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African press review 17 May 2011

4 min

The mystery surrounding the death of Olympic marathon champion Samuel Kamau Wanjiru preoccupies some of the Kenyan dailies, but elsewhere in the African press, there's talk of earthquakes, elections, and Nelson Mandela.


The Daily Nation in Kenya continues coverage of the tragic death on Monday of Olympic marathon champion, Samuel Kamau Wanjiru.

The main question is, did the 2008 Beijing gold-medal winner commit suicide or was it an accidental fall?

In the past, the world acclaimed athlete sent text messages to close friends saying he would kill himself, but never disclosed the reasons for the threats.

The runner had been facing difficulties caused by strained relationships within the extended family, which subsequently saw a gun-related case preferred against him.

Outside family circles, Wanjiru had many friends as well as people who disliked him for his lifestyle. A huge crowd turned up at the mortuary yesterday to mourn the international marathon icon.

Police say they now believe the fall that resulted in the athlete’s death was not intentional.

In Uganda, Kizza Besigye continues to dominate the front page of the Daily Monitor.

According to his political party, the opposition Forum for Democratic Change, Dr Besigye is effectively under house arrest.

Police surrounded Besigye's home and arrested his wife yesterday.

Officers intercepted Dr Besigye’s car outside his gate early yesterday morning and towed it to Kasangati Police Station – only to discover that the passenger was his wife, Winnie, who was headed to the airport to catch a flight to New York where she works for the United Nations Development Programme.

Ms Byanyima was released without charge and returned home after missing her flight but said the opposition leader was not free to move out of his home.

Daily Monitor journalists who visited Dr Besigye’s home in Kasangati, 20 kilometres outside Kampala, at 6pm yesterday saw several police patrol pick-up trucks and dozens of anti-riot police officers in the vicinity.

The police officers allegedly threatened journalists and barred them from taking photographs.

In Johannesburg, The Star says President Jacob Zuma has called on all South Africans to follow former president Nelson Mandela’s example and use their vote in Wednesday's local government elections.

Mandela cast an early ballot at his home in Houghton, Johannesburg, on Monday morning.

Independent Elections Commission chairwoman Brigalia Bam said that the 92-year-old statesman and Nobel peace laureate voted privately under observation of officials.

She said Mandela looked “healthy and handsome” as he cast his vote.

Zuma said the Elections Commission had assured him that all systems were in place and that voting stations would be ready on Wednesday morning. Zuma will cast his vote at the Ntolwane Primary School in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal, at 9am tomorrow.

The Star also reports that an earth tremor hit Ekurhuleni yesterday morning, rattling residents from Alberton to Fourways.

At 7:16am, a 3.1 magnitude tremor originating 10km south-east of Germiston could be felt across the city, sending some Joburg residents into a panic.

Numerous Bedfordview residents also said they could feel the quake for about a minute, with a minor aftershock five minutes later. This follows several tremors that have rocked the country over the past few days.

The National Council for Geosciences told The Star yesterday that the cause of the quake was currently not known, but recommended that residents should not panic.

The Namibian reports on the Wall-mart/Massmart saga in South Africa, saying that global retailer Wal-Mart and its local acquisition target Massmart Holdings yesterday offered to set up a 10 million euros fund to help support local suppliers, and pledged to honour existing union contracts.

There will be no staff sackings for at least two years after the deal is finalised, they said.

A lawyer representing Wal-Mart also told the Competition Tribunal the company would honour all union deals for a period to be determined by the tribunal.

The offer was made in closing arguments to a hearing of the Competition Tribunal, which is examining Wal-Mart’s 1,6 billion euros bid to acquire 51 per cent of Massmart.

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