Today's Big Stories

Jordaan sworn in as PE mayor in the middle of #FifaGate swirl

Image: Mail and Guardian

Jordaan sworn in as PE mayor in the middle of #FifaGate swirl

The focus today has been largely on the corruption controversy swirling around world football body Fifa and around whether we as a country paid a bribe to host the 2010 World Cup. The claim is contained in an indictment lodged by American prosecuting authorities against top Fifa members. There has as yet not been confirmation of who in South Africa may have arranged for that bribe to be paid - and if it was explicitly a bribe. Meanwhile, the man who led our bid committee twice – who is the public face of the World Cup in South Africa – is Danny Jordaan and he has just been sworn in as mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro in Port Elizabeth. EWN's Siyabonga Sesant witnessed that ceremony in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth:

Mr Jordaan seemed upbeat when arrived in the hall earlier here in New Brighton, taking pictures with locals and laughing. At times, he did look a little preoccupied and a bit tired, looking like there were other things on his mind. He is just about leave now and has a flight to Johannesburg, then a flight later to Zurich.

Then in the last few minutes, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula has given his first official reaction to this scandal. EWN's Mia Lindeque was at a briefing Mbalula held at the headquarters of sports governing body Sascoc in Houghton, Joburg:

Mbalula has started off right away saying that everything was above board and that the South African government International Relations Department to ask for the indictment, because they don't even know if the South African government has been mentioned in this indictment. Mbalula says they would want to conduct their own investigation after studying the indictment, as this scandal could have the potential to implicate the reputation of the country.

Meanwhile, one of the people associated with the bid – and with the hosting of the tournament here - was Raymond Hack: the Former Chief Executive Officer of the South African Football Association (Safa), who also sat on the 2010 Fifa World Cup Board of Directors. Hack is in Zurich at the moment:

I can only sure about things as far as my organisation Safa was concerned. But when you talk about a $10 million bribe, when we wouldn't have had anything close to R100 million at the time, because we didn't even have a budget at the time for this bid. We presented our bid document for 2006, lost out for that and then we re-presented for the 2010 bid, we were successful and we hosted the best World Cup.

There has also been a video statement released overnight by Jack Warner – the man who it is claimed received a bribe for making sure that we hosted the World Cup in 2010. Warner has denied doing anything wrong:

EWN Sports Editor, Jean Smyth on Warner:

He's a hugely significant figure in the middle of all this, and this statement shows him desperately trying to distance himself from this. He was the President of the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football and a former Vice-President of Fifa and the indictment notes that there has been 24 years of endemic corruption throughout his tenure.

Nhleko mulling over Nkandla

The Police Ministry now says that its Minister Nathi Nhleko is going to finally release his findings on whether President Jacob Zuma should repay any of the money spent on his home at Nkandla - in about an hours' time. Nhleko was due to release it on Wednesday evening before that announcement was postponed at the last minute. EWN Parliament's Gaye Davis:

I'm not sure if political party leaders have it yet, but my guess is that Nhleko may have brought this briefing forward to 1:30 - as it was first set for this evening - is because he wants to have a first say on it before the opposition parties get to have a say on it.

Wednesday evening also saw President Zuma himself speaking about Nkandla in Parliament, spending much of that time ripping off opposition parties:

Alternative materials for Joburg manholes

News this morning is that the Joburg Roads Agency (JRA) is now replacing manhole covers with non-metal covers because the metal ones are being stolen so regularly. JRA's Acting MD, Mpho Kau:

These get stolen continuously throughout the year and it's intensified in recent years. These new manholes are made of alternative materials without street value, including plastic and polymers. These are robust and have been tested in different parts of the city and their durability has been tested. We have been benchmarking ourselves against a number of international cities and we even visited Sydney in Australia last year.

Cost-effective, life-saving skin transplants

There has been a report in The Times this morning about a new skin graft technique that has been developed here that has already saved the lives of two burn victims. Plastic surgeon, Dr Wayne Kleintjes:

The technique is similar to other skin graft techniques. But this won't use any animal products and is the most cost-effective way of growing skin. I didn't think it would work because we were in a desperate situation with a patient who had been in ICU for three months. We came across a product called Epicell, but there was a ban on the product and I called our hospital's ethics committee and asked if we could take the risk ourselves. After we tried this, the patient was out of the ICU in the space of a week.

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