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South Africa: Marikana - the Day President Zuma Added Insult to Injury juin 25 2015

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PHOTO ESSAY: South Africa: Miners Shot Down


For two years, the Marikana Commission of Inquiry looked at the deployment of the police to Marikana and who was responsible for the death of 44 people. For three months, the country has waited for its findings and recommendations. Days before the report is due for release, President Jacob Zuma gave his view, a disaster for the public’s trust in his ability to lead and act to ensure justice. By GREG NICOLSON.

Despite attacks in Parliament, a court challenge, and public outcry, it was Napoleon Webster who caused the latest public relations disaster for the presidency on Marikana. With his beard and camouflage fatigues, Napoleon is the Economic Freedom Fighters’ Heckler-in-Chief in Gauteng. When Cyril Ramaphosa appeared at the Marikana Commission, Napoleon led the chorus, calling the deputy president a murderer, sell-out and “buffalo head”.

On Tuesday, Zuma was waxing on the potential need to reinstate Apartheid policing tactics if protests aren’t peaceful, a headline on any other day, before Napolean did his thing, according to City Press. “Otherwise the culture of Apartheid that used violence to suppress people will have to be looked at again, and I don’t want it. We don’t want the police who must use violence..


Africa: Pope Francis Enters Climate Change Maelstrom juin 24 2015

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Newly elected Pope Francis I, formerly Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires.


A much speculated on and debated encyclical on ecology is due to be released by Pope Francis later this week. The encyclical has caused a storm before its publication. Some politicians, most notably in the US, have advised the Pope to keep quiet about climate change and global warming.

Yet, American Rabbi, Arthur Waskow, has been inspired by the Pope to write a letter to “all Jewish people, to all communities of the spirit, and to the world” on the climate crisis.

The Dalai Lama tweeted to 11.2 million people “Since climate change and the global economy now affect us all, we have to develop a sense of the oneness of humanity.” And, to add to the pot, a veteran Vatican journalist, Sandro Magister, has had his press accreditation withdrawn from the Vatican for breaking an embargo on the release. By RUSSELL POLLITT.

Pope Francis is likely to take a hard-line in Laudato Si (meaning ‘Praise Be!’) Its title is a quotation from a prayer by St. Francis of Assisi whose name Pope Francis chose to be known by. The phrase ‘Laudato Si’ is used a number of times in St. Francis’ ‘Canticle of the Sun’, a prayer that praises…


Tanzania: Helping Burundian Refugees Through the Skilful Act of Listening juin 23 2015

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By Caroline Haga

“There have been so many stories that have really touched our hearts,” says Zuleka Aiden, Tanzania Red Cross Society staff member, who has heard countless accounts of the Burundi refugees’ difficult journeys to safety.

Wearing a Red Cross vest over her long skirt, Zuleka Aiden meets us at the gates of the Nyarugusu refugee camp where she has been working long before the current Burundi refugees began arriving. She warmly welcomes us and instantly begins telling us about the fate of the refugees in her excellent English.

“We have over 42,000 refugees already. Yesterday alone we received 7,000 new occupants. We desperately need a new camp for them with schools and a hospital,” she stresses.

Zuleka Aiden, who has worked for the Red Cross for over a decade, tells us that during the first weeks in early May, new refugees had been coming in day and night. Everyone at the camp worked almost around the clock. Now there are less people coming, but still, there are tens of thousands to take care of within the camp. And many more refugees to listen to.


Liberia - Strong Action On Justice for Border Attacks - Ivorian Authorities Should Ensure Due Process, Avoid Abusive Crackdown juin 22 2015

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Photo: Liberia Government

Ivorian President Alhassan Ouattara arrives for a meeting of Mano River Union leaders.


Nairobi — Liberian authorities should be commended for swiftly undertaking criminal investigations with a view to prosecuting or extraditing armed men alleged to be involved in cross-border attacks into Côte d’Ivoire, Human Rights Watch said today. The response followed an attack on June 8, 2012, in which at least 17 people, including seven United Nations peacekeepers, were killed in southwestern Côte d’Ivoire.

On June 14, Liberia’s information minister, Lewis G. Brown, announced that the country’s National Security Council (NSC) had ordered the arrest of 10 Liberians and Ivorians potentially connected to attacks along the Liberian-Ivorian border. The Liberian government also announced an imminent extradition hearing for 41 Ivorians and Liberians detained in Liberia in connection with post-election crimes in Côte d’Ivoire.

Liberia: FBI Dragnet Closes On Yeaten juin 21 2015

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Photo: Erik Hersman

Downtown Monrovia

For years, Benjamin Yeaten, former head of Charles Taylor’s security forces has been eluding justice for crimes he reportedly committed during Liberia’s civil war.

There are reports that he has been sheltering between The Gambia and Togo, hoping that he would be shielded by the leaders of the two countries.

