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South Africa’s nuclear deals unlawful, court rules

A South African court has annulled initial agreements the government reached with three countries to help it build nuclear power stations.

The deals with Russia, the US and South Korea were unlawful, the court ruled.

The government failed to hold public hearings and a parliamentary debate over its plans, it added.

Environmental groups said they welcomed the ruling, pointing out it came on the eve of the anniversary of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

The government has not yet commented on the ruling, in a case brought by the Earthlife Africa and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI).

Its plan to build eight nuclear plants at an estimated cost of around 1tn rand ($76bn; £59bn) has been dogged by controversy, Critics fear the deal will be unaffordable and plagued by corruption, and suspect that Finance Minister Pravin Gordan was sacked by President Jacob Zuma last month because he had serious reservations about it.

“In the past few weeks citizens have demonstrated their willingness to mobilize against corruption and the capture of our state. The nuclear deal is at the center of it all.” SAFCEI official Siphokazi Pangalele said in a statement.

Concerns about the affordability of the deal contributed to global rating agency Fitch’s decision on 7 April to downgrade South Africa to “junk status”.

The government says it needs new nuclear power stations to meet South Africa’s growing electricity demand, and to move away from relying on coal-fire plants. The country currently has one nuclear plant.

It had reached preliminary agreements with Russia, the US and South Korea to build eight more, AFP news agency reports.

Environmental groups say South Africa should rely more on renewable energy to meet its electricity needs

Rugby Championship: South Africa beat New Zealand in thriller

South Africa ended world champions New Zealand’s 22-match unbeaten run with a thrilling victory in Johannesburg.

Patrick Lambie landed a 55m penalty with two minutes remaining to clinch a gripping Rugby Championship Test match.

The Springboks led by 11 points just after half-time but Dane Coles’ 71st-minute try put the visitors ahead, only for Lambie to snatch the win.

The defeat was the first for the All Blacks in 23 matches since they lost to England at Twickenham in December 2012.

New Zealand have lost just twice in 38 matches since winning the World Cup in 2011, while South Africa went into the match at Ellis Park with only one win in their last 10 meetings with the All Blacks.

Handre Pollard scored 19 points for the hosts, converting both of his two first-half tries as well as Francois Hougaard’s opener.

2014 Rugby Championship

16 August: Australia 12-12 New Zealand, South Africa 13-6 Argentina 13 September: New Zealand 14-10 South Africa, Australia 32-25 Argentina
23 August: New Zealand 51-20 Australia, Argentina 31-33 South Africa 27 September: South Africa 28-10 Australia, Argentina 13-34 New Zealand
6 September: New Zealand 28-9 Argentina, Australia 24-23 South Africa 4 October: South Africa 27-25 New Zealand, Argentina v Australia

Malaki Fekitoa went over for the first All Blacks try, but the home side led 21-13 at the break.

Pollard kicked a penalty after half-time to put South Africa 24-13 ahead, but this served as a prelude to a stirring comeback from New Zealand.

A try from winger Ben Smith was converted by Beauden Barrett to reduce the gap to four points, and this year’s Rugby Championship winners were ahead when Coles crashed over in the corner.

But Barrett missed the conversion, which meant that Lambie had a chance to retake the lead when Liam Messam’s challenge on Schalke Burger resulted in a penalty on 78 minutes.

McCaw closing in on O’Driscoll’s record

Richie McCaw’s 134 internationals comprise 133 Tests against other countries, and one appearance against the Barbarians. He trails only Ireland’s Brian O’Driscoll (141 Tests) and Australia’s George Gregan (139) in the all-time list.

The substitute fly-half nervelessly slotted the kick over from just inside his own half, giving his side a lead they held to deny All Black captain Richie McCaw a win on his record-breaking 134th international appearance for his country.

The result was the first defeat for McCaw’s side in 18 matches since the start of the four-team Rugby Championship in 2012.

South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer: “All credit to Pat, it was an unbelievable kick under huge pressure.

“I have been involved in rugby for 30 years and always wondered what it felt like to beat the All Blacks.”

New Zealand coach Steve Hansen: “I have no problem with (referee Wayne) Barnes giving the penalty, I don’t think there was intention to hit him high, but he did.

“It was a great game of rugby and could have gone either way, but my heart tells me the Boks deserved it today.”

South Africa: Le Roux, Hendricks, Serfontein, De Villiers (capt), Habana, Pollard, Hougaard; J du Plessis, B du Plessis, Mtawarira, Matfield, Etzebeth, Vermeulen, Mohoje, Coetzee.

Replacements: Burger for Mohoje (49), Strauss for B Du Plessis (52), Pietersen for Hendricks (57), Lambie for Pollard (62), Botha for Etzebeth (62), Van der Merwe for J Du Plessis (62), Reinach for Hougaard (66), Nyakane for Mtawarira (72).

New Zealand: Dagg; B Smith, C Smith, Fekitoa, Savea; Barrett, A Smith; O Franks, Mealamu, Moody, Whitelock, Thrush, Reid, McCaw (capt), Kaino.

Replacements: Messam for Thrush (48), Coles for Mealamu (48), Franks for Moody (h-t), Faumina for O Franks (57), Luatua for Kaino (60), Kerr-Barlow for A Smith (65), Crotty for C Smith (73), Slade for Kerr-Barlow (74).

New Zealand's Dane Coles scores against South Africa

Dane Coles scored his first try for his country in his 23rd Test

Patrick Lambie of South Africa kicks the match-winning penalty

Patrick Lambie of South Africa held his nerve to kick the match-winning penalty

New Zealand's Richie McCaw

Richie McCaw, pictured with All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, broke Colin Meads’ international appearance record for his country