Minister Alan Winde to conduct site visit to fire-damaged wine farms

Media Advisory:

Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, will today (21 January 2016) conduct site visits to some of the province’s agricultural areas which have been hardest hit by the recent and ongoing fires.

Ahead of this site visit, Minister Winde will stop at the Joint Operations Centre (JOC) where fire-fighting efforts are being coordinated. The JOC is stationed at Delvera.

DETAILS:

DATE: 21 January 2016

TIME: 1:30pm

VENUE: Delvera, off the R44

Interpersonal violence the biggest contributor to injury over the festive season

By Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, WC Minister of Health:

Today, the Western Cape Health Minister, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, released injury and incident statistics for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in the Western Cape for the 2015/16 festive season.

“Unfortunately, each year during the holiday period we experience an increase in road fatalities, drowning or near drowning incidents and interpersonal violence related injuries. In order for the Western Cape Government to roll out appropriate strategies to the challenges of the festive season, we need to understand the trends” said Minister Mbombo.

Emergency Medical Personnel play a key role in providing critical services to Western Cape communities every day. They often work under very difficult circumstances especially during the holiday season with an increased number of people visiting the Western Cape.

Annually, our Department of Health strives to accommodate the influx of holiday makers to our province.

We put in place active measures to ensure our EMS are prepared for the peak summer season with a specific focus on:

  • Road traffic injuries on dates where people are travelling on main routes.
  • Drowning and near drowning injuries related incidents to large numbers of people at beaches
  • Interpersonal violence and injuries related to alcohol abuse

We came up with plans to address these risks in order to provide rapid and effective response to all incidents.

I wish to compliment all EMS staff and volunteers for their compassion, dedication and professionalism over this period. We know this work is not easy as you sacrifice time with loved ones to add value to the health service offering in this province.

Between December 2015 and January 2016, EMS dealt with more than 17 500 emergency incidents.

Overall, EMS incidents increased by almost 8% of which 80% of total incidents reported are attributed to interpersonal violence.

The statistics and incident types are reported as follows from the period 4 Dec 2015 – 13 January 2016:

Interpersonal violence incidents

  • A total of 14 656 cases of violence were reported;
  • Assault due to dangerous weapons/other rank highest with 8056 cases reported which accounts for 60% of the total of cases;
  • Physical assault is 2nd highest at 2092 incidents amounting to 15% of cases.

Interpersonal violence was highest in the Metro, totaling 6505 cases; Cape Winelands ranked 2nd highest with 2648 and Eden district 3rd with 2440 cases.

 

Transport related incidents

  • A total of 2341 incidents were reported;
  • Light motor vehicle incidents ranked the highest with a total number of 1256 (close to 50% of all transport injuries);
  • Pedestrian incidents were the 2nd highest at 725 incidents which amounts to 31%.

Transport injuries were reported highest in the Metro totaling 1292 cases, Cape Winelands ranked 2nd with 327, and Eden district 3rd with 302.

 

Water related injuries

  • A total of 177 drowning and/or near drowning incidents were reported
  • 89 were trauma incidents (close to 50%)

Water related injuries were reported highest in the Metro totaling 103 cases and Eden ranked 2nd highest with 26 cases.

 

Heat exposure incidents

  • A total of 64 cases of heat exposure were reported
  • 48 of which were reported trauma cases (75%)

Metro also reported the highest number of heat exposure incidents at 23, Overberg District reported 15 cases and another 15 cases for Eden District.

 

Air Mercy assistance

  • A total of 132 special incidents were reported which required aero medical assistance
  • 129 were transfers between facilities
  • 3 cases needed primary response assistance

 

Sadly, a number of these incidents handled by EMS were fatal and I would like to report as follows:

  • 298 interpersonal violence cases;
  • 140 fatal road crashes
  • 53 fatal drowning incidents
  • No heat exposure incidents were not reported in this period

Injuries forms the biggest portion of the burden of disease and these statistics provide us with insight into where we need to focus our efforts.

Based on the trends over the past festive season it is evident that interpersonal violence is the biggest contributor to injuries. Preliminary research shows that this can be attributed to substance- and alcohol abuse.

