By Luke Daniel for The South African 

Government departments and state owned enterprises (SOE) have accumulated irregular expenditure exceeding R72.6-billion.

This is according to an analysis undertaken by the official opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), which has since been reported on by Fin24. The party held a media briefing on Sunday, citing the 2017/18 annual financial reports released by government departments and SOEs.

What is irregular expenditure?
Simply put, irregular expenditure is a term used to describe the gross mismanagement of funds, particularly within the realm of governmental departments and state entities.

Technically, any costs involving state funds which fall outside the parameters of the Public Finance Management Act can be described as irregular expenditure. This wanton wastage of funds is a particularly painful thorn in the side of South Africa’s already uneasy economy, further embittering taxpayers as their hard-earned cash, effectively, goes to waste.

DA says total irregular expenditure could be much more
Natasha Mazzone, the DA’s Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises, addressed the media briefing, adding that not all government departments and SOEs had finalised their financial reports, meaning that the actual amount of irregular expenditure could be much higher.

The official opposition party pointed out that irregular expenditure stood at R42.8 billion last year. This year, that amount has increased by 70%.

Mazzone bemoaned the unsustainability of SOEs, adding that despite revitalisation strategies, most companies still remain wholly incompetent and reliant on government bailouts, saying:

“SOEs are going from one bailout to the next, one disaster to the next. It’s got to a point where it doesn’t matter who you put in the boards because the entities are so broken, it is almost impossible to fix.”

Government irregular expenditure: the main culprits
The DA made its report on the government’s irregular expenditure public, listing, in order, the entities which have recorded the greatest losses.

Here are the top wasters of public funds:

  • Eskom – 19.6 billion
  • South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) – R10.5 billion
  • Transnet – R8.1 billion
  • Department of Water and Sanitation – R6.2 billion
  • South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) – R5 billion
  • Water Trading Entity – R4.9 billion
  • Department of Correctional Services – R3.2 billion
  • Property Trading Management Entity (PTME) – R2.3 billion
  • Department of Basic Education – R1.7 billion
  • Department of Defence – R1.7 billion
  • Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) – R1.2 billion
  • South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) – R1.7 billion
  • South African Post Office (SAPO) – R1 billion

By Jean le Roux for Fake News Exposed

Some of South Africa’s biggest banks, insurance companies and car manufacturers have been caught advertising on fake news websites.

A News24 investigation of three months has found that big brands like Absa, Coronation, Cell C, Capitec, Mercedes Benz, Takealot and OUTsurance, who spend millions of rands promoting and marketing the credibility and integrity of their brands, have indirectly contributed to the fake news industry by buying programmatic advertising that landed up on dodgy websites.

Some of these websites, like HINNews – a Nigeria-based site that publishes a mix of fabricated stories and real news – have run stories about EFF leader Julius Malema dying of listeriosis and a new kidnapping ring “ripping” unborn babies from their mothers.

As the world is grappling with the scourge of fake news in the wake of President Donald Trump’s election in the United States and the support he received from Russian-run fake news operations to target potential Republican voters, South Africa has not been spared from the phenomenon.

“At Africa Check, we’ve seen false news stories stoke retribution, cause panic and misinform people about their health, which can have deadly consequences. It’s a real shame that reputable news brands aid the existence of these outlets, even if inadvertently. The sooner this gap is plugged, the better for society,” says Anim van Wyk, chief editor at Africa Check.

Association by advertising

Ismail Jooma, Head of Strategy at VML South Africa told News24 the creators of disinformation and fake news use rhetoric as a tool to divide.

“‘Disinformation’ websites are the modern era’s galvaniser of marginalised rhetoric, more often than not these websites pursue an agenda of racism, sexism and intolerance. If we had to remove the lens of moral subjectivity, purveyors of fake news aim to disunite at the very least.

A number of fake news sites that specialise in publishing fabricated news about South Africa make money through selling programmatic advertising spots to Google and other service providers.

