South Africa

  1. South African military veterans hold ministers hostage

    Nomsa Maseko

    BBC Southern Africa correspondent

    South African special forces in 2010
    Image caption: A rescue mission had to swoop in when the talks went sour (archive photo)

    South Africa’s elite task force rescued two cabinet ministers and a deputy, after they were held hostage by war veterans demanding reparations for their role in the fight against white-minority rule.

    The Liberation Struggle War Veterans, from the disbanded ANC military wing, are demanding a one-off payment of $280,000 (£203,000) for housing and medical insurance for their families.

    They met Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele, Defence Minister Thandi Modise and her deputy Thabang Makwetla to negotiate their demands at a hotel in the capital Pretoria last night.

    The government officials were held hostage after those talks collapsed. Later, more than 50 people were arrested after attempts to negotiate for the release of the hostages failed.

    The special task force, whose members wear military uniform and are trained in counter-terrorism and hostage situations, had to be called in.

    Mr Gungubele said that the incident was "untenable" and "legally unacceptable":

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    In the past, military veterans said they felt betrayed by the ANC government because they were never compensated for their contribution in fighting against the brutal apartheid government.

    However, military veterans are given a monthly state-funded pension.

    Earlier this week the group demonstrated outside the headquarters of the governing ANC, leading to an evacuation.

  2. Whites

    Video content

    Video caption: Louis Theroux visits whites in South Africa who are refusing to accept Apartheid's end.

    Louis Theroux visits whites-only communities in South Africa that are refusing to accept the end of Apartheid. He also meets white supremacist Eugene Terreblanche.

  3. Marijuana found during South Africa prison raid

    A dawn raid at a prison in Empangeni city in South Africa's Kwa-Zulu Natal province has uncovered marijuana worth 12,000 rand ($600; £800), a journalist working for state broadcaster SABC reports.

    The acting National Commissioner of Correctional Services Makgothi Thobakgale led the raid at the Qalakabusha correctional centre.

    The prison has seen several prison breaks in recent years, the reporter added.

    Four prisoners who escaped the facility recently are still at large.

    More than 30 mobile phones and traditional medicine were also reportedly found during the raid.

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  4. German tourist dies in South Africa houseboat fire

    A German tourist and a crew member have died after a luxury houseboat caught fire on a dam in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province, local media report.

    Five passengers and four crew were on the boat when it caught fire on the Jozini Dam on Saturday.

    “They all jumped into the water and unfortunately three drowned, two bodies were recovered in the dam," a police spokesman was quoted by the IOL news site as saying.

    A search is still under way for the missing crew member.

    The South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) said it was investigating the cause of the blaze.

    The boat was reportedly on a two-night cruise when it caught fire, Samsa said.

    Its burnt-out wreckage was towed to the docking site on Monday, IOL reported.

    A photo of the burning houseboat has been posted on Facebook:

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  5. Mandela widow urges end to violence against SA women

    Will Ross

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    Graca Machel, widow of the late Nelson Mandela
    Image caption: Graça Machel also spoke about the high number of teenage pregnancies

    Graça Machel, the activist, campaigner and widow of Nelson Mandela, has urged South Africans to break the cycle of violence that women and girls are subjected to.

    She was giving a speech to mark the 90th birthday of Nobel peace prize winner and South Africa's anti-apartheid icon Desmond Tutu.

    "Violence is the breast milk we feed our young," she said in a message to South Africans and urged them to honour and cherish Archbishop Tutu's legacy by ensuring relationships are based on respect and equity.

    She spoke of the high incidence of teenage pregnancy in the country.

    She said more needed to be done to identify and punish incidents of rape, sexual coercion and abuse as well as incest.

    She said children were growing up experiencing hostility and exploitation and it was time for South Africans to stop passing on their trauma to the next generation.

  6. Video content

    Video caption: South Africa’s Desmond Tutu turns 90 years old

    Looking back at some of Desmond Tutu's memorable quotes.

  7. Video content

    Video caption: Archbishop Desmond Tutu: Celebrating his 90th birthday

    South Africa is celebrating Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s 90th birthday on Thursday.

  8. SA opposition party inflaming racial tension - ANC

    The Newsroom

    BBC World Service

    South Africa's governing African National Congress (ANC) has accused the largest opposition party of inflaming racial tension with its choice of election posters in an area where more than 30 people were killed during unrest in July.

    Earlier this week, the Democratic Alliance put up posters around the town of Phoenix in KwaZulu-Natal province which read: "The ANC called you racists - the DA calls you heroes".

    The opposition party defended the move, saying it wanted to honour those who had stood up to protect their properties from looters.

    Many of those who took up arms in the Phoenix area were South Africans of Indian descent, whilst most victims of the killings there were black.

    Read more: The inside story of South Africa's week of anarchy

  9. South Africa metal workers begin strike

    The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) has announced the start of an indefinite strike.

    The union is one of the biggest in the country with about 155,000 members.

