Turkish troops launched a coup Friday, with soldiers taking to the streets of Ankara and Istanbul as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed the putschists would pay a “very heavy price”.
Jets screeched low overhead in the capital, while citizens rushed for the safety of their homes.
AFP correspondents reported a strong explosion in Ankara just before 1:00am (2200 GMT), though it was not immediately clear what caused the blast.
Turkey’s top general Hulusi Akar was taken hostage at the military headquarters in the capital Ankara after the attempt to bring down the government, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
State broadcaster TRT said the military had declared martial law and a curfew, in a statement signed by a group calling itself the “Council for Peace in the Homeland”.
“The power in the country has been seized in its entirety,” said a military statement quoted by Turkish media.
It said the coup had been launched “to ensure and restore constitutional order, democracy, human rights and freedoms and let the supremacy of the law in the country prevail, to restore order which was disrupted”.
“All our international agreements and commitments retain their validity,” the statement added.
“We hope our good relations will continue with all countries in the world.”
Erdogan, speaking from what a presidential source said was a secure location, urged people to take to the streets to resist the coup.
“I certainly believe that coup plotters will not succeed,” he said, speaking on a mobile phone via FaceTime in his first reaction to the move by the Turkish armed forces.
“I urge the Turkish people to convene at public squares and airports. I never believed in a power higher than the power of the people.”
Erdogan said he was still president and Turkey’s commander in chief, promising that plotters would pay a “very heavy price”.
It was earlier reported that the president was on vacation in the Mediterranean resort of Marmaris.
Television pictures showed tanks deployed outside Ataturk airport in Istanbul. Reports said that flights into the airport had been halted.
US President Barack Obama has been briefed, with US National Security Council spokesman Ned Price saying: “The president’s national security team has apprised
him of the unfolding situation in Turkey.”
The EU called for “restraint and respect for democratic institutions” in Turkey.
Earlier on Friday, security forces had partially shut down the two bridges across the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul as military jets were heard flying low over Ankara, reports and AFP correspondents said.
The Bosphorus and Fatih bridges were closed by the gendarmerie – a branch of the Turkish military dedicated to internal security – for traffic travelling from Asia to Europe, NTV television said.
AFP correspondents said that Istanbul had been turned into a ghost town after the events, with people who had been outside for a Friday night rushing home for safety.
But some on the streets were hailing news of the coup.
“Now things are changing – Turks are on fire,” Fethi Karabas, a 27-year-old tour guide in Taksim Square, told AFP.
“We have hope now,” he added. “Turkey has been in a very polarised state for almost 15 years now… This is the manifestation of all that anger.”
Rojhat Dogru, a Turkish Kurd on holiday in Istanbul, added: “I am very happy. Erdogan is a murderer but now he is dead.”
Reactions were swiftly pouring in from around the world, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov calling on Turkey to avoid all “bloodshed”.
“Problems in Turkey need to be resolved in accordance with the constitution,” Lavrov said, speaking in Moscow at a joint press conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry.
The US diplomat said he hoped for “peace and continuity” in Turkey, while a Greek government source said Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had been “briefed by the head of secret services” about the developments.
Farmer’s ambitious upgrade plans hit
An Eastern Cape farmer’s efforts to increase production volumes through a R1.5million milling upgrade and create jobs have been dealt a blow as he is being forced to wait up to nine months before seeing a return on his investment.
That is because Rory Gailey, of CRH Holdings in Cradock, has to wait to have his Eskom power points upgraded, work necessary for the improved equipment to work, having already paid the power utility the quoted R213 000 for the job.
The upgrade included refurbishing buildings, providing a new silo, and installing a dust filter, a compressor and a bigger mill with the aim of nearly doubling the farm’s production and creating more jobs.
Gailey said as a result of the Eskom delay of from six to nine months, his business stood to lose about R240 000 a month. Also, if the power upgrades were not done soon, 14 jobs would be on the line if he lost contracts.
The farm currently produces 70 tons of feed a week on contract.
In a letter sent through his lawyers to Eskom, Gailey pleaded with the utility to expedite the upgrade from the current 100KVA transformer to a 200KVA one.
