This web page(s) regularly focuses on the leading Free State (South Africa) newspaper – Free State News – the first regular newspaper to be orchestrated fully by black people in the Free State province. The paper has been published on a weekly basis since 1999. Regular items like “Feature of the week” have appeared here over the years.
Free State News crew
Maki Mohapi aka “Madam Maki” “H.C”
051 447 1655
MAY 27 – JUNE 2 2011 edition
FEATURE OF THE WEEK: “Jagersfontein to be revamped” Front page. By Bongani Tshabalala
JAGERSFONTEIN TO BE REVAMPED
…Premier Magashule in fine fettle again
By Bongani Tshabalala
Recently De Beers Diamond Mining Company in conjunction with Super Kolong Consortium launched the Mining Community Trust in the Xhariep District in the small town of Jagersfontein – which lies 110km south west of Free State capital City. The oldest mining town in South Africa which started operating in 1888 closed after 83 years of operation.
Premier Magashule graced the formal occasion with panache. He was accompanied by the Mayor of Jagersfontein, Mr. Ntwanambi, Bernie De Beer an Engineer and Entrepreneur from Vaal in Gauteng Province, Director of De Beers mine Mr.Sandile Ngcobo, Government officials and Entrepreneurs of Free State. Super-Kolong had impressively met all the criteria set by De Beers, including technical competence, available funding to develop the new processing operation, BEE equity participation, employment creation and significant community based initiative.
Sakhile Ngcobo, Director of De Beers Diamond mine in an interview with Free State News explained that the Premier of Free State Mr. “Ace” Magashule asked them when the mines would come into operation (in line with President Jacob Zuma declaring this year as the year of creating jobs); “We consulted a company that does the transaction for us and they started orchestrating the process. Now with dynamic public interest participation, financial capability that will build plant running for 20-years, with a developmental drive capability. It was not an easy road for us six months ago, because there were 40 companies bidding for the tender until we got the right 100% BEE,” said Ngcobo.
Free State News gathered that the mine stopped operating in 1971. “It has been 40 years, as there was no technology to dig up mine dumps and those people didn’t know they have left so many diamonds here,” He went down memory lane. “The Jagersfontein mine operated for 100 years, leaving more than 13-million tons of mineral resources in tailings, with an average grade of 12, 8 carats per hundred tons.” The tender was won by BEE Company Super- Kolong Consortium to the tune of an undisclosed amount six months ago; and De Beers had invested R500 million in the mining of the dumps, and it’s a project that will run for 20 years. He clarified further: “It will be distributed in this manner in the preparation of the mine in construction. 120 people are employed and when the mine is in full operation it will employ 800 – 1000 local people, boosting fresh unemployment,”
The Itumeleng Trust will see the community hold a 10 % equity interest in the assets of the Super Kolong Consortium. The beneficiaries of the Itumeleng Trust will be nominated from the community. According to Chris Kimber of Super Kolong, R60 million will be invested in the Trust and from this amount, 10 million will be afforded to the community members to attain shares; R20 million is earmarked for community projects, and R30 million will accrue interest over time and contribute to the future financial position of the Trust.
Meanwhile, Premier Magashule stressed that the Government will make Jagersfontein “vibrate; we shall wake it up, boosting it with R9 million projects that will bring the local economy to its feet again.” The new Jagersfontein will bristle with wonderful activities and innovations with Projects like the opening of computer center which will be launched and opened soon, Bricklaying project, Sewing project that will make police uniforms, Traffic officers uniforms, T-Shirts, Overall Factories, School uniforms etc. “We will propose to the Municipality to give us the land in order to build a place teeming with all these new activities,” added Magashule.
More jobs have to be created through involvement of other companies for sustainable projects. Recreational facilities will be established. De Beers stated that the Jagersfontein community would be the sole beneficiary of a soon-to-be established community trust, which would hold a 10% equity interest in the consortium’s assets. The Super-Kolong consortium has also made a commitment to facilitate skills’ transfer to the members of the community with a view to ultimately sourcing skilled labor from Jagersfontein, noted De Beers.
