Friday, October 26, 2012

Joburg Becoming City of Ruins

Friday Oct 26, 2012 
Joburg becoming city of ruins as historic properties fall into disrepair
There is hope, and despair, for some of the finest heritage buildings in Johannesburg's inner city. Four that have raised concern are the Drill Hall, the Rissik Street Post Office, the Marshall Street Barracks and the MOTH Hall.

These days the historic Drill Hall in Joubert Park is surrounded by illegal businesses.

The most concerning of all is the Drill Hall in Noord Street, which was proudly refurbished and restored at a cost of R10 million 10 years ago as an iconic building steeped in history. But it has since been hijacked by people purporting to be caretakers and who are collecting rent.

The heritage building is now partially vandalised, completely neglected, dirty, and surrounded by illegal businesses such as mechanics and street traders. Illegal adverts and vagrants are everywhere. There is no security or caretaker.

Its history dates from 1904 when it became headquarters of the Transvaal Volunteers, South African soldiers who fought alongside the British in the Anglo-Boer War in 1899 to 1902.

It is also known for the Treason Trial in which 156 anti-apartheid activists, Nelson Mandela among them, were charged with high treason.

The DA in Joburg has expressed concern that the Johannesburg Property Company (JPC) is allowing this, and other heritage buildings, to go to rack and ruin.

"Less than 10 years ago, the city spent all this money refurbishing and restoring the historical building. We cannot believe that a heritage site building with such enormous history for the city is completely neglected by the JPC," said DA Joburg councillor Bongani Nkwanyana.

It was not clear which local government department or municipal entity should take responsibility for such neglect, he said.

The City of Joburg says the Drill Hall is a provincial government property that is being transferred to the city under the auspices of the JPC. All renovations and improvements will be a joint effort by the province and council, said City of Joburg spokesman Nthatisi Modingoane.

The Marshall Street Barracks was damaged in a fire in 2002.

A good news heritage story is that finally there is hope for the Marshall Street Barracks.
Anchen Dreyer, DA spokeswoman on public works, says R233.5m over a three-year period has been allocated for the rehabilitation of the dilapidated old barracks.

"While an undisclosed amount has been allocated in the current financial year for designs and documentation for rehabilitation works, an amount of R53.1m has been allocated in the next financial year for consultants and a contractor for the commencement of rehabilitation works on the building," said Dreyer.

"This emerged from a written reply by the minister for public works, Thulas Nxesi, to a question I sent to his department in Parliament."

The barracks have been vacant and vandalised for more than a decade. In 2002, the damaged building was almost gutted by a fire.

While it is legally protected by the National Heritage Resources Act of 1999, the national Department of Public Works has been negligent and has allowed the building to deteriorate to such an extent that is now practically in ruins, Dreyer said.

"The building is an eyesore in an area that has otherwise been refurbished by the private sector; with many previously abandoned buildings now being put to good use.

"It is only by highlighting the issue and applying pressure on the minister that the DA managed to get a commitment that this once beautiful building will be restored to its previous condition."

Some renovations have taken place at the Rissik Street post office.

There is also good news for the Rissik Street post office.

According to historian Flo Bird, an agreement on the fate of the post office is in the final stages of negotiations and will be decided this week.

Bird said she was told by the council that the agreement would then be signed and the development for Rissik Street would be under way.

The development lease agreement would be signed on completion of negotiations and site handed over to the developer.

There would be a six-month wait to obtain necessary approvals. Construction would take a maximum of 18 months after that.

"This is disappointing as we had hoped the agreement would be signed by the end of this month. They have been discussing it since July. We have to hope the deal won't fall through because time is money for property developers, even if not for the [council]," she said. The building has been empty since 1996. In 2002, the clock hands and bells were stolen from the tower.

Its brass light fittings, switches and wooden balustrades have been stripped.

The building, built in 1897, has been badly damaged by three fires in recent years, but renovated.

The old MOTH Hall, a derelict three-storey building, stands in the shadow of the monument for fallen soldiers on Remembrance Square, just off Loveday Street.

