Notable death of Top African leaders in 2018


Over the course of the year, Africa lost a number of its illustrious sons and daughters. The loss started early in the year when a renown musician was announced dead – Hugh Masekela of South Africa.
Late in the year, Nigeria lost a former president in the person of Alhaji Shehu Shagari – its first executive president who incidentally was deposed by the current president Muhammadu Buhari.
In between Masekela and Shagari, there is the death of yet another former president, a strong anti-apartheid voice, a leading opposition chief in southern Africa and the biggest loss by a mile, the death of Kofi Annan.
As part of our 2018 Review, Africanews brings back briefs on the losses that hit the continent.

January: Hugh Masekela dies in Jo’burg 

The legendary South African musician and song writer, Hugh Masekela died in Johannesburg at the age of 78, his family confirmed in a statement.
The statement of Tuesday January 23, 2018 said he died after a protracted fight against cancer. The celebrated jazz musician was born on April 4, 1939.
It hailed his legacy in diverse fields beyond his music and disclosed that details of his memorial and burial were being worked out.

April: Winnie Madikizela-Mandela passes 

The South African anti-apartheid activist Winnie Madikizela-Mandela died in April following a long illness, a family spokesman said.
“She died after a long illness, for which she had been in and out of hospital since the start of the year,” Victor Dlamini said in a statement.
“She succumbed peacefully in the early hours of Monday afternoon surrounded by her family and loved ones.”
She received a state funeral later that month which was very well attended by leaders and dignitaries from across the continent.

May: Afonso Dhlakama of Mozambique 

Mozambique’s veteran rebel turned opposition leader Afonso Dhlakama died aged 65, party sources confirmed earlier this year. 
Dhlakama’s Renamo party said at the time that he passed away after an unconfirmed heart attack, with local television stations also reporting the death.
For 39 years, Dhlakama led Renamo, the rebel group which fought a 16-year war against the ruling Frelimo party until 1992 and then emerged as an opposition party that still retained armed fighters.
He had been in hiding since 2013 in the remote Gorongosa mountains as sporadic conflict again erupted in the country. he had entered peace talks with President Nyusi in 2017 having announced a ceasefire in December 2016.

December: Ethiopia loses ex-president Girma Woldegiorgis 

Former Ethiopian president Girma Woldegiorgis died on December 15, two weeks short of his 95th birthday, state media reported.
Girma was president of Ethiopia for twelve years between 2001 to 2013, a largely ceremonial role. His death was reported by the Ethiopia Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) and other state media.
The cause of death was not given. He was a fluent speaker in Ethiopia’s working language Amharic, his native language Afan Oromo as well as English and French.
His funeral and burial was held five days later at the Holy Trinity Cathedral located in the capital Addis Ababa. It was attended by President Sahle-Work Zewde, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and other top government officials.

December: Nigeria’s first executive president dies in Abuja 

The death of Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Nigeria’s first executive president at the age of 93, was announced via Twitter by his grandson with three days to the New Year, 2019.
“I regret announcing the death of my grandfather, H.E Alhaji Shehu Shagari, who died right now after brief illness at the National hospital, Abuja,” Bello Shagari wrote.
Shagari is on record as the first executive president Nigeria had. He won elections in 1979 to become president under the banner of the National Party of Nigeria.
Incidentally incumbent democratically elected Muhammadu Buhari – then a military man as responsible for the overthrow of Shagari’s government.

Pictured in Harrods: Serial fraudster who bragged about shopping trip just days before his arrest over claims he lost sister in Grenfell tragedy to scam £35,000 is jailed for five years

  • Abolaji Onafuye claimed to be the brother of Zainab Deen who died with her son 
  • Father of-five was put up at a top London hotel and racked up bill of over £35k
  • The 54-year-old said he must have been ‘hallucinating’ when he made his claims
  • He posted photos on Facebook posing with Harrods purchases and sports cars 

Nigerian father of-five Abolaji Onafuye, 54, claimed Zainab Deen, 32, who perished in the blaze was his sister and he was sharing a flat with her.

