MEC Panyaza Lesufi Does not Want University to Teach in Official Indigenous Language.

While the country is celebrating indigenous languages on Heritage Day, Gauteng Education MEC, Mr Panyaza Lesufi, is opposed to the establishment of a new university that will teach in Afrikaans, one of the official and indigenous languages of the Republic of South Africa. His reasons for the serious objection are not very clear but it seems that around 1988 while he was still at high school, he was involved in school protests, was arrested and detained at Modderbee prison, and upon his release, a letter was written to his school in Afrikaans instructing the school to expel him. He was assisted by the late Rev Beyers Naude to gain admission at another school and a scholarship was organised for him. He completed his high school studies and proceeded to study at the University of the North and the University of Natal for his tertiary education.

That is how his hatred for Afrikaans was born. Although one would sympathise with what he experienced being arrested as a youth and being expelled from school, it is difficult to see why he would make it his personal mission to fight Afrikaans as a language. Afrikaans is the third most spoken language in South Africa after Isizulu and Isixhosa. It is a home language for a majority of the white population of South Africa and nearly all the coloured people. It is a medium of instruction at a number of primary and secondary schools and is now spoken by a sizable number of black South Africans. And yet the MEC appears to be oblivious to these facts and cannot comprehend how anyone in modern day South Africa would regard Afrikaans as his/her mother tongue.

That an MEC for education is opposed to the establishment of a university, when there is an accute shortage of places for high school graduates at tertiary institutions, particularly universities, is even more sinister. The trade union, Solidarity, is doing the fund raising itself, does not rely on government funding either to build or to run the university. This is a first in South Africa that a trade union would show such interest in the education of the children of its members. Instead of opposing them on petty political grounds, the MEC should have been applauding them and using them as an example for other bigger trade unions to follow.

If the University was going to teach in English, would MEC Lesufi not have any objection? If he would not have any objection, is he saying that English speaking children are more special than Afrikaans speaking children? If yes, on what basis?

If the MEC believes that English speaking children will have no opportunity to enter tertiary institutions because of this one Afrikaans university, then he should explain the basis for his belief when there are 20 public universities and 6 universities of technology, many tvet colleges and private universities and colleges in South Africa. All of them offering courses in English. The MEC is only concerned about this one university because it has stated that it will offer classes in Afrikaans. The children who will be attending this university or college are Afrikaans speaking. The MEC feels that it is wrong for them to speak Afrikaans in the new South Africa. He wants to force them to speak English, or if they can’t, then they should forget about tertiary education. Thirty years ago, during the apartheid years, the MEC was offered an opportunity to study at a university in English, by people who occupied the position that he is occupying today. Today, he wants Afrikaans speaking children to be deprived of that opportunity and be doomed to life in the streets.

The fact that Solidarity has decided to build a university shows their level of maturity as a trade union. Their members should be both English and Afrikaans, but they decided that their university should offer courses in Afrikaans. Shouldn’t they have the right to make that choice? After all, the one who pays the piper chooses the tune. Eventually, when they or anyone else, including the MEC, identifies the need for a university in another South African language, then , funds permitting, the university shall be built. The Minister of Higher Education has even said that the institution cannot be called a university because it may not meet certain requirements for accreditation as a university, but rather as a private college. You cannot develop your children by oppressing your neighbour’s children. The MEC should encourage private initiative rather than to pull it down.

Former Johannesburg State Attorney, Webster Sekwati, is buried at Mohlaletsi in Sekhukhuneland, Limpopo Province.

Barney Barnato, the University residence where Mr Sekwati stayed as a student at Wits Law School

Former Johannesburg State Attorney, Tswaledi Webster Sekwati, was laid to rest at Mohlaletsi village in Sekhukhune land on Saturday, 14 September 2019. It was an emotional ceremony as speaker after speaker described how the former state lawyer had touched the lives of many who came into contact with him. The funeral service was attended by dignitaries from all over the country including his long-time friend, former minister of Justice and Correctinal Service, Adv Michael Masutha, his colleagues from the office of the State Attorney and Acting King KK Sekhukhune of the Bapedi kingdom.