Once a monument to glory, today it has about 700 destitute occupants. Conditions are shocking. The building was supposed to be used as a temporary shelter for desperate people streaming into the city in search of food and shelter, and to relieve pressure on the Central Methodist Church. The building is governmentowned.

The City of Joburg did not respond to individual queries about the Rissik Street Post Office, the Marshall Street Barracks or the MOTH Hall.

Up to R30bn in State Money Stolen

David Lewis

25 October 2012
Governments are failing to tackle entrenched violence and corruption: International crime conference considers success factors for addressing crime in Africa

Leading international researchers are today examining why government policies on crime are failing and what could be done to affect improvements. They are speaking at the third annual international crime reduction conference, hosted by the Crime and Justice Programme of the Institute for Security Studies. Some of the key themes arising concern the government's tendency to provide simplistic solutions to the factors that lead to violence and corruption. For example, by relying on the police as the primary response to emerging challenges of crime and violence. This approach simply does not work in most contexts and can lead to other destructive consequences such as increased police brutality and repression.

Paul-Simon Handy, Deputy Executive Director at Institute for Security Studies, opened, saying: "Violence, crime and corruption have the potential to severely undermine a country's development. To develop good criminal justice policy we need to better understand crime by exploring the complicated social, cultural, economic and political factors that drive or hinder it."

"The work presented comes at a time where we, particularly in South Africa, need to reflect on the issues which potentially threaten our democracy, our freedom and our future." These include increased levels of public violence as a desperate response of communities who have had enough of corruption and resulting service delivery failure by the state. Sadly, as the Marikana tragedy highlights, those with political power were quick to deploy state violence to respond to a problem that needed understanding, compassion and negotiation.
Dr Anthony Collins, University of Kwazulu Natal said that whilst we may criticise violence, SA is a fundamentally violent society, which sees violence as an acceptable way of solving problems. Research has shown that 90% of people support hitting children; 80% support the death penalty; 74% think violence is appropriate in interpersonal relationships; and 60% of young adults think coercion is appropriate in sexual encounters. We only dislike violence when we are the victims but think it is appropriate to use against others. The failure to draw the link between acceptable and unacceptable violence is behind our policy failure in addressing violence in society.

Solutions start with children, and ensuring they become healthy, non-violent adults. Professor Mark Tomlinson, Stellenbosch University presented research showing that home based mother-infant intervention using community health workers significantly improved mothers interaction with their children, and their children were therefore less likely to experience insecurity in their attachment to the parent. Insecure attachment has been found to be associated with high rates of behavioural problems such as bullying and violence.
Looking at how we address this problem as young people enter society, Chandre Gould, Senior Researcher for the Institute for Security Studies, said that if we are to reduce crime and violence in South Africa, we need to reduce the barriers for young people to enter the economy. Many young people lack both the hard and soft skills to enter the job market. This problem is exacerbated by the high levels of violence children are exposed to in their homes as a result of high levels of domestic violence.

This exposure results in depression, fear, anger and anxiety that impacts on young people's ability to cope, make friends, and engage in constructive civic activities. Interventions at a community level are one way to address these problems. There are enormous challenges to non-governmental organisations who seek to support young people. However, by rethinking how local initiatives could be better supported by the state, for example by providing predictability in funding, there is potential for great opportunities to strengthen resilience amongst our youth.

Discussing the role of legislation in addressing violence, Bill Dixon of Keele University, UK, said that governments like to legislate because it looks as if they are doing something about an emerging crime problem. However, legislation can't just overturn social or organisational culture. Hate crime legislation for example, where it has been implemented, is open to interpretation and can be a double edged sword to be misused by the police to punish ‘troublemakers', rather than to more fairly punish genuine hate crimes.

Furthermore legally entrenching differences based on race, gender or sexuality can be profoundly unhelpful. The counter argument was that legislation can provide vulnerable groups with leverage to advocate for greater attention to be given to a problem of discrimination.

Gareth Newham, Head of the Crime and Justice Programme at the Institute for Security Studies, considered the threats to the rule of law in South Africa. In addition to ongoing statements made by powerful politicians attacking the judiciary, there is a profound absence in political will to improve the functioning of the criminal justice system.

