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29
SEP
8am

Labour unions reject government proposals to replace SRD grant

Fears that many will be excluded when Social Relief of Distress grant is replaced.
Trade union federations have rejected proposals by the National Treasury and the Presidency for alternative grants to replace the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant.
The proposals, dated July 2022 by the Presidency and August 2022 by the National Treasury, include a targeted job-seeker grant and a caregiver grant to replace the R350-a-month SRD grant. An untargeted grant, such as a universal Basic Income Grant, is rejected as being too expensive.
In a statement, the South Africa Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) dismissed the proposals. The union said as many as 62% of current beneficiaries of the SRD grant would be excluded from the proposed job-seekers grant.
“Government will not be able to absolutely and with certainty determine all those who ‘deserve’ this grant. It will be difficult to build a database for all the job seekers, and people will have to show they have sought work. In other words, this criterion will be discriminatory and exclusionary. It will overwhelmingly exclude those who did not apply for the government employment programmes, but ‘deserve’ the grant because of unemployment and poverty. Most importantly, the group of 4.6 million current SRD grant beneficiaries who are regarded as too poor and marginalised to seek work, will not qualify for the grant; nor will the group of 1.9 million ‘less poor’ beneficiaries, because they are regarded as better off. So 62% of current SRD beneficiaries would be excluded from the job seekers grant.”
Instead, Saftu said, a Basic Income Grant of R1,500 a month should be introduced progressively. “It is our belief that in turn, BIG will have positive multiplier effects in the economy by boosting demand and production, whilst relieving poverty among the unemployed.”
Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations
The Basic Income Grant should be part of a R1-trillion stimulus package, Sftu said, which would include increasing the public sector wage bill and filling vacancies, as well as job creation drives.
The Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) said it was in favour of a Basic Income Grant which could be increased over time. “In principle, Fedusa is in support of a universal Basic Income Grant to alleviate poverty and starvation. Such an intervention must take into consideration the current budget requirements and can be increased incrementally over a period.”
But, the Federation noted, financing social grants was a major challenge. ...
29
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8am

About time — Two decades after his arrest in SA, US extradites suspected drug smuggler Nello Quagliani

Wanted in the US for drug smuggling, he managed to avoid extradition for nearly 20 years. But he is now on American soil facing criminal charges.
A suspect who was based in South Africa and accused of smuggling masses of drugs to the US nearly two decades ago managed to avoid being extradited there.
That is until earlier this month when South African authorities handed Nello Quagliani to US authorities.
Justice Ministry spokesperson Chrispin Phiri on Wednesday 28 September confirmed to Daily Maverick that Quagliani, who appears to have both South African and Italian citizenship, was handed over to the US on 15 September.
The Miami Herald reported that last Friday, 23 September, Quagliani appeared in a federal court in Miami and pleaded not guilty to money laundering and importing and distributing MDMA, also known as ecstasy, in the US.
Suspected head of global ecstasy smuggling ring
It was suspected Quagliani was among the leaders running an ecstasy smuggling ring with a stronghold in the Netherlands.
He was the last of about 30 other suspects to be prosecuted on charges dating back to 1996.
The Miami Herald quoted an extradition request, filed by a former federal prosecutor, David Weinstein, as saying: “Nello Quagliani provided the MDMA to the members of the organisation in Europe as well as received money from the corresponding sale of the MDMA after it had been successfully smuggled into the United States.
“Nello Quagliani also assisted in the collection of the proceeds from the sale of the MDMA.”
When approached for comment on the Quagliani case, the US’s Drug Enforcement Administration referred Daily Maverick to the Southern District of Florida’s attorney’s office.
A response from that office was not received by the time of publication.
Court papers from South Africa, dated more than a decade ago, hint at the legal processes Quagliani launched to try and avoid being sent to the US.
Battle against extradition
Some of the legal action linked to Quagliani was also driven by Stephen van Rooyen and Laura Brown — a couple then also wanted by the US and accused of fraudulently running a clinic advertising “stem cell transplants” on terminally ill patients in America — to try and stay in South Africa.
Van Rooyen is still listed as a “most wanted” fugitive by the US’s Food and Drug Administration. Brown reportedly died in 2011.
Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations
All three — Van Rooyen, Brown and Quagliani — were in SA and ...
29
SEP
7am

‘The Enemy Within’: How ANC corruption ‘began under Mandela’

