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User Journal

Journal Journal: News Flash: Spate of rapes in East Rand

Spate of rapes in E Rand
16/05/2006 13:52 - (SA)

Click Here!
# Mamelodi case on hold
# Girl, 13, raped in Katlehong
# Pastor's rape case 'must go on'

Johannesburg - Three women were raped in separate incidents on the East Rand, police said on Tuesday.

Spokesperson Superintendent Andy Pieke said a man grabbed a 27-year-old woman walking on Second Street in Withok, Brakpan, at 18:25 on Monday, pulled her into the adjoining veld and raped her.

"The suspect was described as being short and slender. He wore a blue jersey," said Pieke.

At about 19:30, a 27-year-old woman walking near Floors Road was approached by six men who assaulted her and threatened her with firearms.

She was gang-raped by all six men, one of whom told her he was HIV-positive.

"She described four of the suspects as being tall and two who were short. One was wearing a red overall and one wore jeans. The suspects were also aged about 27 years old," said Pieke.

The woman was taken to hospital.

Pieke said police suspected the two incidents were related.

Meanwhile in Vosloorus South, at about 09:00 on Monday, a woman was raped in what is believed to be an unrelated incident.

The 24-year-old was walking through the veld when two men approached her and threatened her with a gun. They both raped her before fleeing with her cellphone. Anyone with information can contact Crime Stop on 08600 10111.

User Journal

Journal Journal: News Flash: Somehow I cheated death.

May 11 2006 at 10:20AM

I hand my keys over to the chubby petrol attendant. He's jolly - as usual. "It's winter today," he laughs.

I walk the 10 paces to the garage shop to buy milk and cigarettes - and hear a cracker. Cracker? Another one. Gunshots? Maybe I must rather go back to my car.

I turn and walk back - and see the petrol attendant scurrying to the front of my car. I run and fall down next to him. There are men storming out of the shop. A lot of them. Maybe 10.

Now I hear shots. One, two, six.

I see at least eight men in a group running towards a quiet adjacent road
We crawl to the passenger side of my car and I see two men split away from the group and run towards the main road. More shots. We're too exposed. Rather back to the front of the car.

I see at least eight men in a group running towards a quiet adjacent road. We are in full view of them. Rather the passenger side. Hide there, only two behind us.

I don't even try to count the shots. Sixteen? We cower. I see my keys lying broken on the tar in front of me. Another petrol attendant is lying like a flat tyre to my right.

"Open your door, let's drive away," Mr Jolly whispers.

"I can't. The passenger door is locked."

I open the passenger door and crawl in
"You can. Just do it!" He is angry now.

The shots have stopped. I crawl to the passenger door and unlock it. I lift my head - and see a man in green pants and an orange beanie coming back from the quiet road. He empties his gun. He turns and runs.

I open the passenger door and crawl in. Mr Jolly is trying to get into the driver's seat, but he then leaves. I sit up, start my car and drive off.

Thank God, no traffic. I'm in the main road, Friedland Avenue, driving away from it all. Around the corner I stop: "Phone Murphy, he'll know what to do," is all I can think.

I'm hyperventilating when Murphy (our neighbourhood security man) answers his cellphone.

"The Zenex (garage) was hit, a lot of shooting! People must be dead," I pant.

"I'll phone the cops. How many? Where did they go?"

I tell Murphy about the two men running down the main road and the other group going up the quiet road. What did they look like? I don't know. Black clothes. Beanies. Green pants. I'm not a good eyewitness. "I'm on my way," he says.

I'm shaking in my car. And now? I owe the garage R50. Must go back. I do a U-turn and go back.

There's already a police van on the scene. A man on a walkie-talkie, a female officer standing around. I see Mr Jolly. "Is everybody in the shop all right?" I ask.

"Nobody's all right."

I look to my left and see a man sitting in a big golden 4x4 with his head drooping. There's blood, lots of it. I jump out of my car and run over to him. "You've been shot. Where?"

His eyes are open, but he doesn't answer. I see blood on his pants, his face, his shirt, his arm. Everywhere I touch there's blood.

