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Compiled by Nicholas Zaal

Digital Journalist

Daily news update: Koko’s exclusive interview with The Citizen, pupils burnt at school initiation, and economists discuss the repo rate

Here’s your morning news update: An easy-to-read selection of our top stories.

In today’s news, former Ekom CEO Matshela Koko has a tell-all interview with The Citizen, pupils at a school in the Free State face disciplinary action after allegedly burning fellow learners during initiation, and economists weigh in on the unchanged repo rate.

We also look at hackers threatening to release all South Africans’ financial data, the minister of employment and labour threatening legal action after being accused of corruption, a report on the state of hospitals as evidence the NHI may fail, new hijacking scams, a R3.7bn SAA looting spree and Thriston Lawrence taking the lead on the first day of the Joburg Open.

News today: 24 November

A power read: Koko on NPA’s failures, the Guptas and the bank closure ‘hate crime’

“Even if the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) were given 100 years to investigate me, they would come out with nothing.”

Ex-Eskom CEO Matshela Koko. (Photo by Gallo Images / Sowetan / Esa Alexander)

These were the words of former Eskom CEO Matshela Koko during a tell-all interview with The Citizen this week, after his R2.1-billion corruption case was struck off the court’s roll.

Read more here

13 grade 8 pupils burnt during initiation ritual at a Free State school

Four grade 10 pupils from Christiaan De Wet Combined School in the Free State are facing disciplinary action after allegedly burning 13 grade 8 pupils during an initiation ritual this month.

bullying incident free state school
Junior pupils are being bullied, intimidated and forcefully burned with hot objects on their arms. Picture: iStock

The incident sparked outrage following a social media post showing fresh and old burn marks on the arms of some pupils.

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Unchanged repo rate welcomed

Economists and banks have welcomed the decision to leave the repo rate unchanged at 8.25%, saying it provides a bit of stability and lift consumers’ holiday spirits after a tough year.

unchanged repo rate
Image: iStock

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the South African Reserve Bank (Sarb) unanimously decided to keep the repo rate unchanged at 8.25% during its November meeting, despite headline inflation verging on the upper end of the Sarb’s target band.

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Hackers threaten to leak every South African’s private financial data in R1.1 billion ransom

Hackers have threatened to leak every South African’s private financial data unless two of the country’s largest consumer credit reporting agencies, TransUnion and Experian pay a sum of R1.1 billion in ransom.

For illustration purposes. Created by Cheryl Kahla using Midjourney

TransUnion and Experian, may have been hit by a fresh data cybercrime attack, which could expose South Africans financial and personal data.

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Pistorius lawyer eyes ‘immediate release’ if parole granted

Lawyers for Oscar Pistorius said on Wednesday they hope the former South African Paralympic champion who was convicted of murdering his girlfriend a decade ago will be released immediately if granted parole later this week.

Oscar Pistorius
Oscar Pistorius during his murder trial at the Pretoria High Court on July 8, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / The Times /Alon Skuy)

Pistorius (37) will appear before a parole board at a correctional centre outside Pretoria where he is currently detained on Friday.

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Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi said he will be filing court papers to set aside the R5 billion jobs deal between the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and Thuja Capital.

Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi. Photo: Gallo Images / Foto24 / Deaan Vivier

Nxesi briefed the public and the media on the latest processes and actions that he has taken to set the agreement aside after allegations by the Thuja Capital’s CEO Mthunzi Mdwaba.

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‘Hospitals of horror’ report proof ‘NHI is doomed to fail’ – FF+

A 532-page report containing “countless tales of inhumane treatment and negligence” at public healthcare institutions, was released by the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) on Wednesday.

state hospitals FF Plus report
The FF+ released a damning report about alleged human rights abuses at state hospitals on Wednesday. Photo: iStock

The Horrors of State and Provincial Hospitals in South Africa report paints a grim picture of alleged human rights abuses, an utter decline in service delivery and infrastructure, “as well as staff incompetence and an indifferent attitude towards the plight and suffering of patients”.

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Baby girl found alive in maize meal bag abandoned on railway line

The Belfast police in Mpumalanga are trying to trace down the mother of a baby girl, who was dumped on a railway line last week.

A baby girl was recovered in a maize meal bag which was dumped on the railway line at Belfast on Thursday 16 November 2023. Picture: Saps

On Thursday last week, a baby girl was recovered in a maize meal bag that was dumped on the railway line in Dalmanuta, Belfast.

