South Africa: Green Scorpions foil plans to smuggle reptiles

Members of South Africa’s Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment’s Environmental Management Inspectors, more commonly known as the Green Scorpions, have confiscated a number of reptiles that were allegedly being smuggled from Gauteng to …

Members of South Africa’s Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment’s Environmental Management Inspectors, more commonly known as the Green Scorpions, have confiscated a number of reptiles that were allegedly being smuggled from Gauteng to KwaZulu-Natal using PostNet.

“The parcel confiscated on 8 February 2023 contained Sungazer lizards and a venomous cobra as well as another type of girdled lizard and two indigenous skinks,” the department said.

Two men have been arrested on charges of the illegal possession, transport and illegal trade in species listed in terms of the Threatened or Protected Species regulations under the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEMBA).

Following the arrest of the men at the PostNet branch in Pretoria, their home was searched by the Green Scorpions, supported by South African Police Service (SAPS) K9 unit.

A total of 19 reptiles and amphibians were seized during the searches. These included African bull frogs and an African rock python, which are listed on the Threatened or Protected Species List.

Other reptiles found on the premises are listed in terms of the Gauteng provincial nature conservation ordinance.

The accused, Barend (Johan) Coetzee (28) and Xander Aylward (19), appeared in the Cullinan District Court on Friday.

The men were released on bail and the matter was postponed to March 30 for further investigation.

The department applauded members of the public who assist in reporting any suspicious activity that could be linked to wildlife crime.

Source: Nam News Network

South Africa: Crime statistics record a spike in murder, says Police Minister

A total of 7,555 people were killed in South Africa between October and December 2022, said Police Minister Bheki Cele.The 10% increase was on Friday released by the Minister while publishing the 2022/23 third quarter crime statistics. The period is be…

A total of 7,555 people were killed in South Africa between October and December 2022, said Police Minister Bheki Cele.

The 10% increase was on Friday released by the Minister while publishing the 2022/23 third quarter crime statistics. The period is between October and December.

He said: “Out of the 7,555 people murdered in the three months of reporting, 3,144 people were killed with a firearm, 2,498 people were killed with other weapons such as knifes, sharp and blunt instruments, bricks and in many cases bare hands.”

He said this was a clear indicator that “a broader conversation must be had about what is at the heart of violent crime in the country”.

While gun violence is problematic and poses a serious threat to lives and livelihoods, an analysis of current and previous statistics, he said, illustrates that firearms were only part of a bigger problem.

“At the core of the matter, is human behaviour. We have to be honest as South Africans about the causes of violence and address them.”

He attributed high unemployment rates and poverty levels, mushrooming informal settlements with little to no services and other socio economic ills breeding criminality as leading contributors.

Other attributors included the high number of undocumented foreign nationals that were hard to trace after the commission of a crime.

“The violence that is stalking communities is translated to increased number of assaults, which escalate to attempted murders and in some cases murder.

“The reality is assaults are feeders of domestic violence and other violent crimes,” he said.

The Minister called for an “intense community centered” and intelligence led-solution to fully address the proliferation of firearms.

“Someone somewhere, somehow, knows something.

Police are also on the pulse in removing illegal weapons off our streets,” he said.

In the past twelve months alone, police had permanently removed and destroyed 65,519 firearms.

Minister Cele said the South African Police Service (SAPS) would continue to intensify operations to detect and remove illegal firearms and ammunition, whilst legislation intervention through the Amendment to the Firearms Control Act, to address the availability of guns from communities, was underway.

Source: Nam News Network

Suspended Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso push for return to AU in spite of coups

ADDIS ABABA, Feb 18 (NNN-GNA) — Suspended countries Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso are lobbying to be re-admitted to the African Union, more than a year after coups plagued the West African region.In a series of meetings in Addis Ababa, the countries’ f…

ADDIS ABABA, Feb 18 (NNN-GNA) — Suspended countries Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso are lobbying to be re-admitted to the African Union, more than a year after coups plagued the West African region.

In a series of meetings in Addis Ababa, the countries’ foreign ministers met and lobbied with members of the African Union Peace and Security Council, the organ that normally imposes sanctions on member states for illegal changes in government.

All three countries, as well as Sudan, remain suspended for coups in their countries, meaning they can neither take part in activities of the AU nor have a vote on decisions. But the ministers travelled to Addis Ababa just as the AU Executive Council, composed of foreign ministers, gathered to begin the annual African Union Assembly which will culminate in a summit on Saturday and Sunday by the heads of state and government.

Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop met with Algerian counterpart Ramtane Lamamra in Addis Ababa.

Algeria is the AU’s chair of the monitoring committee for the implementation of the Malian peace deal. A dispatch released from Algiers said Diop is seeking for removal of “obstacles” to the peace process in Mali.

