Historic conviction “a powerful message” to African dictators

Historic conviction “a powerful message” to African dictators

Photo: AP Images

Charles Taylor has been successfully convicted for his war crimes at the International Criminal Court (ICC) today.

Taylor (64)has been fighting the 11 charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes since he was indicted in 2003, and the conviction today has many human-rights groups excited for the warning it sends to other African dictators.

“Taylor’s conviction sends a powerful message that even those in the highest level positions can be held to account for grave crimes,” said Elise Keppler of Human Rights Watch

Taylor is the first African leader to be tried under the ICC, and the first head of state to be successfully tried by an international court since the Nuremburg trials after World War Two. He pled not-guilty to the charges.

The former president of Liberia supported rebels groups in neighbouring Sierra Leone during their civil war, in exchange for access to their natural resources, including diamonds. The war started in 1991 and ended in 2002.

Taylor provided “sustained and significant” support, said Presiding Judge Richard Lussick. This included providing arms and ammunition to rebels as well as communication equipment. The rebels were responsible for extensive crimes against humanity including mass rape, the use of child soldiers and enslavement.

Taylor will serve his sentence in Britain. The length of his imprisonment will be determined two weeks after his sentencing on May 16.

A costly repair

A costly repair

Wits Sports Administration (WSA) has spent over an estimated R1 million in the last three months on repairing sports facilities, allegedly vandalised and abused by Wits students, on all Wits campuses.

While the issue has been ongoing for some time, the WSA is now struggling with a lack of finances to pay for on-going repairs.

“Sports admin simply does not have the budget to repair as well maintain all of Wits’ sport facilities. And over the years the sports budget has decreased,” said Vardhan.

The Vuvuzela was told that it costs WSA R300 000 to repair a single tennis court and that to replace damaged or broken tennis court fences will cost R80 000.

WSA, according to Vardhan, generates no profit and on some occasions have to get assistance from PIMD.

When asked by Vuvuzela if WSA was doing anything to improve security around the sports facilities Vardhan replied that locks are put on the facilities gates but they are either cut or damaged.

“Security is an issue and we at WSA have to constantly remind campus security to watch the students during major sports events as well as over the weekend and Friday afternoons.”

Vuvuzela observed that the service delivery gate to the west and east campus gyms have been left open since February and Wits students constantly “hang out” on the cricket pitch.

“Students have no respect for Wits sports property, they cut holes in the tennis fences and run across the cricket pitch in soccer boots,” said Vardhan.

WSA plans to generate enough funding to establish a mobile security team to monitor all of Wits’ sports facilities.

In addition to vandalising sports facilities WSA staff have also observed students vandalising sports ablutions facilities.

The walking of pets on the sports fields and the failure to clean up after them has also become an issue that has been largely publicised.

FREE FOR ALL: A lack of security is largely to blame for damage to majority of Wits' sports facilities. Photo by Akinoluwa Oyedele.

Commemorating Ashraf

Commemorating Ashraf

Ashraf Lodewyk, a first team player and an active member of the Wits Basketball Club died in a car accident eight years ago.

WITS Sport will be hosting the 8th annual Ashraf Memorial Basketball Tournament this week to remember the late psychology student.

A total of 31 teams will compete in the 2012 edition. There are 21 registered men’s teams and 10 women’s teams. Seventy-one matches will be played during the four day tournament and teams from Limpopo, Cape Town and Kwazulu Natal will be participating.

The tournament will take place at Hall 29 on west campus from the 26th to the 29th of April, beginning at 9am each day.

Chief organiser Manyani Maseko said the tournament also aimed to promote good administration of basketball in the country.

“During the time Ashraf was administrator, the Wits Basketball club was well supported on campus. The club also became more recognised within the Gauteng region. Ashraf was a charismatic, committed and loyal individual, who gained much respect in the Wits basketball community,” she said.

The top men’s and women’s teams will be awarded floating trophies, while the runners-up will be given medals.
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