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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

South African government to bailout debt-ridden national carrier       

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- In defiance of mounting criticism, the Finance Ministry on Friday announced a plan to bail out debt-ridden South African Airways (SAA) to the tune of at least three billion rand (about 222 million U.S. dollars).

This brings the SAA bailout for the year to 5.2 billion rand (about 385 million dollars).

“Government has approved the transfer of funds from the National Revenue Fund to SAA to allow the airline to address the debt obligations to Citibank, thereby avoiding a default,” the ministry said in a statement

Funds will also be used to assist SAA with its immediate working capital requirements, said the statement.

Improving the financial positions of the airline through recapitalization has been on the government’s agenda for a while.

“The airline remains a strategic asset and in its role as the flag carrier, it serves as an economic enabler with direct and indirect benefits across a wide range of economic activity,” the Finance Ministry said.

The government has appointed Vuyani Jarana as permanent Chief Executive Officer for SAA, and he will commence his role on November 1 this year.

Jarana’s appointment marks a critical step in ensuring that the airline’s turnaround strategy is implemented, the ministry said.

The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) said it is disappointed, but not surprised, that Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba, and the entire Executive resorted to once again raiding the National Revenue Fund to settle part of SAA’s debt.

“Whilst the latest lifeboat will keep the wolves at bay, it will not deal decisively with the funding crisis at SAA, as the airline is currently incurring 350 million rand (about 26 million dollars) in losses every month,” DA Shadown Deputy Minister of Finance Alf Lees said.

The DA urged Gigaba to urgently come clean on how the cabinet proposes to deal decisively with SAA’s funding crisis.

Given the continued uncertainty over the airline’s ability to repay the loans, the banks would have required onerous conditions to be met by the airline and the government, the DA said.

This massive and wasteful bailout will take even more money away from rescuing the economy for the 9.3 million unemployed South Africans, the DA claimed.

Gigaba must take full responsibility for getting himself and South Africa into this mess by failing to be transparent and decisive over the issues plaguing the airline, said the party.

The DA warned that with increased borrowing cost for SAA, further rating downgrades will be inevitable for the government and state-owned enterprises.

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EARLIER REPORTS:

South African ruling party urges probe into mass killings in Cape Town

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Saturday called for an urgent probe into the killing of 11 people in Cape Town.

This came after 11 people were shot dead in the informal settlement of Marikana on Friday night.

The ANC “condemns in the harshest possible terms” the mass murders, ANC national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said.

The 11 people were killed in several shooting incidents in Marikana which is notorious for crime linked to rivalry among different gangs.

In the first incident, unknown suspects fired shots inside a shebeen, fatally wounding four people, police’s Captain FC van Wyk said.

In the second scene, three more were shot dead in a shack and one outside the dwelling, said Van Wyk.

Not far from the second scene, two more bodies were found lying between the shacks, he said.

Two other people who sustained injuries had to be taken to hospital, said Van Wyk.

But one of the injured died later in hospital, bringing the death toll to 11, police said.

Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the shootings.

“While the details around these deaths are still not quite clear, regardless of the circumstances these mass murders - related or not - are criminal acts which must be punished using the full might of our law,” Kodwa said.

It is suspected that rivalry among different gangs has led to the shootings.

Some impoverished settlements in Cape Town, including Marikana, have been plagued by gang-related violence.

Also in Marikana, the charred bodies of three men were discovered earlier this month. This incident was also believed to be linked to gang-related violence.

Elsewhere, gang violence also escalated. On Tuesday night, seven people were shot dead in the Nyanga area, Cape Town.

These incidents highlight the seriousness of gang fighting in impoverished areas in the city, police said.

Residents in the affected areas have appealed to Police Minister Fikile Mbalula to intervene.

The ANC calls on the affected communities and anyone else to come forward with any information they may have to assist police in apprehending the perpetrators of these heinous crimes, Kodwa said.

