Abidjan Waterside Boom Spurs New Demand: Crocodile Removal

ABIDJAN � It’s not my first time, fireman Patrick Obite said with an air of confidence as, kneeling, he straddled a meter-long crocodile in the parking lot of a building site in Ivory Coast’s main city Abidjan.

There was a first session yesterday at the zoo when we got used to them, he added, smiling.

Africa’s fastest growing economy, Ivory Coast, is now in the midst of a construction boom that is changing the face of the lagoon-side city, bringing new hotels, offices and homes ever closer to the water’s edge.

But Abidjan’s 5 million human residents are not the only ones experiencing an urban renaissance and rapid growth risks setting them on a collision course with the area’s oldest inhabitants, said American conservation biologist Matt Shirley.

As the city has become bigger and bigger and the people here become less dependent upon fishing and hunting, crocodiles have found the lagoon system to be a tranquil retreat and they’re repopulating the area, he said.

In an effort to head off the risk of confrontation, Shirley is leading a government-backed program teaching rescue workers and forestry agents how to humanely capture and relocate the reptiles, which are protected under Ivorian law.

Crocodile attacks are rare

On a recent moonlit night, he and a half dozen of his team slowly cruised the shoreline in a corner of the lagoon that a half-billion-dollar development project plans to transform into high-end real estate complete with a marina for luxury yachts.

You see him. He’s over there. You can see his eyes,” one of the men said, aiming a high-powered torch across the bay at two red-orange orbs shining on the surface of the black water.

There hasn’t been a crocodile attack on a human recorded in Abidjan in decades, and Shirley views the risk to the city’s residents as largely psychological.

But rescue worker Fabrice Boko, among those who have dealt with crocodiles in the past, witnessed first-hand the effect they can have when he was called in to remove one from a storm drain.

They were going crazy. They were panicking, he said of the residents living in the area. People aren’t used to crocodiles.

17 crocodiles released

There’s a fear that kind of reaction could provoke a violent backlash against the crocodiles.

At the end of the 10-day training program, the team, which will go on to teach their colleagues across the country, released 17 crocodiles in a national park an hour outside the city.

When there’s a conflict between man and the crocodiles, they’re going to call us, Boko said. I’m not going to say I’ll never be afraid, but I’ll be able to get over it. No matter the crocodile, I’ll go.

Source: Voice of America

30 AFRICAN COUNTRIES HAVE RATIFIED PROTOCOL FOR SETTING UP AFRICAN HUMAN RIGHTS COURT

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Minister Fikile Mbalula on Makhosi Khoza close protection

Minister of Police, honourable Fikile Mbalula MP has taken note of the social media statements attributed on the Facebook account reputedly operated by Honourable Khoza about Minister’s comments and how the Honourable Khoza feels she has been dealt by the department of police, SAPS and the Minister himself.

Minister takes the security of elected public representatives and that of all ordinary residents in the republic as a very serious matter � this includes Honourable Khoza.

Our democracy, though stable, still experiences typical challenges that most former oppressed states go through � heightened lawlessness and violence amongst the communities. The proliferation of guns from either statutory or non-statutory forces become one of the hard issues to grapple with. Our porous borders are also not assisting us. As Minister I connect these to the scourge of politically motivated assassinations and violence in KwaZulu-Natal in particular � a matter I am seized with. Honourable Khoza’s security threats are therefore serious. This democracy could evaporate in seconds if elected political leaders are constantly harassed, threatened or killed.

Our mandate in this regard is therefore to be seen in two; that is the protection of all persons and the protection of our democracy itself.

It is in this vein that I, outside of the media glare, as these things should be, have attended to the issues relating to Honourable Khoza and at an operational level have taken it serious and kept check on the cases reported by Honourable Khoza to police.

Her matter was immediately transferred to a Commissioned Officer because of its seriousness. An assessment on her security was conducted and this assessment was constantly looked at whilst the criminal threats to her life were investigated. She was not left alone, even if she didn’t know about it.

As far as threats to her girl child, SAPS investigated this and found that there was no threat at all. This matter was closed.

SAPS, also requires that Honourable Khoza avails herself to the investigating officer who continues to battle to get her to a meeting. Honourable Khoza house has also been visited unannounced after SAPS’ frustration with her unavailability to meet them.

As is practice, we do not divulge security arrangements of any person who has been approved or not approved to have close protection or other type of security.

My office’s calls to Honourable Khoza and even those from myself directly have not yielded the result we had hoped for, as it is at this time she refuses to engage with us directly but through Facebook.

