Anti-hijack tips from woman who learned the hard way

By Maureen Marud
Shirley Aldum, now living in Cape Town, was attacked and her car was stolen outside her then home in Johannesburg. Now she's found a way to fight back.

The attack was about five years ago but she recalls that here attacker seemed to come "out of nowhere" when she stopped her car in her home garage.

"He stuck a gun in my neck. I screamed. He said 'Shut up or I'll shoot you'."

She was dragged out of her car by her neck and then out of the garage where the man questioned her rapidly but quietly under a security light. A second man, she realised then, had an AK-47 trained on her from the bottom of the driveway.

Her attacker asked if anyone was at home.

"I appealed to him not to shoot me. He said he wouldn't if I told the truth. When he realised I was complying with his demands, he was quite calm."

By then his armed companion was reversing her car out of the driveway, rifle still pointing at her through the open driver's door.

Satisfied that her husband was not at home and that the dogs were locked up, her attacker hurled her to the ground before leaping into the moving car and disappearing as suddenly as he had arrived.

It all happened in Johannesburg just before Aldum and her husband were due to move to Cape Town. Now she is responsible for safety and security at the Rondebosch Community Improvement District office and describes herself as "passionate about security".

Aldum was at a hijack-prevention workshop for women in Sea Point, Cape Town on Saturday. She explained in an interview that the main message she would take away reinforced what she had already learned - the vital importance of vigilance.

"Unless you are alert and very aware of what is happening around you while driving you are going to end up as a hijack statistic," she said.

Kevin Smith of the VW Driving Academy, which presented the workshop in association with Cosmo magazine to about 100 women, expanded on this: "Being aware of events around you and your vehicle puts you in control."

He said the common perception that the hijacker "appeared out of nowhere" could be attributed to drivers generally being oblivious to what was happening around them. He stressed the need to appraise realistically the possibility of becoming a hijack victim: "Remedial action doesn't work in a hijacking. Take preventative action.

"Assess risks. Look out for suspicious items around or under your parked car. Be aware of what is out-of-ordinary or suspicious on familiar routes."

Some of the causes

He quoted a member of the British armed forces as saying: "The greatest weapon in a hijacker's arsenal is your belief that 'it will never happen to me'."

Smith added: "Ask yourself: do you recognise hijacking as a reality or do you think it only happens to other people?"

Factors contributing to the high incidence of hijacking countrywide included lack of work, drug addiction, gang membership, easily accessible guns, the absence of social safety nets and modern society's reluctance to take responsibility for the well-being of others, Smith said.

"There is no particular reason; they all work together. It is a chain of events."

Hijackers struck at road junctions, in shopping centre car parks, at gates or in domestic driveways, on business premises, while drivers loaded or unloaded passengers, and even on freeways.

They were most successful within five kilometres of a victim's home.

"Why? Because you're in your comfort zone, where you do not assess your potential risk," Smith said.

Bogus breakdown

Hijacking gangs usually numbered two to six, one of them a leader: "It's a military situation, not a random event. They are trained and not afraid of witnesses."

They sometimes enlisted women to create a false sense of security around a bogus breakdown.

"A woman with a baby approaching you from her nice car to ask for help is often well-dressed and seems respectable. Aren't you going to get out of your car to attend to her needs?"

All makes of cars were hijacked, some more than others: "Any car is potentially going to be hijacked. Certain cars are in demand for parts.

"Just ascertain which taxis are predominantly out there and you'll know which cars are needed for parts."

'Check your wheels

Smith recommended befriending a regular car guard at a local shopping centre who could help while loading shopping. But there's more you can do...

"Check around your car for sharp objects near the wheels - something could have been placed there for you to drive over. Hijackers in a following car know you'll stop soon with a flat tyre but don't stop - drive on to a safe place."

Hijackers frequently remove a number plate then followed the intended victim.

"You are followed and asked to pull over by somebody waving your number plate. You get out of the car, he gives you the licence plate then drives away in your car."

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   SA teenagers are trading sex for luxury goods

By Karyn Maughan
She has sex with middle-aged men for luxury goods, says she is not a prostitute and believes that if she sleeps only with white men, she won't get Aids. And she is just 15.

Caroline* is one of a growing number of teenagers engaging in the disturbing practice of "transactional" sex.

She has had unprotected sex with three different middle-aged men in exchange for an iPod, designer clothing, jewellery and top-of-the-range cellphones.

And she isn't alone in her choice of after-school activity or her belief that she isn't vulnerable to sexually transmitted disease.

'This kind of thing has always been around'
Senior Superintendent Anneke Pienaar, head of the police's Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit, told The Star that transactional sex was becoming an increasingly acceptable way for teenagers in Johannesburg and Pretoria to acquire the luxuries they crave.

"This is not 'survival sex'... it's not done for necessities like food or warm clothing," she said, adding that many were prepared to risk soliciting sex on the streets in exchange for "an MP3 upgrade".

The Star has established that while many middle-class Pretoria teenagers actively solicit on the streets, those from affluent Johannesburg homes arrange liaisons in northern suburbs malls and hotels.

"This kind of thing has always been around; it's just becoming more exposed," Pienaar said, adding that increasing pressure on teenagers to establish their social status through clothing and electronic goods had contributed to the growth of these practices.

Caroline, a high school pupil at an Auckland Park school, insists that having sex for a cellphone or pair of expensive jeans doesn't equate to prostitution.

'We don't stand on the street and wait for cars'
"I'm not a prostitute or sex worker or whatever you call it - I've just got boyfriends who like to buy me presents," she says. "But I like all of them... and they're not gross and fat and stuff."

Caroline is the oldest daughter of divorced professionals, both blissfully unaware of what she does after they drop her in Rosebank.

"My parents hate each other. So if my mom notices I have a new phone or a new pair of jeans, I just say it's from my dad. She'll never ask him because they don't talk."

Asked how she found her "boyfriends", Caroline looked irritated. "I didn't go looking for them. My friend and I went to (an upmarket Rosebank hotel) and we sat in the foyer... my friend said the guys at the hotel would buy us drinks."

She was 14 at the time.

"I met my first boyfriend when he came up and asked if we wanted drinks. He was kind of old, but he was cool. We sat with him and he asked for my number. Nothing happened then.

"He called me when he came back to Joburg and said I should have supper with him at the hotel. The waiter thought he was my dad, but he didn't mind. He knew how old I was, but said I was very mature. He gave me these really cute silver earrings and two CDs. After that we had sex."

Caroline claims she found her second and third boyfriends after visiting the same hotel - and another nearby - with her friend, who "also likes nice stuff".

"We're not skanky. We don't stand on the street and wait for cars. That's gross," she says.

"And I only sleep with white men... I won't get Aids."

Caroline says she loves Charlotte's Web, a children's movie about a pig and the spider that saves him from slaughter - and that Angelina Jolie is "awesome".

It's an all too painful reminder of just how young she is.

"It just shows you... rampant capitalism has a lot to answer for," Childline counsellor Lynne Cawood told The Star, adding that it was tragic that so many "seem not to value themselves or their bodies".

"It's also a concern that so many young girls who engage in exploitative relationships with older men might not have the social power to negotiate condom use... it makes them very vulnerable."

A United Nations study into transactional sex in southern Africa found a link between the extraordinarily high infection rates among young women and their sexual relationships with much older men in exchange for money and gifts.

Cawood pointed to a recent study that showed 25 percent of a sample group of female patients at Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital admitted engaging in transactional sex.

Patric Solomons, director of child rights group Molo Songololo, noted that even if a child made the "choice" to prostitute herself, she was still being sexually exploited.

"There is no consent in that situation," he said.

  • * Not her real name

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       Baldies warned to put sunscreen on bare heads

    By Barbara Cole
    Durban, South Africa - Baldies should always put sunscreen on their exposed heads and the back of each ear, dermatologists visiting South Africa have warned.

    And even if people have sun-damaged skin, spots or wrinkles, it is not too late to halt or even reverse these conditions, delegates attending the annual congress of the Dermatological Society of South Africa at the Durban International Convention Centre were told.

    Prof M Ramose Silva, a member of the International Board of Dermatology who is based in Rio de Janeiro, said this could be done by avoiding exposure to the sun and using a sunscreen together with other preventative measures.

    "There is no such thing as a safe tan," she said.

    'No such thing as a safe tan'
    She added that people could still get sunburnt even on cloudy days - and even if their toes were 2m under water.