Ebba Kalondo, the spokesperson for African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamt, said Faki had met the three ministers on Thursday on the side-lines of the executive council meeting. But she said the ultimate decision will rest with the Peace and Security Council.

“The organ (of the African Union) responsible for security matters on the continent is the AU Peace and Security Council,” she said.

Bankole Adeoye, the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, said he had had an “in-depth discussion” with the ministers but did not say whether the matter for the three will be on the table when the Peace and Security Council meets on Friday ahead of the summit.

“I reiterated the AU’s support for inclusive political transitions and encouraged strict adherence to set transitional roadmaps,” he said.

The Peace and Security Council is this month chaired by South Africa and includes 14 other member states including Cameroon, Djibouti, Morocco, Namibia and Nigeria. It also includes Burundi, Congo, The Gambia, Ghana, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

If it discusses the issue, Sudan may also fall into the programme of countries now suspended for more than a year since coups. According to an AU policy on governance and democracy, illegal changes in government often attract prompt suspensions until the countries in question re-introduce a plan to resume civilian-led governments. All the three countries were accused of failing to provide adequate timelines since 2021.

In West Africa, where Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso fall, regional bloc Ecowas imposed local sanctions including a trade ban. Ecowas has since adjusted sanctions but retained pressure on the countries to resume civilian-led governance.

Faki had told the executive council’s opening session that he had seen positive steps in the coup countries and called for the Au to encourage the reforms.

“My recent visits to Mali, Burkina Faso and Sudan give me hope for encouraging developments in these three countries where non-constitutional changes have taken place,” Faki said in Addis Ababa.

“However, they all deserve a real outpouring of African and international solidarity. I hope that your council will echo such a call for solidarity.

Earlier on Tuesday, Faki and several AU officials travelled to Sudan where they said they were satisfied with an ongoing dialogue to re-establish a transitional government.

“In this regard, the chairperson expresses the hope that current developments will lead to the finalisation of a consensual political agreement towards the formation of a civilian-led government, and the eventual organisation, within a reasonable timetable of credible elections,” a statement from his office said on Tuesday.

Source: Nam News Network

South African President Ramaphosa arrives in Ethiopia for AU meeting

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has arrived in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, to attend the 36th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Assembly of Heads of State and Government set to be held on Feb 18-19.Ramaphosa is accompanied by…

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has arrived in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, to attend the 36th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Assembly of Heads of State and Government set to be held on Feb 18-19.

Ramaphosa is accompanied by International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Naledi Pandor; Presidency Minister, Mondli Gungubele; Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana; Health Minister Joe Phaahla; Trade and Industry and Competition Minister, Ebrahim Patel and Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Thabang Makwetla.

According to the South African Presidency, Ramaphosa in his capacity as the Chair of the AU PSC, will Saturday chair a meeting to discuss the conflict in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

“On 18 – 19 February 2023, during the Summit, President Ramaphosa and Chair of the AU PSC, will present the Report on the State of Peace and Security on the African Continent. South Africa is currently the chair of the AU PSC for February 2023.

“In his capacity as the AU Champion on Covid-19, the President will also present the Report on the AU Response to COVID-19 in Africa to the Assembly. The focus of the Report will be on concrete actions undertaken to contain the spread of the pandemic on the Continent,” the Presidency said.

Ramaphosa is also expected to deliver the Progress Report on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Infrastructure Championing Initiative.

The 36th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government will convene under the theme: “Acceleration of AfCFTA Implementation”.

It is expected that the Assembly will take stock of the progress made thus far in the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) following the start of trading on Jan 1, 2021.

African Heads of State and Government are expected to reaffirm their commitment to the full implementation of the AfCFTA and the significance of accelerating the finalisation of outstanding issues – including, the Rules of Origin and supporting Protocols.

The Assembly will also consider a myriad of thematic issues such as the report on the activities of the Peace and Security Council (AU PSC) and the state of peace and security in Africa.

Further issues to be looked at include the election of the new Bureau of the AU Assembly for the year 2023; the AU Institutional Reform; appointments to various organs of the Union as well as reports of the leaders on specific thematic issues.

The current Chair of the African Union, President of the Republic of Senegal, Macky Sall, will present the annual report of the chairperson as well as a report on global governance matters wherein the proposal for the AU to become a member of The Group of Twenty (G20) will be considered by the Heads of State and Government.

Sall will also be handing over the chairship of the AU to the Island State of Comoros.

“South Africa’s participation is crucial to influence the strategic direction of the deliberations on some of the above-mentioned matters during the Summit, as well as the outcomes document in the form of the Assembly Decisions,” the Presidency said.

Source: Nam News Network