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Mar 19, 2014

South Africa watchdog: Zuma benefitted from ‘excessive’ $23 million home makeover

PRETORIA (Reuters) – President Jacob Zuma benefitted “unduly” from a $23 million state-funded security upgrade to his home that included a cattle enclosure and an amphitheatre, South Africa’s corruption watchdog said on Wednesday in a damning report six weeks before an election.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela accused Zuma of conduct “inconsistent with his office” and said he should repay a reasonable part of the unnecessary renovations, which also included a chicken run and a swimming pool that had been justified as “fire-fighting equipment”.

Mar 19, 2014

South Africa’s Zuma slammed for $23 million home makeover

PRETORIA (Reuters) – South African President Jacob Zuma “benefitted unduly” from a $23 million state-funded security upgrade to his private home that included a swimming pool, cattle enclosure and amphitheatre, the public protector said on Wednesday.

In a damning report released six weeks before an election, South Africa’s top anti-corruption watchdog accused Zuma of conduct “inconsistent with his office” and said he should repay a reasonable part of the cost of the unnecessary renovations.

Mar 19, 2014

South Africa’s Zuma faces ‘fire pool’ graft ruling

PRETORIA (Reuters) – A South African anti-corruption watchdog unveils a report on Wednesday on a $21 million state-funded “security upgrade” to President Jacob Zuma’s private home that a newspaper says included a swimming pool and cattle enclosure.

If Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s long-awaited findings concur with leaked excerpts in the Mail and Guardian daily, they could damage the scandal-plagued Zuma and the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in an election only six weeks away.

Mar 4, 2014

Pistorius gets emotional at graphic evidence

PRETORIA (Reuters) – Oscar Pistorius buried his head in his hands and wiped away tears after a South African court on Tuesday heard grisly details of the killing of his girlfriend, the first sign of emotion from the track star in his two-day murder trial.

The Olympian and Paralympian has been largely impassive during the trial for the murder of model and law graduate Reeva Steenkamp in his suburban Pretoria home on Valentine’s Day last year. Pistorius has pled not guilty, saying he shot Steenkamp through a toilet door after mistaking her for an intruder.

Mar 4, 2014

Judge in Pistorius case warns media over leaked photo

PRETORIA (Reuters) – The judge in the murder trial of South African track star Oscar Pistorius warned the media to behave on Tuesday after a local television station leaked a photo of the state’s first witness, who had asked that her image not be broadcast.

The warning was one several dramatic moments in the trial’s second day that saw a distraught Pistorius bury his head in his hands when the court heard details from the post mortem of his slain girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.

Feb 28, 2014

“Blade Runner” Pistorius faces day in court

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius will stand in a Pretoria dock on Monday to face a charge of murdering his girlfriend, opening the decisive chapter in the story of the rise and fall of one of the world’s most recognizable athletes.

Barring a last-minute change of heart, the 27-year-old South African will enter a plea of “not guilty”, repeating his bail hearing assertions that he killed model Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013 after tragically mistaking her for an intruder hiding in the toilet.

Feb 19, 2014

With picks and prayers, illegal miners risk all for South African gold

BENONI, South Africa, Feb 19 (Reuters) – After eight days
decomposing in a disused South African gold mine, 32-year-old
Blessing’s body was so bloated it could barely fit through the
tiny tunnel entrance hidden at the foot of a towering mine dump
in a town east of Johannesburg.

The corpse of his friend, Shelton, will remain forever in
the earth, trapped beneath immovable tonnes of fallen rock down
a hole too dangerous for professional rescue teams to enter.

Feb 7, 2014

South Africa’s townships blaze with anti-ANC anger

HEBRON, South Africa (Reuters) – It has become an almost daily ritual in the townships ringing Johannesburg and Pretoria – disaffected youths burning tires, looting shops and throwing rocks in a furious demand for jobs, electricity and, increasingly, political change.

Police respond with everything from rubber bullets and live ammunition – nine people have been shot dead so far this year – to shrugs of the shoulders, reflecting the pressure on officers faced with a seemingly unending flow of black anger two decades after the end of apartheid.

Feb 6, 2014

At least eight dead in S.African gold mine accident

JOHANNESBURG, Feb 6 (Reuters) – Rescuers recovered eight
bodies and continued to search for another missing worker on
Thursday after a fire and rock-fall at a Harmony Gold
mine near Johannesburg, the worst accident in South Africa’s
mines in nearly five years.

Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu ordered an
investigation into the incident at the Doornkop mine, 30 km west
(20 miles) of the city, after initial reports that the fire was
triggered by a small earthquake on Tuesday evening.

Dec 16, 2013

Mandela gone, South Africa must look to itself

QUNU, South Africa (Reuters) – Only a few hours after Nelson Mandela’s burial, the skies over South Africa’s Eastern Cape grew dark as a storm rolled in, a powerful but, according to locals, positive omen for a young democracy deprived of its founding father.

Whereas in the West lowering clouds portend trouble, in traditional South African culture they are seen as a blessing, the bearers of rain and good fortune, especially at a funeral, where they signify an elder passing peacefully into the bosom of his ancestors.