Today's Big Stories

Statues and Symbols Movements - Rhodes has fallen, is Louis Botha next?

The statue of Louis Botha outside Parliament in Cape Town (Pic: Thomas Holder/EWN)

First Rhodes, now Louis Botha: statues, symbols

A Wednesday evening decision taken by the Council of the University of Cape Town (UCT) was to remove its statue of Cecil John Rhodes. The statue has been the focus of anger and frustration and has sparked a national debate about the status of our symbols and statues. This has led to some statues being defaced and protests in Pretoria on Wednesday to keep the statue of Paul Kruger where it is in Church Square. Just this morning, it has emerged that the statue of Louis Botha outside Parliament has been defaced. Chairperson of the UCT's Council, Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane:

Firstly, this is a responsiveness to the cry of the students who have been saying that we need to accelerate transformation in our university and the removal of the statue of CJ Rhodes would indicate our seriousness. Secondly, we've got to look at the symbols that characterise our history - how do we transform and characterise ourselves within this history? They definitely haven't shown leadership (Arts and Culture Dept), but not only the Arts and Culture (Department), but all of us as citizens, we all need to move together and drive the agenda of transformation.

At the start of all of this was a photograph that showed UCT student Chumani Maxwele pouring faeces onto the statue of Cecil John Rhodes:

We must address the question of anger - I was not angry; you are reducing the passion of black people to anger. It's not about me - the question is 'how does South Africa feel?', 'how do UCT students feel?'. And I think that we are all feeling great, because for the first time, black people have spoken and have been heard. While Archbishop Ndungane says that the Arts and Culture Dept hasn't shown leadership, he also hasn't shown leadership himself. What is notable is that the Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price said that this issue was never put forward as an agenda item, notwitstanding the fact that the Archbishop has been at UCT for 10 years! We also want a commitment for call that we will check that by next year, that we have 50% of black South African professors here.

SA state visit sees Mugabe lash out at the West

A series of comments by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe on Wednesday during his official state visit included that the media should not tarnish President Jacob Zuma, that South Africa is Zimbabwe’s closest friend and that he is grateful we have accommodated so many Zimbabweans who are living here. EWN Africa's Jean-Jacques Cornish:

It was showmanship at its best and they've just now kicked off a business forum. President Zuma gave a speech about how the new generation wants to follow on with the struggle by gaining economic power. Mugabe also had a go at the US over the recent shooting of a black man in a democratic society, France and their banks.

Accelerated xenophobic attacks in KZN

A comment in EWN bulletins this morning by the KwaZulu-Natal MEC Transport Community Liaison and Safety, Willies Mchunu is that his government is currently protecting nearly 300 foreign nationals after they were attacked by South Africans in Isipingo. MEC Mchunu's Spokersperson, Sipho Khumalo:

It's been very difficult to trace what triggered this unfortunate attack. There was a strike by South African workers at a shopping centre outside Umlazi and during the strike, the shopping centre used the services of our Congolese brothers and sisters; this didn't sit well with the strikers. There were about 200+ of them parked outside a police station in Isipingo recently. Councillors have been meeting with provincial leadership, to work towards the reintegration of our African brothers and sisters.

Medupi construction stalled with strike action

More reports this morning that members of the metal workers union Numsa have been locked out of the giant Medupi building site where they are supposed to be constructing a new power station. Head of Collective Bargaining at Numsa, Steve Nhlapo:

Workers are employed to build the power station, whereas Eskom have been locking them out of the power station - there's been a lot of confusion there. Who do you speak to at Eskom, when there is no leadership there? As we speak, there's no construction taking place - there are meetings right now - and it's not only Numsa workers that are taking part in this; it's all labourers, trying to understand the situation, where one day they are suspended, the next they are reinstated. No one knows what is going on.

Peters' comments on-the-spot driver checks

A comment by Transport Minister Dipou Peters on Wednesday is that she wants to create a system where Metro Police would be able to randomly stop a driver and re-test whether they can in fact drive. Transport Department Spokesperson, Tiyani Rikhotso:

It's important to provide some clarity on the statement: the point she's emphasising is that we've got a sizeable number of people out there with driver's licences, but the way in which they obtained them is questionable. Adequate training and examination is one that needs to be addressed and this is what is under discussion now at the National Government level and we'll decide on implementation with provinces. Whatever method we come up with should be practically implementable, without making major incoveniences to the system.

Traditional healer registration deadline looms

There is now only a few weeks to go until the deadline for traditional healers to register themselves with a Traditional Healers’ Council, but The Times newspaper suggests this morning that the Council in fact doesn’t appear to exist. General Secretary of the National Unitary Professional Association for African Traditional Health Practitioners of South Africa, Solly Nduku:

The process of registering - as much as the dates might have been pronounced by the Council - still has to be communicated to our members and I doubt that the Council is in a state of readiness, in terms of the roll out. In terms of timelines and their action plans, I don't think that reaching this deadline is realistic.

The search for Extra-Terristrial life

A claim this week from NASA chief scientist Dr Ellen Stofan is that she believes we will find evidence of life on other planets or in space within the next twenty to thirty years. Advanced amateur astronomer, Bill Hollenbach:

The 'little green men' will take quite a bit longer. What Nasa is doing is they will be sending multi-tube probes and they will be going to the ice marines of Jupiter. There is enough water in the area to have a greenhouse for these elements to form basic forms of bacteria. What is likely is we will find bacteria.

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