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Delays in ex-Bryanston High coach’s abuse case taking toll on victim

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This is the eighth time the case has been postponed since January last year.

JOHANNESBURG – Protection group Women and Men Against Child Abuse is calling for progress in the case involving a former Bryanston High School coach accused of sexually assaulting pupils after the matter was once again delayed.

The accused appeared in the Alexandra Specialised Sexual Offences Court on Tuesday.

He’s accused of sexually harassing a 17-year-old pupil last year.

Three other pupils have since come forward, saying they too were sexually abused by the man between 2017 and 2018.

The former coach, who cannot be named until he has pleaded, will appear in the Alexandra Magistrates’ Court again in April.

This is the eighth time the case has been postponed since January last year.

Women and Men Against Child Abuse’s Ngaa Murombedzi said the delays in the case had left the pupil with little confidence in the judicial system.

“We have to respect the judiciary and the processes of the judiciary. However, we are calling for victims to also take centre stage. Why is that the accused can go a third route to try and evade facing his day in court.”

Murombedzi said the matter had taken a financial and emotional strain on the child and her family.

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Upbeat Harvey Weinstein at Manhattan hospital, a day after sex crimes conviction

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – Former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was in good spirits on Tuesday, as he accepted visitors while under police guard at a Manhattan hospital, his lawyer said, despite having been convicted a day earlier of sexual assault and rape.

Weinstein had been expected to move to New York City’s notorious Rikers Island jail complex following the verdict, but was admitted late Monday night to Bellevue Hospital a few miles away.

His lawyer Arthur Aidala told reporters after meeting with Weinstein that his 67-year-old client “looked like he was in good shape” but was “not a picture of health by any stretch of the imagination,” and doctors would decide when to release him.

“He was upbeat,” though “obviously he prefers being in his own house,” Aidala said.

Media reports said Weinstein had experienced chest pain or heart palpitations before being admitted to Bellevue.

Aidala said Weinstein was “somewhat flabbergasted by the verdict” and “cautiously optimistic” about his eventual appeal. “I almost feel emboldened by Mr. Weinstein’s spirits and his desire to continue to fight these charges,” Aidala added.

Weinstein was convicted of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi in 2006, and raping former aspiring actress Jessica Mann in 2013.

Jurors acquitted Weinstein on the two top charges, predatory sexual assault, which carried a maximum life sentence.

The guilty verdict was a milestone for the #MeToo movement, which Weinstein’s case fueled in late 2017 and inspired women to accuse hundreds of powerful men in entertainment, business, media, politics and other fields of sexual misconduct.

Weinstein faces up to 29 years in prison, and is scheduled to be sentenced on March 11.

Aidala said he may seek an earlier sentencing date so Weinstein can appeal sooner. New York law requires a defendant to be sentenced first, he said.

He quoted Weinstein as saying after the verdict: “I’m innocent. I’m innocent. How can this happen in America?”

More than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct. He has denied the accusations, and said any sexual encounters were consensual.

Actress Rose McGowan, who accused Weinstein of raping her, called the conviction “a huge step forward in our collective healing.”

HEALTH ISSUES

Weinstein was a key force behind acclaimed films such as “The English Patient” and “Shakespeare in Love,” which both won Oscars for best picture.

New York police officers stand outside Bellevue Hospital Center where film producer Harvey Weinstein is allegedly being held in Manhattan, February 25, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

He had been free on bail during the trial, and eaten breakfast with his lawyers at a Four Seasons hotel on Monday morning.

Weinstein lost that freedom when the trial judge, Justice James Burke of Manhattan state supreme court, ordered that he be jailed following the conviction, and court officers led him away in handcuffs.

Aidala said Weinstein was not being handcuffed at Bellevue.

Weinstein was admitted to a unit that provides medical care for inmates, after media reports said he had experienced chest pain or heart palpitations.

A spokesman said earlier on Tuesday that Weinstein suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure.

Weinstein appeared frail and used a walker during the trial.

The Rikers Island jail, whose main building went up in 1932, has long been plagued by violence and neglect, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed in 2017 to close it within a decade.

Jail officials could place Weinstein in a private or semi-private cell to help ensure his safety.

