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Labour federations welcome extension of COVID-19 relief scheme
23 July 2020, 5:51 PM

Trade union federations, Cosatu and Fedusa, have both welcomed the Department of Labour’s extension the COVID- 19 Temporary Employee Relief Scheme (TERS). The surprise decision comes after the department earlier stated that the scheme would not be extended after it lapsed last month.

The TERS benefit scheme is extended for the remainder of the current period of the National Disaster, which runs until the 15th of next month.

Millions of workers who have been laid off during the current national lockdown have come to rely on the TERS scheme for income. As part of the scheme, the UIF has paid out R34 billion to more than 7 million workers and half a million affected businesses. Another half a million workers who have applied are still awaiting payment.

Cosatu’s Parliamentary Liason Officer Mathew Parks says: “We strongly welcome the extension, for us it’s a huge victory for millions of workers and their families and the economy. We estimate it will inject an additional R15 billion for this extra month and a half of UIF payments. We have been having extensive engagements with the Minister and the UIF management at NEDLAC over the past few months, we felt there was a need to extend the support the UIF has been giving to the workers and the economy.”

Labour Federation, Fedusa, is also pleased.

“It is most certainly a move that is most welcome by Fedusa, bringing much needed relief to many of our members and specific sectors that are still trapped in lock down. At the same time being able to have an understanding for those people that have comorbidities, it’s something that we certainly welcome as Fedusa,” says Fedusa General Secretary Riefdah Ajam.

The UIF initially set aside R40 billion for the TERS benefit scheme. That means it is still left with R6 billion to disburse. But Parks says there’s no need to worry, more money is available.

Cosatu’s Parks adds: “Before the lockdown, the UIF had about R143 billion available, so there is money available, the costing has been done, they’d initially committed to provide R40 billion worth of relief but we had as Cosatu extensive engagement with the leadership of the UIF to provide more money and they have done so. We expect that for the June, July and August period we’ll definitely exceed that R40 billion and probably push into the next R50 billion figure, but there are sufficient funds available.”

The UIF says only workers in sectors that are still under lockdown – like tourism and the hotel industry – qualify to apply.

In the video below, UIF introduces measures to eliminate fraud:

Thekwane North community in Mpumalanga protest over electricity
23 July 2020, 5:08 PM

Residents of Thekwane North, outside Mbombela, in Mpumalanga embarked on a protest to demand that electricity be legally connected to the area. The residents claim that they resorted to illegal connections because the City of Mbombela Municipality and Eskom have been failing to provide them with electricity for the past three years.

Angry residents barricaded the main road with burning tyres and other debris. The residents have illegally connected electricity, which is frequently disconnected by Eskom. They say the municipality and Eskom are ignoring them. They say their illegal connections cause explosions, that put their lives in danger.

“We are living with elders, it is very cold and on the other hand, we are faced with the COVID-19. Children are unable to bath and go to school. We urged Eskom to assist us but nothing is happening,” one resident told SABC News.

“We want electricity and that is why we went to the street to protest. We have been here for five years but there are now communities that were established in the past two-three years, they have electricity but we don’t have electricity,” added another.

Mbombela Municipality officials met with the residents of Thekwane North and agreed that the process of installing electricity in the area will be sped up.

“We did make an application to the Department of Mineral and Energy and they responded. In the current budget, we have designs. The other challenge is that currently there is a lot of illegal invasion of land here. We are persuading them not to take illegal activities. Like I indicated this is an Eskom supply area and Eskom was not here. The problem is that each time we invite Eskom to come here they don’t come. It’s their responsibility and it’s their supply area,” says Speaker of the City of Mbombela Municipality, Sipho Siwela.

Siwela also added that some of the households could be electrified next year. In the meantime, the residents are demanding to be allowed to continue with their illegal connections.

Melville, Mary Fitzgerald Square New Year’s Day shooting suspects nabbed
23 July 2020, 5:05 PM

Police have arrested five suspects they believe are linked to the New Year’s Day attacks in Melville and Mary Fitzgerald Square in Johannesburg.

Two people were killed and six others wounded in the drive-by shooting in Melville in the early hours of New Year’s Day. On the same day, 11 people sustained gunshot wounds in Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown.

In the video below, prayer service held for victims of Melville shooting:

National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole says the suspects are also believed to be linked to other extremist crimes in other provinces.

The suspects are foreign nationals and were arrested at Kliprivier near Vereeniging for the kidnapping of a 72-year-old man earlier on Thursday.

Police discovered multiple firearms and over 100 rounds of ammunition at a house used as a base for criminals.

