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Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

Angie Motshegka launches largest publication project for indigenous fiction at SABF

Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga launched the largest publication project for indigenous language fiction in South Africa’s history at this year’s SA book Fair on September 8.

The project is the brain child of publisher Via Afrika and is called WritePublishRead. It will give unpublished local writers of indigenous language fiction the chance to be published in their home language. By promoting writing in indigenous languages, the project aims to encourage South Africans to read more and invigorate the local publishing industry.

Less than 1% of books in South African libraries are in indigenous languages despite the fact that these are the home languages of 76% of the population. This lack of relevant reading materials contributes to an astounding 60% of South Africans living in a home without a single book. According to the South African Book Development Council, only 14% of South Africans read regularly so giving South Africans access to books digitally, via any mobile device, in the language of their choice, will have a massive impact on the country’s reading and literacy rates.

Similarly copyright industries contribute 4% to South Africa’s GDP. Meeting the under-serviced reading needs of 76% of the population will have a significant impact on the publishing industry. By giving black authors the tools to meet the needs of their own communities, WritePublishRead will transform the current publishing landscape and create opportunities for empowerment at an individual level.

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European Film Festival opens with more interaction: Audience Award and Q&A among new features

The European Film Festival, which opened nationwide on the 5th of May 2017 at Cinema Nouveau and is running concurrently in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria and Durban until 14th of May, invites the audience to rate each film according to their liking. The winning film will be announced after the festival.

This feature ties into an increased level of audience interaction at the festival, including a ticket-competition where the public was invited to pick their potential favourites and the ongoing offer of personalized movie recommendations by the Festival Director online.

Furthermore the 2017 edition of the festival, just like last year’s, has seen local personalities, including authors Mandla Langa and Zukiswa Wanner, comedian Kagiso Lediga and actress Quanita Adams, engage with the selection by watching and sharing their personal reflections on selected films.
As a grand festival finale, after the Johannesburg-screening of the film on Sunday 14 May, the audience will get a chance to meet Rory O’Neill, the main character of the acclaimed documentary The Queen Of Ireland by Conor Horgan. The film traces the life and activism of the charismatic and relentless O’Neill – a.k.a. Pandora Panti Bliss – who played a crucial role in the lead-up to the successful campaign ahead of the world’s first popular vote on whether to legalise same-sex marriage.

“There are few better ways to put a message across without preaching, than through film – a medium with visceral super-powers. I hope that the selection of amazing, award-winning comedies, biopics, slice-of-life stories, animal-right thrillers, road-movies and documentaries will stimulate imagination and inspire new ways of being, seeing, thinking and creating,” said Festival Director Katarina Hedrén at the Festival Opening Night on 4 May, which presented the thoughtful and hilarious drama King Of The Belgians to a select audience at Rosebank’s Cinema Nouveau.

Three days into the festival, there’s still time to catch most of the festival picks – such as the thrilling family adventure Zip & Zap and the Captain’s Island, which offers a great opportunity to open children’s hearts and minds to film and the magic of storytelling from other parts of the world. Of Stefan Zweig: Farewell To Europe, Austria’s entry to the Oscars for Best Foreign Film, Mandla Langa says, “I thoroughly enjoyed this film and would recommend it to anyone interested in the journeys people take to seek freedom, personal and communal”.

The French drama Things To Come features brilliant acting by the acclaimed French actress Isabelle Huppert and has already mesmerised local audiences. This coming week holds another chance to see this subtle film about philosophy teacher Nathalie Chazeaux, who searches for a new direction in life amidst student demonstrations. The scenic and original animal rights thriller Spoor by Oscar nominated Director Agnieszka Holland, can still be seen on Thursday (JHB, CPT, PTA) and Sunday (DBN).

The European Film Festival continues to screen at Cinema Nouveau in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Pretoria until Sunday 14 May. Tickets are priced at R64. Normal benefits and ticket discounts apply to members of SK Club, Discovery Vitality and Edgars Club. For more information, visit or join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook: #EuroFilmFestSA.

