Category Archives: South Africa

‘My hands are my tractor’: Urban gardens take root in Johannesburg

Screenshot_2020-03-23 'My hands are my tractor' Urban gardens take root in Johannesburg
Refiloe Molefe smiles with friends at her inner city farm in Johannesburg, South Africa, 17 February 2020. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Kim Harrisberg

JOHANNESBURG, – Whenever people walked by the overgrown bowling green in Johannesburg’s working-class Bertrams neighbourhood, they saw an eyesore.

But Refiloe Molefe saw a chance to feed her community.

The 60-year-old former nurse has been farming on the 500-square-metre (5,380 square feet) bowling green for more than a decade, after she asked the city for food for the creche she was running for 15 children.

The authorities had none to give her, so she requested the land to grow her own instead.

“We may not have money, but we have land and food. And to garden here is our therapy,” Molefe said, crushing a piece of rosemary between her fingers before smelling the leaves and smiling.

Seed by seed, Johannesburg – a city known for high crime levels and rapid urbanisation – is becoming home to a crop of urban farmers fighting concrete to grow fruit and vegetables so they can feed their families and neighbours.

The United Nations estimates two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050, up from 56% today.

And Africa is the continent urbanising the fastest, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Johannesburg, South Africa’s biggest city with a population of more than 4.4 million according to the most recent census data, has grown nearly 40% since the previous census in 2001.

“There are people from Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Nigeria and Malawi here. We have the opportunity to grow food together, to live together and to eat together,” said Molefe.

“But we need land to do this.”

There are about 300 urban farms in Johannesburg, according to Nthatisi Modingoane, spokesman for the City of Johannesburg.

And more are sprouting up, said food security researcher Brittany Kesselman.

“We are seeing farms in schools, churches, clinics, rooftops and backyards,” said Kesselman, who is also a raw food chef.

“It is a challenge, but urban farmers are bravely fighting hunger in Johannesburg.”

According to the South African Cities Network, an urban development think tank, more than 40% of Johannesburg households are food insecure, meaning they are unable to access affordable and nutritious food.

 

 

 

https://news.trust.org/item/20200320052234-jaoqg/

 

Elderly black women in S. Africa win property rights in landmark ruling

Screenshot_2020-01-30 Elderly black women in S Africa win property rights in landmark ruling
ARCHIVE PHOTO: A woman washes her dishes in Durban December 2, 2011. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

JOHANNESBURG, – Facing destitution when her marriage broke down, 72-year-old Agnes Sithole went to court to challenge a sexist law – and won not only a share of her husband’s property but a legal victory that will protect some 400,000 other black South African women.

Under South African law, married couples own all their assets jointly and both must consent to major transactions.

But for black women married prior to 1988, the husband owned all matrimonial assets and could sell them without consulting his wife – until Sithole’s landmark High Court win this month which overturned the discriminatory law.

“This is a major judgment for South African women,” said Aninka Claassens, a land rights expert at the University of Cape Town, responding to the ruling against sections of the Matrimonial Property Act of 1984 and amendments made in 1988.

“If you haven’t got property rights as a woman, you are more vulnerable to stay in an abusive marriage. This case changes these rights,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Across South Africa, a quarter century after racial segregation and white minority rule under apartheid officially ended through a negotiated settlement, land and property ownership remain sensitive topics.

Sithole’s legal victory in the eastern city of Durban could help an estimated 400,000 women by giving them more economic freedom, said the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), a human rights organisation that helped Sithole take her case to court.

Black women in rural South Africa face a “double whammy” said Claassens, as both apartheid and customary laws – where land is handed down from father to son – have deprived them of property rights.

Traditionally, women are regarded as inferior to men in Sithole’s KwaZulu-Natal province, said women’s land rights activist Sizani Ngubane, who has campaigned against evictions and abuse of women in rural areas for more than 40 years.