Daily Maverick’s Rebecca Davis spoke to political analyst and author Mpumelelo Mkhabela about his new book ‘The Enemy Within’ and the veil of corruption that has hung over the ANC over the past two decades.
‘The incentive to be corrupt is so high, and nobody wants to kill that incentive,” said author and News24 columnist Mpumelelo Mkhabela at the virtual launch of his latest book, The Enemy Within: How the ANC lost the battle against corruption.
ANC corruption didn’t begin under Jacob Zuma — it didn’t even start under Thabo Mbeki. It started under Nelson Mandela, writes Mkhabela.
“The ANC’s promise was; once it had destroyed the system of colonialism and apartheid, it would set up a new morality where corruption would be frowned upon,” said Mkhabela, in conversation with Davis during a Daily Maverick webinar on Wednesday.
However, “It wasn’t long after Mandela came into power that the ANC’s conviction against corruption was tested — and it failed,” he said.
Bantu Holomisa and Stella Sigcau
The party was confronted with allegations of corruption when former ANC member Bantu Holomisa accused Cabinet minister Stella Sigcau, in Mandela’s government, of being “on the take” — and of accepting a bribe from Sun International founder Sol Kerzner.
“The ANC didn’t take kindly to that, so what the party did was — Mandela, Mbeki and other high-profile leaders — made a decision that Holomisa was out of order, he was bringing the ANC into disrepute, and he shouldn’t be raising issues of corruption — and they decided to discipline him,” said Mkhabela.
The ANC expelled Holomisa in 1996 after he testified at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission about the alleged corruption, while the person against whom the allegations were made (Sigcau) remained in the Cabinet under Mandela’s administration, and under former President Thabo Mbeki’s administration.
This, Mkhabela believes, is the ANC’s first failed test against corruption.
“If this example was taken in isolation, perhaps it wouldn’t mean much. But it means a lot now in hindsight, because you can see the build-up of corruption from that moment where that decision to expel Holomisa was taken and the decision to protect Sigcau was taken,” he said.
‘On the side of the accused’
“From then on, the ANC has always been on the side of the people who have been accused of corruption at the expense of the victims of corruption.”
This understanding, Mkhabela says, informed the book’s “devastating conclusion” that, “There is not a single member of ...
28
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6pm

Controversial Expropriation Bill is finally approved after navigating a 14-year rocky road

The Expropriation Bill was adopted by the National Assembly late on Wednesday evening after the opposition DA, EFF, IFP, Freedom Front Plus and African Christian Democratic Party put their objections on record.
The Expropriation Bill — democratic South Africa’s third attempt since 2008 to replace apartheid legislation still on the statute books — has been enmeshed in controversial, but ultimately stalled moves for a constitutional amendment for compensationless expropriation.
The current legislative draft, tabled late in 2020, allows expropriation only for “public purpose” and in the “public interest”, as stipulated in section 25 of the Constitution, dubbed the property clause. But now, alongside “just and equitable compensation”, it may be possible for “nil compensation” to be considered in specified instances, such as abandoned land, state land, or land held for speculative purposes.
And on Wednesday it remained enmeshed in controversy.
“Expropriation is not unique to South Africa. Expropriation of property with nil compensation is not a silver bullet,” said Public Works Minister Patricia de Lille in opening the debate, adding this law now brought certainty for all. “Expropriation is only one acquisition mechanism that in appropriate cases, for public interest, will enable land reform and redress.”
The National Assembly public works committee chairperson, ANC MP Nolitha Ntobongwana, fell in line, saying this was “a progressive bill”, not only because it brought the legislation in line with the Constitution, but also because it set out the framework to redress forced land dispossession.
“This bill will allow government to address the land question and bring dignity to our people,” said Ntobongwana.
DA MP Samantha Graham-Maré disagreed, saying it was “a lie” that the draft law would facilitate land reform.
“The Expropriation Bill before us . is not a tool for land reform, but rather a mechanism for punishing private property owners using arbitrary criteria that are [neither] easily measurable nor address historical spatial disadvantage.”
The proposed DA amendments, including limiting expropriation to specific instances only for state land, were defeated in a separate division by 226 votes, against 87 for and nine abstentions.
It’s too limited, says EFF
Earlier, the EFF criticised the bill for limiting land redistribution, and leaving land mostly in current ownership hands, unless the state was prepared to pay market-related prices.
“Do natives want land that is not used for productive purposes? Do they want state-owned land? Why is the ANC playing with people’s emotions?” asked EFF MP Mathapelo Siwisa. “We reject this bill and call on our supporters to ...
28
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5pm

