Friday, June 18, 2010

Episode 7: FIFA the real master of the universe, gets its claws into the South African justice system

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Daily Maverick Fifa, the real master of the universe, gets its claws into SA justice system

On Thursday the South African government handed over more power to Fifa, this time 56 special courts that will operate for the duration of the World Cup (and just happen to have cost taxpayers R45 million). What master wants, master gets, and be warned: Fifa is relishing having the police and justice system at its disposal, all in aid of making the tournament successful, of course.

The British tabloids announced recently that anyone who breaks the law in South Africa during the World Cup will receive a complimentary Hannibal Lecter straightjacket and free train ride to the Karoo.

In announcing 56 special World Cup courts on Thursday, the South African government said it didn’t get that particular memo – but will be sure to extradite convicts in a polite and swift fashion, and without any Stalin-era gulags. And yet, listening to Fifa’s general secretary Jérôme Valcke, one kind of got the feeling that if they could… they probably would.

A bit of background: When Fifa and South Africa were planning the World Cup all those years ago, crime must have popped up on the agenda.

FIFA: You guys better do something about that

DANNY: Yes master.

And so, Jeff Radebe and his Ministry of Justice pulled R45 million out of the kitty and began setting up special courts around the country. Hundreds of magistrates, prosecutors, legal aid lawyers, court orderlies (those snoozing police officers) and translators were chosen and placed on stand-by.

The 56 courts will run late into the night, seven days a week, and – all going according to plan – will finalise cases in a matter of days. This will save visitors the pain of coming back to South Africa to testify and – knowing our system – watching in horror as their case is postponed yet again. The courts mean good overtime pay for those involved – so, in theory, they should function well. They opened for business on May 28 and will remain in operation until July 25.

The launch of these courts took place yesterday at the Randburg Magistrate’s Court in northern Johannesburg. (No, we don’t know why it was held a week after the courts opened.) The function turned out to be a World Cup special: the tent, the big speakers, the vuvuzelas, the diski dancers and a handful of dignitaries. Radebe was obviously there, as was the National Prosecuting Authority’s resident DIY expert Menzi Simelane, Danny Jordaan, Fifa man Valcke and former soccer legend turned guest speaker Lucas Radebe.

The speeches went off okay – despite the MC assuming the chief magistrate at the court was a man, when she is very much a woman. That awkward moment aside, the speakers took turns to tell us (just in case we didn’t know it yet) that South Africa is ready for the World Cup.

An interesting bit came from Simelane, who revealed the special courts have already dealt with four cases. These aren’t exactly terrorists caught moments before blowing up a stadium – but they are rather interesting. One involves a Frenchman drinking and driving in Durban. The courts are waiting for blood tests (everybody take a long breath), after which the trial will resume. Another is the theft of a laptop from a Peruvian, but the case was dropped due to lack of evidence. The third saw a visiting businessman steal a camera from another, but was also dropped after the company decided to deal with the matter internally. And then, of course, there is the case of the two hotel cleaners who allegedly cleaned out the Colombian soccer team at their fancy hotel in Hyde Park. That one is dragging out and was postponed again yesterday.

Simelane says the system is ready. We’ll wait and see before making that judgment.

The coup de grâce came from Valcke, who spoke about our police officers and courts as a tool at his disposal. He began by admitting (and it makes sense in a French accent): “Very often people are saying, but why Fifa wants this, Fifa wants that, and Fifa is a bad company or institution, that Fifa is taking over South Africa…”

He then reminded the room that “football is hope” and hope equals world peace. Or something like that.

And then the darkness descended (at least it would have in a movie): “We will protect our World Cup whatever we have to do – that’s very clear. Even if we again are looking as bad guys… or me personally as a bad guy… but that’s my role… is to protect the world cup… and to protect Fifa… and that’s what I will do. And to do this I need the police, I need the justice… Because the World Cup has to be a success.”

Yes master.

By Alex Eliseev

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Episode 6: Shame on The Game by Creamy Ewok Baggends

Download: MP3, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis [6:41 minutes]

Creamy Ewok Baggends featuring aTari-Logo
Beat production by DJ Veranda-Panda
Executive production by I Robinson
Engineered by Colin Peddie at Sonic Studios, Durban
Mixed and mastered by Mike Sims at The Planet Art

The Khulumani Support group is currently undertaking the prosecution of 5 major corporations complicit in supporting the Apartheid Government of South Africa during the struggle. These same companies are current investors in the FIFA World Cup. This track is part of a Hip Hop compilation being released in June 2010 to create awareness around this apparent lack of justice.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Episode 5: Construction workers lose out as 2010 ticket incentive bungled

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Construction workers lose out as 2010 ticket incentive bungled

by Colleen Dardagan

HUNDREDS of construction workers who helped build Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium stand to lose out on their promised free World Cup match tickets as Fifa's local organising committee has bungled the allocations.

Last year, President Jacob Zuma and Fifa president Sepp Blatter promised the workers two free tickets for games in the World Cup stadiums they helped to build. To date, construction companies have yet to receive all the treasured passes - while others, who were not eligible, have received ticket vouchers. They were to redeem the vouchers at ticketing centres by yesterday.

Cindyanne May, of Group Five - the principal contractor on the Moses Mabhida construction site - said she had sent the names of more than 5,000 construction workers to the committee, but the ticket allocation process had been a "mess".

"We were asked to send a comprehensive list of everyone who had worked on the stadium for three months or longer to the local organising commitee in October last year, which we did. We went through our entire access control list and sent it off to our client (the eThekwini municipality).