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Mr Sekwati was killed by a minibus taxi in downtown Johannesburg on 09 September 2019 while crossing Pritchard street from his office to the South Gauteng High Court to attend to a case that was due to be heard that morning. According to Johannesburg Metro Police Department spokesman, Wayne Minnaar, the driver of the taxi was taken in for questioning and would be charged with culpable homicide.

Mr Sekwati was addressed by many of the speakers at the ceremony by his clan name, Dimo ‘a Hlabirwa, signifying his royal ancestry. King Sekwati, (1775-1861) is the father of King Sekhukhune 1 (Matsebe Sekhukhune:1814-1882), who succesfully defended the Bapedi Kingdom against the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (the ZAR) and the British in the second half of the 1800s. He managed to do so because he was able to buy weapons from the Portuguese in Delagoa Bay using earnings brought home by young pedi men from the diamond fields in Kimberley.

Mr Sekwati (in white shirt) at a student canteen, University of the Witwatersrand, circa 1990.

The Bapedi have been locked in a dispute for the control of the kingdom between acting King KK Sekhukhune and his half brother, Rhyne Thulare since 1976. Rhyne died in 2006 before the dispute could be resolved. His son, Thulare Victor Thulare, inherited the disputed leadership from Rhyne and the dispute continues between Thulare Victor Thulare, also known as Sekhukhune 111 and his uncle Kgasudi Kenneth Sekhukhune. The High Court in Pretoria has decided that Thulare was the rightful king of the Bapedi, a decision against which KK has appealed.

Oliver Schreiner School of Law Building, Wits University

Sekwati was partially blind but despite his disability, he completed his Matric at Siloe School for the Blind in 1985 and enrolled for a B Iuris degree at the University of the North outside the then Pietersburg in 1986. He completed this degree in record time in 1989 and registered for an LLB degree at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in 1990 completing it in 1991. He went on to serve his articles of clerkship at the Legal Resources Centre in Johannesburg from 1992 to 1993. He was admitted as an attorney of the High Court of South Africa early in 1994.

Law Clinic, School of Law, University of the Witwatersrand

He first practised for his own account under the name and style of TW Sekwati Attorneys in Johannesburg.  Later on, he joined the State Attorney in Johannesburg.  He worked for a few years there and then moved to Pretoria to become advisor to the then Minister of Justice and Correctional Service, Adv Michael Masutha.  He returned to the State Attorney in 2017 where he was working at the time of his untimely death.

The German class at the University of the North, 1987, Mr Sekwati is on the far right.

While at the University of the North, he studied German as a language and was a fond German speaker.  He often preferred to be called by his German nickname, Herr Grossman. I met him in Braamfontein on a Thursday afternoon about four days before he died. Although he was in a happy mood, he was very much concerned about his life and worried that the speeding vehicles are going to kill him.  We spent sometimes that evening at the Saratosa Spur Restaurant in Braamfontein. He mentioned that in February of 2020, he would have been in Johannesburg for 30 years. He said that he did not want his friends to die before him as he did not want to be left alone with unpleasant characters. Later that evening   he took an Uber taxi to his home in Struben’s valley in Roodepoort.  He called to confirm that he arrived safely. He called again on the Friday morning at 7am and said that he was already at work. The last call he made was at 9pm that evening to confirm that we were travelling very well to Phalaborwa.  That was the last time I heard from him as on Monday morning news began to spread that he was killed by a speeding taxi in front of the Johannesburg High Court.

Are the Trump Administration’s Immigration Policies Hurting Farmers in the US?

It is harvest time across the US. Fruits and vegetables are ripe on the fields ready for picking, packaging and distribution throughout the length and breadth of the land. And some destined for the export market. The agricultural industry in the US accounts for approximately $170 billion to the gross domestic product per annum. However, that contribution to the GDP may be under threat as US immigration laws are tightened under the Trump administration.

