accessing our website," Mangena said. "It may also affect our response to some outages, as the system to order and dispatch material is affected."


A man’s car was allegedly hijacked while he waited outside his girlfriend's house in Albertville, Johannesburg. He was later forced to withdraw a large amount of money, police said on July 18.



Today’s cryptic crossword

It's time to put your brain to work

1 min read

Today’s quick crossword

How fast can you get it done?

1 min read



Remains of the day: what Boris’s Leave-heavy cabinet tells us

It might risk Europhile enemies in the party, but Johnson’s new administration has a sense of energy and purpose

By Camilla Tominey
5 min read

Three, two, one … Virgin Galactic is ready to make history

We head to New Mexico to check out the world's only commercial spaceport as it prepares for its first paying passengers

By Harriet Alexander
9 min read

Make Germany great-grandmotherly: she’s 100 and new to politics

The centenarian says young people give her hope

4 min read

Soon topless sunbathing will be a distant mammary in France

MeToo hits the beach as a fear of leering looks forces women to opt out of topless tanning

By David Chazan
2 min read


Former special counsel Robert Mueller testifies before a hearing on the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 US election, on Capitol Hill.
MUELLER MULLS AN ANSWER Former special counsel Robert Mueller testifies before a hearing on the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 US election, on Capitol Hill.
Image: Reuters/Jim Bourg

6 things you need to know about the world

Flying Frenchman fished out of Channel

A daredevil French inventor crashed into the sea on Thursday in an attempt to fly across the Channel standing on a jet-powered "flyboard", wrecking for now his dream of becoming a new aviation pioneer. Franky Zapata, 40, a former jet-skiing champion, had to be fished out of the Channel by rescuers after falling into the clogged shipping lane between France and Britain during a tricky refuelling manouevre. But he was in good health and would soon try again, his entourage said. Zapata took off successfully from Sangatte in northern France and had planned to land in Britain around Dover after a flight of just 20 minutes. But the refuelling was always set to be one of the trickiest parts of the operation and Zapata made contact with the refuelling platform owing to the waves, forcing him into the sea. – AFP

Excuse me, is that a meteorite in your paddy?

A suspected meteorite the size of a football plunged into a rice field in eastern India, startling farmers, authorities said on Thursday. Onlookers said the light-brown object sent them fleeing from the field when it fell on their rural village on Wednesday afternoon, sending up smoke. "The farmers were working in the paddy field when this heavy rock fell from the sky with a very loud noise," Shirsat Kapil Ashok, the magistrate for Madhubani district in Bihar state, said. The villagers returned after the smoke subsided and pulled the rock out from its 1.2m-deep crater. "We saw it has very strong magnetic properties, some shine, and weighs around 15kg," Ashok added. The find is being analysed by scientists as a possible meteorite. – AFP

Woman killed daughter to ‘remove demons’

A California woman has been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for killing her three-year-old daughter, who was left in a hot car for nearly 10 hours to cleanse her of demons, officials said. Angela Phakhin had been convicted in June of the first-degree murder of Maiya and the sentence was pronounced last Friday, the district attorney's office in Sacramento said. Phakhin's fiance, Untwan Smith, has also been charged and is awaiting trial. The pair moved to California in February 2016 from Arkansas and were living in their car, authorities said. Over two weeks in June 2017 the couple subjected Maiya to extreme summer temperatures, they added. On one occasion she was left in the car for four-and-a-half hours and the next day for nine-and-a-half hours, which resulted in her death, prosecutors said. – AFP

White Walker ends profit winter …

The successful launch of a limited-edition Johnnie Walker whisky based on the supernatural White Walker from the TV series Game of Thrones helped Diageo boost profits, and the British spirits group announced on Thursday it will return billions of pounds to investors. Profits and sales at Diageo may not have been dead, but the White Walker helped them rise nonetheless, with net earnings climbing 4.6% to £3.16bn (R54bn) in the firm’s fiscal year that ended on June 30. Sales meanwhile increased 5.8% to £12.9. Among spirits, the sale of scotch whisky, which accounts for a quarter of the total, climbed by 6%. “Scotch growth was driven by Johnnie Walker, which delivered a strong performance with net sales up 7%, benefitting from the successful launch of ‘White Walker by Johnnie Walker’ inspired by the TV series Game of Thrones,” said Diageo. – AFP

… and execs are drunk on Westeros again

The first episode of a possible prequel series to Game of Thrones has completed filming in Belfast, says a network executive. HBO executives will review the episode before deciding whether to make a full season but Casey Bloys, president of programming at the network owned by AT&T, appeared upbeat. “It looks really good. The cast was amazing,” Bloys said at a Television Critics Association event where networks preview upcoming shows. With the series concluding its eight-season run in May, many fans are eager to return to the fictional world of Westeros created by author George RR Martin, although its final season was divisive, with fans and critics finding specific plot twists troubling. Nearly 1.7 million people signed a petition calling for a rewrite. Bloys said the backlash did not change the network’s approach to the prequel, which stars Naomi Watts and is set thousands of years before the events of Game of Thrones. - Reuters

What if the battleground doesn’t exist?

Chinese tanks at the border? False. Photo of a protester biting off a policeman’s finger? Misleading. In polarised Hong Kong, a fake-news fight for public opinion has become as crucial a battleground as the city streets. During weeks of violent pro-democracy protests, online rumours and conspiracy theories have sowed confusion and deepened distrust. From 2011 footage of South Korean soldiers misrepresented as an impending Chinese “invasion” to doctored photographs exaggerating the size of rallies, Hong Kong citizens have been bombarded with conflicting claims from both sides of the political divide. Footage of Chinese tanks claimed to have been sent “to suppress Hong Kongers and cause bloodshed” racked up more than 800,000 views on one Twitter account alone. Hong Kong authorities have been forced to repeatedly deny claims on social media, most recently that People’s Liberation Army soldiers had been brought in from the mainland to defend government buildings. - AFP



These are the questions about Eskom that need to be answered

The bailout isn't nearly enough to save the utility, so what else is the government planning to do?

By Bheki Mfeka
3 min read

Conservative Durban rolls out pink carpet for gay tourists

With a swelling legion of global LGBT travellers, KZN wants to tap into this market to boost its visitor numbers

By Chris Makhaye and Nce Mkhize
2 min read

Spur says full-year sales grew despite middle-class woes

Total franchised restaurant sales grew by 7.2% in the year to end June

By Nick Hedley
2 min read



The day Rutger Hauer changed films forever

Following his death, here is the back-story to his fabled 'tears in the rain' scene in 'Bladerunner'

By Ed Power
5 min read

Won’t you take us to the bioscope

The films opening in our cinemas this week

By Critics’ choice
2 min read



SPORTS DAY: Strongest packs picked for Bok-All Blacks clash

Your roundup of the sporting news of the day

David Isaacson
5 min read

Welcome to the future of SA cricket – the departing biltong brigade

Considering the sorry state of the local game, journeys like Cameron Delport’s will become commonplace

Telford Vice
4 min read

Blast from the past: Cockerels stun Boks in first SA foray

Today in SA sports history: July 26

By David Isaacson
1 min read