The Eyewitness News Breakfast Brief

Eyewitness News previews a selection of the news that you will find on the website today.

Picture: Stephanie Albert/Pixabay

On this morning, the state capture commission says Jacob Zuma’s insistence on appointing Siyabonga Gama as Transnet Group CEO was one of former president Jacob Zuma's first steps towards the capture of the parastatal by the Gupta family. Part two of the commission’s report reveals that when the Transnet top post became vacant in 2009, then Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan and the board struggled to fill the vacancy as Zuma would not relent on his preference for Gama. This is despite being repeatedly told that the former freight rail CEO was unfit for the job as he was facing investigations into serious misconduct, some of which involved dodgy tenders.

The state capture commission has recommended that the law be changed to criminalise the abuse of public power. When it comes to Denel, the commission says there were two main abuses of power. Firstly the constitution of a board of directors was used to achieve results is in direct conflict with the obligations of the Companies Act. Secondly, the suspension of power was allowed to make way for improper purposes at Denel.

Whistleblower, Mosilo Mothepu says she feels vindicated by the second part of the state capture commission report where parts of her testimony are cited. The report, which focuses on Denel and Transnet, was handed over to the Presidency yesterday. Mothepu was employed by Gupta companies Trillian Capital and Regiments Capital during the state capture years.

Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele says the Fusion Centre could fill the gap left by the disbanding of the Scorpions corruption-fighting unit. Gungubele and officials appeared before parliament money watchdog Scopa to tell the committee how far state institutions have processed the recommendations submitted by the SIU. The multi-agency Fusion Centre which includes the country's law enforcement agencies - was set up to help probe priority cases investigated by law enforcement authorities.

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa's board of control says its dealing with inefficiencies and irregularities at PRASA. The Board was appointed in October 2020, tasked with turning the entity around and to put in place controls to stabilize the organization. It briefed the media yesterday.

Eskom is urging the public to reduce the usage of electricity to avoid power cuts. The power utility says since the weekend, there have been numerous generating unit breakdowns at various power stations. Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said this has required Eskom to utilise significant amounts of emergency generation reserves, which under the current constrained system, is difficult to replenish.

The ongoing audit by the Health Department continues to reveal more COVID-19 deaths here on home soil. According to the latest available data, 195 more deaths have been confirmed, however, only 23 of these fatalities occurred over the past 48 hours, meaning the vast majority of these people died sometime before Sunday. We also racked up another 3,085 infections over the latest reporting cycle - it's a positivity rate of 8.8%. On the vaccine front, just over 29.9 million jabs have been administered in the country so far.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande says there has been a sharp increase in the demand for National Student Financial Aid Scheme bursaries this year. Students had from the 2nd November last year to the 21st of January 2022 to apply for NSFAS bursaries. Nzimande says NSFAS has received more than 906,000 applications for the 2022 application period, of which 85% haven’t studied at a public university before. Nzimande also encouraged everyone in the sector to get vaccinated.

The University of Cape Town says it's aware of rape allegations against an SRC member. The member and one other person have been suspended from the council pending an investigation.

The Western Cape government has again come under fire for its handling of sexual abuse allegations against its members. Back in January 2019, a senior official from the province's treasury department was arrested by Cape Town police, after he allegedly raped a 7-year-old boy. The matter has been in out of court, but the accused was never suspended and still retains his position. It's now emerged that the NPA withdrew the case, reportedly because the child was not able to testify. Good secretary-general, Brett Herron, has now written to the Premier, demanding answers around why this case was not treated with the same seriousness as that of suspended MEC Albert Fritz - who's also facing sexual abuse allegations.

Saftu has slammed President Cyril Ramaphosa for failing to stand in solidarity with striking Clover workers. This comes after the union hosted a so-called war-council meeting yesterday, together with COSATU and various other workers' unions. If allowed to continue with planned factory shutdowns and mass retrenchments, some 2000 workers will be left jobless. Several union members believe the treatment of clover workers has declined since the company was bought by an Israeli-led consortium, Milko, in 2019. Secretary-general, Zwelinzima Vavi, says the president has strayed from his commitment towards the struggle of black workers and Palestinian victims.

A fraud case against two associates of the Gupta brothers - who are implicated in the failed Estina Project will resume on the 11th of this month. Yesterday, Kamal Vasram and Saliesh Indurjeeth were granted bail in the Pretoria Regional Court after they were arrested the night before. The National Prosecuting Authority says a probe by SARS and the NPA's Investigating Directorate- into the affairs of the Estina Dairy Project established that Estina submitted customs clearance documents in support of a VAT refund claim. When the customs declaration was scrutinised, it was found that the declared value of over R37,7 million for a so-called 'new' pasteurisation plant was not the true value of the plant.

The KwaZulu-Natal Education Department is working with the health department after pupils ate lollipops which made them sick. About 80 pupils at KwaMaphumulo primary fell ill on Monday. The provincial education department's Muzi Mahlambi says they ate lollipops that caused them to vomit and some complained of stomach cramps and were rushed to hospital. They were treated and discharged.

In international news, African Union Commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat on Tuesday expressed deep concern over the "attempted coup" in Guinea-Bissau, where sustained gunfire was heard near the seat of government in the capital.

US actress Whoopi Goldberg on Tuesday was suspended from the talk show she hosts for two weeks after saying that the Nazi genocide of six million Jews "was not about race."

After music legends Neil Young and Joni Mitchell quit Spotify over a COVID misinformation row, some lesser-known artists have said they simply couldn't afford to leave the world's largest music streamer - despite their concerns.