US farmers depend on migrants, for a large percentage of their 2.4 million farm labor force, particularly, migrant workers from Mexico. It is estimated that up to 50% of these workers are undocumented and cannot work legally in the US. That is what the Trump administration is trying to stamp out. It is clamping down on illegal immigrants. The stated purpose is to preserve US jobs for US citizens. However, few US citizens are prepared to do the back breaking jobs required on the farms. They have many other easier options available to them.

The number of farm workers has been gradually declining in recent years. States like California, Arizona, New Mexico,Texas and Alabama have been the hardest hit. In the past five years 40% of farmers have not been able to get all their labor requirements for the year in California. The situation is not better in the other states. Farmers in the citrus, grape, berries, sweet potato and other products are on the receiving end of this labor shortage. Wages in the agricultural sector have also improved in recent years. As a result of these farmers are resorting more and more to machinisation to try and alleviate the labor shortage problem.

Many immigrant farm workers are now returning to their countries of origin as they find US immigration laws to be difficult to contend with particularly as border patrols are strengthened and in some cases resulting in separation of families. The H-2A visa introduced by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 is intended to allow farmers to apply for a specific number of temporary or seasonal workers to supplement their seasonal labor requirements throughout the year and may be granted up to a full year. Farmers are feeling the pinch of increased border patrols as the number of migrant workers decline and their crops are left unharvested and rotting on the fields resulting in huge losses. It is predicted that if the trend continues, the US might increasingly be forced to supplement its food requirements via imports, despite the fact that agricultural land is availlable but cannot produce enough due to shortage of labor.

Is this a freak accident? The bus is reversing on its own. The oncoming traffic has no way of avoiding a crash. See the pictures on the link.

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This is definitely what you would call gross negligence. Look at the damage caused. Proper training with regards to safety rules is essential to avoid these kind of accidents. Thanks City of Johannesburg for sharing this.

See Mzwake Mbuli protesting against Google.

The Hidden Dangers of Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)

The heart is one of the most important organs in our bodies as it performs very essential functions in our life systems supplying oxygen and nutrients to body cells and tissues. It is very well protected from external injury or damage by the rib-cage. The biggest threat for the heart is, however, not external, but internal threats collectively referred to as cardiovascular disease-CVD. Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of both men and women in the world. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that on average, 17,9 million worldwide people die from cardiovascular disease every year. The good news is that most of the factors responsible for causing cardiovascular disease are preventable. Knowledge and early detection of these factors is key to their prevention and a longer life.

And yet, we seem to have resigned ourselves to the fact that at one stage in our lives, we are going to die from one form of cardiovascular disease or another. In this article, we are going to examine the various types of heart diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, heart failure and diseases of the blood vessels such as angina, atherosclerosis, cardiomyopathy etc. Knowledge of these diseases goes a long way towards taking the right decisions on your cardiovascular health to prevent them while on the other hand, ignorance may prove to be very costly both in terms of the quality of life and the financial implications of receiving treatment once the disease has set in. We will look at the various forms that cardiovascular disease take:

Heart Attack or Myocardial Infarction (MI)

It occurs when the arteries of the heart become too narrow due to atherosclerotic deposits or blood clots restricting blood flow to the heart muscle. The heart muscle is then starved of oxygen causing part of the muscle to die. As a result of this, the heart is unable to pump enough blood to the rest of the body. Symptoms of a heart attack are a sudden severe chest pain, spreading to the neck, jaw and down the arms. When the body does not receive enough oxygen and nutrients as a result of insufficient blood circulation, the patient will experience sweating, nausea, shortness of breath and dizziness.

Heart Failure

Heart failure occurs when the heart is unable to pump blood efficiently around the body as a result of damage to the heart muscle caused by disease. Blood circulation becomes slow, causing excess fluid to be retained in the body which may accumulate in the lungs in the case of left heart failure (LHF) or in the lower limbs in the case of a right heart failure(RHF).

