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Smart cards to replace IDs

PEOPLE applying for ID books will soon be getting smart ID cards instead.

Home Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, her deputy, Fatima Chohan, and department officials showed off theirs yesterday and demonstrated how the new system would work.

Delivering her budget vote speech in Parliament later, Dlamini Zuma welcomed the transition from apartheid’s hated dompas to the smart card.

The system “reads” a person’s thumbprint with an electronic scanner and instantly compares it with information stored in the Home Affairs database, quickly alerting officials to fraudsters or those in possession of stolen cards.

A pilot project in which smart cards would be given to people applying for their first IDs, or those whose IDs had been lost or stolen, would probably start in about six months, Dlamini-Zuma said.

This first phase would cost about R5 million, but it would cost much more to replace every citizen’s ID with a smart card as special machines needed to be made, she said.

ID cards would probably be issued in about two years.

The machines would be able to manufacture other cards, including driving licences.

Unlike the bar-coded ID books currently in use, the smart cards would not be easy to forge, the minister said.

The new card is a key element of the new national identity system, which will replace separate systems used to manage civic and immigration data.

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Posted by on May 3, 2012 in Changing Things


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Dad used body to shield son from shots

Five people – including a three-year-old boy – miraculously survived a gun attack while sitting in their car.

The red VW Beetle came under a hail of gunfire when it was shot up by a gang of at least five armed men.

The toddler’s father saved his son’s life by grabbing the boy and forming a human shield around him as bullets ripped through the car.

“I didn’t hear footsteps, just gunshots, and the suspects didn’t talk as they were shooting. All I thought was to cover my son and protect him from the hail of bullets,” the man tells the Daily Voice.

One of the injured men, Denver Finck, turns 19 on Wednesday. But instead of celebrating his birthday the young man – who was shot in the neck and back – faces the grim prospect that he may never be able to walk again.

Denver’s friend Jean-Pierre Pick, 20, was shot in the arm and a third man was shot in the leg.

The fourth adult in the car somehow escaped without even a scratch.

The friends were smoking a hookah pipe in a parked car in Ouplaas Crescent in Wesbank, Delft, when they suddenly came under attack just after 9pm on Monday.

The shooting happened less than 48 hours after three men from the same area were gunned down near Voorbrug High School in Delft.

It is not yet known if the shootings are linked.

Denver was sitting on the left side of the vehicle closest to the suspects as they opened fire.

The teenager’s father Gary Finck, 55, says his neighbourhood has become a warzone.

“No one is safe in the area, you can’t walk at night – from 7.30 bullets start flying,” he says.

“These gangsters are shooting innocent people like my son and his friends.”

Gary says residents are fed up with the gangsterism and drugs that are killing their community.

“A lot of people have been shot in the area and the police are doing nothing about it,” he adds.

“This is a ruthless crime and people must stand together and fight these thugs.”

However, the concerned father insists his son is not involved in crime.

“Denver is not involved in gangsterism or drugs,” Gary says.

The incident occurred directly outside Jean-Pierre’s family home.

His father Trevor was watching a movie in the living room with his wife when they heard the sound of gunshots.

“After the gunshot, a flare went up,” Trevor says.

“I was too scared to go outside and I peeped through the window.

“Moments later my son stormed in not realising he had been shot in the arm.

“He came to tell us about Denver who was critically injured.

“By the time I went to the car, the suspects had fled already.

“We carried Denver inside the house and then called the ambulance.”

Gary fears his son will be left crippled after the attack.

“He said he couldn’t feel his legs, a bullet hit his nerve but the doctors haven’t specified what will happen next as he is waiting for an operation.

“My youngest son could have died in this senseless shooting.

“And we found a bullet still lodged in the jacket he wore on Monday night.”

Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk says police are investigating whether the incident is gang-related.

Meanwhile – less than an hour after the Wesbank shooting – another man was shot in an unrelated incident in nearby Delft.

Marco Jacobs, 22, was struck in the hand while walking in Schipol Road in the Hague at 10pm on Monday.

“I was walking when I was shot and they hit my hand,” Marco says.

His mom, who did not want to be identified, says she is sick of people targeting her children.

“A few years ago my eldest son was shot dead and now my youngest,” she tells the Daily Voice.

“My son is not involved in any criminal activities.”

Cops confirm the victim was cleaning up in his backyard when he was approached by two men he knew.

The men suddenly pulled out a firearm and shot him in the hand.

He subsequently identified the two men and they were arrested a short while later.

They will appear in the Bellville Magistrates’ Court on Thursday on a charge of attempted murder.

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Posted by on May 3, 2012 in Changing Things


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Mandela given clean bill of health

Nelson Mandela was given a clean bill of health and left hospital on Sunday after a minor diagnostic procedure, soothing fears over the beloved nonagenarian’s health.