    The strike will affect some mining, construction, engineering and automotive companies whose employees are members.

    NUMSA is seeking an 8% wage increment and subsequent 2% above inflation rate for the following two years.

    Talks with the employer bodies have so far failed to reach an agreement.

    "We are left with no choice but to strike and to withhold our labour indefinitely until the bosses give into our just demands," NUMSA said in a statement.

    South Africa has local plants that assemble major car brands including Ford, BMW and Nissan for export.

  10. Second South African mayor dies in car crash

    South Africans have paid tribute to the second mayor to die in a car crash in under three weeks.

    Naledi local municipality mayor Neo Schalk was killed on Sunday morning after an accident outside of the town of Vryburg in North West province.

    South Africa's Sunday Times reports that he was travelling with his wife on the way back from a funeral. She also sustained injuries, but is thought to now be in a stable condition.

    North West Community Safety and Transport Management says Mr Schalk was an advocate of road safety, according to IOL news.

    “In the many joint law enforcement operations that we held in Vryburg, Mayor Schalk was always there. He would actively participate, imploring road users to obey the rules of the road," Sello Lehari told IOL.

    "I am saddened by his untimely death, especially at the time we are preparing for local government elections."

    On 18 September Johannesburg's mayor, Jolidee Matongo, was also killed in a car crash.

    Mr Matongo had only become mayor a month earlier following the death of his predecessor from Covid complications.

    South Africa experiences a high number of fatalities on the road with one report citing nearly 13,000 deaths in 2018 – a situation the country’s AA has called “carnage.”

    Some people online have expressed concern about the safety of their politicians on the road.

    Others have said it's "scary" so many of the mayors are passing away.

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    Some Twitter users have expressed shock and grief.

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  11. SA chemical spill an environmental disaster - minister

    BBC World Service

    Members of a hazardous waste cleanup crew collect dead fish after chemicals entered the water system from a warehouse which was burned
    Image caption: A chemical company's warehouse was torched during protests against Jacob Zuma's sentencing

    South Africa’s Environment Minister, Barbara Creecy, says the spill from a chemical plant attacked by rioters in July in the port city of Durban has caused an environmental disaster.

    She said it could several years for the local coastline to recover.

    Giving details of a preliminary investigation, the minister said a criminal case had been opened against the chemical company, UPL, which was found not to have obtained environmental permits to run the plant.

    UPL has not admitted liability.

    Its warehouse was torched during the widespread riots sparked by the prison sentence given to South Africa’s former president, Jacob Zuma.

  12. DBN Gogo - a pioneering woman at the heart of amapiano

    DJ Edu

    Presenter, This Is Africa on BBC World Service

    DBN Gogo
    Image caption: DBN Gogo, stage name of Mandisa Radebe, inspired the viral dance #DakiweChallenge earlier this year

    South Africa's amapiano sound is phenomenally successful. I’ve played amapiano tracks on my show from Morocco, Zambia, Nigeria, Botswana, The Gambia (the list goes on). And it’s not just in Africa - Jorja Smith from the UK has an amapiano hit.

    There’s debate about where amapiano started in South Africa and who is responsible for the genre, but one thing is certain: in the early days, amapiano was a heavily male-dominated scene.

    All the more impressive that DBN Gogo is now one of the most respected figures on the amapiano landscape. She’s multi-talented: a DJ, producer and a versatile singer.

    DBN Gogo, who seems to be able to turn her hand to anything, told me about the origins of her stage name and how she started out.

    Quote Message: DBN because I’m originally from Durban, and your 'gogo' is your grandmother. That’s the direct translation but in African culture your gogo is also your spirit guide, your ancestor, so I am your ancestor in music.
    Quote Message: I’d been wanting to DJ for quite some time but I didn’t have anyone to teach me, then eventually my friend DJ Venom was like just pull up, come early and every Friday I’ll show you the ropes, you can practise and take it from there. So I had four lessons then I ended up being a resident at that club and I started gigging."

    Amapiano is a derivative of house music, but it also draws on all the genres of South African music, for example kwaito, gqom and breakbeats.

    DBN Gogo says it has been hard at times - but she is OK with that.

    Quote Message: I really appreciate the support I’ve received, and obviously being one of the first few females, especially DJ-ing and really pushing the sound has helped me become a household name in the genre. I just really let the work speak for itself.
    Quote Message: I used to be exclusively an old school house DJ, I felt at that time that people were neglecting that nostalgic sound that made people fall in love with house music."

    It just so happens that DBN Gogo has a very famous father. He is Jeff Radebe, South Africa’s longest-serving cabinet minister, in office from 1994 until just a couple of years ago.

    But DBN Gogo does not take kindly to the suggestion that her father’s power may have eased her path to success.

