Monday, February 05, 2007

South Africa: Man jailed for 25 years for murdering Anglo-Zulu historian

Daily Mail:

Fethe Nkwanyana

A judge has jailed a member of a gang that killed a prominent historian to 25 years in prison amid an escalating dispute about government attempts to tame high violent crime rates.

The murder of David Rattray, an expert on the 19th century Anglo-Zulu wars, made headlines some feared would scare away the visitors to South Africa who are vital to plans to boost economic growth.

Mr Rattray, who was killed on January 27, drew tourists from around the world to hear his colorful recountings.

Some 50 people are murdered every day in South Africa, a country of about 46 million and the country has gained notoriety as the crime capital of the world, although rates are falling.

There were 18,545 murders in 2005, down from 21,405 in 2001; 20,553 attempted murders, down from 31,293 in 2001; and nearly 55,000 reported rapes, down slightly from 54,293 in 2001, according to police statistics.

President Thabo Mbeki in a television interview last month said there was no evidence that people thought crime was spinning out of control.

The opposition Democratic Alliance on Monday urged all South Africans to write to Mbeki ahead of his State of the Nation address on Friday "to convince him that it is time to act on crime."

It also said it would introduce parliamentary questions on whether governing officials threatened to close government accounts with First National Bank to pressure it into withdrawing a planned anti-crime advertising blitz.

The bank shelved plans at the eleventh hour Friday to distribute 1.5 million pamphlets and prepaid envelopes addressed to Mbeki asking him to do more on crime.

According to letters leaked to the Business Day newspaper, top executives from other corporations put pressure on the bank to scrap the campaign fearing it was too confrontational.

Corporate bosses have joined forces with the government in the Business Against Crime partnership, but this has done little to calm investors' jitters that crime is seriously impacting on business.

A senior official with Business Against Crime, Alan MacKenzie, was seriously wounded last week during an apparent attempted robbery at his sister's home on the eve of addressing a parliamentary committee.

In an open letter Monday, the chairman of accountancy firm Grant Thornton South Africa identified crime as the main reason that South Africa had fallen from third to seventh place in the company's survey of business optimism in 32 countries.

Leonard Brehm wrote that 84 per cent of respondents reported that "they, their staff or families of staff have been affected by house break-in, hijacking, violent crime, road rage or similar crimes in the past year."

He added: "This means that nearly every business of the 200 surveyed has experienced decreased productivity, creativity and motivation as a result of violent crime."

Mr Rattray was well known on the international conference circuit for his vivid lectures from a Zulu perspective on the 1879 Anglo-Zulu war.

He helped attract tens of thousands of visitors, especially from Britain, to the battlefields in KwaZulu-Natal.

Prince Charles was among the many who paid tribute to the historian.

The two were friends, and a long message expressing anguish was read on Prince Charles's behalf at Mr Rattray's funeral.

Fethe Nkwanyana, a 23 year-old local man, was arrested last week. Police are still hunting five other members of the gang, including the alleged ringleader.

Judge Jan Hugo said that Nkwanyana must serve at least 18 years in prison before he was eligible for parole, according to the South African Press Association.

He said Nkwanyana's guilty plea and his offer to give evidence against his former accomplices had saved him from a life sentence. Nkwanyana was convicted last week.

Man sentenced for Rattray's murder

South Africa debates crime rates

Headline-grabbing crimes put pressure on S. Africa

'We're going to kill whites'

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