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Morocco to resume domestic flights starting on Thursday
22 June 2020, 12:04 PM

Morocco will resume domestic flights starting on June 25, the state news agency said on Sunday, citing the ministry of tourism, air transport, handicrafts and social economy.

On Sunday, the government said it would further loosen lockdown measures for the services sector and domestic transport starting June 24, adding domestic travel would resume including flights and railways.

Cafes, restaurants, sports clubs, and other services and entertainment businesses will be able to resume activity at half capacity except in the provinces of Tangier, Larache, Marrakech and Kenitra, where infections remain higher, it said.

Domestic travel will resume including flights and railways, it said. International passenger traffic remains suspended.

Mosques have been closed since the lockdown started on March 20 and the state of emergency has been extended to July 10. Schools will only reopen in September.

Current COVID-19 cases

Morocco currently has 9 977 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 8 284 recoveries and 214 deaths.

Most coronavirus cases registered recently were in industrial or among extended families, with 457 cases on Friday, the largest single-day rise in cases, in a cluster linked to fruit packaging plants north of Rabat, where a field hospital was set up.

Morocco has grouped COVID-19 patients in two hospitals near Casablanca and near Marrakech to free capacity at other hospitals.

The country has been in lockdown since March 20, and has made wearing masks in public mandatory, with those failing to do being jailed or fined.

The country’s economy is forecast to contract by 3.7% in 2020, according to International Monetary Fund estimates.

In the video below, Economist at Rand Merchant Bank Daniel Kavishe says the African continent is learning from other countries on how to combat COVID-19:

 

Concerns over rising COVID-19 cases in North West mining towns
18 June 2020, 12:04 PM

There is growing concern about coronavirus infections in mining areas in the North West.

The two hotspots, the Rustenburg based Bojanala District Municipality and the Klerksdorp based Dr Kenneth Kaunda District Municipality, have recorded 1137 of the 1402 infections in the province.

The bustling mining town of Rustenburg whose platinum riches have attracted a plethora of job seekers has now become a hotspot for coronavirus infections.

A recent case led to the temporary closure of a local police station.

In the video below, Deputy President David Mabuza expresses concerns about rising infections in mines:

 

Residents living in fear

As infections surpass the 1 000 mark, residents say they are afraid especially since regulations around social distancing and the wearing of masks are not adhered to.

“The situation here in Rustenburg is very bad. There is no physical distancing at all,” says one resident.

Another resident says, “I am really worried about school children because they are now going to school and this virus is everywhere.”

Business owners struggling to keep afloat

Local businesses are worried as many of them might be forced to close their doors.

Chairperson of the Rustenburg Chamber of Commerce Pieter Malan says the situation can only get worse.

“It is yet uncertain to what extent businesses will close down and how many will continue to be in operation. Some are still under lockdown. There is a lot of uncertainty, we just don’t know. We hear the medical projections that infections are not going to stop because the lockdowns are stopping. It’s the rate of increase that is being managed and we still expect to see a lot of that in the coming months. So the crisis is definitely not over.”

Closure of shops

In Klerksdorp in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda District, some local stores were closed after employees reportedly contracted the virus, leaving many customers worried.

Others blame the mines for the spread of the virus.

National Union of Mineworkers Secretary in the Matlosana region Masibulele Naki says regulations in the mines should be enforced better, while Health MEC Madoda Sambatha says they will recommend that mines be closed if the spread cannot be contained.

Medical expert from the North West University Professor Andrew Robinson believes that the Health Department should improve its wellness programmes.

With infections in the province steadily climbing, residents are urged to practice social distancing, wear a mask in public places and adhere to lockdown regulations.

-Additional reporting by Sentleeng Lehihi

 

Multi-million drug lab discovered at Limpopo game farm
18 June 2020, 10:26 AM

The National Commissioner of the South African Police Service Khehla Sitole will on Thursday visit a game farm outside Marble Hall in Limpopo following the discovery of a multi-million-rand drug lab.

Two foreign nationals have been arrested for dealing in drugs and being in possession of unlicensed firearms.

Police say that they have launched a manhunt for an unknown number of suspects.

The private game farm is situated in a quiet farming area outside Marble Hall.

The owners of the farm purchased the farm a few months ago in a multi-million rand cash exchange.

Police conducted a raid on Wednesday where drug manufacturing equipment was discovered.

Police have confiscated drugs, illegal firearms and ammunition with an estimated value of R10 million.

Drug manufacturing equipment was also recovered at the Terra Nostra Game farm.

The suspects will appear at the Marble Hall Magistrate’s Court soon.

Seven VBS suspects to appear in court
18 June 2020, 9:33 AM

Seven of the eight suspects arrested for their alleged involvement in the Venda Building Social (VBS) Mutual Bank scandal are expected to appear in the Palm Ridge Regional Court in Gauteng on Thursday morning.

One of the suspects remains in quarantine due to the coronavirus.

The arrests were made on Wednesday nearly two years after the theft of more than R2-million from the bank was exposed.

In what is dubbed as one of the biggest bank robberies in the country, the arrested group faces 47 counts of fraud, racketeering, corruption, theft and money laundering.

It’s believed stokvel groups, pensioners and 20 municipalities lost billions of rands.

Arrests welcomed

The Public Investment Corporation (PIC) has welcomed the arrests of suspects involved in the collapse of VBS mutual bank.

The PIC was a significant shareholder in VBS when it was placed under curatorship by the Prudential Authority of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB).

It says the arrests is an important step in ensuring those who were responsible for the collapse of VBS are held accountable.

The National Director of Public Prosecutions Advocate Shamila Batohi has also welcomed the arrests.

One of the investors in the liquidated VBS Mutual Bank and former Board Chairperson, Madambi Muvhulawa, says investors and depositors are also pleased with the arrests. 

Muvhulawa says properties of those implicated in the looting must be sold for depositors to recoup their money. 

Ordinary depositors who invested over R300 000 each have not yet received their money back.

Senior Legal Journalist Karyn Maughan gives analysis of the arrest and its implications:

-Additional reporting by SABC News. 

Increase in gender-based violence amid global COVID-19 battle: WHO
18 June 2020, 8:14 AM

The World Health Organisation says there has been an increase in cases of gender-based violence across the world as the fight against the coronavirus pandemic continues.

According to the UN Health Agency, over 100 women are killed globally every day.

Women have been forced to stay at home as their movement has been restricted, leaving them in the same space as their abusers.

President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Gabriela Cuevas Barron says, “Violence against women has already reached epic proportions in all societies with 137 women killed every day globally by a member of their own family. The level of domestic violence and sexual exploitation further increases as a result of confined living conditions and economic stress.”

SA court officials to undergo sensitivity training

The African National Congress (ANC) says it welcomes the announcements made by President Cyril Ramaphosa on how the country will move with speed in making sure that gender-based violence is rooted out of society.

During an address on Wednesday evening, Ramaphosa told the nation that GBV is another pandemic facing the country, equally with COVID-19.

He said the courts will receive a major boost, which will see all officials going for “sensitivity training” in order to better handle cases of abuse.

ANC National spokesperson Pule Mabe says this could not have been done at a better time.

“I think one of the things which the President brought up and we cannot ignore – is our continued fight against gender-based violence – calling on all South Africans to unite and make sure that those that are involved in this act are named and shamed. They cannot be kept in our homes and we don’t alert the police of such men who give men a bad name.”

In the video below, SABC News takes a closer look at gender-based violence under lockdown in numbers: 

– Additional reporting by Abongile Dumako 

 

 

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