The serial conman who clamed he was ‘a model for the community’ was put up at one of London‘s top hotels and racked up a total bill of more than £35,000.

After he claimed thousands of pounds from taxpayers Onafuye posted dozens of photographs of himself shopping at Harrods on his social media profile.

He grinned as he posed with large purchases made at the high-end Knightsbridge store and boasted of enjoying holidays and trips in sports cars.

In one image posted on Facebook he smirked as he held up a pair of £245 slippers. 

Onafuye later admitted he was not staying at the tower block and said he must have been ‘hallucinating’ when he claimed he was.

He then said he was still due compensation because he had seen people screaming for help in the burning building.

But his cell site evidence from his phone showed he was nowhere near he scene.

Local taxpayers in Kensington and Chelsea footed the £23,500 bill for Onafuye’s stay at the four-star Grosvenor Hotel in Buckingham Palace Road.

Onafuye received another £13,000 in living costs after he was moved to a flat in Hammersmith – where two bedroom apartments can cost up to £500,000. 

Giving evidence he claimed he was hallucinating when he told police he lived there.

‘I was temporarily insane because I was fasting when I was arrested,’ he said.

But a jury at Isleworth Crown Court convicted Onafuye of two counts of fraud by false representation between 21 June last year and 7 June this year.

The court heard that he has been in custody since he was arrested on June 7 of this year.

Onafuye sacked his defence barrister Deshpal Panesar at the beginning of today’s sentencing proceedings at Isleworth Crown Court.

He requested another defence barrister on legal aid but his request was refused by the judge.

The court heard that Panesar was Onafuye’s second defence barrister, his first having declared ‘professional embarrassment’ at a pre-trial hearing. 

The judge ruled that Onafuye represent himself in mitigation.

Ben Holt, prosecuting, said: ‘We do say that he had spent some time in the area of the fire after the fire.

He could not have plucked those names out of thin air.’

Onafuye maintained that it was not a fraud that was sustained over a length of time.

But Judge Giles Curtis Raleigh said: ‘This was not opportunisic there is evidence that you were in the area for a considerable length of time.’

The judge said: ‘I accept the prosecution figure of £33,000 – which I take to be a conservative estimate.’

The court heard that Onafuye had previous convictions for fraud.

He used a stolen Northern Rock Building society pass book to attempt to transfer £10,000 into a computer company account to obtain equipment on June 10 1995.

Onafuye was also convicted of pretending to be an estate agent with properties to rent on January 12 2012.

He said: ‘He took the deposits and people lost their money there were two counts for two victims.’

In an impact statement Zainab Deen’s father Zainu Deen said Onafuye’s claims created issues between him and Zainab’s mother.

He said: ‘It brought up issues and possible mistrust and concerns between my wife and I.’

He told the court that his wife, who does not speak English, visited England for four weeks after their daughter died.

‘The police needed to take a statement from her too about this man and it took up a full day of her visit as she needed an interpreter,’ he said.

‘I can’t believe that anyone would use these tragic events to their benefit.

‘I am angry, cross, confused and incredibly frustrated.

‘These men have made our pain worse, much worse.’

Onafuye told the court: ‘I did not say to anybody that I am her brother.

‘I did not mean to cause anybody any distress.’

In personal mitigation, Onafuye told the court: ‘My mother who is nearly 80 years old depends on me financially and morally.

‘Although I have previous convictions I don’t want you to look at that I want you to look to what I have achieved since then.’

He told the court that he had studied law in Nigeria and had even completed a masters degree.

The fraudster told the court:’I have been a role model for the community.’

Judge Raleigh told the defendant: ‘Hypocritically you pretended to cry when police interviewed you.

‘You denounced the genuine victims of flat 84 in Grenfell Tower.

‘And you have continued the lies up to and throughout this trial.

