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SA women’s water polo team hopes to make a strong showing at Olympics
8 July 2021, 7:15 PM

South Africa is sending a women’s water polo team to the Tokyo Olympic Games in Japan for the first time.  And two young players from Gqeberha will be flying the flag for the windy city.

Meghans Maartens and Ashleigh Vaughan took part in a national training camp in Durban two months ago, sharpening their skills before the big time. The South African Women’s water polo team is currently ranked number one on the African Continent.

South Africa will face off against Spain, the Netherlands and Australia in group A. The two youngsters from Gqeberha are primed to make their mark, assisting the team to get to the knock out stage. The preparations are done.

Vaughn is one of the 13 players who’ll be donning the green and gold. She believes her teammates will not be in group A just to make up the numbers in the Olympics despite Team SA sending a female team for the very first time.

“I was very cool when I saw my name pop out on the screen and I had to call somebody to send me a video to see who else made it,” she says.

Vaughan knows they will face the best players in the world. She says she has confidence in her and the team’s abilities.

“I am excited about travelling to such a tournament or event, I am more nervous because I know they only send the best to compete at the Olympics, it’s going to be very hard and it’s going to be hectic,” she adds.

Vaughn’s teammate and close friend Meghan Maartens says they had been training with intensity despite COVID-19 pandemic.  Maartens adds that they had been introduced to modern and innovative ways of training and that confidence and hope will get them through the finishing line.

She is also realising her big dream. “I know we are going to work very hard as a team despite everything we have gone through now with lockdown. I think the whole aim is to grow as team and learn support each other as first ever South African women’s water polo team,” Maartens explains.

Despite not training together due to level four lockdown regulations, the ladies’ team believes if they stick to their plan, nothing will stand on their way to success.

Maartens says representing their country on the prestigious event, is their key motivation.

“But training camp have very well, everybody motivates each other. We all have a common goal to grow women’s programme. It’s going well at the moment, it’s just the two of us down here, so we Durban or Johannesburg.”

First Black female head coach, 27-year-old, Delaine Mentoor, is the one who’ll be cracking the whip.

She has competed in the Junior World Championships in Greece as well as the Senior World Championships in Barcelona and Russia.  Her coaching career started when she went to university, now she is heading to the Olympics.

Mentoor says she wants to become an ambassador of the game by providing same equal opportunities.

“I am hopeful that my players play to their full potential. Potential is unending. The work they put in is far beyond. We have been working for a year and half. I hope it comes into play. I hope we are showing on the world stage. I hope that teams we play say that was tough,” she says.

SA’s women’s water polo head coach set to make history at Tokyo Olympic Games:

Mentoor says going to Tokyo as head coach, came as a surprise to her, but she is already looking towards Paris 2024. The Gqeberha-based coach believes water polo is growing on the African continent particularly towards females.

“I coached from a young age straight from high school. I coached provincially, my first year out of high school and I knew the next goal would be to coach nationally. I did want it. I never knew it will be at this bigger stage, the biggest stage not so soon,” she adds.

The trio are all based at the Nelson Mandela University. The university has been a feeder to the national team of the years, but going to the Olympics is the biggest achievement thus far.

The University’s Aquatics manager, Melinda Goosen, believes dedication and commitment gave the two ladies the upper hand.

“I think you know having to think about the Olympics itself, it’s the pinnacle of any sport person career and we are dealing our university deals with senior students that wants to achieve in essence ; there’s a part of you that hopes that they make it but realistic in a sense of really difficult only few in the country and in the world that ever makes that pinnacle,” she says.

Team South Africa will leave for Tokyo in a staggered way, with the first batch of athletes leaving on Monday.

Police arrest Carl Niehaus during a live interview with SABC News
8 July 2021, 5:15 PM

Suspended ANC member, Carl Niehaus, has been arrested outside the Estcourt Correctional Services Facility in KwaZulu-Natal where former president Jacob Zuma is being held.

Niehaus was arrested during a live television interview with SABC News.

Initial reports point to allegations of him having violated lockdown regulations.

Police take Niehaus away:

Niehaus was among a small group of pro-Zuma supporters who have gathered outside the facility.

His arrest comes a day after his ANC membership was suspended for allegedly bringing the party into disrepute.

Before his arrest this afternoon, Niehaus described as disappointing – the arrest and incarceration of former president Zuma.

Last week, the Constitutional Court found Zuma guilty of contempt of court and sentenced him to 15 months in jail for flouting an order to obey summonses and testify at the State Capture Inquiry.

He was arrested and jailed last night at the Estcourt Correctional Services Facility in KwaZulu-Natal.

Zuma will be eligible for parole after serving three months and three weeks of his sentence.

Niehaus says he believes Zuma’s rights have been trampled on.

“We are very upset and angry. This is an injustice that has been perpetrated against Zuma. I know there are some people who say that this was a victory for equality before the law, it is not. The manner in which his legitimate constitutional rights have been trampled on has led to a situation where he has now been imprisoned,” he says.


