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Health Department ‘concerned’ about COVID-19 positivity rate as 2080 new cases are reported
23 November 2020, 8:45 PM

South Africa has registered 2 080 new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the last reporting period. This brings the total number of cases in the country to 769 759.

However, the health department is concerned about the positivity rate, amid predictions of a second wave in the country.

“We have registered a positivity rate of 14%, which is concerning,” reads in part the statement by the Department of Health, released on Monday evening.

The Eastern Cape, which has seen a surge in new infections in recent times, is accounting for 15.4% of the total infections. This is the fourth biggest number of infections after Gauteng, the Western Cape and KwaZulu Natal.


More than 14 000 tests were done in the last reporting period, bring the total number of tests to 5 305 343.

“Regrettably, 65 more COVID-19 related deaths have been reported: Eastern Cape 26, Free State 19, Gauteng 2, Limpopo 3, North West 8 and Western Cape 7. This brings the total to 20 968 deaths,” reads the statement.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says South Africa is fully committed to participating in the process of developing a vaccine for the corona virus.

SA’s latest stats:

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Earlier in the US, the head of the coronavirus vaccine programme, Dr Moncef Slaoui, said the first immunisation could start as early as the 11th of December.

He says the plan is to immunise two-thirds of the US population by May next year, using at least four of the six vaccines for which approval is being sought.

Mkhize says a number of countries are working together to ensure the speedy development of a vaccine for the virus.

“Almost 130 countries are working together to try and source one of the successful. In that process, we have actually put a commitment and we are finalising our participation in terms of some payments that need to be put down. Anyone who is not part of that process must now rely on bilateral agreements. Now, we are not relying on bilateral agreements because we think that the risk is much higher.”

Authorities have urged South Africans to continue to wear masks, wash hands and social distance – in a bid to prevent a second wave of the virus.

Zondo’s recusal judgment postponed to tomorrow
18 November 2020, 5:02 PM

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo will deliver his ruling on former President Jacob Zuma’s application for his recusal tomorrow morning.

Zondo was expected to announce his decision this afternoon at 3 pm.

In a statement, the commission says the Deputy Chief Justice received a statement from Zuma that he needs to consider.

On Monday, lawyers for Zuma as well as the commission’s legal team made arguments for and against Zondo’s recusal.

Zondo is also expected to consider a statement that Zuma’s legal team will present to him that is in response to Zondo’s characterisation of his relationship with their client.

Zuma’s lawyer Muzi Sikhakhane says the test regarding bias on the part of a judge must be that a reasonable person can believe that they will receive a fair trial.

Sikhakhane says he will demonstrate that Zondo’s conduct shows he is not impartial.

“As much as this environment is easy for you, for me and for Mr Pretorious, it’s not easy for a client or for an ordinary citizen as an accused because it does not matter what we say about Mr Zuma. The narrative is that Mr Zuma sits as an accused and therefore, that is the context in which you must look at his apprehension about this commission’s choice of witnesses, this commission’s comments during the testimony of those witnesses.”

State Capture Inquiry proceedings from November 16:

Earlier, Deputy Chief Justice Zondo said that while relations between him and Zuma have been cordial over the years, they are not friends as stated by Zuma.

Zondo says that this is not the first time he has presided over a number of cases concerning Zuma in the past.

“From November 2011 to May 2012 when I was an Acting Justice of the Constitutional Court and in the last eight years since my appointment as Justice of the Constitutional Court. I have sat in a number of matters which involved Mr Zuma as President, in which the court has given judgments; sometimes against him and sometimes in his favour and Mr Zuma has never complained in all those years that I had a close relationship with him that disqualified me from sitting in matters in which he was involved.”

Tensions run high at SABC Auckland Park newsroom
17 November 2020, 6:30 PM

Tensions ran high at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) as news staff called for the resignation of the corporation’s management. This following the management’s decision to go ahead with the plans to retrench 400 permanent workers, with redundancy letters being issued since Friday.

SABC News staff called an urgent meeting to address the retrenchment process embarked on by management.

In an unexpected move, SABC GE of News, Phathiswa Magopeni, told management that she is no longer issuing letters of retrenchment and suggests a new process be initiated.

SABC Group Executive for News stops issuing retrenchment letters to staff:

SABC Reporter, Chriselda Lewis, visibly emotional, told management to take their structure and “go with it.”

“It must stop now. You need to go … take your structure. Go with it. Go and give us something that makes sense, sir. This ship … we were here, way before, sir, you were even appointed. We have been keeping this ship alive. We worked during coronavirus. We were in wards with people who had contracted the coronavirus. People here got infected with the virus. These are mothers, fathers, grandfathers, grandmothers…”

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) says the announcement by SABC Group Executive of News Phathiswa Magopeni that she cannot continue issuing letters of redundancy under the current climate – is a temporary victory.

The process of issuing letters was supposed to be concluded by tomorrow. The SABC is yet to confirm whether all the letters of redundancy that have already been issued will be reversed.