Life sentences for extremist right-wing pastor and coup plotter Harry Knoesen

It’s the end of the road for right-wing extremist pastor and terrorist Harry Knoesen who plotted to unleash a bloody coup and the genocide of black people in South Africa in November 2019. He has been handed two life sentences and 21 years’ imprisonment for terrorism-related charges.
The hefty sentences were handed down on Wednesday, 28 September in the Mpumalanga High Court. The sentencing of the white supremacist comes after he was found guilty in June 2022 by Judge Johanna Mthimunye.
Knoesen had been convicted on five counts on Monday, 6 June in the Middelburg High Court: the contravention of the Protection of Constitutional Democracy against Terrorism and Related Activities Act 33 of 2004, incitement to carry out a terrorist attack in South Africa, soliciting support/recruitment of persons to carry out terrorist attacks in South Africa, and the unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Knoesen, who bestowed on himself the title of general, is the self-professed leader of the National Christian Resistance Movement (NCRM), also known as the Crusaders.
Regional spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority Mpumalanga, Monica Nyuswa, in confirming the sentence, said:
“The accused’s application for leave to appeal against his sentence and conviction was also dismissed.”
His plot to overthrow the government was set to take place on 28 November 2019. On the day of his planned insurrection, his followers, armed with AK-47 assault rifles, hand grenades and RPG7 rocket launchers, would have caused mayhem in the country.
Knoesen did not know that intelligence had got wind of his plot. On the day all hell was supposed to break out, police pounced on him.
Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations
Knoesen was initially charged with the Abrahams brothers, Errol and Eric. The brothers received an eight-year sentence in December 2020. Another accomplice, Riana Heymans, was also arrested in November 2019, but the charges against her were withdrawn in August 2020.
Evidence heard during the trial showed that extreme perceptions of farm killings, threats from Black First Land First (BLF) to take “their” land, the perception that the white race was under serious threat because of Julius Malema’s renditions of the Struggle song, Kill the Boer, Kill the Farmer, were driving forces behind Knoesen’s plot to overthrow the government.
There was also evidence of a deep-rooted hatred that Knoesen harboured towards black people.
One message he posted on a voice note on social media on 16 November 2019 reads: “The Crusaders, NCRM are really ...
28
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5pm

Recycle, repackage, repeat — Billy Downer sets out Jacob Zuma’s years of rolling the legal dice to stay out of jail

Advocate Billy Downer, the lead prosecutor in successive National Prosecuting Authority court encounters with Jacob Zuma since 2001, is a veteran of the former president’s Stalingrad legal strategy.
“Mr Zuma’s purpose with his Stalingrad tactic is to avoid at all cost to have his day in court, that is, to face the charges against him,” Advocate Billy Downer set out in a founding affidavit dated 22 September and submitted to the Pietermaritzburg High Court.
Downer’s affidavit was in response to a notice that Zuma had initiated a private prosecution against him after a failed bid to have him removed as the prosecutor in Zuma’s Arms Deal court case.
Zuma has also accused Downer of “leaking” confidential doctors’ letters to News24 journalist Karyn Maughan in matters related to his medical parole.
Maughan has challenged Zuma’s right to instigate a private prosecution against her, highlighting that his action was part of his strategy to intimidate journalists and those who have covered his 21-year attempt at dodging accountability. Zuma must respond to Maughan by 30 September.
Zuma’s prosecution on criminal charges, said Downer in his affidavit, had been “dragging on and off for the better part of 20 years. The delay has in large part been due to Mr Zuma’s ‘Stalingrad tactic’.”
The manner in which Zuma accomplished this, explained Downer, “is to launch and prosecute endless challenges of various kinds. They have varied widely over the years but were all baseless and ultimately failed. They served Mr Zuma’s purposes, however, because he pursued them as far as he could play for time.”
Whenever a challenge finally petered out, Zuma initiated a fresh one to trigger another round of litigation “to avoid ever having to stand trial”.
Since the turning down of Zuma’s plea to have Downer removed, Zuma had “repackaged two of his accusations which Judge [Piet] Koen had dismissed” by obtaining a nolle prosequi from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
The former head of state had also frequently attacked Downer over the years, questioning his “independence and impartiality” and his ability to conduct a “lawful prosecution that will uphold his constitutional rights to a fair trial”.
Zuma had done so, said Downer, in the “Spy Tapes” matter which culminated in a Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) judgment that cleared the way for Zuma’s renewed prosecution.
Downer had also been attacked by Zuma in his application to the high court for a permanent stay of prosecution, dismissed later by a Full Bench, as ...
28
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5pm