We will endeavour to continue reaching out to the Honourable Khoza to put in place what must be put in place for her in accordance with our standard operational procedures as a department.

If needs be, should Honourable Khoza refuse our overtures and open hand, we shall look at other ways of assisting her without her involvement should it come to that.

As ANC NEC member, I also wish to elaborate on the issue of my utterances about Honourable Khoza’ s decision to defy her party’s strategic political decision over the question of dissolving this current administration in a vote of no confidence. As I stated then, the decisions relating to who defies who or what does not enter in the question of law and order where an individual’s life is under physical threat. Political disagreements must never lead to harm and loss of life or injury.

It also goes without saying that a party member who openly decides to defy party instructions or constitution or rules, such a person destroys their party career, they themselves kill such a career. I used the phrase, suicide bombing her ANC career in this strict context.

I assure South Africans that no matter your race, creed, religion or social strata, where there exist a real threat to life, SAPS will treat the matter very seriously. No political disagreements enter the space of SAPS operations. Honourable Khoza, likewise is being treated that way, with an added burden on our mandate to protect our institutions of democracy and free political will.

To reiterate, at this time, SAPS have found that there is no threat to any other reported person in honourable Khoza’ s family. SAPS and my office are reaching out and requesting honourable Khoza to please accept our requests to meet her, share with her what our investigations have found and also deal with issues of her security.

It is time for all concerned to pull together and cooperate professionally

Source: Government of South Africa

South Africa: Saselamani Police Launch Manhunt for the Suspects On the Murder of a Minor

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Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi meets with South African Petroleum Industry Association to strengthen stakeholder relations

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UN: Fighting Rages in Parts of South Sudan Despite Cease-fire

UNITED NATIONS � A senior U.N. peacekeeping official said Thursday that fighting had escalated in parts of South Sudan, despite a government-declared unilateral cease-fire in May.

“There have been concerning reports of active military operations in the Equatorias and Upper Nile,” U.N. deputy peacekeeping chief El Ghassim Wane told the Security Council.

“The security environment remains extremely volatile and South Sudan is in need of an effective and credible cease-fire,” he said.

Wane said earlier this month that the U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan had received credible reports of heavy fighting after the Sudanese army moved toward Mathiang in Upper Nile. He said there were also clashes between government and opposition forces near Torit, in Eastern Equatoria.

“The nature of these operations clearly contradicts the unilateral cease-fire declared by the government,” he said.

Last August, the Security Council authorized the deployment of 4,000 additional peacekeepers as part of a Regional Protection Force. They will be based in the capital, Juba, to help protect civilians.

Deployment has been slower than envisioned. Wane told the council that troops from Rwanda and Ethiopia should be arriving in the next two months.

Revitalizing peace process

Meanwhile, efforts to revive the stalled peace process continue.

Former Botswana President Festus Mogae, who chairs the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, which is overseeing peace efforts in South Sudan, told the council via a video link from Juba that he had engaged in extensive outreach to stakeholders and regional leaders.

Among those he met with recently was former South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar, who is the political rival at the center of the more than three-year-old conflict with President Salva Kiir. Machar is living in South Africa.

Mogae told the council, “The message I conveyed to Dr. Riek Machar was to renounce violence, declare a unilateral cease-fire and participate in the national dialogue” � an initiative begun by Kiir to try to reconcile all grievances of South Sudan’s political and armed groups. “He declined to do so,” Mogae said. “However, he demanded a new political process by the region outside South Sudan.”

Also of concern is the obstruction of humanitarian aid deliveries by both the government and opposition. More than 6 million South Sudanese are severely food insecure.

In June, council diplomats said aid was blocked 100 times, the worst month for aid access this year. In addition, the government is still asking humanitarian groups to pay high fees to continue operating in the country.

Sanctions, arms embargo

“This council must be prepared to hold the parties accountable for their inaction and for the continued suffering of South Sudan’s people,” U.S. Deputy U.N. Ambassador Michele Sison told the council. “The council must put real pressure on the parties to change their behavior. That should start with additional targeted sanctions and an arms embargo.”

She said imposing such measures would show that the Security Council was serious about pushing for an end to the fighting and a return to the negotiating table.

A U.S.-led effort in the council last December to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan failed, with only seven of the 15 council members supporting the measure and the other eight abstaining.

“I haven’t seen a significant enough change to be confident that there would be nine positive votes and no vetoes this time around,” British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told reporters when asked about a possible move to try again for an arms embargo.

Since fighting along largely ethnic lines erupted between forces loyal to Kiir and Machar in December 2013, tens of thousands of people have been killed and more than 2 million have been displaced from their homes.

Source: Voice of America