Male-dominated tribal authorities hold great sway over rural communities, with the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini controlling 2.8 million hectares of land, an area the size of Belgium, under an entity called the Ingonyama Trust.

Ngubane, nominated as one of three finalists in the 2020 Martin Ennals Award, a prestigious human rights prize, said this month’s Durban court ruling was significant.

“This will make a difference in terms of women’s land and property inheritance,” said Ngubane, 74, who has faced death threats for her activism. “Women can take decisions if they own property. They can have equality.”

Ngubane has gone to court to challenge the Ingonyama Trust, which she said only leases land under its control to men, with widows being evicted from their homes when their husbands die.

Despite the legal victory, women’s rights experts were wary of celebrating too soon.

“The symbolism of this judgment is important … hopefully, if enough women know about it they can begin asserting their rights,” said Claassens.

“But unfortunately, since (the introduction of democracy in) 1994 we have seen the space for change continue to be undermined by new patriarchal laws,” Claassens said, highlighting legislation that has bolstered the power of traditional leaders.

The LRC plans to hold workshops in rural areas to educate women, chiefs and the courts about the ruling.

“This will require a lot of hard work and buy-in from other non-profits to show women how they can benefit from this legal change,” said Sharita Samuel, an LRC attorney who worked on Sithole’s case.

For Ngubane, such grassroots work is critical in improving the lives of rural South African women.

“We know the courts can protect women,” she said.

“The biggest challenge for us is changing attitudes of men on the ground who believe that women are children. We are so much more than that.”

 

 

 

http://news.trust.org/item/20200129111914-05t8e/

 

South Africa: Protesters demand action on violence against women

699FC421-E2A4-4475-92D2-E0AF30BEAF98Demonstrators took to the streets of Cape Town on Friday to protest violence against women [Guillem Sartorio/AFP]

Thousands of protesters wearing all-black, brandishing placards and singing apartheid-era struggle songs took to the streets of Johannesburg to demonstrate against what they called a scourge of femicide in South Africa.

Friday’s demonstrations, which police said were attended by 4,000 people in the Sandton neighbourhood, followed weeks of renewed activism and protests against gender-based violence in the country.

The move has been brought to the forefront of South African society after 19-year-old Nene Mrwetyana was raped and murdered in August by a post office employee Luyanda Botha.

Both told police he struggled to kill Mrwetyana, a University of Cape Town student, after luring her to the Clareinch Post Office in the Western Cape to rape her.

“Society has failed women at every level,” said an eight-month pregnant protester, Alex Fitzgerald.

“We have failed them in a legal sense, on a societal sense, in our community and in our churches. Every institution in South Africa has failed to protect women. It’s become so endemic in our society that people somehow think this is the norm,” she said.

Lindelwe Nxumalo, another protester who stood on a blocked-off street in the city centre, said Mrwetyana “had her entire life ahead of her, like so many women that are treated like this by the men in South Africa”.

Nxumalo wore a T-shirt that read #AmINext, the hashtag demonstrators have rallied behind.

Demanding change

The protest, which was organised by a coalition of gender rights activist organisations, culminated in a march to the city’s financial capital and the headquarters of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).

There, the attendees demanded that South Africa’s corporate sector provides funding and detailed plans to assist with combatting gender-based violence, carrying placards that read “I don’t want to die with my legs open” and “Actions not words”.

Marching and dancing up and down streets adjacent to the JSE, the protesters brought parts of South Africa’s financial capital to a standstill.

“The pain the women in this country are feeling is palpable. I completely understand the need to be heard,” Nicky Newton-King, JSE’s CEO, told reporters as she accepted a memorandum of demands.

“The important point of this though is to how we mobilise the correct business response to what is a complete tragedy for this country. We have committed to take this to big business and devise how to respond appropriately,” she added as some jeered in the crowd.

The demonstration comes a day after police released official crime statistics showing a countrywide murder rate of 58 a day, a 3.4 percent increase in a year.

During the previous period, for every 100,000 women in South Africa, an average of 15.2 were murdered, according to government data.