    Sun, sand, snow and grass also reflected the sunlight and people could get burned if not using protective measures.

    American-based Dr Michael Gold, whose clinical research centre in Nashville, Tennessee, is one of the leading dermatologic institutions in the US, and a world leader in photodynamic therapy (it treats patients with a light source and is available in South Africa) said "if the sun comes out, I have a job".

    The incidence of skin cancers was much higher now than it had ever been and dermatologists were finally making people aware that the sun damages.

    Twenty years ago, patients with skin cancer were in their 50 to 70s. Now they are in their 20 to 30s.

    'Wear a hat and sun protection'
    Doctors often blamed Hollywood actors and actresses who always sported sun tans (and influenced their fans).

    But now actresses' skins were very pale "and we like that".

    The trend now was for doctors to advise their patients to wear sunscreens from 9am-4pm (instead of the old time of 10am-2pm).

    "And wear a hat and sun protection.

    "There's no such thing as a waterproof sunscreen."

    Gold said he used photodynamic therapy to treat skin cancers, acne, as well as rejuvenation of the skin - and to prevent cancer. Using it on patients - which he did twice a year - as a prevention method "was the future".

    He was taking part in a trial and had found that most of his patients had stayed cancer-free for a long time.

    As for the future, "the biggest thing" was non-surgical face-lifts using lasers to take away lines and wrinkles.

    Did he have any advice to pass on?

    If a mole changes size, shape or colour or a spot itches, bleeds or burns, go to a doctor or specialist for treatment.
    Daily News

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       Durban on the ball with 2010 projects

    Edward West
    DURBAN — The city is gearing up for the Fifa 2010 Soccer World Cup, with plans under way to build a new stadium and airport, according to the eThekwini municipality.

    The municipality said on Friday the Kings Park soccer stadium would be demolished so work could start on a new R1,6bn stadium in November.

    The head of the municipality’s strategic projects unit, Julie-May Ellingson, said the new stadium would be funded primarily by central government and would seat about 70000 spectators.

    Plans to construct the Dube Tradeport and King Shaka International Airport — to be situated at La Mercy, 30km north of Durban — were proceeding well.

    Dube Tradeport CE Rohan Persad said the R1,8bn development was on schedule to start operating in February 2010, ahead of the World Cup.

    The tradeport and international airport would include an export-trade zone, perishables facility, cyberport and other commercial and retail opportunities.

    Persad said the 32-month construction phase was expected to be completed in October 2009 and proposals were being sought from short-listed contractors.

    An environmental impact assessment was under way, as were negotiations with the Airports Company SA (Acsa) about decommissioning the existing Durban airport and the equity role that Acsa would play at Dube Tradeport, Persad said.

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       Show set to rev Durban

    There are cars to admire and prizes to be won from the Sunday Tribune next Sunday at the Autostyle Motor Show. For admirers of finely tuned and souped up vehicles there will be plenty to see - and hear - between 9am and 6pm at 1-3 Jubilee Grove (opposite Gateway).

    The official Iasca sound-off will see contestants' sound equipment turned up to the max as officials read the intensity with a decibel meter. For Castrol Dyno Day contestants' vehicles are strapped to a machine that calculates the maximum output of the engine.

    And, of course, there will also be an array of snazzy cars on display to inspect and envy. If you can't afford one of your own, you needn't leave empty handed. With the help of the Sunday Tribune you could win one of three prizes:

    First up is a radio controlled Skyline GTR R34 valued at R1 000. Second prize is a BMW hamper, and third a Kia hamper. To win, call 082 231 5792 and answer the question: When is the Autostyle Motor Show being held?

    Lines open at 7am today and will remain open until midnight on Tuesday. Calls are charged at standard rates. Winners will be notified by telephone.


       Field of 12 000 runners for Comrades

    Pietermaritzburg - Comrades Marathon organisers have confirmed a field of 11 933 men and women to participate in the 81st running of the Comrades Marathon on Youth Day - Friday, 16 June 2006. The figure is similar to the previous two "Up Runs", which in 2004 attracted 12 059 competitors and in 2002 a field of 12 167.

    While still in the throes of processing and resolving final queries related to entries, Race Manager, Renee Smith confirmed on Saturday that the administration has captured and confirmed 9 941 men and 1992 women to date. By the time these queries have been resolved, they anticipate the field of over 12 000 competitors.

    At 5.30am on Friday, 16 June Durban Mayor, Obed Mlaba will fire the gun to officially start the 2006 Comrades Marathon, setting off a field of runners from every corner of the country and around the world on a historic pilgrimage, which is steeped in folklore and tradition.

    Their journey will follow in the footsteps of the 76 515 brave men and women who have previously completed the distance since the first Comrades Marathon was staged from Pietermaritzburg to Durban on 24 May 1921.

    It attracted its largest number of competitors in 2000
    QuickwireOn that occasion a bedraggled bunch of just 34 athletes and soldiers faced the starters pistol outside the Pietermaritzburg City Hall to participate in an event which was conceived to commemorate the courage, camaraderie, hardships and sacrifice of the soldiers who fought in the first World War.

    Although that first event was to produce just 16 finishers, it so completely inspired the nation that the race attracted a phenomenal 89 starters as the direction of the race was reversed from Durban to Pietermaritzburg in 1922, thus beginning the tradition of alternating Up Runs and Down Runs on an annual basis.

    Over the years the number of entries has fluctuated widely, as the Comrades Marathon has withstood fluctuations in the popularity of the sport of athletics, as well as the ravages of war, depression, apartheid, isolation, commercialism, professionalism and globalisation.

    The race attracted its lowest number of competitors - 19 in 1936, 20 in 1938 and 22 in 1946, with the race having been suspended during the war years 1941 to 1945.

    It attracted its largest number of competitors - 24 505 as it celebrated its 75th running, which coincided with the millennium in 2000.

    It was between 1971 and 1985 that the Comrades Marathon experienced its greatest period of growth from 1 000 to 10 000 competitors, catching a ride on a world-wide road running boom.

    This period also coincided with the exploits of two Comrades Marathon greats - Alan Robb during the late 1970's and Bruce Fordyce in the 1980's, as well as coinciding with the advent of live television coverage in the 1980's.

    With the exception of the millennium event Comrades Marathon entries have remained steady between 12 000 and 15 000 since 1991, with "Down Runs" in general being perceived as easier and thus attracting more entries than "Up Runs".

    The intensity of competition is such that in recent years no single athlete has been able to establish the sort of dominance with which the Comrades legendary heroes of previous decades have been associated with the race.

    The race remains however a personal odyssey of courage, commitment and exceptional achievement for each and every one of the individual men and women who tackle it each year, as well as an inspiration to the nation. - Sapa

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       KZN Takes Steps to Eradicate Illiteracy

    By Sibusiso Mboto - Pietermaritzburg
    The KwaZulu-Natal Education Department today unveiled plans to eradicate illiteracy among close to two million people.

    Briefing over 150 senior officials in the department about the "Masifundisane" campaign, department head Cassius Lubisi said the campaign would enable people in rural areas particularly, to read and write, and thus be able to fill in any form without assistance.

    "This campaign will go a long way towards giving them dignity as reading and writing opens doors for people," said Dr Lubisi

    He added that everyone needed to commit to the project and help the " marginalized" to be part of the broader process of development.

    The province has the highest rate of illiteracy in the country with 1.9 million people unable to read or write.

    This prompted Premier Sbu Ndebele to initiate the project to deal with the problem.

    Churches, temples, NGOs and other spheres of society are expected to be part of the campaign that the Premier will officially launch in August.

    Masifundisane means let us teach one another, and according to Dr Lubisi, the campaign will also yield benefits to volunteers and others who will be part of the campaign.

    "People should not think that illiteracy is equivalent to ignorance and should be eager to learn from the people that they would be teaching."

    The department has set aside R50 million in the current financial year to make a difference to about 50 000 people by March next year.

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       Radebe throws down gauntlet to taxi industry

    By Xoliswa Zulu
    Transport Minister Jeff Radebe warned on Thursday that the taxi recapitalisation programme would be implemented no matter what, and that the transport department would not be held to ransom.

    The KwaZulu-Natal Transport Alliance, however, slated the programme and vowed that it would not be pressured into falling in line.

    At the launch of the new Mtshebeni Taxi Rank in Inanda, north of Durban, Radebe said that the May 31 deadline for the conversion of taxi route permits to licences, a key part of the programme, would not be extended.

