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Week of 26 March 1999

1. Only in SA

A construction worker at JHB International Airport who works on the roof of the departures terminal, has been caught using a fishing rod to hook suitcases from the conveyor belt carrying luggage to the aircraft. The holes through which he achieved this have now been patched.

The school near Port Elizabeth that was stolen overnight last week has been recovered. Community policing board chair Vuyisile Njikelana spotted a donkey cart heaped with prefabricated material. He managed to corner the driver and the cart and two donkeys were impounded by police. Later Njikilena found more parts were being used to build shacks, and he and police used loudhailers to appeal to people to leave school material on the side of the road for collection. To his surprise, this was done.

The Klien Karoo Kunsfees, a festival of Afrikaans music, drama and culture, alternative or otherwise, began its fifth year in Oudsthoorn yesterday. The festival does not baulk at using the acronym KKK.

2. Words of Wisdom from our Leaders:

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela - who appears on the top ten of the ANC's national election list - said white farmers were killing each other to fan racism and destabilise the country.

Tony Leon, leader of the DP, alleged that he is in possession of a letter from Madikizela-Mandela in which she claims she is in possession of secret information that if released would be 'the end' for the ANC, and that she is using this to secure her position in the ANC.

Minister of Sport Steve Tshwete told Parliament sport 'is not a private matter' and those who think it is indulge in 'reactionary prattle'.

GPP (God's People Party) leader Jan van Rensburg said, 'I have a bad back but I won't broadcast that because voters won't like a cripple as president.'

'Dis absurd...jy sien ek het nie werk vir 'n burgermeester hier op my plaas nie', [Its absurd.. you see I have no work for a mayor on my farm] was AWB (Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweeging) leader Eugene Terre 'Blanche's repsonse to suggestions by an SABC reporter that he might have had a hand in the disappearance of the mayor of Ventersdorp, Kabelo Mashi.

3. Political Chameleons in the Election Zoo:

Today was the last sitting of South Africa's first democratically elected Parliament. This week, the DP's only black woman MP, Dr Bukelwa Mbulawa, left the DP for the ANC. The NNP's (New NP) MP Isak Van Zyl defected to the AEB (Afrikaner Eenheidsbeweging). Western Cape NNP local government MEC (member of the executive council) Patrick Mackenzie and Western Cape NNP MPL's (members of the provincial legislature) David Chuenyane and John Gogotya defected to the ANC. Western Cape education MEC Nic Koornhof left the NNP for the DP. Local leader in Klerksdorp Patrick Shole left the DP for the UDM (United Democratic Movement). Richard Pillay, a senior leader of the UDM in Gauteng, left the UDM for the DP. Azapo (Azanian People's Organisation) North West youth leader Kgomotso Modiselle defected to the UDM.

Incidentally, 17,7m voters and 41 political parties have registered with the IEC (Independant Electoral Commission) ahead of the election set for 2 June 1999. There will be no further opportunities for voters to register.

3. Crimes Past and Present:

The Rev Allan Boesak was convicted of theft and fraud and received an effective six year sentence. He continues to claim: 'I am absolutely innocent.' Trevor Manuel, minister of finance, said it is important that Boesak's friends who participated with him in the struggle stand by him in his hour of need. Boesak's counsel is preparing appeal papers.

Dr Wouter Basson, former head of SA's chemical and biological warfare programme, appeared in court on 64 charges, including 16 of murder and 24 of fraud. He allegedly supplied toxic substances used by the CCB (Civil Co-operation Bureau) to eliminate state 'enemies' in the 1980's.

The complainant in a rape case who has accused Makhaya Ntini, the South Africa fast bowler, gave evidence for two days in the district court in East London. She alleged Ntini raped her in a public toilet in Buffalo Park in December last year.

'Hard Livings' gang leader Rashied Staggie was shot in the hand and abdomen in a drive-by shooting in Manenberg yesterday. No arrests have been made, despite a police swoop on a Pagad (People Against Gangsterism and Drugs) member's home. Staggie's bodyguards said the incident had 'affected him psychologically'.

In 1998 651 gunshot victims were taken to JHB Hospital, up from 231 in 1993. The single biggest cause of quadriplegia in SA is now injury sustained in hijackings.

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©Jean Redpath 1999