‘In the trial you sought to blame the police and even the sought to blame the very people who assisted you and were in the business of assisting the genuine victims of the fire.

‘You have shown not a shred of remorse throughout these proceedings.’

The judge jailed him for five years.

On June 21 of last year the Grenfell fraudster attended the Westway support centre and told volunteer, Rica Smirk he was staying in Flat 84. 

He filled out a Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea assessment form with the help of the volunteer.

Onafuye said Ms Deen was his sister and her two year old son Jeremiah was his nephew.

But when he was arrested for fraud he told police: ‘When I was saying I lived in Grenfell Tower in my police interview I was not in the right frame of mind. It was a hallucination.’

Onafuye said the council officers must have incorrectly filled in the forms he handed in.

In court he insisted the cell site evidence which showed he was nowhere near the flats must have been incorrect.

‘I am sorry for the families it happened but something happened to me too,’ he said.

‘I suffered mental trauma. I suffered. Why do you think that I hadn’t finished my university course. I suffered a depressive collapse.’

Asked whether he had seen a doctor about this, Onafuye replied ‘No.’

The court also heard how Onafuye had registered his NatWest bank account to the address.

But he blamed a mistake by the bank because ‘there was no motive, not rationale to do this.’

14 people have now been convicted of fraud over the Grenfell Fire disaster.

 Sharife Elouahbi 

The 38-year-old, claimed to be living with a family of five on the 21st floor of the west London apartment block.

He was given £300 a week in food expenses and was put up in three different hotels, which were funded by the Grenfell disaster fund, before getting kicked out of two for breaking the rules.

The career criminal had 28 previous convictions, including stealing pictures of singer Will Young in drag to sell them to the press, robbery and assault.

Elouahbi was due to receive further resettlement payments worth another £14,730 towards a flat and free utilities before he was caught by police.

He was jailed for six years at Isleworth Crown Court after becoming the thirteenth person to be convicted of ‘Grenfell fraud’ and the person to steal the most from the fund set up to support victims of the fire that killed 72 people last June.

Abolaji Onafuye

The Nigerian father-of-five claimed Zainab Deen, 32, who perished in the blaze was his sister and he was sharing a flat with her.

He was put up at one of London‘s top hotels and racked up a total bill of more than £35,000.

Onafuye later admitted he was not staying at the tower block and said he must have been ‘hallucinating’ when he claimed he was. 

Local taxpayers in Kensington and Chelsea footed the £23,500 bill for Onafuye’s stay at the four-star Grosvenor Hotel in Buckingham Palace Road.

Onafuye received another £13,000 in living costs after he was moved to a flat in Gorleston Street, Hammersmith – where two bedroom apartments can cost up to £500,000.

A jury at Isleworth Crown Court convicted Onafuye of two counts of fraud by false representation between 21 June last year and 7 June this year.

Koffi Kouakou

This west Londoner lied about his girlfriend dying in the Grenfell tragedy to swindle the council out of thousands of pounds meant for real survivors. 53-year-old Koffi Kouakou of Westfield Close, Coleridge Gardens claimed he had been living in the tower with his girlfriend, an occupant who died in the tragic fire.

Following his claimed Kensington and Chelsea Council put him up in a hotel for two months before re-homing him in council accommodation.

The council spent more than £30,000 on accommodation for Kouakou who was found to be lying following a Metropolitan Police investigation.

Police confirmed Kouakou had not been living in Grenfell Tower and that he had not been in a relationship with the woman.

He pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation at Isleworth Crown Court on October 17 and was jailed for four years.

Mohammed Syed Rinku

Illegal immigrant Mohammed Syed Rinku, claimed he was in a relationship with a Grenfell Tower Fire victim to try and stay in the country.

The 46-year-old applied to stay in the UK and received more than £5,000 in support while his claims were investigated.

He was found to be lying to try and stay in the country and charged with fraud as well as being ordered to pay back £4,044.36.