    The alliance has been fighting implementation of the recapitalisation programme since its announcement in 1999 and said that it refuses to be dictated to by the department.

    The aim of the recapitalisation programme is to introduce new safety requirements for the taxi industry and to scrap more than 10 000 vehicles of the current fleet by the end of December.

    The current fleet is to be replaced by new, larger and safer vehicles. Taxi operators would be paid R50 000 for each old taxi scrapped.

    Some taxi operators are concerned about the cost of the new vehicles and the possibility of job losses in the industry.

    Radebe said on Thursday that the department would not back down and that it expected all operators to have converted their permits to licences by the end of this month. Thus far, 80 percent of operators countrywide have applied for the conversion.

    "This initiative shows that government wants to support the taxi industry. This is an intervention by government to bring about safe, effective, reliable, affordable and accessible taxi operations by introducing new taxi vehicles.

    "We are not going back with this process, but forward and, by July, we will be introducing the new vehicles.

    "We are very happy with the operators who have applied for conversion and we have taken a decision not to extend the deadline over May 31. If there are circumstances beyond their control (for not meeting the deadline), they should bring a letter of motivation, and their cases will be considered."

    Radebe said the recapitalisation programme would be implemented in KwaZulu-Natal in spite of the alliance's objections.

    "Those who don't convert will not be able to operate on our roads... our legal position is very clear: Those people who do not convert will lose their operating licences and those found on the roads operating illegally will have the law dealing with them."

    The alliance's chairperson, Eugene Hadebe, was still defiant. He said the Transport Department would not tell them what to do and the alliance's members would not convert their permits by next week.

    He said that the taxi industry was their business and they would not be told what to do by the government.
    Mercury new

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       Protest over loss of radio station licence

    By Irene Kuppan
    Thousands of people in Durban spent Ascension Day on Thursday protesting against what they believe is the undermining of religious freedom.

    Singing religious songs and carrying placards, the crowd gathered at the offices of the Independent Communication Authority of South Africa (Icasa) to show their disapproval at Icasa's decision not to renew a local radio station's licence.

    Good News Community Radio, which broadcasts on 98fm is based just outside Verulam, is expected to stop broadcasting in June. This is as a result of Icasa's decision to grant the community radio licence to Izwi Lomzansi instead of Good News Community Radio.

    'Icasa kept ignoring the 96 000 tax-paying listeners'
    Icasa earlier said that station GNCR's licence was not being renewed because it did not cater for language diversity and the programming was not inclusive because the station was solely Christian-based.

    On Thursday listeners of the radio station and community members demonstrated to show their unhappiness.

    When this proved unsuccessful, some of the crowd staged a sit-in at the Icasa office, demanding to meet a representative from Icasa who would listen to their demands.

    Balan Moodley, chairperson of the Concerned Listeners' Committee, said the protest was a last resort after they had tried unsuccessfully to meet with Icasa on a number of occasions to discuss their grievance.

    "From March last year the Concerned Listeners Committee has been trying to arrange a meeting with Icasa to list our demands. Icasa was not prepared to meet with us because they said the matter was before the court."

    He said even after the court case had been settled in favour of Icasa, there was no response from the authority on a possible meeting with the listeners.

    "Icasa kept ignoring the 96 000 tax-paying listeners and that is why we had to resort to a protest."

    Moodley said that the community felt Icasa's decision not to renew Good News Community Radio's licence was part of a "systematic onslaught on religious broadcasting", particularly on Christian radio stations.

    In recent years a number of Christian radio stations, such as West Rand Stereo, Radio Pulpit, KNI Radio, Radio 7, Impact FM, Radio Ripple, Link FM and Radio Kingfisher had either been refused a four-year licence or were involved in legal battles to stay on air, he said.

    Moodley said that after a few hours of protesting outside and "sitting in", they were eventually met by an Icasa representative, to whom they handed over a memorandum.

    When the Daily News contacted Icasa's Durban office, no one was prepared to comment on the protest or sit in.
    Daily News

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       KZN adult literacy programme to benefit millions

    Close to two million illiterate people from different parts of KwaZulu-Natal are set to benefit from the Masifundisane Adult Literacy campaign.

    Cassius Lubisi, the education superintendent of the province, has announced the campaign, whose name means 'let us teach each other'. The campaign, led by the education department and the office of the premier, is aimed at wiping out illiteracy by the year 2008.

    Lubisi said a programme of this nature has been used in countries such as Cuba, Venezuela and New Zealand. He said that they chose this large scale mass campaign because it deals decisively with illiteracy. Lubisi added that they are confident that the campaign will, unlike adult basic education training programme, be able to optimise the gaols it should achieve.

    Ina Cronjé, the KwaZulu-Natal education MEC, welcomed the campaign and says every South Afrian citizen has a right to education.

    The campaign will be officially launched by S'bu Ndebele, the province’s premier, in a few months time.

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       DA calls for investigation into KZN police

    The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the eThekwini Municipality has called for a multi-party investigation into affairs of the city's police service. This comes amid calls by the chief constable's detractors for a new broom to sweep through the service until the probe findings are concluded.

    Allegations of missing police-issue firearms, low staff morale and the mismanagement of the 2000-strong service have surfaced recently. Mike Sutcliffe, the city manager, has dismissed claims of a news blackout. He said he will only comment on the allegations after he has made his own findings public.

    Today morale is said to be low among officers, following a series of allegations about resignations of senior staff and general unhappiness about working conditions. Some senior staff have resigned.

    In addition a recent audit ordered by the city manager, it was revealed that a number of firearms belonging to the Metro police were lost, stolen or not unaccounted. The police are also investigating these cases. In some instances, it's alleged that police-issue weapons were used in at least two crimes - one of which was used to shoot a Metro police officer during an attempted hijacking.

    DA alleges police and criminals are in cahoots
    More disturbing is the DA's claim of alleged collusion between police officers and crime suspects. The party claims that the weapon used in the shooting of the police officer was allegedly bought from on-duty Metro police officers.

    The DA says the multi-party inquiry, instead of a one-man probe by the city manager, should be tasked to also investigate allegations of racism, poor salaries, nepotism and corruption. It cautions that the probe must not be perceived to be a whitewash.

    John Steenhuisen, the DA caucus leader, says: "That's why we believe that a multi-party investigation must be set up by the council that will hold hearings, call witnesses, ask people to appear before it and answer questions in public manner, particularly because Metro police is a public body, and the council is a public body".

    But the DA appears to be isolated in its multi-party probe call. Other opposition parties like the Minority Front (MF) and IFP have closed ranks with the ANC in supporting the city's current handling of the matter. They will also not pre-empt the findings of the current probe.

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       Zulu Rally fever hits Durban

    By Carvin Goldstone
    Durban will come alive to the sound of roaring rally car engines tomorrow when the Zulu Rally South Africa begins with a twin route cavalcade to the city hall before proceeding to an opening ceremony at the ICC later.

    One parade will begin at the Blue Waters Hotel, and the second at the Durban University of Technology, leading to the city hall.

    With eight different countries participating, the Zulu Rally will be the biggest staged in the country. It will run from tomorrow until Saturday, as part of the Federation Internationale de L'Automobile (FIA) African Rally and South African National Rally Championships.

    It will be South Africa's candidate event, forming part of the country's bid for inclusion in the World Rally Championship (WRC).

    South Africa's hosting of the event will be judged by the FIA and has been backed by the Department of Sport and Recreation, Motorsport South Africa, Tourism KwaZulu-Natal and the eThekwini Municipality.

    City Manager Mike Sutcliffe said the rally formed part of the city's 2010 and beyond strategy aimed at using big events to improve the tourism base, market the city and bring in more jobs.

    "We haven't had an international rally event in Africa except for the Dakar Rally, but this province and city are able to give rally drivers what they need in the form of wide open roads and muddy terrain. We need to show the international Formula One community that we are capable of hosting this type of event and this is a testing ground and an investment," said Sutcliffe.

    If the event was successful then Durban could find itself in the big league of the world rally championships and would not only be promoting the city but also the continent.

    The city had been assisting the Zulu Rally with marketing.

    The event will also include the V-Max Motorsport Festival at the Durban Exhibition Centre. V-Max is an interactive motorsport exhibition where fans can "touch and feel" motorsport through a number of participatory activities offering competitors, fans and enthusiasts an all-in-one weekend of spectacular action and participation.

