2015: The year things fell in SA

2015-12-31 10:12
Rhodes statue removed from UCT. (Jerusha Raath, News24)

Rhodes statue removed from UCT. (Jerusha Raath, News24)

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Cape Town – In 2015, many things fell in South Africa: statues, student fees, the police commissioner, finance ministers, and the rand. The Springboks fell short of winning the Rugby World Cup. But, despite calls from various quarters, President Jacob Zuma did not fall.

Here are some of the year's highlights:

February 12: Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MPs interrupt Zuma's State of the Nation speech by calling for him to repay some of the R246m spent on his private Nkandla home, chanting "pay back the money". They are forcibly removed from the National Assembly.

March 31: The Congress of SA Trade Unions announces it has sacked Zwelinzima Vavi as general secretary for bringing the union federation into disrepute and sowing division among its affiliates.

April 9: The statue of Cecil John Rhodes is removed from the University of Cape Town (UCT) campus following student protests. It followed calls for transformation in academia, and for the removal of reminders of South Africa's colonial-era past from public spaces.

Other statues around the country are subsequently vandalised, including one of Paul Kruger in Church Square, Pretoria.

April 12: Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille announces she is stepping down.

May 10: Mmusi Maimane is elected the DA's first black leader at its federal congress.

May 28: Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko announces that Zuma does not have to repay any of the money spent on the Nkandla upgrades.

June 14: The High Court in Pretoria hands down an order instructing government to prevent Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir from leaving South Africa while he is in Johannesburg for a two-day AU summit. The case is brought by the SA Litigation Centre.

June 15: The High Court in Pretoria orders government to arrest Bashir and says its failure to do so is unconstitutional. Bashir leaves via Air Force Base Waterkloof before the order is handed down. The court gives government a week to submit affidavits explaining when and how he left the country.

June 18: Zuma announces Shaun Abrahams as new National Prosecuting Authority head, replacing Mxolisi Nxasana.

June 25: Zuma releases the Farlam Commission of Inquiry's report into the Marikana shooting. It absolves senior government leaders of all responsibility, but recommends an inquiry into police commissioner Riah Phiyega's fitness to hold office.

July 16: The Passenger Rail Agency of SA announces it has axed its CEO Lucky Montana.

July 25: The EFF celebrates its second birthday.

August 19: Justice Minister Michael Masutha says Oscar Pistorius will not be released from jail on Friday, August 21. He says the parole board acted prematurely when it decided in June that he could be released into correctional supervision before he had served out 10 months (one sixth) of his five-year sentence for killing Reeva Steenkamp.

September 2: The DA fails to have Zuma impeached over his government's handling of Bashir’s visit to South Africa.

October 11: The African National Congress (ANC) announces that its national general council had resolved that South Africa should withdraw from the International Criminal Court.

October 14: A pedestrian bridge under construction collapses on the M1 highway at Grayston Drive. Two people are killed and 21 injured.

- National police commissioner Riah Phiyega is suspended.

- Wits University students start protests against a 10.5% fee increase, which rapidly spreads to other universities.

October 21: Protesting UCT students enter the parliamentary precinct during Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene's mid-term budget speech. Police fire stun grenades and several students are arrested.  

October 23: Zuma announces that there will be no university fee increases for 2016.


Students celebrate (Kelly Anderson, News24)

October 24: The Springboks lose 20-18 to the All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup semi-final, escalating calls for coach Heyneke Meyer to go.

December 2: The Constitutional Court dismisses AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo's appeal against his 12-year jail sentence for assault, arson, and kidnapping. He is granted bail until December 30, pending a bid to have his trial reopened.

December 3: The Supreme Court of Appeal upholds the State's appeal against Oscar Pistorius's culpable homicide conviction. He is found guilty of murder. He subsequently announces he will take his case to the Constitutional Court.  

December 9: Zuma replaces Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene with ANC MP and former Merafong mayor David van Rooyen. Following a public outcry and the rand plummeting to R16 to the US dollar, he is replaced by former finance minister Pravin Gordhan on December 13, leaving Van Rooyen with the dubious honour of the shortest term served by a SA finance minister.

December 22: The DA suspends the expulsion of MP Dianne Kohler Barnard until 2019, following her appeal. She was expelled from the party in October after she shared a Facebook post from journalist Paul Kirk in which he called for the return of apartheid-era prime minister PW Botha.

December 30:  AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo hands himself over at the Mthatha Correctional Centre minutes before midnight to start serving his 12-year sentence. Hours before his deadline to turn himself in, the Eastern Cape High Court dismissed yet another of his applications to have his bail extended.

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