News24 is publishing the results of our investigation into this phenomenon, including a blacklist of fake news websites, on a dedicated website titled Fake News Exposed.

Websites like HINNews are among several similar sites known for their clickbait headlines and fabricated stories, which are either copied from other online news sources or made up from scratch. Their articles show a fondness for the macabre and racially charged stories and are often widely shared on social media.

Companies whose brands appeared on these websites say they were unaware that they were inadvertently funding fake news and have instead blamed Google for allowing these sites to operate.

Google enables programmatic advertising, which is based on users’ browsing patterns on the internet. Advertising agencies buy adverts on behalf of clients and Google allocates these ads through a platform called Google Adsense, that uses algorithms to place adverts on websites. Website owners are then paid by Google Adsense.

In countries like Macedonia, running fake news websites that publish fabricated stories have become a full-scale industry and source of revenue for unemployed youngsters.

Companies condemn disinformation

Capitec, one of the local brands who’s advertising was found on a fake news website, condemned the phenomenon through their spokesperson Charl Nel. This sentiment was echoed by representatives from OUTsurance and Coronation. The full responses of companies caught on fake news websites by News24 can be found here.

These companies say they were unaware that a part of their advertising spend was finding its way to the owners of fake news site, while Google removed HINNews from its advertising network on September 21 after receiving queries from News24.

Nel said it was difficult for the bank to ascertain which news sites are fake and that it targets a market based on its readership. “We utilise various software for delivery of programmatic ads which are globally recognised (and) which optimises and creates lists as a brand watch. Capitec and our advertising partners also review websites on a monthly basis, however, it is very hard to decipher which websites are not legitimate as we target based on users.”

Nel condemned the use of fake news but repeated that it is hard to determine which sites are real and which are fake. “We are working hard to ensure these sites are blacklisted.”

OUTsurance’s head of client relations, Natasha Kawulesar, also denied the insurer’s knowledge or support of adverts on fake news websites and said the fake news website where it advertised was part of the Google Display Network (GDN), Google’s network of Adsense-approved websites. Google bans pornography, illegal downloads and similar websites from the GDN.

“We do not have the knowledge or capability to handle this function [digital advertising] ourselves and currently rely on our media and technology partners to handle this on their side,” said Kawulesar. “We place our trust in the publishers and media partners we deal with. We also have service level agreements in place to protect our brand and reputation. We confirm once again that we do not condone fake news or misinformation in any way, form or scale.”

Thato Mntambo, Manager: Corporate Communications at Mercedes-Benz South Africa also told News24 that the placement of their adverts was in the hands of Google.

“The unintended consequence of the pervasiveness of GDN [Google Display Network] is the difficulty to monitor the number of websites where our advertisements are displayed. We are conscious of the potential of incorrect placements and ameliorate the effects thereof through continuous monitoring of keywords and, in some cases, blacklisting keywords.”

Coronation Fund Managers, responding through their representative Tanya Schreuder of Dentsu Aegis Network, told News24 that the website on which their branding was found formed part of Google’s GDN list of websites.

“Under no circumstances would the Dentsu Aegis Network, as custodians of our clients’ brands, consciously support sites which are illegal, undesirable or dubious in any form. We take brand safety incredibly seriously and on behalf of all of our clients we undertake every effort to ensure that any online inventory we deploy is legitimate and of a quality that is contextually suitable.”

Google’s response

Google declined to comment on HINNews’s listing on the Google Display Network.

A spokesperson said: “Our publisher policies govern where Google ads may be placed. We don’t comment on individual sites but we enforce these policies vigorously and regularly review sites to ensure compliance. We also encourage people to let us know when they see sites that they have concerns about that may be in violation of our policies.”

By Jack Morse for Mashable 

A million hacked Facebook accounts isn’t cool. You know what’s even less cool? Fifty million hacked Facebook accounts.