Zille pushes for devolution in Western Cape, starting with policing power – working group established

The DA in the Western Cape is pushing ahead with its call to the ANC-led national government for the province to have more policing powers — with support from a new group called the Western Cape Devolution Working Group.
A new group called the Western Cape Devolution Working Group (WCDWG) has been formed. Its aim is to “protect the rights of the people of the Western Cape” through the devolution of powers and functions away from the national government. Its first target is more policing powers for a province that keeps fighting the national government to get these powers.
A statement attributed to Democratic Alliance (DA) Federal Council Chairperson Helen Zille says the working group’s initial focus will be on “the devolution of policing powers to the province and clearing the legislative hurdles which prevent the Western Cape premier from exercising his constitutional right to directly consult the Western Cape people on specific issues via referendums”.
An inaugural meeting of the group was held last week, said Zille. In attendance were organisations including the DA, Freedom Front Plus, African Christian Democratic Party, Cape Independence Party, AfriForum, Cape Independence Advocacy Group, Action Society, Cape Forum and several legal experts.
“The group will use all legal means at its disposal including formal legislation, political lobbying, legal action, public participation and peaceful mass mobilisation,” said Zille.
The call for more policing powers was a key election campaign during the DA’s 2019 election campaign — despite criticism of how this would work in comparison to its own promises. The DA has had several fights with the national government about the control of policing.
Read more in Daily Maverick: “DA’s Geordin Hill-Lewis takes over Cape Town’s mayoral chain — and inherits party political spat over policing”
The Cape Times reported in September that Police Minister Bheki Cele said he would never consider decentralising policing powers.
Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations
‘Alliance of conservative and racist organisations’
Following the announcement, the leader of the official opposition in the Western Cape legislature, Cameron Dugmore, said the move was: “nothing more than an alliance of conservative and racist organisations who seek to undermine our national Constitution and create an independent Republic of the Western Cape”.
While the DA has maintained its stance on devolution, other parties in this new group, such as the Cape Independence Party (CIP) and Cape Independence Advocacy Group (CIAG), have made claims for the Western Cape to secede from ...
28
SEP
4pm

Blow to Joburg DA as Patriotic Alliance helps install Cope’s Colleen Makhubele as council Speaker

The Patriotic Alliance’s decision to vote with the opposition in the City of Joburg has left the DA in an even more vulnerable position after the party’s candidate for Speaker was defeated by Congress of the People’s Colleen Makhubele.
The DA was left with egg on its face after losing an election battle for the position of Speaker in the City of Johannesburg council to opposition parties on Wednesday. Cope councillor Colleen Makhubele beat the DA’s chair of chairs Alex Christians, who was the candidate for the multiparty coalition government.
This was possible because the Patriotic Alliance (PA) supported the opposition, consisting of the ANC, EFF, Cope, ATM, UIM, Al Jama-ah, AIC, Good, AHC, PAC and ATM. The PA has eight seats in the Joburg council — enough to give Makhubele the win with 141 votes, while the coalition garnered 129 votes.
BREAKING: COPE’s Colleen Makhubele has been elected as the new Speaker of the City of Johannesburg Council. She beat the DA’s Alex Christians by 12 votes. MAKHUBELE 141 VOTES ALEX 129 VOTES
Ndaedzo Nethonzhe (@NdaedzoNN) September 28, 2022
The PA issued a statement after the council meeting explaining that it had already informed coalition partners of its intention not to support Christians because of the DA’s “arrogance”.
In a letter, the PA said it felt “disrespected” and had been threatened with legal action by the DA.
“Although today will be a secret ballot, it is not our style to leave things to the imagination. Due to the disrespect shown to us by the DA during this period, which we could just as easily call a moment of truth for all of us, we will not be supporting their candidate for Speaker.
New Speaker of the City of Johannesburg @ColleenMakhub briefs the media after her election.
Ndaedzo Nethonzhe (@NdaedzoNN) September 28, 2022
“The legalistic threats from the DA of attempting to enforce the rules of contract law and pursuing ‘consequences’ for violations of contract law are laughable at best and deeply insulting of our intelligence at worst; hence I am telling you openly that you do not have our support today. If you wish to go to court on this, feel free,” the letter reads.
The coalition has shown cracks in the past month which led to the ousting of City of Joburg Speaker Vasco da Gama. Makhubele, with five councillors who are members of the City of Joburg multiparty coalition, voted to remove Da Gama.
Executive Mayor Mpho Phalatse’s future ...
28
SEP
4pm