“We are losing money because we can’t operate and meet our contractual agreements,” Gailey said.
“The farmers we supply feed to are also struggling because, with the drought conditions, they need feed.
“Last month, both our old mills broke down and now we will have to spend about R90 000 to be able to service our contracts.
“We did not budget for this as we have just [spent] an amount of R1 426 000 on [the upgrades].
“Should we lose these contracts, there will be 14 staff members whose jobs will be on the line, until such time as we can secure new contracts.” In response, Eskom’s regional office told Gailey of the six- to nine-month timeframe, saying that they would “endeavour to improve our service levels and commit to a connection timeframe sooner”.
Gailey, who is also a DA councillor and deputy provincial chairman, said the farm already paid the utility an average R180 000 a month.
Eskom provincial spokesman Zama Mpondwana said Gailey’s application was being processed and this could take several months as the utility was experiencing some connection challenges in the province.
“Eskom is aware of a number of customers that are complaining about delays in their electricity connections in some parts of the Eastern Cape,” Mpondwana said.
“Unreservedly” apologising for the delay and inconvenience caused to Gailey, Mpondwana issued an assurance that the matter was being given the attention it deserved.
Eastern Cape-born striker Bongani Ndulula is thrilled to have returned to home soil and says he will use his expertise to help Chippa United perform even better this season.
The 26-year-old from Aliwal North was unveiled this week as one of the 13 new players who will be part of the Chilli Boys squad this season.
“Drogba” as he is known in soccer circles, has vast experience, having played for the two biggest soccer clubs in the PSL in Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs.
Ndulula has 15 cup victories to his name and scored 15 goals for the SA U23 team.
During his short stint at Amakhosi, the former Bloemfontien Celtic and AmaZulu player struggled to get game time under coach Steve Komphela.
Now Ndulula says his main goal is to see to it that Chippa do well in the league.
“I am very happy to join Chippa because it is a team from my province,” he said.
“Now that I am part of the team, my aim is for the club to do well. I can’t look at individual success. For now, my focus is for the team to do well.”
The Port Elizabeth-based club had an impressive run in the league last season, finishing in sixth place on the log and booking themselves a spot in the MTN 8 competition.
Ndulula said the Chilli Boys’ top-eight finish came with pressure, but he was definitely up for the challenge.
“Yes, I am up to the pressure. I know we want to do better than last season,” he said.
“As a striker, I will be happy if I score goals to help the team win. I will work hard to play. I know it is not going to be easy.”
Ndulula said he had received a warm welcome from his teammates. “Everything is going well so far and the training has been good. I have no complaints.”
Chippa also announced Canterbury as their new technical sponsor for this season.
Brand ID president Du Toit Botes wished the Chilli Boys luck for the upcoming season.
Andile Mbenyane will captain the squad, with Diamond Thopola as his deputy.
Call all your girlfriends, boyfriends, side-chicks and undercover lovers to come and vote for the ANC next month.
That was the message from Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula to voters at Njoli Square, in Kwazakhele in Port Elizabeth, yesterday.
Dressed in an ANC T-shirt, a tracksuit and sneakers, Mbalula was flanked by party spokesman Zizi Kodwa, Nelson Mandela Bay ANC mayoral candidate Danny Jordaan and ANC provincial executive committee member Andile Lungisa.
Hundreds of supporters hung on Mbalula’s every word as he pleaded with voters to support the ANC in the coming election, on August 3.
“We are left with 19 days before the election and we must come out in numbers,” he said.
“Call all your girlfriends, boyfriends, side-chicks and undercover lovers to go and vote for the ANC.
“This freedom we want in Port Elizabeth will be snatched by rats if we don’t go and vote.
“Your life will be like in Cape Town, where people of Khayelitsha and Gugulethu are longing for the freedom you have here in PE.”
The minister also presented Jordaan to the crowds.
“We are bringing you Jordaan here in PE. We ask for peace and unity in the ANC,” Mbalula said, to cheers from the crowds.
Some, however, shouted: “Nitya imali yethu nje [But you are stealing our money]”.
Mbalula begged supporters not to give up on the ANC, but to support it.
“Let us go and vote. If we don’t, those white people in town will go and vote and snatch PE from us,” he said.