A Friday morning press release from our connect-people-at-any-cost friends in Menlo Park detailed a potentially horrifying situation for the billions of people who use the social media service: Their accounts might have been hacked. Well, at least 50 million of them were “directly affected,” anyway.

The so-called “security update” is light on specifics, but what it does include is extremely troubling.

“We did see this attack being used at a fairly large scale.”

“On the afternoon of Tuesday, September 25, our engineering team discovered a security issue affecting almost 50 million accounts,” reads the statement. “[It’s] clear that attackers exploited a vulnerability in Facebook’s code that impacted ‘View As’, a feature that lets people see what their own profile looks like to someone else. This allowed them to steal Facebook access tokens which they could then use to take over people’s accounts.”

That’s right, almost 50 million accounts were vulnerable to this attack. As for how many were actually exploited?

“Fifty million accounts were directly affected,” explained Facebook VP of product management Guy Rosen on a Friday morning press call, “and we know the vulnerability was used against them.”

“We did see this attack being used at a fairly large scale,” added Rosen. “The attackers could use the account as if they are the account holder.”

The statement itself didn’t provide much additional insight.

“Since we’ve only just started our investigation, we have yet to determine whether these accounts were misused or any information accessed,” continues the statement. “We also don’t know who’s behind these attacks or where they’re based.”

Facebook says it’s fixed the vulnerability, and that 90 million people may suddenly find themselves logged out of their accounts or various Facebooks apps as a result.

The disclosure is a reminder about the dangers posed when a small number of companies like Facebook or the credit bureau Equifax are able to accumulate so much personal data about individual Americans without adequate security measures.

So, yeah, this is big.

“Security is an arms race,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg dryly noted on the press call.

Facebook is working with law enforcement, and, at least for now, says you don’t need to change your password. But maybe go ahead and log out of your account, everywhere, just to be safe.

“[If] anyone wants to take the precautionary action of logging out of Facebook, they should visit the ‘Security and Login’ section in settings,” advises the warning. “It lists the places people are logged into Facebook with a one-click option to log out of them all.”

So yeah, click through that link and log out of your account on all webpages and apps at once. After that, maybe think long and hard about whether it’s even worth logging back in.

By Alison DeNisco Rayome for Tech Republic 

Microsoft Office documents packed with malicious macros are the most common malware loader of the past month, accounting for 45% of all delivery mechanisms analysed, according to a Thursday report from Cofense.

Office Macros were followed in popularity by CVE-2017-11882, malicious batch scripts, malicious PowerShell scripts, and WSC downloaders, the report found.

This demonstrates that threat actors tend to leverage tried-and-tested delivery mechanisms, the report noted. Macros may have a low barrier to entry, but they are not used only by immature or low-impact cybercriminals: Malware delivered via macros is among the worst in today’s threat landscape, including Geodo, Chanitor, AZORult, and GandCrab, according to the report.

Macros remain a popular email attachment method of delivering a malicious payload because they are typically enabled on a machine, or easily allowed with a single mouse click, the report noted—making it very easy to launch the first stage of an attack. When used this way, macros are embedded Visual Basic scripts that are often used to download or directly execute further payloads.

The Microsoft Office Macro feature could be enabled by default in your organisation’s IT environment, according to the report. When this is the case, a user may not receive any warning that something is wrong upon opening a malicious document. Even when an organisation has some kind of protection in place—such as a security warning at the top of the document—it can often be dismissed with just one click, or may be ignored by the user.

IT departments can protect their organisation from macros by disabling them enterprise-wide, the report said. However, many businesses rely on macros for their legitimate usage, in which case IT may want to consider enacting a blanket policy of blocking documents at the gateway, or, perhaps more realistically, combining different policies such as blocking or grey-listing documents coming from unknown senders. Security education is also key, the report said.

The big takeaways for tech leaders

  • Microsoft Office documents packed with malicious macros are the most common malware loader of the past month, accounting for 45% of all delivery mechanisms.
  • Malware delivered via macros is among the worst in today’s threat landscape, including Geodo, Chanitor, AZORult, and GandCrab.

