South Africa

South Africa nullifies inquiry into Zuma's 1999 arms deal

Vauldi Carelse

BBC Africa, Johannesburg

One of the Saab Gripen fighter jets, bought by the South African military
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One of the Saab Gripen fighter jets, bought by the South African military

A High Court in South Africa has nullified the findings of a commission that found no wrongdoing in a 1999 arms procurement deal.

South Africa spent more than $2bn (£1.6bn) on military hardware for its armed forces, 20 years ago.

But the deal was mired in allegations of large-scale bribery and corruption.

Under former President Jacob Zuma a commission of inquiry was set-up to investigate these claims.

This commission cost taxpayers more than £9m.

The inquiry was meant to investigate serious corruption allegations but instead cleared politicians of wrongdoing and failed anyone accountable.

That finding has now been nullified by a High Court.

Judges found the commission ignored "highly material" evidence in its possession and failed to investigate properly.

It will now be up to the country’s prosecutors to review the evidence.

Mr Zuma is the only politician who has been charged with wrongdoing in the arms procurement - he’s currently facing 16 charges of racketeering, fraud, corruption and money laundering relating to this deal.

He denies wrongdoing and is due to stand trial in October. He has applied for a permanent stay of prosecution,

If his request is granted it would mean there can be no further action or prosecution relating to those charges.

The result of his request is expected to be revealed later this week.

Read more: What you need to know about the South Africa arms deal that landed Zuma in court

Trevor Noah 'world's fourth-richest stand-up'

Milton Nkosi

BBC Africa, Johannesburg

Trevor Noah seen on the red carpet in 2018.
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Trevor Noah is laughing all the way to the bank.

The New York-based South African stand-up comedian is the fourth-highest paid in the world, according to Forbes Rich List 2019.

It is the first time the Soweto-born star has been ranked in the magazine's top 10.

The 35-year-old raked in $28m (£23,054) last year alone from various projects, including his day job as the TV host of The Daily Show.

But the bulk of his income came from his 70-stop world tour as a stand-up comedian, making him eligible for the list of richest stand-ups. Other sources of income were his two shows on Netflix, and book sales from his bestselling autobiography Born A Crime.

While the funnyman leads African stand-ups in earnings, the number-one spot goes to the US comedian Kevin Hart who made an estimated $59m in 2018.

Man mauled to death by lions in South Africa

Milton Nkosi

BBC Africa, Johannesburg

Three lions have mauled a man to death at a game reserve north of South Africa’s capital, Pretoria.

Staff members shot and killed the animals after the attack.

"The decision to shoot the lions was made by people on the premises in order to get the deceased," spokesman for Best Care emergency services Xander Loubser told local site News24.

He added that the victim was the owner of lions on the farm in the Dinokeng Game Reserve.

A lion pictured in South Africa in 2010.
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Lions are a key attraction of South Africa's game reserves (stock image)

MPs resign amid Ramaphosa bank account leaks

Milton Nkosi

BBC Africa, Johannesburg

Cyril Ramaphosa pictured in 2018.

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa is facing the most embarrassing period of his young presidency following leaked bank statements that revealed names of donors, as well as people who received money from his CR17 fundraising campaign, set up to help him become African National Congress (ANC) leader two years ago.

Two opposition MPs from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) whose names appeared in the bank statements widely shared on social media, resigned after admitting to receiving funds from the CR17 campaign.

In her resignation letter Tebogo Mokwela stated that she received two payments of 40,000 rand ($2,600; £2,150) each "for personal use". Nkagisang Mokgosi said she had accepted the same sum of money, a decision that was "related to personal situations I had".

The EFF's deputy president tweeted out both statements:

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President Rampahosa's office has responded for the first time since the leaks at the weekend.

His spokesperson Khusela Diko said “if someone requested [money] for bereavement" it simply shows that the president is a caring and compassionate human being.

This week the president, who campaigned on a ticket of "clean government", is expected to face opposition MPs in parliament in a question-and-answer session.

Opposition MPs are already rubbing their hands together with glee in anticipation.

Relief as Cape Town water levels rise

A man fills a large water bottle from a tap
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Dams supplying the South African city of Cape Town are now 81% full, a year after a chronic water shortage almost forced officials to cut the supply off entirely.

At this time last year the level was just 53%, News24 reports.

Residents have been praised for limiting their daily consumption of water, with current guidelines banning motorists from using hosepipes to wash their cars.

"Predictions show that rainfall will decrease further over years to come. We must therefore continue to use water wisely," the local government representative for environmental affairs, Anton Bredell, told reporters.

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South Africa is second-highest producer of sulphur dioxide

Pumza Fihlani

BBC News, Johannesburg

This photo taken on September 28, 2016 in front of the Mooifontein Colliery coal supplier in  Mpumalanga province
This photo taken on September 28, 2016 in front of the Mooifontein Colliery coal supplier in Mpumalanga province

A new study has found that a town in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province has one of the highest sulphur dioxide emission rates in the world, second only to nickel smelters in Norilsk town in Russia.

Greenpeace commissioned the study using Nasa satellites to track sulphur dioxide emissions around the world.

Mpumalanga province is home to 12 coal power stations - with the highest concentration in the town of Kriel.

South Africa’s government has declared the town a “priority area” because of the environmental risk from air pollution there.

The country's electricity is mainly produced from coal and environmentalists have raised concerns about sulphur dioxide gas produced by power stations, and the health risks to communities living near them.

A previous study by Greenpeace found that Mpumalanga province also has one of the world’s highest rates of nitrogen dioxide - which has been linked to breathing problems.

The South African government is already being sued over its alleged failure to act on air pollution.

The country's main power generator - Eskom - has acknowledged that more than 300 people die prematurely each year, due to air pollution.

Environmental groups say the real figure is far higher.

South Africa power crisis: The human cost of coal-fired power stations

Cape Flats: 'Just focusing on the gangs is not fair'

How has Cape Flats community in South Africa reacted to security forces on the streets?
Last weekend 47 people were murdered in the Cape Flats area of Cape Town, South Africa. Three weeks ago the army was sent in to patrol the area to control the rising level of gang violence, but the killings continue. Why? Nadine Dirks is 23 and grew up in these townships. She argues that the violence causes the media to ignore the sense of community and culture of the area.

(Picture: Soliders patroling Cape Flats; Credit: AFP)