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Hero to the rescue in Florida Road flat blaze

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Frank Chemaly

Quick thinking saved the day as a fire tore through the upper two floors of a block of flats in Florida Road yesterday.

While firefighters raced to the scene at upmarket Mitchell Heights, local resident Siyabonga Mathenjwa, who was in his flat on the second floor when the fire started at about 9.30am, raced to the rescue.

The fire started in the fifth floor flat of a businessman, who was having breakfast in the flat with his wife when the fire started. It is believed the fire may have been started by an electrical fault.

It quickly spread to the flat upstairs, belonging to a pensioner in her seventies.

Mathenjwa described how he heard a neighbour shouting that there was a fire in the building, and raced downstairs to get a fire extinguisher and up to the burning flat.

Realising that the raging fire was now beyond a fire extinguisher, he raced through the burning kitchen and down the back stairs to get the block’s fire hose, training it on the fire until the fire brigade arrived and the raging flames were put out.

The fire at Mitchell Heights in Florida Road. Picture: Facebook

He said four or five other people, some from the building, but others good Samaritans who were passing on Florida Road, came to assist.

He also helped the pensioner get out of her burning flat and safely to the ground.

Firefighters on the scene at Mitchell Heights in Florida Road after two flats caught fire yesterday. Picture: Frank Chemaly

The pensioner, who didn’t want to be named, said she had lost everything. The fire from the flat below reached such ferocity that it forced its way through her open windows. “I tried to put out the fire but I couldn’t,” she said. “ People were yelling at me to get out.”

Neil Gibb, chairperson of the block, was not in the block at the time but heard of it almost instantly on social media and sent an urgent WhatsApp voice note to all residents to get out the block, before racing to Florida Road.

The fire at Mitchell Heights in Florida Road. Picture: Facebook

Another resident told how he heard on social media that his flat was on fire and raced home. He lives on the fifth floor and had not yet been given the go-ahead to enter the building but hoped everything was still intact.

A local businesswoman in the area said the first she knew of the fire was when she heard a massive crack that sounded like a gunshot. It was the aluminium window frame being forced out by the heat of the fire.

Paramedics at the scene said two people had been treated for smoke inhalation, and there were no major injuries.

The Independent on Saturday

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ATM confirms postponement of vote of no confidence in Ramaphosa

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The ATM took to Twitter to confirm that the vote of no confidence against President Cyril Ramaphosa has been postponed to February 2021.

The African Transformation Movement (ATM) took to Twitter on Thursday, 3 December 2020, to confirm that the vote of no confidence in President Cyril Ramaphosa has been postponed. The vote was initially scheduled to take place during the parliamentary proceedings of the day, but Speaker of Parliament, Thandi Modise announced its postponement instead.

The postponement is due to the pending ruling on whether or not the vote will be a secret ballot, which is set to be delivered in February 2021. Moreover, a speculated reason was the lack of support the party would have received, as most of the leading opposition parties had opted to abstain from voting for various reasons.

The only party that was willing to vote was the United Democratic Movement (UDM), but its vote hinged on it being a secret ballot. Leader of the ATM, Vuyolwethu Zungula has not yet commented on the postponement, but has opted to rather retweet the party’s announcement

 

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Prosecuting National Assembly Speaker for animal cruelty is a frivolous political stunt

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  • National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise is currently on trial for animal cruelty relating to dead and emaciated animals found on her farm in the North West. 
  • Her legal representative, advocate Dali Mpofu SC, told the court the private prosecution is a frivolous political stunt.
  • AfriForum has denied this, saying there is evidence. 

The animal cruelty trial of National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise has gained its first insight into her possible defence, with claims the case is a frivolous political stunt by AfriForum.

Modise appeared in the Potchefstroom Regional Court on Wednesday where she is being privately prosecuted by AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit on behalf of the National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA).

She has pleaded not guilty to six counts of animal cruelty relating to the dozens of animals that died or were emaciated allegedly due to starvation and dehydration on her farm in the North West in 2014.

While the private prosecution, led by advocate Gerrie Nel, is still in the driving seat presenting evidence, several clashes between him and Modise’s legal representative, advocate Dali Mpofu SC, led to insight into what may be part of her defence.

