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Survé blames ‘dark forces’ for office raid

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Dr Iqbal Survé, chair of Independent Media and head of investment firm Sekunjalo, has hit back after a raid by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) on his Waterfront offices on Wednesday morning.

In a statement issued on Wednesday evening, Survé said FSCA officials were accompanied by the police, and described them as “intruders”, adding that the day’s events were “classic intimidation tactics” by an “increasingly desperate cohort of politically entrenched cronies whose pockets are intrinsically linked to wholesale looting, and corruption of state coffers”.

“There are dark forces at play,” he added.

He has also alleged a conflict of interest on the part of the FSCA, which he says is linked to the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) through its caretaking commissioner, Abel Sithole.

State-owned asset manager the PIC invested R4.3bn into AYO prior to its listing on the JSE, in a controversial move that dominated headlines during the PIC inquiry. At the time of investment, AYO’s assets were reportedly worth considerably less.

The PIC has since attempted to recoup its investment.

In his statement, Survé alleged a conflict of interest on the part of the FSCA, saying: “[T]he caretaking FSCA commissioner is Abel Sithole, who is also the principal officer of the GEPF, whose funds the PIC invests. 

“I do solemnly believe this is also an underhanded attempt to obtain information relating to our legal case against the PIC and the GEPF,” he said.

‘Classic intimidation tactics’

Survé earlier alleged the raid was an attempt “to get information we have on Pravin Gordhan and the president (Cyril Ramaphosa) and which my reporters are about to publish this weekend”.

News of the raid was first published on the Business Report website, the financial news division of Independent Media.

The FSCA confirmed the raid, saying it was investigating allegations of market manipulation, but did not specify which company it was investigating, Fin24 reported. In May, the watchdog said it had launched an investigation into transactions in AYO Technology Solutions, in which Survé holds an indirect stake.

In addition to claiming the raid was an attempt to gain sensitive legal information, Survé also claimed it was designed to frame him in a negative light.

Referring to the PIC’s earlier court bid to recoup its AYO investment, in line with a compliance notice from the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission, he said: “This was declared null and void by a court of law but served to continue misrepresenting my truth and that of these aforementioned companies via the media.

“The FSCA’s raid is a similar tactic designed to focus yet more negative attention on companies that I am associated to.”

‘We will shed light on the darkness’

According to Survé, the officers were tasked with confiscating computers and hard drives “on the pretext” of obtaining evidence of irregular trading relating to AYO. Survé said he could not speak for AYO as he is not on the board or management team.

“I can speak for Sekunjalo and categorically confirm that there is nothing untoward in our business practices or ethics. ” he said.

“Had the FSCA asked, we would have been more than willing to hand over the requested documents.”  

He added that there was a “concerted and organised effort” to personally discredit him and organisations in which he had a vested interest “in an effort to control [him]”.

“There are dark forces at play in South Africa and I want to make it categorically and abundantly clear to all who read this, that I will not be intimidated, Independent Media will not be silenced. 

“We will continue to shed light on the darkness,” he added.  

A spokesperson for Pravin Gordhan, as well as the FSCA, could not be reached for comment at the time of publication. 

Compiled by Marelise van der Merwe and Carin Smith. Additional reporting by Helena Wasserman and Jan Cronje

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Google launches new wireless Pixel Buds

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Google has launched its new Pixel Buds wireless earphones.

The Pixel Buds come in a simple, round form factor with a stabilizer arc that tucks into the ear – ensuring that it fits comfortably and does not fall out when you are exercising.

They use a hybrid design that allows you to listen to high-quality sound without losing track of what is happening around you.

The Pixel Buds achieve this by “gently sealing” the ear to isolate louder outside sounds, ensuring that you remain safe while on the go.

These earbuds also use Adaptive Sound technology which dynamically adjusts the volume of your audio as you move into louder or softer environments – ensuring you won’t need to adjust the volume depending on where you are.

Each Pixel Bud has two microphones embedded within it which will focus on your voice while minimising environmental sounds – a feature which Google said “extends to the most challenging environments.”

Google also said that the Pixel Buds use long-range Bluetooth connectivity to allow users to stay connected to their device as far as three rooms away when indoors, or the distance of a football field if you are outside.

