North West artisan training to benefit over 40 youth

SABC News reports that over 40 previously disadvantaged students from villages, townships and small towns in the North West are hoping to take to the skies. They have been granted an opportunity to further their technical and aviation skills at a technical college in Gauteng. The youngsters will be sent off to receive training in aviation and technical skills in the big city. They will qualify as artisans in aircraft maintenance, welding, fitting and turning and electrical engineering.

The youth will venture into fields with scarce skills. Most of which are not available in the province. With the Mahikeng Airport now fully operational, the next prospect is for the establishment of a technical academy to boost the aviation sector in the province. Upon finishing their theoretical training, students will complete their practical training at the Mahikeng Airport.

What you need to know about “extra public holidays” in 2018

BusinessTech reports that the Day of Reconciliation (16 December) is the only public holiday that falls on a Sunday in 2018. However, just two consecutive public holidays can still have a significant impact on working arrangements and shifts, especially in workplaces that run a ’24/7/365′ operation. This is according to Faan Coetzee, employment director at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, who said that employers should consider the effect on the workplace and implement measures to address the impact on work.

“Employers can expect requests for additional days off on Monday, 30 April, Friday, 10 August, Monday, 24 December and Monday, 31 December as these dates are convenient for employees to create long weekends,” he said. “Employers are advised to timeously make arrangements with employees who wish to take extra days off to work in those days.” Employers should also consider collective agreements and Bargaining Council agreements that impact public holidays, working arrangements and shifts, he said.

Limpopo police officer honoured for commitment

News24 reports that a Limpopo police officer, who was shot six times, was honoured for his commitment to the police during the 5th National Excellence Awards held in Durban on Friday evening. The awards event was held to recognise and reward “outstanding performance, exceptional devotion to community relations and extraordinary courage” within the South African Police Service (SAPS).

This year’s awards boasted 30 categories, which included five special categories awarded by the Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula and the National Commissioner of the SAPS, General Khehla Sitole.  Colonel David Mahlaola, 57, was given the Laureate Award, receiving a new vehicle, sponsored by Old Mutual.  Mahlaola, a warrant officer at the time, was followed to his home in Tzaneen by criminals in 1990 and shot six times.  He survived the ordeal, but suffered spinal injuries and was paralysed from the waist down.  The full list of award recipients is contained in this report.

by Derrick Spie

Court rules that Eskom’s Brian Molefe must pay back the pension money

Daily Maverick reports that it took only a few minutes on Thursday morning for the High Court in Pretoria to snatch away former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe’s million-rand pension payment. A three-judge bench ruled not just that Molefe was not entitled to his R30-million pension from Eskom, but also that his reinstatement to his position as Eskom CEO in May 2017 was “at variance with the principle of legality”, and should be set aside.

The ruling delivered by Judge Elias Matojane was short and to the point, holding that Molefe’s claim that he never resigned from Eskom, but merely mistakenly accepted early retirement, was “false” and that his pension agreement was invalid and any payments made to him “patently unlawful”.  Molefe must pay back the money he has already received from Eskom within 10 days, as well as covering the legal costs of the court matter.

by Rebecca Davis

Uber and Taxify drivers call for police minister’s intervention

SABC News reports that there have been a growing numbers of attacks on Uber and Taxify drivers across the country.  A group of Uber and Taxify drivers has called on the Minister of Police to intervene. This call came after a man accused of stabbing an Uber driver in December 2017 appeared briefly in the Boksburg Regional Court on Wednesday morning.  The ridesharing drivers came out to support a fellow driver who had been attacked and stabbed and left for dead.

Accused Jaques Scharneck pleaded guilty and has been remanded in police custody.  For the victim Busisiwe Ndlovu, the pain and trauma have left her scarred.  In the latest incident, the drivers’ indicated that one of their fellow drivers was shot and killed in Yeoville on Tuesday.  The case has been postponed until 27 February for further investigation.

by Nozintombi Miya

Court strikes down law prohibiting protests without notice

Cape Argus reports that the Western Cape High Court ruled on Wednesday that groups of 15 or more people will, in future, be allowed to assemble in a peaceful gathering without notice. The groundbreaking ruling followed a Social Justice Coalition (SJC) appeal challenging the constitutionality of section 12(1)(a) of the Regulation of Gatherings Act, which provides that organisers of gatherings with more than 15 people are required to submit a notice to protest to the city authorities.  Judge Thandazwa Ndita also set aside the convictions of ten SJC members charged with contravening the Act in September 2013 after a peaceful protest outside the civic centre in Cape Town.