By Luke Daniel for The South African 

Embattled state owned enterprises (SOEs) are South Africa’s biggest and most dangerous economic stumbling blocks.

This is according to the international rating agency, Moody’s, which points to Eskom’s major failings as a cause for national concern.

State owned enterprises all performing dismally
While speaking at the Investor Service’s conference on Thursday, the agency’s senior credit officer for infrastructure finance, Helen Francis, outlined the dire position most SOEs find themselves in.

The massive financial drain perpetuated by failing SOEs has been well documented. Eskom, in particular, has reported over R19bn in irregular expenditure and continues to rely on government bailouts to stay afloat.

Worrying, Eskom is undoubtedly the largest and most vital SOE – supplying 90% of South Africa with electricity.

Yet, the embattled national power supplier just can’t seem to get back on its feet, following Gupta interference involving former company boss, Brian Molefe. Recently, the company issued an ominous statement, bemoaning the fact that its coal reserves were dwindling as a result of dodgy tenders.

Looking across the entire SOE spectrum paints a dismal picture. It’s not just Eskom that is dying, and in that way draining the already unsteady economy of vital funds. Transnet, South African Airways (SAA), the South African Broadcasting Corporation, and many more national companies are failing to make ends meet.

Corruption still plaguing SOEs
Speaking to Fin24, Futuregrowth Asset Management’s, Olga Constantatos, said that turning the situation around would not be easy and that much more needs to be done.

Constantatos commented on the disease of corruption and gross mismanagement which afflicts both Eskom and Transnet, saying:

“Much more needs to happen. The latest results at Transnet and Eskom point to the circumventing of controls – with Eskom’s R20 billion in irregular expenditure and Transnet’s R8bn. We need to see prosecutions. We need to see arrests of people who were stealing money essentially from you and me.”

Constantatos added that there needs to be stiffer repercussion for SOEs which flout due process, and as such, essentially, steal from the taxpayer and investors, saying:

“As bond investors, we are custodians of the nation’s pension funds. We should not be allocating capital to institutions where there is malfeasance, or lend blindly to companies that are not responsible.”

By Andile Sicetsha for The South African

The South African Police Service’s (SAPS) cybercrime unit has been forced to drop investigations into hundreds of cases because software licenses have not been paid.

A report in the Sunday Times revealed that investigations into organised crimes, hacking and EFT scams have been halted due to expired software licenses for equipment used to decode and interpret cellphone data.

Other forensic capabilities have also been hindered by this. Data that would’ve been vital in the trial of alleged Islamic State members, Aslam Del Vecchio and Fatima Patel, is not available because of this.

Earlier this year, a service provider appointed by the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) threatened to halt essential services due to lack of payment, and the parliamentary portfolio committee on police said several police and SITA agreements were major security risks.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, a source with knowledge of the cybercrime unit’s operations said the police were migrating from technology that could be used in the field to a solution which tied officers to their desks.

In the past, investigators used a system called Cellebrite Touch. This was a device that could be used to interpret cellphone data in the field. It was quick and efficient.

This time, however, it seems that the unit has been moved to a desktop system, meaning that there would be a larger gap in turnaround times, and in this form of crime, time is everything.

Craig Pederson, the head of digital forensics at Computer Guyz, expressed the importance of the work conducted by the cybercrime unit.

“We live in an age where technology is used broadly and plays a definite role in many of the more serious crimes. The unit is a vital link in the complex task of collecting evidence”, Pederson stated.

Brenda Muridili, the SAPS’ spokesperson, could only state that the police would not be commenting on the issue.

“We are not able to disclose any information with regard to covertly required IT solutions”, she said.

By Tom Schoenberg, Greg Farrell and Matt Robinson for Fin24 

All it took to draw the US Justice Department into investigating Tesla was a single tweet by chairperson Elon Musk. But now that prosecutors have a toehold, they can dig in to look for other signs of misconduct at the electric-car maker.