    The V-Max festival's prime attraction will be the Live Action Arena, in Centrum Park across the road from the Exhibition Centre.

    The rally service park will also be at the Exhibition Centre allowing enthusiasts to catch a glimpse of rally crew members.

    Zulu Rally spokesman Steve Mearns said there were only six WRC Candidate rallies to be run throughout the world and spectators could look forward to an event of international calibre.

    The Belgian, Zambian and South Africa team cars arrived in Durban yesterday and drivers were putting the finishing touches on their cars.

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       NRI woman claims she is Lord Jesus

    A Hindu woman here has said she is Jesus Christ and claims to have the "stigmata of Jesus" on her palms, feet and stomach, as well as the power to heal the sick.

    Katherine Jhawarelall, 35, who has a degree in criminology, said on Tuesday that she was born with the stigmata and also claimed that Hebrew scriptures and religious symbols from the Bible appear on the walls of her home, the Post newspaper reported.

    Stigmata are marks or sensations in locations corresponding to the crucification wounds of Jesus Christ.

    Jhawarelall claimed she did not know the significance of the stigmata until two years ago.

    When reporters from the Post visited Jhawarelall at her home, she pointed out sketches of angels and a cross on the walls.

    A sign, which she claimed was written in Hebrew, was also etched in her front lawn, the report said.

    Jhawarelall told the Post that on the morning of her 33rd birthday on May 15, 2004, she woke up with a swollen arm and realised a message was written on her skin: "Happy birthday Katherine. God gave you life."

    She was quoted as saying that she was initially startled "but eventually came to realise and accept who she was".

    "People have condemned my claim. Some have even called me a fake and Satan. However, I believe this reaction is attributed to the fact that I am female and a Hindu. Jesus Christ is universal irrespective of race, colour or creed," she told the Post, adding: "I am now the child of God."

    Jhawarelall said her family was forced to flee their Kharwastan home when word about her powers got out and she began receiving death threats.

    The family then moved to their current residence in the Seaview area "where the miracles have continued to happen".

    Religious leaders in Durban have condemned Jhawarelall's claims and have warned people to be "wary of her revelation", the Post reported.

    Kingdom Network International founder Bishop Johnny Frank said: "In the Bible there is no talk of reincarnation and certainly not of Jesus Christ being reincarnated as a woman in this life.

    Jesus is God and He will come to us in the same form as when he was resurrected. I pray that accuracy and clarity will be revealed to Katherine through the Holy Spirit."

    Jhawarelall, however, is unfazed. "I carry the legacy that Jesus Christ is the Archangel Michael and He is universal. In Judaism he is Mikael, in Hinduism he is Shiva, Saraswathie, Luxmi, Lord Krishna and Shirdi Baba, in Christianity he was Jesus Christ and in Islam he is Hasrat Mikael," she was quoted as saying.

    Jhawarelall's parents, Jay Hiralall, 63, and Thara, 60, told the Post that they had accepted their daughter's calling and believed she was Jesus because they had seen the miracles in their home.

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       Cronje proposes metal detectors for schools

    By Sejal Desai
    KwaZulu-Natal Education MEC Ina Cronje has proposed the installation of metal detectors and the application of search-and-seizure operations to combat the increase in violence at schools involving the use of weapons.

    Cronje made the recommendations while visiting two schools in Durban where pupils had been injured and killed recently.

    Although welcomed by parent and teacher bodies, her proposals were criticised for not providing a long-term solution to the problem of violence at schools.

    'This is not the way to go'
    Cronje met the Discipline, Safety and Security committees of Hillgrove Secondary in Newlands West and Chesterville Secondary School on Monday.

    At Hillgrove, a bullet grazed pupil Jane Hlongwa's thigh last week when a classmate fired a gun while class was in session. He was allegedly showing his uncle's gun off to classmates at the time.

    At Chesterville Secondary, a pupil fatally stabbed a classmate with a pair of scissors last month. It is believed the two were engaged in horseplay when one pupil was stabbed in the neck.

    At Pinetown Boys' Secondary, a matric pupil also recently faced criminal charges after a gun he was carrying went off on a school bus, paralysing one pupil and wounding another.

    Cronje suggested the use of metal detectors to prevent pupils from entering schools with weapons and suggested that search-and-seizure operations also be used.

    Cronje said parents needed to take responsibility for their children and prevent similar incidents.

    Sayed Rajack, Chairperson of the Parents' Association of KwaZulu-Natal, said Cronje's recommendations would not be an effective preventative measure. "This is not the way to go. If I wanted to bypass the detector and enter with a weapon, I could do so with a dangerous, non-metal object," he said.

    Rajack added the MEC had failed to address the underlying issues which led to violence at schools. "We need to address the socio-economic problems of each community and the department needs to play an instrumental role in encouraging all parents to attend school meetings," he said.

    Basil Manuel, spokesperson for the Association of Professional Educators of KwaZulu-Natal, welcomed Cronje's suggestions but concurred with Rajack that metal detectors were only a short-term measure.

    "The violence at our schools is a societal problem. Parents need to get closer to the school and the department needs to help change the mindset of the families; they need to take responsibility for their kids," he said.

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       Durban cleans up its act ahead of 2010 showdown

    Durban has begun to rid the city of street children and vagrants ahead of the 2010 Soccer World Cup games it is to host. Derelict buildings and ramshackle accommodations in the inner city are also coming down under its urban renewal programme.

    Homeless children are being cared for in places of safety, while run down buildings re being converted in to bed and breakfast establishments in the city's notorious Point Road red light district. The city authorities are working in partnership with social welfare bodies and NGO's like the National Community Projects and Crime Prevention Organisation.

    By transforming a number of the city's eyesores into havens for homeless children and adults, the eThekwini Municipality hopes this campaign will help reduce crime in the city. Occupants of the abandoned buildings were taken to alternative accommodations - the children will be put in the care of district social workers and their identities were recorded on the department of home affairs' data base.

    Urban renewal programme still needs work
    Lungisile Mphetstshwa, an eThekwini municipality officer in the safer city department, says: "If there are still street children roving around the city, Durban residents are not safe".

    The National Community Projects and Crime Prevention Organisation says it's working tirelessly to clean the Point Road district. Krish Naidoo, a reverend and leader of the National Community Projects and Crime Prevention Organisation, says: "We have identified our crime generators such as homeless people, abandoned buildings and street children. Our main concern is that our children are being used as pawns as drug traffickers".

    The city authorities admit their urban renewal programme still has some way to go before the city is to ready to host the 2010 World Cup.
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       Durban gears up for Zulu Rally

    By Barbara Cole
    This week's big Zulu car rally will add value to Durban's vision of being "South Africa's Playground", Mayor Obed Mlaba said yesterday.

    He said this as organisers continued to put giant banners around town promoting the May 25-28 Zulu Rally that will see 64 drivers from Africa and Europe descend on the city for the first internationally-accredited championship in the province.

    It was important for cities to set the direction they wanted to go, instead of being "wishy-washy," he said.

    "This city is very focused," he said, referring to its "South Africa Playground" vision.

    People were always knocking on the city's doors with concepts - and expecting the municipality to pay for them.

    But unless the events added value or enhanced the vision, they would not be entertained, he said.

    Businesses in the city should learn from Durban's sister cities of Leeds and Chicago.

    Those cities had at least 15 national and international events a year and local businesses financed them. The people who came up with the concepts never looked to their local municipality for funding, Mlaba said.

    Organiser and general manager, Cindy de Vries, explained that unlike January's A1 Grand Prix which involved cars racing together around a route, the Zulu Rally would be on normal dirt roads in three separate routes: in the Sibaya area, in the Inanda Valley and the Richmond forests.

    But there would be several events, an interactive exhibition, and parades around Durban.

    On Thursday, one of two parades will start in front of the Blue Waters Hotel at 3pm, travel along the Golden Mile to Smith Street and end at the City Hall. The second begins at the Durban University of Technology, travel to Warwick Junction, into West Street and end at the City Hall, where Deputy Mayor Logie Naidoo will greet the drivers.

    The ceremonial start will be in Walnut Road (between the ICC and the Durban Exhibition Centre) at 6pm on Thursday.

    It will be free to the public and spectators will also be able to get schedule guides, explaining all about the routing and how to get to the various viewing points.

    Then, on Friday morning, the first cars will leave the service park at the North Plaza of the DEC at 6.03am.