Johan van der Merwe — apartheid’s last police commissioner

General Johan van der Merwe was the last commissioner of the apartheid police. He died on 27 August 2022 before he could face justice for human rights abuses perpetrated by the police under his watch. Why was he never held to account by the democratic state?
In the early hours of 3 December 1988, gunshots ripped through the home of a family in mourning. A relative had just died, and family members had peacefully gathered to pay their respects. But their home would soon be the site of a massacre.
The assailants gunned down 11 people and wounded two. The youngest victim was a four-year-old boy, and the eldest a 66-year-old woman. The killings became known as the Trust Feed massacre, named after the rural community in the Natal Midlands where the killings took place.
In the aftermath, the case publicly exposed how the apartheid police and military had conspired with members of the Inkatha group to assassinate activists in liberation movements, namely the ANC and United Democratic Front (UDF).
At the time the massacre took place, Johan van der Merwe was the Deputy Commissioner of the South African Police (SAP). He had been a career policeman since the age of 16, working his way up from 1990 to 1995 to the top rank of Commissioner .
Van der Merwe led the police at one of the deadliest periods of South African history. The TRC’s Human Rights Committee (HRC) estimated that almost 14,000 people died in violence between 1990 and 1994. Many of these deaths were the result of state-sponsored violence between Inkatha and liberation movements. The HRC attributed the surge of deaths to the “collusion by the security forces” and the “hidden hands of the hit squads”, which were created by Inkatha and the security forces.
In a 2007 submission on Van der Merwe’s conduct, the South African History Archive, the Human Rights Media Centre and the International Center for Transitional Justice criticised Van der Merwe’s role as Police Commissioner in this period.
“Far from maintaining law and order, Van der Merwe, who was Commissioner of Police during this entire period, presided over the most violent and lawless period of South Africa’s history,” the submission reads.
“Van der Merwe’s role in this period should be closely investigated. If anything, his conduct during this period constitutes particularly aggravating circumstances.”
But Van der Merwe died before any investigation into his tenure as SAP Commissioner could begin. His knowledge of the ...
28
SEP
4pm

Hundreds face uncertain future after blaze guts mushroom company factory

After a fire devastated a large part of the Denny Mushrooms plant in Shongweni, west of Durban, on 9 September, workers and other stakeholders knew there would be consequences — and potential job losses.
The impact of a fire that tore through the Denny Mushrooms plant west of Durban is being harshly felt by hundreds of workers, their families and dependants.
They have had to go without salaries since the blaze led to the closure of the plant and a state of force majeure, with uncertainty now about the future of the operation — and their jobs.
Investigations are still under way as to the cause of the blaze, but this has not stopped speculation that it could have been arson — caused by disgruntled workers who were unhappy with the company’s offer of a 7% annual pay increase.
It has been reported that the police at Marianhill have opened a case of malicious damage to property.
The fire engulfed a storeroom, growing room and the packaging and dispatch department. It occurred amid bitter wage negotiations between the company and unions. Initially, unions demanded a 10% wage increase and the company offered 5%. The unions then revised their demand to 8% and the company made a final offer of 7%.
The devastating fire was the second to affect the facility in just over two weeks. The first blaze happened in late August, but was quickly extinguished by firefighters. The most recent fire caused millions of rands in damages and resulted in the plant closing down, putting out of service more than 319 permanent workers and many more casuals.
Denny Mushrooms is SA’s largest producer of fresh mushrooms, and also produces sauces, plant-based meal solutions and soups. It is wholly owned by the JSE-listed company Libstar Holdings.
Its mushrooms are grown at three hi-tech production facilities in Krugersdorp (Gauteng), Shongweni (KwaZulu-Natal) and Phesantekraal (Western Cape).
The Shongweni plant has been in operation for more than 70 years, according to the company website, and has employed generations of workers.
Since the blaze, retail stores in Durban, KZN and surrounding provinces have run out of Denny Mushrooms products, but the company said it would use its Gauteng plant to resupply its customers in KZN and other provinces.
During the July 2021 riots, the company’s KZN and Gauteng operations were affected, resulting in a forced closure that lasted for more than two weeks.
No work, no pay
Workers who spoke to Daily Maverick said they faced an ...
28
SEP
3pm