South Africa’s former president was admitted to hospital on Saturday for a keyhole operation to investigate persistent abdominal discomfort, raising alarms about the man revered as the symbol of South Africa’s post-apartheid reconciliation.

“The doctors have decided to send him home as the diagnostic procedure he underwent did not indicate anything seriously wrong with him,” President Jacob Zuma’s office said in a statement.

Presidency spokesperson Harold Maloka said Mandela, 93, was recovering at home in the leafy Johannesburg suburb Houghton, where he returned in January from his childhood village in the Eastern Cape, 800km from the country’s economic hub.

“He is resting with family,” Maloka told reporters.

Mandela underwent a diagnostic laparoscopy, a procedure in which doctors make small incisions in the abdomen to probe it with a tiny camera.

Shortly before his discharge was announced, Zuma said Mandela, known affectionately as Madiba, was relaxed and comfortable after his night’s stay in hospital and was surrounded by his family.

“The doctors have assured us that there is nothing to worry about and that Madiba is in good health,” Zuma said.

Defence Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, whose ministry is charged with Mandela’s health care, earlier said “there never was anything wrong with him”, but that the investigative surgery was needed to get to the bottom of his discomfort.

“He’s fine, he is recovering from anaesthetic and he is as fine as can be at his age. He is fine and handsome,” Sisulu told reporters in Cape Town, refuting reports that Mandela had hernia surgery.

Norman Mabasa, chair of the South African Medical Association, said the procedure involved a “very small puncture hole”.

“You can look inside and magnify that on a screen, and as you move your probe you’re able to see the various organs to look at whether they are okay,” he told reporters.

“You’re automatically concerned about any illness at that age,” he added.

“That’s why even the smallest itch, you take it seriously, because you don’t want to take things mildly at that age. You want the elderly not to be sick, because once they are sick you get worried about whether that will be the last blow.”

The ruling African National Congress, which Mandela led into power 18 years ago, expressed thanks for the prayers and messages for him.

“Our collective support is proof once more that Madiba is the father of our nation.”

Officials moved quickly to announce Mandela’s hospitalisation and to issue updates, reassuring that it was a planned and not an emergency admission.

But they refused to say where he was being treated, appealing for privacy.

The media generally praised the South African government for handling the episode better than Mandela’s last hospitalisation, when he underwent two days of treatment for an acute respiratory infection in January 2011.

Then, the government and Mandela’s foundation kept the media largely in the dark about his care, initially described as “routine” testing.

Mandela is beloved for leading South Africa from the days of white-minority rule to democracy, and commands huge respect internationally.

Rumours over his health flare up periodically, and his last public appearance was last July.

Mandela was released from 27 years in prison in 1990 and was elected South Africa’s first black president four years later. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and served one term before stepping down in 1999

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Posted by on February 27, 2012 in Changing Things


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Metro cops pass white paper review

Deputy Police Minister Makhotso Sotyu says the review of the safety and security white paper will not seek to abolish the metro police.

This comes after the City of Cape Town said it would fight tooth and nail to retain the country’s metro police service.

At the first council meeting last month, mayor Patricia de Lille said the existence of the metro police was being threatened by the draft white paper under the SA Police Service’s civilian secretariat.

Sotyu, who was speaking at the opening of the 10th International Centre for Prevention of Crime (ICPC) Colloquium in Cape Town Monday night, said: “It’s not about abolishing offices but about (creating better) security clusters.”

The colloquium, which will run until Wednesday, is discussing Integrated Approaches to Crime Prevention and Safety.

Sotyu reiterated President Jacob Zuma’s call in the State of the Nation Address that the government would not be complacent in the fight against crime.

“As the government we are not (doing) enough. We need to do more. We are still facing challenges – hate crimes, sophisticated cybercrime, gender-based sexual crimes, poverty, inequality and unemployment. It is very timely that the colloquium takes place.

“We must integrate and innovate in crime prevention,” Sotyu said.

SA Human Rights Commission deputy chairwoman Pregs Govender delivered the keynote address.

She said the theme of the colloquium spoke not only of the critical short-term challenges but also long-term goals of crime prevention and safety.

Govender said that when apartheid was declared a crime against humanity, it showed that crime came in many guises and that they could enforce poverty, inequality and unemployment through trade agreements, and the allowance of companies to relocate to produce cheaply using child labour and other examples.

She asked: “How will these crimes (against the poor) be prevented?”

Earlier the Director of the UN Habitat regional office for Africa, Axumite Gebre-Egziabher said crime had the highest impact on the urban poor.

“Crime integrates with insecurity in favelas in Brazil, slums in India and townships in SA. We need to take a special look at (poor areas) to prevent crime… through planning in phases, an enlightened public service, responsible business, political will, policies and management,” she said.