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‘The Schoolgirl’ and ‘The Lady’: New hijacking scams target motorists at petrol station [Watch]

Crafty criminals have concocted two new elaborate scams aimed at targeting unsuspecting South African motorists at petrol stations.

petrol station hijacking scams
South Africans motorists have been urged to be on high alert for two new petrol station hijacking scams. Photo: Michel Bega

The concerning rise in these scams is in addition to various new sophisticated hijacking trends, including bank app kidnappings, used by crime syndicates.

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Illegal mining: Tipper truck driver and operator nabbed by police at dump

Police in Limpopo have arrested two illegal miners, a tipper truck driver and an operator, at Wintervelt (Mahlakwena) dumping site.

The confiscated truck confiscated by police related to illegal mining.
Police arrested two suspected related to illegal mining. Picture: Saps

Law enforcement officers and private security swooped on the area this week and found a group of people participating in illegal mining activities. Once spotted, the miners ran in all directions.

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‘Tip of iceberg’: Investigation shows ANC cadres go on R3.7bn SAA looting spree

South African Airways (SAA) was the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for several board members, staff and suppliers.

‘Tip of iceberg’: Investigation shows ANC cadres go on R3.7bn SAA looting spree
‘Tip of iceberg’: Investigation shows ANC cadres go on R3.7bn SAA looting spree. Picture: Michel Bega

Before business rescue saved the airline from total implosion, financial irregularities amounting to more than R3.7 billion were clocked up.

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Hawks arrested more South Africans than foreign nationals in second quarter

The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) arrested 801 suspects nationally between July and September, head Lieutenant-General Godfrey Lebeya said on Thursday.

Of the 791 Hawks arrests, 570 were South Africans
Hawks National Head, Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya. Photo: Screengrab from briefing

Of the 801 suspects, 791 were natural persons, while 10 were entities.

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Sour grapes? Mrs SA First Princess, Pearl Nikolic, steps down 6 days after pageant crowning

A mere six days after the new Mrs South Africa was crowned at the Theatre of Marcellus, Emperors Palace in Kempton Park, one of her princesses has resigned from her role.

vMrs SA First Princess, Pearl Nikolic, steps down 6 days after pageant crowning
Picture: Instagram @mrs_south_africa

33-year-old Tshego Gaelae was crowned as the new Mrs South Africa on Friday 17 November. Skeem Saam actress, Pearl Nikolic, 31, took the first runner-up spot, while 47-year-old entrepreneur, Noeline Rajbally, from Durban was announced as the second runner-up.

Read more here

A recent study has revealed that Queen Elizabeth II remains the most talked about royal, with more Google searches, TikTok views, Instagram hashtags, and articles written combined than any other royal.

Queen Eliza-Royal News
A recent study has revealed that the late Queen Elizabeth remains the most influential royal. (Photo by Stefan Wermuth – WPA Pool /Getty Images)

In research conducted by GetInsta, which analysed global Google searches, TikTok views, Instagram hashtags, and articles of numerous British royals to identify who is the most influential, the late monarch whose demise came last September, came out tops.

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Thriston Lawrence cooks in Joburg heat to lead at Houghton

Just days after finishing tied fifth in the DP World Tour final in Dubai last Sunday, South Africa’s Thriston Lawrence continued his good form with a scintillating course record first round of 62, eight-under-par, at the 2023 Joburg Open at Houghton on Thursday.

Thriston Lawrence
Thriston Lawrence leads the Joburg after round one. Picture: Luke Walker/Getty Images

The tournament is the opener for the 2024 DP World Tour season and is co-sanctioned with the Sunshine Tour.

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On Thembinkosi Lorch: Pirates should hang their heads in shame

Orlando Pirates finally suspended Thembinkosi Lorch on Wednesday, not long after the Buccaneers attacker was given a three year suspended sentence for assaulting his ex-girlfriend Fundiswa Mathithibala.

Thembinkosi Lorch - Orlando Pirates
Thembinkosi Lorch has continued playing for Orlando Pirates despite a conviction for assaulting his ex-girlfriend. Picture: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

From Pirates, however, this is too little, way too late, sending an appalling message in a country beset by a plague of violence against women.

Read more here

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