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Andisiwe Dike
Trial of controversial Pastor Omotoso to resume next Monday
26 February 2020, 8:15 PM

The trial of Pastor Timothy Omotoso and two co-accused in the Port Elizabeth High Court has been postponed until Monday next week.

Defence lawyer Peter Daubermann wants to question the police officer who took the statement from the first witness.

Andisiwe Dike’s testimony in court differed significantly from the written statement. She pointed out several inaccuracies.

Judge Irma Sachem refused to have a trial within a trial regarding the statement. The three accused are facing 97 sex-related offences.

During the cross-examination, defence advocate Peter Dauberman led first witness Andisiwe Dike to relate the testimony she had already given but going in-depth. He asked for details pertaining to the alleged sexual encounters.

Daubermann further asked her whether she did not implicitly consent to Omotoso by not showing any dislike, during some of the alleged sexual encounters.

Dike, who appeared confident as the cross-examination proceeded, answered yes to this question, after asking Daubermann to define implicit to her.

She confirmed she did not show resistance or indicate any displeasure, but says she did show discomfort. Daubermann later took the witness through her written statement.

The court heard that there were several inaccuracies in the statement that Dike made with a police captain in East London, compared to the evidence she gave in court this week.

Dike said she spoke Isixhosa to the police captain, who is also an Isixhosa speaker, when a statement, written in English, was taken. Daubermann requested a short adjournment, as he wanted to consult with the police captain who took the statement.

He said he would not be able to continue with his cross-examination, until he has consulted the relevant official. He said the statement was inadmissible. He applied for a trial within a trial, to cross-question the police official, which was immediately dismissed by the judge.

The case has been postponed to Monday, to allow Daubermann time to speak with the police official.

This video below gives a detailed summary of the witness’ cross-examination: 

Maria Sharapova
Sharapova announces her retirement
26 February 2020, 7:37 PM

Maria Sharapova, the Russian five-time Grand Slam champion who became one of the highest paid sportswomen in the world, announced her retirement at the age of 32 on Wednesday.

Sharapova, whose Wimbledon victory in 2004, aged 17, propelled her to super stardom, broke the news in an article for magazine Vanity Fair.

Her decision is hardly a major surprise as she has struggled with injuries and poor form since returning from a 15-month drugs ban in 2017, the result of testing positive for meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.

The former world number has played only two matches this year, losing in the first round of the Australian Open, with her ranking sliding to 373.

Robbie Kempson
Kings coach concerned over crowd attendance during home fixtures
26 February 2020, 6:11 PM

Southern Kings interim coach Robbi Kempson is concerned about poor crowd attendance at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium during their Pro 14 matches.

The struggling Port Elizabeth rugby franchise will host Irish side, Connacht on Sunday.

The Kings have lost their last six matches and will embark on a home support this time around.

Kempson believes that, unlike in Europe, there is not much attraction for Pro 14 in South Africa to the Kings and the Cheetahs.

“I don’t think there is much emphasis placed on Pro 14 as it should be. I think it’s the world’s toughest competition. I don’t actually question it. I think us not winning doesn’t assist that process. People want to watch a winning team. It’s easier to draw thousands to the stadium. I think for them coming to the stadium and watch other international teams, it’s just much of a spectacle, coming to watch the kings and that should be much of a drawcard,” says Kempson.

University of Fort Here
Murder accused Fort Hare student Nogemane suspended by University
26 February 2020, 5:32 PM

Murder accused Yolanda Nogemane has been suspended by the University of Fort Hare, Eastern Cape. She is accused of the murder of fellow student Yonela Boli, who was fatally wounded in a stabbing incident, two weeks ago.

It is alleged that an argument ensued between the two in on the 9th of February following a night of drinking. The 24-year-old student was rushed to hospital where he succumbed to his wounds.

The suspension comes after Nogemane was granted bail of R1 000 in the Alice Magistrate’s Court.

University of Fort Hare Spokesperson Thandi Mapukata says, “In line with the university policy, any student that is deemed to have committed a transgression that warrants an investigation by the university then fit in the category that should be suspended and not come close to the university, depending on the nature of the transgression. So, in her case, the University was not going to be able to run ahead of the law. So when she was given a bail, the university processes needed to kick in,” explains Mapukata.

The SRC at the University has expressed disappointment after Nogemane was granted bail by the Alice Magistrate’s Court.

In the video below, students are calling for no bail for Nogemane:

Tayyip Erdogan
Turkey will repel Syrian forces from Idlib posts this week: Erdogan
26 February 2020, 4:28 PM

Turkey plans to push Syrian government forces away from its military observation posts in northwest Syria’s Idlib region this week, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday, despite continued advances by Damascus’s Russian-backed military.

Nearly a million Syrians have been displaced in the last three months by fighting between Turkish-backed rebels and Syrian forces trying to recapture the last major insurgent-held region in Syria after nine years of war.

Ankara has sent thousands of troops and truckload of equipment into the region, in Syria’s northwest corner bordering Turkey, to support the rebels and Erdogan has vowed to push back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

“We are planning to liberate our observation posts from the surrounding (Syrian government forces) by the end of this month, one way or another,” Erdogan told his party’s lawmakers in a speech.

Assad’s forces made fresh gains in southern Idlib province where they took a number of villages on Wednesday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor and a military news outlet run by Assad’s Lebanese ally Hezbollah.

The pro-government forces’ immediate objective is to reach the town of Kafar Aweed, the capture of which would force rebels to withdraw from a wider tract of territory including their last remaining foothold in Hama province, Observatory Director Rami Abdulrahman said.

The Syrian army said it had seized numerous villages and towns in the last few days in the south of Idlib Province, describing the captured territory as an important crossroads between rebel-held territories.

Erdogan first demanded on February 5 that Assad’s forces pullback behind a line of Turkish observation posts by end-February, or Turkey would drive them back.

Turkey set up 12 observation posts up around a “de-escalation zone” in Idlib under a 2017 agreement with Russia and Iran, but several now find themselves behind Syrian government front lines.

Syrian insurgents backed by the Turkish military seized the town of Nairab in Idlib this week, according to rebel and Turkish sources, the first area to be taken back from advancing Syrian government forces.

Wave of migrants:

Ankara is increasingly concerned about the build-up of displaced people south of its frontier with Syria. Turkey, which has already taken in 3.6 million Syrian refugees, says it cannot handle another influx and has closed the border.

Syrian government forces are advancing closer to the camps for uprooted people near the Turkish border, where the migrants fear being engulfed in the fighting.

Turkish and Russian officials were due to hold a third round of talks in Ankara on Wednesday aimed at reducing tensions in the region. Two previous rounds in Ankara and Moscow have failed to yield any tangible progress.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry expected positive results, RIA news agency cited Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov as saying, but a Turkish official was not optimistic.

“At the moment, solely military diplomacy is being carried out and it is not possible to solve the problem on the ground like this,” the Turkish official told Reuters.

He said clear results were unlikely until a planned Turkey-Russia-Iran summit on March 6. A summit a day earlier between Russia, Turkey, France and Germany had been proposed, but Moscow has not sounded receptive to the idea.

Erdogan said in Wednesday’s speech that he hoped the issue of using the air space over Idlib will be resolved soon.
Russia controls the region’s air space and has been bombing Turkish-supported rebels on a daily basis in support of the offensive by Syrian government forces.

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