He would likely wear a tan jumpsuit, which indicates that he had yet to be sentenced, according to Malissa Allen, a mental health counselor who has treated Rikers inmates.

Slideshow (4 Images)

Weinstein also faces several felony charges in Los Angeles in connection with his alleged sexual assaults against two women in 2013.

Dozens of women have also filed civil lawsuits against Weinstein. His former film studio, Weinstein Co, filed for bankruptcy in March 2018 and is being liquidated.

Reporting by Gabriella Borter, Maria Caspani, Karen Freifeld, Brendan Pierson and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder, Marguerita Choy and Grant McCool

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JUST IN | Govt reviews pay of public servants, Cosatu threatens declaration of war

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(iStock)

Government has, the night before Finance Minister Tito Mboweni is due to deliver his 2020 Budget speech, proposed a review of the public service wage agreement for the year, saying it cannot afford the last leg of the three-year agreement.

This is according to a statement issued on Tuesday night by the Public Servants Association, which represents more than 230 000 state employees. The PSA said government approached labour in the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council with a request to review salary increases for the year, “thereby denying public servants already meagre cost-of- living adjustments”.

“Considering the current economic situation that is aggravated by rising electricity costs, petrol price increases, and a rise in the cost of most commodities, public servants simply cannot afford to sacrifice on a salary increase,” the PSA said.

The Central Executive Committee of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) slammed the proposal, saying it viewed the action as a “direct attack on collective bargaining which will never be accepted”.

If the review were “smuggled” into Wednesday’s Budget speech, it added, the CEC would “regard it as a declaration of war and there will be a parting of ways with government going forward”.

“This irresponsible and blatant act of provocation will seriously destabilise the public service and we warn the government to abandon this idea and give workers what is due to them on 1 April 2020,” it said in a statement. “If the government attempts to smuggle this review in tomorrow’s budget speech, the CEC will regard it as a declaration of war and there will be parting of ways with government going forward.”

According to the statement, the proposal would see Clause 3.3 of the existing wage agreement amended. In terms of the clause in the original wage agreement dated back to 2018, staff would see increases of at projected CPI, projected CPI + 0.5%, or projected CPI + 1%, depending on their job grade.

The public sector wage bill has long been a subject of debate. National Treasury has said that growth in the public sector wage bill “needs to be addressed” to cut SA’s growing debt burden. Yet an overhaul of public sector wages has proven elusive over the years.

While Treasury has promised ratings agencies that government is serious about lowering the wage bill, unions say that at 35% of public spending the wage bill is not excessive, and bigger savings could be achieved elsewhere.

Fin24 will add responses from Treasury and the Department of Public Service and Administration, should they wish to comment, as the story is updated.

This is a developing story.

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PRASA administrator was appointed by the book, says Mbalula

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Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula told Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Transport that the appointment of an administrator at the Passenger Rail Agency South Africa was compliant with legislation regulating the management of state-owned entities.

In the department’s first meeting with the portfolio committee since Mpondo’s appointment, Mbalula told the committee that the decision to dissolve PRASA’s board and place the entity under administration was not made lightly, but was in the interest of improving its position.

“The appointment of the Administrator followed due legal processes, as he was first appointed in terms of the Public Service Act and subsequently seconded to PRASA as Acting Group CEO,” said Mbalula.

Mbalula said the Public Finance Management Act allowed for Treasury, in exceptional circumstances, to instruct that another functionary of a public entity should be the accounting authority for that entity.

“The National Treasury has since granted approval in terms of Section 49 (3) of PFMA that the Group CEO of PRASA or a person Acting in that position, be the accounting authority for a period of twelve months,” Mbalula said.

Mbalula said PRASA had informed the office of the Auditor General of this approval, in line with the Public Finance Management Act.

Meanwhile, concerns were also raised over PRASA’s ability to service commuters, and that this, in turn, posed safety risks to customers.

Transport director general Alec Moemi said too few of the entity’s fleet passenger carriers were in use by commuters and that those in operation were not enough to meet the ever-growing demand. 

“About 38% of [the] fleet [is available] as at the ten-year spend for use. This risks passenger safety and life if you put them in service. The safest thing to do is to decommission them and place them in a yard and as a result, you get less trains in service and the occurrence of people on top of moving trains,” said Moemi.