Some jubilant supporters at Njoli Square pledged their support for the ANC.
Vuyani Pele said: “We are the members of the ANC. We are here because we love this party. We want it to win this metro so we can live the way Mandela promised us.”
Nomalungelo Lusu, said: “If there is a problem with the leader, they must put another one in. It does not mean I must go to another party.”
Sub-standard houses will NOT be fixed, minister says
Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu is sticking to her guns, saying the government will no longer rectify any badly built houses provided over the past 16 years. She said she had noticed that there appeared to be confusion around the new rectification policy in Nelson Mandela Bay.
“To remove the confusion, we have indicated [to the city] that the policy of rectification is over,” Sisulu said in an interview yesterday.
This is a massive blow to the city which has been inundated with complaints about shoddily built houses.
Badly built homes have also been the cause of a large number of protests in recent years.
In 2014, the municipality reported that it had a rectification backlog of about 39 000 units.
Sisulu said any house built after 2000 would not be fixed, and that the onus was now on the body that had been established to monitor building standards – the National Home Builders’ Registration Council (NHBRC) – to track down contractors and ensure they fixed the mess.
Such remedial action was not the government’s responsibility but belonged to the private sector.
“There are houses which are our responsibility and we have been checking with the municipality if these in fact belong to us. The HDA then rectifies those houses,” Sisulu said.
She said houses that were built after 2000 must be fixed by the responsible contractor.
“Where we are able to track down the builder, we will use them as an example. They should not take government and our people for granted.”
That was not the case at the higher end of the market and contractors would not be able to get away with it with government housing.
“What this means is that if anything goes wrong with the house, that builder comes to rectify the house,” Sisulu said.
She believed all the contractors could be tracked down as they had to be registered with the NHBRC and all of those involved were on an official database.
An exception could be companies that had folded, but even then there was warranty coverage, contributed to by contractors, and this would be used by the NHBRC to cover costs.
Earlier in the day, Sisulu and mayor Danny Jordaan handed over 2 000 title deeds to RDP house beneficiaries in Uitenhage.
She emphasised that the title deeds were not being handed over because it was election time but that the government wanted residents to own a piece of land.
“We are giving you these title deeds to say to you we may not be able to give you back all the land taken from you in the past, but you now own a piece of land for your children to inherit,” Sisulu said at the Uitenhage Indoor Sports Centre.
Although the deeds handover was supposed to be a municipal event, ANC volunteers were distributing party T-shirts inside the venue and holding up “Danny Jordaan for mayor. Vote ANC” election posters.
Happy endings are not limited to fairy tales – at least not for nine rescued elephants at the Knysna Elephant Park.
Most of the small herd had been rescued from culling operations over the past 20 years.
This week they were moved to a bigger and better home at the Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve.
Park owner Lisette Withers said: “Ever since their rescue, the long-term objective for the elephants was for them to remain together in a free-range environment and to be returned to a habitat as similar as possible to the home they had come from.”
Plans to move them were put in motion two years ago when four young cows – aged between one and three – joined the park.
Mpho, Lundi, Kito and Ntombi belonged to a herd living on a private hunting farm that was due to close down.
The mothers were seen to be too dangerous to move, but authorities agreed that the young elephants could be saved if a suitable home could be found.
The Knysna Elephant Park offered to take the four.
“But first of all a surrogate family had to be found,” Withers said.
“We knew that [the park’s] retired bulls Harry, Namib and Gambo, together with bonded female Tosha, would give the four calves the support, guidance and leadership they needed.
“Add to the group a small calf named Tembi, born to Tosha and Harry in May 2013, and the perfect family was formed.”
Harry, rescued from a cull in the Kruger National Park, has been with Withers and her team since they started in 1994.
On Monday, the next step of their journey was completed when the herd was successfully moved to the privately owned Plettenberg Bay reserve with more than 3 000ha to roam in.
The park team, assisted by wildlife vet Brendon Tindall and a professional game transport company, took the elephants to their new home in two trips – first the bulls, then Tosha and the young elephants.
Cape Nature representatives were at the release camp.
The post Knysna elephant family moved to new home in reserve at Plett appeared first on HeraldLIVE.