The investigation is in its very early stages and where it leads is anyone’s guess. Many securities fraud probes over the years have started with a bang like the one that knocked as much as 6.6% off Tesla’s shares with Bloomberg’s report of the probe on Tuesday.

Some of those are flash news reports that trickle off without charges. At the other extreme are companies like Theranos, which pumped up its valuation with what the government said were false promises, leading to charges against founder Elizabeth Holmes and another senior executive.

“Criminal investigations are never good if you’re a public company because they open up a Pandora’s box and prosecutors will follow threads wherever they lead,” said Paul Pelletier, a former Justice Department prosecutor.

Tesla co-operating

Tesla said it’s co-operating with the Justice Department, noting that it received queries but no subpoena. The initial scrutiny surrounds Musk’s tweet on August 7 that he had money lined up to take the company private. Shares jumped. Later, he and his board said there was no formal proposal for the funding and they abandoned the plan.

The Securities and Exchange Commission quickly opened a civil investigation into the tweet and issued a subpoena for information, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.That was followed by the Justice Department probe. Neither the SEC nor federal prosecutors have accused Musk of any wrongdoing.

To prove criminal securities fraud, prosecutors would have to show not only that Musk’s statements were false, but that they were made willfully. That would require establishing that Musk purposely planned to inappropriately drive the shares higher or prevent them from going lower.

One area investigators would look for such evidence is in emails or other internal documents, according to former federal prosecutors.

Musk has often vented his frustrations with short sellers on social media. In May, Musk tweeted that he was expecting the “short burn of the century” and suggested that investors who were betting against the company start “tiptoeing quietly to the exit …”

The “funding secured” tweet did in fact trip up bearish sellers when the company’s shares rallied more than 10%. Government investigators will be trying to determine whether there was any connection to that statement and his desire to hurt short sellers.

Once federal prosecutors begin looking into Musk’s comments, they may also examine other things, including why the company’s new chief accountant picked up and left after just a month on the job – though he said at the time he had “no disagreements with Tesla’s leadership or its financial reporting.”

Under securities fraud laws, prosecutors could go back five years and more if they find evidence of a conspiracy.

Very often what starts out as an investigation of one subject takes a completely different turn, said Michael Koenig, who prosecuted former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio for insider trading.

‘Wait a minute’

“When we were investigating Qwest, we initially thought there were accounting fraud and revenue recognition type issues,” said Koenig, now a partner at Hinckley, Allen & Snyder. “As we started digging into it, however, we realised, ‘Wait a minute. Joe Nacchio is selling large amounts of his stock at the same time he’s telling the general public that the company is doing great, when he knew it was not.’”

Nacchio served four years and five months in prison after his 2007 conviction in the case.

A more recent example, according to Koenig, is the Hillary Clinton email investigation, which was reopened by the FBI after agents came across possible undiscovered evidence while investigating former New York congressman Anthony Weiner for sexting with a minor.

The lack of a subpoena from the Justice Department doesn’t mean its investigation is limited, according to Pelletier. Prosecutors can piggyback on the SEC’s subpoena to get a hold of whatever information Tesla discloses, obviating the need to issue a grand jury subpoena of its own, he said.

“That’s the normal course of action when the SEC has already issued a subpoena,” Pelletier said.

The SEC already was investigating whether Musk’s vehicle production forecasts misled investors before the regulator started scrutinising whether he had secured funding for a Tesla buyout, Bloomberg News reported on August 9.

Some of Musk’s predictions have been way off. Musk said during a May 2016 earnings call that, during the second half of 2017, he expected Tesla would produce 100 000 to 200 000 Model 3 sedans – the lower-priced car that’s pivotal to the company generating profit. Tesla ended up building fewer than 3 000 Model 3s in last year’s second half.

The Justice Department’s interest in Tesla isn’t good for investors, who saw the company’s share price drop just after the investigation was revealed. But the probe doesn’t mean that Palo Alto, California-based Tesla will go the way of Theranos.