CWU General Secretary Aubrey Tshabalala, “What we heard about the reversal of letters, that we’ll say it’s a temporary victory, so the fight is not over, Phathiswa and them cannot be trusted. We need to be very firm, we need to call for the removal of the Board of SABC. What Phathiswa is saying there about approaching government is something they should have done a long time ago. They’ve been here for years now, they’ve been blaming the previous administration without turning things around.”

Hamilton takes seventh title with Turkish triumph
15 November 2020, 9:37 PM

Britain’s Lewis Hamilton shed tears of joy as he won a record-equalling seventh Formula One world championship in Turkey on Sunday and became the most successful driver in the sport’s history.

The Mercedes ace put on a masterclass in wet and slippery conditions to take a record-stretching 94th career win at the Istanbul Park circuit and secure the title with three races to spare.

Ferrari great Michael Schumacher is the only other driver with seven titles to his name, a number once thought unlikely to be matched, but most of the German’s records have passed to Hamilton.

So crushing was the win that Hamilton lapped sole rival and team mate Valtteri Bottas with 12 laps to go. The Finn, who had to finish at least sixth, spun repeatedly and ended up 14th.

Hamilton already had more race wins, pole positions and podium finishes than anyone in the history of the sport but, despite starting a season-low sixth, the 35-year-old was determined to add to the tally.

“That’s for all the kids out there who dream the impossible. You can do it too man, I believe in you guys,” he whooped over the radio after taking the chequered flag.

The Briton finished 31.6 seconds clear of Racing Point’s second-placed Mexican Sergio Perez, after passing him with 22 laps to go, in a race run behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Seven is just unimaginable but when you work with such a great group of people and you really trust each other, there is just no end to what we can do together,” said Hamilton, who has yet to sign a new deal for 2021 but is set to stay.

“I feel like I’m only just getting started.”

Hamilton’s 10th victory of 2020, and fourth in a row, took his points tally to an insurmountable 307 with Bottas on 197.

THE GREATEST

Hamilton was congratulated after parking up by Perez, who still has no seat for 2021, and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel who completed the podium in a race full of spins and changes of lead.

“I told him that it was very special for us because we can witness history being made today,” said Vettel, a four-times world champion with Red Bull and on the podium for the first time this year.

“There is no doubt Lewis is the greatest in terms of what he has achieved.”

Bottas, who said over the radio four laps from the end that he wished the race was already finished, also went across to shake the hand of a man who won his first title with McLaren in 2008 and then Mercedes in 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Mercedes had already won the constructors’ championship for a seventh year in a row, an unprecedented feat.

While Perez started third and eked out his intermediate tyres for 48 laps, Canadian team mate Lance Stroll saw his dreams of a first win disappear after leading from his first pole position.

He finished ninth, the slide down the order starting when he pitted on lap 36, but the team moved up to third overall in the constructors’ standings.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was fourth, after passing Perez on the last lap for second but then sliding wide, with Spaniard Carlos Sainz fifth for McLaren and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen sixth.

Red Bull’s Alexander Albon was seventh — after also leading early on — with Lando Norris eighth for McLaren and taking a bonus point for the fastest lap.

Australian Daniel Ricciardo was 10th for Renault, who fell from third to fifth.

Hamilton said there was a point where he thought the race was slipping away from him, and the leaden skies and constant threat of rain added to the sense of uncertainty, but he kept believing.

When the team suggested he pit for fresh tyres towards the end, given the safety of his lead and the amount of laps done on the worn intermediates, he over-ruled them.

“I lost a world championship in the pit-lane, I learned my lesson from 2007, that’s for sure. I felt like I really had it under control and I was going to deal with the rain if it dropped,” he said.

Church leaders’ infighting divides Centane community members
15 November 2020, 8:15 PM

Infighting among Christian Mission Church leaders over a piece of land has sowed divisions among villagers of KwaNontshinga in Centane, in the Eastern Cape.

A senior member, Ronnie Doko, who defected from the church and leader of the church, Reverend Maxwell Chithwa, are at odds over the land on which the church was built.

The community is now concerned that the infighting could lead to a loss of life. They have since called for Chithwa to leave.

Local traditional leader, Chief Siyabulela Bushenge, says there are reports indicating that some congregants carry weapons to church.

“As a leader of this community, I’m using my authority, not as a reverend. He’s not even from this village for that matter and he undermines my authority. I do not ever want to see him in this village. We want to prevent the spill of blood here. We don’t want to lose our brother and parents and children due to this problem. This church building is in my land. The land is under traditional authority. Reverend Chithwa has no land or any site in KwaNontshinga.”

Reverend Chithwa believes there are certain individuals with a vendetta against him who are using community members to push their agenda.

“It’s no the entire village of KwaNontshinga that wants me gone. It’s a group of people organised by Mr Doko who wants to remove the church from the village, since he left the church. That site that he claims to be his does not belong to him. It belongs to the church. It was given to the church and not him as an individual. I have proof that the site belongs to Christian Mission Church. Even the court ruled in our favour.”

The community is calling for a speedy intervention into the matter.

Row over land causing divisions among villagers:

 

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