School rape shocks South Africa


Schoolgirls participate in a lesson in Kilifi, approximately 50 kilomtres north-east of Mombasa on June 23, 2010.


Tony Karumba

Top News: South Africans were outraged over the gang rape of a 15-year-old girl by fellow students on the grounds of her Johannesburg high school. The attack, which took place during school hours, was filmed by several students on their cell phones. Police did not initially arrest the boys who allegedly drugged and raped the girl, saying that they didn’t want to disrupt them during exams. South Africa has one of the highest rates of rape in the world.

President Jacob Zuma reshuffled his cabinet for the first time since taking office 17 months ago. It was also the most significant cabinet changes to a sitting government since 1994. Seven ministers were fired, including minister of public enterprises Barbara Hogan, and Siphiwe Nyanda, the minister of communications. Zuma, in a statement, emphasized the need for improvement in the delivery of water, electricity and other basic services by government — a hot-button issue in South Africa, which regularly sees violent protests over the lack of “service delivery.”

A British woman on her honeymoon was killed in a carjacking in Cape Town, an incident that has drawn international attention to tourist security in South Africa despite the country’s hosting of a largely crime-free World Cup earlier this year. Anni Dewani and husband Shrien Dewani, who had been married for two weeks, were being driven through the Gugulethu township late at night when their taxi shuttle was attacked by gunmen. Shrien Dewani was forced from the vehicle, while his wife’s body was found later in the back of the taxi.

South Africa's largest private hospital group pleaded guilty to performing illegal kidney transplants at one of its hospitals. Netcare admitted to being involved in an international organ trafficking syndicate that saw poor donors mainly from Brazil paid $6,000 for their kidneys, which were then transplanted to wealthy Israelis at a hospital in Durban. Five children were among those recruited to donate their kidneys. Netcare KwaZulu Natal has agreed to pay fines of nearly $1.1 million.

Two South Africans are missing in Somalia after their yacht was hijacked by pirates while en route from Tanzania to South Africa. A third South African who was aboard the yacht managed to escape, and was rescued by a French warship. The attack has sparked fears that Somali pirates may be moving further down the Indian Ocean coast and closer to South Africa.

Health officials in KwaZulu Natal province said they plan to circumcise prison inmates in an attempt to fight the spread of HIV within prisons. Circumcision has been shown to decrease the rate of HIV transmission. Health authorities said they have been “overwhelmed” by the number of prisoners wanting to be circumcised, and said they planned to circumcise 2.5 million prisoners, on a voluntary basis, by June 2014.

Money:  Finance minister Pravin Gordhan released a mid-term budget focused on lowering the deficit and relaxing foreign exchange controls to try and stabilize the South African rand. He also announced more funding to combat fraud and corruption, a problem that he described as “an ever-present threat to our ambitions.”  The budget was largely praised by both ANC allies and political opposition.

South Africa’s powerful unions are preparing for battle with Walmart, which has made a takeover bid for South African retailer Massmart in an attempt to gain a foothold on the African continent. The South African Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union has formed an Anti-Walmart Coalition with other unions and advocacy groups, and said it may strike over the deal. The unions intend to challenge Walmart’s bid at South Africa's Competition Tribunal in the next few weeks.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and President Jacob Zuma traveled to Seoul for the G20 meeting where they urged developed nations to act to prevent a global currency war. South Africa and other emerging markets are concerned about the value of their currencies being driven up due to foreign capital inflows from investors in developed countries.

Elsewhere: Phila the black rhino, who survived after being shot at least nine times by poachers, was moved to the Johannesburg Zoo where veterinarians say she is recovering well. Phila had been dehorned to deter poachers, but was still attacked twice by poachers seeking the nub of horn that was left. She has become the “poster rhino” for the dramatic escalation in rhino poaching during the past two years, and a star at the zoo.

Julius Malema, the outspoken leader of the ruling African National Congress party’s youth league, demanded that Twitter be shut down because of fake accounts in his name. The league vowed to pursue the “reactionary, right-wing, white people” who had been operating Twitter accounts impersonating Malema. But their request prompted a deluge of joke posts by South African Twitter users, who held a "Julius Malema Day" on the micro-blogging service.

The Sunday Times, a leading South African weekly newspaper, began publishing a Zulu edition in KwaZulu Natal province, citing demand from readers. It was the first time that a national newspaper has published in the Zulu language.