Later the president of the ICPC, Chantal Bernier, told the audience that community threats had multiple factors and multiple approaches. She said organisational culture, specialised expertise, intellectual capacity and organisational structures should be looked at to create change.

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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in Changing Things


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Dogs on beaches face new rules

Measures controlling animals on city beaches are to be updated after a two-year-old was mauled by a Rottweiler at Clifton last month.

Councillor Beverley Schäfer put forward a motion to “clarify measures” on animal access to beaches at a Good Hope sub-council meeting on Monday.

In January, Meeka Riley, 2, was attacked by the unleashed dog at Cilfton First Beach. She was bitten four times on her leg and needed surgery.

The city said the dog’s owner, James Lech, had contravened by-laws, and fined him R1 500.

Schäfer’s motion, which will be sent to the community services portfolio committee, said current rules dated from 1992.

It called for a task team to review the city’s approach to all domestic animals on beaches.

This would inform an updated by-law. With the public’s help, ward councillors would help identify “use areas” for animals.

Once this was complete, a city-wide awareness programme would be launched.

“The by-law must incorporate financial penalties as well as community service with or in lieu of financial penalties imposed on transgressors,” the motion said.

There was also a report from community services to the sub-council, detailing interim measures until a new policy was formulated.

According to this report, pet access to “high-density” and popular beaches should be limited. It also aimed to reduce “confusing” and “unclear” legislation.

Sakhile Tsotsobe, from the community services department, told the sub-council that as part of the new regulations, updated signs would be put up at beaches.

“We understand the need to provide space, prioritise the needs of the bathers and public, while also making space for uninterrupted time for dogs,” Tsotsobe said.

The new policy would let people know which beaches were dog-friendly and where dogs would not be allowed.

One of the possibilities was that maps would be placed at beaches, informing the public of the regulations.

The sub-council suggested adding a warning to the signs, urging pet owners to clean up after their animals or face fines.

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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in Changing Things


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Cape Town’s night parking fee plan

The City of Cape Town wants to introduce more than 3 300 new paid parking bays across Cape Town, with after-hours tariffs for parts of the CBD, Claremont, Observatory, Camps Bay and Strand.

This is part of the city’s new parking plan, the tender for which goes out for public participation at the beginning of next month.

The city said it hoped the extra bays would boost economic activity in those areas and encourage more people to use public transport.

According to the city, the main reason for the paid system is that some motorists park in bays for hours, hurting business at nearby retailers. The new system would ensure that bays were more easily available.

The after-hours system aims to regulate parking at night and will address safety concerns raised by businesses which had approached the city to come up with a formal after-hours parking system.

The argument is that paid parking means a higher turnover of bays and more space for potential customers for retailers.

Apart from advertising the contract for new service providers, the new parking tender includes a proposal for at least 3 320 bays to add to the existing 4 990.

At the moment, motorists have to fork out for parking in bays in the city centre, Bellville, Claremont, Gordon’s Bay, Sea Point, Somerset West and Strand.

With the new system, motorists would also be able to pay for parking with the city’s electronic travel payment card.

Service providers would have hand-held meters to print detailed receipts. Currently motorists are given hand-written receipts.

The rates in the Cape Town CBD are R2.50 for 15 minutes, R5 for 30 minutes and R10 for an hour.

In Bellville and Claremont it costs R1.50 for 15 minutes, R3 for 30 minutes and R3 for every 30 minutes thereafter.

In Gordon’s Bay, Somerset West and Strand it costs R2.50 for 15 minutes, R5 an hour and R2.50 for every 15 minutes thereafter.

In Sea Point motorists pay R2 for 15 minutes, R3.50 for 30 minutes and R3.50 for every 30 minutes thereafter.

Bellville has 550 bays, the Cape Town CBD 2 000, Claremont 240, Gordon’s Bay 570, Sea Point 400 and Somerset West 260.

Strand has 500 bays and an additional 470 from December to April.

The new bays will be set up in the Athlone CBD (250), Bellville (970), Camps Bay (200), Green Point including Gallows Hill (200), Fish Hoek (470), the Kalk Bay harbour (200), Kloof Street near Gardens (200), Muizenberg (150), Newlands (100), Observatory (75), Parow (280), Rondebosch, including the library, (75) and Simon’s Town (150).

Proposed suburbs and areas for paid-for after-hours parking: Camps Bay, Long Street, Greenmarket Square and surrounds, Cavendish Square and surrounds, the Jetty parking area in Strand, and Lower Main and Station roads in Observatory.

The current tenders expire at the end of June.

There are three service providers currently handling kerbside parking. The rates are set by the council.

In 2009, the city awarded Street Parking Solutions the tender for central Cape Town.

In Bellville, Claremont and Sea Point, Numque handles the system.