Rinku, who is of no fixed address, was jailed for 18 months at Isleworth Crown Court on October 9.

Abdelkarim Rekaya

The 28-year-old conned Kensington and Chelsea Council out of more than £80,000 in financial support after claiming he was a Grenfell Tower resident and had been made homeless by the tragic fire on June 17 last year.

He was re-homed at an address in Lots Road, Fulham where he lived rent free and without paying bills until July 1, 2018 when enquiries found his story was false and that he had never lived in Grenfell Tower.

He pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation and obtaining leave to remain by deception at Isleworth Crown Court on September 21.

Rekaya, of Lots Road, has been remanded to be sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court on November 27.

Jenny McDonagh

Last month the former Kensington and Chelsea Council finance minister admitted to stealing more than £60,000 meant for Grenfell Tower victims.

The 39-year-old took the money meant for survivors using pre-paid credit cards, despite having no personal connection to the tragedy, which she used to fund trips to Dubai and Los Angeles, expensive dinners and online gambling.

She was charged with two counts of fraud by abuse of position, one count of theft by an employee and one count of money laundering.

McDonagh who was described in court as a ‘serial fraudster’ who ‘lived beyond her means’ has been bailed and a sentencing date has yet to be set.

She was jailed for five and a half years on September 28.

Derrick Peters

Homeless Derrick Peters, 58, lied about living in Grenfell Tower to get a shorter sentence for burglary.

He was put behind bars after falsely telling a judge he had lost all his belongings in the blaze.

His lies meant he put up in free four-star hotel accommodation worth £38,784, courtesy of Kensington and Chelsea Council .

Now Peters, who pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud and perverting the course of justice will spend the next six years in jail.

This includes a three year and four month sentence for two counts of fraud by false representation, 20 months for one count of perverting the course of justice and 12 months after being resentenced for previous count of burglary – all to be be served consecutively.

Tommy Brooks and Elaine Douglas

Tommy Brooks, 52, and Elaine Douglas, 51, were described as ‘parasitic’ after they claimed to be victims of the devastating fire in order to freeload a combined £125,000 in financial support.

The duo claimed they had lived on the 19th floor of the building but they had been staying with friends the night of the tragedy.

Douglas had claimed £67,125.35 and Brooks had received £58,396.89 in financial support after the fire as well as free hotel accommodation by the time their fraud was discovered by the authorities.

They were sentenced at the same court on July 13, with Douglas receiving three years imprisonment and Brooks receiving three years and three months.

Mohammed Gammota

Gammota pretended his dad died in the fire to get hundreds of pounds in cash and a free hotel stay, where he racked up a large room service bill.

The 31-year-old was sentenced to 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to two fraud charges in June this year.

He claimed he had been living on the 24th floor of the tower with his dad, who he pretended had died in the devastating fire.

In reality he was living with his mum in Croydon and his dad was living abroad.

To make his fraud more convincing, Gamoota researched a newspaper article about one of the 71 real victims of the fire, and used their name and details – pretending they were his dad – to make his claims for free hotel accommodation and cash sound more convincing.

He also made Internet searches using the words ‘Grenfell Tower Fraud’.

Gamoota was able to receive £500 in cash, although he had applied for £5,000 and he received £910 worth of free hotel accommodation over nine days, and a £354 room service bill.

He was sentenced to three years and two month’s imprisonment at the court.

Antonio Gouveia

Antonio Gouveia fraudulently claimed more than £50,000 after pretending to be a victim of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

The 33-year-old homeless man came forward days after the disaster, claiming to have lived in Flat 42 on the seventh floor of the tower.

Gouveia claimed nine months free accommodation at a Marble Arch hotel, worth £155 a night, as well as £260 in emergency cash, a £249.99 Google Chromebook laptop.

His hotel stay alone was worth a total of £53,456.76.

The cash and hotel accommodation were given to him after he turned up at Westway Centre, a hub for the emergency efforts at the time of the fire.