    A unique Rally Village is also to be created at Greenhills, Richmond, where cars will race past spectators at least twice. This costs R20 an adult and food will be on sale.

    * For more information? Contact De Vries at 082 894 0663.
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       UFO 'crashes' into KZN sea

    Port Shepstone - The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) is monitoring a mysterious situation on the KZN south coast.

    "Numerous" eye-witnesses reported an unidentified flying object crashing into the sea on Saturday.

    NSRI Shelley Beach station commander, Eddie Noyons, said eye-witnesses had reported an unidentified object - possibly an aircraft - crashing into the sea behind the breaker line off-shore of the Port Shepstone High School.

    Police, rescue craft and a fixed wing aircraft were alerted to the scene to investigate.

    Noyons said: "Following a full-scale search of the area covering 12 square nautical miles nothing has been found.

    "There are no reports of activity in the area that may be related to this incident and there are no aircraft reported overdue or missing."

    He said numerous eye-witnesses - including teachers and pupils attending a sports event at the high school, by-standers and local fishermen - were convinced they had seen an aircraft go into the water.

    They said they saw smoke and described "water exploding".

    Some also reported seeing flames.

    Noyons said: "Some reported seeing something, an unidentified object, splash into the sea causing a ripple effect of waves."

    Noyons said it was being presumed that weather activity in the area at the time might have given the impression of something falling into the sea.

    " We will continue to monitor the situation, which remains a mystery," he said.

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       Storm leaves trail of damage and flooding

    By Roy Barford
    Hailstones the size of golf balls battered KwaZulu-Natal from Pietermaritzburg to Durban and up to Empangeni in Zululand late on Friday afternoon, causing major damage and flooding.

    The Independent on Saturday received reports of hail from Pietermaritzburg, Cato Ridge, Kloof, Pinetown, Durban North, Stanger and Empangeni.

    Torrential rain, with hail and strong winds struck the greater Empangeni area causing localised flooding during a violent thunderstorm that moved rapidly up the North Coast.

    Severe lightning
    The unseasonal storm - and hail which is rarely seen on the Zululand coast - was accompanied by severe lightning.

    Pietermaritzburg locals said the hailstones that hit the city were the biggest they had seen in two decades. Some of the hailstones were larger than golf balls. Car and house windows were smashed as the massive stones pelted down for around 15 minutes.

    Many people were stranded at work for several hours as the streets were too flooded for them to drive home.

    Traffic was snarled in Durban as motorists battled through the dangerous conditions.

    Rajen Chinaboo, spokesperson for the Road Traffic Inspectorate, said that aside from extensive hail damage to cars caught in the hailstorm, no major accidents had been reported.

    Hail damage to cars
    The South African Weather Service had predicted only a 30 percent chance of rain for Pietermaritzburg on Friday.

    Weather staff at the Durban International Airport said they had recorded 24,8mm of rain between 3pm and 6.30pm. Staff said that there was a 60 percent chance of evening thundershowers in Durban on Saturday.

    In Pinetown the storm lasted for 15 minutes. "The majority of the hail came down in one minute; it was very intense," said Pinetown resident Robin Hood.

    "Afterwards, there was a really strong smell of sap from all the trees that had lost their branches. This is the first hail I have seen in Pinetown in the six years I have been here."

    Rose Milbank of Kloof, who works in a shop which sells carpets, said she was hit on the back and foot by hailstones while covering her car with offcuts and it looks as if she had been "playing paintball".

    The fire brigade had to be called in to pump water out of a house in Springfield that was badly flooded. The house belonged to an elderly unemployed woman.

    East Coast Radio's "traffic guy", Johann van Bargen, warned motorists to avoid the Durban city centre because traffic had come to a standstill.

    The storm did not affect the province's hinterland. Midlands residents in areas beyond Pietermaritzburg said they had not had any rain.

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       Billabong Junior Series '06 gets underway in Cape Town

    2006 Billabong Junior Series

    Surfing South Africa
    St Mikes, Durban, Cape Town, Victoria Bay & Jeffreys Bay
    February - August 2006

    Wintery conditions for Billabong Junior Series in Cape Town

    Leaden skies, pouring rain, onshore SW winds, temperatures in the low teens and small half metre crumbling waves gave the teenaged contestants a taste of winter on the second day of the Billabong Junior Series event at Tableview in Cape Town on Friday.

    The day’s program comprised the first three rounds of the U16 and U14 boys’ events along with opening two rounds of the U12’s and despite the inclement conditions, the 76 competitors took to the surf with enthusiasm, displaying the incredible depth of surfing talent emerging in this country.

    The outstanding performances in the U16 boys again came from SA junior team member Shaun Joubert (Mossel Bay), a bronze medalist in last week’s ISA world surfing champs in Brazil, teammate Matthew Bromley and fellow Kommetjie residents Brendon Gibbens and Daniel Mace, KZN’s current ratings leader Chad du Toit (Berea) and third seed Shawn Dennis (Scottburgh) along with the Eastern Cape’s Dale Staples (St Francis Bay), the second seed here, and Nick Godfrey (Cape St Francis).

    West Coast locals also showed they have plenty of future surf stars in the making with Melkbosstrand’s Justin Torode, Adriaan de Kock and JJ Rattey all qualifying for places in the quarter-finals of this division.

    The early rounds of the U14’s saw Jeandre Blignaut (Melkbos), Sam Moore (Muizenberg), Daniel Wilson (Tokai) and Bianca Buitendag (George) qualify for round three. There they encountered the likes of James Lowe (Kommetjie), Heidi Palmboom (Bluff), Scott Leferve (Durban) and Jean du Plessis (East London) with the top eight seeds only entering the fray on Saturday.

    The U12 division produced the biggest first round upsets when the third and sixth seeds, Josh Smit and Sarah Baum (both Athlone Park, KZN) were relegated to the repecharge round by Kommetjie’s Benji Brand, who returned last week from a six month stay in Hawaii with his family, and newcomer Diran Zakarian (Melkbos). However the seeds successfully advanced out of the repo’s to join the likes of top seed Max Armstrong (Kommetjie), Durban event winner Michael Venter (Warner Beach, KZN) and fourth seed Steven Sawyer (Jeffreys Bay) in the last 16 of this, the youngest division in the event.

    Sanctioned by Surfing South Africa (SSA), the national controlling body for the sport, with the Pro Junior (U20) boys and girls’ divisions also sanctioned by ASP Africa, the third Billabong Junior Series event of 2006 is scheduled to continue until Sunday.

    Even more testing conditions are forecast for Saturday when a strong ‘black Southeaster’ wind is predicted to blow all the cold and wet weather back across the Peninsula while the swell is expected to rise.

    Saturday’s program sees the U20 boys and girls, the U16’s and U12’s reduced to the last eight with the U14’s down to the last 16. The day’s action starts at 8am with the likes of international stars Jordy Smith (Umbilo, Durban), the runner-up in the U18 boys’ division at the ISA world junior champs in Brazil, fellow full-time world tour campaigner Damien Fahrenfort, series champ Brandon Jackson (Durban North) and a host of top SA standouts in action in the last 32 of the Pro Junior boys.

    Sunday features the semi-finals and finals in all divisions along with the popular Von Zipper Air Show with its winner-takes-all R1 800 payout for the surfer successfully executing the best aerial manoeuvre after boosting himself and his surfboard off the face of the wave and into the air.

    Third Event Of The Series Gets Underway At Tableview, Cape Town

    Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 19 May, 2006 : - - The third event in the 2006 Billabong Junior Series got underway in difficult one mete (3 foot) onshore waves at Tableview in Cape Town today with organisers opting to run the first three rounds of premier 70 strong Pro Junior (U20) boys division.

    SA national junior team captain Klee Strachan (Amanzimtoti) and teammate Shaun Joubert (Mossel bay), who placed third in the ISA world surfing champs U16 division in Brazil last Sunday, were the standouts of the day, recording excellent rides in the tricky conditions.

    Having only moved to KwaZulu-Natal last year after growing up on the Cape Peninsula, Strachan was accustomed to the conditions and showed his class to advance through two rounds to the reach the last 32 in the Pro Junior boys where he will meet top 16 seeds Rudy Palmboom (Bluff) and Josch Schmeltzer (Westville) along with fellow qualifier Brendon Gibbens (Kommetjie) on Saturday.

