Things are slowing down as festive season vibes slowly begin to set in. But first, let’s vote and let’s get vaxxed, so that we can enjoy Dezemba.
Let’s dive into this week’s update of empowering and easy-to-understand news, brought to you by Verashni Pillay and the explain.co.za team. 😄
🔊 For the audio version of The Wrap, go here:
🗞 For text, keep scrolling or check out our PDF below.
▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ 1. Our Take: Gear up for electionUR TAKE:
Dust off your tatty old “green book”, or check that your smart ID card is safely in your wallet: local government elections are just ten days away! As we reported last week, power is shifting and your vote could lead to meaningful change. 🙌🏽
But what’s this election all about? There are two areas in play here: your ward – your smaller neighbourhood area – and your larger area, either a city (metro) or a municipality that sits under a district municipality.
These are responsible for delivering services like water, electricity and sanitation. You’re essentially voting for who manages your taxes and service delivery in your neighbourhood.
If you live in one of SA’s eight metros you’ll get two ballot papers: one for the party you want in charge of your city, and one for your ward councillor, who will represent your area in the city’s council.
The process is slightly different if you live outside a major city. Don’t worry, we’ve got you: see our handy explainer on our site for all the details. ☝🏽
So, how do you know who’s running? You can use this nifty tool – https://mycandidate.opencitieslab.org/ – to find your ward councillor. Then check out their manifestos and try to talk to the people running in your neighbourhood, though their information is often woefully unavailable. Your local WhatsApp group may be a good way to trace them.
Another useful approach is to check how those who HAVE been running your area have performed. News24’s comprehensive dashboard, https://outoforder.news24.com/, will give you more insight into your municipality’s current state of affairs and its past performance.
The good thing about these elections is that there’s pretty much something for everyone, party-wise, on the ballots. Daily Maverick has done a great roundup of party manifestos here.
Coalitions will be key; we’ll explain more about the “how” and “why” next week. For now, start paying attention to your mayoral candidate’s campaign and try quizzing your local reps! That is, if you can find them… 🙈
▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ 2. The big story: Rape ruling sparks important debate
Though many of us think of “the law” as being written in stone, it’s actually open to wide interpretation. There’s been harsh criticism this week of how Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, who’s usually our fave advocate, interpreted the law in a rape case. Ngcukaitobi, in his role as an acting judge at the high court in Makhanda (Grahamstown), overturned a lower court’s rape conviction against paramedic Loyiso Coko.
He and a fellow judge said the lower court’s ruling was wrong in terms of SA’s laws. This has prompted fierce debate. Some legal experts question whether the judgment was in keeping with the current law at all. Some say it was. But most agree: our regressive laws on rape must change. 🆘
Under the relevant act, the State has to prove – beyond a reasonable doubt – that the accused unlawfully and INTENTIONALLY committed sexual penetration with a complainant, without their consent.
If the accused simply says they thought it was consensual, and can advance any evidence to support this claim, it’s incredibly difficult for the state to prove that it was rape.
In other countries, like the US, there has been a move towards lowering the burden of proof to “reasonable belief of consent”, which would increase the conviction rates.
But it’s worth noting that the courts cannot be the singular arbiters for social justice. Just because an act doesn’t measure up to the legal definition of rape doesn’t mean it wasn’t wrong in a larger sense. The complainant’s testimony was harrowing; she said that despite making it clear she only wanted to engage in oral sex, Coko ignored her and, during the act, “kept saying sorry in my ear”. The judges found, bizarrely, that because “no force or threats were used to coerce the Complainant” Coko could not be proven guilty of rape.
If the case makes it all the way to the ConCourt on appeal it could address the problematic burden of proving intent. We certainly hope so.
▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ 3. Briefs
3. A cork in Bonang’s Champopo ownership?
Sparkling wine, usually the symbol of a good time, represents something closer to sour grapes for one of SA’s most popular celebrities, Bonang Matheba. She’s locked in a battle with her former management company over her sparkling wine, House of BNG. The bubbly is a top seller thanks to Bonang’s association with it but now it appears her ownership is in question.
Matheba claims that Celebrity Services Africa (CSA) went behind her back in dealings with her winemaking partners and tried to cut her out as shareholder. CSA, meanwhile, says Matheba developed the brand with its backing and help; contractually speaking, it says, it owns House of BNG.
We haven’t seen the contract so we can’t make a call but the issue doesn’t sit well with many South Africans: Matheba’s highly valuable name and face simply used to sell a product that someone says she cannot own. It’s particularly touchy given that the product in question is sparkling wine, long the purview of South Africa’s moneyed white elites.