Unlike Theranos, Tesla manufactures popular automobiles. While the SEC and the Justice Department might find that the company and some of its executives exaggerated Tesla’s financial performance, government officials would probably be hesitant to inflict a critical blow on a company that employs more than 35 000 people globally.

The nature and depth of any exaggerations by Tesla will ultimately determine how the company is treated.

If Musk’s conduct at Tesla is deemed to be a case where the CEO’s unregulated passion led him to hyperbolic claims, the resulting penalties are likely to be serious, but measured. But if evidence emerges that a win-at-all-costs mentality from the top led some executives to cook the books, the penalties could be severe.

Did the banks collude with the Guptas?

Source: The Citizen 

The EFF has criticised South Africa’s major banks, calling them opportunistic and hypocritical “in their testimony given to the state capture inquiry”.

Standard Bank’s retired head of legal testified at the inquiry on Monday giving reasons that led the bank deciding to close the business accounts of the controversial Gupta family.

Former FirstRand Group – which First National Bank (FNB) is a division of – chief executive officer (CEO) Johan Burger is testifying at the commission today.

“These banks were very happy to do business with the Guptas until the unceremonious December 2015 removal of Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister when South African stocks were severely devalued,” the EFF said in a statement.

The red berets added that by the time of Nene’s axing, the Guptas and former president Jacob Zuma – who are commonly referred to as the Zuptas – were already carrying out corrupt activities “facilitated by the very same banks”.

The EFF said: “It is impossible that the banks only started to notice the suspicious transactions of the Guptas and their companies in 2016 as they now want us to believe.

“The truth is that these banks colluded in the looting of the country for as long as it was feeding into their profit maximisation motives and greed. These are the only driving forces behind the commercial banks. For them, it’s profit before people and the country.”

The party said it hopes the chair of the commission Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo would not be fooled by the testimony of the banks.

“We call on the South African Reserve Bank (Sarb) and the Financial Intelligence Centre to launch a separate probe into the complicity of South African banks in the Gupta state capture and why they turned a blind eye towards an obviously suspicious transactions before 2016 and to hold them accountable for their part in state capture,” the EFF said.

The party added that if the Sarb fails to institute such a probe the party would take it upon itself to initiate a parliamentary probe into the matter.

Meanwhile, Burger testified on Tuesday that FNB had closed the accounts of the Guptas due to associated reputational and business risks.

By Luke Daniel for The South African

The Sunday Times has dropped a bombshell, exposing a secret plot to overthrow President Cyril Ramaphosa, spearheaded by Jacob Zuma and his cohorts.

According to the report, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) is doing everything in its power to downplay the allegations, as some party members deny their involvement and others do damage control.

It’s alleged that Zuma has held a number of covert conferences with his ANC allies. According to sources within the party, battle plans are being drawn for a presidential overthrow.

Who is team Zuma?
Former president Zuma has some staunch allies within the part – most of them high-ranking officials, with the power to seriously disrupt the status-quo. The report alleges that two meetings took place in Durban last week. Below is a list of those who are said to have been in attendance.

Former President Jacob Zuma
The man with the plan, Msholozi himself – sources within the ANC claim that Zuma is the mastermind behind the fight back and that his political supporters have been brought together to enact a presidential coup. A top ANC executive, who wished to remain anonymous, said:

“Zuma has a grudge… because of his removal. That is why he is always in the public eye. He’s not campaigning for the ANC, but against the ANC. He’s campaigning to the extent of not sleeping. He attends every function, funeral and church service – to make sure he’s in the public eye.”

ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule
Ace Magashule was elected Secretary General at the ANC’s 2017 National Conference. Magashule has always been a part of team Zuma – his leadership position seen as a trade-off for Ramaphosa’s presidency.

No stranger to controversy, the former Free State premiere has been embroiled in the dubious Vrede dairy project. This connects him directly to the infamous Gupta family, and to the broader issue of state-capture.

