TIME Soccer

‘I’m Clean,’ Says Outgoing FIFA Boss Sepp Blatter

Preliminary Draw of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia
Dennis Grombkowski—Getty Images FIFA president Sepp Blatter speaks during the preliminary draw of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia at the Konstantin Palace in St. Petersburg on July 25, 2015

His organization faces a massive graft probe

FIFA’s soon-to-be-ex-president Sepp Blatter, embroiled in a massive investigation into corruption within the governing body of global soccer, said this week that he is “clean.”

“I have my conscience and I know I am an honest man,” he said in an interview with the BBC. “I am not a worried man.”

Blatter has been under investigation since early June in a scandal that has seen 14 FIFA officials indicted for financial irregularities totaling more than $150 million over two and a half decades. He resigned from his post despite having been re-elected for a fifth consecutive presidential term, but will continue to serve as president until a successor is elected early next year.

“I [resigned] because I wanted to protect FIFA,” the 79-year-old told the BBC. “I can protect myself. I am strong enough.”

Read next: These Are the 5 Facts That Explain the FIFA Scandal

The Swiss-led corruption probe is also looking into how hosts for the soccer World Cup were chosen, with the awarding of the quadrennial tournament’s next two editions — in 2018 and 2022 to Russia and Qatar respectively — under particular scrutiny after former FIFA official Chuck Blazer admitted to accepting bribes for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Blatter said he is not “morally responsible” for Blazer and other corrupt officials and told the BBC that the 2010 World Cup “the cleanest World Cup that has ever been done.”

He also defended FIFA, saying the global soccer federation will emerge unscathed from the “tsunami” of allegations.

“The institution is not corrupt,” Blatter said to the BBC. “There is no corruption in football, there is corruption with individuals, it is the people.”


Read next: A South Korean Billionaire Wants to Be FIFA’s Next President

TIME South Africa

Nelson Mandela’s Grandson Appears in Court on Rape Charges

Mbuso Mandela
Themba Hadebe—AP Mbuso Mandela, walks out of the main entrance of the home of his grandfather, former president Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg on Dec. 7, 2013.

Mbuso Mandela is accused of raping a 15-year-old girl at a restaurant

(JOHANNESBURG) — A grandson of Nelson Mandela accused of raping a 15-year-old girl will remain in police custody, while his defense lawyers collect more evidence for a bail hearing, a South African judge ruled on Friday.

Mbuso Mandela’s bail hearing was postponed to Tuesday to give his defense team more time to locate a witness who they say could testify that the incident was consensual, a judge ruled.

The judge in the Johannesburg magistrate’s court also ordered the prosecution to produce the official identity document of the teenager accusing Mbuso Mandela of rape, in order to settle the defense’s dispute that the girl is 16, the age of legal consent in South Africa.

Members of the Mandela family were in the cramped courtroom where Mbuso Mandela, 24, appeared calm as he sat behind his lawyer. He has been in police custody since his arrest last Saturday.

The rape allegedly took place at a restaurant in Greenside, a Johannesburg suburb, on Aug. 7, police said.

TIME South Africa

Why South Africa Wasn’t Ready to Release Oscar Pistorius

Oscar Pistorius South Africa
Herman Verwey—Pool/Getty Images Oscar Pistorius arrives in the Pretoria High Court for sentencing in his murder trial on Oct. 21, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa

The "Blade Runner" may have to wait four months before he is considered for parole

South Africa’s Justice Minister has blocked the release on early parole of Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius in a move welcomed by his victim Reeva Steenkamp’s family but denounced by many legal experts as politically motivated.

Michael Masutha said he had been prompted to look at the decision to release Pistorius to house arrest, just 10 months into his five-year sentence for shooting Steenkamp dead after mistaking her for a burglar, following an appeal from women’s groups. They had argued that given the high levels of violence against women in South Africa, the release of a man who killed his girlfriend during August, which is designated Women’s Month in the country, was “insensitive.”