The ‘disgusting’ fraudster was jailed for three years at Isleworth Crown Court on 6 September.

Joyce Msokeri

Posed as the widow of a fire victim to claim accommodation and goods worth £19,000.

The 47-year- old Londoner filled her free room at Kensington’s Hilton hotel with donated items including handbags and dresses.

When officials began to suspect she was lying, she told them she had just found out her husband had in fact survived and had been living in a cave in Margate, Kent, where he was fed by tourists.

In April, she was jailed for four-and-a-half years.

Yonatan Eyob

The 26-year-old nabbed £87,000 worth of cash and hotel accommodation after claiming he had lodged in a flat where a family of five died.

It is the largest sum scammed by any single Grenfell fraudster.

CCTV footage proved Eyob had never actually been in the block, and when cops raided the Hilton hotel room he had been given, they found a stash of MDMA and cocaine.

It lead to him being convicted of drug offences in addition to fraud. He was jailed for a total of six years and eight months on September 7.

Anh Nhu Nguyen

The 53-year-old was the first fraudster caught for falsely claiming he had lived in the tower.

He said he had lost his wife and son in the blaze – giving an elaborate account of his dramatic escape to Sky News.

The con artist, of Beckenham, South East London, was even comforted by Prince Charles at a meeting with victims.

He collected nearly £12,500 from charitable and council funds before being rumbled after giving multiple different flat numbers as his address.

Nguyen was jailed for 21 months after admitting fraud in February 2018.

Four Nigerian airlines sanctioned for irregularities

Nigeria

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) says it has sanctioned four operators for violating the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations (NigCARs).
Sam Adurogboye, General Manager, Public Relations, NCAA, who made the disclosure on Sunday in Lagos, said that those sanctioned included both scheduled and non-scheduled operators. He did not name the operators.
Mr Adurogboye said three of the affected operators were to pay a fine ranging from N1.5 million to N2 million, while the fourth operator had its Air Operator Certificate (AOC) suspended for 180 days.
He said the affected operators were caught when NCAA Aviation Safety Inspectors (ASI) visited their premises.
According to him, a number of deficiencies, including non-implementation of training programmes for maintenance personnel as required and irregularities concerning Helicopter flight identification were discovered during the inspection.
“Also discovered were deliberate violation of the regulations, performing maintenance programme without necessary approval and the use of outdated manual.
“Adurogboye said that NCAA has directed that the maintenance personnel be trained immediately.
“NCAA wishes to assure all stakeholders that it will continue to ensure the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are strictly followed,” he said.

The City of CT to act against security company, # Reclaim Clifton protesters

The City of Cape Town will lay a formal complaint against private security company PPA with the Private Security Industry Regulatory Body (Psira) on Monday following reports that the company illegally removed people from Clifton Fourth beach on December 23.

Protesters descended on the beach on Friday, slaughtering a sheep in what they termed a “cleansing ceremony” to rid the beach of racism. 

The City will also reportedly lay a complaint against people involved in the slaughter of the sheep for animal cruelty, and against senior police officers who allegedly prevented City law enforcement officials from stopping it.

The City of Cape Town will lay a formal complaint against private security company PPA with the Private Security Industry Regulatory Body (Psira) on Monday following reports that the company illegally removed people from Clifton Fourth beach on December 23.

Protesters descended on the beach on Friday, slaughtering a sheep in what they termed a “cleansing ceremony” to rid the beach of racism. 

The City will also reportedly lay a complaint against people involved in the slaughter of the sheep for animal cruelty, and against senior police officers who allegedly prevented City law enforcement officials from stopping it.

In an email to the Clifton Bungalow Owners Association on Saturday, the City’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith called the slaughtering an act of “cruelty” and a “vulgar political gimmick”. 

There are also allegations that the police refused to let the City’s law enforcement officials “enforce bylaws” by disallowing the slaughtering, as the City had not granted permission for it to take place, for fear that doing so would provoke the crowd. 