"Where have you been shot?" I see no wound. His hand moves up and down his gear lever. He's trying to leave, I think.

I run to the female officer. "There's a man in that car bleeding to death. Come help me."

"I've called the ambulance," she says curtly.

"I don't know first aid. Please help me!" She stays where she is.

I run back to the man. "I'm trying to get you help. Can you talk?"

His eyes are closed now. I rub his head. "The ambulance is coming."

I see no wound. I see a dead man through his windscreen. I just know he is dead. I rub his head. "I'll try and help."

I'm helpless.

Another police van pulls up. Three officers pour out. I run to them. I now use the word "civilian" to describe the man.

"Bliksem, kaptein," the cop says and starts running with me. He gets into the 4x4's other side. "Here it is. He's been shot in the head," he says. At last, I've found someone who can help.

Then there are ambulance people all over. More cops. I see a man walking with his arm held high. He is bleeding. Someone else is working on another body lying very still outside the shop.

My phone rings. It's Murphy. "Where are you?"

"At the Zenex."

"So am I. I can't see you." He spots me and runs over. I start crying. I'm safe.

An hour later. Murphy phones: "Nothing was taken, Carine."

It turned out that it was a security guard who had been shot dead, which explains the green pants I saw.

"They killed the Chubb (security) guy - with his own gun." That explains the body; it was not a petrol attendant as I'd thought.

And the guy whose head I've been rubbing? "Don't know if he'll make it. He was shot high on the top of his head and the bullet exited high at the back. He was airlifted to Milpark."

I had turned away from the Shop of Death. Just in time. Another three steps and I would have met Them.

Somehow, today I cheated death.

And I thank God.

                    o This article was originally published on page 1 of The Star on May 11, 2006

User Journal

Journal Journal: News Flash: They were brutal as animals

Pretoria - When Cathy van der Merwe,53, while chatting to a friend on the phone, sharply pulled in her breath as if about to scream, the friend immediately knew something terrible was going on at the Van der Merwe's house in Eldoraigne, Centurion.

Moments later, the phone was taken out of Van der Merwe's hand and she was shot once. Then the gang took her husband Gus to the room where his wife lay bleeding.

''It was brutal of them to show him what it looked like. When she gasped, they shot her without further ado. They were as brutal as animals,'' a family friend Jan van Aswegen said.

Van Aswegen's wife Dalene was chatting on the phone to Van der Merwe at about 19:00 on Sunday when five armed men entered the house. Van der Merwe's 77-year-old mother Chrissie was dragged out of her bed and she and her son were held together.

One of the five men ransacked the house and came across the unsuspecting woman chatting on the phone.

''There was a noise over the phone and my wife kept on calling out to hear what was happening. She heard Gus say 'sorry, sorry, sorry'. Then we rushed there,'' Van Aswegen said.

The thieves presumably shot Cathy van der Merwe in the head soon afterwards and then took her husband to the same room where his wife lay dying. He was assaulted when he tried to attack one of the thieves.

Attackers fled

The front gate of the Van der Merwes' house was locked, but their friends could see movement in the house and clambered over the wall to get in. The five attackers fled through a side door.

''We went in at the office where Cathy was shot. We could still feel a pulse, but I realised she was dying,'' Van Aswegen said.

Van der Merwe said after the murder that he had never in his life seen so much hatred in the eyes of the men who attacked them. He was shattered by his wife's death.

The thieves fled with several cellphones, a laptop computer, the husband's pistol and the couple's purses. They are still on the loose.

A cremation service for Van der Merwe is scheduled for Thursday in Centurion.

User Journal

Journal Journal: News Flash: Robbed and stabbed, but cops didn't care.

Three friends were robbed and assaulted - but when they turned to the police, no help was forthcoming.

Last Saturday, Anne Pappenheim, Edward French and Dale Jones were walking in The Wilds botanical garden in Houghton when a man accosted them and robbed them of their clothes, cellphones, money and the keys of their car.

When the trio called the police, they found themselves disgusted by the cops' apparent indifference to the attack.