Pistorius was due to leave jail on Friday but on Wednesday, Masutha stepped in. He said he was not convinced by the women’s argument – after all, the 28-year-old was found not to have deliberately killed Steenkamp so his crime cannot be construed as a gender offense. But he questioned the legality of Pistorius’ release to live at his uncle’s palatial home in a Pretoria suburb exactly 10 months since he was jailed.

Masutha, a qualified lawyer who is no stranger to controversial decisions having this year approved the release from prison of two apartheid-era killers to public outcry, said Pistorius should only have been considered for parole from Friday, not released. “It is apparent that the decision to release him on 21 August 2015 was made prematurely on 5 June 2015 when the offender was not eligible to be considered at all,” he said.

Legal experts have lined up to question the timing of his decision, just two days before Pistorius was due to leave Kgosi Mampuru II prison in Pretoria, undoubtedly mobbed by the international media pack that has followed his case since the fatal shooting on St. Valentine’s Day in 2013. Some have argued that it is standard practice for offenders with short sentences who have behaved well in prison to be granted early, supervised, release to ease overcrowding, and point out it is rare for the minister to intervene in parole-board decisions.

Others have suggested the sudden about-turn was made for political reasons — the powerful ANC Women’s League was among the groups who petitioned the minister.

Read more: The Oscar Pistorius Case: How It All Began

After the decision was announced, the ANC ruling party made no secret of where it stood on the case, denouncing the former Olympic champion as a “murderer” despite the judge’s ruling that Pistorius was guilty only of unintentionally killing Steenkamp. “Murder of Reeva Steenkamp at hands of Oscar Pistorius is a sore reminder of brutality meted out to and vulnerability of many women,” one tweet posted on its official Twitter feed read.

The case will now go to a multidisciplinary parole-board review team made up of judges, lawyers, academics, social workers and victims’ champions, which could take up to four months to conclude.

The ruling party suggested on its Twitter feed that it was a done deal that Pistorius will remain in prison until the Supreme Court considers an application by the prosecution to upgrade his conviction from manslaughter to murder in a hearing scheduled for November. In court papers filed this week, Gerrie Nel, the prosecutor who became one of South Africa’s most recognizable faces during the trial, said he plans to argue that even if the judge did not believe Pistorius intended to kill, she should still have found him to be a murderer because he should have known the likely fatal consequences of his actions.

Pistorius’ large legal team and family have remained tight-lipped about the latest development in a case already characterized by twists and turns more suited to a television drama.

Read more: Pistorius and South Africa’s Culture of Violence

Steenkamp’s family, who celebrated what would have been her 32nd birthday on the day of Masutha’s announcement, welcomed the news with caution, having earlier appealed to the parole board not to release him on Friday saying it “sends the wrong message to society.”

Tania Koen, a lawyer and spokesman for the family, said they applauded the actions of the ANC Women’s League. But she added: “None of that will bring Reeva back. This is what they want everyone to know. So people should not expect them to jump up and down for joy because of this.”

Laurie James-Pieters, an offender profiler and criminologist who followed the Pistorius case closely, said it might be in the athlete’s best interests to stay in prison until the intense public interest in his case dies down and the Supreme Court makes a final decision about his conviction. “While this late decision must have been devastating for a man already suffering from an anxiety disorder, the drama of his release and then possible rearrest two months down the line if the Supreme Court rules in the prosecution’s favor is not going to have a positive effect on his psychiatric well-being,” she said. “There are also a lot of people who feel angry about the case so it’s not clear how safe he would be on the outside. I personally believe it would be better for him to remain inside until the hype dies down.”

Read next: ‘Blade Runner’ Oscar Pistorius Got Special Treatment in Prison, Says Inmate

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TIME South Africa

Oscar Pistorius’ Early Release Put on Hold

Oscar Pistorius
Themba Hadebe—AP Oscar Pistorius is escorted by police officers as he leaves the high court in Pretoria, South Africa on Oct. 17, 2014.

The department says Pistorius should have served 10 months of his sentence before being considered for release

(JOHANNESBURG) — South Africa’s Department of Justice says it is putting Oscar Pistorius’ release from prison on hold until his case is reviewed again by a parole board.