Supra Mahumapelo
President Jacob Zuma with North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo at the National Day of Reconciliation celebrations under the theme “Bridging the Divide towards a non-racial society” at Gopane in the North West Province.
The former premier of the North West province, Supra Mahumapelo, almost singlehandedly, managed to collapse local government under his tenure. The province was hit by a wave of service delivery protests, state coffers were looted, and the province was eventually placed under national administration.

Mahumapelo, like Magashule, is a fierce Zuma loyalist and is said to play an integral role in Zuma’s political resurgence.

Meokgo Matuba
The presence of the Women’s League (ANCWL) secretary-general, Meokgo Matuba, is unsurprising. The ANCWL has always been a firm supporter of former president Zuma. Under the tenure of Bathabile Dlamini, the Women’s League has defended Zuma through his presidential ousting and court appearances.

Thanduxolo Sabelo
The ANC Youth League (ANCYL) KwaZulu-Natal secretary, Thanduxolo Sabelo, is expected to take charge of the organisation’s national administration at the next elective conference.

Sabelo, who has overwhelming support in KwaZulu-Natal will likely replace Collen Maine as the league’s president.

Dudu Myeni
South African Airways (SAA), is in a shambles, largely thanks to former board chairperson Dudu Myeni. The National Treasury has accused her of botching a multimillion-rand funding deal. The disgraced former chairperson is also implicated in the Gupta saga and is under fire for her role in state capture.

Myeni is a close friend of Zuma, with many political adversaries citing her appointment to SAA’s board as a direct influence of the former president.

Zuma meetings exposed
According to the Sunday Times, two meetings took place last week in Durban.

The first meeting, on Wednesday, was attended by Magashule, Mahumapelo and Myeni; it was held at the Beverley Hills Hotel in Umhlanga Rocks.

On Thursday, all players involved, including Zuma, convened at the Maharani hotel in Durban.

Deny, deny, deny
While all parties accused of attending these clandestine meetings have denied their involvement, several ANC executives confirmed the allegations.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Senzo Mchunu, said he was aware of the meetings but directed any further questions to Magashule.

ANC KwaZulu-Natal chairperson, Sihle Zikalala, argued that no formal meeting between Zuma and Magashule had been scheduled.

ANC NEC member, Enoch Godongwana, maintained that while he wasn’t aware of any secret meetings, a clandestine conference involving Magashule would be cause for concern, saying:

“I don’t know about the meeting. I don’t know about its purpose. Maybe they were meeting for a birthday party. But if [it was a secret meeting] then it’s a problem because the office of the Secretary General is supposed to be respected. It’s supposed to unite us. If it becomes involved [in such meetings] then it’s worrying.”

ANCYL executive, Sabelo, confirmed that he met Magashule, but argued that it was a chance encounter with no erroneous undertones.

Yet, denial falls flat before evidence held by the Sunday Times. A photograph showing Magashule, Mahumapelo, Matuba and Zuma gathered at the Maharani hotel has been published for all the world to see.

Team Zuma: Battleplan
While clandestine meetings are, by nature, designed to conceal plans, part insiders report that the group supporting Zuma are aiming to challenge the results of last year’s ANC National Conference. The outcome of which led to Ramaphosa becoming the country’s president.

It’s reported that the pro-Zuma faction is taking the legal route; arguing that the Nasrec conference was marred by voting irregularities relating to branch meetings and illegitimate delegates.

An ANC insider confirmed that Zuma’s battle plan is due to emanate from the North West, saying:

“We have been told about this serious fightback… the one way they are considering is the alternative political party that was formed. Then there is a fight to go to court and take that route. But the real purpose is to disrupt the momentum we are getting before election.”