The three were enjoying an afternoon walk when a young, slender man, who was about 1,8m tall and wore jeans, a dark blue T-shirt and running shoes, pretended that he wanted to ask them a question.

'These people should not have been sent from pillar to post'
He instead brandished what looked like a folding hunting knife with a bone handle, took their cellphones, leather jackets, as well as car and house keys. The three tried to run away, but the man grabbed Pappenheim and stabbed her in the shoulder before escaping.

Jones and French took Pappenheim to hospital, where she was treated. But Pappenheim's car was left behind and they were too frightened to go back for it. French, Jones and their friend Glenda Cloete then desperately sought help from the police, but they were sent from one person to the next.

First they contacted Rosebank police station, but police there told them that The Wilds did not fall under their jurisdiction, and hung up. They then contacted Hillbrow police station and spoke to a Captain Radebe - and again got no joy.

"When I told Radebe that my friend had been stabbed, she told me that I should call an ambulance. I then told her that my friend had received medical attention but we needed to retrieve the car parked at The Wilds because the keys had been stolen by the attacker, she told me that she would call 10111 and come back to me. But she did not come back," said Cloete. And when they phoned 10111, they were told to report the matter to the metro police.

Eventually they sought help from security officers at the nearby Killarney Mall, who went with them to get the car.

'People often call me about all sorts of problems and that is ridiculous'
On Monday, they went to report the case at Parkview police station. Again the police were unwilling to register the case, but this time the trio demanded that the case be documented.

Institute of Security Studies senior researcher Duxita Mistry said the police had no reason not to take a case, even if it did not fall under their jurisdiction.

"These people should not have been sent from pillar to post, and they should raise the issue with the commissioner," she said.

Hillbrow police spokesperson Mduduzile Zondo said: "We do not often get such complaints and I do not understand why the complainant was referred to the metro police, as they do not deal with crime. We will, however, investigate the matter internally."

Although City Parks said they have guards and police randomly patrolling the city's parks, spokesperson Jenny Moodley added that visitors were responsible for their own safety.

But TJ de Klerk, who takes visitors on walks in The Wilds, said City Parks was ducking the issue by saying visitors had to ensure their own safety.

"People often call me about all sorts of problems and that is ridiculous. I am just a private resident. What if those people were tourists?" he asked.

"We have written letters to City Parks and have been waiting for a response for over a year now. There are no signs for emergency numbers and we have also asked them to erect fencing. The community are prepared to pay for it, but we are not hearing from them," De Klerk said.

User Journal

Journal Journal: NewsFlash: Schoolbiys robbed at gunpoint

Three gunmen robbed pupils at Johannesburg's Parktown Boys' High of 12 cellphones, five watches and cash, police said on Tuesday.

The three, one of them armed with a handgun, stormed into the Grade 11 class at 1.45pm on Monday, ordered the pupils and their teacher to lie down and took their possessions, Inspector Mosima Manganye said.

She said Hillbrow police were investigating a case of armed robbery.

More details on the incident would be available later, Manganye said.

Meanwhile, 702 Talk Radio reported that several pupils at the school would be debriefed on Tuesday.

The men climbed over the perimeter fence shortly before school ended, entered the classroom and robbed them and their teacher of money and jewellery.

User Journal

Journal Journal: News Flash: Farmer dies after attack

Brits - A 40-year-old farmer died in hospital after he was shot on his farm in the North West province on Friday night, police said.

De Ville Roos, 40, and Johanna Roos, 37, were attacked on their farm in Uitvalgrond in the Sonop area near Brits at about 19:30, Marico area spokesperson Inspector Erica Roos said on Monday.

The couple were in the kitchen when an armed man entered through an unlocked door and demanded they lie face down on the floor. He then fired three shots at Roos, hitting him twice in the chest and once in the neck.

A second man entered the house and demanded vehicle keys from Johanna Roos, while a third suspect carried a television set and a computer outside.

The men fled when they saw lights at the gate from a security company responding to the alarm which had gone off when the shots were fired. The stolen items were found outside the house.

Roos was taken to hospital and died on Saturday from bullet wounds. His wife was not injured.