The European Film Festival is coordinated by the Goethe-Institut South Africa, hosted by Ster-Kinekor Cinema Nouveau, and organised in partnership with the Delegation of the European Union to South Africa and 12 other European cultural agencies or embassies in South Africa: the General Representation of the Government of Flanders, the French Institute, the Italian Cultural Institute, the Camões Institute, the British Council, and the Embassies of Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain. The European Film Festival is part of the EuropeFest, presenting in South Africa in May 2017 a diverse range of EU Member States cultural events.

Photo above: © Shirin Motala. Pictured are Festival Director Katarina Hedrén & Motheo Matsau, Chief Marketing & Sales Officer at Ster-Kinekor Theatres, during the Opening of the EUFF 2017 on 4 May at Cinema Nouveau Rosebank.

Film stills and posters, photos of the Festival Opening are available for download here.


Johannesburg: Cinema Nouveau – Rosebank Mall
Rosebank Mall (Level 1), cnr Bath & Baker Streets, Rosebank

Pretoria: Cinema Nouveau – Brooklyn
Brooklyn Mall (Lower Level Shop 12), Bronkhorst Street, New Muckleneuk

Cape Town: Cinema Nouveau – V&A
King Warehouse, Red Shed, Victoria and Alfred Waterfront

Durban: Cinema Nouveau – Gateway
Gateway Theatre of Shopping (Expo/Explore Floor), 1 Palm Blvd, Umhlanga Rocks

Media contacts:

Bridget van Oerle / BUZ Publicity
083 263 6991
011 673 0264 / 011 477 0923

Benjamin Keuffel
Public Relations Officer / Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit

Goethe-Institut South Africa
119 Jan Smuts Avenue, Parkwood 2193, Johannesburg

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Check out the programme for this year’s Franschhoek Literary Festival!

The quaint Western Cape town of Franschhoek will be accommodating South Africa’s literary greats from Friday 19 May to Sunday 21 May.

This annual literary festival’s 2017 line-up can only be described as one which skrik’s vir niks.

Festival-goers can expect discussions and debates featuring Rebecca Davis, author of Best White and Other Delusions, in conversation with agricultural economist Tracy Ledger (An Empty Plate) and African diplomacy scholar Oscar van Heerden (Consistent or Confused) on the ever-dividing rift between South Africans; the Sunday Times‘ contributing books editor Michele Magwood asks publishers Phehello Mofokeng (Geko Publishing), Thabiso Mahlape (BlackBird Books) and short story writer Lidudumalingani Mqombothi (recipient of the 2016 Caine Prize Winner for Memories We Lost, published in The Daily Assortment of Astonishing Things) whether there’s a shortage of black fiction authors; and poet Rustum Kozain (Groundwork) will discuss Antjie Krog, Lady Anne: A Chronicle in Verse with the acclaimed poet herself.

And that’s just day one!

Find the full programme here.

Tickets are available from


Best White and Other Anxious Delusions

Book details





Lady Anne


An Empty Plate


The Daily Assortment of Astonishing Things and Other Stories

  • The Daily Assortment of Astonishing Things and Other Stories: The Caine Prize for African Writing 2016 by Caine Prize
    EAN: 9781566560160
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!


Consistent or Confused

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Book launch – Lady Anne: A Chronicle in Verse by Antjie Krog

Lady Anne : A Chronicle in Verse Antjie Krog will be giving a reading at the launch of the English translation of Lady Anne: A Chronicle in Verse.

Event Details

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Literary Crossroads: Fred Khumalo on the importance of “telling stories which have never been told”

Fred Khumalo in discussion with Panashe Chigumadzi. Photo cred: The Goethe Institute
Johannesburg’s Goethe Institute recently hosted a Literary Crossroads talk on the course of history and its inflicted casualties, emphasising the struggle of the individual for autonomy and survival and its depiction in contemporary African literature.

Fred Khumalo and Nigerian author Folu Agoi were the intended guest speakers but owing to a delay in receiving his visa on time Agoi was unable to attend the event.

Novelist and founder of Vanguard magazine, Panashe Chigumadzi, led the discussion.

Khumalo opened the discussion by reading from his debut novel, Touch my Blood (2006). The extract was a written account of “my first encounter with colonialism”, set during his studies in Canada, wherein Khumalo described the inferiority he experienced seated among ‘European’ academics.

