February was an exceptionally busy news month. From the state of the nation address to the budget speech and everything between.
These are the 10 most read stories in February.
For many years, former spy chief and prisons boss Arthur Fraser claimed to hold a degree from one of the most prestigious higher learning institutions in the world: the University of London. In order to secure top government positions, he would have required the highest security clearance. News24 has since reported that Fraser used fake documents during the dubious vetting process and, once his top-secret clearance was granted, he became State Security Agency (SSA) director-general and Jacob Zuma’s spook aide-de-camp.
Much has been said about men and women who lure their victims on Tinder, only to swindle them out of cash. The topic was thrust into the spotlight with a Netflix Original, The Tinder Swindler. It delves into the actions of convicted Israeli conman Simon Leviev. South Africa has its very own swindler. It’s a case of: “Love me tender,” they all sobbed, “before I knew it, I’d been robbed.”
The wife of Deputy President David Mabuza allegedly benefited from “substantial” sale commissions in questionable land deals in Badplaas, Mpumalanga. This was revealed by attorney Richard Spoor’s evidence to the Pretoria High Court, where nature conservationist Fred Daniel has instituted a R1 billion claim against the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency and various government departments, officials and agencies.
Disgraced former health minister Zweli Mkhize is not taking his dismissal lying down. He is taking his fight from government straight to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s door. He was forced to end his political career after the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) found that he, his family and close associates had improperly benefited from an irregular Covid-19 tender. He now wants to clear his name ahead of the ANC’s elective conference by having the SIU’s findings against him set aside.
This year, President Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address (Sona) earned him praise from even the DA – a political party that doesn’t easily give its opponents a pat on the back. The 20 key announcements include the extension of the Covid-19 relief grant, cutting red tape for businesses and a new small business loan scheme.
Zodwa Wabantu is no stranger to turning heads and setting tongues wagging. This time, it was over an unpaid Uber bill.
From allegedly setting Parliament alight to breaching the country’s SSA headquarters, the homeless are taking the blame for the government’s failure to secure its national key points. A homeless person allegedly gained unauthorised access to the Musanda headquarters of the SSA in Tshwane – and President Ramaphosa’s administration kept the shocking incident under wraps for weeks.
National police commissioner Khehla Sitole is gone. City Press reported that he would either have to resign or subject himself to the indignity of an inquiry into his fitness to hold office. During his Sona, Ramaphosa revealed that there would be “leadership changes” within the security agencies. The hunt for Sitole’s and Cele’s heads is the result of the riots in July, which exposed police incompetence and ill-preparedness in the face of looting and general unrest that claimed lives and severely damaged the economy.
The interview process for the appointment of a new chief justice was fraught with agendas. Hugh Corder writes that the chairperson leading the interviews ought to, at least, have been more alert and active in ruling certain questions and lines of attack out of order, on the grounds of lack of respect and ensuring ethical process.
We are more likely to hear about a Lotto winner who splashed the cash and is back to living in poverty. But there are some who manage to make the most of their winnings. Let us call him Mr Progress to protect his identity. From the R58 million he won, Mr Progress took R18 million to settle all his debts and to start a property business. His investments continue to earn him money.