That is why the Western Cape Government (WCG) has undertaken to promote safe, healthy and inclusive communities, where citizens take active ownership of their personal safety, wellness and that of their families.

This is encapsulated crisply under our strategic goals as a province. The Departments of Health, Transport and Public Works, Social development, Community Safety and Cultural Affairs and Sport are working together allocating resources, rolling out transversal government projects and focusing particularly on communities at risk.

One of my main goals for 2016 is to encourage the people in the Western Cape to adopt a culture of mutual respect, wellness and high regard for the law. Behavioral change is everyone’s responsibility.

Caught on dashcam: City traffic officer shot on duty

By Donald Grant, WC Minister of Transport and Public Works:

Video is available for viewing here: https://safelyhome.westerncape.gov.za/galleries/crash-witness-5

I should like to join provincial and local traffic and road safety officials in praising the actions of City of Cape Town Traffic Services officer, Nizaam Alexander, following an attack by a would-be firearm robber on the N2 highway near Borcherd’s Quarry late last year.

The incident occurred on the 17th of November 2015. Traffic Officer Alexander had pulled over a vehicle trying to drive around morning rush hour traffic by using the yellow line emergency lane. Traffic Officer Alexander’s dashcam captured the entire incident, including the chilling moment when the would-be robber’s firearm jams, just prior to the attack in which Traffic Officer Alexander was shot once in the back.

Traffic Officer Alexander, who had just been awarded the City’s Departmental Traffic Officer of the Year Award 2015, responded by rolling away from his attacker. Following his training, he made himself as small a target as possible, drew his firearm and returned fire, before pursuing the suspect on foot. The suspect fled towards informal housing adjacent to the freeway, and was able to escape. Traffic Officer Alexander calmly returned to the scene and finished issuing the summons for driving in the yellow line before seeking medical attention. His bullet proof vest prevented serious injury, and he was back on duty soon after the incident.

Traffic Officer Nizaam Alexander’s conduct in this incident exemplifies the professionalism and dedication to duty of our traffic officers from all services. We commend all our devoted traffic officers who place their lives in danger every day to make our roads safer.

International travellers rate Western Cape hotels as world’s best

By Alan Winde, Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities:

Millions of international travellers have selected the Western Cape’s hotels as among the best in the world.

Accommodation establishments across the province have won Tripadvisor’s Travellers Choice Awards.

The list is based on ratings by millions of real travellers. It recognizes the best hotels in over 90 countries.

Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, has congratulated the four establishments in our region which made the list.

Please see winners below:

Blackheath Lodge in Three Anchor Bay was named as one of the Top 25 Hotels for Service. One guest said: “It is the perfect location to explore Cape Town and the surrounding vineyards. The perfect place to enjoy the sun, read, relax, nap or whatever it takes to rejuvenate, all while being pampered.”

2inn1 Kensington in Gardens was selected as one of the world’s Top 25 Small Hotels, with one guest describing it as a “stylish hotel”, with “excellent service”.

Villa Afrikana Guest Suites is also one of the Top 25 Small Hotels. One tourist said the Knysna property offered the “best stay in South Africa”.

The Garden House in Franschhoek was recognised as one of the Top 25 B&B and Inns. Visitors praised the establishment’s hospitality.

Minister Winde said the awards signalled another great year for the Western Cape’s tourism sector.

“We’re still in the middle of our peak tourism season and early indications suggest that several attractions are experiencing an increase in visitor numbers. I commend these hotels for garnering excellent publicity for themselves and for our destination as a whole. The world-class service we offer our visitors is definitely a key factor in repeat visits.”

Mpumalanga’s economy bears the brunt of dodgy land claims

By Bosman Grobler MPL, Spokesperson on Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs:

The DA in Mpumalanga welcomes the court order instructing Rural Development and Land Reform Minister, Gugile Nkwinti, to take back land that was given to a controversial trust and to review the claim.

The validity of the Ndwandwa Community Trust Claim which involved 105 farms worth R51 million in the Badplaas area has been questioned since it was instituted more than 10 years ago. This claim saw farms being transferred to the Trust amid allegations of fake beneficiaries and hugely inflated land prices.

