KZN police call for calm following “devices” discovery

KZN police call for calm following “devices” discovery

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Vishnu Naidoo

The public must not be frightened by the spate of suspicious devices found in and around Durban. Police have given the assurance that none of them was capable of exploding, but said they could have started a fire.

It’s believed about six devices were found in the space of a week, mainly in major shopping malls like Gateway and the Pavillion.

Some were hidden between cushions in major retail stores while others underneath cars.

“We are investigating exactly what these devices were intended for, who was responsible for placing these devices at the places we found them and what’s the motive behind them,” saysNational Police Spokesperson, Colonel Vishnu Naidoo.

Police called for calm and confirmed that no damage to property or injuries was caused. No one has been arrested yet and no one has claimed responsibility.

The Hawks have taken over the investigation.

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AU and UN support peace in South Sudan

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The African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) say they fully support the recent agreement between South Sudan’s warring parties to form a unity government.

The two institutions say that the agreement can be perfected with time, what is important now is peace in South Sudan.

South Sudan was one of the countries whose status was discussed at the second AU/UN annual conference held in Ethiopia.

In their recent round of talks South Sudan President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar have agreed to a ceasefire and to work together.

The two agree that there will be four vice presidents and opposition leader Machar be the first.

The UN says that with the worsening humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, any peace deal that can end the war is a good deal:

Antonio Guterres UN secretary General says: “When I saw that there is a chance of peace I immediately believed that all of us need to do everything possible to make that chance become a reality. The details of the transitional agreement might not be perfect; I think that is totally secondary if peace is indeed achieved.”

With the new agreement there will be additional members to government to accommodate the other warring parties in the conflict.

The terms of the latest deal by the South Sudan warring parties is similar to one that was reached in 2015 but never held.

The African Union agrees that the agreement is not perfect but says it is workable for now.

South Sudan continues to reel from the effect of internal conflict that began in 2013 and has since displaced over 1 million people internally and those seeking refuge in neighbouring Sudan, Uganda and Ethiopia.

The AU and the UN say they will not hesitate to take punitive measures against spoilers of peace in South Sudan should the warring factions fail to uphold the new peace  deal they have agreed on.

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Dembele is surprise Belgium pick as Matuidi returns for France

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Moussa Dembele was a surprise pick to replace the suspended Thomas Meunier in Belgium’s line-up and Blaise Matuidi was restored to the France midfield for Tuesday’s World Cup semi-final.

Matuidi missed the 2-0 quarter-final win over Uruguay due to suspension but has been recalled in place of Corentin Tolisso.

Belgium’s right wing back Meunier was cautioned for a second time in the tournament in their quarter-final victory over Brazil and Dembele takes his place in the starting side.

Dembele will play alongside Axel Witsel in the centre of midfield with Belgium coach Roberto Martinez moving Marouane Fellaini to the right.

Nacer Chadli goes from the centre to the left where he will try to nullify the threat of speedy France striker Kylian Mbappe.

Mbappe and midfielder Ngolo Kante were included in the France team despite sitting out training on Monday.

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Jiba looking forward to resuming her duties at NPA

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SCA judge Connie Mocumie

Suspended National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Senior Executive Advocates Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi have successfully challenged the High Court judgment which declared them unfit to practice as advocates. The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein has ruled that the High Court in Pretoria misdirected itself when it ordered that Jiba and Mrwebi be removed from the roll of advocates.

The Appeal Court found that the General Council of the Bar failed to prove a case of misconduct against Advocate Jiba.

The case against the duo related to the controversial withdrawal of among other things, murder and corruption charges, against former Police Crime Intelligence head, Richard Mdluli. However, the court was more scathing on Mrwebi’s conduct.

The court ordered that Mrwebi be suspended from acting as an advocate for six months. The suspension period has since lapsed as it was effective from the 15 September 2016.

