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Man with 39 wives, head of ‘world’s largest family’, dies in India
14 June 2021, 3:03 PM

A 76-year-old man who had 39 wives and 94 children and was said to be the head of the world’s largest family has died in north east India, the chief minister of his home state said.

Ziona Chana, the head of a local Christian sect that allows polygamy, died on Sunday, Zoramthanga, the chief minister of Mizoram and who goes by one name, said in a tweet.

With a total of 167 members, the family is the world’s largest, according to local media, although this depends on whether you count the grandchildren, of whom Ziona has 33.

Winston Blackmore, the head of a polygamous Mormon sect in Canada, has around 150 children from 27 wives – 178 people in total.

Ziona lived with his family in a vast, four-story pink structure with around 100 rooms in Baktawng, a remote village in Mizoram that became a tourist attraction as a result, according to Zoramthanga.

The sect, named “Chana”, was founded by Ziona’s father in 1942 and has a membership of hundreds of families. Ziona married his first wife when he was 17, and claimed he once married ten wives in a single year.

They shared a dormitory near his private bedroom, and locals said he liked to have seven or eight of them by his side at all times.

Despite his family’s huge size, Ziona told Reuters in a 2011 interview he wanted to grow it even further.

“I am ready to expand my family and willing to go to any extent to marry,” he said.

“I have so many people to care for and look after, and I consider myself a lucky man.”

Majority of SA students feel hard lockdown jeopardised their academic pursuits: Report
14 June 2021, 3:00 PM

More than half of students at institutions of higher learning in South Africa feel that hard lockdown has jeopardised their academic pursuits. This is according to the results of a study done on the impact of COVID-19 on students in the Post School Education and Training Sector.

Higher Education, Training, Science, and Innovation Minister, Blade Nzimande, launched the report at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in the Western Cape.

The HSRC survey explored young people’s experiences and perspectives on the impact of COVID-19 on education and learning in the country.

He says 53% of students believe they are at a low risk of contracting COVID-19, while 15% perceived themselves as high risk.

Nzimande says young people should play an integral part in the fight against the pandemic.

“This is important information because it means we need to intensify education. We need to intensify campaign. But I would like to say… it is not a bad picture at all that is emerging. And if the study tells us that more than 75% of our students do not engage in alcohol drinking and smoking as a way of coping. This is a very strong foundation in building a sober nation,” he adds.

Nzimande says COVID-19 has a severe impact on the higher education sector.

He says since mid-October last year, COVID-19 cluster outbreaks have been experienced at institutions of higher learning in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape, North West, and Gauteng.

Nzimande says his department responded swiftly in addressing the outbreaks.

“To address these outbreaks Higher Health along with our leadership from these institutions have assembled multidisciplinary investigations teams which have included people from the World Health Organisation, our department of Health, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases as well as other relevant institutions like the National Health Laboratories Services to manage and contain these outbreaks through early identification of infected students and staff, identifying their contacts and appropriately assisting them.”

South Africa currently has 1 747 082 COVID-19 cases and 57 765 fatalities.

State adds racketeering charge to Gumede and co-accused
14 June 2021, 3:00 PM

The state has now added a charge of racketeering to the charge sheet of the former eThekwini Mayor, Zandile Gumede, and her 21 co-accused.

The amended indictment was handed in when Gumede, eThekwini Municipal Manager, Sipho Nzuza, other officials, four councillors, and eight business people appeared in the Durban High Court.

Other charges include fraud and corruption.

The case stems from a 2017 Durban Solid Waste tender of over R400 million.

NPA Spokesperson, Natasha Kara, says the case has been postponed to give the defence a chance to request further particulars.

“Based on this amended indictment and the court has given a date of 30th of November. By that time we anticipate that the state would have responded to the requests for further particulars. What was also important today was that the matter was set down for the possible trial date of 18 July 2022.”

NPA says it is ready for trial against the former eThekwini mayor: 

The negative impact of COVID-19 on the psychological well-being of children
11 June 2021, 12:48 PM

COVID-19 is impacting the well-being of children. Not only are children being infected with the virus, but the disease is also affecting their psychological well-being.

Experts say many children are developing anxieties and depression after losing parents and relatives to the virus.

“After a while, they called me to say he had died…I was bad…(crying)…I was not coping, I was with my daughter, it was the two of us in the house…We sat crying…It was bad…Because I did not see any symptoms maybe I could have done something.”

A 53-year-old Soweto mother – reliving the moment she received news from the hospital that her husband of 22-years, had passed away due to COVID-19 complications.

Last year, the family cut short their Christmas Day celebrations to rush him to hospital after he experienced trouble breathing.