Police are investigating.

User Journal

Journal Journal: News Flash: Gang robs ambulance, patient.

Eastern Cape - An ambulance driver and his pregnant patient were robbed by a gang of armed men who ambushed them on their way to hospital in Qumbu, the Eastern Cape health department said on Thursday.

On discovering the road blocked with stones, the ambulance driver stopped to move them, said spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo.

"Five armed men emerged. They assaulted him with a gun," he said.

They robbed the driver of money and a cellphone, also robbing the pregnant patient in the back of the vehicle of her cellphone.

"Our concern as a health department is that this could affect service delivery in the area," said Kupelo.

Concerns about delivery of healthcare

It was not the first time health workers had been the target of criminals. Last week an ambulance was stolen and last year a mobile clinic was hijacked.

Kupelo called on the community to help safeguard health workers, who were there to assist them when they were in trouble.

The resources in rural areas were limited and with drivers traumatised or in fear of their lives there could be delays should it be necessary to verify each call-out and ensure a police escort for every ambulance dispatched, he said.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Tsotsi: South African Fairytale.

I watched Tsotsi last night with my GF. A nice movie. I expected more and was somewhat dissapointed. But the sad part is that it is a South African Fairytale. Hi-jackers around here do not show mercy or remorse.
To prove my point I quote from today's newspaper:
By Miranda Andrew

Deresh Sewcharan was minding his own business when the two gunmen hijacked the car in which he was a passenger.

They then threw him out as the car sped off from Durban's Blue Lagoon, down Stiebel Place, on to Athlone Drive.

Deresh is only 20 months old.

'What kind of person throws a baby out of a car?'
"What kind of person throws a baby out of a car?" his father, Pravesh Sewcharan, was still asking on Monday afternoon.

The Shallcross father was hijacked at the Blue Lagoon on Wednesday night.

Sewcharan, together with his wife Sandy, their two children and three other family members went to the beach to relax and enjoy the night.

But their evening came to a frightful end.

Sandy, their four-year-old daughter Yabhika and other family members were relaxing near the Umgeni River, unaware of what was happening to the baby and his father.

A roadblock was set up after the car was spotted on the M27
Sewcharan had stayed inside his white Honda Ballade and was listening to music, when he was held up by gunmen.

"I had just ordered some food from a nearby takeaway and was sitting in my car waiting for it when a man came up to my window and pointed a gun to my head and told me to jump out," recalled Sewcharan.

"I was in shock. Before I could say anything, he opened the car door and pulled me out," he said.

The gunman got into the car and a second man, who had been lurking nearby, jumped into the passenger seat.

"I did not know what to do because my baby was still inside," he said.

Sewcharan said that when the hijackers started the car, all he could do was hold on to the car in an attempt to get his baby away from the hijackers.

"I held on to the car and was dragged for more than half-a-kilometre before the men threw my baby out of a window," he said, fighting back tears.

Baby Deresh sustained cuts and bruises to both his feet, his knees and his hands, but did not sustain any internal injuries.

A roadblock was set up after the car was spotted on the M27, heading towards Umdloti.

The two suspects tried to evade the roadblock by driving through it, but lost control of the car, which came to a halt.

One was shot dead after a shootout ensued, and the other was arrested. He is expected to appear in court this week.
SUNDAY 26 March 2006.
For some reason I can't add any new journal entries. I arrived in Athlone, Ireland today. I took a bus from Dublin and if I didn't buy a shiny new Color Garmin at the airport yesterday I would have been lost! I miss home and I miss Audrey. I will be working in Ireland for 2 freakin months!!! That's a long time to be away. I bought Audrey a plane ticket to come and see me for 2 weeks in April. What better place to get engaged that some romantic spot somewhere in the country in Ireland? Yep, I'm gonna pop the big question at the right moment. Now, If you'll excuuse me, I habe 24/7 broadband internet in my hotel suite and I have to look for an antique ring.Man, this is faster than I've ever experienced the web anywhere in Africa. I am so glad I am not somewhere in Africa again! I am tired of travelling so much, but Europe is not bad man!!!