Arteries and vessels of the Heart

Stroke

Stroke, aka cerebrovascular accident (CVA) occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted caused by a clot blocking a blood vessel to the brain or when the blood vessel is ruptured resulting in bleeding. Because of lack of oxygen and nutrients, brain cells begin to die. When the brain cells die, vital messages are no longer transmitted from that part of the brain to the limbs resulting in weakness of the limbs in the case of a mild stroke or paralysis in moderate stroke or coma and death in the event of a severe stroke.

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) & Ischaemic Heart Disease (IHD)

The arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle are known as coronary arteries.When these arteries harden and become narrow as a result of fatty deposits on the inside lining of the vessel walls, coronary artery disease (CAD) occurs. These fatty deposits increase gradually further narrowing the arteries and reducing blood flow to the muscle of the heart, depriving the heart muscle of oxygen leading to ischaemic (IHD) heart disease and damage to the heart muscle.

Angina

Angina refers to pain in the left side of the chest which occurs on exertion such as walking up stairs, when coronary vessels are partially blocked restricting oxygen supply to the heart as a result of restricted blood flow to the heart muscle. It manifests itself as chest pain or discomfort which may spread to the jaw, neck, shoulders, arms or to the back. It is aggravated by exercise or emotional pain. Angina is an indication of the existence of atherosclerosis (plaque build-up) in the coronary vessels. The term is also used when there is a suspected heart attack but hospital tests do not reveal damage to the heart muscle on the electrocardiogram (ECG) or blood enzyme tests. Doctors perform an ECG or stress ECG, which involves walking on a treadmill, to confirm the diagnosis. If angina is confirmed, it is important to be closely monitored and that the correct medication is taken.

Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is the hardening and narrowing of the arteries caused by a slow build up of plaque on the inside walls of the arteries. It is a slow progressive disease that may eventually impede blood flow to the arteries of the brain, heart, kidneys and arms and legs or in a worse situation may block the flow of blood to these organs.

Cardiomyopathy,

Cardiomyopathy is the disease of the heart muscle, which becomes enlarged, thick or rigid causing the heart to be ineffective in pumping blood to the whole body.

Rheumatic Heart Disease (RHD)

Rheumatic heart disease is a condition in which the heart valves have been permanently damaged by rheumatic fever. The heart valve damage may start shortly after untreated or under-treated streptococcal infection such as strep throat or scarlet fever. An immune response causes an inflammatory condition in the body which can result in on-going valve damage.

Causes of RHD
A patient looking feverish

Rheumatic heart disease is caused by rheumatic fever, an inflammatory disease that can affect many connective tissues, especially in the heart, joints, skin, or brain. The heart valves can be inflamed and become scarred over time. This can result in narrowing or leaking of the heart valve making it harder for the heart to function normally. This may take years to develop and can result in heart failure. 

Rheumatic fever can occur at any age, but usually occurs in children aged 5 to 15 years old. It’s rare in developed countries like the United States.

Untreated or under-treated strep infections can increase the risk for rheumatic heart disease. Children who get repeated strep throat infections are at the most risk for rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease.

In the next article we will be looking at risk factors for heart disease and who is at risk of developing heart disease. These series of articles are not meant to be a complete medical advice, but are meant to raise awareness to these medical conditions. In the event of any symptoms related to the topics discussed herein proper medical advice should be obtained from your doctor.

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Horrific Mass Shootings in El Paso and Dayton Exposes Loopholes in US Gun Control Laws.

