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Myanmar’s Suu Kyi asks court to let her meet lawyers, activists urge New Year defiance
12 April 2021, 3:28 PM

Myanmar’s detained government leader Aung San Suu Kyi asked a court on Monday to be allowed to meet her lawyers in person when she appeared at a hearing via video link to face charges brought by the military junta that could see her jailed for years.

As Suu Kyi appeared, her supporters called for people to show their opposition to the February 1 coup during this week’s traditional new year holiday in the largely Buddhist country.

Suu Kyi, 75, who has led Myanmar’s struggle against military rule for decades and who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, has been detained since the coup and charged with various offences. These include violating a colonial-era official secrets act that could see her jailed for 14 years.

She has only been allowed to talk with her lawyers via video link in the presence of security officials and it is not known if she is even aware of the turmoil that has engulfed the country since the military seized power.

“No, we haven’t, we could only talk about legal matters,” lawyer Min Min Soe told Reuters when asked if her legal team had been able to talk to her about the protests in which more than 700 people have been killed.

The lawyer said Suu Kyi looked healthy as she repeated a request to meet her lawyers face-to-face. The next hearing is on April 26.

As well as the official secrets charge, Suu Kyi has been charged with illegally possessing two-way radios and violating coronavirus protocols. She has also been accused by the ruling military council of bribery.

Her lawyers say the charges were trumped up and they dismiss the accusation of bribery as a joke.

An additional complaint against her was filed on Monday related to the coronavirus rules, Min Min Soe said.

The coup has plunged Myanmar into crisis after 10 years of tentative steps towards democracy as the military stepped back from politics and allowed Suu Kyi to form a government after her party swept a 2015 election.

The military says it had to overthrow her government because a November election again won by her National League for Democracy was rigged. The election commission dismissed the accusation.

The coup has triggered relentless protests by those opposed to military rule, and unyielding suppression by the generals who say that only they can save the country from disintegration.

Ruling military deepens violence with new air attacks:

‘Power of people’

Security forces have killed 706 protesters, including 46 children, since the coup, according to a tally by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) activist group.

That included 82 people killed in the town of Bago, about 70 km (45 miles) northeast of Yangon, on Friday.

Undaunted by the violence, activists called for defiance this week over the five-day traditional new year, known as Thingyan, which begins on Tuesday.

The most important holiday of the year is usually celebrated with prayers, ritual cleaning of Buddha images in temples, and high-spirited water-throwing on the streets.

“The military council doesn’t own Thingyan. The power of people is in the hands of people,” Ei Thinzar Maung, a leader of the General Strike Collaboration Committee protest group, wrote on Facebook.

Calling for a “people’s Thingyan”, Ei Thinzar Maung said Buddhists should wear certain religious attire and recite prayers together, for members of small Christian communities to wear white and read psalms, and for followers of other religions should to follow the lead of their leaders.

Reports on social media said security forces had opened fire in the northwestern town of Tamu on Monday and police had broken up a protest in the city of Mandalay.

Three civilians were killed in fighting between the army and ethnic minority Kachin insurgents in the north, the Irrawaddy online news service reported.

Details of the violence were difficult to obtain because of the junta’s curbs on broadband internet and mobile data services.

A spokesman for the junta could not be reached for comment.

Anoj Singh returns to state capture commission on Monday
12 April 2021, 4:16 AM

Former Eskom Chief Financial Officer Anoj Singh is scheduled to continue testifying at the State Capture Commission in Johannesburg on Monday morning.

Singh last month told the commission he was already doing Eskom-related work despite not being formally appointed at the power utility in 2015.

In July 2015, Gupta-linked Regiment Capital and Mckinsey started consultancy work for Eskom.

Singh says he was seconded to Eskom from Transnet by then former Public Enterprise Minister, Lynne Brown.

His testimony is in the video below:

Brown has meanwhile denied that she had direct links to Singh’s appointment at Eskom.

The former Minister said the then Eskom board suggested his name and she approved it.

Below is Brown’s testimony at the inquiry:



SA posts 932 new coronavirus cases, 66 deaths on Sunday
11 April 2021, 9:39 PM
South Africa has recorded 931 new coronavirus infections in the last 24-hour cycle, taking the total number to 1 558 458.