Department spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga says Pistorius’ release will have to be reviewed again because he was approved to be moved to house arrest too early.

Mthunzi says Pistorius should have served 10 months of his sentence before being considered for release. He was approved for parole in June, eight months into his sentence.

Pistorius was due to be moved to house arrest on Friday after serving 10 months of his five-year sentence for manslaughter for killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp in 2013.

Mhaga didn’t say when the parole board would meet to consider Pistorius for release from jail.

TIME South Africa

‘Blade Runner’ Oscar Pistorius Got Special Treatment in Prison, Says Inmate

Oscar Pistorius listens to his judgement in the Pretoria High Court on October 21, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa.
Herman Verwey—Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images Oscar Pistorius listens to his judgement in the Pretoria High Court on Oct. 21, 2014, in Pretoria, South Africa.

Pistorius will spend the remainder of his five-year sentence under house arrest

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Convicted killer Oscar Pistorius spent his 10 months in one of the world’s most notorious prisons living in virtual isolation and benefiting from special treatment, according to a fellow inmate.

The double-amputee Olympic athlete is expected to be released Friday to spend the remainder of his five-year sentence under house arrest. Nicknamed the “Blade Runner,” Pistorius was reportedly so worried he would be poisoned while in prison that he lived on canned sardines and baked beans.

“Pistorius, he was a VIP prisoner,” Boswell Mhlongo, a fellow inmate at the maximum-security Kgosi Mapuru II in Pretoria …

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News.

TIME South Africa

Oscar Pistorius Set for ‘Mansion Arrest’ After Prison Time

"Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock during his trial in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, in this file picture taken May 6, 2014. Pistorius, 29, is expected to wear an electronic tracking tag when he is released on Friday after serving 10 months of a five-year sentence for killing his model and law graduate girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day 2013. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings/Files
Mike Hutchings—Reuters Oscar Pistorius sits in the dock during his trial in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, on May 6, 2014.

He'll live in a manor featuring more than a dozen bedrooms, a private gym, an outdoor swimming pool and landscaped gardens

Oscar Pistorius, the Paralympic gold medalist who was convicted last year of killing his girlfriend, will serve the rest of his 5-year prison sentence under house arrest in a mansion beginning Friday.

The 29-year-old champion has served 10 months in prison for killing his law graduate and model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day 2013, and will on Friday begin to wear an electronic tracking tag and live outside prison, Reuters reports.

Pistorius, whose lower legs were amputated as a baby and who was nicknamed “Blade Runner” for his prowess on the track with carbon-fiber prosthetics, will live in a manor featuring more than a dozen bedrooms, a private gym, an outdoor swimming pool and landscaped gardens. The grandiose home belongs to Pistorius’ uncle.

“It’s more like mansion arrest,” Christopher, 31, a security guard who works near the house Pistorius will stay, told Reuters.

South African sentencing guidelines rule non-dangerous prisoners should spend only one-sixth of a prison sentence behind bars.

Pistorius has admitted to killing his girlfriend, who was behind the locked door of a bathroom, in what he said was the mistaken belief that an intruder was hiding behind it.

Prosecutors are hoping to overturn the verdict and lengthen the sentence to a murder charge, arguing Pistorius would have known the person behind the door could be killed when he fired.


Read next: A State in India Just Outlawed Witch-Hunting, but Many Fear That Won’t Stop the Practice

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TIME Zimbabwe

If You Got Mad Over Cecil the Lion, Here Are 5 Ways You Can Bring About Change

Zimbabwe Lion Killed cecil
Andy Loveridge—AP In this undated photo provided by the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Cecil the lion rests in Hwange National Park, in Hwange, Zimbabwe.

Don't just tweet your rage. Do something

The death of Cecil the lion at the hands of American dentist Walter Palmer in July may have sparked a worldwide groundswell of rage, but Cecil’s death represents a larger problem with deep roots. Hwange National Park, where Cecil lived for 13 years, was the site of what the Telegraph called the “the worst single massacre in southern Africa for 25 years” in 2013 when poachers poisoned the water supply, killing 300 elephants; a recent study estimates that 33,000 are killed per year on the African continent.

