SA’s biggest stories of 2016
A lot has happened in 2016 and as the years comes to a close, we take a look at the biggest stories.
The phenomenon of state capture became one of the most talked about topics in 2016.
State capture is described as a systemic corruption where private interests significantly influence the decision of the state.
In our instances the phenomenon circled around President Jacob Zuma and the wealthy Gupta family, whom are said to be close friends of Zuma and his family. It was alleged that Zuma had waived some of his powers to the Guptas by allowing them to appoint cabinet ministers.
The allegations were first brought into light by former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor who claimed that the Guptas offered her the position of Minister of Public Enterprise at their Saxonwold home allegedly with Zuma in the same house.
A couple of months later, Deputy minister of Finance Mcebisi Jonas called a press conference in which he admitted to being offered the position of minister of finance by the Guptas while Nhlanhla Nene was still in office.
The report by the former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela into the allegations of state capture set tongues wagging as it revealed the extent in which the state had ‘been captured’. Although the report was not conclusive and it called for a judicial commission of enquiry, it left a lot of people biting their nails.
The report outlined how the Guptas were given preferential treatment by Eskom, exposed close ties between the Gupta family and cabinet ministers Des van Rooyen, Mosebenzi Zwane and Eskom CEO Brian Molefe who has since resigned.
In her report, Madonsela said she found it worrying that the Guptas were aware of Nene’s imminent removal weeks before. This substantiated by her finding that the Nene was fired six weeks after Jonas told advised him that he has been offered his position by Guptas.
As panic of imminent drought was setting in, the country was marred by flash floods that terrorised certain parts of Johannesburg.
The floods left dead bodies on their paths especially in the Johannesburg east area where a pregnant woman was swept away and was later found in the Juskei river and a three-year-old was also swept down the same river. It was said that six other people were reported dead.
Unlike the student protests last year, the Fees Must Fall protests this year were more violent.
The clashes between students and police in varsities across the country in some cases turned violent resulting in injuries as well as arrests.
The cost of property damage was estimated to be around R1-billion.
‘Dodgy’ pastor and false prophets
The chapter 9 institution Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural‚ Religious‚ and Linguistic Rights Communities (CRL commission) had its hands full with pastors and prophets who were making their congregants eat or drink things out of the ordinary in the name of ‘miracles’.
While the commission continued with its investigation into rogue pastors from the previous year, a lot more emerged.
Recently ‘Prophet of Doom‘ came into the spotlight. Prophet Lethebo Rabalago of the Mount Zion General Assembly in Limpopo” was chastised for spraying members of his congregation with pesticide Doom. Penuel Mnguni continued to defend his actions of feeding members of his church snakes. He said that “like Jesus did with water, I turn snakes into chocolate“.
The state broadcaster has been through a lot this year under the leadership of the honourable Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
Motsoeneng who took over editorial powers decided in his office that violent protests leading up to the local government elections were making people even more violent and that the SABC journalists must stop covering such.
This as well as other decisions by Motsoeneng which included canning shows for ‘giving undue exposure to newspapers’ saw revolt from senior journalists who were later shown the door. Dubbed the ‘SABC 8’, the senior journalists that included Foete Kreiger, Suna Venter and Krivani Pillay took the matter to court and were later reinstated.
SABC was also ordered to remove Motsoeneng from his new position of Group Executive for Corporate Affairs.
The ad-hoc commission looking into the fitness of the SABC board to hold office came with its own revelations. Testimony by the ‘SABC 8’ exposed Motsoeneng’s reign of terror at the state broadcaster and how SABC money was used to fund the Guptas TNA Business Breakfast and basically also used to fund the building of the rich families’ rival news station ANN7.
SABC also saw all its board members resign following grilling in Parliament, with the last member and chairman Professor Mbulaheni Maguvhe tendering his resignation on Monday.
Pravin Gordhan vs NPA vs Hawks
The fight between minister of finance Pravin Gordhan, the Hawks and the NPA played itself out in public.
It started when the Hawks and NPA decided to charge Gordhan with fraud for approving former deputy SARS commissioner Ivan Pillay’s early retirement and then re-hiring him on a contract.
Gordhan was charged along with Pillay and then SARS commissioner Oupa Magashula.
The charges were withdrawn days before the trio was scheduled to appear in court, with NPA head Shaun Abrahams citing that it would have been difficult to convict them.
Clive Derby-Lewis dies
The man who served 20 years in prison for the assassination of SA Communist leader Chris Hani died a year after being released on parole.
The 80 year-old was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer.
Derby-Lewis procured the weapon to assassinate Hani for a Polish immigrant and co-conspirator Janusz Walus‚ who pulled the trigger. Both were sentenced to death‚ but their sentences were later commuted to life imprisonment.
Fezekile Ntsukele Kuzwayo is the lady who accused President Jacob Zuma of rape in 2005 passed away. She was known as Khwezi to protect her identity during the court case and her name was only revealed following her death.
Khwezi had known since April 1999 that she was HIV-positive.
She alleged she had been raped on a number of occasions by other men‚ starting when she was five years old.
Khwezi met Zuma as a child in Swaziland‚ where she was in exile with her parents. Zuma and her late father were good friends. They were together in the ANC as youth members and they were both sentenced to 10 years imprisonment at Robben Island. Her father‚ JK‚ died in a motor collision in May 1985 in Zimbabwe.