They can pair with devices that use Bluetooth 4.0 or later, including laptops, tablets, and devices that use either iOS or Android 6.0 or later.

Google’s Pixel Buds will be available in 2020 in the US in four colours – Clearly White, Oh So Orange, Quite Mint, and Almost Black – and will cost $179.

No South African pricing or availability information was available at the time of publishing.

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Now read: Google launches new Pixelbook Go laptop

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South Africa: Looking Beyond the Grade 9 Certificate Debate – the Three Streams

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The proposed Grade 9 certificate, with the associated three – academic, technical vocational and technical – streams, will not solve problems of young people dropping out and not being able to access the labour market. But it will create additional resource pressures on the system, first to produce an exam and certificate, and second by duplicating what the TVET colleges are already struggling to do.

Many critics assume a Grade 9 Certificate will push the most marginal learners out of the system even earlier than they are exiting at the moment. As Janet Jobson and Kristal Duncan point out, the official government position is that the General Education Certificate will help learners to identify education and training options that would best suit their inclinations. They also argue that a national Grade 9 assessment will provide valuable information about how much young people have actually learnt. National assessment at the end of Grade 9 could offer an earlier opportunity to hold learners, teachers, schools, and the system accountable.

What has been less well covered in the public debate is the critical relationship between the proposed new certificate and the roll-out of what the National Department of Basic Education now refers to…

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Tour de France: Froome’s bid for fifth title may conclude on La Planche des Belles Filles time trial

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Chris Froome sat next to Ineos team-mate and defending champion Egan Bernal as the 2020 Tour de France route was unveiled

Briton Chris Froome’s bid for a fifth Tour de France title will conclude with a mountain time trial at La Planche des Belles Filles before the traditional final sprint stage in Paris on 19 July.

Riders will tackle 29 mountains on the brutal 3,470km (2,156-mile) 21-stage route, which starts in Nice on 27 June.

“It will be physically challenging throughout,” said race director Christian Prudhomme.

The tour starts a week early with the Tokyo Olympics starting on 24 July.

The route, which features five summit finishes – one of them being the time trial at La Planche des Belles Filles – is likely to favour the climbers.

“Even the so called flat stages will be very tough for the pure sprinters,” Prudhomme added.

“There are traps everywhere along the route.”

A route for the climbers

The 2020 Tour boasts one of the most challenging opening weeks in recent editions of the race.

Two stages start and finish in Nice, the second of which involves almost 3,700 metres of climbing over the Col de la Colmiane, Col de Turini and Col d’Eze.

The race then heads south west through the Massif Central, with summit finishes on Orcieres-Merlette on stage five and Mont Aigoual.

Colombian champion Egan Bernal and his Ineos team-mates Chris Froome will expect to challenge, as will France’s Thibaut Pinot.

A thigh injury saw Pinot, 29, withdraw on a dramatic stage 19 to Tignes on the 2019 Tour while in fifth place.

The Groupama-FDJ team leader had hoped to become the first French winner of the Yellow Jersey for 34 years.

Froome was unable to compete after a high-speed crash before stage four of the Criterium du Dauphine in June.

The 34-year-old is only just about to return to cycling after suffering a catalogue of injuries which included a fractured right femur, a fractured elbow and fractured ribs.

Julian Alaphilippe, who led the 2019 edition of the Tour for 14 stages before finishing fifth overall will also be buoyed by the omission of both Alpe d’Huez and Mont Ventoux next summer and by a route containing only two stages in the Pyrenees.

Stage 20, a 36km individual time-trial to La Planche des Belles Filles ends with a five-mile uphill finish

The race against the clock on the 36km (22-mile) stage 20 to La Planche des Belles Filles, with the final 8km (five miles) all uphill, could prove decisive though.

Stage six of the 2019 Tour finished on the mountain with Dylan Teuns taking the stage victory as Alaphilippe lost the yellow jersey, temporarily, to Italy’s Giulio Ciccone, while 2018 Tour winner Geraint Thomas put in an impressive late attack.

Froome won stage seven on the mountain 2012, while playing the role of a super-domestique as Bradley Wiggins became the first Briton to win the Tour.

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