Matheba became the first black woman to be accredited by SA’s Méthode Cap Classique (MCC) association in 2019; this vouches for the wine having been made the traditional French way. In September 2020 Matheba announced that House of BNG had become Woolworths’ top-selling MCC. 💅🏽
It’s worth noting that, according to CSA, Matheba still earns royalties for every sale made. CSA now says it wants out of the business. We’ll be watching the drama from the sidelines – with a bottle of bubbles to hand, naturally. 🍾
4. A word from our old friend Covid
Great news: Covid-19 infections in SA have dramatically dropped. If you look at a graph of the third wave, infections have plummeted and the wave is well and truly over. The pandemic, however, is not. 🤕
Over the past week, daily new infections averaged around 600 a day. At the third wave’s height in July, new cases were sometimes spiking close to 20 000 a day. Meanwhile, 11 million South Africans have been fully vaccinated – less than a third of the number needed to reach herd immunity, but way better than the paltry 200 000 we were sitting at in March. Plus, news that children aged 12-18 can now get vaccinated could be a game changer – this potentially adds around six million people to the country’s vaccination programme.
As a parent, you should know that the Children’s Act states children aged 12 and older CAN consent to their own medical treatment. That means it’s up to your kids if they want to get vaxxed or not, but we do encourage you to educate your children on the importance and benefits of getting the jab. Tell them it increases their chances of going on vac, for instance – we bet that will work! 😉
b. Ready, steady, TRAVEL (safely, please)
International travel – remember that? It’s back, in large part, and you may be considering going overseas for that much needed December holiday. So what do you need to know, given that Covid-19 remains an uncomfortable reality? Skyscanner.net (a nifty little tool that lets you know which countries are safe for travel) reports that South Africans can travel to around 90 countries which have low to moderate level restrictions. These include Brazil, Mexico, Mauritius and the United Kingdom, which recently opened travel to vaccinated individuals, who will no longer need to quarantine on arrival.
It’s important to look at your dream destination’s requirements and restrictions. Plus, remember to get your vaccination certificate from https://vaccine.certificate.health.gov.za/ if you haven’t already done so – it will make your life sooo much easier. 😌 Most countries require you to be vaccinated or quarantined for between 10 and 14 days. Others will require you to provide a negative PCR test result upon arrival. Before you pack your swimsuit (with matching mask) and summer hats, make sure all these items are organised. ✅
5. ICYMI: Cabinet ministers in hostage drama
When the words “South Africa”, “defence minister” and “hostage” hit local and international headlines last week, it kinda screamed “Hollywood” – but NOT in a good way. 🧐
In case you missed it, last Thursday our defence & military veterans minister Thandi Modise, her deputy Thabang Makwetla and minister in the presidency Mondli Gungubele were ironically left “defenceless” (thanks, Twitter). They were held against their will by so-called military veterans in a Pretoria hotel’s conference room for a few hours. Police managed to diffuse the situation with minimum harm.
The brief siege related to a long-standing dispute: people claiming to be anti-apartheid heroes (though the age of some of “vets” calls that into question!) are demanding payouts of R4 million EACH. 😯 The ministers were held when they started packing their bags to leave after the ridiculous demand was reiterated.
Though no one was seriously harmed, the latest event, as Bloomberg reported, has left the government “red-faced”. It brings the state of our security under scrutiny, especially coming so soon after the July lootings and unrest. 😓
More than 50 veterans were arrested and charged with crimes that included kidnapping. Finance minister Enoch Godongwana said this “isolated incident” shouldn’t deter investors. We think the government shouldn’t have met with the “vets” in the first place and ministers should instead focus their energy on more pressing matters.
6. Rand regains its shine
We previously told you that our national wallet got a boost thanks to a commodities boom, giving the economy a temporary lift. Now we’re also happily seeing the Rand basking in some glory.🌞 Last month, economists said the local currency had become the world’s best performing emerging market currency – also thanks to the commodities boom. The Rand competes with other emerging market currencies like the Brazilian Real and Turkish Lira; their performance is usually determined by both local and international events, so they fluctuate, literally by the second. When the Rand is on stronger footing, it becomes more desirable for international investors, giving us more “buying power”. 💪🏽 This week, economists have said the Rand is continuing its winning streak, reaching its strongest level in a month, hovering around the R14/dollar mark. If all goes well (including elections), we’ll likely see the Rand retain its shine.
