Down time

Down time

Finally the courts are ordering the demolition of buildings that don't comply with building laws and regulations. Last month the Grahamstown high court ordered the demolition of a well-known tax professor's illegal mansion at Kenton-on-sea. Now the Port Elizabeth high court has followed suit, ordering the demolition of two guest houses in Summerstrand. The owners, who bought residential properties, had opportunistically built on extra rooms and floors, turning them into guesthouses infringing on building lines and without planning permission. They then used every trick in the book  – plus a few new ones – to sidestep court orders, while filling beds and raking in the cash.

 

Plans to smoke out Big Tobacco

Plans to smoke out Big Tobacco

Three years ago Australia passed a law requiring all cigarettes to be sold in uniform olive green packs featuring graphic pictures of mouth ulcers; with brand names in small print only; and with no logos. The new law was challenged but Australia’s highest court recently declared it constitutional. On hearing this news, South Africa’s Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi announced that he would like to see the same thing happen in our country.

But two top lawyers have wasted no time, stepping out to defend cigarette manufacturers and argue that it's a bad idea.

UPDATE: Absa still speaks with forked tongue

UPDATE: Absa still speaks with forked tongue

Retired SA Navy Captain Teboho "Tommy" Molotsi has emerged the victor in a hugely unequal court battle with Absa  Bank, who had wanted to repossess his home on the basis of a long-settled bond. At the final hearing Molotsi appeared without legal representation after two successive law firms pulled out on him, compromised by their own dealings with Absa.

Acting Judge G Shakoane of the South Gauteng High Court handed down a landmark judgment on September 30, in which he dismissed Absa’s application to seize Molotsi’s house for alleged non-repayment of a mortgage debt.The judge said the bank's evidence in the case "made no sense". Absa denies that there has been any impropriety on the part of its staff and, true to form, is considering taking judgment on appeal.

Mdluli judge castigates Phiyega

Mdluli judge castigates Phiyega

Irrational, unlawful, troublingly “below the standard expected of a senior officer of this court” – the words of Judge John Murphy of the North Gauteng High Court describing the actions of some of the most senior prosecutors in the country.

Judge Murphy also found that the former SAPS National Commissioner had taken “unlawful” orders from “someone beyond him” to withdraw murder, kidnap, intimidation, corruption and fraud charges against the suspended commander of the SAPS Crime Intelligence unit, Lt. Gen. Richard Mdluli. And that the current commissioner, Riah Phiyega, had tried to deceive him.

In response to an application brought by the civil rights group, Freedom Under Law, the judge ordered the National Prosecuting Authority to reinstate and prosecute all the charges.

While this judgment has been widely reported, its implications on another critical front have passed largely unnoticed.

UPDATE: Leisurely reconstruction

UPDATE: Leisurely reconstruction

On 10 September, the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) assured Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Public Works that it was “in the process” of appointing an investigative team “to kick-start” its probe into the 15 construction companies that had admitted three months earlier, in June, to having engaged in collusive tendering on government contracts worth tens of billions of rands.

Most of these companies are still registered on the CIDB register of contractors, which grades and categorises its members on their ability to carry out construction projects – a prerequisite for qualifying for any major government contract.

Water rights - and wrongs

Water rights - and wrongs

They came, they saw, they loitered – and nobody knows why or when the weird weir affair will be resolved.

Stephen Pain owns a farm outside Riversdale in the Western Cape. It is bordered on one side by the Kruisrivier, and his stretch includes a gauging weir which is the property of the Department of Water Affairs.

Pain was absent from the farm for some time during 2010, but when he pitched up in January 2011, it was to discover that the Department of Water Affairs had moved men and building materials on to his farm a few months earlier in order to do “repair” work on the weir. The foreman explained to  Pain that the weir had been built in 1964 and that the top of the wall had eroded and repair work was vital, as the weir formed a key part of the regional water scheme. (It is designed to measure water volumes for allocation to farmers downstream.) The work would take two months. Really?

UPDATE: Laraine Lane triumphs

UPDATE: Laraine Lane triumphs

After a four-year battle, Laraine Lane’s honour and dignity as a sports coach has been restored – by the Gauteng High Court. Lane suffered hugely as a result of Leonard Chuene’s mishandling of the 2009 Caster Semenya gender-testing affair.

