Spain court rules proposed Catalan leader must stay in jail

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Spain’s Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a request by Catalonia’s pro-independence presidential candidate Jordi Sanchez to be let out of jail and sworn in as regional head.

The Catalan parliament had been scheduled to hold a debate and vote on Sanchez’s candidacy on Friday, but after the court’s ruling Catalan parliament speaker Roger Torrent announced on Twitter he had suspended the session indefinitely.

Sanchez was remanded in custody in October pending charges over his role in last year’s failed Catalan independence bid.

An attempt to appoint him as president failed last month after Spain’s Supreme Court turned down a request for his release from jail.

But Torrent put Sanchez’s name forward as a candidate again earlier this month after the United Nations Human Rights Committee defended his political rights.

In letters sent last month to Spanish authorities and Sanchez’s lawyers, the UN committee requested the state take all steps to ensure he is allowed to exercise his political rights.

Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena once again turned down Sanchez’s request, arguing there were signs that he could “move in the direction of a rupture of the constitutional order”.

The judge argues it was justified in limiting Sanchez’s political rights given the risk that his release would pose to the collective rights “of the rest of the community”.

Torrent had appealed earlier on Thursday for the judge to agree to let Sanchez, a former leader of influential grassroots independence group ANC who was elected to the Catalan parliament in snap polls in December, leave jail to be sworn in.

“The court has the opportunity to take note of international law and the protection of political rights or write another dark chapter in the history of the Supreme Court,” he said in an interview to news radio station Cadena Ser.

The court ruling comes as Barcelona is gearing up for a huge protest on Sunday to mark the six month anniversary of the jailing of Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, the leader of another separatist organisation.

Catalonia in political limbo

Catalonia has been in political limbo since Spain’s conservative central government imposed direct rule on the region after it unilaterally declared independence in October.

Fresh regional elections will be triggered if a new leader is not elected by May 22.

Separately, the National Court, which handles terrorism and other top criminal cases, released a woman who was arrested on Tuesday for “rebellion” and “terrorism” in a probe of pro-independence activists in Catalonia.

National Court judge Diego de Egea dismissed those two charges against her, saying she should instead be prosecuted for the lesser crime of causing public disorder, which carries a possible jail sentence of between six months and six years.

The woman is allegedly a member of the radical pro-independence activist groups called the Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CDR) which formed last year before an independence referendum on October 1.

In recent weeks, the groups have protested against the jailing of pro-independence Catalan leaders and the detention of former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont in Germany by blocking major roads in Catalonia, sometimes with burning tires.

At the end of March, the protesters blocked major roads in Catalonia and tried to occupy the central government’s representative office, heavily guarded by police, on several occasions. The resulting clashes left dozens injured.


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KPMG top executive suspended

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Audit firm KPMG has suspended Sipho Malaba, a top executive who was in charge of the VBS Mutual Bank audit.

VBS was placed under curatorship by the Reserve Bank after it faced serious liquidity challenges.

Malaba was appointed with the new executive in 2017 in a bid to regain public trust following the audit scandals that blemished the firm’s image.

KPMG came under the spotlight late in 2017 with scandals involving audits for Gupta-linked businesses and over the so-called rogue unit report at the SA Revenue Service.

The audit firm says in a statement that it is investigating the matter in full cooperation with the curator of VBS Mutual Bank. It says Malaba is suspended pending the outcome of the ongoing investigation and would not comment further on the matter.

VBS Mutual Bank is accused of manipulating financial information on its books with close to R1 billion that cannot be accounted for.

The bank was placed under curatorship after it took large municipal deposits and lent them on a long-term basis and could not meet clients’ withdrawals when the money was required.

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Book ‘Divided Country’ revisits history of SA cricket

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When the South African cricket team thrashed Australia recently, it was a victory celebrated by the whole of South Africa. However, that was not always the case.

Professor Andre Odendaal and his fellow authors will launch ”Divided Country” on Friday.

The book tells the history of South African cricket between 1914 and 1950 when there were unbelievably seven Cricket South Africa’s split along racial and gender lines, each playing its own tournaments and leagues and selecting its own national teams.