He added that “the more I write, the the more I realise I can’t escape my history.” This comment complements his strong belief that contemporary African writers should write their own history.


Khumalo is of opinion that anger help fuels creativity and that he wrote his recent Dancing the Death Drill out of anger; anger for the denial of black voices to be heard during apartheid; anger for the denial of black history.

Upon being asked by an audience member whether Dancing the Death Drill will lead to a surge in South African historical novels, Khumalo replied that “we owe it to ourselves to tell stories which have never been told.”

If not, Khumalo argues, these stories might be appropriated by those who’ll do it injustice. According to Khumalo historical novels are the most logical way to go ahead, offering African writers the opportunity to “expand on the footnotes in history books.”

Khumalo concluded by saying that historical novels are the most supreme form of history, as it offers the African author the opportunity to write an accurate, autonomous account of their history.


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Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o speaking at University of the Witwatersrand

Birth of a Dream Weaver: Ngugi wa Thiong'o: Ng?g? wa Thiong'o: Ng?g? wa Thiong'o: Ngugi wa Thiong'o: Ngugi wa Thiong'o: Ngugi wa Thiong'o: Ngugi wa Thiong'o: Ngugi wa Thiong'o: Ngugi wa Thiong'o: Ngugi wa Thiong'o: Ngugi wa Thiong'o: Ngugi wa Thiong'o: Ngugi wa Thiong'o: Ngugi wa Thiong'oWits University and the National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences are proud to host renowned Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o.

Wa Thiong’o is a novelist and theorist of post-colonial literature and currently a Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California. He is a recipient of 11 Honorary Doctorates and an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Some of his early works include Weep not Child, The River Between, A Grain of Wheat, Secret Lives and Decolonising the Mind.

- Visit Wits’ website for more

Event Details

Book Details

  • Birth of a Dream Weaver: Ngugi wa Thiong’o: Ng?g? wa Thiong’o: Ng?g? wa Thiong’o: Ngugi wa Thiong’o: Ngugi wa Thiong’o: Ngugi wa Thiong’o: Ngugi wa Thiong’o: Ngugi wa Thiong’o: Ngugi wa Thiong’o: Ngugi wa Thiong’o: Ngugi wa Thiong’o: Ngugi wa Thiong’o: Ngugi wa Thiong’o: Ngugi wa Thiong’oEAN: Birth of a Dream Weaver
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

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Open letter to Adam Habib: Ishtiyaq Shukri calls on Wits to terminate its contract with ‘unaccountable’ private security firms

The Silent MinaretI See You

Ishtiyaq Shukri has written an open letter to Wits University Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib and the members of the Senior Executive Team.

Shukri is the author of the EU Literary Award-winning The Silent Minaret, and his most recent novel, I See You, has as a central concern the implications of the rise of the private security industry.

The book features a scene set in the Wits Great Hall in which the main character makes an impassioned speech about freedom and private force that, read now, seems prescient.

In his letter, which was prompted by the shooting of Father Graham Pugin just off campus, Shukri calls on university management to “demonstrate conciliatory leadership”, to “consider the lives of the students entrusted to your care” and to “terminate its contract with these unaccountable private security firms”.

Read the letter in full:

Dear Professor Adam Habib and Members of the Senior Executive Team of the University of the Witwatersrand

I have in recent months been increasingly alarmed by the growing levels of militarised violence deployed against students from the #FeesMustFall movement at the University of the Witwatersrand by private security firms paid for by the University. I despair at the failure of imagination demonstrated on the part of the University in its inability to find and employ amicable forms of management and conflict resolution, and its readiness to resort to the old South African recipe of force to settle disputes instead. I am deeply concerned by the model the University has presented to the country: that in South Africa violence and force are commodities for sale to be purchased, at undisclosed amounts, even by a university. Purchased by senior executives – not of a corporation, but of a university – executives against whom such force is unlikely ever to be deployed. Private force, purchased by a wealthy institution to be aimed at its poorest students. And I am especially disturbed by the recent shooting of Father Graham Pugin of the Holy Trinity Catholic Church next to the University. While I have wrestled with writing to you before, following his shooting I can no longer remain silent now.

