Here’s what happened in South Africa in 2015
Although Oscar Pistorius’ case was one of the highest profile events of 2015 in South Africa, it was one amidst many that shaped the year in one of the continent’s ‘big four.’ Here are a some of the other interesting things that happened, just in case you missed them.
The blade runner was found guilty of murder
Following his release from prison on October 19, 2015, Oscar Pistorius was found guilty of murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp by a constitutional court, in Bloemfontein, South Africa in December 2015. Pistorius shot Steenkamp four times, back in 2013 through a closed toilet door. Although the minimum sentence for murder in the country is 15 years, the BBC reported that South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal ruled that the lower court did not correctly apply the rule of ‘dolus eventualis’ – whether Pistorius knew that death would be a likely result of his actions. The date for his new sentencing is yet to be set. “As a matter of common sense, at the time the fatal shots were fired, the possibility of the death of the person behind the door was clearly an obvious result. And in firing not one but four shots, such a result became even more likely”, said Justice Eric Leach.
Ntombi–futhi Samantha + Chris Rock adoption scandal
In 2008, when she was barely a year old, Samantha Ntombi-futhi was taken by Hollywood actor Chris Rock and his wife, Malaak Compton-Rock, to the United States of America on a tourist visa and the couple began raising her as their own daughter. A divorce and seven years later, South Africa filed a lawsuit against the celebrity asking why no legal adoptive process was instituted to make Samantha a member of the Rock family, formally. Over the years, the Rock family have said Samantha was the child of a South African family friend who Compton-Rock met through her charity endeavor, it turns out the bubble burst when Compton-Rock began a legal process to formally adopt the 7-year old girl. The United States authorities alerted South Africa’s Hawk police department and they have been trying to determine if the case is in anyway related to child trafficking. According to News Dze Zimbabwe, the South African child adoption process goes thus; the prospective parents will submit an application through an accredited adoption agency, then they get screened by a social worker and will have to go through medical examinations, marriage and psychological assessments, home visits and police checks, they are put on a waiting list, then they appear at a children’s court where their application is subject to approval by a presiding judge.
South Africa Day is launched
November 12, 2015 was the day South African business leaders came together to host the first South Africa day. Henceforth, it will be celebrated every second Saturday of November and will provide motivation for South African businesses to work within and support their local communities. The national coordinator, Bheki Shongwe said, “South Africa Day will focus on making a contribution to the country and will put South Africa first. It will signify the creation of social cohesion, celebrating the country, its people and achievements and the day will take pride in its people and country.” Archbishop Thabo Makgoba appealed to businesses to support the South Africa Day Bursary Fund which will raise funds to support deserving students and pupils in South Africa.
H&M twitter controversy
A South African national, Tlalane Letlhaku, mentioned H&M South Africa on twitter for their lack of diversity on the models used for their campaign while advising them to diversify so as to appeal to everyone.
@hmsouthafrica I was at your CT store. Most, if not all your posters in store have no black models. Please work on that to appeal to everyone.
— Tlalane Letlhaku (@Tlaly_Branch) November 2, 2015
The response she got was rather controversial as the store insisted their campaign was dedicated to promoting a positive and inspiring image. Dazed Digital reports that H&M said its marketing is supposed to be “inspiring” and that it’s essential for them to “convey a positive image” suggesting that white models embody the positivity the brand seeks to present. Of course there was backlash on social media for the seemingly inappropriate response. After which the store offered an apology, saying it embraces all people who are inspired by fashion, regardless of ethnic background, gender or culture.
Residents at iThemba Lam get a chance to develop their spirituality
iThemba Lam is a safehouse located on the outskirts of Cape Town which offers refuge to homosexuals who have suffered any kind of persecution from friends and family members. They get to stay for up to three months at iThemba Lam (meaning My Hope in Xhosa). The center has been operational since 2006, however, it recently had the opportunity to develop the spirituality of its residents when the Inclusive and Affirming Ministries (IAM) created an outreach program for the people at the center. Michelle Boonzaaier is a Dutch Reformed Church minister who conducts clergy outreach for the group. She is also actively involved in identifying potential “change agents” within congregations, setting up trainings around sexual orientation and gender identity expression and using those opportunities to open dialogue about LGBTI inclusion. Also, a pentecostal minister, Rev. Zongamele Baliso, decided to bring Grace Community Church to the center. His action bordered on the fact that iThemba Lam was dedicated to feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, which lines up with the charitable works preached in the Christian religion.
La Liga opens in Johannesburg
The Spanish football league, La Liga, opened its first African office in Johannesburg, South Africa, this year in an effort to get closer to fans and broadcasters. According to sportindustry.co.za, the La Liga president, Javier Tebas, was in Johannesburg for the opening, alongside representatives of Spanish companies and South African institutions, members of the PSL and other personalities including the Spanish ambassador to South Africa, Juan Sell. “It is a historic day for La Liga. We are very happy to open this office in Johannesburg and to be closer to our loyal fans and broadcasters. To La Liga, being here is a strategic move and we want to be even more present in the future”, said Tebas. He also pledged that the LFP World Challenge will become present on the continent. LFPWC is a La Liga initiative which was launched in 2014 to feature friendly matches in Europe, North and South America and Asia in order to promote Spain overseas.
We remember in March 2015, when students of the University of Cape Town (UCT) protested against having the statue of Cecil John Rhodes present on their campus. To them, this statue further encouraged racism and white supremacy on campus as Rhodes is seen to be a land-grabbing racist. It all started when several students and staff members of the school launched a campaign towards ending white supremacy at the UCT and at the end of the day, full blown protests were underway after Chumani Maxwele, a political activist, threw human feces at the statue. The hashtag #RhodesMustFall attracted a lot of global attention and finally, the protesters had their way, as the UCT’s senate voted in favour of the removal of the statue on 27 March 2015 and on April 9, 2015, the statue was removed.
Jacques Blom does it again
17-year old entrepreneur and technology developer, Jacques Blom, created an app which helps with matric learning. The app is called Flippit and was launched in July 2015. Blom became a sensation after he launched facebook colour changer, iStyla in 2012 at the age of 14. According to 702.co.za, Educational publisher, Oxford University Press South Africa commissioned 17-year old Blom to develop the study app, which is aligned with the South African CAPS curriculum. Flippit consists of digital flashcards for 14 subjects that allow pupils to learn content, test themselves and compete against each other, making it fun and easy to study for tests and exams. Blom believes in the potential of what he has created. “It allows any South African matric pupil to study or revise for an exam. They can open up Flippit and go over content. The app provides a learning mode and a test mode that presents digital flash cards”, he said.
Tlotliso Leotlela wins second fastest youth 100m win at the IAAF 2015
Tlotliso Leotlela won his 100m performance at the 2015 International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) championships in Samoa earlier this year. According to the IAAF, Leotlela came up just 0.01 shy of the world youth best of 10.19 set by Japan’s Yoshihide Kiryu in 2012. Before his phenomenal run in Apia Park, a huge improvement of 0.27 over his previous best, Leotlela was thought to be more of a 200m specialist and had finished fifth over this distance at the IAAF World Youth Championships, Cali, in July 2015.
Miners shot down wins best documentary at 43rd International Emmy’s
The sad story of the miners which led to several deaths over a protest in 2012 has been forever etched in the sands of time due to Rehad Desai’s documentary. Also, the documentary which was produced in 2014, won an International Emmy Award at the 43rd installation which took place in New York city. Miners shot down is the only film produced by SouthAfrica to win the award so far.