TWO police constables were injured after residents pelted them with stones while they were chasing a wanted gangster in Helenvale, Port Elizabeth, yesterday at 3pm.
Within hours of the incident, a 21-year-old man was wounded in a drive-by shooting nearby.
Police spokeswoman Colonel Priscilla Naidu said the two constables were taken to hospital for treatment after they were “spontaneously bombarded with stones thrown by community members” while chasing the wanted man on foot.
“The suspect managed to escape but a 25-year-old man was arrested for public violence linked to the stone throwing.”
The drive-by shooting occurred later at the corner of Borchards and Terblanche streets in Gelvandale, from a white Jetta without number plates.
The man was shot in the leg, hip and left side of his body.
Meanwhile, in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court yesterday, Pieter Pretorius, 25, was sentenced to 18 years in jail for shooting a man in his Bloemendal house in September.
A distraught mother sobbed as her son – accused of stalking, kidnapping and raping his ex-girlfriend – appeared in court yesterday.
The case was postponed to Wednesday.
His lawyers said they would ask the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court to release the man, 27, into the care of his parents, so that he could go back to rehab, where he had been receiving treatment for drug addiction before his arrest.
The man was arrested on Sunday night after he was caught hiding under his former girlfriend’s car at her townhouse complex near Target Kloof, Central.
The two have an 18-month-old child together.
It is alleged he harassed, kidnapped and raped the woman, 26, after the two split in May.
WARNING: Not for sensitive viewers
A truck smashed into a crowd in the French resort of Nice, killing at least 80 people in what President Francois Hollande on Friday called a “terrorist” attack on revellers enjoying a Bastille Day fireworks display.
The driver was shot dead after barrelling the truck two kilometres (1.3 miles) through the festive crowd on the palm-lined Promenade des Anglais, sending hundreds fleeing in terror and leaving the area strewn with bodies.
Authorities said they found identity papers belonging to a 31-year-old French-Tunisian citizen in the truck, as well as “guns” and “larger weapons”.
The attack was of an “undeniable terrorist nature,” a sombre Hollande said in a televised national address, confirming that several children were among the dead as families came together to celebrate France’s national day.
The bloodshed came on Bastille Day, a celebration of everything France holds dear, its secular republic and the values of “Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite” (Freedom, Equality, Fraternity).
The attacker struck after a day of military pomp and ceremony in Paris — where armed forces, tanks and fighter jets swooped down the Champs Elysees avenue — and spectacular firework displays.
“France was struck on its national day … the symbol of freedom,” said Hollande.
A photograph showed the front of the truck riddled with bullet holes and badly damaged, with burst tyres.
A lone doll lay abandoned on the promenade where families celebrated the holiday just hours earlier.
Robert Holloway, an AFP reporter who witnessed the white truck driving at speed into the crowd, described scenes of “absolute chaos”.
“We saw people hit and bits of debris flying around. I had to protect my face from flying debris,” he said.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters on the scene that the death toll stood at 80, with scores injured including 18 in “critical condition”.
On Twitter, people mobilised fast, with citizens offering safe refuge under the hashtag #PortesOuvertesNice (Nice Open Doors).
An account called SOS Nice was set up where desperate pleas for news of missing loved ones went out with pictures of a young girl with braces or a teenager pulling a funny face among those posted.
Some were quickly tracked down, according to relieved tweets.
The attack is the third major strike against France in less than 18 months and prosecutors said anti-terrorist investigators would handle the probe.
It comes eight months after Islamic State attacks on Paris nightspots left 130 people dead, dealing a hard blow to tourism in one of the world’s top destinations.
US President Barack Obama condemned “what appears to be a horrific terrorist attack”, although no group had yet claimed responsibility.
Hollande announced he would extend France’s state of emergency for three months in the wake of this latest attack and “step up” the government’s action against jihadists in Syria and Iraq.
“We will continue striking those who attack us on our own soil,” he said, in reference to the Islamic State group.
He also called up army reservists to bolster the country’s security services that are stretched to the limit.
France has been under a state of emergency ever since the November 13 Paris carnage, which came after 17 were killed in another attack in January at various sites including the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a Jewish supermarket.