    Quote Message: My parents didn’t actually know to what extent this whole thing was going until they saw me perform last September, so it’s literally just been a year since they’ve known me properly to be doing this. I hid it from them for a while.
    Quote Message: I don’t like to talk about those guys much, they did their thing, I am doing my own thing. I wouldn’t have been hustling and fighting for people to pay me if I was being helped in any sort of way. I work and that’s all I care about."

    You can hear DJ Edu’s conversation with DBN Gogo on the BBC World Service's This is Africa.

  13. South African priest cleared of raping colleague

    Reverend June Major
    Image caption: Rev June Major has waged a 19-year campaign to demand justice

    A South African priest accused of sexually assaulting his female colleague at a seminary has been cleared for lack of evidence.

    Reverend June Major had accused fellow South African cleric Melvin Booysen of attacking her in 2002.

    She said the priest entered the room where they were being hosted by one of the families at the seminary and attacked her.

    But a tribunal of the Anglican church of Southern Africa has found "no evidence of the complainant laying allegations or informing her Bishop prior to 2016, and no corroboration of them".

    "We do not find her account consistent with a series of circumstantial factors in the story," it said.

    But it found Reverend Booysen guilty of "invading the complainant’s private space in their lodgings".

    It recommended that he undergoes therapy and retraining.

  14. Johannesburg to elect new mayor

    Friends and family at the wreath laying ceremony of the late Mayor of Johannesburg, Jolidee Matongo
    Image caption: Former Mayor Jolidee Matongo died in a road accident

    Councillors in South Africa's commercial hub, Johannesburg, will on Friday elect a new mayor following the death of Jolidee Matongo in a car crash two weeks ago.

    Mr Matongo was in office for just one month, replacing a predecessor who had died from Covid-19 complications.

    Mr Matongo died in September after his vehicle collided with a van while trying to avoid a pedestrian who had run on to the road, local media reported.

    He was a member of the governing African National Congress (ANC), and the party has now endorsed Mpho Moerane as its candidate.

    Mr Moerane was formerly in charge of environment and infrastructure services in the city.

  15. South Africa to roll out Covid vaccine certificates

    A healthcare worker receives the Johnson and Johnson coronavirus disease
    Image caption: They want 70% of the adult population vaccinated by the end of the year

    South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a new Covid-19 vaccination certificate, which he said would make it easier to travel and access events that require proof of vaccination.

    "Streamlining and standardising proof of vaccination will also go a long way towards getting a number of international travel restrictions both from and into our country eased," he said, but gave no timelines of the roll out.

    In a televised speech, he said he pressed Britain to relax travel restrictions imposed on his country after discussing the issue with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

    "We both agreed that decisions of this nature should be informed by science, and we are both hopeful of a positive outcome when the issue comes up for review in the coming days by their scientists."

    A Downing Street spokesperson is quoted by AFP news agency as saying the leaders acknowledged the challenges posed by the travel restrictions.

    Mr Ramaphosa also eased local pandemic restrictions, including reducing the hours of a nationwide curfew, now in place from midnight to 04:00. He ended a ban on weekend alcohol sales and allowed larger public gatherings.

    He said the government aims to administer 250,000 first dose vaccinations every single weekday until mid-December.

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  16. Wandering ostrich causes Cape Town traffic chaos

    An ostrich on the loose caused chaos on a main road of the South African city of Cape Town on Wednesday, according to social media users.

    Footage posted on Twitter shows the animal standing among the traffic and walking between lanes.

    In one clip a car driver can be heard honking the horn, which eventually led to the big bird moving out of the way.

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    One driver interviewed by news24 spoke about how the animal reacted to what the drivers were doing.

    "Yoh! those animals can run fast, and they make so much noise. When I hooted at it, it stuck its tongue out at me and started running,­" Ashraf Plaatjies said.

    "When I started shouting at it to get out of the way, he made an annoying screeching sound and ran towards the M5 (highway)," he continued.

    There are conflicting media reports about whether one or two ostriches were present - but an animal welfare charity confirmed to news24 it had only been informed of one.

    The Cape of Good Hope SPCA told the same website the ostrich was unharmed.

    It is not clear where the ostrich came from.

  17. Ramaphosa backs ex-minister implicated over graft

    Zweli Mkhize
    Image caption: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Zweli Mkhize (pictured) had "served the nation well"

    South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has defended former Health Minister Zweli Mkhize despite corruption allegations against him - which he has denied.

    Mr Ramaphosa said the ex-minister had "served the nation well" citing his contribution to the health sector especially his role in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic.

    He also asked South Africans to be more considerate.

    “Much as we want to be gung-ho and send people to the gallows and all that… we also need to recognise some of the things they have done. Dr Mkhize has served the nation well,” he said at a press briefing late on Wednesday.

    An investigation by the country’s Special Investigating Unit found Dr Mkhize guilty of a “lack of oversight” in the scandal involving the awarding of a $10m (£7.4m) Covid-19 communication contract.

    Money from the deal was used to buy Dr Mkhize's son a car, and he was also given around $20,000, the probe found.

    He has denied any wrongdoing.