News catch-up: What you missed while mourning Mandela

As the world focused its attention on mourning the death of former president Nelson Mandela, listened to heads of state honouring the iconic leader at his memorial, and gasped at bogus sign language interpreter Thamsanqa Jantjie, some stories might have slipped under the radar:

South Africa

Musician Brickz granted R50 000 bail
Kwaito singer Sipho Charles Ndlovu, known commonly as Brickz, was granted bail of R50 000, reported Sowetan.

According to the report, his appeal took place on December 6 at the high court in Johannesburg.

"The condition of his bail is that he must not interfere with state witnesses. Brickz is charged with the rape of a 17-year-old girl," stated the report.

Photo by Gallo

Krejcir bail application denied
The Germiston Regional Court turned down Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir's bail application, IOL reported on December 14.

"Krejcir and his co-accused, Desai Luphondo and Hawks members Samule Modise 'Saddam' Maruping and Machache George Jeff Nthoroane, face charges of kidnapping, assault and attempted murder," said the report.

Sanral denies fabricating e-tag sales figures
Last week,  the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) rejected claims by the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) that it was fabricating e-tag sales figures.

"The e-tag sales figures we have released are accurate," Sanral said on December 12.

"As a state-owned entity, everything we do is subject to audit processes by both the auditor general and our external auditors. We have no reason to 'fabricate' these figures as Outa alleges."

Outa chairperson Wayne Duvenage said on Wednesday research showed that only 15% of freeway users were tagged.

Outa called on Sanral to come clean and provide the actual e-tag count passing under the toll gantries.

Serial rapist found guilty
A police constable was found guilty of raping 16 women, the Star newspaper reported on Friday, December 13.

On Thursday the high court in Johannesburg convicted Constable Mokolo Molekoa on 35 of the 46 charges for which he was tried.

The newspaper reported these included 16 of the 17 rape charges, nine kidnapping charges, seven of robbery, two of attempted robbery, and one of theft.

Molekoa was a serial rapist that operated between March 2011 and June last year, offering women lifts in his BMW, then taking them to deserted areas to rape them.


Frelimo releases election shortlist
Mozambique's ruling Frelimo party on December 12 released a shortlist of three candidates ahead of next year's elections to succeed president Armando Guebuza.

Party heavyweights narrowed the choice down to a trio of staunch Guebuza loyalists: Prime Minister Alberto Vaquina, Agriculture Minister José ?Pacheco and Defence Minister Felipe Nhusse.

It is unclear when it will make its final decision. Presidential polls are due in October 2014. 

Kagame re-elected head of Rwanda's ruling party
Rwandan President Paul Kagame was re-elected to head the country's ruling party by an overwhelming majority of 99.5%, a party spokesperson said Monday.

Kagame garnered 1 948 votes out of a total of 1 957 cast by Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) delegates during a party congress on Sunday, said spokesperson Aimable Bayingana.

"It really was an overwhelming victory," he said.

Kagame's sole opponent Abdul Karim Harerimana, a lawmaker at the East African Legislative Assembly, got just nine votes.


Discipline could've sparked Colorado shooting
It has been reported that the teenage gunman who badly wounded a fellow student on December 13 then shot himself at a suburban Denver high school apparently acted in retaliation for discipline he received months ago from the school's librarian and debate club coach, the county sheriff said on Saturday.

The pump-action shotgun and multiple rounds of ammunition used by the suspect, Karl Pierson, in the shooting were legally purchased from local retailers, Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said. He said Pierson bought the shotgun on December 6 and the ammunition the morning of the shooting.

According to Robinson, the librarian imposed some unspecified disciplinary action in September against Pierson "related to the debate team" for verbal threats other students reported that Pierson had directed at the faculty member.

Photo by Reuters

But the sheriff said he did not believe the punishment was "overly harsh," and he denied Pierson had been suspended or ejected from the debate team, as a number of students have said in accounts to Reuters and other media outlets.

Romania minister resigns after Aids remark
Romania's Culture Minister Daniel Barbu stepped down on December 12 after sparking outrage over comments about Aids funding, the prime minister's office said.

Barbu earlier last week said he "could not help wondering how many Shakespeare festivals could be organised if the [anti-Aids] programme did not exist or if its budget was halved".

Senate speaker Crin Antonescu on Wednesday said the only conscientious step for Barbu was to resign.

Barbu later apologised for his comments.

Decriminalising homosexuality on India's cards
India's law minister said on December 12 that the government has not abandoned efforts to make homosexuality legal, and that the country must take swift action to challenge a Supreme Court decision banning same-sex relations.

The minister, Kapil Sibal, said he was for decriminalising homosexuality, hinting that the government could seek a judicial review of a Supreme Court decision or that Parliament could enact a new law.

"We need to take quick and firm action," he told reporters, noting that millions of people in India do not want homosexuality to be a criminal offence.

The Supreme Court ruled on December 11 that only lawmakers could change a colonial-era law that bans same-sex relations and makes them punishable by up to a decade in prison.

The ruling dealt a blow to gay activists who have fought for years for the chance to live openly in India's deeply conservative society.


Khloé? Kardashian ends marriage
After months of speculation, Khloé? Kardashian is ending her four-year marriage to Lamar Odom.

The reality TV star filed for divorce on December 13 in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, citing irreconcilable differences.

The filing comes days after Odom pleaded no contest on Monday to a misdemeanour drunken driving charge.

The 34-year-old athlete was arrested last August after his Mercedes-Benz was seen weaving on an LA freeway.

He seemed to address rumours of personal problems when he tweeted a cryptic message in September, saying he had been "Seeing the Snakes."


Pirates return to winning ways
Visiting Orlando Pirates scored three unanswered first half goals to ease past Platinum Stars 3-0 in a Premiership clash at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Rustenburg on Monday.

It was the first time the Pirates were able to beat the Stars this season, having lost both previous encounters, first in the final of the MTN8, then again in the final of the Telkom Knockout cup tournament.

Pirates broke the deadlock in the fifth minute through Thandani Ntshumayelo, before Oupa Manyisa doubled the advantage in the 18th minute, both from assists by Kermit Erasmus.

Men's hockey: SA lose to Argentina
The South Africa men's hockey team lost 3-2 to South American champions Argentina in the third Test match at Queensmead in Durban on Saturday.

The score was 1-1 at half-time.

The win gives world number 11 Argentina an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the five-Test series in KwaZulu-Natal, but the African champions made them work very hard for victory.  – Sapa, AFP, Sapa-AP, Reuters

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Sapa Ap
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