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South Africa: Millions looted during Nelson Mandela’s funeral

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The head of South Africa’s anti-corruption watchdog, Busisiwe Mkhwebane has confirmed a R250‚000 payment into Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle’s private account was among a litany of irregular transactions made with money meant for Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

In a damning 300-page report‚ Mkhwebane has laid bare the details of how provincial and municipal officials went on a spending spree with money initially allocated for development in one of South Africa’s poorest provinces.

While Masualle did not benefit from the payment – he ordered that the payment be reversed – Mkhwebane has made it clear that the transaction “was improper and constitutes maladministration”.

The provincial planning and treasury department instead opened a departmental account with a paycard for use by Masualle.

The funds were to enable Masualle‚ as one of the key hosts‚ to settle any costs related to the receiving of guests‚ side meetings that required special rooms and any other incidental costs whilst Masualle was in Mthatha for Mandela’s funeral.

The report states that it is not disputed that Masualle did not benefit from this transaction but found it inappropriate for state funds to be deposited into Masualle’s personal bank account.

Nelson Mandela died on December 5‚ 2013‚ opening the floodgates in the province for officials to spend R330-million diverted from the infrastructure development grant.

Mkhwebane said it was shocking that funds were paid‚ at inflated rates‚ to suppliers without verification of delivery of services or goods.

Almost R6-million was paid to Victory Ticket 750 cc for the transportation of mourners to Mandela’s memorial service but the actual number of people ferried could not be verified.

The public protector said that some of the payments‚ in one instance R10-million‚ were approved over the phone on direct instructions from the ANC and paid to suppliers.

Mkhwebane’s report also mentions t-shirts‚ at an exorbitant cost of more than R300 each‚ delivered to a taxi rank.

She noted that these funds‚ channelled to the Eastern Cape Development Corporation by the Eastern Cape provincial treasury‚ were meant for the provision of running water‚ electricity‚ sanitation‚ ablution facilities‚ replacement of mud schools and refurbishment of hospitals.

Mkhwebane said weaknesses – such as the lack of a proper coordinated plan for state funerals‚ the lack of an operational centre where daily meetings could be held‚ and the fact that the funeral was regarded as an emergency – resulted in massive unauthorised‚ irregular‚ fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

“This weakness was explored and capitalised upon by some service providers [who] took advantage of the situation and inflated prices. Some submitted invoices and were paid for goods and services‚ the delivery of which was not or could not be verified‚” she said.

Mkhwebane has directed finance minister Malusi Gigaba to request President Jacob Zuma to make a proclamation that the corruption-busting Special Investigation Unit investigate:- Unlawful appropriation or expenditure of public money;- Unlawful‚ irregular or unapproved acquisitive acts‚ transactions‚ measures or practices;- Intentional or negligent loss of public money by organs of state; with a view to instituting civil action for the recovery of the lost funds.

A criminal investigation into the money spent on the funeral led to the arrest of a number of politicians and businesspeople‚ including former Buffalo City Metropolitan (BCM) municipality mayor Zukiswa Ncitha‚ former deputy mayor Temba Tinta‚ former council speaker Luleka Simon-Ndzele‚ councillor Sindiswa Gomba‚ senior BCM official Ondela Mahlangu‚ businesswoman Viwe Vazi and businessman Dean Fanoe.

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Protest leader arrested, charged with inciting violence in Zimbabwe.

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Armed police in Zimbabwe have arrested a political activist at his home on Wednesday, his lawyer said.

It comes as protests against fuel price hikes enters day 3 Wednesday. Evan Mawarire, a Harare pastor, rose to prominence as a critic of former leader, Robert Mugabe.

Beatrice Mtetwa is lawyer for Evan Mawarire.



Businesses and schools remain closed while mobile telecom networks enforce a government internet shut down in this Southern African nation.

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“I cannot say the stay away has been successful but at the end of the day we await to hear what the government will do because the people have spoken, they were not happy and up to now they are still in fear”, said Harare resident, Ronald Gwasira.

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“The way it looks people want to go to work but unfortunately it seems the transport operators are not willing to take them”, said Terrence Gumbi, another resident.

Wednesday is the third and final day of stay-at-home protests called by unions in response to the steep hike in fuel prices.

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Kenya: Uhuru Kenyata promises avenge terror attack in Nirobi.

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Kenyan security forces have neutralised all four terrorists involved in the attack on a hotel complex in the capital Nairobi, President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Wednesday.

Kenyatta said about 700 people had been safely evacuated, vowed to avenge the 14 “innocent” lives lost.



“We are a nation that never forgets those who hurt our children. We will pursue relentlessly those involved in the planning and execution of this attack,” the president said.

‘‘I take note of Kenyans who took to social media to spread hope and criticise false information. You have shown the world bravery, patriotism and love.’‘

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he attack in numbers

  • 14 civilians confirmed dead

  • 700 people safely evacuated

  • 4 attackers neutralised

Victims

An earlier estimate put the death toll at 15.

Timeline of the attack

  • Tuesday 3pm (local time): Attack on dusitD2 hotel begins with two explosions

  • Tuesday 5:55pm: Al Shabaab claims responsibility

  • Tuesday night: AU, EU, UN, United States, Somalia condemn the attack

  • Tuesday night : Police announces it has secured 7 out of eight floors

  • Wednesday 6am: Gunshots ring out as police say at least two groups of people still trapped inside complex

  • Wednesday 8am: President Kenyatta declares terror attack and security operation ‘over’.

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