“Mrwebi provided contradictory explanation if, when and why he decided to withdraw the charges against Mdluli. The majority judgment found that in respect of Mrwebi the GCB established the alleged offending conduct. However, due to the fact that there was no personal gain from Mrwebi’s misconduct and the fact that the purpose of such proceedings are to uphold the rules regulating the profession and not to punish the wrongdoer the sanction handed down by the High Court was not justified,” says SCA Judge Connie Mocumie.

The General Council of the Bar was not immediately available for comment. Jiba’s Attorney Zola Majavu welcomed the SCA verdict and said Jiba was looking forward to resuming her duties at the NPA.

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Trek4Mandela to help save fast melting glaciers

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Letshego Zulu

The 2018 edition of Mount Kilimanjaro expedition is about more than honouring former President Nelson Mandela and keeping girl-children in school.

A 100 trees will be rooted in African soil, in a bid to help save fast-melting glaciers. Late racing driver Gugu Zulu will also be remembered. Zulu died during the 2016 trek up the mountain.

His wife Letshego Zulu kept her promise as she returned in 2017 to complete the journey she and Gugu had started.

This year she’ll help re-green the mountain’s slopes.

“This year I am going back to continue the legacy of my late husband. I am going to plant trees and why trees you may ask, trees are a living legacy. They live for many years to come and with that Gugu will be remembered for many years,” says Letshego.

Sarah Scott from the Kilimanjaro Project is working tirelessly to revive the once lush vegetation.

“She came to me with this grand idea of planting a mini forest in memory of Gugu and I thought that is the best way to remember Gugu. I can always go back to Kili to climb the mountain in his memory but something as grand as a tree I think is the best way to remember him,” says Letshego.

Launched last year, the initiative aims to reverse the effects of climate change.

Scott wants urgent intervention.

“Because of deforestation around the mountain there is less rainfall around the mountain. The cloud cover creates a blanket over the mountain allowing it to be protected from the sun because of deforestation the mountain has spent more face time with the sun and therefore the glaciers are not melting they are evaporating,” says Scott.

The goal is to plant 1 million trees this year.

Letshego will be joined by her and Gugu’s three-year-old daughter, Lelethu.

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Rain brings some relief to Western Cape farmers

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Agri Western Cape says good rains and heavy snow has placed the industry in the province in a much better position than last year.

CEO of the organisation, Carl Opperman says although dams are filling up in the province, the drought is far from over.

Ground water was used extensively as a result of the drought, and needs to recharged.

The area from Bredasdorp to Mossel Bay and inland to the Karoo is still in a dire situation.

Opperman says as a result of the drought, many farmers are still in financial dire straits and many face cash flow problems.

Opperman says there is an urgent need for all stakeholders, including government to look at setting up an insurance plan or programme to assist farmers when serious crises hit.

“We’ve got assistance on the live stock side, but there’s no assistance for your horticulture and viticulture, people or your grain farmers at this point in time. We got to really look at it.”

“The upcoming farmers are still in dire straits because there is no capital or balance sheet to back them up. So we must also look at ways and means to assist up and coming farmers. We need to find ways to sustain them and take them further when we face crisis like this,” adds Opperman.

 

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Anti-gay hostility threatens Indonesia’s Aids battle

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Rising government and public hostility towards the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Indonesia is threatening the battle against Aids in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, activists and an official said.

Homosexuality is not regulated by law in Indonesia, except in the conservative province of Aceh, but the country has seen an increase in raids targeting LGBT people, which have forced many members of the community underground.

The group Human Rights Watch (HRW) said this week hostility was making it harder for the LGBT community to get access to public health programmes, putting people at greater risk of contracting the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes Aids.

“The Indonesian government should recognise that its role in abuses against LGBT people is seriously compromising the country’s response to HIV,” said Kyle Knight, LGBT rights researcher at HRW and author of the report.

“One particularly troubling aspect of the anti-LGBT panic is that public health outreach to such populations has become far more difficult, making wider spread of the disease more likely,” the rights group said.

The prevalence rate of HIV among gay men in Indonesia has jumped from 8.5% in 2011 to 25% in 2015, it said.