”Divided Country” is Volume Two of the history of cricket in South Africa – a book written by Professor Andre Odendaal, Krish Reddy and Christopher Merrett.

The first volume was a book called ”Cricket and Conquest” which covered the period from 1795 to 1914.

The book documented colonialism at its worst with Cecil John Rhodes at the helm and how cricket in South Africa had been formed by colonialism, imperialism, racism, the superiority of the English and then segregation through apartheid.

“Today, we know the SA team bats for all cricketers in SA, but it was not always so. In the 1950’s,  there was a white only male SA (team) called Saca; there was a coloured, Muslim, SA (team) called SACB which was forced to become the Malay cricket board; there was the SA coloured  cricket association formed in 1926; there was a SA Indian cricket union; the SA Bantu Union which in the 60’s became the African Union; there was the SA/Rhodesia women’s cricket association for white women only, and finally there was an inter-race SA called SACB, later called SACBOC. It was an absolute jumble with seven different organisations in the same cities and towns each running their own leagues and inter-provincial tournaments each selecting their own national teams. Some of them have never been known about a lot. Now, for the first time, there is a coherent history, statistical appendage of 65 tournaments by these black and omen cricketers. We had to sweat blood in newspapers, old scorebooks, wardrobes and suitcases.We have reasserted people to history where they have been erased not by accident, but as a deliberate part of colonial and apartheid thinking and action,” says author Professor Andre Ondendaal.

The book deals with both World Wars and the hardships it brought; how Indians were discriminated against and how they only became citizens in 1961, 100 years after arriving in South Africa. They were based mainly in Durban and Johannesburg and were not allowed in the Free State.

They were resilient and their love for the game of cricket shone through against all odds. White women started playing cricket in 1952. The gentleman’s game, however, was real and while women were allowed to play hockey, golf and tennis, there was tremendous opposition to women playing the cricket.

African women were also involved in the game, but not in an organised forum. It was only in 2005 that women finally found a place in world cricket when the International Women’s Cricket Council became part of the ICC.

”Divided Country” also tells some amazing cricketing stories about matches and players that affected countries on a global scale.

”Divided Country” is a book that bowls out the existing history in SA cricket. It helps to decolonise the game and creates a past that will never be the same again. It will hopefully help change mentalities and attitudes and the ownership of cricket in South Africa today – a game to be cherished by all South Africans.

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Calls for ANCYL’s Collen Maine to step down

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African National Congress Youth League Deputy Secretary General Thandi Moraka has called on the league’s president Collen Maine to resign “urgently”.

In scathing attacks on Maine at a memorial service for late stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Moraka labelled Maine a sell-out, saying he is undeserving of being Youth League president.

She accused Maine of apologising to Ramaphosa to serve his own interest and not representing the league’s stance on the ANC presidency.

Youth League decided to support Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to succeed former President Jacob Zuma at the elective conference last December.

Moraka’s attacks come just days after a video surfaced of Maine telling mourners at another memorial of Madikizela-Mandela that he was introduced to the Guptas by North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo.


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‘Silent, invisible’ malnutrition seen as threat to generations in Congo

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Starving children are the glaring face of Congo’s humanitarian crisis, but millions more people are suffering slow onset malnutrition which could have harmful effects for generations, the United Nations said on Thursday.

About 13 million of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s 80 million people are in need of humanitarian aid – 50 percent more than last year – since fighting in the central Kasai region and other areas forced millions to flee their homes.

Although violence has subsided in Kasai, fields are still barren and many people have not received food aid due to lack of funding, the United Nations and aid agencies said ahead of a donor conference in Geneva on Friday. Congo’s government has shunned the upcoming aid conference, saying that humanitarian actors are exaggerating the level of need, which will discourage investment.

“The problem with chronic malnutrition is that you don’t really see it. It is silent and invisible,” said Alexis Bonte, country representative of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Between 60 and 70 percent of people in Kasai and Congo’s other conflict zones have chronic malnutrition, which stunts children’s physical and mental development and makes them less likely to attain better opportunities as adults, he said.

Aid agencies are racing to help the 10 to 15 percent of people who need food urgently to survive, but those suffering a long-term lack of nutrients are harder to assist, Bonte said.