The statistics do not provide a breakdown of the motive behind the murder of women, so it is not possible to say how many were killed because they were female.

A World Health Organization (WHO) report in 2016 indicated South Africa had the fourth-highest female interpersonal violence death rate out of the 183 countries listed, behind only Honduras, Jamaica and Lesotho.

Incidents involving sexual violence and assault have also spiked 4.6 percent year on year with a total of 41,583 reported cases of rape in the 2018-19 financial year, according to South African Police Service statistics.

Although this could be higher as a Rhodes University study suggests that only about 10 percent of all rapes are reported to the police.

The numbers also do not paint an accurate reflection of other vulnerable groups in the LBGTQI community too suffering disproportionate violence in South Africa.

“Patriarchy is so strong that it isn’t only straight women that get it. Men think they can do what they like, when they like in this country,” said another protester, Litha Malula, wearing a black beret.

Government response

The government has been criticised for a lax approach towards crime affecting women and children, even after President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation last week in the wake of the public outcry, promising tougher action against perpetrators of sexual violence and the national publication of a sex offenders register.

“Cyril isn’t serious!” read one angry banner draped at the protest on Friday.

Ramaphosa has since cancelled his scheduled trip to address the United Nations General Assembly next week to concentrate on “critical domestic matters”, according to a statement released by the presidency.

Ramaphosa will now address an urgent joint sitting of parliament and the national council of provinces on Wednesday, the first of its kind since former President Thabo Mbeki fired his then-deputy Jacob Zuma in 2005.

But many protesters fear tougher laws or other similar government initiatives would not deter offenders or change anything.

Academics have pointed to the high levels of unemployment, inequality and poverty as a major contributing factor to the violence directed towards women.

The unemployment rate is 29 percent in a struggling economy, which is expecting meagre growth in 2019.

“Its all leading to a general desperation in society,” said Lisa Vetten, of the University of Witwatersrand Institute for Social and Economic Research.

“The disenfranchised cannot exert much power and what that often translates to is people using violence to express their frustration,” she said.

To change the atmosphere of violence, the issues at its root must also be confronted by the men of South Africa, protester Tefo Tlale said.

“Women don’t feel safe. They don’t feel like this is their country. As a black African man, women are not seen as equal decision-makers or having a critical role to play in society,” said Tlale, who was among the crowd gathered outside the JSE.

“We have to undo that learning and ensure the next generation don’t grow up in a society where they think they are better just because they are men,” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/south-africa-protesters-demand-action-violence-women-190913132640008.html

 

We Have Seen The Future of Water, And It Is Cape Town

by Peter H. Gleick
Guest Writer
Huffington Post (2/9/2018)

Morgana Wingard via Getty Images
Cape Town residents queue to refill water bottles on Jan. 30, 2018. Diminishing water supplies may soon lead to the taps being turned off for the four million inhabitants of Cape Town. (Morgana Wingard via Getty Images)

Cape Town is parched. Severe drought and high water use have collided in South Africa’s second largest city, and unless the drought breaks, residents may run out of water in the next few months when there simply isn’t enough water left to supply the drinking water taps.

In response to this looming “Day Zero” currently projected in May? city managers have imposed new and unprecedented restrictions, including limiting residential water use to 50 liters (around 13 gallons) per person per day. They released plans to open 200 community water points to provide emergency water in the event of a shutoff – for four million people. As the crisis worsens, water scarcity will sharpen South Africa’s economic inequalities, inflaming tensions between wealthier and disadvantaged communities.

Cape Town is not alone. Water crises are getting worse all over the world. The past few years have seen more and more extreme droughts and floods around the globe. California just endured the worst five-year drought on record, followed by the wettest year on record. São Paulo, Brazil, recently suffered a severe drought that drastically cut water supplies to its 12 million inhabitants – a drought that also ended in heavy rainfall, which caused extreme flooding. Houston was devastated in 2017 by Hurricane Harvey, the most extreme precipitation event to hit any major city in the United States.