The Islamic State group has repeatedly singled out France as a prime target for its military actions against the group in Iraq and Syria, and hundreds of jihadists have left France to go and fight in its ranks.
The Mediterranean city of Nice, with its pebble beaches and clear blue water, has been a magnet for sun-seekers and the jet-set since the 19th century.
A witness named Nader told BFM television he had seen the whole attack from start to finish, and had initially thought the driver had “lost control”.
“I was in the street. He stopped just in front of me after he (crushed) a lot of people. I saw a guy in the street, we were trying to speak to the driver to get him to stop.
“He looked nervous. There was a girl under the car, he smashed her. The guy next to me pulled her out,” he said in broken English.
Nadr said he saw the driver pull out a gun and start shooting at police.
“They killed him and his head was out the window.”
The Promenade des Anglais was sealed off, crawling with police and ambulances as authorities from the local Alpes-Maritimes prefecture urged residents to stay indoors.
Over the past week, France had been breathing a sigh of relief after successfully hosting the month-long Euro 2016 football championship, which passed off without incident despite fears of attacks.
The tournament brought an all-too-brief burst of joy to a gloomy France, bogged down after the two attacks in 2015, violent anti-government protests, strikes and floods.
European Council President Donald Tusk said: “It’s a sad day for France, for Europe, for all of us.”
“The subjects of the attack were people celebrating liberty, equality and fraternity.”
Enlarged squad of 137 to represent SA in Rio
Springbok superstar Bryan Habana has missed out on going to the Olympic Games after he was omitted from the 12-man Blitzboks squad for Rio yesterday.
Habana‚ who was the player of the tournament and world player of the year in 2007 when the Springboks won the Rugby World Cup‚ was hoping to be part of rugby’s historic return to the Olympics in Rio next month.
But he‚ along with other 15s Springboks Ryan Kankowski and Francois Hougaard‚ did not make the lucky dozen.
Also in the cold were South African soccer stars Andile Jali and Lebogang Phiri after the two players were denied permission to travel to the global showpiece by their European clubs.
Jali was to be one of the overage players in SA U23 coach Owen da Gama’s squad‚ but his Belgian club, KV Oostende, turned down the midfielder’s call-up.
Denmark-based Phiri suffered a similar fate when his club, Brondby, also turned down the request.
An enlarged South Africa team will represent the country at the Olympics in Brazil next month, the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) announced yesterday.
An additional 113 athletes were named to an initial 24 names that were given out in May to bring the total number of participants for the Games to 137.
That is 12 more than the 125 athletes who represented South Africa at the 2012 Olympics in London.
In addition to track and field athletes and swimmers‚ SA will be represented in other codes like sevens rugby‚ men and women’s soccer‚ golf‚ badminton‚ judo‚ triathlon‚ rowing and equestrian.
The Eastern Cape will be represented by six competitors in marathon runner Lusapho April, swimmer Chris Reid, sprinter Anaso Jobodwana, new Chippa United midfielder Menzi Masuku and sevens stars Cecil Afrika and Tim Agaba, who is formerly of the Kings.
A juicy financial carrot has been dangled in front of the competitors.
Following uncertainty over whether Sascoc would be able to afford incentives to encourage participants to chase medals at the global showpiece‚ the federation confirmed that those who returned back home as medallists would find their bank balances healthier.
Individual athletes‚ teams and relay teams that earn gold medals will pocket R500 000. The coaches will get a R100 000 share of the winnings‚ with R400 000 going to the athlete or team.
A silver medal will be worth R250 000 – with R200 000 going to the athlete or team and R50 000 to the coach.
A third spot on the podium (bronze) will be worth R100 000‚ with R80 000 for the athlete and the coach bagging R20 000.
“Ladies and gentlemen‚ we have tried our best‚” Sascoc president Gideon Sam said.
“At some point we were wondering whether we would have these incentives. But thanks to all our sponsors who came forward.”
Sascoc and the athletes are hopeful that they will improve on the six medals – three gold‚ two silver and one bronze – SA returned with from the 2012 Games.
They are also hoping for an improvement on the overall medalwinners’ standings after finishing 23rd four years ago.
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