More questions than answers

The pardoning of the mercenaries for the aborted coup in Equatorial Guinea raises more questions than answers.

Why now? To what extent was Sir Mark Thatcher involved? And where did the alleged plotting take place?

South Africans Nick du Toit, Sergio Cardoso, Jose Sundays and George Alerson, along with British citizen Simon Mann, had been sentenced to 34 years in prison but were granted presidential pardons on humanitarian grounds on Tuesday this week.

Did South African President Jacob Zuma have a hand in their release? Zuma told reporters this week that President Teodoro Obiang Nguema invoked the name of Nelson Mandela in his decision.

“I’m one of those who has been taught by Mandela that as Africans we must forgive,” Zuma reported Nguema as saying.

Mann has implicated Thatcher and British-Lebanese millionaire Ely Calil, and now Scotland Yard are said to be studying a dossier of evidence supplied by José Olo Obono, the attorney general in charge of Mann’s prosecution.

The South Africans, meanwhile, will not face local criminal charges when they return home

Thatcher didn’t exactly get off scot-free—he paid a fine of several million rand after striking a plea bargain with prosecutors, admitting that he had given one plotter, SA pilot Crause Steyl, $275 000 to buy a helicopter. After first claiming that he thought it was for an air ambulance, Thatcher eventually admitted he had suspected it “might be used for mercenary activity”.

It now remains to be seen whether Mann will come clean about the affair.

South Africa’s Olympic governing body has suspended Athletics South Africa’s Leonard Chuene and the board over the handling of the Caster Semenya saga.

Joost van der Westhuizen
Surprise, surprise. Joost finally admits that he had sex and took drugs with a stripper.
It certainly can’t hurt his book sales.

Most-read stories

October 29 to November 4 2009

1. Joost is Hansie-lite
Yawn. I didn’t see this one coming. Ex-Bok scrumhalf and renowned Cat-lover Joost van der Westhuizen has written a book called Spieelbeeld (in English, Mirrorballs).

2. Shock R7m payout for Mushwana
Controversial departing public protector Lawrence Mushwana has received a golden handshake of nearly R7-million, raising a storm about his ­entitlement to it.

3. Vavi explains why his salary has been doubled
Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi’s salary has doubled to R500 000 a year, the Star reported on Wednesday.

4. About-turn in Semenya saga
The ANC has finally turned against Athletics South Africa and its president Leonard Chuene, accusing Chuene of lying over the Caster Semenya saga.

5. Malema: ‘We cannot feed Jansen to the enemy’
African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) leader Julius Malema has come out in full support of University of the Free State (UFS) vice-chancellor Jonathan Jansen remaining in his position.

6. Selebi trial: Judge Joffe stands firm
Judge Meyer Joffe has declined to recuse himself from hearing the Jackie Selebi corruption trial.

7. Skwatsha denies ‘treasonous’ leak
African National Congress (ANC) Western Cape legislature member Mcebisi Skwatsha has described claims by Premier Helen Zille that he leaked information to the Democratic Alliance (DA) as tantamount to “accusing [him] of treason”.

8. Man accidentally ejects himself from plane
It probably is best not to fiddle with switches or controls when riding in the back seat of an air force plane.

9. Jackie Selebi and Joost: The untold story
It can’t be too long until Jackie Selebi and Glenn Agliotti are referred to as the Joost and Amor of the criminal world, in the same way that the latter couple are yearningly known as the Becks and Posh of South Africa by the poor unfortunate mutts condemned to write about SA celebs.

10. Mugabe takes sharp dig at Tsvangirai
President Robert Mugabe took a sharp dig at his estranged governing partner Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Saturday, but said they were still allies in Zimbabwe’s troubled coalition.

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