Now, it seems the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is closing on Yeaten and there are reports that the bureau is negotiating with the government of Togo in a bid to turn him over for crimes he allegedly committed in Liberia.

Sources hinted The News that the FBI has been negotiating with the Togolese Government for some time so that they would turn Yeaten over. However, Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé is reported to be unenthusiastic about the request. But our sources indicated that pressure is mounting on President Gnassingbé and it appears he may well succumb.

The News

South Africa: School Accused of Racial Segregation juin 18 2015

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Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has visited the Curro Foundation School in Roodeplaat, in Pretoria East, following new allegations of racial segregation involving learners in Grade 1.

The allegations surfaced from a video on social networks that shows learners getting off a bus and are separated into different queues along racial lines.

The video was brought to the attention of the MEC late last night and he immediately instructed district officials to go to the school to investigate the allegations.

The MEC met with the school management to discuss the matter.

It was agreed that the MEC will meet with the Executives of the Curro Holdings on Monday (21 June 2015) to discuss the matter further.

 This is the second time that the department is investigating allegations of racism at this school. In January this year, complaints were received regarding allegations that some classes in Grade R were segregated on racial lines.

Out of extreme concern, the department instructed Harris Nupen Molebatse Attorneys to conduct an investigation into the matter.

The report by the attorneys confirmed the allegations of segregation of learners at the school. This was also confirmed by Curro Management who admitted that this was as a result of pressure from certain white parents. The school management apologised for the act and integrated the classes.

“Racial segregation under any pretext is unacceptable, discriminatory and contrary to the provisions of Section 9 of the Constitution. It is also in contravention of Section 6 of the Equity Act.

“By segregating the learners based on their race, the school acted in a manner that was discriminatory and as a result violated section 7(c) of the Equality Act,” MEC Lesufi said.


Sudan: South Africa Troops in Sudan Feared the Worst juin 18 2015

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By Erika Gibson, Netwerk24

More than 800 terrified South African soldiers in Sudan feared the worst when their camp was surrounded by Sudanese troops.

“In order to save lives, we would have to have surrendered if they stormed us. One battalion of soldiers without proper weapons could not fight against an entire country’s army,” a South African soldier told Netwerk24.

Netwerk24 reported on Tuesday that South African peacekeepers in North Darfur were effectively held “hostage” by members of the Sudanese army while the drama around Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s possible arrest during the African Union summit in Johannesburg escalated. The High Court in Pretoria ordered that Al-Bashir be detained.

 It is believed that Al-Bashir was possibly allowed to leave South Africa amid fears of violence against the South African peacekeepers.

“They [the South African troops] would have been overwhelmed. If South Africa had arrested Al-Bashir, they would have been prisoners of war,” a friend of a soldier told Netwerk24.

Meanwhile, soldiers, family members and friends of the soldiers serving in Sudan have contradicted the military’s “categorical denial” that there was a hostage situation, recounting stories of their loved ones’ fears while in the war-torn country.

The army said the “increased military traffic” in Darfur was part of the Sudanese government’s preparations for the Ramadan religious celebrations.

Head of joint operations, Lieutenant General Derrick Mgwebi, said the situation had “normalised” and the mobilisation of Sudanese soldiers near the South African base in Khartoum was not aimed at the base.

 But a soldier said: “We were so scared - we were surrounded by soldiers. We handed out extra ammunition to everyone in case it was needed.”

The deployment apparently began shortly before the weekend, when Al-Bashir left for the AU summit in South Africa.

A friend of a soldier at the base said that they were surrounded by about 500 heavily-armed Sudanese soldiers in Hilux bakkies at about 10:00 on Monday. Al-Bashir’s jet took off from Waterkloof air force base at about midday on Monday.

While the court bid to have him arrested continued in Pretoria, the South African soldiers were surrounded. They were placed at Level 2 readiness, which means they had to be battle ready and fully armed.

“They were terrified and overwhelmed. They were basically kept as hostages for the afternoon.

“They could see an attack was imminent. The [Sudanese] soldiers were about 500 metres from their camp. According to their intelligence something would have happened if Al-Bashir was arrested,” the source said.

One caller to Power FM said a relative who is serving in Sudan said her camp was “surrounded” by Sudanese soldiers. Another soldier confirmed that they were placed at Level 2 readiness when vehicles approached the base.

“I am so grateful South Africa did not arrest Al-Bashir. Our commander said after Al-Bashir arrived safely in the country, the soldiers withdrew,” a message sent by a soldier in Darfur to his colleagues in South Africa read.

According to Netwerk24, approximately 800 South African soldiers are serving in Darfur as part of Unamid, a combined UN and AU peacekeeping force. The current group of soldiers are from 8 Infantry Battalion in Upington.

