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Nearly 2,000 contestants compete in Beijing’s 2021 World Robot Contest Championships
13 September 2021, 4:28 PM

Nearly 2,000 contestants from more than 100 universities, research institutions and enterprises showcased cutting-edge robots including the leading brain computer interface (BCI) devices at the 2021 World Robot Contest Championships concluding in Beijing on Monday.

The contest, which is held concurrently with the four-day World Robot Conference, comprised four categories, namely “Tri-Co” robots (coexisting-cooperative-cognitive), BCI robots, youth robot design and robot application.

“The 2021 World Robot Contest is the seventh edition since its onset in 2015. The contest’s content, pattern and system have been gradually enriched, innovated and improved respectively over time,” said Zhang Yuewei, deputy secretary-general of the World Robot Contest’s organizing committee.

The “Tri-Co” category, which focuses on the application of robots in smart manufacture and healthcare, tests whether the robots can adapt to complex dynamic environment and collaborate with humans and other robots in a working environment.

As for the BCI robots, which assesses and analyses brain signals and translate them into commands, will meet the needs in healthcare, elderly care and rehabilitation. Teams from leading research institutions and universities showcased their state-of-the-art devices at the contest.

Professor Zhang Xiaochu from the University of Science and Technology of China said his team is working on using BCI technologies to monitor the brain activities of people with Internet addiction and make cognitive behavior changes.

“Our lab is called ‘the cognitive neuropsychology laboratory’, and our research focuses on brain mechanism. We hope our research will develop methods to control brain without causing any damage,” said the professor.

Former security officer describes Hoosen Haffejee’s torture as a ‘horrible nightmare’
13 September 2021, 3:17 PM

WARNING: GRAPHIC DETAILS 

A former security police officer has described the torture of Doctor Hoosen Haffejee during detention as a horrible nightmare.  

Mohun Gopal is testifying in the Pietermaritzburg High Court in the reopened inquest into Haffejee’s death in 1977.  

An inquest ruled in 1978 that Haffejee hung himself in a police cell.  

Gopal is the only surviving person who witnessed Haffejee’s interrogation.   

“The only way in which I can describe Doctor Haffejee’s brutal assault, what I witnessed, was that it was like a grotesque feature of a horrible nightmare that just unfolded right before my very eyes. That is the type of assault that Doctor Haffejee sustained compared to two or three hits on the head.” 

Last month, testimony at the re-opened inquest into the death of Haffejee revealed that he could have been strangled and not died through suicide by hanging while in police detention under the Security Branch.

Engineer Thivash Moodley has testified that it would not have been possible for Haffejee to have hanged himself in the police cell.

Moodley told the court that it takes a weight of about 15 kilograms to constrict blood flow and lead to death by hanging.

He calculated that Haffejee’s head and upper body hanging from his pants would have weighed only 10 kilograms.

The court was shown crime scene pictures of Haffejee lying stretched out on the floor of his cell.

Only his head and upper body were lifted off the floor.

His pants were around his neck and tied to the lowest bar of the cell door. It was wound so tight that it had to be cut free.

Strangulation

Moodley agreed with medical reports that Haffejee died from strangulation.

He told the court that re-enactments of the alleged hanging with two volunteers of the same slight build as Haffejee, showed that it took quite a strenuous effort to twist and tighten the pants around their necks leading to strangulation.

Representing the Haffejee family, Advocate Howard Varney referred to medical reports that Haffejee had suffered blows to the head, as well as hard blows to the chest and stomach.

Any one of these injuries could have caused him to lose consciousness or make it very difficult for him to move, according to the experts.

Joseph Mdluli torture

Gopal has also testified that he happened to witness another detainee, Joseph Mdluli, being tortured in the security police head office in Durban in 1976. Mdluli was naked except for a plastic raincoat.  

He was hit three times on the head with a rubber truncheon.  