“Criminals live amongst our communities, they are harbored by us and until society stands as one against this scourge it will not be defeated,” he said.

Some areas in Cape Town have been ravaged by gangs for long. Every year, dozens of people are killed in gang violence.

In November 2011, South African authorities sent in army troops to quell gangs following rising gang-related violence.

Authorities have mediated a series of peace agreements between gangs, but the agreements can not last long.

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10 shot dead in Cape Town as gang-related violence escalates

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- Gang violence flared up in a slum district here overnight, leaving ten people dead and two others wounded, police said Saturday.

Several shooting incidents took place in the informal settlement of Marikana, which is notorious for crimes linked to rivalry among different gangs.

This was believed to be the worst gang-related violence in recent years.

In the first incident, shots were fired inside a shebeen, fatally wounding four people, local police Captain FC van Wyk said.

In the second one, three more were shot dead in a shack and one outside the dwelling, said van Wyk.

Not far from where the second incident occurred, two more bodies were found lying between the shacks, he said.

A man and a woman with serious injuries had to be taken to the hospital, van Wyk said.

Also in Marikana, charred bodies of three men were discovered earlier this month. Police also linked this incident to gang-related violence.

Elsewhere, gang violence also escalated. On Tuesday night, seven people were shot dead in the Nyanga area.

These incidents highlight the seriousness of gang fighting in impoverished areas in the city, police said.

Residents in the affected areas have appealed to Police Minister Fikile Mbalula to intervene.

Some areas in Cape Town have been ravaged by gangs for a long time. Every year, dozens of people are killed in gang violence.

In November 2011, South African authorities sent army troops to quell gangs following rising gang-related violence.

Authorities have mediated a series of peace agreements between gangs, but the agreements did not last long.

.

South African MPs voice concern over criminal elements in police

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- Criminal elements are present in the South African Police Service (SAPS) and are a serious and imminent threat to the execution of law and order in the country, South Africa’s Parliament said on Friday.

This followed the recent arrests of a number of rogue cops in Cape Town and some other parts of the country. The rogue cops were allegedly involved in armed robberies using SAPS firearms.

On Thursday, a robbery at a shop near Cape Town led to police uncovering that a constable was allegedly involved in the crime.

Also on Thursday, three police officers were arrested for allegedly taking part in a foiled robbery of a cellphone store at the Fourways Mall, north of Johannesburg.

There have been growing complaints that rogue cops are helping criminals or taking part in crimes themselves, worsening the security situation in the crime-stricken country.

Last Sunday, 36 Dutch tourists were robbed at gun point after departing from the Or Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. They were allegedly stopped by a police marked vehicle with one man dressed in police uniform and five others in civilian clothing.

“Criminal behavior by members of the SAPS is totally unacceptable,” Chairperson of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Police Francois Beukman said in Cape Town.

The Committee welcomes the arrest of the SAPS members who were involved in the criminal acts, he said.

Acting National Commissioner of Police, Lesetja Mothiba and his management team should do much more to deal with the problem of rotten police officers, said Beukman.

He expressed concern over the lack of proper control in the issuing of SAPS firearms, especially rifles.

This is a matter that is again coming to the fore, Beukman said.

Recently, a total of 33 firearms went missing from the Bellville South and Mitchells Plain police stations in Cape Town, according to official figures.

The relevant Police Cluster and Station Commanders will be held accountable for lost and stolen firearms, he said.

The confidence of the public in the police service is negatively affected by the rogue cop element, said Beukman.

According to the Victims Survey published by Statistics South Africa on Thursday, confidence in the police service is on a slippery slope.

The survey shows that more and more Souoth Africans do not trust police.

The study highlighted that households’ confidence in police services has been gradually eroding over the years. Fifty-nine percent of the households surveyed held negative attitudes about the police and felt that the police could not provide adequate protection.

The issue of rogue cops raises serious questions about the recruitment process and vetting procedures in the SAPS, Beukman said.

           

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