    Joubert, a future international surf star in the making, was equally dominant. Seeded to the third round, the 2005 Billabong Junior Series U14 champ displayed maturity beyond his years to overcome a slow start to his 20 minute heat and was rewarded with an outstanding 7.0 points (out of a possible 10) for a manoeuvre packed ride after his first four rides were scored one point each.

    Locals to feature included reigning WP Open champion and SA U20 runner-up Josh Salie and fellow Kommetjie residents Brett Shearer, Gibbens and Luke Christie-Smith. Peder Christensen (Strand) advanced through two rounds as did Jamie Lawrence (Cape St Francis) and Dane Monks (Umhlanga Rocks) while U16 second seed Dale Staples (St Francis Bay) and U14 third seed Beyrick de Vries (Umhlanga) also qualified for the last 32 in the U20 event.

    A full day of hi-performance surfing is expected at Tableview on Friday starting at 8am with three rounds of the U16 and U14 divisions, plus two rounds of u12’s scheduled to be completed as the huge field stake their claims for the more than R30 000 in prize-money at stake, along with the invaluable ratings points that count towards the crowning of the series champions at Jeffreys Bay in August.

    The Cape Town event in the popular and prestigious national circuit for surfers 20 years-old and younger has attracted a 2006 series record 190 entries and requires a full four days of competition to crown champions in the Pro Junior boys and girls, U12, U14 and U16 divisions. The finals in all categories, along with the coveted Von Zipper Airshow, will be staged on Sunday.

    The Billabong Junior Series is sanctioned by Surfing South Africa (SSA), the national controlling body for the sport. The U20 boys and girls’ divisions are also sanctioned by ASP Africa.

    The series is proudly supported by FNB, who contribute 50% of the prize-pool and cover the travel costs of the four Pro Junior boys and top girl who are invited to compete in the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships in Australia each January; Mentos sweets; Mrs Palmers surf wax, Drench hair-care products for the girls; Salt Water Girl and Zigzag magazines and Blackfoot Productions who record, produce and flight the 30 minute television show on SuperSport covering each of the five events.

    The 2006 Billabong Junior Series started in St Mikes on the KZN South Coast (February 23-26) followed by Durban (March 30-April 2). After Cape Town the series moves to Victoria Bay in the Southern Cape (June 15-18) and wraps up in Jeffreys Bay (August 5-8) where the 10th annual series champions will be crowned.
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       School raids authorised

    By Miranda Andrew
    Police have been given the authority to search pupils at any public school at any time without a search warrant if they have reasonable suspicion that drugs or weapons are being taken into the school.

    And this, said Education Department spokeswoman, Christi Naude, can be done without consent from the school principal or governing body.

    This is the message from provincial education authorities after a meeting between national education director-general Duncan Hindle and provincial education ministers earlier this week.

    At the weekend Hindle said many school heads and teachers had been under the impression that they did not have the right to search pupils for dangerous weapons on school premises but that these powers were available to them.

    The confirmation of these powers comes in the wake of several incidents where pupils have been injured with weapons at schools, including the shooting of several pupils by other pupils who had brought firearms to their schools.

    Previously, police searched schools only when asked to do so by principals. The police would only be allowed to search the school on the date and time specified by the principal.

    "But, with this instruction, police can call up a school principal at any time and say that they would like to search the pupils as they have reasonable suspicion that weapons or drugs were carried into the school premises," said police spokeswoman Insp Rani John yesterday.

    And this, she said, can be done without a search warrant. If the school principal refuses to allow such a search, the police could go to a higher authority to gain a warrant.

    Principals and teachers can also exercise the same powers without a warrant in the absence of a police official. Any person who enters the school may also be subjected to a search.

    Naude said, however, there were procedures to be followed. "Only if the police have a reasonable suspicion (of criminal activity) can they carry out such a search.

    "They can do this without consent from the governing body or principal," she said.

    Naude said in the absence of police, a principal or teacher can carry out the search if there is reasonable suspicion.

    "But, we must stress that the core function of a teacher is to educate and not to be a policeman," she said.

    Naude added that Education Minister Ina Cronje will be visiting the three schools in Durban where children recently became victims of violence. This includes Hillgrove Secondary in Newlands West, Pinetown Boys' High and Chesterville Secondary.

    "If we want to clamp down on crime in schools, we need the parents, community and schools to work with us," said Naude.

    The chairman of the Parents Association in KZN, Sayed Rajack, said they welcomed the idea that police can search pupils in this way. However, he cautioned against principals and teachers searching pupils.

    He said police know the law and have the necessary skills to carry out searches.
    Reginald Chiliza, chairman of the KZN School Governing Bodies Association, said he felt the police should obtain a warrant and permission from school governing bodies before searches are carried out.

    "Police cannot come into a school without a search warrant and without consent from the governing body.

    "Just because they are the police, it does not mean that they are above the law."
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       A clouded national psyche revealed after acquittal

    JACOB Zuma’s acquittal provoked responses from a range of quarters that are deeply disturbing.

    Why he, and not the woman, is considered a villain remains
    puzzling but it gives us a peep into the nation’s psyche. The Sunday Times (May 14), not least, has played a leading role in feeding this psychosis, with its histrionic headline: “Zuma divides the nation”. Had it noted the thoughtful articles published on its own pages by Robin Palmer, professor of law at University of KwaZulu-Natal, and David Masondo, the Communist Youth League leader, its editorial would have been more measured.

    Palmer brilliantly expounds Judge Willem van der Merwe’s judgment in the hope that the public distinguish fact from emotional fiction. One cannot shout rape falsely against anyone, let alone a high-profile politician, and expect to get away with it. This fallacious charge has thrust Zuma’s private life on to the national stage. Masondo correctly warns against blurring the lines between Zuma’s right to a fair trial and his right to privacy, as problematic as that might be for feminists.

    Van der Merwe’s verdict was a victory of legal justice over political intrigue. Just as false accusations of racism undermine what the struggle against racial domination was all about, so too do false claims of rape undermine the struggle against violence against women. It would have helped if the media and feminist act-ivists took note of the evidence before making insinuations about Zuma.

    Zuma’s supporters were jubilant, and rightly so, because they knew this was a set up. They are also angry that a huge, expensive court process was put in motion in reaction to a vexatious accuser who is allowed to shout rape falsely, and so mobilising a train of reactions that expose Zuma’s private life, making him the laughing stock of the nation, when others in leadership positions live equally profligate lives.

    They also know this case was prioritised over a long queue of serious rape cases that are not being fast-tracked and not given the visibility they deserve. This is what feminists should be marching about.

    They also know that the state machinery is being used ruthlessly against presidential hopefuls when other scandals warrant equal urgency.

    The reactions of some sections of the media were equally interesting. At a Radio 702 press conference, the media did not expect Zuma to apologise for having unprotected sex, nor did they expect him to call on his supporters not to harass the complainant. So they were quick to call it a “charm offensive”, because to them Zuma should have been found guilty, because this at least would have been one obstacle to his race for presidential power.

    The feminist response was equally disappointing. As is their wont, they assumed the accused guilty before they heard the evidence and twisted the evidence to such an extent that Zuma came across as the proverbial male chauvinist swine clinging to all the stereotypes about women that feminists abhor. So when he was found not guilty, they continued to vilify him.

    And why were people disappointed when he was acquitted?

    Zuma, by his own admission, is an uneducated peasant who rose to power through his political involvement in the struggle over a long period. There is nothing wrong with this.

    But Zuma is also a traditionalist. A known polygamist owning a traditional kraal in KwaZulu-Natal — a position incidentally allowed for in the constitution — he has also, more seriously, been portrayed as financially illiterate, hence his dependence on Schabir Shaik, his financial adviser who was found guilty of corruption.

    Zuma’s populist appeal is the other thing people fear. His supporters seem uncontrollable, militant and hot- headed, and the prospect of him ascending the throne with a rabble like that is too ghastly to contemplate.

    All of these issues clouded the way people responded to the acquittal, and because they despise all of the above-mentioned features, they wanted Zuma to be found guilty.

    It matters not to them that Zuma is likeable to the African National Congress (ANC) rank and file; or that Zuma was sincere when he said sorry about the whole sordid saga; it matters not that most men think about women the way Zuma does. They wanted to see him crucified because he represents to them the backward, primitive rapacious black man that we cannot afford to have as president. And it is this racist perception that troubles me. There are sound reasons why I do not want Zuma to be president and those have been overlooked during this horrible saga.

