Judge dies of mamba bite

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And other essential news of the day

Photo of Labour Court
Anton Steenkamp was a judge in the Cape Town Labour Court. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks
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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!

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Judge dies of mamba bite

Highly-respected and popular Cape Town Labour Court Judge Anton Steenkamp has died after being bitten by a black mamba in Zambia. Steenkamp was on holiday with his wife Catherine when he was bitten on Monday. Relative Ruby Steenkamp told News24: ‘We are devastated. No words. What an incredible man. His wife, Catherine, is still on her own in Zambia. They were touring Africa. We as a family were very, very proud of him.’

Niki Lauda dies

Three-time Formula 1 world champion Niki Lauda ‘passed away peacefully’ on Monday, just nine months after undergoing a lung transplant. The legendary Austrian, who won the 1975 and 1977 world titles with Ferrari and a third with McLaren in 1984, is probably best known for his return to racing after being badly burned in a crash at the 1976 German Grand Prix. More recently, as non-executive chairman for the Mercedes team, Lauda was instrumental in bringing Lewis Hamilton to the team, a partnership which has yielded five world championships so far.

Mokonyane: from cabinet to chair

Nomvula Mokonyane – notorious for her disastrous tenure as water and sanitation minister – will no longer be a cabinet minister. It was announced yesterday that she would be the ‘chair of chairs’ in the new parliament – effectively the person who co-ordinates the activities of parliamentary committees. It is an influential position, but a distinct step down from a cabinet post: she is presently the Environmental Affairs Minister. In other ANC announcements yesterday it was revealed that Thandi Modise will be the party’s candidate for Speaker of the National Assembly (succeeding Baleka Mbete) and Job Mokgoro will be the new North West premier.

Zuma judges slam advocate

Jacob’s Zuma’s bid in the Pietermaritzburg High Court to have his corruption charges set aside went into its second day today with, well, not much happening by the time of writing. French arms company Thales is also bidding for a permanent stay of prosecution for its role in the alleged offences, and its advocate Anton Katz spent much of the day being berated by irritated judges. Judge Thoba Poyo-Dlwati said Katz was repeating parts of his presentation and added: ‘When you make the argument over and over, we lose it. Let’s just digest it. Sometimes a lawyer makes a good argument but ruins it by repeating themselves’. He was still at it this afternoon. News24 is doing a live feed on proceedings. Yesterday evening Zuma told a crowd that had gathered outside the court after the day’s proceedings: ‘You can’t build a respectable case and in the other hand conspire to charge an innocent citizen like Zuma.’


THE DAILY MENACE

A homophobic crusade?

Crusaders players have been accused of intimidating and ridiculing two gay men at a McDonald’s in Cape Town after their 19-19 Super Rugby Match draw against the Stormers on Saturday night. While what actually transpired is still a they-said they-said muddle, the Crusaders come across as louts. The team’s management were quick to ‘strongly refute’ the accusations and, according to coach Scott Robertson, it was all one massive misunderstanding. He explained that All Black George Bridge, one of the players involved in the fracas, just wanted a photo with one of the men and it was all ‘a selfie gone wrong really’. Really? The rugby players have been accused of making homophobic slurs, limp wrist gestures and adopting high pitched voices, which doesn’t sound like a selfie gone wrong. This ugly slice of menace behaviour comes hot on the heels of Israel Folau being fired by Rugby Australia following his disgusting comments condemning gays and transgender people to hell unless they repent.


WHAT’S THE BUSINESS?

Sekunjalo offer ‘came with strings’

A senior executive at the Public Investment Corporation has told the PIC inquiry that Sekunjalo offered to buy out the PIC’s shares in Independent Media at almost double their book value – but the offer came with a catch: the PIC would have to cough up a much bigger investment in Sekunjalo’s Sagarmatha Technologies Limited plan. Senior market risk analyst Tshifhango Ndadza said it would have been a great deal for the PIC without the Sagarmatha link. Sekunjalo would also have benefited if it ‘bought’ the shares at the inflated price, as Sagamartha could then also reflect an inflated value for Independent Media on its books, even though Independent was technically insolvent – it’s liabilities exceeded its assets by R500m to R600m, he said. The PIC invested R1.285bn in 2013 to help Sekunjalo buy Independent Media from its former Irish owners.

Lonmin cuts mines, jobs

Lonmin has begun a retrenchment process that will see 4,100 people lose their jobs at six platinum mines. The mines are to be closed as they have run out of commercially viable ore.