During the time that this land claim was filed, current Mpumalanga Premier, David Mabuza, was the MEC for Agriculture in the province. Although his office has denied his involvement in this land claim, his name continued to come up.

As MEC, Mabuza, should have been able to see the discrepancies with the valuation of the land and prevent the government from being duped into purchasing overpriced land.

It is concerning that over the past few years almost every dodgy land deal that has surfaced in the province has made reference to Premier Mabuza’s involvement.

Corruption within the agriculture and land administration sector has marred the legitimate plight of South Africans to receive their rightful compensation after they were displaced by the apartheid government.

Dodgy land deals are detrimental to the economy of the province and the country because all too often;

  • Land that was productive is left fallow and no longer productive;
  • Agricultural infrastructure gets stripped and sold for its scrap value;
  • Thousands of people who are employed in tourism or agriculture lose their jobs;
  • Opportunities to create employment vanish as planned projects fail.

This once again shows that the current government has little regard for the thousands of skilled people sitting without employment.

By rooting out the seeds of corruption and making meaningful investments in sectors that are known to provide employment for the majority of rural dwellers, the DA can alleviate poverty and create much needed jobs.

The DA calls for the release of the report on the forensic investigation into this land deal that was instituted by former Land Affairs Minister, Thoko Didiza. We believe that this report holds the key to exposing those involved in the scam and ensuring that they take accountability for their actions.

Strong growth for DA in Camdeboo by-election

By Athol Trollip (MPL), Eastern Cape Provincial Leader:

Yesterday the DA showed strong growth in the Ward 5 by-election in Kroonvale, Graaff-Reinet.  DA candidate Glenda Mackelina retained the ward for the DA.

What was extremely significant was that the DA’s share of the vote went up 9%.  In 2014, that DA polled 50.17% and this time, we polled 59.17%.

In 2014, the DA won a total of 38% of the vote in the Camdeboo municipality.  With a growth of 9% added to this figure, it shows that we are firmly on track to win the new supersized municipality, consisting of Baviaans, Ikwezi and Camdeboo.

This result will come as a shock to the ANC as their attempts to gerrymander municipal boundaries to win this municipality has simply blown up in their faces.  ANC provincial spokesman Mlibo Qoboshiyane, who boasted throughout Tuesday that the ANC would win all the municipalities in the Eastern Cape, must be choking on his words.

Last night I participated in a spontaneous DA cavalcade and I was deeply moved to see people pouring out of their homes, lining the street and cheering at about 23:30 at night.  The people can feel the change that is coming.

A swing like this is also extremely significant for the Nelson Mandela Metropole, the Kouga- and Koukamma municipalities.  The DA’s growth is firmly on track and this result will build momentum towards the elections later on this year.

Letter to the Editor – Well done iSimangaliso!

By Ann McDonnell, MPL, DA KZN Spokesperson for Economic Development, Tourism, Conservation and Environmental Affairs:

The tragedy of the severe drought in South Africa has brought home to all of us the vital importance of looking after our scarce resources.

This has been amplified by the many media articles which have laid bare the devastating loss of livestock and crops along with queues of people waiting for water tankers.

Yesterday’s Mercury article – by award-winning environmental journalist Tony Carnie – on the sad state of Lake St Lucia is one such example.

So it was very good to also read that the management of iSimangaliso Wetland Park, one KZN’s precious Heritage sites, has managed to raise funds to reverse the negative effects of the practices of the past.

This proactive approach must be applauded and held up as an example of true will in the face of adversity.

Well done iSimangaliso!

Rape at South Rand Hospital

By Jack Bloom MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health:

I am horrified by the alleged rape of an epileptic patient by a psychiatric patient at the South Rand Hospital in south Johannesburg.

According to a report, the patient was allegedly raped by a psychiatric patient while she was asleep, waiting for a bed to open in the ward. The psychiatric patient had been discharged earlier in the afternoon and was waiting for his family to collect him from the hospital.

There has been a dramatic increase of psychiatric patients at the hospital due to the temporary closure of the casualty unit at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital which is undergoing renovations. I warned about the problems this caused when I visited the hospital in July last year.

Patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, suicidal tendencies and drug addictions are admitted for 72 hours for observation and treatment.

These psychiatric patients should be kept separate from ordinary patients in a dedicated ward with tighter security.

We need a full investigation of this incident and better security to minimize the risk from psychiatric patients who can be unpredictable and violent.

DA wants officials involved in “fax and copygate” scandal to be held accountable

By Isak Fritz MPL, DA Northern Cape Provincial Spokesperson of Health:

The DA wants to know whether senior officials from the Northern Cape Health Department are finally going to be held accountable for millions of rands worth of legal fees incurred due to improper contract management.

This comes after judgment was delivered last week in part two of the Bestor CC court saga, whereby the Health Department was found liable for damages and costs, as a result of the improper termination of a maintenance contract for fax and copy machines.

The maintenance contract, entered into in March 2007 by then senior manager, Ms Lindiwe Nyathi Mokotoso, who was the Acting Head of Department at the time, was terminated by then Chief Executive Officer of the department, Dr Dion Theys, in November 2009 by way of a letter.   Theys conceded in court proceedings that the department could not have terminated the maintenance agreement on the grounds stated.

Bestor CC is now claiming an amount of R33 million from the department. This includes damages suffered, interest accrued on the damages, as well as R3,2 million in costs for legal fees incurred by the plaintiff. The letter dealing with the quantum is believed to have been delivered to the department this week. The department has 30 days to respond on how they intend paying the plaintiff, failing which the matter will be presented in the motion court.

In the first of the three cases that Bestor CC instituted against the department, they successfully sued the Health Department for R710 000 for failing to return 148 fax and copier machines to the company.

The third part of the legal saga is set to go to court in May this year and sees Bestor CC claiming over R7,2 million from the department for malicious damage of property.

The DA is of the view that not only is poor contract management by the Health Department to blame, but so too the acquisition of poor legal advice by the department. If the department had settled out of court when the claims were first instituted against them, they could have spared over R15 million worth of interest accrued, not to mention the additional legal fees incurred by them. Good sense however failed them and they underestimated Bestor CC’s persistence and the wrath of the law.

The DA has today written to Health MEC, Mac Jack, reiterating our call to institute an internal investigation into the “fax and copygate scandal”, including probing officials involved and legal advice sought by the department.

Aside from the monies owed to Bestor CC, the DA also wants to know what the department has already paid, and what it owes to the private legal team from Kimberley and Pretoria which has been representing them in the ongoing saga. If Bestor CC paid R3,2 million on legal fees, what then is the extent of the bill that the department must foot?

In as far back as 2010, the DA referred the matter then dubbed the “fax and copygate scandal” to the Auditor General, the Public Protector and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts for further investigation. We also voiced our concerns that the then pending court cases would cost the taxpayer millions. Disturbingly, we were ignored and now the taxpayer has to foot the growing bill for the department’s incompetence.

The DA believes that responsible senior managers and officials within the health department must be held accountable for wasting millions of rands on legal fees that could rather have been spent on procuring emergency vehicles and appointing additional health professionals.

The DA will continue to follow this matter with keen interest. We will not rest until all our questions pertaining to this gross mismanagement of departmental funds have been properly answered.

Another victory for DA in Rustenburg

By Herman Groenewald (MP), DA Constituency Leader, Rustenburg:

The Democratic Alliance has shown remarkable and extraordinary growth in the by-election held in Rustenburg, North West yesterday 20 January 2016.

The DA secured a landslide win at the polls with a majority of 89.57% in Ward 16, while the ANC only managed to claim 10.43% of the votes.

This DA win will see Cheryl Phillips installed as a new DA ward councillor in the Rustenburg Municipality.

These results are a clear sign that the DA continues to grow in key battleground municipalities and wards ahead of the 2016 elections.

The stage is set for Election 2016 where the DA will make significant inroads into the ANC’s support.

In November last year the DA won Ward 17 in Rustenburg with an 86.5% majority.

The DA thanks every single one of our supporters who contributed to our successful results.