7. eSwatini again rocked by violence
Pro-democracy protests in eSwatini, previously known as Swaziland, have left at least one person dead and around 80 others injured. Protests led by students, civil servants and transport workers flared up about two weeks ago; things turned violent in Africa’s last absolute monarchy yesterday when security forces used live ammunition against protesting nurses, about 30 of whom were injured. 😓 The kingdom also cut access to the internet yesterday, making it difficult for citizens to share information and images of the protests with each other and online. eSwatini is led by King Mswati III, who lives lavishly with 15 wives while ordinary citizens grapple with extreme poverty. The latest burst of violence has prompted President Cyril Ramaphosa, who chairs the Southern African Development Community, to send high-level envoys to the neighbouring country to engage King Mswati III on “security and political developments”, Al Jazeera reported. The news organisation added that security forces have fired tear gas and rubber bullets at even small gatherings. Concerned citizens say the king is looking for a war by deploying armed forces against protesters.
8. Zuma gambles with medical parole rules
In case you missed it, former president Jacob Zuma was released from prison last Thursday on medical parole. We’ve told you before how problematic it was when a top official last month overturned the medical parole board’s decision to NOT grant Zuma parole. So much for that 15-month jail sentence! 😏 His supporters were jubilant upon his release, celebrating with a welcoming prayer in Durban’s People’s Park. Zuma attended virtually.
But it’s what happened next that has the country really talking. If you’re released for medical reasons, you need to, firstly, stay in your house and, secondly, rest. Instead, the former president was spotted leaving Sibaya Casino with two of his besties, Carl Niehaus and Dudu Myeni. 😕 Whether he was living it up or not, South Africa’s laws shouldn’t be played like a roulette wheel. Still, while he’s out of prison, he’s not out of the legal woods and still faces trial (any day now, we swear) on charges related to the arms deal.
9. Oscar Mabuyane in hot water: what you need to know
Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane is in our public protector’s sights. Busisiwe Mkhwebane recently released a report finding that he and the province’s Public Works MEC Babalo Madikizela may have criminally benefited from the over R1m meant for Winnie Madikizela’s memorial service in 2018. According to the report, Mabuyane allegedly bagged nearly half a million, which was used to upgrade his East London home (what’s with corrupt politicians and all the home upgrades?).
Now look, Mkhwebane isn’t the most reliable person and we’re hard-pressed to believe any of her reports given how many have been slammed in court, but this DOES sound serious. 👀
The ANC’s top decision-making body in the province, the PEC, has asked the duo to answer to the party’s local integrity commission, especially since they both previously faced allegations of misusing funds. Mabuyane has, of course, denied it all and headed to court to overturn Mkhwebane’s report.
You may be wondering if Mabuyane should step aside as per the ANC’s famous but unevenly applied rule. But this only kicks into action when a person has been formally charged. Quick explainer: the Public Protector can only make recommendations. The police – or Hawks if it’s serious – are responsible for investigating. Then the National Prosecuting Authority takes a look at the results of the investigation and decides if there is enough evidence to present a case before a judge. Only then is the person charged. ☝🏽
The Hawks told the M&G they have concluded their two-year investigation into the misused funds, as per Mkhwebane’s recommendations, and are impatiently waiting for the NPA to take action.
The Eastern Cape is one of South Africa’s worst-run provinces. Let’s hope this heads to court soon!
10. Movie theatres are open: what to watch
It’s been a lifetime since we’ve seen a movie on the big screen – but, as more people are vaccinated and Covid restrictions ease, you can book the comfy seats and stock up on really expensive popcorn. 🤭 Cinema chains would welcome the support: Ster-Kinekor entered into business rescue in January after being smashed by the effects of the pandemic. Now’s a good time to get back to the cinema, as there are some great movies on circuit, and more are en route soon.
🔹Daniel Craig is back in his last turn as super-spy James Bond with No Time To Die, released earlier this month. 🕵🏽♂️ Critics felt it was bloated at nearly three hours, but maybe the filmmakers were trying to make up for lost time!
🔹A modern remake of Dune, starring Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya, is a must-see for fans of Frank Herbert’s famous science fiction epic novel. It’s already showing in South African cinemas.
🔹Julianne Moore, Ben Platt and Amy Adams star in Dear Evan Hansen, a beautiful musical that tackles issue of mental health and the feeling of belonging. Catch it on November 23 at Nu Metro.
🔹If you want to enjoy a movie with the whole family, you can catch the The Addams Family 2, an animated film featuring the voice of our very own Charlize Theron as matriarch Morticia. It’s on screens now.
🔹Local remains lekker: the sequel to comedian Riaad Moosa’s wildly successful 2012 film Material, New Material, stars the hilarious Joey Rasdien, Moosa and Schalk Bezuidenhout; it’s out on November 26.
Follow the new Covid protocols to watch responsibly, and enjoy! 😁
That’s it from us at The Wrap, an award-winning product of explain.co.za – simple news summaries for busy people. 💁🏾♀
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_Till next time, goodbye from the team_ ✌🏽