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EFF demand Eskom chair Jabu Mabuza resigns over “dodgy deals”

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Jabu Mabuza

The state capture inquiry continued to uncover some more uncomfortable truths this week. Chairperson of the Eskom Board Jabu Mabuza spent Friday in the hot-seat, and there were plenty of revelations to digest.

Mabuza’s appearance makes this the first state-owned enterprise (SOE) to testify before Raymond Zondo’s commission of inquiry. The 61-year-old is a well-renowned businessman, hailed for his expertise in investments. He was key to the introduction of the Eskom board, which was appointed to rescue the firm in January 2018.

Is Jabu Mabuza “conflicted” over Eskom?
But Jabu Mabuza revealed to the commission that he owns companies which provide boiler services and repairs to the utility giant. This has all the hallmarks of a conflict of interest, but the Eskom chief maintains that these deals are protected by a “blind trust” – meaning Mabuza can’t benefit from the relationship.

Was this explanation good enough for the EFF? Like hell it was: The red berets issued a statement on Saturday imploring Mabuza to follow in the footsteps of other Eskom executives before him and walk away:

“The EFF is shocked by this conflict of interest that should have automatically disqualified Jabu Mabuza from being appointed chair. His company, Sphere Investments, owns shares in Babcock and Honeywell – organisations that have been awarded evergreen contracts with Eskom.”

“We call on Mabuza to step down from his position. Only women and men of credibility, with no direct interests whatsoever, should be given a chance to lead Eskom out of this crisis. We have no faith in his leadership as we are now aware of his links to these companies and IPPs.”

EFF statement
EFF remain unimpressed with “web of deception”
Eskom has long been regarded as the “ground zero” of state capture in South Africa. Their irrefutable links to the Guptas and piss-poor management structure eventually caused their downfall. Previous executives – including Brian Molefe and Matshela Koko – benefited from this institutionalised corruption.

Now, the EFF seem wary of “an enemy from within”. They have blasted Mabuza for creating a “web of dishonesty” and accused him of deceiving the people of South Africa. You might wanna grab your popcorn on Monday, as Mabuza returns to give more evidence to the state capture inquiry.

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Crime and Metro

Police uncover major mandrax laboratory in Soweto house

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Four suspects will appear in the Roodepoort Magistrate’s Court on Monday following a major mandrax seizure after law enforcement officials discovered a clandestine laboratory at a house in Braamfisherville, Soweto.

The drugs, seized during a raid by the Hawks’ South African Narcotics Enforcement Bureau (SANEB), Crime Intelligence Counter Narcotics and the Gauteng K9 Unit, are believed to be worth millions of rand.

The suspects, aged between 35 and 58, will face charges of manufacturing and dealing in drugs. They were arrested on Friday.

Hawks spokesman Captain Lloyd Ramovha said the multi-disciplinary team had searched the house and found a clandestine laboratory suspected of being used to produce mandrax. The drug lab was allegedly in operation when the team swooped, seizing a large amount of mandrax tablets, other chemicals and equipment.

“All the four suspects were arrested on the property. The entire haul is suspected to be running into millions of rands. The correct figures will be released at a later stage.”

Hawks national head Lieutenant-General Godfrey Lebeya has applauded the team for their tireless and continuous fight against illegal drugs and the continuous dismantling of illicit drug manufacturing laboratories in the country.

According to Lebeya, the seizure was a significant one which could prevent kilograms of mandrax worth millions of rand hitting the streets.

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WORLD

#TrumpKimSummit: ‘If I was not ready to denuclearize, I wouldn’t be here’

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Hanoi – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was asked Thursday if he was ready to denuclearize and he responded through an interpreter: “If I was not ready, I wouldn’t be here.”

Kim’s remark prompted Trump to add, “That might be the best answer you’ve ever heard.”

When pressed during a late-morning media briefing if he was willing to take concrete steps to give up his nuclear weapons programme, Kim said: “That’s what we are discussing right now.”

The two leaders, meeting in Hanoi, also said they would be open to the idea of setting up a liaison office in each other’s country, in a further sign of warming ties between the historical adversaries.

“That is something that is welcomeable,” Kim said.

Trump said the idea of inching the countries toward more formal relations through an incremental step was “a great thing.”

The president remained upbeat about his negotiations with Kim but cautioned those hoping for a quick resolution: “It doesn’t mean we’re doing it in one day, in one meeting.”

“No matter what happens we’ll ultimately have a deal that’s really good for Chairman Kim and his country … That’s where it’s all leading,” Trump told reporters.