Time running out for unions to decide on Putco’s proposal on fired bus strike staff

The Putco bus company has given unions a deadline of midnight Wednesday to accept a management proposal in the wake of an illegal strike.
Putco’s proposal relates to the re-evaluation of internal disciplinary measures against fired employees who engaged in a violent unprotected strike in early September.
If accepted by the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council (SARPBC) and the CCMA, the proposed re-evaluation will see the reinstatement of employees who were dismissed for misconduct during the strike, and then immediately placed on suspension pending the outcome of disciplinary proceedings.
Putco spokesperson Lindokuhle Xulu says five trade unions are involved in the negotiations — the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union, Numsa, the Transport and Allied Workers Union, the Tirisano Workers Union and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union.
Putco proposed to the trade unions that the internal appeal hearings for the employees dismissed during the recent unprotected strike be replaced with Section 188A disciplinary hearings under the auspices of independent commissioners of the SARPBC.
“We are hoping for direction in terms of the process and what will be required from us should the SARPBC and the CCMA grant us this request. If there are any monetary requirements, we will then need to respond to that,” Xulu told Daily Maverick on Tuesday.
The bus company said the appeal hearings due for re-evaluation were part of the Section 150 settlement agreement signed with unions after the strike.
“The proposal, if accepted, will also see those employees who were dismissed for misconduct during the strike, reinstated and immediately placed on suspension pending the outcome of the Section 188A disciplinary hearings,” the company said.
According to Putco, initially about 400 workers had made representations and another 500 were assisted by unions, leaving 105 employees who were eventually axed.
On Monday, Putco said the number of dismissed individuals had been reduced from 105 to 86. However, the company said 53 additional employees would be suspended and charged with misconduct, putting the number facing disciplinary hearings at 139.
Impact
The strike, which turned violent, especially at Putco’s Soweto, Dobsonville and Zandfontein depots, lasted for 13 days and affected 150,000 passengers. Workers were demanding a pay increase and backdated bonus pay.
Putco also lost revenue, which Xulu said had not yet been evaluated.
“We unfortunately haven’t had a tally of how much we’ve lost in value, as we’ve been inundated with issues of these dismissals.”
“Putco has proposed that the disciplinary hearings for all the 139 employees be ...
28
SEP
3pm

Lawyer pegs Jagersfontein damage at hundreds of millions, other mining firms jump in to help

Human rights lawyer Richard Spoor, who is representing 30 families affected by the Jagersfontein dam disaster, estimates that the overall damage may reach hundreds of millions of rands. Meanwhile, members of Minerals Council South Africa and charities such as Gift of the Givers are lending a hand.
The 11 September tailings dam collapse at the Free State diamond mine operated by Jagersfontein Developments that killed one person — with two missing — has likely caused damage that will run into hundreds of millions of rands, Spoor told Business Maverick in an interview.
This raises the question: is the company in a position to pay these damages if it is ultimately found to be liable? As the old adage has it, you can’t get blood from a stone.
“Do they have the money to compensate people? As far as I know, this is an operating subsidiary. I don’t doubt that it has working capital. But where is it going to find the money to pay its claims? It will conservatively amount to hundreds of millions of rands,” said Spoor, who spearheaded a R5-billion silicosis class action suit against several South African gold producers to compensate miners who contracted the incurable lung disease underground.
“There’s the property damage, there are three dead people, there are a number of people who are quite seriously injured. Then there is the compensation for the downstream farmers who have incurred very substantial losses in terms of grazing and water resources.
“And there is the greater environmental clean-up. Then there’s the municipal sewerage works,” he said. “Answers to those questions will determine the way forward.”
Liability
The way forward could be a legal dispute over liability or a negotiated settlement, and a lot will hinge on what the cause of the collapse is determined to have been.
Spoor is representing 30 of the affected families from the community. This includes the family of Ralehana Aaron Mosoeu who was killed and those of Shadrach Williams and Mantele Mokhali, who are still missing after being swept away by the flood of sludge.
In response to queries from Business Maverick, Andersen Attorneys, which is representing Jagersfontein Developments, said by email:
“At this stage, while investigations are still ongoing and information being gathered, it is obviously premature to speculate on the cause of the incident. So far, relief efforts remain focused on supporting affected residents of the town with temporary accommodation, meals and various other assistance, as well as mobilising clean-up ...

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