Indonesia recorded 46 357 new HIV infections in 2017, with nearly a quarter of those among men who have sex with other men, according to government and UNAids data. Other groups included sex workers and intravenous drug users.

A senior health official said the increasing hostility to the LGBT community was disrupting the relations between health workers and people who need their help.

“For a long time, health workers were able to meet these groups in certain places,” Dr Windra Waworuntu, director general of infectious diseases at the health ministry, said on Wednesday.

“But with the anti-LGBT feeling now, health workers find it difficult to reach them. It’s similar to when red light districts are broken up and health workers have difficulty in reaching sex workers.”

A spokesperson for President Joko Widodo declined to comment when asked about rising anti-LGBT sentiment among the government and public but senior government officials have called for gay rights advocacy to be restricted.

Indonesia’s parliament looks set to criminalise same-sex relations, something that Islamist groups have long pressed for,while police have stood by while vigilantes have stormed “gay sex parties”.

Police have also stepped up raids on gatherings at spas and hostels, charging some people with violating strict pornography laws.

In 2016, Vice President Jusuf Kalla asked the UN Development Programme to stop $8 million of funding for LGBT-related programmes in Indonesia.

This year, a survey found that nearly 90% of Indonesians who understand the term “LGBT” felt threatened by the community, while the Indonesian Psychiatric Association and the Health Ministry stated in internal documents seen by Reuters that being LGBT was a mental illness.

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HRC urges better dialogue following healthcare strike

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The Human Rights Commission (HRC) has called on healthcare workers to consider engaging it when they fail to resolve their disputes with government instead of embarking on a strike action that compromises the provision of healthcare.

The Commission is hosting a national dialogue on the impact of protest action on the right to access healthcare services.

The North West province was plunged into chaos a few months ago when healthcare workers went on a prolonged strike action over salaries and poor working conditions.

HRC Chairperson Bongani Majola has also appealed to government to develop early warning systems in order to resolve issues as soon as they are raised.

“Where the state fails to engage properly, we’d like to encourage trade union movements and workers together to consider engaging the Commission instead of venting their frustrations on innocent and ailing members of the public, who are compelled by their conditions to seek help in public hospitals and clinics. The Commission is committed to ensuring that the human rights of everyone are promoted and protected and this includes the rights of healthcare workers.”

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EFF, Contralesa push for Section 25 amendment

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The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) say they’re in agreement that Section 25 of the Constitution, which deals with right of property ownership, should be amended.

This as Parliament’s Constitutional Review Committee is holding countrywide public hearings into whether the Section should be amended.

However, King of Amazulu Goodwill Zwelithini has said government should back off from the land issue.

The King strongly warned those suggesting that he lose his land and vowed to take the Ingonyama Trust issue to the Constitutional Court if the need arises.

During a joint media briefing in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, the EFF and Contralesa emphasised their view that the State should be the custodian of expropriated land.

Contralesa Secretary-General Zolani Mkiva says: “We do not buy into the narrative that Section 25, as it currently stands with the market value being at the centre of its compensation regime, can be a vehicle for a meaningful land redistribution programme. Contralesa and the EFF further agree that the state shall be the overall custodian of all SA land. We also agree that the land, which currently falls under the custodianship of traditional leaders, will continue to be held as such subject to the primary ownership on the state on behalf of the people.”

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Drivers threaten to shut down Uber and Taxify

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Uber and Taxify drivers have threatened to shut down the ride e-hailing services should their demands not be addressed.

They marched to Uber offices in Krammerville in Johannesburg on Tuesday and handed over a memorandum of demands.

They gave both companies 48 hours to respond to their demands.

Among some of their demands is for the 25% commission which they claim Uber receives, to be reduced to 15%.

Taxify on the other hand, claims its drivers receive between 13 to 20% and that they even increased fares recently in response to the fuel price hike.

Spokesperson for the drivers Vhathuka Mbelengwa says thus far they have not received any official response. ”

Uber has put out press releases about offering driver incentives and fuel top up incentives. These are solutions we have assessed and feel they lack impact in what we are trying to accomplish. We want real solutions. We want our demands met.”

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