I’ll just state it plainly. South Africa is under occupation by private military and security firms now in possession of a combined arsenal of privatised force which already outnumbers that of the state by five to one. And while they have the capacity to deploy levels of violence and force that surpass those of the state, they are not accountable to its citizens or to the state. In a democracy such as ours, state forces are rightly accountable to the citizens, and in the case of the shooting of Fr Graham, the Deputy National Police Commissioner Gary Kruser has apologised unconditionally and set up an official investigation to be headed by the Gauteng provincial commissioner. Commissioner Kruser is not doing us a favour. In a democracy, he is holding himself accountable, just as he should. By contrast, unregulated private military and security firms are only accountable to their shareholders, shareholders for whom the use of force translates into the escalation of profit; profit to which you have contributed untold amounts. The threats posed by private military and security firms have been a long-standing concern of mine and are a central to my novel from 2014, I See You. One of the novel’s main characters, Leila Mashal, outlines the threats in a key scene. I mention this to you only because that scene takes place in the Great Hall at Wits.

Having imagined the threat of privatised force in my fiction, I have found it very difficult to watch the violence unfold at Wits in reality, of which the shooting of Fr Graham is a startling escalation. Is nothing sacred anymore? When I set that fictional scene at Wits, the last place I imagined would one day become the setting for the greatest public manifestation to date of the occupation of South Africa by privatised forces was a university, was indeed Wits University itself. This vexes me, because it is not easy to see the boundaries between fiction and reality implode at Wits, and because to me their collapse signals that the occupation has penetrated even our most respected centres of higher learning. You have stated that you have on a previous occasion reviewed footage of claims by students regarding brutality and abuse by private security agencies at Wits. You claimed to have found nothing to support those allegations. Maybe. But today I ask you to review the footage of images of brutalised priests and students now emanating from Wits. Are they evidence enough? Do you see what we see? What the rest of the world can see – even the Pope in Rome? Whatever these private security forces may have protected, it wasn’t the reputation of the University and it certainly wasn’t Fr Graham.

In January 2016, concerned Wits faculty and staff wrote to you requesting the University to terminate its contract with these private security firms. Writing on behalf of the Senior Executive Team, you rejected their request.

Following the shooting of Fr Graham, I call on the Senior Executive Team of the University of the Witwatersrand to demonstrate conciliatory leadership. I call on you to consider the lives of the students entrusted to your care, if not on a contractual basis, then at the very least on an ethical one. I call on you to reconsider your decision, and for the University to terminate its contract with these unaccountable private security firms. In the face of their insidious occupation, which is now at least no longer invisible, is it not also the responsibility of a university of good repute to be discerning about the threats they pose, to demonstrate dissent by also shedding light on how they undermine our democratic procedures, and to take the lead in standing up to defend those procedures rather than participate in their erosion through silent financial transactions with secret unaccountable forces? And if these are not also the responsibilities of a university, then to whom do we entrust them when we are under occupation?

Ishtiyaq Shukri

11 October 2016

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Image: YouTube

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Constitutional Court dismisses Oscar Pistorius’s application for leave to appeal murder conviction



The Constitutional Court has dismissed an application by Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius for leave to appeal against his conviction for murder‚ the National Prosecuting Authority has confirmed.

“I can confirm that his application for leave to appeal has been denied because of a lack of prospects of it succeeding‚” NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku said.

The decision was also confirmed in a brief statement issued by the Office of the Chief Justice which stated: “The Constitutional Court has considered this application for leave to appeal‚ by Mr Oscar L Pistorius. It has concluded that the application should be dismissed for lack of prospects of success.”

This was Pistorius’ last chance of overturning his conviction for the murder of his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. It is understood that he must now report back to the High Court in Pretoria to be sentenced.

Out on bail of R10 000‚ his next court date is April 18.

He faces 15 years in jail as that is the prescribed minimum sentence for murder for a first offender. But the court may impose a lesser sentence if it believes the circumstances justify it.

The court was ordered by the Supreme Court of Appeal to take time already served into account.