We the People – Constitution of the United States of America

In the wake of the latest mass shooting in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, in which 22 and 10 people respectively, were killed, the question arises whether gun control laws in the US are adequate to prevent persons who are unfit to possess firearms from being in possession of such arms. Statistics have shown that 8 in every 10 Americans are in lawful possession of a firearm. This is a very high number when you compare it to what the position is in other countries. This high number of firearms in the hands of citizens would not be an issue if there were no incidents such as the ones in El Paso and Dayton. If citizens were handling their firearms in a responsible manner, then no problem. However, that is not the case in the US today. The frequency of mass shootings has gone out of proportion. The people rely on the Second Amendment to the US Constitution and was ratified by Congress on December 15, 1791 as part of the Bill of Rights. This provision in the Bill of Rights was influenced by the English Bill of Rights of 1689. The amendment was ratified by the States and authenticated by the Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, and reads as follows:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

The English settlers at the time viewed the right to bear arms or raise militias as important for one or mire of the following reasons, namely:

  • to enable the people to organise a militia,
  • the right to self defence,
  • to repel an external invasion,
  • as security against a tyranical government,
  • to enable the citizens to participate in law enforcement,
  • to suppress insurrection including slave revolts.

Today, the United States, with almost 330 000 000 million people, and one of the best trained and equipped army and police force in the world, those concerns raised by the founding fathers appear to have lost their validity and yet the country has held onto the provisions to its own peril. In Dist of Columbia v Heller (2008), the Supreme Court affirmed that the the right belongs to the individual, exclusively for self defense in the home and that the right is not unlimited and does not preclude the the existence of certain prohibitions such as those forbidding the possession of firearms by felons and mentally ill persons. Although there is a certain measure of screening and checks and balances when people apply for permission to purchase a firearm through a licensed weapons’ dealer there are loopholes in the system to such an extent that 1 in 5 firearms transactions are finalized without necessarily going through the screening process.

According to the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives), anyone can sell a gun without an FFL (Federal Firearms License) from their home, online, at a flea market or at a gun show as long as he or she is not conducting the sale as part of regular business activity. One example would be someone who sells a firearm from his or her personal collection. Others who are exempt include those giving guns as gifts. Only individuals whose “principal motive” is to make a profit via sale must obtain an FFL. 

Commonly referred to as the “gunshow loophole,” this ambiguity also explains how a purchase can occur without a background check — and without breaking the law. A 2017 survey by Harvard and Northeastern universities estimates that roughly one in five transactions occur without a background check.

Scene of a mass shooting

Perhaps the United States can learn something from those countries with very strict gun control legislation. In South Africa, for example, licenses to possess a firearm are controlled by a single central registrar within the police department and only one licence to possess a firearm for self defense purposes can be issued . No licence for an automatic or semi-automatic weapon can be issued for self defense purposes. As a result there are very few legal firearms in private hands. Penalties for illegal possession of a firearm are very stiff . Although criminals do acquire illegal firearms and use them in the commission of crimes, they know that if they are caught, they will have to answer for both the crime committed and the possession of the illegal firearm and ammunition. This serves as a deterrent as people know that the punishment for the unlawful possession of a firearm is harsh. On the other hand, in the United States, there has been several mass shootings in several states where a number of people lost their lives or were injured leaving them with both physical and emotional scars. The reasons appear to be disillusioned youth, mental illness, workplace conflicts, as well as family disputes. President Trump has vowed to bring an end to the scourge of violence in the USA. We hope that this happens sooner before another mass shooting happens.

It is not raining, but pouring on Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

For some odd reason, the Public Protector appears to have been in a hurry to make decisions against Minister Pravin Gordhan and President Cyril Ramaphosa in two separate matters, one involving an investigative unit within the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and the other involving a donation by Bosasa to President Ramaphosa’s campaign for the ANC presidency in 2017. Both Minister Gordhan and President Ramaphosa have indicated that they are referring the reports to the courts to request them to review the findings and to suspend the implementation of the remedial actions suggested by the Public Protector pending the outcome of the review proceedings, both of them claiming irrationality on the part of the Public Protector for their applications for review. The allegations of irrationality are very serious allegations against the Public Protector as they come at a time when there are those who are calling for parliament to inquire into her ability to hold office.

