Today's Big Stories

Madonsela CIA spy claims driving towards suspension

Pic: Mabuti Kali/TimesLive

'I am prepared to take this to court' - Madonsela

A comment made this morning by the Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela is she says that the reason the State Security Agency may be investigating claims that she’s a spy for the CIA could be to create a situation in which she can be suspended. Ten days ago, the Agency said in public it was investigating claims on a website that Madonsela, Amcu leader Joseph Mathunjwa, former DA MP Lindiwe Mazibuko and EFF leader Julius Malema were spies. The site does not give any proof of the claims. This morning, Stephen Grootes spoke to Madonsela, asking her if she had communicated with the State Security Agency about it's investigation:

We haven't communicated with them yet. I am still shocked that the government would investigate the allegations. What we would have expected would have been an investigation into the crime. To elevate that to something that needs to be investigated, where people are slandered, is shocking. When we look at things and it's not accompanied by anything that's worth following, we don't follow it. I could go to court; one of the reasons I don't want to be investigated by these people is that the people claimed to have been requested by the security agencies to dig these things about me. I wouldn't have requested those implicated by the rumours to be investigated. I don't know what the motives are, but I do know that there was a push - through what people were saying on Twitter - to ask for an investigation (around Nkandla). The other thing is that people want a legitimate excuse to follow my investigation. Yes, I am prepared to take this court because this is defamatory and an attempt to undermine my office.

Chabane Three-accused appears in court

In Polokwane, the man driving the truck involved in the car accident that saw Public Service and Administration Minister Collins Chabane killed on Saturday night has now appeared in caught. EWN's Govan Whittles reflects on Amukelani Rikhotso's first court appearance:

He seemed very aware of the media and public interest in the case. He sat quietly for the proceedings which were over in the space of five minutes; it three counts of culpable homicide and one for driving under the influence. There hasn't been a charge for reckless and negligent driving levelled against him as yet. We have since learnt that Rikhotso is from Giyani and works for a construction company.

Indepedent Media on Zille non-renewal talk

Western Cape Premier and DA leader Helen Zille has hit back at strong criticism from the ANC and the SA National Editors Forum (Sanef) on her provincial government’s decision to not renew its subscriptions to the Cape Times newspaper. The ANC said it amounted to censorship, while Sanef said she should have taken up the issue with the paper’s editor. Chief-of-Staff at Independent Media, Zenariah Barends:

We've been quite shocked by this decision by the Western Cape government. In our view, this is an abuse of power, where they are trying to dictate who should be reading the paper. For us, this also the subject of academic study on media freedom. Anybody can decide to stop buying a product, a newspaper, but for us, it's interesting that she's chosen to make this a very public letter, starting with an open letter to our chairman in January, instead of using the available channels to address issues. The issue of quality is a red herring, a distraction; if there are concerns on quality, there are channels to raise this in. This is a public attack on the Independent Group.

CJ Rhodes statue at UCT could be moved

At the University of Cape Town, there have been more angry scenes as the institution debates claims of racism within it and the presence of the statue of Cecil John Rhodes in one of its main display areas. UCT Vice-Chancellor, Dr Max Price:

We have not decided yet (whether to remove the CJ Rhodes statue). While there have been numerous protests over the years, there hasn't been a formal process on this matter as yet. We do need to accelerate this decision now, given recent protests, and there will be an urgent council meeting in April. But in the run up, we want to ensure to give space for those who want it to be moved to have it moved and balance it with those who don't think it should be moved. It's also not about airbrushing history: I don't think it should be destroyed in my view, it should be put in a different place, because it is currently at a focal point right now, sending a whole lot of messages which aren't what the university is about. This is more about the positioning of the statue.

Panic in property owner market

A report in The Times this morning suggests that many people are buying a house for the first time only because they’re scared that prices will be too high later. FNB Property Analyst, John Loos:

First-time buyer make up 25% of the total buying market, which is a strong number and just over a third suffer from a panic that if they don't buy now, it will get more expensive in the future. This is probably the function of a stronger market. I think some people make the mistake of over-commitment on houses, you rather want to buy within your means, and not buying a home that's too expensive with high running costs.

SA-US diplomatic nuclear tussle

A story published in the Washington Post this week quotes letters written by US President Barack Obama to President Jacob Zuma that say that our nuclear material at Pelindaba is not being stored safely. The correspondence also asks President Zuma to transfer the material to the US. In the letters, the President refuses to transfer that material, saying it belongs to South Africa. Group Executive Corporate Services at NECSA (South African Nuclear Energy Corporation), Xolisa Mabhongo:

It's actually bizarre they should be concerned, this has been happening also with President Mbeki, President Bush. What they should worry about are the positive stock piles as a threat to the world, held in the US. What South Africa holds is nothing compared to the US and other countries around the world. We were the first country to voluntarily dismantle nuclear weapons; we only use nuclear materials for nuclear purposes. We are now the second biggest producer of medical isotopes, behind Canada, for medical purposes. Thirdly, we were the only country in the world to prosecute those that held nuclear weapons. So South Africa does these things, but there is no acknowledgement of these things.

US policy expert and Associate Editor at the Daily Maverick, Brookes Spector:

On the South African side, there's a sense of wounded national pride that someone would want to relieve a country of rich uranium material. There was that subtle shift from the rich uranium material for making the medical isotopes and the current medical isotopes now have to be made from watered down uranium.

Tension mounts ahead of Proteas showdown

In Sydney, the Proteas are now just hours away from their crucial ICC Cricket World Cup quarter final match against Sri Lanka. Cricket analyst, Neil Manthorp:

Even those who weren't born when SA lost it's first knock out match in 1992 are all in anticipation. Maybe AB de Villiers cancelled training today to get their minds off cricket, they went for a swim - is this is a good thing or a bad thing? Are they aware of the pressure? They are a tremendous side! They have a wonderful batting line up (Sri Lanka), so they are trying as hard as they can to treat it like just another game.

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