MAY 20 – MAY 26 2011 edition
FEATURE OF THE WEEK: “Exhilarating taste of freedom” Page 2. By Bongani Tshabalala
EXHILARATING TASTE OF FREEDOM!
…donations flow in for released duo
By Bongani Tshabalala
It was a day of heightened emotions and celebration when the last two political prisoners marked their release in fulsome fashion! Fusi Mofokeng and Tshokolo Mokoena basked in the exhilarating ambience of the day.
The formal celebration at Bohlokong Stadium was graced by the MEC for Police Roads and Transport in Free State, Mr. Thabo Manyoni, the MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development Mosebenzi Zwane, Mayor of Dihlabeng Local Municipality Mr. Tjhetane Mofokeng, and his twin Tjheta Mofokeng (who is a member of NCOP in Parliament); and Parliament Chairperson Of Petitions, Jomo Nyambi.
The duo - Fusi Mofokeng and Tshokolo Mokoena – spent 19 excruciating years behind bars for a crime they apparently didn’t commit! They were born and bred in Bethlehem. Hence the co-incident Freedom Day celebrations at Bohlokong Stadium witnessed a large turn-out of people.
Despite the chilly conditions on the day, the community of Bethlehem and Bohlokong basked in the occasion. Mofokeng and Mokoena were arrested on 2 April 1992 after a policeman was killed and another injured, and they were found guilty under the doctrine of “common purpose”, despite maintaining their innocence, claiming they were not even involved. The now dead man who testified against them in court later admitted that he had been pressured by the security police and was promised a cash bribe; but nevertheless their life sentence stood. The MK activists who had killed the policeman were given amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission but their life sentence still stood because they were not actually guilty of the crime, so they did not qualify for amnesty.
The released duo has stacks and pile of documents where they requested assistance from the Human Rights Commission, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, and Former President Thabo Mbeki’s government etc; but alas, they were turned down by everyone over the years. Until now
At long last, Dihlabeng Activist Foundation which is headed by Harold Swan and Richard Mokoena spearheaded the case with pertinent Petitions around Dihlabeng with a target of 10 000 signatures. Laudably, the eventual signatures turned out to be 25 000! This was up till the time Harold Swan and Richard Mokoena brought the case to Wits Law project under Jeremy Gordon.
The Wits Law Project documented the case and fought it on a legal basis as well as through the powerful glare of the media. Parliament’s NCOP then became involved, with Jomo Nyambi visiting the men in jail initially. Thereafter, he took it further with the Petitions Committee. A salient excerpt from the latter’s report: “The Committee met to welcome and receive Petitioners Mr. Fusi Mofokeng and Mr. Tshokolo Mokoena. Both individuals had been convicted in 1993 for crimes, on the basis of the doctrine of common purpose, and had served nineteen years of their life sentences, despite maintaining their innocence throughout. They had eventually petitioned Parliament after they had realized that, in the face of this maintaining of innocence; they were not eligible for pardons under the Truth and Reconciliation Commission process, nor for Presidential pardons in the normal course…”
Free State News gathered further that members had previously, after considering these matters, resolved that the Minister and Director-General of Correctional Services be asked to attend a meeting of the Committee, at which the matter could be fully discussed, and the views of the Committee clearly stated, so that the Minister could convey fully informed recommendations to the President. The Constitutional Court eventually heard the matter.
Both men were released, after their petition was accepted, on 2 April 2011, after exactly 19 years of incarceration! There were certain conditions attached to their release. Although the petitioners had been released, there were other issues that the Committee needed to deal with, in terms of assisting the petitioners.
Mr. Fusi Mofokeng emotionally expressed his sincere thanks to the chairperson and committee who played a critical role in ensuring their eventual release. On his part, Mr. Tshokolo Mokoena said he was very grateful to each and every person who had assisted them in securing their release. “It has not been an easy journey to travel, and imprisonment for 19 years is not a child’s play,” said a sober but relieved Mokoena.