IN THE SPORTS CORNER

Caster plans track return

World 800m Champion Caster Semenya will compete in the 3,000 metres at the Diamond League’s Prefontaine Classic in California on June 30. The 3,000m race falls outside the IAAF’s controversial testosterone ruling, which means Semenya can compete without reducing her levels of the hormone. Semenya is adamant she will not take medication to lower her testosterone levels, despite the IAAF rules. The California event is likely to be her first official outing since the rules came into effect earlier this month. The rules require athletes with the so-called ‘46 XY DSD’ condition to lower their testosterone levels if they are elevated above a certain level and wish to compete in events from 400m up to a mile.

Another heads overseas

Another rugby player is heading overseas to earn pounds but there was some good news for South African fans yesterday. The Sharks will lose the services of lock Ruan Botha who has signed a complicated deal that sees him heading to the London Irish for six months, then to Japan’s Kubota Spears before settling back with the London Irish for the 2020 season. However, a slew of Stormers players have committed to the Cape franchise next season. Afrikaans newspaper Rapport at the weekend reported that lock/flank Pieter-Steph du Toit, flank Siya Kolisi, lock JD Schickerling, hooker Bongi Mbonambi and props Steven Kitshoff, Wilco Louw and Frans Malherbe have all committed to staying in the Western Cape. Eben Etzebeth is however still leaving for Toulon. The report suggests the appointment of coach John Dobson is the reason the players have opted to stay.

WHAT’S THE BUZZ?

That’s clear, then

George RR Martin, the creator of the books on which Game of Thrones was based, has posted a blog reflecting on the ending of the series, and answering the one big question that has been concentrating the minds of thousands of fans: when he gets to finally writing up the ending in the books (the TV series overtook them and had to come up with an imagined ending which didn’t sit well with many fans), will it end differently? The answer: ‘Well… yes. And no. And yes. And no. And yes. And no. And yes.’ You can read Martin’s reflections on the end of the series here.

Naked Chef loses chain

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s restaurant chain has collapsed and been placed under administration. The move means that 1,300 people are set to lose their jobs. The closure affects 23 restaurants, but Oliver’s other business interests are unaffected.


SEE WHAT?

Kitten boxing

This very short clip of a cat managing its kittens was posted by Paul Bronks, saying drily: The maternal instinct is strong with this one.


SAY WHAT?

Clothes to dye for

Your clothes will soon be your ‘canary in the coal mine’, alerting you to dangerous gases and pollution. Nanotechnology scientists at Tufts University in Massachusetts have developed a simple technique where your clothes change colours to warn you of dangerous breathing conditions. Sameer Sonkusale, a mechanical and computer engineer who leads the university’s Nano Lab, told The Daily Beast, that his lab has been working on a variety of low cost, portable sensing platforms that can give people access to data about the world around them they otherwise haven’t had access to. The colour-changing technology uses dyes that change colour when they’re exposed to specific gases. For example, bromothymol blue dye responds to ammonia and methyl red dye reacts to hydrogen chloride — both gases commonly found in cleaning supplies and fertilizer. ‘We realised we could provide a way that people can see the pollution in their environment,’ said Sonkusale.


TWEET OF THE DAY

Tuesday’s terrific tweeter is Fred Delicious (@Fred_Delicious) for this outstanding Dad joke:

Q: Why did the ghost’s desserts come back when he threw it?
A: It was a boo meringue

Not reading the replies to this


CRYPTIC CLUE OF THE DAY

Today’s clue compiled by Kieron Callaghan‏ is, Old enough to know throwing cone at Farage is the beginning! (2,1,7,3)

The solution to yesterday’s clue, Learns about a different side of London? (7) is ARSENAL – an anagram of ‘learns’ and ‘a (‘different’ is the anagram indicator) and the answer to our second clue, He tips poorly on golf course (6), is SPIETH – an anagram of ‘he tips’ (‘poorly’ is the anagram indicator), gives the name of the US golfer on the PGA Tour and former world number one.


THE BIG READ

What happens when cocaine washes up on the shores of a very small island? The Guardian reports on the impact of the marching powder on the island of São Miguel after it was flooded with high-grade cocaine almost two decades ago.


WHAT WE SAY

Helen Zille has probably earned the right to be rude, blunt, irrational … whatever she wants to be. But she might want to take into account the fact that she will forever be associated with the DA. That’s what happens when you lead a party and become its premier in the only province it controls. Her newfound outspokenness on race might seem to some like a breath of fresh air, but it is short on nuance and long on generalisation. And the people who are going to pay are the new generation of DA leaders who are desperately trying to attract black people into their ranks.

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.

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