    When a contender like Zuma has populist appeal, it is important for his supporters to see the rule of law being applied fairly and squarely. When the lawmakers invoke the law selectively for reasons other than justice, they create opportunities for lawlessness.

    Zuma’s supporters are the creation of this government and it should take responsibility for the populist anger out there. The Sunday Times headlines are as false as the rape charge.

    The difference between Zuma and Thabo Mbeki is this: Mbeki denied HIV/AIDS; Zuma defied it.

    The ANC’s succession battle is dividing the nation and it is precisely the political intrigue around this that creates the cleavages between the Zuma supporters and the Mbeki supporters and those of us who want neither.

    Now is the time for the ANC to depart from the conspiratorial, Stalinist modus operandi of presidential appointments and open the election to a democratic process where we can all have a say in who our president should be. If this prevailed, 2007 would not be as threatening as it seems.

    ‖ Kadalie is a human rights activist based in Cape Town.
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       'Police child protection unit will stay'

    The police family violence, child protection and sexual offences unit (FCS) will not close.

    The assurance came from the head of the unit, Senior Superintendent Anneke Pienaar, on Wednesday during the seventh annual national conference on child abuse by the South African Professional Society on the Abuse of Children.

    Pienaar was asked to speak at the conference after rumours persisted for the past several months that the unit might be shut down.

    Child organisations feared they would be left alone in the battle to protect children and unit members feared they might "disappear like SA Narcotics Bureau members" when deployed to police stations.

    Pienaar responded: "Tell the stressed members and those spreading the rumours to contact me for the real information."

    She said that just like any other organisation, the unit was going through normal restructuring and re-organising to bring resources and expertise closer to the community.

    "Everything is still just proposals that will take a while to become reality. The FCS will continue.

    "The service they deliver will go to police stations, but the identity of the unit will still remain."

    Pienaar explained that the child protection unit was established in 1986 to render a sensitive service to child victims.

    It then became clear that there was a need for the expansion of this service to adult victims and the FCS unit was established in 1995.

    Currently, there were 49 FCS units and 17 child protection units.

    However, the child protection unit only operated in two provinces as there were no FCS units nearby.

    Pienaar said: "The proposal is to not work in areas anymore, but to bring the resources closer to the communities. A suggestion is to divide the more than 1 200 police stations in the country into clusters, the size depending on the population density, the crime threat needs and the environment.

    Each cluster will have an accounting station to report FCS cases to.

    Some clusters will have full FCS units. Others that do not have a unit and receive little FCS-related cases will have specialised individuals who can work with these cases at each station.

    Pienaar added they were also training 250 members, including detectives, annually to be able to work with FCS cases, while also providing in-service training to police and prosecutors on the policing of child pornography.
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       Thousands participate in Cosatu strike

    Thousands of workers heeded a call by the Congress of SA Trade Unions to down tools on Thursday in protest against South Africa's high levels of unemployment and poverty.

    Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said the strike was still gathering momentum by 11am on Thursday, with marches planned across the country.

    The mining and car manufacturing industries appeared to be hardest hit.

    Chamber of Mines spokesperson Elize Strydom said at some mines there was as much as 100 percent absence.

    100 percent absence at some mines
    While AngloGold Ashanti had full attendance at their West Wits mine, three of their Vaal River mines experienced 100 percent absence. Great Noligwa mine near the Vaal River had a normal attendance, said Strydom.

    She said Gold Fields' Driefontein mine was operating as normal, with the usual number of employees, while two thirds of the workforce stayed away from the Kloof mine. There was a similar situation at the Beatrix mine in the Free State where only one out of four shafts were operational.

    Anglo Coal was experiencing a "mixed bag" with an average of about 50 percent absence at their mines.

    Harmony Gold spokesman Philip Kotze said most workers were staying away from its Free State operations. Most workers were on strike at Harmony's "big operators" - the Sepong, Bambanani and Masimong mines in the Free State. However in the Evander and Klerksdorp regions, most people had reported for work.

    The National Union of Metalworkers of SA said many of its members had joined the strike.

    Eskom not affected by the strike
    "Metalworkers in their numbers today joined industrial protests in the Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, Richards Bay, East London, George, Port Elizabeth, North West region, Limpopo, Kimberley and Bloemfontein," said Numsa general secretary Silumko Nondwangu.

    The union is targeting Mittal (formerly known as Iscor), Denel, Daimler Chrysler, BMW, and Ford.

    Major hospitals said they were not affected by the strike as they fell under essential services.

    Electricity utility Eskom, which also falls under essential services, was not affected by the strike, said spokesperson Fani Zulu.

    Airports were also not affected by the protest.

    Airports Company SA spokesman Solomon Makgale said there had been no reports of disruptions in schedules as a result of the strike.

    "Nothing has been reported that I am aware of," he said.

    Metrorail spokesperson Thandi Mlangeni said commuter trains in Gauteng were running as normal.

    She said the only problems being experienced by Metrorail were in the Western Cape where train services had been suspended in Khayelitsha.

    The services were suspended on Wednesday after the Heideveld ticket office and a train coach were set alight.

    In the capital Pretoria businesses, transport services, the municipality and communication giant Telkom said there were no apparent disruptions in services.

    Meanwhile hundreds of commuters in Phuthaditjhaba in the eastern Free State were stranded on Thursday due to a total stayaway by bus drivers of the Maluti Bus Service.

    In Bloemfontein most buses from Interstate Bus Lines, the biggest bus transport service in the area, were operating.

    Company spokesperson George Mokgothu said five bus drivers of the more than 200 did not arrive at work on Thursday.

    "The five drivers who did not report to work are union leaders," Mokgothu said.

    There was a strong police presence in central Cape Town where city authorities denied Cosatu permission to go ahead with a march through the CBD.

    Mayoral spokesperson Robert Macdonald said strikers would not be allowed to hold an indoor rally at the Good Hope Centre either, as police felt the security risk was too great.

    "We have maximum deployment in central Cape Town," said Western Cape police Captain Randall Stoffels.

    The city withdrew permission for the Cosatu march after Tuesday's violent rampage through the city centre by striking security guards, who assaulted people, damaged property and looted shops.

    Cosatu is calling on the government and employers to treat unemployment and poverty as a national emergency.

    "We want to see far more of the country's growing wealth being ploughed into job creation projects, training programmes and the provision of basic services.

    "We (are) demanding more protection for industries like clothing and textiles which face obliteration in the face of unfair competition from China," the union federation said in a statement. - Sapa
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       Vodka bribe 'secured firearm for inmate'

    By Tania Broughton
    A bottle of vodka was all it took to bribe two policemen to smuggle a cellphone and gun to a dangerous criminal being held at the Pinetown police station, who carried the weapon to several court appearances.

    And it had devastating consequences: a hostage drama and shootout in the cells left two policemen seriously wounded, the suspect dead and the reputation of the police service in tatters.

    This was the evidence on Wednesday during the bail application in the Pinetown magistrate's court of the two policemen who are accused of helping former death-row prisoner Casper Kruger to escape from custody.

    Inspectors Maxwell Khumalo and Simpiwe Nthetha are charged with corruption, defeating the ends of justice, smuggling and aiding a prisoner to escape.

    Devastating consequences
    A manager from the Highway Mail newspaper, Robert van Alphen, is also charged with aiding a prisoner to escape. He has already been granted bail of R2 000. In testimony on Wednesday, the investigating officer, Inspector Peter George, from Durban's Serious and Violent Crimes Unit, said Kruger - although not known by that name until after his death - had been arrested for robbery and kidnapping and was being held at the Pinetown cells pending bail.

    His girlfriend - identified only as the "complainant" and who has turned state witness - had approached the two policemen, asking if she could visit him after visiting hours. It had been agreed she would buy them a bottle of vodka. She and Khumalo had gone in her car to the bottle store, and she had bought the alcohol. She had then visited Kruger in his cell, after visiting hours and without being searched.

    George said she had made several such visits. On one occasion she had left a bag containing the gun and cellphone at the police station. Later she had received an SMS from Kruger, confirming that he had received it.

    George alleged that Kruger had made several appearances in F court with the gun.

    One Sunday in early April, a police captain, "suspecting that something was not right", had assembled a team and searched the cells. Kruger had opened fire, shooting one police officer in the hand and another in the lung.

    Arrested for robbery and kidnapping
    During the ensuing hostage drama he had been shot dead by a member of a police task team.