Ace operates in Gordons Bay, Somerset West and Strand.

Brett Herron, the mayoral committee member for transport, roads and stormwater, said the new tender would probably be awarded early next year.

This depended on public participation, which would run from March 1 to 31.

Herron said the current contracts would be extended until the new agreements were finalised.

He explained that the after-hours tariff could apply between 5pm and midnight.

It was to “support busy restaurant areas”.

“In most instances, business owners have made the requests, based on complaints they receive from customers.

“Weekend parking is alongside amenity areas where parking space is often utilised for the whole day, with no turnover of the parking space for other motorists.

“This can be very seasonal,” said Herron.

The report from the city’s transport department on the new tender was tabled at the Good Hope sub-council meeting on Monday.

Dave Bryant, ward councillor in the city centre, said the cost of parking was “quite problematic”.

“It has escalated along with basic inflation, but it started off quite high.”

Bryant’s ward also includes the Foreshore, Gardens and Oranjezicht.

He told the sub-council it was especially difficult for motorists spending short periods in different parts of the city.

“If you’re running errands from one side of the city to the other, you’ll end up spending a lot of cash.”

Bryant said sub-council chairman Taki Amira had earlier suggested a grace period where parking would be free for up to 20 minutes.

Bryant then suggested the city either postpone immediate tariff increases or reduce the cost by 25 percent.

Speaking to the Cape Argus, he said that in parts of the city centre, ad hoc car guards manned bays after hours.

With no set rates, motorists ended up paying as much as, or even more than, the daytime rate.

In some cases motorists hadbeen intimidated. And cars had also been vandalised.

“The parking marshals are our eyes and ears for security. They are linked to the CID (Central Improvement District).”

Marc Truss, the chief executive of the Oranjekloof and Green Point Central Improvement District, was at Monday’s sub-council meeting to lend support to the after-hours tariff.

After the meeting Truss said the CID had noted an “influx” of car guards after hours.

“They can earn money, they have a captive audience. It’s not formalised. If you monitor parking after hours, you have no more damage to motor vehicles or theft,” said Truss.

He said this did not mean motorists would have to fork out much more. There could be a flat rate – R10 for instance.

“This is not to make money, but to provide a service at a nominal rate,” said Truss.

Tasso Evangelinos, the chief operations officer of the Central City Improvement District, agreed that the evening parking operation would have to be very different from the current one.

The biggest benefits from implementing it would be standardising parking after hours, and job creation, while motorists would have peace of mind.

“There will be a person, in uniform, linked to either us or Cyclops (cameras). It will regulate the space.”

After-hours parking has been proposed for the area around Cavendish Square, and Ian Iversen, the ward councillor, supported the plan.

He said that over weekends, stores were negatively affected when motorists parked in bays for the entire day.

The new system would also be an incentive for motorists to leave their cars at home.

“The bottom line is people need to start using public transport.”

In the Athlone central business district, 250 bays have been suggested. Suzette Little, the ward councillor for the area, said there were very few parking bays in Athlone and the bulk were not in the CBD.

“Athlone CBD is one of the areas of development,” said Little.

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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in Changing Things


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Cape plans to control trains on track

Plans are underway to transfer local passenger rail services to the city of Cape Town from the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa), the city said on Tuesday.

Rail formed part of the city’s plans to create an integrated public transport system, with buses and minibus taxis, councillor Brett Herron said.

He said Transport Minister S’bu Ndebele approved the city’s proposal to manage passenger rail in December, in order to better integrate all forms of public transport.

“It is extremely important for the city and for our residents that there is a substantial improvement in the quality, frequency, reliability and safety of this (rail) service,” Herron said.

The city should be given full management authority, along with the rail subsidy, to plan, manage and fund the service.

Prasa spokeswoman Nana Zenani said the matter was still under discussion.

“There has not been an agreement,” she said.

The transport department was not immediately available for comment.

On Monday, Beeld newspaper reported that the government was considering handing control of passenger train services from Prasa to cities.

Deputy Transport Minister Jeremy Cronin said the government wanted cities to develop a comprehensive transport system, taking into account buses, trains, minibus taxis and other means of transport.

“Our cities are expanding at an ever accelerating pace. The government expects that by 2030, 70 percent of South Africans will be living in cities, and it is therefore important to develop systems that can keep pace with this level of growth,” he reportedly said.

Public transport should be integrated with the development of settlements and industries.

Currently, cities were responsible for city planning, but had no control over metro train services, which complicated co-ordination.

Cronin said Metrorail passenger services formed an integral part of city infrastructure.

Thus far, Cape Town and Durban’s systems looked as though they would be the easiest to transfer from Metrorail to city authorities.

The government was still discussing the financial and logistical details with Prasa, Cronin said

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Posted by on February 14, 2012 in Changing Things


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