Mr. Mofokeng was 25 years old, with a standard 7 education, when he was imprisoned. During his incarceration he achieved his Standard 10 Certificate plus a higher certificate, from UNISA, as an Adult Basic Education and Training Tutor. Mr. Mokoena, who was 31 years old at the time of his arrest, and is now 50 years old, has achieved an N4 Certificate of Training. Neither registered a single offence during the 19 years they spent under correctional services. Mr. Mokoena was held in a maximum security facility for 16 solid years. He was eventually removed from there because Mr. Mofokeng had been able to write to the authorities and put their case forward.
MEC Thabo Manyoni donated R10 000 to both gentlemen; whilst the ANC Women’s League donated R13 600 to them, It was stressed that the recipients were leaving prison with no money, no home, no family members, nothing! Dihlabeng Mayor, Tjhetane Mofokeng, and Dihlabeng Activist Foundation also vowed to do all they could to help the duo find their feet and steep them in normalcy.
Touchingly, Mokoena and Mofokeng told the world that they were “not bitter” despite their terrible ordeal. “We forgive those policemen involved in our jailing. We even encourage the crowd to go to the polls and vote for ANC,”
MAY 13 – MAY 19 2011 edition
FEATURE OF THE WEEK: “ANC Women’s League resplendent at Dihlabeng” Front page. By Bongani Tshabalala
ANC WOMEN’S LEAGUE RESPLENDENT AT DIHLABENG!
BY BONGANI TSHABALALA
It was a job well done in Bethlehem in the Eastern Free State; in the Municipality of Dihlabeng when female top honchos of the ANC made moving visits to child-headed houses, children and poor families, to identify needs in order to alleviate their suffering. Additionally, they also handed out food parcels. Workers’ day was being marked in unforgettable fashion!
Among the cavalcade was the MEC of Social Development and Provincial Leader of ANC Women’s league together with Provincial Secretary of ANC Women’s League Me Olly Mlamleli; as well as social workers and pastors’ wives from different Churches in Bethlehem. They started their journey from Extension 1 until they went to AME Church of Rev Maphisa in Losmy cherry location, where there was a formal ceremony of accepting 300 new members into ANC Women’s league from different wards in Dihlabeng Local Municipality.
The church was full to capacity and comrades were excited, singing rousing freedom songs non-stop. Me Olly Mlamleli, the Program director, and later on Dihlabeng Mayor Mr Tjhetane Mofokeng graced the occasion as well as Thabo Mofutsanyana Regional Secretary Polediso Motsoeneng, Harold Swan Regional Secretary of MKMVA accompanied by the recently released ANC political prisoners, Tshokolo Mokoena and Fusi Mofokeng. Thabo Mofutsanyana Regional Secretary of ANC Women’s League, Me Mosupa touched on the issue of being united and teaching the newly recruited comrades who are going to be new members that “as a person you work for ANC and not to please certain individuals”
Before MEC Ntombela took the podium, Me Olly Mlamleli asked Mr Polediso Motsoeneng to orchestrate the message of support to the Women’s league. Motsoeneng did the honours admirably, going down memory lane and applauding the great deeds of the likes of Me Lillian Ngoyi who stood against all odds with her bravery and worked for the ANC and the people of this country. He acknowledged the strength of the women.
Me Ntombela also rebuked the issue of internecine in-fighting, exhorting “comrades to stop pouring petrol on fire between comrades as they cause division in the organization, These people are the ones who brought ANC into our lives, even encouraging us as parents to fight for our children’s future and our freedom. So let’s stand together!” She said that there must be acknowledgement of the works done by women in the town, and councilors must be ready to lend a willing ear and listen to the people,”
Also resplendent at the occasion – in tow with the proliferating women - the MEC wished them lots of luck before she started dressing new members with blouses of ANC Women’s League.
Candles were lit as a symbol of bright future in front of them. Teboho and friends made the crowd to stand on their toes whilst he sang some of his latest songs from his album. It was a riveting occasion!