The carefully considered recommendation emerging from a comprehensive review of the criminal justice system in 2007 have largely been ignored by the current administration. Rather than appointing skilled and experienced people with integrity to head the police and the prosecuting authority, and strengthen these agencies, the opposite has happened.
Those appointed have inadequate experience and in the case of NPA head Menzi Simelane, were known beforehand to lack integrity. As a result of poor leadership, these agencies have been engulfed in controversy rather than improving public safety. Arguably, this is happening because corruption at the highest levels of political power.

The police made 1.6 million arrests in the last year. Most of these arrests were against poor people for crimes less serious than shoplifting. In spite of up to R30 billion in public money being lost to corruption each year, the police only made 56 arrests and achieved 11 convictions for crimes covered by the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Act. It is increasingly clear why professional people who are known for their integrity and expertise are not being appointed to head up the police or the National Prosecuting Authority.

Statement issued by David Lewis, Proof Communication, on behalf of the Institute of Security Studies, October 25 2012

Civilians Called For Active Service ?

Reservists face call-up to African war zones

GRAEME HOSKEN | 26 October, 2012 00:361 Comments

Civilians who have undergone military training could soon be called up for active service and be deployed on potentially deadly peace-keeping operations.

The South African army - already overstretched by peacekeeping deployments across the continent - is fast preparing for the deployment of hundreds of additional troops, including civilian reservists, to peacekeeping missions. There are some 15000 army reservists.

Prior to yesterday's announcement, President Jacob Zuma said he would strongly consider deploying soldiers to Mali on an African Union peacekeeping mission. If Zuma gives the go-ahead, the deployment could happen early next year.

Army chief Lieutenant-General Amos Masondo yesterday confirmed the urgent requests by Mali and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

"We are waiting to hear what needs to be done," he said.

Masondo said the appointment of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as AU Commission chair would lead to increased demands for South African forces to be deployed elsewhere Africa.

Via Gordon Fox /BKA
"Unfortunately, we are limited by our numbers. If the request is approved, the forces will have to include lots of reservists.

"We simply do not have enough permanent force members. We are already overstretched in Africa, with hundreds of our troops deployed internally on our borders."

Masondo said vast amounts of money were currently being spent on training, and that the upgrading of equipment was a priority.

Army force preparation commander Major-General Luvuyo Nobanda said serious focus was being put on the reservists.

"Currently a company of reservists (150 soldiers) is deployed on every mission. We have no other option. Unfortunately, they are also facing big challenges," he said.

Mali's government is currently embroiled in violent confrontations with al-Qaeda linked groups trying to overthrow the state.

The government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, along with the UN, is currently involved in bloody battles against rebel forces who are armed with heavy artillery and tanks.

The proposed deployments are being considered while 3000 South African soldiers take part in an exercise at the combat training centre in the Northern Cape.

A senior officer - deployed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2010 - said the missions would require more than just a few hundred troops.

"These rebels are not playing around. They have serious numbers and serious fire-power. They are battle-hardened and have been at war for years. If we don't do this right we will be bringing body bags home," he said.

Army reserve chief, Major-General Keith Moloape, said ideally there would 65000 reservists available rather than 15000"

Daily in South Africa

Robber found in full police gear.
With the identity of a white policeman (Grobler).
Plus a stolen police cap.
Plus stolen police shoes.
Plus a stolen firearm.
Plus a stolen police bulletproof vest.
And dressed in many layers of other clothing ..... to get rid of it (and confuse his pursuers) as he fled.

Please forward this ....... because no one dare officially publish this.
To show South Africa and the world what happens here EVERY DAY !!!!!!
Robber found in full police gear.
With  the  identity  of  a  white policeman (Grobler).
 Plus a  stolen  police cap.
 Plus stolen police shoes.
 Plus a stolen firearm.
Plus a stolen  police   bulletproof   vest.
 And  dressed   in   many layers of other clothing  ..... to  get  rid  of  it  (and confuse his pursuers)  as  he  fled.

Please  forward  this   .......   because   no  one   dare  officially   publish  this.
 To  show  South Africa  and  the  world  what  happens  here  EVERY  DAY    !!!!!!