User Journal

Journal Journal: News Flash: US visitor stabbed in Cape Museum

By Caryn Dolley and Aziz Hartley

A 23-year-old man held after the stabbing of an American tourist in the South African Museum is to appear in court on Tuesday on robbery and attempted murder charges.

The tourist, a 22-year-old woman, was stabbed in the head and right shoulder around 4.20pm on Saturday and was taken to a Cape Town hospital. She was discharged hours later.

Police spokesperson Elliot Sinyangana said the man had been arrested at the museum shortly afterwards.

"We don't have a system of body or bag searches," museum public relations officer Michelle van der Merwe said on Sunday. "We've never had an incident like this at the museum."

When the Cape Times visited the museum on Sunday, there was no visible security at the entrance or in the reception area.

The US embassy had been told about the incident, a receptionist at its emergency number said. He declined to give the woman's name or details.

Central City Improvement District chief operations officer Derek Bock said: "This kind of incident is unacceptable as it damages tourism to the city."

User Journal

Journal Journal: News Flash: Hijacker shoots pregnant girl, baby dies. 1

An unborn baby girl died when her father and expectant mother were shot at Fort Jackson after being hijacked in East London, Herald Online reported on Thursday.

It said Melissa Shelver, 23, who was due to give birth within days, was shot twice in the stomach at point blank range on Wednesday. Her partner, David Best, 27, was hit in the chest.

Both were in intensive care units in East London hospitals.

Police said the two were in a stable condition. "I spoke to a family member and according to him they are stable," Captain Errol Francis said.

Best's brother, Alvin said: "Unfortunately Melissa lost her child as the bullets shattered the unborn babyis spine and spleen."

The baby was pronounced dead after being removed by Caesarean section at the St Dominic's Hospital trauma centre, he said.

Alvin said the ordeal began about 9am after the couple left the rooms of a Southernwood gynaecologist where Shelver had undergone a final check-up.

As they couple got into their car, a man armed with a rusty gun forced his way into the back seat.

David was ordered to drive towards King William's Town and take the Fort Jackson turnoff.

At a stop-street he was told to get out and walk to the back of the car. The hijacker also got out of the car, and shot David in the chest, said the brother.

The hijacker then leaned into the car and fired two shots into Shelveris bulging belly.

"He then grabbed a cellphone... and David's wallet and ran away."

David crawled back into the car and drove to Netcare 911 on the outskirts of East London, from where the couple were rushed to hospital. Both underwent surgery. - Sapa

User Journal

Journal Journal: News Flash: Raped French Pair: Teen appears

Frankfort - An 18-year-old youth appeared in the magistrate's court here on Thursday in connection with the rape of two French exchange students in December last year.

A court official said the matter was postponed to March 15 for a date in the regional court.

The youth, from Namahali township in Frankfort, faces two rape charges and was remanded. Two other suspects are still at large.

Police said the youth was arrested at his home three days after the two foreign students were raped and robbed on Monday, December 5.

Police apparently confiscated a cellphone belonging to one of the women at the youth's home.

The rapes happened at a camping site at Frankfort.

Christopher Mophiring of Free State police said: "The two women were asleep in their vehicle at the Wilge River camping site and were woken when the window of the vehicle was broken."

Three men demanded their cellphones and money, which the woman handed over. The men tied up the tourists and two of the men raped them, said Mophiring.

A police patrol later spotted the vehicle stolen from the tourists near the Jim Fouché gravel road at the town and gave chase.

However, the suspects abandoned the vehicle and ran into nearby farmlands.

User Journal

Journal Journal: News Flash: Robbed US family set to go home.

30/01/2006 22:50 - (SA)
Eduan Roos, Beeld

Johannesburg - A four-year-old boy was shot in the chest and leg during a robbery at his parents' house when his father ducked to avoid a bullet, not knowing the child was behind him.

His family, Americans who have lived in South Africa for three years, said that as soon as the child - still in a critical condition in Milpark Hospital - had recovered, they would pack up and return to the United States.

Software engineer Daniel Palay, 38, and his family were attacked in their Glenhazel house by a gang of armed robbers about 06:30 on Saturday.