"They confirmed the list and sent it to the committee in January... We received notification from the committee earlier this month that the letters were ready and that a decision had been taken not to allocate tickets to senior directors, managers or engineers... the tickets, they said, were only for hourly workers. We received the vouchers and checked them against our master list. There aren't vouchers for everybody. We cannot work out how they did the allocation, as there is no consistency. Over 600 workers (who should have received tickets) have not received vouchers and some senior directors and managers who shouldn't have received tickets, have been allocated two tickets each."

May said the company was now receiving abusive phone calls from irate workers and sub-contractors whose expectations had been raised. "Twice we have asked for an explanation from the committee, but we haven't had any response."

While local organising committee spokesman Rich Mkhondo failed to respond to e-mailed questions sent by The Mercury, sub-contractors were fuming.

Warren Butler, the managing director of Rebcon Engineering, said he had received two tickets for himself, while only some of his employees had been allocated tickets.

"It just seems so haphazard. Workers on that stadium site sweated blood and tears, they deserve these tickets," he said.

Rasheed Amod, of Afripile, said none of 60 staff who had worked on the stadium had received tickets. The same applied to a host of other sub-contractors contacted by The Mercury. Shannon King, who is in charge of distributing the vouchers at Group Five, said some of the contracting companies appeared on the beneficiaries' list and some did not.

A version of this article by Colleen Dardagan originally appeared in The Mercury

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Episode 4: Shack Dwellers a Threat to the Cup

Download: MP3, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis [2:57 minutes]


ABAHLALI baseMjondolo (ABM) will set up shacks outside Cape Town’s stadium on the eve of the World Cup to show the world how they live.

ABM deputy chairperson Mthobeli Zona told Sowetan: “We know the government will send the police to beat us in front of the media … and the whole world will know about our struggles.

“We live in dirty and smelling places. We have no jobs. We live shameful lives. There are no toilets here. There is no electricity. We have to pay R20 a month or 50c a day to use other people’s toilets,” he said.

Zona said the government should have used the money they spent on the Gautrain and Bus Rapid Transit system to “relocate shack dwellers to dry areas. What we don’t want is to be moved to Temporary Relocation Areas (TRAs).

“The government should put their cats and dogs in TRAs. They make us sick,” he said.

Another resident in Khayelitsha’s QQ Section, Nobantu Goniwe, said she would join the demonstration.

Having lived in QQ Section for the past 10 years, Goniwe complained that many people got tuberculosis because of the “hard living conditions.”

She complained that when Premier Helen Zille visited the area in winter when it was flooded, she wore gumboots.

“We live here and we don’t have gumboots. I just wish we could swap places with her,” Goniwe said.

She said the World Cup was not going to bring changes to their community where unemployment and crime were rife.

Teenagers Azola Zadunge, Thembinkosi Mdumela, and Mananga Mzubongile said they were excited about the World Cup and would watch the games at the Khayelitsha fan park. They said the World Cup had not benefited any youth in their community.

City of Cape Town spokesperson Pieter Cronjé said they would not let anyone put up a shack.

“The area around the stadium is already under security. It will be regrettable if people use the World Cup to air their grievances” he said.

a version of this article written by Francis Hweshe originally appeared in the Sowetan

Monday, June 14, 2010

Episode 3: South African army on high alert for World Cup

Download: MP3, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis [3:49 minutes]

South African army on high alert for World Cup

South African soldiers will be on high alert during the football World Cup, the army boss said as the government voiced concern about violent protests during the tournament.

The military will also begin patrolling the national borders on April 1, taking over the duty from police as part of a broader security realignment meant to allow police to focus on fighting crime, Lieutenant General Solly Shoke said."We are ready to help where needed with the World Cup," Shoke told reporters in the capital Pretoria.

"All army leave has been cancelled over this period. We will be on high alert," he said. "We will be there in support of the South African Police Services."

"This World Cup is not about security. It's about enjoyment. People must be allowed to come here and enjoy the soccer. We don't see any threats"
to the tournament, he added.

The border patrols are part of South Africa's push to prevent trafficking in drugs or people, particularly as the World Cup's June 11 kick-off nears. South Africa last week proposed its first direct legislation to target trafficking, with maximum sentences of life imprisonment and a one million rand (136,000 dollar/101,000 euro) fine.

The new law will not be in place before the World Cup, but South Africa will train police to use existing legislation to tackle trafficking, said Ngoako Ramatlhodi, chair of parliament's justice committee.

"Anticipation of an increase in trafficking, especially for sexual purposes, ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, has focused attention on South Africa's ability to deal with trafficking," he said in Cape Town.The government on Thursday also expressed concern at the risk of violent protests during the four-week tournament.

South Africa has been rattled by a series of demonstrations over the last month, with impoverished communities demanding access to basic services and the powerful mini-bus taxi industry protesting a new public transport system.Street protests are a common feature of South African life, but some recently have been marred by shootings, arson and stonings.

"Obviously we are concerned," government spokesman Themba Maseko told journalists. "The violent and destructive nature of some of the protests is
unacceptable," he said. "We do not want to see these demonstrations, especially during the World Cup, when the country's attention and focus should be to be the best host ever for the 2010 FIFA World Cup."

The protests were "a symptom of accumulated discontent" over basic services like piped water and housing in poor neighbourhoods, he said."Our primary concern at this stage is the use of violence. The burning of libraries and other public facilities, destruction of property, we think is an unacceptable way of raising concerns in a democratic state," he said.

"The most ideal situation is obviously for a lot of these challenges or problems raised by communities and the taxi associations to be resolved well ahead of the World Cup. Obviously, that's our first prize," said Maseko.Many of South Africa's protests are less dramatic.

About 100 members of the South African Disability Alliance burned three wheelchair tyres near the Soccer City stadium, venue of the opening and final matches, to complain about poor handicap access at three stadiums.