Mar 23, 2018 Last Updated 8:42 AM, Mar 22, 2018


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At least 36 people have died in an outbreak of listeria in South Africa, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has said.

A total of 557 cases had been reported, mostly in the economic hub of Gauteng, followed by Western Cape and Kwazulu-Natal.

Speaking at a press conference, Dr Motsoaledi said that while listeria is a serious disease, it can be treated with antibiotics.

The bacteria is found in soil, water and vegetation, and contaminates food sources such as animal products and fresh produce.

The disase mainly affects newborns, pregnant women, and people with weak immune systems.

The South African government has tweeted that washing hands is extremely important to prevent getting listeria.

South Africa's Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, 65, has a strong lead in the race to become the new leader of the governing African National Congress.

He emerged as frontrunner after ANC party branches chose between him and his rival Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

She is a prominent politician and the ex-wife of scandal-prone President Jacob Zuma, who steps down this month.

The winner of the party race will be well placed to become the country's new president in 2019.

But the BBC's Andrew Harding in Johannesburg says the final vote is likely to be close.

The ANC party branches will account for 90% of the 5,240 voting delegates at the ANC's party conference which starts on 16 December, South Africa's News24 reports.

However, some branches get more than one vote as the bigger the branch, the more delegates it can send to the conference.

Mr Ramaphosa, who has been highly critical of state corruption and is backed by the business community and unions, took the lead in five of the country's nine provinces.

But Mrs Dlamini-Zuma, a former African Union Commission chairwoman with the endorsement of her ex-husband to succeed him as ANC president, has the lead in the two provinces with the most ANC delegates - KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.

Some in the ANC are warning of legal challenges and even vote rigging, as a deeply divided party tries to find a new path, and new energy, after 23 years in power, our reporter says.

The leader of the ANC automatically becomes the party's candidate for president of the country.

South Africa's corruption watchdog has found officials misused millions of dollars during Nelson Mandela's funeral four years ago.

According to the report, 300m rand ($22m; £16m) was redirected from a development fund to help with costs.

It had been earmarked for things like "sanitation, the replacement of mud schools and the refurbishment of hospitals," the report stated.

Instead, the authorities allegedly spent it on items like $24 T-shirts.

Allegations of misuse first emerged in 2014, months after Mr Mandela's funeral in Qunu, Eastern Cape, in December 2013, which was attended by heads of state from around the world.

Now, nearly four years after Mr Mandela's death at the age of 95, the country's public protector, Busi Mkhwebane, has asked President Jacob Zuma to pursue the allegations further using the special investigations unit.

The 300-page report describes how officials in the Eastern Cape pocketed funds, ignored basic rules, and inflated costs.

Ms Mkhwebane described the failure to follow regulations on the spending of public money as "very scary" and "appalling", according to South Africa's Mail&Guardian newspaper.

"It is very concerning that we can use a funeral to do such things," she told a press conference. "How do you charge or escalate prices or even send an invoice for something you have not delivered?"

Ms Mkhwebane said disorganisation had a role to play in the misuse, but also hit out at how South Africa's ruling ANC party had apparently issued instructions to officials on how the money should be spent.

"There are invoices we are showing with letterheads from the ANC. And monies were paid but again services were not rendered," she was quoted as saying by South Africa's EyeWitness News.

She added: "We are hopeful whoever has committed these acts will be taken to task."

This is not the first scandal to surround official events commemorating the apartheid struggle hero's life.

The man tasked with providing a sign language interpretation at the memorial service was accused of making up gestures, while a fight for control over Mandela's legacy within his own family mired the last months of his life.

A photographer is heading to court, claiming R20-million from government for the unauthorised use of a decades-old photograph he took of late former president Nelson Mandela.

Photographer Shaun Earl Harris accuses the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) of copyright infringement saying he has “once again come out to the public after having tried unsuccessfully to engage with the South African government” on the matter.

Harris said in 2006 GCIS purchased a license to use the copyright protected photograph of Mandela in a book.

“This license was, however, limited to the one time use of the image in a book published and distributed in South Africa,” explained the aggrieved photographer.

In 2013, the Mandela family approached GCIS and asked to see all the images they had available of Mandela “as they were preparing for the worst since his health had already been deteriorating”. Mandela passed away on 5 December 2013 at the age of 95.

Harris said his photograph was chosen by the Mandela family as the official image.

The lensman has gathered hundreds of examples of the Mandela image being used locally and internationally without the necessary authorisation.

He said he was claiming R20-million as compensation for damages and loss of recognition, including royalties as a result of the widespread unauthorised use of the Mandela image. “I am seeking relief via a civil claim in the High Court of South Africa,” said Harris.

In the past, GCIS acknowledged the claims made by Harris. Three years ago GCIS claimed it was engaging with the photographer to find a resolution.

And Miss Universe 2017 is... our very own Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters!

Nel-Peters (22) -- who unleashed a big smile when she won -- hails from Western Cape Province and recently earned a business management degree from North-West University.

Nel-Peters said her disabled half-sister has been among her great inspirations.

Miss Colombia, Laura González (22) was the first runner-up.

She has been preparing to be an actress since the age of 16. After graduating from a performing arts school, she moved to Bogotá to build her career.

The second runner-up was Miss Jamaica, Davina Bennett (21). She is a model pursuing a degree in marketing at the University of the West Indies.

Nel-Peters becomes only the second South African to win the crown in nearly four decades.

Margaret Gardiner last won in 1978.

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