Pistorius was in prison for a year before being released on correctional supervision in October last year.

Steenkamp was shot through the door of the bathroom at Pistorius’ Pretoria home. He claimed he had mistaken her for a burglar.

Source: TMG Digital

Follow the hashtag #OscarPistorius for more reaction:


The case has inspired a host of authors to put their analysis of the events to paper:

Chase Your ShadowBehind the DoorOscar: An Accident Waiting to HappenDie staat vs OscarPieces of the PuzzleReeva: A Mother's StoryBehind the Door

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Image courtesy of IBT

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Wits confirms 14 arrested on campus – ‘not all of whom are students’

Wits University has released a statement regarding the people arrested on campus this afternoon.

The university confirms that 14 individuals, “not all of whom are students”, have been arrested and taken to the Hillbrow Police Station.

Those arrested, the university says, “have been involved in a number of unlawful activities on our campuses in recent days”, including “the unlawful occupation of the Senate House Concourse, attempted arson, malicious damage to property, the alleged burning of a bus, the setting alight of a mattress at the back of a library and the vandalisation of University property”.

Wits asserts that it “was left with no choice but to have these individuals arrested as they posed a threat to the 33 000 students and 5 000 staff on our campuses”, adding that the may also be suspended or barred from campus.

One of those arrested was reportedly author Panashe Chigumadzi, who tweeted videos from the police van.

Sweet MedicineChigumadzi is a Ruth First Fellow, working towards a postgraduate degree in Development Studies at Wits, and the founder and editor of Vanguard Magazine. Her debut novel, Sweet Medicine, was published under Jacana Media’s new imprint BlackBird Books in October last year.

Read the statement from Wits:


About 14 individuals were arrested and taken to the Hillbrow Police Station this afternoon for violating a court order obtained by the University earlier this year.

Some of these individuals, not all of whom are students, have been involved in a number of unlawful activities on our campuses in recent days.

These criminal activities include the unlawful occupation of the Senate House Concourse, attempted arson, malicious damage to property, the alleged burning of a bus, the setting alight of a mattress at the back of a library and the vandalisation of University property.

The safety and security of our staff, students and visitors to our campuses is paramount and the University was left with no choice but to have these individuals arrested as they posed a threat to the 33 000 students and 5 000 staff on our campuses.

In line with the University’s rules, policies and procedures, some members of the group, may also be suspended and/or barred from our campuses.

There are some that argue that the University is criminalising protest. This is completely untrue. The activities that we have witnessed in recent days are criminal, and we are responding accordingly. As a University we cannot tolerate criminal acts on our campuses.

There are others who have been involved in aiding and abetting these criminal activities on campus and they will also be held accountable for their actions.

Given the incidents that have occurred in the last two days, we have no option but to once again deploy a strong security contingent throughout our campuses, including on our bus routes. This once again redirects resources away from where it is needed most – accommodation, food and support for needy students.

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Thabo Mbeki tackles his controversial ‘trust me on Selebi’ statement – a decade on

My Second InitiationTo Catch A CopRagged GloryThe African Renaissance and the Afro-Arab Spring

Thabo Mbeki and the Battle for the Soul of the ANCThabo MbekiFit to Govern


We never intervened to block the investigation‚ arrest and prosecution of the late National Commissioner of SAPS‚ Jackie Selebi

- former president Thabo Mbeki

President Thabo Mbeki told religious leaders in November 2006 that they should trust him on then National Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi‚ and that he had no grounds to suspend him.

This was despite a public outcry and after the religious leaders had suggested an inquiry into the relationship between Selebi and underworld tycoon Glenn Agliotti.

Mbeki also suspended the then national prosecutions boss Vusi Pikoli‚ who had wanted to execute search warrants on Selebi.

Agliotti was convicted of drug dealing and later turned State’s evidence against in Selebi’s corruption trial. Selebi was convicted of accepting bribes worth R166‚000 from Agliotti in exchange for showing him top secret police reports. In 2010‚ Selebi‚ also a president of Interpol‚ was sentenced to 15 years which was later converted to medical parole. He died in January 2015.