Smith said that law enforcement officials told him that the sheep was carried across the rocks to the beach, and so they had not seen it until it was too late. The animal was apparently injured before it was carried onto the beach.

Several complaints 

Smith told eNCA in an interview that the City had received over 140 complaints related to the incident. He told News24 that he did not know when the other charges would be laid. 

In a statement on Thursday, the City’s executive director for safety and security, Richard Bosman, said the City has no contract with PPA and that the company was not operating on its instructions. 

He said the City’s beaches were open to all members of the public. 

“Private security companies have no mandate to enforce municipal by-laws. The City has acted swiftly to address the conduct of PPA staff once we became aware of it. Any person who feels that they have been threatened or intimated by PPA staff on the day in question, or at any other time, can lay a charge with the South African Police Service. Alternatively, complaints about the conduct of the company can be directed to the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority,” Bosman said.

The South Africa First Forum laid fraud charges against the PPA on Friday night. 

Meanwhile, the EFF organised a “picnic against racism” at Clifton Fourth Beach on Sunday.

SADC team meets DRC's main aspirants, CENI: Peace tops agenda

With less than 48 hours before the elections, the SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM) to the 2018 General Elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, met with three top presidential aspirants and the head of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI).

Even though the meeting was meant to afford candidates a platform to engage each other, the peace factor was highlighted as the trio held that safeguarding the peace of Congo was paramount.

On their part, CENI – the elections body – pledged to ensure that a transparent process will be delivered throughout to record a free, fair and credible poll.

  • The meeting took place on 28th December, 2018. The day that campaigning officially ended.
  • Attendees included: Martin Fayulu for the Lamuka coalition.
  • Vital Kamerhe, for the Tshisekedi-Kamerhe coalition.
  • Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, candidate for the ruling FCC coalition.
  • Elections chief Corneille Nangaa represented CENI.
  • The main thrust of the meeting was on the state of preparedness for the polls.
  • The SEOM is led by Joseph Malanji, Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Republic of Zambia.

As things stand now, three cities have been excluded from the process – Beni, Butembo and Yumbi. Two of them over the Ebola crisis and the latter over insecurity. 

Protests to have CENI rescind its decision either via activists, the opposition and Catholic church has so far failed. An estimated 1.2 million people will be affected by the move.

Portions of a statement released by SEOMread as follows: 

“In their remarks, the presidential candidates and representatives commended SADC for bringing together CENI and presidential candidates to engage on outstanding electoral matters. 

“They all highlighted the need to safeguard the peace throughout the remaining period of the electoral process and put the interest of Congolese people above everything.

“The President of CENI, Mr Nangaa assured the candidates and the SEOMleadership that the elections will be held as scheduled without further delays. Mr Nangaa expressed CENI’s commitment to engage with the political and electoral stakeholders in the final days leading to the elections to ensure that any outstanding issues are addressed in order to have credible, inclusive and peaceful elections.

“In a bid to ensure the transparency of the vote, Mr Nangaa said, all results from the manual count of ballot papers will be displayed at each polling station and that CENI invited all political party witnesses to accompany the envelopes containing ballot papers to the Local Centre for Results Compilation (CRCL).”

W. Africa Crude-New Egina crude hits the market, MRS issues sell tender

LONDON, Dec 27 (Reuters) – Spot activity was muted due to the Christmas holiday period but a new Nigerian grade has been added to the February loading programme, while Nigeria’s MRS issued a sell tender.
* The first cargoes from Total’s newly producing Nigerian offshore field, Egina, will load in February
* Total, China’s CNOOC and Nigeria’s NNPC will each have a cargo of Egina in February, traders said. No offers have yet been seen
* Angola’s state oil firm Sonangol was offering two cargoes of Dalia at dated Brent minus 30 cents a barrel loading Feb. 17-18 and Feb. 23-24
* Sonangol earlier sold its cargo of Saturno loading Feb. 7-8 to a Chinese refiner
* Nigerian oil marketing firm MRS issued a sell tender for a cargo of Forcados loading Feb. 14-15 and a cargo of Amenam loading Feb. 10-11. The tender closes on Jan. 31

