Zuma’s High Court bid to end trial

And other essential news of the day

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Photo of Jacob Zuma
Former President Jacob Zuma addresses his supporters outside Parliament in Cape Town after surviving a vote of no confidence in 2017. Archive photo: Ashraf Hendricks

During May, we’re publishing and promoting the.news.letter, a digest of essential daily news produced by veteran journalists Chris Whitfield, Jonathan Ancer and Martine Barker. Enjoy!


Zuma’s High Court bid to end trial

Jacob Zuma was back in the Pietermaritzburg High Court today, trying to get a permanent stay of prosecution on corruption charges. His legal team suggested that ‘undue delays’ in the decade-long case were such that he had been unfairly prejudiced and it should be struck from the roll. The state, yet to respond, will no doubt point out that the delays are largely due to Zuma’s own delaying tactics – the so-called ‘Stalingrad defence’ he has adopted. You can read updates courtesy of News24 here. And if you believe the old adage that ‘birds of a feather stick together’ then things might not be looking all that good for Zuma: among the crowd that gathered outside were disgraced MK veteran Carl Niehaus, Des ‘Weekend Special’ van Rooyen and Andile Mngxitama, fresh from leading the BLF to an election walloping.

Breaking news

Western Cape businessman Rob Packham was this afternoon found guilty of murdering his wife. You can read about it courtesy of News24.

South Africans in Egypt blast

Several South Africans were injured in a bomb blast targeting a tourist bus near the Giza pyramids in Egypt yesterday. The bus was transporting a reported 25 South Africans to the pyramids from the airport when a roadside bomb was detonated, according to reports. No fatalities were reported but at least three South Africans are among the 17 injured in the blast. Islamic militants – locked in a battle with the country’s military forces – are thought to have been responsible.

Legend-dairy weapon

Politicians have been pelted with eggs, but now milkshakes have become a weapon of mess production. According to CNN, police ordered a McDonald’s in Scotland to stop selling milkshakes over fears protesters would dunk them over Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage, who was holding an event in Edinburgh on Friday ahead of European elections. A milkshake-dunking movement in Britain began after recent footage of protesters throwing milkshakes over far-right campaigners Tommy Robinson and Carl Benjamin. Burger King saw a gap and tweeted that it would be ‘selling milkshakes all weekend’ in Scotland, urging people to have fun but drink responsibly.

‘Irrational’ Public Protector report invalid

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has more legal egg on her face after the North Gauteng High Court ruled her Guptas’ Vrede dairy farm project report was unconstitutional – and called her irrational. The court overturned her report today after the DA and the Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution applied to have it reviewed. The project, meant to empower black emerging farmers, is one of the most scandalous allegations involving the Guptas’ state capture saga. The #GuptaLeaks emails revealed how at least R30m from the project ended up paying for the family’s exorbitant Sun City wedding in 2013. The DA insisted Mkhwebane’s report was a cover-up because it failed to hold to account those responsible for looting almost R200m of public money. The public protector gave no indication of the role played by ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, then Free State premier, and Mosebenzi Zwane, then the province’s MEC for Agriculture, and former mineral resources minister.


Shriller Zille

Helen Zille just can’t help herself. After ranting on social media that looting was ‘black privilege’ she doubled down and ranted some more, trading Twitter blows with actor Hlomla Dandala, politician Makhosi Khoza, the former public protector Thuli Madonsela and everyone else with a keyboard. Zille has embarked on a mission to take on ‘woke’ people, but her tone-deaf Twitter tirades just make her come across as patronising and insensitive. Predictably, there was a backlash, a backlash against the backlash, accusations of racism and reverse racism, allegations of generalisations and claims of double standards and just lots and lots of noise. The outgoing Western Cape premier has made a tremendous contribution to the country – and hopefully will continue to play a valuable role as she exits formal politics – but only if she manages to give up her Twitter addiction.


Fedusa fires George over Ayo shares

Trade union Fedusa has fired its former general secretary Dennis George for serious misconduct relating to his involvement in buying shares in Ayo Technology Solutions. George’s role in Ayo came to light at the PIC inquiry when it was revealed that he had bought 11 million shares through his Difeme company and had accepted a non-executive directorship of Ayo. He said the shares were bought for the union but Fedusa said he had acted without a mandate and had not disclosed his directorship. The Difeme shares were purchased at a price of R1.50 while the PIC paid R43 per share. Ayo shares were trading at R10.99 at close of business on Friday, 75% down from the PIC’s investment price.

Google pulls plug on Huawei

Google has terminated the contract of Chinese tech giant Huawei that allows it to use Google products in its Android smartphones – a direct outcome of the Trump administration’s new limitations on technology trade with China. Google confirmed it had revoked the licence to comply with the new US rules but said existing devices fitted with Google products would be able to keep using them – they just won’t get any future updates.


Koepka survives late scare

American Brooks Koepka survived a final-round scare to hold off Dustin Johnson and win the US PGA Golf Championship by two shots. After three days where Koepka built a seemingly invincible seven-shot lead, he wobbled dramatically with four bogeys in four holes on the back nine of the final round on his way to an unconvincing 74. At the same time, two groups ahead, Johnson finally mounted a charge – much to the delight of the boorish New York fans. Johnson clawed his way to within a shot of the leader, but the grandstand finish was averted when ‘DJ’ (as the fans were loudly chanting every time they were not inanely willing the ball to ‘Get in the hole’) dropped shots at 16 and 17 to give Koepka the cushion he needed to bogey 17 and still win by two. Erik van Rooyen was the leading South African on one-over par in a tie for eighth. Koepka’s back-to-back PGA title – his fourth win from the last eight majors – returns him to number one on the world rankings.