Almost a decade after his “trust me on Selebi” statement‚ Mbeki tackles this controversial saga in his latest missive to the nation‚ issued on Monday 8 February 2016.

Full statement: Issued by the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute (TMALI)

By Thabo Mbeki
February 8‚ 2016

For many years now‚ some at home and abroad have propagated the view that during the period I was President of the Republic‚ I abused my power especially to compromise the proper functioning of our criminal justice system‚ with the objective to advance particular political objectives.

Specifically the charges have been made that I intervened with the relevant state organs in one instance to prohibit the prosecution of the late former National Commissioner of Police‚ Jackie Selebi‚ and in another to frustrate the political aspirations of President Jacob Zuma.

At some point‚ possibly in 2006‚ the then Scorpions‚ the Directorate of Special Operations (DSO)‚ decided to carry out some investigations into the South African Police Service (SAPS) arising from the murder of the former businessman‚ Mr Brett Kebble.

Again at some point during these investigations‚ the then National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP)‚ Adv Vusi Pikoli‚ and the Head of the Scorpions‚ Adv Leonard McCarthy‚ informed me about their investigations. They reported that they were not receiving any cooperation from the SAPS in terms of accessing documents in the possession of the latter.

In this context it is necessary to explain that by this time the relations between the NPA/NDPP/DSO and the SAPS had to all intents and purposes broken down‚ with these institutions treating one another as deadly enemies.

Naturally‚ despite this reality‚ I viewed it as my obligation as Head of State and Government to support and assist all state organs properly to discharge their Constitutional and Statutory responsibilities.

Accordingly I informed Advocates Pikoli and McCarthy that I would intervene with National Commissioner Selebi to ensure that the SAPS did not obstruct the NDPP and the DSO in their work.

One result of this undertaking was that I convened a meeting at the offices of the SAPS Crime Intelligence Division. Present at the meeting were National Commissioner Selebi‚ Head of SAPS Crime Intelligence‚ Commissioner Ray Lalla‚ NDPP Pikoli‚ DSO Head McCarthy‚ the Presidency DG‚ Rev Frank Chikane‚ and myself.

Having discussed the urgent matter which had been raised by the DSO‚ it was agreed that the latter could send its officers to examine the Crime Intelligence files at Crime Intelligence Headquarters‚ without taking these files out of the building or photocopying them.

Everybody understood the need to proceed in this manner‚ which was necessitated by the sensitive and confidential nature of these files‚ which included the names of the agents and sources of Crime Intelligence.

More generally‚ it was also agreed that thenceforth the SAPS would cooperate with the NDPP and the DSO in their investigations.

At my suggestion‚ it was accepted that in the event that further problems arose in this regard‚ either or both parties would contact DG Chikane who would help to resolve any dispute‚ or‚ failing which‚ he would refer the matter to the President.

During September 2007 DG Chikane and I met NDPP Pikoli at his request. He informed us that he had secured Warrants to conduct search and seizure operations at the SAPS Headquarters and National Commissioner Selebi’s home‚ and to charge and arrest the National Commissioner.

This information about the securing of Warrants took both DG Chikane and I by surprise.

We informed NDPP Pikoli that‚ as he knew‚ he had no need for such Warrants as I‚ as President‚ remained ready to assist the NDPP/DSO with regard to the SAPS‚ as we had already done.

We argued with NDPP Pikoli that given the deeply poisoned relations between the NDPP/DSO and the SAPS‚ any attempt to execute the Warrants would inevitably result in a violent‚ armed conflict between his DSO search and arrest party and the SAPS.

He conceded that this was possible‚ reminding us that indeed such a violent conflict nearly broke out when his DSO officers had earlier sought to search Jacob Zuma’s house at his residence in Forest Town in Johannesburg.

Nevertheless and despite this concession‚ he insisted that as the NDPP‚ he had a legal right to conduct the search and seizure and arrest operations for which he had legal Warrants‚ and would do this in a week’s time.

We pointed out that any shooting war as would almost inevitably occur between the State organs the DSO and the SAPS would present the country with a very serious threat to its national security.

I also tried to convince Adv Pikoli to understand that it was my absolute responsibility as President of the Republic to take all necessary measures to avoid this eventuality.