Gopal told the court he could not believe the official version he heard the next day that Mdluli died after slipping on a bar of soap. 

 He says a superior Joseph Moonsamy, advised him not to get involved in cases he wasn’t assigned to.

“When I saw that I went straight to major Ben and (I asked): ‘Wow, what’s this? What’s going on here?’ He said, ‘Shh, keep quiet. You work on a need to know basis, you don’t need to know. You signed on to the Official Secrets Act, and that’s it.’”  

OPINION: Where is the post-Peter Mokaba youth leadership in the ANC?
10 September 2021, 2:55 PM

The youth of the country need to be taught to be South African youth and accordingly behave like historical young people of South Africa. Rhetorical as it may sound, the current generation of South African youth are not behaving in tandem with the past young generations. For the purposes of this article, younger generation refers to political activists of the 80s, 90s and the millennium.

It is recorded that the youth of South Africa have, upon resolve, changed the cause of historical events. From the fearless young Tsietsi Mashinini, Ephraim Mogale and Solomon Mahlangu, to Nokhuthula Simelane and Peter Mokaba, young people in South Africa have always proved that a resolved generational mission is achievable. South African youth are known to have been politically impatient with deceit and lies, uninspired by mediocrity, intolerant of corruption, edgy and irritable when things don’t go right.

When former African National Congress (ANC) President, Oliver Tambo commanded the youth of the time through a message of the National Executive Committee (NEC) on the 73rd Anniversary of the ANC on 8 January 1985, which said they must render South Africa ungovernable, the message fell on a compliant generation. The highest form of nationalism and patriotism is being able to rise to defend the dignity of your people. For South African youth, the future should be now. There is no miracle that will happen to change the current sad state of affairs in South Africa.

This situation can only be changed by resolute and determined people, especially the younger ones. And, the sooner activists of the 80s, 90s and the millennium recognized their role in society, the better. Recent unemployment statistics that are approaching 40% did not seem to bother the most affected, young people. Instead, through their social media, young people were more worried about Lionel Messi’s move to Paris Saint-German, and Cristiano Ronaldo’s transfer to Manchester United, Zodwa Wabantu’s nude videos and Khanyi Mbau’s relationships.

Why is unemployment not igniting the revolutionary conscience of the youths? This behaviour plays in the hands of the old and tired leadership of both the ANC and the Republic whose time has passed and must be replaced. Leadership change must happen in South Africa, and it must happen soon.

The leadership of youthful activists must emerge. Those that led with Peter Mokaba or the post-Kanyamazane Conference Youth League leadership must answer the clarion call for ethical and energetic leadership. The old people are tired and must retire. They make unforgivable mistakes daily without any consequences. They must not be stubborn because they were also elected into office at very young ages but have refused to leave the stage.

What more does Angie Motshekga, Lindiwe Sisulu, Naledi Pandor, Mathole Mosthekga, Gwede Mantashe and many others still want to do? President Cyril Ramaphosa was only 37 years old when he was elected Secretary-General of the ANC, whereas other earlier leaders of the movement were even younger. It is time to bow out.

World history is clear: JF Kennedy was 43 years old when he became president of the USA and Barack Obama was 47 years old. Chancellor of Austria, Sebastian Kurz is 33 years old; Sanna Marin, Finland Prime Minister is 34 years old; Nayib Bukele, President of El Salvador is 39 years old; Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand and Costa Rica President, Carlos Alvarado Quesada are both 40 years old.

Meanwhile, Oleksiy Honcharuk became the youngest-ever Prime Minister of Ukraine at the age 35 in August 2019. Leo Varadkar was 38 years old when he became Ireland Prime Minister in 2017. France’s Emmanuel Macron is today 42 years old; while the Prime Minister of Tunisia, Youssef Chahed is 44 years old.

The point in pursuit is not about government positions the aforementioned hold, but the decisions they took to lead their people when change was necessary. Therefore when things don’t go well in a country, the question is where are the youths? They should be providing moral caution but are not. Their paralysis should worry any developing democratic state.