“That is one that we cannot handle by ourselves because we don’t have the money and we don’t have the capacity,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone after visiting Kasai.

People are starting to re-plant fields, he said, but it will take one to two years to regain normal crop production.

Last year assistance reached only a third of people in need in the massive Central African country as funding fell short, said the United Nations which is seeking to raise four times as much this year – $1.7 billion.

British charity Oxfam said it was forced to half food rations for 90,000 people last year due to lack of funding, and this year cut back even more.

Crises in Kasai and eastern provinces have been aggravated by President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down at the end of his elected mandate in 2016 with uncertainty sparking deadly street protests and fears Congo could slide back into civil war.

“The stakes are incredibly high in DR Congo. Continued inaction would be measured in loss of civilian lives,” said Jan Egeland of the Norwegian Refugee Council.

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Louw’s picture of Martin Luther King remains historic

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As the world commemorated this week the assassination of American Civil Rights leader Dr Martin Luther King, South African media community also remembers SA photographer Joseph Louw.

Louw was the only photographer to get pictures of Dr King seconds after he was shot dead in April 1968.

Former SABC News Editor Joe Thloloe remembers Louw as an excellent journalist. He says when Louw took the picture of King, it was a historic moment.

Louw, who was booked three rooms away from Dr King’s hotel room, was working on a documentary on the Civil Rights Leader.

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Louw is one Journalist who has paved the way for SA media globally, his pictures have been used over 50 years since King’s assassination.

The Life Magazine Collection.

Thloloe says Journalists today can learn to be relentless from legends like Louw and cease every opportunity to capture a moment.

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Thloloe says because of journalists like Louw, it is important that Freedom of Expression thrives.  He says to preserve the legacy of such journalists, we need to have a form of memorial where we see the work of the likes of Louw.

“Journalists sacrificed their lives to tell South Africans stories. These are people who need to be remembered in a Hall of Fame.”

Joe Louw, who also worked for SABC, died in Johannesburg at the age of 64, in 2004.

Watch Joseph Louw interview after Martin Luther King’s assassination :

Video courtesy of THIRTEEN

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Mike Mabuyakhulu’s corruption case postponed

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KwaZulu-Natal ANC convener Mike Mabuyakhulu‘s case of fraud and corruption has been postponed to the 22nd of August.

Mabuyakhulu and co-accused made a brief appearance in the Commercial Crimes Court in Durban. Well-known businessman, Mabheleni Ntuli is among the accused.

Corruption charges against Mabuyakhulu relate to a R28-million contract for a jazz festival that never took place.
He is accused of receiving a R200 000 kickback from a company which was awarded the R28 million tender in 2012.

Mabuyakhulu is a former MEC for Economic Development in the province. He now heads the provincial interim structure of the ANC and has been tipped by some as a potential contender for the position of ANC chairperson in KwaZulu-Natal when the conference is held.

All sixteen are expected back in court in August for a formal trial date.

Watch videos below:

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15 killed in Nigeria bank robbery, attack on police station

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Fifteen people were killed on Thursday when a gang of armed men attacked two banks and a police station in the Nigerian town of Offa, police told AFP Friday.

The brazen assault happened in part of Nigeria’s volatile central region, where criminal gangs and cattle rustlers regularly attack security forces.

“They attacked the police station and at the same time attacked two banks,” said Kwara state police spokesman Ajayi Okasanmi, adding that nine police and six civilians died in the violence.

The gang invaded a busy commercial area where several banks and the police station are located in broad daylight around 4:50 pm (1550 GMT), said Okasanmi.

“We are going all-out to ensure we arrest them,” he said, adding that the haul from the robbery was not immediately known.

The robbers charged into the banks and shot people on the spot before making off with bags of cash on stolen motorbikes, said a witness.

“They split into two groups. One group attacked the divisional police station where they opened indiscriminate fire,” said a resident who witnessed the attack, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“The other group attacked the two banks, shooting people they met inside, many of them in the head,” he said.

“They carried away money in sacks from the banks and fled on motorcycles they seized from okada (motorcycle taxis) riders.”

Senate President Bukola Saraki, one of Nigeria’s highest-ranking politicians, commiserated with the victims of the “savage attack” in Offa.