The situation is just as grim for lions and rhinos: Teresa Telecky, director of wildlife at Humane Society International (HSI), estimated to TIME that, as of early August, 49 lions had been killed throughout Africa just this year. And the World Wildlife Fund estimates that 60% of the rhino population in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe was killed between 2003 and 2005.

If you want to make a difference to these statistics, here are some suggested ways.

1. Become Informed

“What we’ve found is a lot of the consumers are not aware that animals die for this,” said Mark Witney, whose company, Singita, employs 250 anti-poaching scouts within the nature parks it owns or manages throughout southern Africa. He was referring to countries like Vietnam and China, but the same is often true in the U.S., where ivory consumers may not realize the material in their trinkets, firearm embellishments and even piano keys was harvested from a dead elephant.

Witney points to the South African Peace Parks Foundation as one organization doing powerful work on awareness. The foundation recently ran an essay competition in Vietnamese schools, with the winning students flown to wilderness reserves in southern Africa to learn about conservation issues. By many estimates, the U.S. is the second biggest consumer of ivory in the world. Educating yourself and helping friends and family gain that same perspective is key to long-term change, Telecky said.

2. Make Your Voice Heard

As part of the anti-poaching fight, HSI and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) have teamed up on a petition supporting a policy proposed by President Obama earlier this summer that would ban the interstate sale of most ivory, as well as ivory imports. That rule would align with a proposal by the U.S. Department of the Interior to name the African elephant a “threatened species,” severely restricting imports of materials associated with the animal’s hunting.

The department is now holding a 60-day comment period during which members of the public can make arguments to sway the results of its final ruling on the subject. The HSI-WCS petition will be presented in September to support the bid to make the “threatened” designation permanent. Care about ivory trade and elephant poaching? Your signature has weight.

HSI is also circulating a petition to support endangered-species status for the African lion, which would result in similar restrictions for lion trophies as those suggested for ivory. Telecky told TIME she hopes the designation would “drastically curtail” lion trophy hunting.

3. Visit

“This is the frontline where the war is being fought and tourists who get here are like eyes and ears against the enemy,” ex-ranger and eco-travel promoter Mark Butcher told the Guardian in 2014. Many safari companies participate in anti-poaching efforts, both out of vested interest in a continuing local animal population and out of moral obligation, anti-poaching activists say.

Some lodges allow guests to help with day-to-day activities and put a portion of proceeds toward their anti-poaching work. If you’re going on vacation, spending your money with such organizations is one way to contribute indirectly to the cause. But Witney, whose organization puts what he says is “quite a large portion” of their proceeds into the trust used for the parks it cares for, stresses the importance of common sense and careful selection, as some groups might misrepresent their intentions.

4. Volunteer

Hundreds of organizations work on all sides of the poaching crisis, and some accept volunteers. For example, the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF), one of the most extensive anti-poaching initiatives in southern Africa, allows volunteers to undergo training and spend a minimum of two weeks with IAPF rangers going on patrol. It’s not an experience free of risk, but if you’re looking for a hands-on way to help, CEO and founder Damien Mander told TIME that his organization particularly looks especially for volunteers with special skills, like paramedics and teachers.

5. Donate

Some anti-poaching organizations accept material donations. IAPF’s wish list, for example, includes camera equipment, Leatherman multi-tools, first-aid supplies and handheld GPS devices, among other items.

Still, Mander said that old-fashioned monetary donations are most useful for organizations like his. Both he and Witney encourage would-be philanthropists to research organizations carefully. But in the right hands, money can go far, funding what activists say is the most effective method of fighting poaching: people.

“Anti-poaching is 90% managing people,” Mander told TIME, because the most effective anti-poaching organizations tap into local expertise. Your donations mean hiring more rangers who can, as Mander put it, “follow tracks of a poacher at running speed the same way you would read an article in a newspaper.”