RELATED NEWS

* Sixteen oil and gas firms have submitted applications for one or more of five Ghanaian offshore blocks in the West African country’s first exploration licensing round, its energy ministry said
* Sinopec has suspended two top officials at its trading arm Unipec and is evaluating details related to certain crude oil transactions that have incurred some losses, the Chinese state oil company said on Thursday

Shehu Shagari Nigerian first Executive president dies age 93

Nigeria

A former president of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, has died at the the age of 93, his grandson confirmed on Twitter, late Friday.

I regret announcing the death of my grandfather, H.E Alhaji Shehu Shagari, who died right now after brief illness at the National hospital, Abuja, Bello Shagari wrote.

Shagari is on record as the first executive president Nigeria had. He won elections in 1979 to become the country’s sixth president under the banner of the National Party of Nigeria.

Incidentally incumbent democratically elected Muhammadu Buhari – then a military man as responsible for the overthrow of Shagari’s government.

Full name, Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari, he served as the first and only President of Nigeria’s Second Republic, after the handover of power by General Olusegun Obasanjo’s military government. 

His presidential term spanned between October 1979 till December 1983. Shagari also served seven times in a ministerial or cabinet post as a federal minister and federal commissioner from 1958–1975.

Tweets of condolence have been pouring in about his passing.

Clifton Beach horror as resident clash with protesters over slaughtering of sheep.

South Africa

Local residents have clashed with protesters at Clifton’s Fourth Beach where a sheep was slaughtered on Friday evening. 

Lobby group Black People’s National Crisis Committee arranged the protest march following reports that private security company PPA Security allegedly closed down the beach at sunset last Sunday.

The group also held a cleansing ceremony calling for the end of the exclusion of black people at the beach.

“The offering of the sheep is calling on our ancestors to respond to our trauma at the hands of white people over the years,” activist Chumani Maxwele told News24 on Thursday.

As members of the group prepared to slaughter the animal, residents tried to stop them, saying no permits had been granted for the slaughter. 

The security company denied claims that its guards closed down the beach, stating that they were accompanying City of Cape Town law enforcement officers after two teenage girls were allegedly raped.

“We were requested to accompany law enforcement as our tactical officers are highly trained and skilled professionals. If anyone claims they were on the beach and chased away they would have seen that it was absolute mayhem and that law enforcement were really doing a great job to stabilise the situation – we did not close the beach,” PPA CEO Alwyn Landman told News24.

In a statement issued on Friday, Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato said the security company “had no authority to ask anyone to leave”, but noted that the guards had asked people of all races to leave, and did not single out any race groups.

Rape investigation

Western Cape police confirmed that they were investigating reports of an incident of attempted sexual assault in the vicinity of Clifton Beach, in which beachgoers apparently intervened.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Novela Potelwa said police had also launched an investigation into reported claims that two teenagers had been raped on the beach on December 22.

This was the day before PPA was accused of asking people to leave Clifton Fourth Beach, at around 20:00.

“Preliminary findings of the SAPS investigation indicate that no rape was registered at Camps Bay SAPS. The police station services Clifton and Camps Bay beaches,” said Potelwa.

However, she said police had information suggesting there had been an attempt to sexually assault a 15-year-old girl, which was prevented by beachgoers who reported the incident to police.

“The victim and her family refused to open a case against the suspect who is known to them,” Potelwa said.

Review: 2018 Eritrea's top news stories – Ethiopia, Djibouti, UNSC

Eritrea

The year 2018 proved crucial for the wider Horn of Africa region but more so for Eritrea which had long been branded a reclusive nation prior to the events on June 2018 and onwards.