I therefore proposed to NDPP Pikoli that he should carry out his search and seizure and arrest operations after two‚ rather than one week‚ as well as abandon his reliance on the use of unnecessary and provocative Warrants.

The two weeks would give me time to interact with National Commissioner Selebi and the SAPS leadership‚ as well as take other such steps as would ensure that the NDPP/DSO discharged their own tasks without plunging the country into a very serious national security crisis.

The work I would do would ensure the full cooperation of the National Commissioner and the SAPS‚ with no need for any Warrants to be served on them. I must also add that on that day‚ I was due to leave the country for the United States to attend the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly and would therefore be absent from South Africa for at least half of that week.

NDPP Pikoli resolutely rejected this proposal and refused all persuasion‚ insisting that he had a legal right and duty to execute the Warrants in the one week he had indicated.

I then informed NDPP Pikoli that‚ as President‚ I had my own solemn duty to help guarantee the country’s national security‚ while doing everything possible to assist the NDPP/DSO to carry out their legal duties‚ including the arrest and prosecution of the SAPS National Commissioner as they had deemed this to be required and merited.

After a lengthy discussion‚ I therefore told Adv Pikoli that given the fact of his absolute refusal to postpone by just one more week the actions he intended to take against the National Commissioner and the SAPS‚ the only recourse I had to stop him from acting in a manner that would surely threaten national security was to suspend him from his post as NDPP.

As we were meeting at Mahlamba Ndlopfu‚ I then left Adv Pikoli with Rev Chikane in the room where we were meeting and went to my office in the house‚ prepared and signed my letter suspending NDPP Pikoli and gave it to him there and then.

Interestingly‚ he said that he was relieved as the suspension had ‘taken a great load off his shoulders’.

Despite the pain of all these proceedings‚ we parted in the middle of the night with no evident bad feelings among us.

When Adv Mokotedi Mpshe took over as Acting NDPP‚ he did not adopt the position of his predecessor of insisting on serving the Warrants within one week.

We therefore carried out the necessary processes we had offered to Adv Pikoli and engaged National Commissioner Selebi and the SAPS leadership.

Consequently the NDPP/DSO carried out their work without any hindrance‚ and with no threat to national security. This included the arrest and prosecution of National Commissioner Selebi.

During the discussions with Adv Pikoli at Mahlamba Ndlopfu we had sharply disagreed with him about his decision to enter into plea bargains with people who had been involved in the murder of Brett Kebble.

In this regard we argued‚ in vain‚ that the NPA should prosecute these in the same way as it intended to prosecute the National Commissioner. This matter of plea bargains and their timing was linked to Adv Pikoli’s insistence to act on his Warrants in one week.

According to the plea bargains‚ the NPA absolved from prosecution the confessed Brett Kebble murderers‚ Mikey Schultz‚ Nigel McGurk and Kappie Smith‚ turning them into State witnesses against Glenn Agliotti.

The NPA also made a deal with the drug trafficker‚ Agliotti‚ which conditionally indemnified him from prosecution on charges including corruption‚ money laundering‚ racketeering and defeating the ends of justice‚ if he testified “frankly and honestly” against National Commissioner Selebi.

In his book‚ “My Second Initiation”‚ Adv Pikoli says: “I accept that the greatest criticism of my tenure is that I allowed Kebble’s killers to go free‚ but what could possibly be worse than a National Police Commissioner who is a criminal himself: guilty of corruption and of protecting criminals? We would never have been able to solve the Kebble murder were it not for those deals… I don’t think it’s fair to say we ‘prioritised’ the Selebi case over that of the Kebble murder… We never envisaged that Glenn Agliotti would walk free. We also intended to prosecute Agliotti‚ along with John Stratton‚ and we believed both would have stood trial together for the death of Kebble.”

However‚ long after National Commissioner Selebi had been convicted‚ Glenn Agliotti did walk free‚ and John Stratton lives in Australia.

After the Kebble murder charges against him were withdrawn‚ Agliotti publicly invited the NPA to prosecute him for having “corrupted” National Commissioner Selebi‚ and said‚ “I don’t believe he (Selebi) was handled in the right manner. There was a conspiracy. It was an absolute travesty of justice.”