 

The argument was started by Nel calling expert witness Dr Sameet Abdullah Abass who was set to testify on how the animals died or were emaciated and how to give time spans on the level of decomposition of the carcasses found on the farm.

Mpofu objected as Abass started giving testimony, stating the defence was never informed an expert witness was going to be called.

Nel hit back that a full disclosure had been made with the witness list, but said if the defence was not prepared, as a matter of fairness, they would give them time to prepare.

Mpofu was not happy with the idea of a postponement, and said if such a postponement was called, it must by the prosecution in the case.

His reasoning for this argument relates to the possible civil implications of the case and if the defence calls for the postponement, the costs involved cannot be claimed if there is a civil suit.

“We may retrieve the costs even in a civil context, not necessarily in relation to the Criminal Procedure Act, even if prosecution is not in good faith, if it is done in bad faith, then the costs may be retrieved,” Mpofu said.

Political stunt

It was at this point that he told the court the defence believed the private prosecution of Modise was a frivolous political stunt by AfriForum.

“They know it, we know it, and will prove it,” he added.

The defence said it would argue these points at the right time, but the entire prosecution was malicious and for ulterior purposes aimed at embarrassing the accused.

Modise echoed similar sentiments after her court appearance when she told reporters she was innocent and wanted to take the stand to give her side of the story.

“After six years of being tortured, of family being displaced, of being maligned, of my name being used to fundraise for AfriForum, yes I am looking forward to taking the stand,” she said.

Mpofu’s cross-examination, at times, also led to the deduction that the defence would be claiming some sort of political agenda narrative.

While cross-examining journalist Dustin Wetdewich who was on the scene, Mpofu asked if it was not strange the DA had tipped the Potchefstroom Herald off about the animals on the farm.

Mpofu told Wetdewich:

“If it was not for the involvement of the DA and the owner was not a former premier of the North West, you might have continued with the braai.”

“Why politicise the matter?”

Case based on evidence

A flabbergasted Nel told the court he had never seen such arguments in a criminal court, saying the courts he appeared in had decorum.

He also pointed out Mpofu had quoted the wrong section when making his arguments, and he was not doing anyone a favour by getting the witness to stand down but was working with the court to solve the impasse.

“Procedurally, we have done nothing wrong, but the defence is not ready to continue with this witness. Let him stand down, we will call another witness,” Nel said.

The court then ordered that Abass stand down and another witness be called. He is expected to testify when the case returns to court next year.

Andrew Leask, the head of investigations of AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit, told journalists they were disappointed with the comments made in court and denied there were other motives at play.

“This is a court of law that’s properly constituted in terms of law, we are here not to play games, to kick up political dust or to be involved in political mudslinging,” Leask said.

“We are here to present a case based on evidence, we will present the evidence and allow the court to make judgment on it.

“We were approached by the NSPCA asking us to conduct a private prosecution for their matter, which we are doing.”

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Two brothers shot in the head in Shallcross

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Durban – Two brothers were shot dead in Himalaya Drive in Shallcross on Tuesday afternoon.

According to KZN police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala, Chatsworth police received a complaint of a shooting at Himalaya Drive Shallcross and proceeded to the scene just after 5pm.

“On arrival they found two males with gunshot wounds to the head.”

She said a 39-year-old victim was declared dead on the crime scene.

“The second victim, a male aged 44, was taken to hospital for medical attention where he later died.

“It is alleged that the two victims were attacked by two unknown suspects who opened fire wounding them on the head.

“The suspects fled the scene in their getaway vehicle. There is a vehicle that was found abandoned on the N2 freeway but it cannot be confirmed whether it was the suspects’ vehicle or not, pending police investigation.

Gwala said charges of murder were opened at Chatsworth police station for investigation.

She confirmed the duo were brothers.

In a separate incident, also in KZN, a 43-year-old woman was shot dead in the head in the driveway of her Midlands home also on Tuesday just before 6pm.

Captain Gwala said the woman was about to leave her Bowker Road, Bisley home when four suspects opened fire.

“She sustained gunshot wounds to the head and was declared dead at the scene.

“The suspects also robbed the victim of her vehicle which was later found abandoned at Imbali Unit 1.

Gwala said charges of murder and carjacking were opened for investigation at Alexandra Road SAPS.

Source IOL

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