Severe droughts and floods. Water rationing. Economic and political disruption. Urban taps running dry. Is this the future of water?

Any city, in building a water system, tries to prepare for extreme weather, including floods and droughts. It also considers estimates of future population growth, projections of water use and a host of other factors. Cape Town’s water system is a relatively sophisticated one, with six major storage reservoirs, pipelines, water treatment plants and an extensive distribution network. Its water managers, and South Africa’s overall water expertise, are among the best in the world.

The problem is that the traditional approach for building and managing water systems rests on two key assumptions. The first is that there is always more supply to be found, somewhere, to satisfy growing populations and growing water demand. The second is that the climate isn’t changing.

Neither of these assumptions is true any longer.

Many regions of the world, as in Cape Town, have reached “peak water” limits and find their traditional sources tapped out. Many rivers are dammed and diverted to the point that they no longer reach the sea. Groundwater is over pumped at rates faster than nature can replenish. And massive long-distance transfers of water from other watersheds are increasingly controversial because of high costs, environmental damages and political disagreements.

Read We Have Seen The Future of Water, And It Is Cape Town


Peter H. Gleick is a climate and water scientist, co-author of The World’s Water, and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

New South African alliance calls for Zuma’s exit

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Sister Brigid Rose Tiernan, SNDdeN holds the sign — “Zuma you are accountable.” Photo: Joan Mumau, IHM

AFP

Johannesburg (AFP) – South African opposition parties, religious groups and civil society activists on Thursday launched a new alliance to try to force President Jacob Zuma to step down.

Called the Freedom Movement and backed by retired archbishop Desmond Tutu, it plans to hold a mass rally on April 27, the annual holiday marking South Africa’s first post-apartheid election in 1994.

Zuma’s sacking of respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan last month fanned years of public anger over government corruption scandals, record unemployment and slowing economic growth.

“Never before has there been a more urgent need to build unity of purpose to stop South Africa’s current trajectory,” said the movement at its launch in Soweto, a hotbed of the struggle against apartheid.

Tutu, seen as the country’s leading moral authority, said in a tweet that he supported the movement, adding “it is important that we unite as South Africans to bring an end to state capture.”

“State capture” is a term that refer to the alleged corruption among Zuma and his associates.

Tens of thousands of South Africans have in recent weeks staged demonstrations demanding Zuma’s resignation.

The main opposition Democratic Alliance party and several small opposition parties backed the alliance as well as some trade unions and the National Religious Council.

Malema and other political parties must stop ‘the war talk’

Southern Africa Conference of Catholic Bishops
The Justice and Peace Commission of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) has called on all political parties to avoid making statements that could incite election violence and civil war.Bishop Abel Gabuza‚ the chairperson of the SACBC Justice and Peace Commission‚ issued the call on Monday in response to the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema‚ who said during a televised interview that if the ANC continues to respond violently to peaceful protests‚ “We will run out of patience very soon and we will remove this government through the barrel of a gun” Continue reading Malema and other political parties must stop ‘the war talk’

STATEMENT ON THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULING: NKANDLA

This morning the Constitutional Court delivered a judgment in the Nkandla Application. In summary the Court found the following:

o   That the recommendations of the Public Protector were binding
o   That the binding nature of the Public Protector’s remedial action is determined on a case-by-case basis with regard to the nature of the dispute
o   That the Public Protector’s remedial action cannot merely be ignored
o   That the National Assembly’s institution of a parallel process was not itself unlawful but that in attempting to replace the binding report of the Public Protector, the National Assembly acted unconstitutionally and in breach of its duty to hold the executive accountable
o   That the President should pay back a reasonable portion of the money spent on non-security upgrades and reprimand the responsible ministers for their role in the project.
o   That the President acted unlawfully and in breach of his constitutional duties to the Republic Continue reading STATEMENT ON THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULING: NKANDLA