The official response
The ANC Women’s League issued a statement saying it was “not surprised by the false story in Sunday Times by Qaanitah Hunter and Jeff Wicks”, adding: “We support freedom of media and believes that journalists must be independent voices, however we will not be silent when Qaanitah and Jeff peddles lies that there are plans to outs President Ramaphosa and portrays former President Jacob Zuma as an enemy that should be alienated by members of the organization.

“It might not be far from the truth that Qaanitah and Jeff are advancing interests of local or international forces that seeks to projects the ANC as unstable organization and by extension the government being unstable.”

Later, the party issued an official statement calling the story “shameless gossip”.

This years crime stats show alarming trends

By Andile Sicetsha for The South African

The nation is abuzz on Tuesday after the South African Police Service announced, on Twitter, that it would be publishing the country’s crime stats for the period of 2017/2018.

This year has already seen a marked increased in violent crimes like cash-in-transit heists and child murders and abductions.

Police Minister, Bheki Cele, addressed the media at the Imbizo Room in Parliament, Cape Town, and as much as there is quite enough to be worried about, the stats also saw a decrease in marked areas of concern.

Crimes that have increased
South Africa has seen a 1 320 increase in murders, from 19 016 in 2016/2017 to 20 336 in 2017/2018. An average of 57 people are killed a day in the country, 46 of which are men, eight women and two children. This shows an increase from the average of 52 murder deaths a day in 206/2017.
The murder rate is up by 6.9% in 2017/2018.
Attempted murder also saw a slight 0.2% increase from 18 205 in 2016/2017 to 18 205 in 2017/2018.
Cash-in-transit heists are up to 238 in 2017/2018, from 152 last year and 137 in 2015.
Western Cape still sits highest on the list of crimes reported at police stations. Nyanga remains the most notorious area in the country, infamous for its gang violence, while Gauteng has seen a marked increase in taxi violence.
The murders of women and children have also seen a notable increase, up by 146 reported cases.
291 more women have been murdered in this period, 291 more than last year, with 117 boys and 29 girls.
Crimes committed on farms have been released but there is no indication whether or not this shows an increase or a decrease.
62 farm murders have been reported for this year; 33 house robberies, six attempted murders, two reported rape cases, two cases of stock theft, two robberies with a firearm, one carjacking incident and one reported kidnapping.

Crimes that have decreased
Robbery with aggravating circumstances dropped by 1.8% to 138 364 this year from 140 956 in 2016/2017.
Common robbery also saw a notable decrease of 5% from 53 418 in 2016/2017 to 50 730 in 2017/2018.
Assault with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm went down by 1.9%, from 170 616 in 2016/2017 to 167 352 in 2017/2018.
Common assault cases also dropped by 0.1% in 2017/2018 to 156 243, from 156 450.
The most notable crime numbers
The most notable changes that we have seen so far are the marked increases in crimes related to cash-in-transit heists, murders, The Western Cape’s persisting problem with gang violence, the increase in crimes against women and children, and of course, farm murders.

Cash-in-transit heists
It was revealed that CIT heists are up by 0.7% this year. Meaning that 76 more incidents have occurred this year alone. Cele has made this one of his primary concerns this year.

Although very recently, the SAPS appeared to be winning the battle against CIT syndicates, the numbers are not looking good.

Western Cape’s ongoing battle with gang violence
In the murder category, Nyanga police station came up on top of the list where most murder cases were reported in 2017/2018.

Compared to the period of April 2016 and March 2017, where 281 cases were reported, the period of 2017/2018 saw an increase of 9.6%.

27 more murder cases were reported at this station and most of them have been attributed to the growing problem of gang violence in the province.

Crimes against women and children
This stat will probably affect South Africans the most. As much as many organisations tried to bring this problem to the forefront with protests and ongoing discussions of violence against women and children in the public forum, the numbers were up by 146 reported cases in 2017/2018.

Farm murders
Much of the controversy that surrounds this stat is based on the reported number of farm killings that have been perpetuated by organisations like AfriForum.

According to the crime stats, 62 reported farm killings have occurred in 2017/2018.

         

           

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My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective


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