The NPA itself announced that it would conduct its own internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding the arrest‚ prosecution and conviction of the late National Commissioner Selebi. The NPA has as yet made no announcement about the outcome of this internal investigation.

After Adv Pikoli’s suspension‚ and as prescribed by the law‚ we instituted a Commission of Enquiry to determine whether Adv Pikoli was ‘fit and proper’ to occupy the position of NDPP. We appointed the former Speaker of the National Assembly‚ Ms Frene Ginwala‚ to serve as the Commissioner.

In her Report Commissioner Ginwala made many important observations relevant to various matters raised in this article.

Among others she said:
“Since he was dealing with the impending prosecution of a state official as senior as the National Commissioner of Police‚ Adv Pikoli was obliged to keep the Minister (of Justice) informed at all times in order to enable her to exercise her final responsibility‚ and also to report to the President and to Cabinet on a matter that could impact on national security. This duty would specifically include informing the Minister prior to applying for warrants of arrest and search and seizure against the National Commissioner of Police. Adv Pikoli failed in his duty to keep the Minister informed.”

Further she stated:
“I did not find any substance in Adv Pikoli’s assertion that the reason for his suspension was to stop the prosecution of the National Commissioner of Police. Adv Pikoli confirms in his evidence that he received assistance from the Presidency and the Minister in his investigation of the National Commissioner of Police‚ and that there had not been any earlier attempts to stop him proceeding.”

She also said:
“Even more disturbing was Adv Pikoli’s response to the question on whether he would have acquiesced to the request if the President had insisted on a two week delay.

“Adv. Pikoli said: “I am saying I am very reluctant to answer this question‚ but if I have to answer it‚ I must say that perhaps I might have defied the President but I was just hoping that such a thing would never happen.”

“This is most startling‚ particularly if he would have still been in a position to execute the warrants after the two weeks.”

Again basing herself on evidence presented to the Commission‚ Ms Ginwala also stated that:
“(Adv Pikoli) did not take seriously the President’s concerns about the mood of the SAPS and their possible reaction to the arrest of the National Commissioner; and even challenged the President’s assessment of the time he would require to manage the situation… Adv Pikoli did not appreciate that the President would need to obtain comprehensive assessments of the possible adverse reaction by members of SAPS and the potential threat to the stability of the country‚ as well as to determine what measures needed to be put in place to contain the situation…Adv Pikoli also did not give due consideration to the actions the President might need to take in order to defuse a potential security crisis and instability and to preserve the country’s international reputation.”

“The Head of State is inevitably privy to information that is not available to others‚ and it was incumbent on Adv Pikoli to respect the President’s assessment of the time that would be necessary; the more so as Adv Pikoli admitted that the request did not undermine his prosecutorial independence in any way….
“His (Adv Pikoli’s) judgment that the two weeks delay would have compromised the matters that were pending is not supported‚ even by the historical events. Those matters were ultimately addressed in court in November 2007 well beyond the two weeks period the President had requested…Had these facts been presented as the reason for the suspension‚ when the conduct would have held a real risk of undermining national security‚ I would not have hesitated to find the reason to be legitimate.”

Contrary to the blatantly false allegation that was made and has been sustained for many years‚ we never intervened to block the investigation‚ arrest and prosecution of the late National Commissioner of SAPS‚ Jackie Selebi. Instead we acted at all times to assist the NPA and the DSO to do their work‚ as determined and defined solely by them.

For those who have argued otherwise‚ with no facts to substantiate their positions‚ the real and fundamental matter at issue was not about the legitimate functioning of the criminal justice system‚ protected from illegal interference and abuse of power by the President‚ with the intension to shield the then National Commissioner Selebi from arrest and prosecution.

The real matter was about creating a particular political climate intended to discredit the Government of the day.

The purpose of this was to gain advantage by promoting the particular partisan political objective of convincing the people of South Africa that the President and the Government were determined to subvert our Constitution and democracy‚ with the aim to advance the interests of the ANC rather than those of the country and our people as a whole.

Source: TMG Digital

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