Higher food prices help fuel 40% jump in global hunger: UN agency
8 July 2021, 3:51 PM

Acute food insecurity has soared 40% this year as recent food price hikes have exacerbated existing pressures from conflict, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said.

Defined as any lack of food that threatens lives, livelihoods or both, acute food insecurity is impacting, or is at high risk of impacting, a record 270 million people this year, the UN agency said. “High food prices are hunger’s new best friend,” said WFP Chief Economist Arif Husain.

“We already have conflict, climate and COVID-19 working together. Now food prices have joined the deadly trio,” he added. The WFP said average wheat flour prices in Lebanon have risen 219% year-on-year amid accelerating economic turmoil, while cooking oil prices have soared 440% versus a year ago in war-devastated Syria.

On internationally traded markets, world food prices were up33.9% year-on-year in June, according to the UN food agency’s price index, which measures a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat and sugar. However, they did fall in June versus May, the first such decrease in 12 months. After declining for several decades, world hunger has been on the rise since 2016.

The WFP, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year, says around 690 million people or 9% of the world’s population go to bed hungry each night. It is targeting 139 million people for assistance this year, the biggest operation in its history.

Discussion on COVID-19 impact in addressing poverty, hunger:

Pro-democracy activist accuses King Mswati of using his power to silence dissenting voices
8 July 2021, 3:28 PM

Leader of the Ngwane National Liberation Congress in Eswatini, Sibongile Mazibuko, says the arrest warrants issued against two members of Eswatini’s parliament are aimed at silencing those who are calling for democracy.

According to reports, the warrants were issued against Bacede Mabuza and Mduduzi Simelane.

Last week, pro-democracy groups embarked on violent protest action. They set buildings alight and looted several shops.

Mazibuko has accused King Mswati III of using his power to threaten those who are calling for change in Eswatini.

“The warrant of arrest is to continue silencing members of parliament that are speaking the truth like he has been doing for the last 50 years. He is ready to kill and it is another way to maintain the status quo, because as I have said- he continues to derive his financial benefits from the continued status quo,” she alleges.

The government of Eswatini is yet to respond to the allegations.

A Southern African Development Community (SADC) delegation is in the land-locked kingdom on a fact-finding mission.

The regional body has called for dialogue to resolve the ongoing impasse in the tiny kingdom.

Discussion on SADC’s return to Eswatini as pro-democracy civil groups raise red flags:

More bodies found in Florida condo tower collapse, first funeral held
7 July 2021, 9:08 AM

Search and rescue teams pulled the remains of eight more victims from the ruins of a Florida condominium tower on Tuesday, able to penetrate deeper into the site after demolition of a fragile section that had remained standing.

With a confirmed death toll now of 36 109 people who may have been inside Champlain Towers South when it fell on June 24are still considered missing. That number could change as police detectives work to confirm the names.

“I ask all of you around the world who continue to follow this story, please keep these victims in your hearts and prayers,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told a news conference. Levine Cava announced the updated death toll hours after several hundred mourners gathered in a Miami Beach church at the first funeral for victims of the collapse.

Marcus Guara, 52, his wife Ana Guara, 42, and their daughters, Lucia, 10, and Emma, 4, were remembered as a tight-knit family who loved taking walks on the beach and spending time together. “Who would have thought a few weeks ago that our community had so many ties to one little building in one small corner of Florida called Surfside,” Marcus Guara’s cousin Peter Mili án said in a eulogy for the family.

Tropical storm Elsa approaches 

The search for more victims carried on even as Elsa, which strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane, was on track to make landfall on Florida’s northern Gulf Coast on Wednesday morning.

Forecasters say Surfside will likely be spared the worst of the storm, but its approach prompted local officials demolish a still-standing section of the 12-story tower on Sunday night over worries that high winds could knock it down.

Lightning brought by Elsa forced search and rescue teams to halt their operation for a time on Tuesday. Officials said their task could be interrupted again before the storm passes. Though local officials say they have not given up hope of finding survivors, no one has been discovered alive in the rubble since the first few hours after Champlain Towers South collapsed.

Miami-Dade County Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said rescuers have not found any “livable spaces” where survivors could have been spared.

More than 124 tons, or 5 million pounds, of debris has been removed from the site, with identifiable pieces sent to a police warehouse for use in upcoming investigations, including a grand jury probe.

Investigators have not determined what caused the tower to fall. Attention has been focused on a 2018 engineering report that warned of structural deficiencies. The disaster has prompted officials across South Florida to study residential buildings for signs of poor construction or structural weaknesses.

Residents of a North Miami Beach condominium, Crestview Towers, were told to leave immediately last week after engineers found serious concrete and electrical problems. They have not been allowed to return as city officials try to determine if the building can be shored up to make it safe.



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