With Kgang Abel Motheane
Mine Boy is one of the most powerful pieces of fiction ever penned on the South African (apartheid) past. Peter Abrahams, a “coloured” in those days wrote the book and introduced the horrors of apartheid to the world.
Mine Boy was also one of the first novels published by a “black” (using the term loosely) African writer. It was actually published many years before Chinua Achebe’s Things fall apart (1958). But Mine Boy was (is) a very impressive work too.
Young black South Africans will do well to read this book and see how life was in those days, some sixty to seventy years ago; the life of the black populace when discrimination was at its height; a period when the blacks did not have access to things like electricity; when small stoves were used by virtually everybody, and cheap home made beer served for drinks.
But it was not all darkness then. The author brilliantly shows that despite their oppression, black people still somehow embraced, and enjoyed life in their own ways; they enjoyed the weekends, men and women courted each other with wonderful dances and conversation.
Mine Boy focuses on the story of the initially simple man Xuma who goes on to work at the mines, become a “Mine Boy” and most importantly be conscientized into fighting for the struggles of his (Black) people. This book is worth reading again and again…
MAY 6 – MAY 12 2011 edition
FEATURE OF THE WEEK: “Qabathe promises better life in wake of Tatane demise” Front page. By Bongani Tshabalala
QABATHE PROMISES BETTER LIFE IN WAKE OF TATANE DEMISE
By Bongani Tshabalala
The imbroglio continues over the actions and repercussion of the eight policemen involved in the alleged assault and death of Sello Andries Tatane. This was pursuant to a service delivery protest march which took place outside the Municipal offices in Ficksburg recently. Tatane’s funeral was an exceedingly sombre one at the weekend.
It was a moving funeral, graced by National Freedom Party Leader (NFP), Zanele ka Maqwaza Msibi; Cope President Mosiuoa Lekota; DA MP Wilmot James; MEC for Sports Arts and Culture, Dan Khothule, among others. Also present was the dynamic MEC for COGTA and Deputy Secretary of ANC in the Free State, Mamiki Qabathe.
Speaking at the funeral last Saturday, the ANC Free State provincial Secretary Sibongile Besani addressed the crowd of more than 1 000 mourners who attended the Megheleng Stadium under the pertinent marquee tent.
He assured the people that the ANC will provide better life for the people in the area. “The death of Tatane has given us a salutary order to bring poor service delivery to an elevated standard, and not let our people wallow in dissatisfaction,” a calm Besani said.
Mme Qabathe condemned the burning of council buildings by youth during the protest that erupted after Tatane’s death. She went the extra mile for the community when she announced that her Department will carry all the costs of rebuilding the Library, for one; “as it is our children’s future at stake here…I also call on religious leaders to bring peace and stability in this town in their intercessions. We promise a better life for all, as that is our mission,”
Tatane’s sister, Seipati, nipped in the bud the efforts of those she perceived as wanting to use Tatane’s funeral as an opportunity for electioneering. It appeared that various political parties tried to unfurl banners and chant slogans during the proceedings. “Please do not turn Tatane’s funeral into a political spectacle,” she said. “Understand our pain and loss,” Meanwhile Mr. Lekota called for the eradication of the bucket system in Meqheleng, and for better service delivery in general.
Mothusi Lepheana of the SAHRC in Free State described Tatane’s death as a “waste”, saying the Commission would monitor the investigation into Tatane’s death every step of the way. “We shall take legal steps to help the family to preserve Tatane’s dignity,” he said. “The Commission is in discussion with the Tatane family as regards the possibility of bringing a civil lawsuit against those liable for the violation of his rights and ultimate death,”
Molefi Nonyane, the man who famously held Tatane, with consternation etched on his face after he had been shot - a photo that has now gone around the world - told the mourners: “The late Tatane was spiritually ill and perturbed due to poor service delivery. In his heart he was troubled because of the problems here, but his body was healthy,”
Tatane was laid to rest at Ficksburg cemetery. Hundreds of mourners dressed in T – shirts bearing Tatane’s photograph braved the rain, singing lustily as they led the procession to the cemetery which lies on the northern outskirts of the town. And the tears came cascading down...