Information Minister, Yemane Meskel, admits the country suffered deliberate bad press but it still maintained all relations with especially its development partners.

2018 thrust the country into the major news headlines. President Isaias Afwerki engaged more with his counterparts in the region and Asmara became a diplomatic hub of sorts – hosting regional leaders back-to-back.

As part of our review of the year, we look back at a momentous year for Eritrea at home, across the region and the world over. Here are our top five news items on Eritrea.

July: Abiy Afwerki sign deal to end border standoff 

The news that Ethiopia was ready to abide by a border ruling between the two neighbours was received with skepticism by people on both sides. 

But that doubt evaporated when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed flew into Asmara and in July 2018 signed a peace and cooperation deal with President Isaias Afwerki.

Not only has it opened the two countries and its people up to each other in different areas, its effect has been concretely felt across the wider region. Eritrea has since made peace with Somalia and relations with Djibouti are being sorted out.

September: Djibouti relations being mended 

After years of a territorial and prisoner-of-war standoff, a historic meeting between the leaders of Eritrea and Djibouti was arranged under the auspices of the Saudi Arabia government.

The then Saudi Arabia foreign minister, Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir said the meeting between Afwerki and Djibouti’s Ismail Omar Guelleh in Riyadh: ‘opens a new page to promote peace and stability in the region.’ 

Djibouti and Eritrea had weeks earlier normalised relations after a delegation of Eritrean, Somali and Ethiopian foreign ministers initiated dialogue to resolve the long-standing border dispute.

November: UN Security Council lifts targeted sanctions 

After almost a decade, the U.N. Security Council in November unanimously voted to lift an arms embargo and targeted sanctions on Eritrea after the latter made peace with Ethiopia and Djibouti.

There had been a strong groundswell of calls through the region demanding that the said sanctions be lifted. It took a shift in position by the United States for the final decision to be reached.

Eritrea whiles soaking international praise for their resilience in the face of the sanctions insisted that they were entitled to some sort of compensation for sanctions it had long held were unjust.

October: Eritrea elected to UN Human Rights Council 

The United Nations Human Rights Council in October elected a new set of representatives to serve three-year terms. In all, 18 countries were elected across the world.

The African representatives who made it were: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Eritrea, Somalia and Togo. The move however attracted the ire of political and human rights groups who insist that Eritrea, Cameroon and Somalia had no business serving on the Council given their current rights record.

Eritrea in the aftermath acknowledged its human right issues and promised to right those wrongs in due course. Eritrea is a known jailer of dissidents – political, media, religious. 

The United Nations rapporteur has repeatedly reported of arbitrary arrests and detention. Asmara has most times remained mute or dismissed such reports.

September: Freedom of movement after opening of border crossings 

To mark the Ethiopian New year, border crossings between the two countries were finally reopened after decades as Abiy and Afwerki were joined by top government officials at two border points, Zalambessa and Bure.

The event kick started a freedom of movement between peoples of both countries. But even as trade from the Ethiopian side came into Asmara and other major Eritrean cities, a refugee influx was going the other way.

The most recent report indicates that the crossings have been restricted on both sides of the border. The reopening of borders also kicked into gear a freedom of movement even within the country.

New Year Speech from Gabon Ali Bongo from Rabat.

Gabon

The Gabonese president Ali Bongo will address his nation during a New Year’s speech from Rabat where is recovering, according to AFP which cited close sources to the presidency. 

According to the news agency, Bongo has instructed his Prime Minister to respond to the expectations of the Gabonese people pending his return.

This will be Bongo’s first speech since he was hospitalized in Saudia Arabia on October 24 after treatment for what the presidency said was severe fatigue.

The Gabonese President was treated in a Riyadh hospital for more than a month before being transfered to Rabat, Morocco. Here, he was first taken to a military hospital, then to a private residence where is currently recuperating.

His Vice President, Pierre Claver Maganga Moussavou said Bongo suffered a stroke.