TIME South Africa

Bic Sorry for Urging Women to ‘Think Like a Man’ in Facebook Ad


The ad, targetd to celebrated a public holiday, urged women in South Africa to: "Think like a man"

(JOHANNESBURG) — A company famous for its pens marked a public holiday honoring women in South Africa with a Facebook post urging: “Think like a man.”

Amid a storm of protest that the ad was sexist, Bic South Africa retracted the post and issued an apology.

The company had posted the message with a photo of a smiling female model on its Facebook page on Sunday, the anniversary of a 1956 march led by women who were protesting the country’s white minority rule at the time.

“Look like a girl, Act like a lady, Think like a man, Work like a boss,” the post said.

In a message on Facebook, Bic South Africa on Tuesday apologized for “offending everybody” and said it understood it had made a mistake.

The company earlier posted and then removed another apology in which it said the women’s day message was meant to be empowering, South African media reported.

“This post should never have gone out,” the company said Tuesday. “The feedback you have given us will help us ensure that something like this will never happen again, and we appreciate that.”

TIME South Africa

South Africa Counts Carcasses as Rhino Poaching Surges

South Africa Rhinos
Robin Clark—AP A white rhino is captured after its partner was killed by poachers near the town of Hluhluwe, South Africa in Oct. 2014.

South Africa's environment ministry reported 1,215 rhino poachings last year

JOHANNESBURG — Poachers have killed record numbers of rhinos in South Africa in recent years, but some conservationists believe the toll could be higher than the official figures.

Allison Thomson, founder of a group called Outraged SA Citizens Against Poaching, said there are cases not included in the official statistics. For example, lions or other predators probably kill some vulnerable rhino calves whose mothers are poached, Thomson said.

South Africa’s environment ministry, which reported 1,215 rhino poachings last year, said Wednesday that aerial surveillance and other “concerted efforts” are made to detect carcasses of rhinos killed by poachers. Home to most of the world’s rhinos, South Africa has struggled to contain poaching syndicates because of rising demand for their horns in parts of Asia, including Vietnam.

The count includes poached rhinos “irrespective of the age of the animal or whether the horns have been removed or are still intact,” the ministry said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press.

The ministry said it is unlikely that some rhino poachings are not reported “as may have happened in the past on one or two occasions.”

The dead fetus of a pregnant rhino killed by poachers would be included in poaching statistics, but “some” may be missed if scavenging animals reach the carcass before investigators, the ministry said.

The anti-poaching group has reported a toll of 710 so far this year, based on media reports and other sources.

Environment Minister Edna Molewa has released figures through the end of April — a toll of 393 rhino poachings, an increase of about 20 percent over the same period in 2014.

Most owners of rhinos in private reserves have insured them because of increased poaching, and they would have to report a rhino killing in order to receive compensation, the ministry said.

TIME Books

Scientists Detect Traces of Cannabis on Pipes Found in William Shakespeare’s Garden

William Shakespeare, English playwright, 19th century. Artist: E Scriven
The Print Collector—Getty Images 19th century portrait of William Shakespeare, English playwright.

The drug was found using sophisticated gas chromatography methods

Some centuries-old pipes found in the garden of William Shakespeare still contain traces of cannabis, according to South African scientists who examined the relics with forensic technology.

The study, published in the South African Journal of Science, examined 24 pipe fragments from the town of Stratford-Upon-Avon, where Shakespeare lived. Some had been excavated from Shakespeare’s garden. Using advanced gas chromatography methods, researchers detected cannabis on eight fragments — four of which were confirmed as from the Bard’s garden, the Telegraph reports. Evidence of Peruvian cocaine was found on two others, though they were not from the same property.

Though some of his readers have long combed his work for what they see as coy references to drug use, there is no proof that Shakespeare himself used drugs and earlier studies by the same South African research team, led by anthropologist Francis Thackeray at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, have attracted the derision of many Shakespeare scholars.

The new study encourages them to reconsider the evidence.

“Literary analyses and chemical science can be mutually beneficial, bringing the arts and the sciences together in an effort to better understand Shakespeare and his contemporaries,” it reads.

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