The country has also recorded 66 new COVID-19 related fatalities. This brings the total number of deaths to 53 322.

Only four provinces have had fatalities overnight, with the majority of them coming from the North West.

“Eastern Cape 0, Free State 15, Gauteng 6, Kwa-Zulu Natal 0, Limpopo 0, Mpumalanga 0, North West 35, Northern Cape 0 and Western Cape 10,” indicates a statement from the Health Ministry.

Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, has thanked the healthcare workers who took care of the deceased while conveying condolences to the bereaved families.

Latest stats below:




South Africa’s recovery rate remains at 95%, with 1 483 296 people having survived the virus.

The latest COVID-19 report comes amid concerns of a possible third wave as the country approaches the winter season.

Senior Researcher at the CSIR, Dr Ridhwaan Suliman, says the next week will be important in determining if there will be spike in transmission caused by people who travelled during the Easter holidays.

Dr Suliman says the test positivity rate has continued to decline and currently sits at 3.7% from 4% a week ago. However, he says, the test positivity rates in the Northern Cape and the Free State remain a concern.

South Africans are urged to continue wearing masks, practicing social distancing and regular hand washing to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

SA’s COVID-19 statistics with Dr Ridhwaan Suliman:



Condolence messages pour in following passing of AKA’s fiancée, muso ‘inconsolable’
11 April 2021, 9:08 PM

Condolence messages are pouring in on social media following the death of AKA’s fiancée. The 22-year-old passed away on Sunday morning in Cape Town. While unconfirmed reports have pointed to a suicide, the Forbes and Tembe families did not divulge Anele Tembe’s cause of death but only said she had been in a tragic incident.

The families have issued a statement expressing regret over her death describing it as untimely. The families say they are still in shock.

Tembe’s body was found on a street in Cape Town. She allegedly jumped to her death from the top of a hotel building.

Police have opened an inquest docket.

Tembe’s fiancé, Kiernan Forbes, known to his fans as AKA, is said to be inconsolable.

The Tembe and Forbes families described Anele as an exceptional and gifted young woman who had a promising life ahead of her.

Tembe is said to have had depression and had tried taking her life last year but didn’t go through with it after the police intervened.

South Africans have been sending condolences to the artist and both families. Some have even thrown witchcraft accusations against AKA’s former love interests in the mix. A claim slated by many who even urged the accused women to sue.

Government urged to devise quick plan to decentralise COVID-19 vaccine delivery
11 April 2021, 8:26 PM

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) has called on the government to come up with a quick plan to decentralise the delivery of batches of coronavirus vaccines in the country.

Government has been widely criticised for being inefficient as well as lacking transparency and accountability in its vaccine roll-out programme.

SAHPRA board chairperson, Professor Helen Rees, says government should explore many options to accelerate the vaccine rollout programme.

“What we start to roll out we are going to be looking at clinics we going to be looking at possibly non-health facility that got a lot of space. People have talked about sports stadium for example. We have to think now about how do we move from centralised delivery into these more decentralised so that we can really up the numbers and rapidly scaled up the numbers of people who are immunised,” says Dr Rees.

Dr Rees elaborates on her views in the video below:

So far, 288 406 healthcare workers have been vaccinated in the country under the first phase of the vaccination programme.

The second phase is expected to begin in mid-May. The country has secured 51 million doses of vaccines from various drug companies and the government aims to vaccinate at least 42 million people.

Decline in positivity rate 

CSIR senior researcher Dr Ridhwaan Sulima says there has been a further decline in the average number of daily deaths from COVID-19. This comes amid continued concern about a possible third wave of the coronavirus as the country enters the cold months.

Dr Suliman says they are concerned about the test positivity rate in the Northern Cape, Mpumalanga and the Free State. He hopes the test positivity rate nationwide will continue to decline.

“The hospitalisation has just been under 1 500 new admissions across the country in the past week and that is down by 12% a week ago. The number of deaths for the 7-day average ends at 43 new deaths per day across the country. It shows a slide decline of 2% compared to a week ago. But overall the decline and levelling of this are in line with the trend that we saw here and confirmed cases at test positivity rates.”

SA’s COVID-19 statistics with Dr Ridhwaan Suliman:




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