Rahohang masole…ntwa ea lwanwa!

By Teboho Magafane – Secretary General of Cosas

 

Search for men allegedly killed and thrown into a river in Cape Town continues
7 September 2021, 7:20 PM

A police search for four men from Mfuleni in Cape Town, who were allegedly assaulted and thrown into a river over the weekend, has entered its fourth day.

It’s believed the incident was possibly an act of mob justice.  

A search for the men has resulted in two bodies being recovered, but according to police, they have not been identified as any of the four who were reported missing.

It’s believed four men were dumped into the river after they were allegedly attacked on Saturday at COVID-19 informal settlement in Mfuleni.

Community leader, Thembisile Batembu says it’s understood the men were attacked because they allegedly broke into homes in the informal settlement.

Police have been scouring the river since Saturday. 

Two bodies have been recovered, but have not been identified as any of the missing four – Asonele Wanga, Maphelo Mazamisa, Sabelo Rasmeni and Yonela Mdladlama. 

Police Spokesperson, Brigadier Novela Potelwa says community members have joined the search.

 “Police on quadbikes searched the rough terrain along the river bank. A drone from emergency medical servces was also utilised. Police divers in a rubber duck entered the water again as well as Mfuleni police with law enforcement officials and community members joined the search. Yet, no bodies were found,” says Potelwa.

A relative of the two brothers, who are missing, Sindile Rasmeni, watched police search the Vlei area near Driftsands on Tuesday. 

“Inside, I’m lamenting a lot. I have pain because I know Sabelo and I also know Yonela. I grew up with them there in Maclear. You know, I can’t tell you, but if we can get their bodies so that we can bury them, at least. We don’t have a problem with angry community members, but if we can get our brothers. I know they were doing wrong to the community and I know them. They were wrong. But now, we only want their bodies only. That’s all I can tell you,” says Rasmeni.

Incidents of vigilantism or mob justice have been occurring for decades, and not just in this country.

Criminologists say it happens in communities with high crime, where residents want to see perpetrators of those crimes punished, and where there is a breakdown in the relationship between residents and police.  

 

“It’s ultimately about demonstrating to others within that specific community that there will be quite serious consequences when you go and perpetrate crime. And so, this has happened in many other communities throughout South Africa and other parts of the world,” says Professor Guy Lamb of Stellenbosch University.

Police are, meanwhile, still trying to determine the identities of the two bodies which were recovered during the search for the missing four.

They’ve appealed to anyone with missing relatives to contact the South African Police Service.

AA launches petition against proposed amended registration and licence renewal fees
7 September 2021, 6:01 PM

The Automobile Association (AA) is launching an online petition. It wants to collect signatures to support its formal submission against the proposed amended fees for the registration of motor vehicles, online bookings to renew driving licence cards and the change of vehicle ownership.  

AA Spokesperson, Layton Beard says the new proposed fees by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) are outrageous.  

The proposed fees were published in the Government Gazette late last week.  

They include a R250 charge to motorists for online bookings to renew their driving licence (only for booking, not the driving licence fee), R700 for the online registration of motor vehicles, and R700 for the online change of ownership of motor vehicles. An added R72 transaction fee will be charged for every transaction performed at the RTMC and R99 for the delivery of the driving licence card.  

Beard says their submission against the fees must be made by the 4th of October. 

“These proposals are published at a time when millions of motorists cannot renew their licences through no fault of their own, and a time when many people are struggling financially. Yet government thinks it’s wise to add to citizen’s misery by suggesting excessively high rates to perform even the most basic functions which should already be covered by the Transport Budget financed through taxes. These proposed fees must be seen in the context of the RTMC’s stated surplus for 2019/2020 of close on R262 million which already indicates motorists are being substantially over-charged for services rendered by the corporation,” says Beard.

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