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Anti-gang unit member shot and killed in Western Cape
18 August 2019, 12:55 PM

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate is probing the death of a 40-year-old member of the anti-gang unit in the Western Cape.

Sergeant David Hoffman was shot dead in Franschhoek on Saturday night.

Police spokesperson Novela Potelwa says it is alleged that the deceased was at Skool Street when a group of community members descended on the property he was in.

She says police were called including a 41-year-old colleague of the deceased.

The group left and after they left Hoffman was shot. Potelwa says at the time of the shooting Hoffman was with his colleague who has since being detained.

SAPS management has expressed condolences to the Hoffman family.

Hong Kong protesters
Thousands of Hong Kongers brave rain to join anti-government rally
18 August 2019, 12:30 PM

Thousands of protesters, most clad in black, gathered under a downpour for an anti-government rally at a Hong Kong park on Sunday, in the eleventh week of what have been often violent demonstrations in the Asian financial hub.

The turnout for the rally could show whether the movement still has broad-based support after the ugly scenes witnessed during the past week when protesters occupied the city’s airport, for which some activists apologised.

Anger over a now-suspended Bill that would allow criminal suspects in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China erupted in June, but the rising unrest is fuelled by broader worries about the erosion of freedoms guaranteed under the “one country, two systems” formula put in place after Hong Kong’s return from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

“Hong Kongers are tired of protesting, this is really the last thing they want. It’s bloody hot and it’s raining. It’s a torture just to turn up, frankly,” said a 24-year-old student named Jonathan.

“But we have to be here because we have no other choice. We have to continue until the government finally shows us the respect that we deserve,” he said.

Seated on concrete soccer fields in the sprawling Victoria Park in the city’s bustling Causeway Bay district, protesters held placards with slogans including “Free Hong Kong!” and”Democracy now!”, and umbrellas to shield them from the heavy rain.

Demonstrators are seeking complete withdrawal of the extradition bill, a halt to descriptions of the protests as’rioting’, a waiver of charges against those arrested, an independent inquiry and resumption of political reform.

They have also called for the resignation Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed leader, Carrie Lam.

“When we were young, we didn’t think about it. But my son tells me: After 2047, what will happen to me?,” said a history teacher named Mrs. Poon, referring to the year when the 50-year agreement enshrining Hong Kong’s separate system will lapse.

“I will come again and again and again. We do not know how any of this is going to end. We will still fight,” she said.

Police have come under criticism for using increasingly aggressive tactics to break up demonstrations, and on Sunday some people handed out balloons resembling eyeballs, a reference to the injury suffered by a female medic who was hospitalised after being hit by a pellet round in the eye.

On Saturday, however, a demonstration in support of the government attracted what organisers said was 476 000 people, although police put the number of attendees at 108 000.

The anti-government protests present one of the biggest challenges facing Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012. And with the ruling Communist Party preparing to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic on October 1, the crisis in Hong Kong has come at a sensitive time.

Beijing has struck an increasingly strident tone over the protests, accusing foreign countries including the United States of fomenting unrest.

Scenes of Chinese paramilitary troops training at a stadium in the city of Shenzhen, which borders Hong Kong, gave a clear warning that mainland intervention by force is possible.

Last week, protesters who occupied the terminal at Hong Kong’s airport forced the cancellation of nearly 1 000 flights and detained two men they thought were pro-government sympathisers, prompting Beijing to liken the behaviour to terrorism.

“We are Hong Kongers. We are here for our future. We feel for the teenagers,” said Frances Chan, 60, a retired journalist attending Sunday’s rally.

She said only a few protesters had used violence, sparingly and that it was brought on by pressure from authorities and police.

“Actually, we want peace and freedom,” she said. “If the government would just listen to the five requests, things would calm down.”

England’s gay men at risk without access to HIV prevention pill
18 August 2019, 10:40 AM

Delays in rolling out an HIV prevention pill in England are putting gay men’s lives at risk, with thousands buying it online without medical supervision, says HIV campaigners.

England is lagging behind the United States and Kenya, where the highly-effective drug is more widely available, as health authorities only give the pills to gay and bisexual men taking part in a three-year clinical trial, which ends in 2020.

“This is a scandal,” said Will Nutland, co-founder of PrEPster, which is lobbying for the once-daily pre-exposureprophylaxis (PrEP) pill, also known by its drug brand name Truvada, to be offered in routine HIV prevention services.

“We have a technology that is cheap, accessible, is effective and is cost-effective, yet we’re still being denied full roll-out of this drug,” said Nutland, who is also a doctor.

“We know of people who have attempted to access PrEP and then have ended up being diagnosed with HIV three or six months later.”

Studies show that PrEP can cut by 99% the transmission rate of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS. Some 340 000 people are taking it globally, according to New York-based advocacy group AVAC, 40% of them in the United States.

The number of places on England’s National Health Service(NHS) trial in January was more than doubled to 26 000 from 10 000 due to soaring demand, but no date has been set for a potential national roll-out.

Other regions in Britain have different policies. PrEP is available in Scotland through sexual health clinics.

A survey of almost 2 400 PrEP users in Britain, by the UK’s public health agency and advocacy groups PrEPster and I want PrEP now, found that 54% got free pills via the English NHS trial and 37% bought them privately, usually online.

Some people are also buying PrEP informally through friends and contacts, while a private doctor’s prescription costs about $482 a month, according to PrEPster.

The survey found that only half of those who paid for PrEP privately took the necessary kidney function tests before or while taking the pills, and nearly a quarter had to stop taking the drug because it was too expensive.

It is important to test for HIV and Hepatitis B before starting PrEP and to have regular urine and blood tests to ensure the drug is not damaging bones or kidneys, PrEPster said on its website, which advises on how to buy pills safely online.

“Despite the side effects of taking PrEP being minimal for many users, it’s vital anyone wanting to or currently taking PrEP has the relevant screenings,” said Liam Beattie, a spokesperson for the Terrence Higgins Trust HIV charity.

Some 38 million people globally are living with HIV, with 1.7 million newly infected in 2018, according to UNAIDS, the United Nations’ AIDS agency.

Search for Soweto robbery suspects continues
18 August 2019, 10:31 AM

Gauteng police are still looking for an unknown number of suspects following a business robbery at a Shoprite in Bram Fisherville in Soweto on Saturday.

One suspect was shot dead during a shootout with police. Two others sustained gunshot wounds and remain in hospital under police guard.

An unknown number of suspects managed to flee.

Gauteng Police spokesperson Kay Makhubele says they pounced on the suspects while the robbery was in progress and a shootout ensued.

He says goods stolen from the shop were recovered as well as the getaway motor vehicle.

“We are still searching for the suspects who are still on the run. We are also calling on anyone with information to assist by calling the police,” adds Makhubele.

Mafoko Security distances itself from SABC tender irregularities
18 August 2019, 8:10 AM

Mafoko Security has distanced itself from any wrongdoing after the Special Investigating Unit(SIU) found evidence of serious irregularities in the SABC’s awarding of a tender to the firm two years ago.

Former SABC Interim Board Members, who were involved in the procurement and awarding of the R185 million security tender could now face legal action.

Mafoko Security Patrols’ Director-General Lebo Nare says the firm was not involved in the procurement processes by the public broadcaster.

He says what is happening is unfortunate considering that they have seen the leaked report and it does not implicate the company in any wrongdoing.

He says: “It is very unfortunate that we should be on the receiving end for something that we were not responsible for. We are not involved in the procurement processes of the SABC or clued up as to how they come up with the conclusion of the winning bidder.”

“The process is an internal one at the SABC. We only received an appointment letter and we come and render quality security services at the SABC.”

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