18 May, 2004

Turbulent spirits

Homicide detectives have identified a suspect they believe shot a street child in Cape Town's city centre after his car had been broken into. Now they are protecting street children who fear for their lives because they saw what happened - including their key witness, an 11-year-old boy (IOL 2004-05-18).

The turbulent spirits of the long-dead czars and the Nordic gods must have smiled at the recent goings-on in the Pretoria high court, the battleground for alcoholic spirit coolers. Court papers tell a fascinating story of how Smirnoff Ice was withdrawn from the market to be replaced by Smirnoff Spin. However, nine days before the launch of Smirnoff Spin - following a three-month advertising campaign, training workshops for sales staff, presentations and demonstrations, all at a cost of R10 million - the competing brand Nordic was launched (Business Report 2004-05-18).

The Health Department has lost close to half a million in South African courts in cases against Cuban doctors fighting to keep their jobs (Witness 2004-05-18).

The Ark, a shelter for homeless people in Durban, and its residents lost an application for leave to appeal against an eviction order on Monday at the Pietermaritzburg High Court (Witness 2004-05-18).

A 32-year-old Johannesburg man was found guilty on Monday of loading a virus on to the computers of Edgars, which the company claims cost them R20 million and affected up to 700 stores. Because the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act governing what employees may legally do with company computers is not yet in force, Berend Howard of Morningside Manor was charged with malicious damage to Edcon property (Witness 2004-05-18).

South Africa remains last in a survey of 22 countries able to conduct electronic government operations, but this should be seen in the correct context (Mail & Guardian 2004-05-17).

Nigeria
A 13-year-old boy has turned down N5.7 million as compensation for his eye plucked out by ritualists, although an Upper Sharia Court in Bauchi is still trying to persuade the victim to take the money. An official of the court said that the victim, Isa Yayaji, was insisting that the ritualist should sacrifice an eye for an eye (AllAfrica 2004-05-13).

Australia
Greenpeace went on trial in the United States for boarding a freighter carrying illegally harvested Amazon mahogany. It is accused of breaking a law against "sailor mongering" last used 114 years ago. In the first US criminal prosecution for civil disobedience of an advocacy group rather than its individual members, the environmental watchdog faces probation and fines if convicted of a crime over the 2002 protest off Miami (SMH 2004-05-18).


Belgium
European Central Bank governing council member Guy Quaden yesterday played down fears that small and medium firms would suffer from new rules on bank capital. The Basel 2 rules will revamp the way banks manage risk, but some analysts have said they could cause a reduction in lending to smaller firms, as these were riskier bets than large corporations (Business Report 2004-05-18).

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