Sascoc followed Advocate Michael Collins’ recommendation and suspended the entire ASA board. Lane’s suspension came in the form of a letter from Sascoc president Gideon Sam the following day, in which he said she would face a disciplinary enquiry. Although Chuene and his two fellow crooks were eventually dismissed, Lane and the other board members remained in limbo. It's been a tough battle, but justice has been done.

Seeds of a food crisis

Seeds of a food crisis

Seed regulation is among the long list of grievances behind the Colombian agricultural strike. By Richard Emblin

For more than two decades Colombian agronomist German Alonso Vélez has led a campaign as director of the NGO Semillas, to see Colombia’s native seeds circulated freely across the territory. For every planting season, tens of thousands of Colombian farmers are forced to buy only seeds certified by the country’s agricultural institute, ICA.

The issue of the free flow of seeds in one of the world’s most agriculturally-diverse nations dates back to 2010 when the ICA promulgated a regulation known as 9.70, which essentially gives the ICA powers to police and fine or jail those who exchange native seeds that haven’t been rubber-stamped by the ICA.

Kenya. Shockwaves after the shoot-out

Kenya. Shockwaves after the shoot-out

As forensic investigators comb the Westgate Mall for clues about the insurgents, anger grows at the security failure.

In the wake of the attack at Nairobi’s Westgate Shopping Mall, President Uhuru Kenyatta faces tough questions about the probity and efficacy of his government.

As Kenyatta responded to the tragedy with some powerful, well-scripted speeches, his diplomats were working to get the ICC trial of Deputy President William Ruto suspended, so that he could return to Nairobi to help manage the crisis. At the same time, Kenyan leaders were insisting the country was the target of an international terrorist campaign, far beyond local or regional politics.

The woman who would be President

The woman who would be President

She has been called “unAfrican”, a “house nigger”, a “coconut” and “Helen Zille’s tea girl”. President Jacob Zuma calls her “Ntombazana” (Young Girl) and “My Dear”. But you know nothing about DA parliamentary leader ...
 
Down time

Down time

Finally the courts are ordering the demolition of buildings that don't comply with building laws and regulations. Last month the Grahamstown high court ordered the demolition of a well-known tax professor's illegal mansion at Kenton-on-sea. ...

Plans to smoke out Big Tobacco

Plans to smoke out Big Tobacco

Three years ago Australia passed a law requiring all cigarettes to be sold in uniform olive green packs featuring graphic pictures of mouth ulcers; with brand names in small print only; and with ...

UPDATE: Absa still speaks with forked tongue

UPDATE: Absa still speaks with forked tongue

Retired SA Navy Captain Teboho "Tommy" Molotsi has emerged the victor in a hugely unequal court battle with Absa  Bank, who had wanted to repossess his home on the basis of a long-settled ...

Mdluli judge castigates Phiyega

Mdluli judge castigates Phiyega

Irrational, unlawful, troublingly “below the standard expected of a senior officer of this court” – the words of Judge John Murphy of the North Gauteng High Court describing the actions of some of ...

UPDATE: Leisurely reconstruction

UPDATE: Leisurely reconstruction

On 10 September, the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) assured Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Public Works that it was “in the process” of appointing an investigative team “to kick-start” its probe into ...

Water rights - and wrongs

Water rights - and wrongs

They came, they saw, they loitered – and nobody knows why or when the weird weir affair will be resolved. Stephen Pain owns a farm outside Riversdale in the Western Cape. It is bordered ...

UPDATE: Laraine Lane triumphs

UPDATE: Laraine Lane triumphs

After a four-year battle, Laraine Lane’s honour and dignity as a sports coach has been restored – by the Gauteng High Court. Lane suffered hugely as a result of Leonard Chuene’s mishandling of ...

Seeds of a food crisis

Seeds of a food crisis

Seed regulation is among the long list of grievances behind the Colombian agricultural strike. By Richard Emblin For more than two decades Colombian agronomist German Alonso Vélez has led a campaign as director of the ...

Kenya. Shockwaves after the shoot-out

Kenya. Shockwaves after the shoot-out

As forensic investigators comb the Westgate Mall for clues about the insurgents, anger grows at the security failure. In the wake of the attack at Nairobi’s Westgate Shopping Mall, President Uhuru Kenyatta faces tough questions ...