Moemi told the committee that there were not enough coaches available to service the demand and, as a result, there had been increases in fatalities.

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Disney Blocks John Oliver’s New Episode Critical of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi

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Disney-owned Hotstar, India’s largest on-demand video streaming service with more than 300 million users, has blocked the newest episode of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” that was critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. From a report: The move has angered many of its customers ahead of Disney+’s launch in one of the world’s largest entertainment markets next month. In the episode, aired hours before U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to India, Oliver talked about some of the questionable policies enforced by the ruling government in India and recent protests against “controversial figure” Modi’s citizenship measures. The 19-minute news recap and commentary sourced its information from credible news outlets. The episode is available to stream in India through HBO’s official channel on YouTube, where it has garnered more than 4 million views. Hotstar is the exclusive syndicating partner of HBO, Showtime and ABC in India.

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All-share index softer after mixed session

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The all-share index eventually closed weaker on Tuesday
following a mixed session in which the local bourse swung between gains and
losses.

Most global markets remained in the red due to the negative
sentiment which carried over from Monday’s slump. With fears over the spread
coronavirus still rife, there is a tentative approach for riskier assets such
as stocks.

The Japanese Nikkei resumed trading today and tumbled 3.34%,
while the Shanghai Composite Index lost a more modest 0.22%. The Hang Seng
inched up 0.27%. Losses were recorded across all the major European bourses
however the losses were more modest in comparison to the prior session.

Locally, market participants shift their attention to South
Africa’s budget speech which is slated for Wednesday at 14:00. Of more
significance will be how Moody’s Investors Services rates South Africa’s
sovereign rating given that it recently downgraded its GDP forecast.

The rand is still trading softer due to the stronger US
dollar, and in today’s session it slipped to a session low of R15.24/$. At 17:00,
the rand was trading 0.41% softer at R15.19.

On the JSE, Curro Holdings [JSE:COH] tumbled following the
release of its full-year results which showed a decline in earnings. Stadio
Holdings [JSE:SDO] also came under significant pressure as it lost 13.33% to
close at R1.56. The share closed 7.78% to close at R12.45. SA Corporate Real
Estate [JSE:SAC] fell 8.37% to close at R2.08, while Fortress REIT [JSE:FFB]
lost 8.22% to end the day at R5.25.

Sibanye Stillwater [JSE:SSW] fell as low as R37.51 before it
settled 5.67% lower at R39.60. Packaging specialist Nampak [JSE:NPK] dropped
6.62% to close at R4.23, while KAP Industrial Holdings [JSE:KAP] fell 5.98% to
close at R3.30.

Shoprite [JSE:SHP] had a volatile session which saw the
share reach a session high of R117.00 before it fell to close 2.17% lower at
R103.60. Losses were also recorded for index heavyweights such as Vodacom
[JSE:VOD] which dropped 1.28% to close at R114.64, and Reinet Investments [JSE:RNI]
which closed at R330.72 after losing 1.13%.

Steinhoff International [JSE:SNH] close amongst the day’s
biggest gainers after the share surged 7.45% to close at R1.73. UK focused
listed property firm, Hammerson [JSE:HMN] rose 5.58% to close at R44.85, while
its sector peer Intu Properties [JSE:ITU] added 4.48% to close at R2.80.

Index giant Naspers [JSE:NPN] gained 2.17% to close at R2 606.96,
while diversified miner Anglo American [JSE:AGL] rose 1.75% to close at
R387.14. Kumba Iron Ore [JSE:KIO] managed to post gains of 0.95% to close at
R331.12, while Richemont [JSE:CFR] gained a modest 0.49% to close at R108.01.

Thanks to gains in some of the index giants the JSE Top-40
index eked out gains of 0.04%, however the broader JSE All-Share index shed
0.13%. The Industrials index managed to post gains of 0.45%, but the financials
and resources indices retreated 1.08% and 0.27% respectively.

Brent crude traded mostly flat on the day and it was
recorded trading 0.38% softer at $55.56/barrel just after the JSE close.

At 17:00, palladium was up 2.33% at $2689.32/Oz, platinum
was down 0.85% at $955.12/Oz, and gold was 0.62% softer at $1651.53/Oz.

JSE winners and losers, February 25, 2020.

*Musa Makoni is a trading specialist at Purple Group.

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