    Only then did it emerge that Kruger had been using a false name and that he was an escaped convict who had once been on death row but had had his sentence commuted to life imprisonment.

    George said the police management was "extremely upset" because the two policemen had placed the entire service in disrepute.

    Under cross-examination by defence attorney Siven Samuel, George conceded that the girlfriend had put the gun and ammunition in the bag and that he was "unsure" if the policemen had even known there was a gun in it. "She was the architect of this crime and yet the police just accept her word and she is not prosecuted," Samuels said.

    But George insisted that Kruger had had the gun since March. Both policemen said they would plead not guilty to the charges.

    In another Pinetown court, two more Pinetown policemen facing similar corruption charges also made a bail application on Wednesday.

    According to the charge sheet, Inspector David Khumalo and Captain Emmanuel Cele, both of Pinetown, have been charged with corruption for "taking R10 and a bottle of vodka in return for allowing a visitor to visit a prisoner outside of visiting hours".

    It is believed that this case also relates to the Kruger matter.

    Both bail applications are continuing.

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       VIPs roll in for hotel's big opening

    By Barbara Cole
    The local hospitality industry notched up another milestone on Wednesday and Miss South Africa, Thuli Sithole, flew in for the big event.

    She was just one of the many VIPs attending the roof-wetting party of the new hotel at the Sibaya Casino and Entertainment Kingdom.

    The first hotel, the luxury Royal Sibaya, has been performing "beyond expectations" with an occupancy rate of more than 90 percent and serving the "top end" of the gaming market.

    Now, the promised second hotel - to be called Sibaya Lodge - is just five months away from opening and will cater for a "broader" sector of the gaming market.

    'Each one will have uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean'
    Corporate groups and holiday season visitors will also be targeted.

    And although it will be a three-star hotel, the new hotel will "far exceed the standard three-star expectations in terms of design, space and finishes," said Dr Oscar Dhlomo, chairperson of Afrisun KwaZulu-Natal, at the roof-wetting celebrations.

    About 1,3 million bricks will have been laid by the time the hotel opens in October, "in time for the December build-up", said Dhlomo.

    Managed and marketed by Sun International, Sibaya Lodge will have 118 rooms.

    Each one will have uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean or overlook the swimming pool.

    Architecturally, it will reflect the neo-African designs in the rest of the landmark Sibaya attraction.

    But it will have a flat roof with a featured dome, which will echo the themes of the main casino building.

    About 350 people have been employed on the new hotel site and this is expected to grow as the construction progresses.

    Afrisun KwaZulu-Natal sets empowerment targets for construction and employment - and continues to exceed them, Dhlomo told guests.

    In the first phase of the development (the multi-million rand casino and the luxury hotel), more than 1 300 permanent jobs, 5 000 temporary and 10 000 indirect jobs were created in 20 months of construction.

    Daily News

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       Parents, teachers welcome searching of pupils

    By Ayanda Mhlongo, Miranda Andrew and Bheko Madlala
    Teachers and parents have welcomed the news that teachers have the right to search pupils for weapons and drugs without needing a search warrant.

    A spate of deaths and attacks by pupils on fellow pupils at schools across the country in recent weeks has shocked South Africans, but until a few days ago provincial education authorities and teachers said they felt there was little they could do.

    Worried politicians and senior civil servants have now stepped in to reassure schools that they have the power to act.

    We have never suggested that it is incorrect to search learners
    On Monday Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka added her voice to the issue, calling for police and schools to work closely together to make them safe.

    Mlambo-Ngcuka was speaking at Ohlange High School, outside Durban on Monday after her visit to her former school as part of the Global Campaign for Education, aimed at increasing public awareness and political will to make education a reality for all.

    "Our belief is that crime will be combated if schools have better relations with police.

    "It is for this reason that the cabinet has endorsed the 'adopt a cop' programme," she said.

    She said the programme was aimed at facilitating better relations between schools and police stations as part of attempts to curb crime in schools.

    'We think this is a brilliant decision and fully support the idea'
    She stressed that it was imperative that schools work closely with law enforcement authorities to curb the crime wave spreading across the country.

    On Monday the education department said teachers may search anyone on school property without a warrant.

    "There is an odd belief that schools and teachers have no right to search learners," said Duncan Hindle, the national education director-general.

    "We have never suggested that it is incorrect to search learners. There is in fact an obligation to search to protect the safety of other learners," he said after a meeting with nine provincial department heads.

    Hindle quoted two paragraphs from the Schools Act which state that a police official, a school principal or a delegate of the principal was allowed - without a warrant - to search school premises or any person on the premises on suspicion of the presence of illegal or dangerous objects.

    KwaZulu-Natal School Governing Bodies Association chairperson Reginald Chiliza said he was entirely behind the decision to search pupils without a search warrant.

    "We think this is a brilliant decision and fully support the idea as long as the rights of children are not violated in any way."

    He said being able to search pupils would help provide safety for other pupils following the increasing number of violent incidents at schools in KwaZulu-Natal.

    "And this would also cater for teachers who are also in danger if children are carrying guns and knives to school," he said.

    South African Democratic Teachers' Union spokesperson Sipho Nkosi said the union supported all initiatives aimed at reducing crime at schools.

    "We have been very concerned about our schools and the safety of pupils and teachers. This move will help a lot but we still need the intervention of the police.

    "At some schools teachers could be harassed if they search the pupils and so the police need to assist teachers with this," he said.

    Nkosi said he believed that teachers, pupils and parents needed to work together to reduce crime.

    "I have seen that in those areas where these three bodies work together, we hardly receive any reports of crime.

    "Teachers and school governing bodies need to also involve the Learner Representative Councils (which represent pupils) in the programme," he said.

    Nkosi said the education department would have to ensure that all schools are properly fenced so that access is controlled.

    Children's rights organisations have come out in support of pupils being searched at schools but raised objections against police conducting the searches.

    Daily News

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       'Let's love our city'

    Barbara Cole
    Durban is on a roll and is the place to be for holidays, says the upbeat head of the city's tourism marketing department.

    There's a huge flurry of development, investor confidence, a good spirit, and exciting plans are in the pipeline to bring in even more visitors to the city this year.

    Durban has also become known as Africa's premier sporting venue.

    And yet, says Lindiwe Mahlangu, the chief executive of Durban Africa, the local tourism industry must remain focused.

    'We shouldn't have to do all the dirty work ourselves'
    Although the city is the No 1 domestic destination, everyone in the industry should be working to defend that position "and grow bigger and better".

    And going on to take that title internationally will take lots of aggressive marketing and "putting our money where our mouths are".

    People needed to know there was also plenty of potential outside the famous Golden Mile.

    The dynamic 30-something Mahlangu took over the top job at the beginning of the year. She was previously head of the city's Business Support Unit, responsible for growing and supporting "small and medium" entrepreneurs and managing the informal economy in the city.

    She was speaking at last week's Indaba where Durban clinched the prestigious international tourism trade gathering for another three years.

    A woman at the top who certainly knows her business - she could well be the city's tourism poster girl - she does not pretend that there are no challenges.

    While hotels on the Golden Mile had spent money on refurbishing programmes, she criticised the "run down" accommodation behind the beachfront.

    "We shouldn't have to do all the dirty work ourselves, It takes partnerships and these people are killing the Golden Mile," she said.

    The city's Waste Management Department was doing a good job, and to boost that, the Keep Durban Clean campaign was going to be resuscitated, she said.

    "Before we get tourists to love our city, we must first love it ourselves," she said.

    A party of German tourists had just told her that their tour guide had warned them that Durban was unsafe and they had to be careful:

    "This is a huge challenge. We need tour guides to become ambassadors rather than running the city down. They must all speak with one voice. Our culture is to be honest and we have to use that strength in moving forward."

    Mahlangu came up with a pre-Indaba programme to raise awareness in local communities - in Pinetown and Umlazi - about the value of tourism: how it brings in money and creates jobs.

    Called "Responsible Tourism in Durban" and run in conjunction with Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, the message was put out by actors from an industrial theatre, who highlighted what it takes for a destination to become successful.

    Mahlangu said that just as there was poverty and unemployment here, the story was the same at Asian seaside resorts. But crime was not an issue there as everyone understood the importance of tourism.

    The programme had been a "brilliant success" and would now continue throughout the year to raise even more awareness.

    As for the city's logo of being "South Africa's Playground," Durban was now living up to that promise, she beamed.
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