In a statement released Friday, Saraki said the robbery “is a despicable act committed by cruel individuals.”

Gang attacks are a persistent problem for Nigeria, adding to security woes in a country already grappling with the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has had to deploy military throughout Nigeria, West Africa’s largest economy, to quell violence in the absence of a strong police force and rigorous legal system.

On Wednesday, Buhari reiterated his support for $1 billion in emergency funding for weapons purchases to fight security threats across the nation, though critics warn that similar defense spending in the past has been tainted by corruption.

Police and military in the country were subject to intense scrutiny in February after it emerged that they were unable to repel Boko Haram fighters who stormed the town of Dapchi and abducted 111 schoolgirls.

Since then, 105 of the schoolgirls have been returned following negotiations with the Nigerian government, though six others — including one Christian who refused to denounce her faith — are still unaccounted for. The five others are believed to have died in the initial stages of the kidnapping.

Military and police are overstretched in Nigeria, which, along with fighting Boko Haram jihadists in the north, is battling militants and pirates in the oil-rich south, a simmering separatist movement in the east and a bloody battle between herdsmen and farmers spanning the vast central region.

Fighting fires on so many fronts takes an economic toll. This week Nigeria’s central bank governor Godwin Emefiele said the “herdsmen-related violence” poses a key risk to the country’s economic growth.

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Prime discussion: Busloads of Zuma supporters converge in KZN

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Source: The New Age

Political parties react to Zuma’s court appearance

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Former president Jacob Zuma says the charges against him are a continuation of what he calls a political conspiracy against him. He was addressing his supporters outside the High Court in Durban after his brief appearance on Friday.

Zuma’s case will be heard on June 8th. This after both the prosecution and the defence teams requested more time in order to allow Zuma’s legal team to bring a review application against the NPA’s decision to reinstate the charges against him. Zuma’s legal team will lodge the application on May the 15th.

Zuma is facing 16 counts of fraud, money laundering and racketeering related to the multi-billion-rand arms deal.

DA leader, Mmusi Maimane, says it will be in the best interest of all South Africans for  Zuma to personally pay for his legal fees.

Maimane says the DA will continue to keep a close eye on the court proceedings to ensure that justice is served.

“First of all I think it was significant that he came to court and set on the dock, telling the people of South Africa that anybody is held accountable. Secondly we hope as we have said that the NPA will prioritise this case so that we resolve the matter. Thirdly we’ve gone to court to fight that Mr Zuma fees should not be payed by the people of South Africa…he must pay them in his personal costs. He can’t appear in curt on the money of the people, ” he said.

UDM leader, Bantu Holomisa has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to clarify whether any taxpayers cash was used by the KwaZulu-Natal government when it came out in support of former president Jacob Zuma at court in Durban.

Holomisa has expressed concern over the support received by the former president  from the KwaZulu Natal provincial government.

KZN Premier Willis Mchunu, MEC’s Sihle Zikalala, Weziwe Thusi,  and Mthandeni Dlungwana as well as Ethekwini Executive Mayor Zandile Gumede were amongst officials who attended the court appearance.

Holomisa wants an official investigation into whether KwaZulu-Natal is a federal state.

“But of concerned to me is the appearance of the premier and entire cabinet to this case and one wonders how much did KwaZulu-Natal government pay to bus those people who were in attendance – clearly Cyril Ramaphosa the president of the republic needs to clarify exactly as to whether KZN is a federal state or what.”

The PAC says Zuma’s court appearance signals a new  page for the country. Secretary General, Bennet Joko says Zuma must use this opportunity to prove his innocence as he always said he wants his day in court. He says South Africans must not be fooled by the support he is receiving in and around KwaZulu-Natal – because the law will make its own  findings on the case which might just see the former president being found guilty.

The PAC’s Bennet Joko  says they have not forgotten about the multi-billion Rand arms deal saga.

“The PAC hopes that Mr Zuma will embrace the opportunity given to him and state his case in the court of law. And that the courts will also pronounce that this arms deal was a misplaced priority. Where African people are landless, ravaged by porverty – and the priority was given to buy arms – where there seems to be no security threat in the country. ”

Watch video below:


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