Palay said: "My wife,Tracy, was in the kitchen making tea and coffee for us and chocolate milk for the boys while I was still in bed.

"The next minute she screamed in fear and I jumped out of bed as fast as I could and ran to the kitchen."

Palay said an armed robber waylaid him in the passage.

"Without saying a word, he began shooting blindly. I fell flat to avoid the bullets," he said.

Tied up and locked in

The noise probably woke his second-youngest son, Tamir, who ran after his father.

Palay said: "I didn't realise he was behind me when I fell flat."

The robbers bound Palay, Tracy, Tamir and their three other sons - Yonnis, eight, Ben, six, and Gavis (nine months) with ropes and ties and locked them in the main bedroom.

Palay said: "I managed to free myself and the others, then we escaped through a window and went to get help."

Palay said his family, who moved from America to Israel, came to South Africa three years ago.

"We definitely won't stay here any longer," he said.

"We love South Africa and its people a lot, but when something like this happens, you have to think first of trying to protect your family and keep all your options open."

Palay said Tamir was taken off a respirator on Monday and that he is "out of immediate danger".

"The whole family is still paralysed with shock after the shooting and it feels dreadfully unreal," he said.

"We can only remember bits of it and we will return to America as soon as we can."

A family friend told 702 Talk Radio on Monday that the family was handling the armed robbery "surprisingly well".

'House was virtually emptied'

"Luckily, the little one is a fighter and ought to recover soon," he said.

Police spokesperson captain Schalk Bornman said the gang presumably gained entry to the house through an open kitchen window.

"The whole house was virtually emptied and although the Johannesburg police's serious and violent crime unit is investigating, no one has been arrested so far,'' Bornman said.

A hospital spokesperson confirmed that Tamir's condition was still serious, but stable.

          Discussion Forums |

User Journal

Journal Journal: News Flash: Man forced to watch rape.

Secunda - A young couple were robbed outside a Pick 'n Pay in Secunda on Sunday and the woman was raped while her boyfriend was forced to watch, said police.

Inspector Graham Grimsdell said the 20-year-old man and his 21-year-old girlfriend were leaving the shop just after noon when an armed robber held them at gunpoint.

He stole their cellphones and a credit card before taking them to their car in the parking area at a taxi rank opposite the centre.

Grimsdell said the robber then raped the woman while keeping the boyfriend at gunpoint, forcing him to watch.

No arrests had been made.

User Journal

Journal Journal: News Flash: R700 000: sometimes a drop goes a long way.

Background info by MrSelfDestruKt:

R700 000 is roughly about 110 000 USD. That is what our new deputy president recently spent on taxpayers money on an overseas holiday. And this while our previous deputy president , Jacob Zuma, still sees himself as deputy president even though he's been charged with corruption and rape. Viva South Africa!

By Jonathan Ancer and Alex Eliseev

What's R700 000? To Murphy Morobe, of the Presidency, it's a drop in the ocean in South Africa's fight against poverty.

For 22 families, it's a roof over their heads for life. And with 2,4 million other families on the RDP waiting list, every house counts.

Morobe posed his question on Tuesday at a meeting in which he attempted to defend Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka's United Arab Emirates (UAE) jaunt at taxpayers' expense.

150 infected people could have received a triple antiretroviral cocktail for a year
According to the department of housing, insufficient funds and logistics are the reasons for the slow delivery. A departmental official explained that delivery needed to improve by about 15 percent to make a dent in the massive backlog.

But with the money spent on Mlambo-Ngcuka's trip, the government could have built 22 RDP houses at a cost of about R30 000 each. With five people making up the average South African family, this means that 100 people could have been housed.

The R700 000 could also have been spent making the country safer by putting 23 entry-level cops on the beat for a year. A constable starting out can earn as little as R2 500 a month. Or 300 bulletproof vests could have been bought for the boys and girls in blue, who're vulnerable to increasingly violent attacks. If the government chose to go the education route, it could have put 14 teachers behind blackboards for a year. Or paid the annual fees of 140 pupils at a government high school, or bought about 10 000 textbooks.