Meanwhile, the UN has denied that the South African soldiers were in a hostage situation, saying they were never in danger. And a Sudanese army official told Bloomberg that they are not in conflict with the South Africans.

Source: Netwerk24

South African Govt to Face Contempt of Court Charges Over Bashir? juin 17 2015

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Photo: SA Presidency

(file photo)

A South African legal NGO is “strongly considering” bringing contempt of court charges against government officials for allowing President Omar al-Bashir to leave the country on Monday.

The Southern African Litigation Centre (SALC), the group which secured a court order for Bashir’s arrest, said in a statement after his flight from South Africa that it would decide on action after the government filed a court-ordered affidavit explaining why it failed to prevent Bashir from leaving.

On Sunday a court ordered a wide range of government ministers and departments, including those responsible for controlling immigration posts and providing security for Bashir, not to allow him to leave the country while the court heard the application for his arrest.

By the time the court granted a detention order on Monday, Bashir had left, with the apparent collusion of South African officials.

In the SALC statement, its director, Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, said that “the rule of law … is only as strong as the government which enforces it.”

She said the Department of Home Affairs, which controls border posts, had “allowed a fugitive from justice to slip through its fingers, compounding the suffering of the victims of these grave crimes.”

The department’s officials have on a number of previous occasions defied court orders preventing individuals from leaving the country.

Bashir faces charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity arising out of the conflict in Darfur.


South Africa: Bashir Flees South Africa, Dodging Arrest juin 16 2015

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Photo: SA Govt

President Bashir of Sudan, right, with his peers, including, from left Presidents Robert Mugabe and Jacob Zuma.

By John Allen

Cape Town — President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan flew out of South Africa on Monday, hours before a court ordered his arrest on the charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity he faces at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Bashir fled, with the apparent connivance of agencies of the South African government, in defiance of a court directive that he remain in the country pending the outcome of the court application. He was in South Africa for a summit of the African Union (AU).

His departure was reported by a journalist while the court was sitting on Monday morning, but a government lawyer told the judges that to the best of his knowledge, Bashir was still in the country. However, immediately after the court issued its order, the same lawyer rose to announce that he had been informed by the government that Bashir had left.

The top judge of the province where the hearing was held, Gauteng Judge President Duncan Mlambo, ordered the government to produce an affidavit disclosing when and where Bashir had left. The civil society legal team which brought the application for Bashir’s arrest also indicated that it wanted to know who had allowed him to leave.

On Sunday, one of the judges who heard the case ordered that an interim directive prohibiting Bashir’s departure should be served on all border posts. He did so despite government protestations that it might not be possible to serve the order on all the posts. On Monday, the government lawyer, William Mokhari SC, said he did not have proof of service on five border posts.

Bashir left the country from the Waterkloof Air Base outside Pretoria, which is controlled by the military. His aircraft was moved there on Sunday afternoon from the international airport outside Johannesburg. Mokhari did not initially disclose the five border posts for which there was no proof of service, but he later assured the court that officials at the air base knew of the order.

The reporter who broke the story of his departure said he was accompanied by a South African police escort. Both the police minister and commissioner were named in the interim order prohibiting Bashir’s departure.

Full reasons for the order to detain Bashir will be handed down later. However, Mlambo said the South African government’s actions had been “inconsistent with the Constitution.”

The government had argued before the court that a Cabinet decision taken ahead of the AU summit granted Bashir immunity from arrest. A senior South African government source told a journalist on Sunday that the cabinet decision “will trump the ICC arrest warrant at the end of the day.”

However, constitutional lawyers have for some time dismissed this argument against enforcement of ICC orders as weak in law, and it was quickly dismissed by a full bench of the High Court on Monday. The government’s resort to subterfuge indicates that it was not confident the argument would prevail, at least at this stage of proceedings.


Sudan: S Africa Court to Rule On Arrest of Sudan’s Bashir juin 15 2015

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Photo: SA Govt

President Bashir of Sudan, right, with his peers, including, from left Presidents Robert Mugabe and Jacob Zuma.

South Africa’s high court is set to continue the case of Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir on Monday after he was barred from leaving the country pending an application for his arrest.

The state lawyers will start their arguments at 08:00 GMT before the court in Pretoria, sources told Al Jazeera. The high court has to decide whether to send Bashir to the International Criminal Court.

However, a Sudanese presidency spokesman told Reuters news agency that the president would be leaving South Africa later on Monday.

“President Bashir is still in Johannesburg but we are leaving South Africa today,” Mohamed Hatem said.

Bashir, who is accused of war crimes in repressing an armed uprising in the Sudanese region of Darfur, was due to appear in Johannesburg on Sunday for the AU summit.

The Hague-based ICC issued an arrest warrant in 2009, but Bashir denies the charges.

Before the ruling was announced, the judge said the court would decide whether a South African government cabinet decision to host Bashir would trump the ICC arrest warrant.


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