“We’ve had very, very productive discussions. The relationship is as good as it’s ever been – I think better,” Trump said.

Earlier Thursday, as the two leaders kicked off their second day of meetings, Trump said he was in “no rush” to make a deal over North Korean nuclear disarmament.

“Speed is not important to me. What is important is that we get the right deal … I very much appreciate the non-testing,” Trump said, referring to North Korea’s pause in nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests since 2017.

The president, who first met Kim in Singapore in June, becoming the first-ever sitting US president to meet a leader of North Korea, added that he had “great respect for Chairman Kim,” saying, “When you have a good relationship a lot of good things happen.”

Kim also expressed optimism about his negotiations with Trump, saying through an interpreter, “I hope that we can come to a great conclusion and I will do all my best to bring good results.”

“We made a lot of efforts so far and we think now is time to come together in Hanoi and have this wonderful dialogue,” Kim added, during a short press session at the Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi hotel, where the leaders also met the night before.

The US president reiterated that he thinks North Korea could be “an economic powerhouse” if the two sides reached an agreement over North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme.

“With a little bit of help, I think it’s going to be very special,” Trump added.

The two leaders met privately on Wednesday evening for around half an hour in a closed-door session at the colonial-era Metropole before joining a small group of aides and interpreters for dinner.

In between those two events, the leaders offered each other praise, with Kim calling Trump “courageous” for initiating the talks and Trump hailing Kim as “my friend” and describing their relationship as “a good one.”

In their talks on Thursday, Trump was expected to demand that Kim agree to allow inspectors into North Korea’s various nuclear sites or to identify all of his country’s nuclear facilities or to shut them down completely.

Kim was likely to press for sanctions relief or security assurances, including a diminished US military presence on the Korean Peninsula.

Both positions have been long entrenched, with each side thus far unwilling to make the first move.

On Wednesday, Trump repeatedly pointed to Vietnam – the hosting site for the current talks – as a model for North Korea, saying the South-East Asian country “is thriving like few places on earth” after opening up economically.

“North Korea would be the same, and very quickly, if it would denuclearize,” Trump tweeted.

North Korea’s economic potential is “like almost none other in history,” the president added.

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AFRICA

UNILAG: 5 students sent to prison for alleged gang-rape of minor

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An Ikeja Domestic Violence and Sexual Offences Court on Tuesday remanded five students of the University of Lagos (Unilag) for allegedly defiling a minor.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the students are- Moboluwaji Omowole, 19, Chuka Chukwu, 19, Peace Nwankama, 19, James Aguedu, 20 and Osemeka Josephine, 20.

They plead not guilty to a three-count charge of defilement of a child, permitting the defilement of a child in a premises and procuration.

The lead state prosecutor, Mrs. K.A Momoh-Ayokambi, said the defendants alongside others who are at large, committed the offence in January 2017 at the premises of Unilag, Akoka, Yaba, Lagos.

“Omowole and another individual who is now at large defiled the complainant (name withheld).

“Chukwu, at his premises located at No. 25, Shobande St., Akoka, Yaba, Lagos knowingly allowed Omowole and the other individual who is still at large to defile the complainant.

“Nwankama, Aguedo and Osemeka between January 2017 to March 2017 were into procuration of underage girls for the purpose of defilement,” Momoh-Ayokambi said.

According to her, the offence contravened the provisions of sections 137, 138 and 140(1)(a) of the Criminal Law of Lagos 2015.

NAN reports that the arraignment of the students which was to initially hold on Sep. 24, 2018 was stalled on two occasions, due to the absence of Daniel Ugochukwu, a unilag student who was to be charged alongside the others.

On Jan. 30, Mr. Chukwudi Nneke, the counsel to Ugochukwu told the court that the student was absent due to ill health and was receiving treatment in the eastern part of the country.

Mrs. Fehinti Igbemudia, the lead state prosecutor had disputed Nneke’s claims stating that the defendant was fleeing from justice as there was no proof of Ugochukwu’s ill health.

However, during Tuesday’s proceedings, Nneke presented before the court, a medical report dated Feb. 22 from the Imo State General Hospital as proof of Ugochukwu’s ill health.

Responding, Momoh-Ayokambi said “We were to request for a bench warrant for the third defendant (Ugochukwu) but on the face of the medical report, we have an amended charge dated Feb. 20 and we will like the defendants to take their plea.”

Following the plea of the defendants, Justice Sururat Soladoye, ordered that they be remanded in the Kirikiri Medium Prisons.

She adjourned the case until March 18 for hearing of the bail application

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