This would have been an investment in the country. The UAE holiday money could have been spent on handing out 700 000 condoms, possibly preventing more people from joining the more than 6-million HIV-positive South Africans.

At least 150 infected people could have received a triple antiretroviral cocktail for a year - or Manto Tshabalala-Msimang could have dished out about 280 000 potato-garlic-beetroot portions.

R700 000 could buy 175 000 loaves of bread
Opposition parties have lodged a complaint against Mlambo-Ngcuka with the public protector, alleging she has violated parliament's ethics regulations. Democratic Alliance spokesperson Gareth Morgan said it was clear that Mlambo-Ngcuka was prone to poor judgment.

According to Morobe, the deputy president has not infringed the law or committed corruption because the state is always obligated to pay for her transport and provide security for her. The fuel alone for the Falcon 900 VIP jet used on the five-day trip cost taxpayers R400 000.

However, based on previous Falcon flights to the Middle East, in which extras such as the crew's salaries and airport taxes were paid, the total cost would have soared to about R700 000. When asked about the cost of the holiday, Morobe said: "She obviously would be concerned, especially when people seek to counterpose the cost of the visit against the needs of people out there... R700 000 is going to be a drop in the ocean when you try to address those needs."

But sometimes a drop goes a long way. The R700 000 could buy 175 000 loaves of bread and with about 25 pieces of bread in a loaf, 4,4 million people could have received a slice each.

However, if the deputy president would prefer that the people eat cake, 40 000 people could get a slice at a coffee bar.

User Journal

Journal Journal: News Flash: 'Gravy Plane' trip was bad judgement.

The fall-out caused by the deputy president's holiday to the United Arab Emirates threatens to take its toll on the African National Congress as the issue becomes a political hot potato ahead of the local government election.

However, it appears lessons may be learnt, with both the presidency and the ANC saying that the policy and procedures that landed the deputy president in hot water could be up for review.

But both the presidency and the ANC insisted on Tuesday that everything was above board and had not "infringed any law, regulation or policy prescript".

The trip had been signed off by presidential director-general Frank Chikane and the fact that it had also involved a free flight on an airforce jet for her friend and her aide's two children was not a breach of policy.

Some political commentators and opposition parties were of the view on Tuesday that Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka's trip was a display of poor judgment.

Among those who accompanied her at state expense on the airforce jet were her husband Bulelani, a former NPA boss-turned-businessman, and two children.

Her friend, former diplomat-turned-businesswoman Thuthukile Mazibuko-Skweyiya, wife of Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya, was also on the plane.

While the deputy president's personal assistant had taken a commercial flight to the UAE, also at a cost to the state, Mlambo-Ngcuka had decided to take the aide's two children on the airforce jet "in the spirit of Christmas", the presidency said.

It also said on Tuesday that the visit had not been for personal gain in terms of business or networking opportunities for Bulelani Ngcuka or Mazibuko-Skweyiya.

Stellenbosch political science professor Amanda Gouws said on Tuesday: "There is a lot of disappointment around this as Mlambo-Ngcuka was seen as the person who would clean it (corruption) up."

The trip had done the ANC election campaign no favours. It gave opposition parties ammunition at a crucial time, she said.

"At local government level corruption is a very big issue," Gouws added.

ANC spokesperson Smuts Ngonyama said while he believed the deputy president's intentions had not been corrupt, he was worried about the political impact it would have.

"My main worry is that some political parties are using the situation for political point-scoring.

"We should come together determined to review the policy manual rather than using it as a platform to attack each other," he said.

He said the ANC firmly believed she had done nothing wrong - a point echoed by the ANC Youth League.

The African Christian Democratic Party leader Kenneth Meshoe also felt it was more a case of bad judgment than corruption.

Independent Democrat leader, Patricia de Lille said she was glad Mlambo-Ngcuka had tried to explain her action but said it should not be seen as justification.

Former president FW de Klerk said that during his presidency he had not made use of official aircraft to fly overseas on holiday but had occasionally tagged short holidays on to official trips.

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