Public Protectoe Busisiwe Mkhwebane during a Court hearing

In the matter against Minister Gordhan, the High Court on monday, 29 July 2019, found in favour of Minister Gordhan and suspended the remedial action recommended by the Public Protector. The case involving President Cyril Ramaphosa was postponed by the High Court on tuesday 30 July 2019 as no judge was allocated to hear the matter. In that case the public Protector had recommended that the Speaker of the National Assembly should drag the President before the parliamentary Ethics Committee and conduct an inquiry on the grounds that the President had deliberately misled parliament when he answered a question relating to the R500 000.00 payment to his son, Andile, by Mr Gavin Watson of Bosasa. The President had said that the payment was in relation to a financial consultancy to Andile Ramaphosa by Bosasa, but later changed that statement and said that the amount was a donation for his election campaign in 2017.

In the meantime, on 22 July 2019, the Constitutional Court had dismissed an appeal by the Public Protector against a decision of the High Court, Pretoria, in a matter involving the Reserve Bank. In that matter, the High Court had ordered the Public Protector to pay 15% of legal costs on a punitive attorney and client scale including the costs of three counsel, incurred by the Reserve Bank, again in taking her report on review. The costs amounted to approximately R900 000.00 and she had to pay the 15% out of her own pocket. The majority judgement found that personal costs orders are not granted against public officials who conduct themselves properly but against those who have shown themselves to have acted in bad faith. In the meantime, the EFF had been very supportive of the Public Protector throughout, especially so in the case involving Minister Gordhan. It is not clear why the Public Protector continues to release the nature of reports that she does and why the Courts continue to find that she acts in bad faith and makes falsehoods in affidavits before the courts.

Meanwhile, the Dep Public Protector, Adv Kevin Malunga, has distanced himself from Mkhwebane’s ABSA-Bankorp report, alleging that he was not consulted when that report was made. The SACP has claimed that Busisiwe Mkhwebane is a hired gun. Can this explain her conduct in the recent past? Only time will tell.

The South African National Defence Force is Deployed to the Cape Flats.

Cape Town, South Africa

CAPE TOWN, with its deep blue skies, the two oceans and table mountain in the background, is one of the most beautiful cities in the World, and yet it is ironic that just a few kilometers from this most beautiful city, which is an attraction for both domestic and international tourists and home to South Africa’s legislative authority, rages some of the most bloodiest gang battles in the world. The Cape Flats, townships such as Mitchell’s Plain, Manenburg, Phillipi, Delft, Bishops Court and others. Very romantic names, and yet people in those areas live in conditions no different from a war zone.  Gangs such as the Hard Livings, the Americans, The Clever Kids, The Thug Life and up to 130 others are competing for territory with deadly consequences for the gang members and for members of the communities in which they operate. For years, the measures taken by the Government were inadequate to address the growing problem which is fueled by drug deals, poverty, unemployment, lack of adequate housing and ineffective schooling. It is hard to imagine how it should be for women and children living in these areas. Gun battles erupt at any moment during the day or night in the streets. Hundreds of residents, mainly children, have been caught in the crossfire, and in most cases, have been killed by stray bullets. The police have been trying to maintain some resemblance of law and order with very little success as shown by the number of murders reported particularly on weekends.

Gang Violence on the Cape Flats

Recently, gang violence has skyrocketed, so much so that in one weekend, up to 50 people were reported killed. The Minister of Police, General Bheki Cele, had very little choice than to turn to the South African National Defence Force for assistance. The State President authorised the deployment of the Defence Force and immediately thereafter, the gangs were outgunned and the guns were silenced.

Members of SANDF on parade.

There are those who have cautioned against the deployment of the army in a matter which might seem to be a purely police matter. But in this instance, the police were running out of options and the place resembled a war zone. The residents of those areas welcomed the deployment of the army. Within a week of their deployment, community leaders reported a huge decline in gang violence, an indication that the army was already succeeding in its objective. It is only hoped that the deployment will remain in place until the violence has been eliminated for the sake of the people of the Western Cape. No one deserves to be murdered or to live in fear of being murdered.