Today's Big Stories

Dropping of charges leaves Guptagate wide open

Guptagate wide open: Tuesday afternoon reports confirmed that charges against two air force officers accused of arranging for the Gupta family to land a plane carrying wedding guests at Waterkloof Air Force Base have now been withdrawn. In April 2013, EWN broke the story that a plane had landed at Waterkloof and that led to promises of strong action from government and a claim that those responsible would be held accountable for this. During the investigation by an inter-ministerial task team, the chair of that team – Presidency Minister Jeff Radebe - said that justice must be done and must be seen to be done. One of the people who condemned the landing at the time was Cosatu General Secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi:

We will want to know the circumstances under which the charges are being withdrawn from those two senior officials, because maybe that's where we'll know what the story is all about from there.

Cop arrest: in EWN bulletins this morning, exclusive confirmation that a senior police official has been arrested after 750 rounds of illegal ammunition was found at his home. EWN Senior Correspondent Alex Eliseev broke this story:

This is one of those double-edged stories where on the one hand you have a very senior police official that's been in charge of firearms, is suddenly arrested, which means that intelligence is working and getting people arrested. Of concern on the other hand is how firearms and ammunition is finding itself from the police service into the underworld.

Meanwhile, National Police Commissioner, General Riah Phiyega spoke to 702’s John Robbie about this issue and about other issues facing the police service, including claims that she is unfit to lead it:

I want to say to you John, we are working very hard. I am not under pressure - I hear the noise being made by the unions in the newspapers. I respect editorials and as a lay person believe that they are highly considered pieces of work, but that report left me asking 'what is happening to the quality of reporting in the country.

EWN Senior Correspondent Alex Eliseev on Phiyega's comments:

I personally find it very difficult to hear her saying that she isn't under pressure, because her's is a political appointment, so there is pressure from that side and also from the unions. We've seen a trend of them coming up against her and public pressure that's fed through the media, especially with Marikana, Andries Tatane, the situation at the Hawks, the shuffle that's happening at SAPS Gauteng. All of that is playing out, but you do need to balance all of these out with the fact that Riah Phiyega is doing a lot inside the organisation, a lot of operational work that we don't see. This is the year that are going to have to start seeing a lot of the positive work that she does.

Looting in Soweto: there is still a big police presence in Soweto this lunchtime after several shops owned by foreign nationals were looted overnight, following the shooting of a teenager was shot in Doornkop. EWN Correspondent, Thando Kubheka:

The situation currently here is calm and could probably be attributed to most people being at work and most children at school. The shop owner who is from Ethiopia, now fears for his life and says he suspects that those who looted his shop were under the influence of nyaope. The shop owner is still in shock and still shaking.

Coastal schools open: there've been mixed situations as coastal schools started their school year. EWN Correspondent in Cape Town, Siyabonga Sesant:

Some of the schools are ready and the Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer was also in attendance at one of the schools. At a school in Khayelitsha - the Joe Slovo School - there was a break in there recently, with 8 classes broken into, which disrupted classes because the school was waiting for the police to arrive.

Focus on Davos: in Switzerland, the World Economic Forum is starting its first day of deliberations, where the great and the good of the business world are meeting to discuss the global economy. Money Show Host, Bruce Whitfield:

Terrorism is very high on the agenda, global growth and worry is also very high for Europe. The idea is to get real foreign investment for real growth and in reality, all it does is spread inequality. Many experts argue that inequality is made worse by central banks, with financial markets running really hard and the inequality gap increasing, with the 1% - very well represented out here - getting richer.

Meanwhile, in the Business Day, University of Pretoria Political Economy Professor Lorenzo Fioramonti has written a piece in which he says that South Africa needs to consider the redistribution of resources - in other words, that it needs to reduce inequality:

Yes, the WEF has noted rising income inequality as the first trend to look at for 2015. Inequality in general is a global issue generally. South Africa and the South African leadership should dedicate time to come together and think creatively to have an honest debate about how to get address inequality.

King Mswati's fields vs books: more reports have emerged about what now seems to be official confirmation that the school year in Swaziland is going to start a week later, because King Mswati III wants children to work in his fields. Chair of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (Gain), Jay Naidoo:

I think it's scandalous in this 21st first century that we have a monarchy that treats it's servants in this way. We should be taking a stand on this issue that we won't tolerate - in our region of the SADC - this kind of behavior! This is an example of modern-day slavery and from the perspective of government and us as citizens, we should be taking a stand on this. We should send a very clear message to King Mswati that this is unacceptable and goes against the principles of human rights at the UN and that there are consequences for such actions.

Boko's onslaught: more reports this morning that terror group Boko Haram is threatening the borders of Nigeria’s neighbours and that it could start to launch more attacks in Cameroon. Executive Director of the Institute for Security Studies, Dr Jakkie Cilliers:

The situation is very worrying. Nigeria is a giant in Africa, it's the most important country in the region, and it's been unable to control the situation, to the extent where regional forces are now being called on to take it back to it's importance in the region. Cameroon is a country that's contending with a lot of corruption, but Nigeria is a country that doesn't spend as much as they do on defence materials. We assume that most of it is captured - there was a multi-national force in Baga on Lake Chad - and it seems that they have been capturing resources.

Extra-terrestrial communication?: reports note that a series of radio signals have been picked up by astronomers that seem to emanate from unknown sources light years away from us. Founder of the Cederberg Astronomical Observatory, Bill Hollenbach:

What we are detecting at the radio observatories is incredibly strong, bursts of radio - at about 60 milliseconds - that are polarised, and coming from space. Because the amount of power being radiated by the source is approximately equivalent to the energy radiated by the sun in one day, I do not think there's any little 'green men' that are sitting and emitting a sort of morse code out there!

This article first appeared on 702 : Dropping of charges leaves Guptagate wide open



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