The police argued before the court that notice of intention to protest was necessary to allow for authorities to plan ahead and ensure that gatherings were managed in an orderly manner with minimal disruption. But in her ruling, Ndita said:  “The criminalisation of a gathering of more than 15 people on the basis that no notice was given violates the Constitution as it deters people from exercising their fundamental constitutional right to assemble peacefully unarmed.  In my judgment the limitation is not reasonable and justifiable in an open democratic society, based on the values of freedom, dignity and equality.”

by Zodidi Dano

National traffic police go on illegal strike on Wednesday

TimesLive reports that members of the National Traffic Police have refused to leave their deployment base in Midrand‚ north of Johannesburg‚ thereby embarking on an impromptu illegal strike to voice workplace grievances. The officers have been on a go-slow since Monday‚ with half of the 40 officers per shift going out to enforce national traffic laws. However, this failed to draw the attention of their superiors so they went on an illegal strike. The officers said they were treated in an inhumane manner and have no proper equipment to carry out their duties.

One of the burning issues is that they have been moved from their offices in Faerie Glen‚ Pretoria East‚ and “dumped” in open veld near Midrand‚ with a single mobile toilet for about 40 female and male officers.  The fenced-off open area‚ adjacent to the SA National Roads Agency offices in Samrand‚ does not have a shelter and the officers have to take refuge in their cars to escape the blazing sun.  The officers also complained that they were not consulted whenever decisions affecting their lives were taken, claiming that shifts were changed at a drop of a hat.  A number of other were identified. The officers vowed to remain on the base until their grievances were resolved.

by Sipho Mabena

Court enforces restraint of trade agreement

The Citizen reports that the High Court in Pretoria has ruled that a health and safety training company has the right to enforce a 12-month restraint of trade agreement against a former star employee and the rival company she joined on resigning. The court confirmed an earlier ruling interdicting a former sales executive at Action Training Academy (ATA), Marelize Coetzee, from remaining in the employ of rival company Absolute Health Services (AHS) without the consent of ATA’s director.  Coetzee was also interdicted from using or disclosing any of her former employer’s confidential information at any time.

Coetzee, who had won the salesperson of the year award in 2016, left ATA in July last year.  When ATA discovered, by chance, that Coetzee had started working for a new rival company, they sought an undertaking that she would not breach the restraint of trade agreement she had signed and would stop working for AHS, but she refused.  She claimed ATA had repudiated their contract of employment and could no longer rely on the “unreasonable” confidentiality undertaking. However, the judge found that Coetzee had signed the restraint of trade agreement and must honour undertaking she had made.

by Ilse de Lange

Many pay tribute to Hugh Masekela

eNCA reports that tributes are pouring in from all over the world since the news of Hugh Masekela’s death broke. Masekela, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008, died on Tuesday morning at the age of 78. The “Father of South African jazz”, as Masekela was fondly referred to, collaborated with famous musicians like Miriam Makeba, Zimbabwean Dorothy Masuka, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Hedzoleh Soundz, Francis Fuster and Dudu Pukwana.

A teenaged Masekela was handed his first trumpet and later, a Louis Armstrong hand-me-down, through anti-apartheid activist priest Father Trevor Huddlestone. Masekela fled apartheid South Africa in the early 1960s, and did not return for three decades until after the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990. Among his greatest hits were the anthem “Bring Him Back Home”, demanding Mandela’s freedom from jail, and “Grazing in the Grass”. Sipho ‘Hotstix’ Mabuse described Masekela as a friend and mentor, saying his death has left him speechless.

Student fund boss urges graduates to repay loan billions

BusinessLive reports that the CEO of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) CE Steven Zwane urged graduates with outstanding loans on Tuesday to pay back the money, warning that the institution could not afford to write off their debts. NSFAS is under immense pressure to implement President Jacob Zuma’s surprise announcement on December 16 of free higher education for all first-time students from 2018.

The NSFAS uses the funds recovered from student loans to provide upfront payments to universities and Technical and Vocational Educational Training colleges, which allows them to waive registration fees for NSFAS-funded students. The money is also used to support students who are partly funded by nongovernmental organisations, Zwane said.

by Tamar Kahn