Sitting next to her on a couch in their Soweto home, her 13-year-old daughter fights back tears – her head bowed – staring at her hands while nervously wringing her hands. The mother says since her husband’s death, her daughter has been unwell and she had to take her out of school as she could not cope with their loss.

“My daughter is not OK, because she was very close with her father…very close. This thing has even affected her schooling. The school called me to tell me my daughter was not OK. They arranged counselling for her but still, she is not well. She is currently studying from home.”

Psycho-social experts say children are becoming increasingly anxious and depressed as they witness their parents and loved ones dying from COVID-19.

The Teddy Bear Clinic’s Shaheda Omar says since March this year, they are seeing an increase of 10% in children who are directly affected by the virus.

“We are seeing an increase of children who are now symptomatic and are getting quite ill. This is also compounded by their fears because they are not actually quite sure what is going to happen to them. And of course, the fear, and uncertainty around the future is something that would impact their well-being and of course their recovery.”

Omar says with many children finding it hard to process what is happening around them, there’s a need for intervention – including psycho-social intervention. But parents and educators must be empowered to respond promptly.

“We are facing another pandemic. A pandemic of the future generation suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. But even internal disorders such as depression, suicide. So, I think we need to take heed of this as a matter of grave urgency of what children are facing and the necessary interventions and responses that are required on the ground.”

Discussion on COVID-19 impact on children: 

The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) says South Africa has technically entered the third-wave of the pandemic. This comes as the seven-day average of almost 6 000 cases exceeds the threshold set by the Health Department.

Professor of Vaccinology from Wits University, Shabir Madhi, says the blame should also be placed on government’s failure to timeously roll out vaccines to high-risk individuals.

“So this is as much about citizens as it is about failure. It’s about failure by us being active in terms of when we got the COVID-19 vaccines into the arms of people. It is about some poor decision making which I still believe as an example with the AstraZeneca vaccine, and in fact, there’s now strong evidence to show that had we used AstraZeneca vaccine and top it up with the Pfizer vaccine we probably would have had better immune response… so we decided to throw these vaccines away and this has come at a cost.”

Madhi says as the virus becomes more infectious, children, just like adults – are more likely to be infected with the virus.

Third-wave hits Gauteng province, as concern rises over pace of vaccination:

Disabled Eastern Cape couple shares plight of life without a toilet
11 June 2021, 12:30 PM

Disability awareness month is commemorated every November. But the plight of people living with disabilities remains a constant. That is the case of a disabled couple from Shinira village in Elliotdale, Eastern Cape. They feel stripped of their dignity, living in a temporary structure that is not conducive for their condition. They have no ablution facilities and accessing water is also a problem.

Aaron Matshangana and his partner, Vuyokazi Ntsindo, first applied for an RDP house in 2007. Last year some assistance came, but it was only a temporary structure. It’s not suitable, but it’s their only home. And then further disaster struck when a storm damaged the house. They repaired it themselves, using their disability grants.

Matshangana says a decent house is the least of their worries.

“We don’t have a toilet here. There’s a hole that was built for everyone. But they eventually covered it, saying I need a special toilet. When it rains I can’t go out especially when it’s cold. I use a bucket and then go and dispose of the human waste when the rain stops.”

The couple struggles to move from and to their home due to the topography. Matshangana’s wife, Vuyokazi Ntsindo, says they rely on neighbours and relatives to push them uphill.

“I wish they could at least gravel the road to this house. That will make it easy for us to drive our wheelchairs. Even the children who push us uphill will do it easily if the path is graveled. Another thing is we wish we could get a site that is close to the road. Aaron even tried to speak to the local chief about the site but he said there is no vacant site. We want a piece of land where we will just alight from a vehicle and get into our house,” says Ntsindo.

Matshangana says just fetching water is a huge challenge.

“There’s a tap that is 100 meters downhill from where I am. So I struggle when I want to get some water because I have to carry a bucket and put it in-between the handles of the wheelchair.  I then dug it up while it pulls me back downhill because the road is sloppy. I spend about 30 minutes pulling it to the house. Sometimes I have to get off the wheelchair and try to pull it out when it’s stuck on the grass,” he adds.

The Spokesperson of the Amathole District Municipality, Nonceba Madikizela-Vuso, says they are addressing the situation.

“At the time ADM was installing sanitation structures at the area of Shinira, the Matshangana resident was left vacant because as we understand it, Mr Matshangana had left the province. Now it is important for ADM to do verification before putting up a sanitation structure in order to know if there are any special requirements or special needs for that particular family.

Since the return of Mr Matshangana, the local councillor has been in touch with ADM to indicate the special requirements for the Matshangana family and as such our service provider has been instructed to start the process of installing a sanitation structure for the family, and material has been ordered and this all will be concluded in no time.”

The couple is now living in hope that the changes to their living arrangement come sooner rather than later.

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