/ 11 November 1997

‘South Americans trained apartheid torturers’


UNITED Nations agencies and the Red Cross on Tuesday launched the first stages of an emergency relief operation to bring aid to an estimated 200 000 people at risk from drowning and disease after the heaviest flooding in Somalia in living memory. The UN has appealed for funds for the operation, estimated to cost $6,4-million. Aid sources say that access to flooded areas is a major problem, requiring use of boats and helicopters. Thousands of displaced people are at risk from drowning, waterborne diseases and attacks by wild animals, including crocodiles, snakes and hyenas.


ARCHBISHOP Desmond Tutu finally got his long-delayed Freedom of Cape Town on Monday. City councillors met to vote on the issue for the third time, this time in public, watched by a large media contingent. Asked for a show of hands, every single councillor voted in favour of Tutu, thus rescuing the city from an embarrassing impasse. On the two prior votes, National Party councillors are believed to have vetoed Tutu in retaliation for the truth commission’s tough line on the former National Party government.


THE Reverend Charity Nompumelelo Majiza has been appointed general secretary of the South African Council of Churches, the council announced on Tuesday. She succeeds Dr Brigalia Bam. Based in Australia, Majiza will return to South Africa at the end of January and will take up the post in February.


SOUTH African anti-racism organisation We Care Trust has been awarded the 1997 French Republic Award for Human Rights, the French embassy said on Tuesday. The group, which conducts an anti-racist education scheme directed at children aged between 10 and 12, won the R100 000 prize along with other organisations from Colombia, Switzerland, Togo and Ukraine. French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin will present the award during a ceremony to be held in Paris on December 10 — International Human Rights Day.


DIRECTORS of the weapons parastatal Armscor have changed their minds about their their decision not to appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission this week, following a note from the commission reminding them that it has the power to subpoena. Armscor had made a written submission, but the Truth Commission wants to know more about its role in flouting the UN arms embargo.


JOBLESS former Swapo guerrillas have returned to camping out in the gardens of parliament in Windhoek, demanding jobs from the government. The guerrillas, who camped out in parliament a few months ago before being persuaded to leave, returned a fortnight ago. The Red Cross has donated bags of mealie meal and blankets to the men, and the local Roman Catholic Hospital has donated soap and clothes.