SA’s super surprising successes

In a weekend of Super Rugby surprises, all the South African conference teams enjoyed taking league points off their Antipodean opponents. At Newlands the Stormers grabbed a morale-boosting 19-19 draw with the high-riding Crusaders and further dented the log leaders’ aura of invincibility. The two points have kept the Western Cape side in contention for the playoffs, but only just. The Lions dented the Highlanders hopes with a plucky 38-29 win while the Bulls were full value for a 32-17 victory over the Rebels for a rare away win for the Pretoria side. The Jaguares briefly took over top spot in the South African conference when they shocked the Hurricanes 28-20, but the Bulls’ triumph a couple of hours later left the Pretoria side as the conference leaders and pushed them up to second on the overall log.

Are City the best ever?

Manchester City were able to use the FA Cup as a celebration of the greatest domestic season ever when they became the first team to win the League title, League Cup and FA Cup in one season. The 6-0 margin would be embarrassing for Watford if it was against any other side, but the record-equalling FA Cup final score just underlined the quality of Pep Guardiola’s side. The domestic dominance of City will lead to comparisons with the 1999 Manchester United side which won the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup; Arsenal who were unbeaten in the 2004 Premier League season; and the 1994 Liverpool team who were First Division, European Cup and League Cup champions. Meanwhile, City captain Vincent Kompany confirmed he will be leaving Manchester and joining Anderlecht as a player/manager next season.

Proteas are (mostly) fit to play

The Proteas left for the Cricket World Cup in England yesterday with a near full strength squad after all but one of their remaining injury concerns were declared fully fit. Fast bowlers Kagiso Rabada‚ Lungi Ngidi‚ all-rounder JP Duminy and spinner Tabraiz Shamsi were all given the green light to play while Dale Steyn may miss the opening match on May 30, but is expected to be fit for the remaining matches. Anrich Nortje was replaced by Chris Morris earlier this month. South Africa open their World Cup campaign against the tournament favourites and hosts England.


GoT fans want a remake

Over a million unhappy Game of Thrones fans have signed a petition asking HBO to hire a completely new team of writers to rewrite the whole of Season 8 of the series that ended last night. The fan who started the petition, one DylanD, says he set up the online petition in a fit of pique when he was annoyed after episode 4, and didn’t realise it had any momentum until a friend asked him if it was his petition. At which time he discovered it had already reached 500,000 signatures. The problem is that the show is based on a book series, A Song of Ice and Fire, which is not yet complete. And fans are furiously arguing about how the author George R R Martin plans to wrap it up. Considering that HBO spent $15m to make each episode, it is unlikely to buckle, but there is some pressure now on Mr Martin.


Heavy petting is udder madness

Swiss app Castl thought it had stumbled upon a cash cow and launched a bizarre challenge to raise money for charity – the Cow Kiss Challenge (KuhKussChallenge). People are urged to smooch bovines ‘with or without tongues’ for charity. How exactly kissing a cow raises money is unclear, as is the specifics of the charity. And yet, people in Switzerland and Austria have been smooching cows. However, Austria has ordered its citizens to refrain from puckering up. The Guardian quoted the country’s agriculture minister, Elisabeth Köstinger, who said: ‘Pastures and meadows are not petting zoos – actions like these could have serious consequences.’


Ass if!

From cows to donkeys. See why a video of a donkey cart driver reversing out of a parking bay in Mahikeng, North West, has gone viral.


Monday’s marvellous tweeter is Robyn (@Robyn Hobson) for this:

Helped a 90-year-old woman cross the street this morning.
Seeing our glacial pace, a driver stopped, flicked on the hazards and blocked traffic so we could cross safely.
Halfway thru, the sweet, old duck pipes up: ‘Well look at me, I’m stopping traffic at my age!’


We have two sports related clues. The first, compiled by Kieron Callaghan, is: Learns about a different side of London? (7) and the second, compiled by above-par cruciverbalist Charles Machanik, is: He tips poorly on golf course (6)

The solution to Friday’s clue, One hundred arms and legs going uphill (6), is CLIMBS – a word sum of C (the Roman numeral for ‘one hundred’) + LIMBS (arms and legs), which is what you do when you’re going uphill.


Scared of what information about you Facebook may be tracking and sharing with others? They are not the only ones monetising your private life – those innocuous free games you downloaded for your kids, or for your own idle hours, are tracking your digital life. The Vox will make you think twice about how casually you load games on your phone.

And just in case weights and measures matter to you, you may want to know that the way we measure things changes today. Everywhere. Here’s The Conversation’s interesting explainer on how far we have come from the days when we relied on the size of a Pharoh’s forearm to set measurements. It’s a bit technical in parts, but makes interesting reading.


Developments in Makhanda (Grahamstown) last week might be a metaphor for the country at large. As has been extensively documented, Gift of the Givers pulled out of a project to supply water to the town after local businesses were paid R10-million … for work done by the NGO at its own expense. The breathtaking brazenness of the rip-off suggests that those behind it do not think there will be consequences. As, no doubt, do those responsible for the estimated R1.5-trillion lost to state capture. Ratings agency Moody’s – normally well disposed to this country – has warned that we are at a tipping point. It is precisely the sort of behaviour that took place in Makhanda that has taken us there. Only decisive action against such roguery will pull us back from the brink.

We welcome your insights, observations and compliments (especially your compliments) so please send them to thenewsletter.daily@gmail.com.

the.news.letter is produced by Chris Whitfield, Jonathan Ancer and Martine Barker. Click here for all the gory details about us.

GroundUp’s Disclaimer: Although we like the.news.letter and are promoting it in May, we don’t produce it. If you want to express how much you love or hate it, please email Chris, Jonathan and Martine.


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