“We uncovered that the same firearms that we find here. Some of them we have identified them in the videos of other crimes like the New Year’s Day attack and as well as extremism cases around KZN where there has been extremism and kidnapping. We further discovered that there is a transnational link to the crimes that are taking place here,” he says.

Sitole says they are still searching for the owner of the house and the kidnapped man.

Tshegofatso Pule’s murder case moved to the High Court
23 July 2020, 2:21 PM

The case against 31-year-old Muzikayise Malephane, who is accused of the murder of 28-year-old Tshegofatso Pule, has been moved to the High Court in Johannesburg. This is due to the serious nature of the case.

The case was expected to resume this morning at the Roodepoort Magistrate’s Court. Malephane was arrested in June – a few days after Pule, who was eight months pregnant, was found hanging from a tree with multiple stab wounds. He faces charges of premeditated murder.

“It’s postponed to the 29/09/2020 for DNA results and criminal investigation. It will not be postponed to this court because the matter has been identified as a High Court matter due to its serious nature. A court will prepare the letter for the High Court until such time that we make a decision and then it will be transferred to the High Court,” Magistrate John Baloyi said while announcing the postponement.

Pule’s uncle, Tumisang Katake, has commended the police for their investigations.

“There is nothing that I can fault that the police have done so far. They have been doing an excellent job, keeping us informed about what is happening and then also telling us what they are going to do. I wouldn’t be surprised if they make other arrests as well. I don’t think – it is my opinion – but I don’t think it was just one guy that murdered Tshegofatso,” he said.

Pule’s murder renewed calls for men to join the fight against gender-based violence:

Pule’s murder sparked a public outcry, which culminated in a march on June 16 amid a surge in gender-based violence (GBV) incidents.

There have also been calls for harsher sentences for perpetrators of GBV.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has said at least 51% of women in the country have experienced violence at the hands of a loved one.

 

Fashion designers worried they won’t be cashing in on the Durban July this year
21 July 2020, 11:30 AM

While Durban July will go ahead virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, fashion designers say this version of one of South Africa’s premier horse races offers them very little benefit as they carry on struggling to survive the lockdown.

The Durban July, weddings and matric dances are important sources of income for fashion designers. The event will be held in an empty Greyville Racecourse this coming Saturday, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown regulations.

The 2020 Vodacom Durban July fashion theme is ‘Butterflies’, reflecting the social butterflies who are still managing to stay connected to their passion for fashion during lockdown. Event organisers are adamant that fashion must remain a key component of the 124-year-old event.

In the video below, the Vodacom Virtual Durban July experience is launched:

However, a Durban based fashion designer Mxolisi Mkhize of the House of St Luke Designs says none of his clients have ordered garments for private virtual parties.

“Unfortunately because this is the first time it’s happening, this virtual Durban July, most people did not understand it and also they did not get the concept that they must dress up at home still get to celebrate or to be part of the Vodacom Durban July. Sadly, there have been no orders for people who want to dress up and stay at home. We had a few enquiries with regards to themed masks with butterflies. But there has been no work or no business that has come through for this virtual Durban July,” Mkhize says.

Another designer – Madelein Clark of the Mads Exclusive – says she has advised her clients to wear garments from previous events at this year’s virtual parties.

“There has been a decline because they are not going to the race. But I do have my out crying clients that are still gonna stay home with their families. They are regular racegoers and not as previous years; also reviving old outfits just celebrating the theme butterflies. I’ve been giving information to clients to revive previous outfits that they ordered from me for previous Durban July. No really parties going on just families at home. Just trying to get the vibe of Durban July.”

Clark adds that since their business depends on social events that have been cancelled due to COVID-19 regulations, they are battling to make ends meet.

“We’ve had great losses, but we had to adapt, we were very blessed to be able to do masks for the community that’s why I have been able to have my staff still earn a salary. My business is basically social gatherings which was so busy before Lockdown and the very next day nothing. So my studio is hanging full of glamorous dresses, we don’t know which level, where, how it’s really the unknown for us.”

Organisers of the event which attracts thousands of punters, socialites and celebrities say people will still be able to enjoy the event online.

Gold Circle events and marketing manager – Steve Marshall says: “There will be no marquees on course as the event is being held behind closed doors.  There are gathering restrictions in place so I don’t think that large marquees will be allowed at the sports ground. The event this year is virtually there will be social media competition, people can follow the Vodacom Durban July Facebook page and get involved in dressing up and getting through pictures of the outfit this year and they will stand a chance to win some really great prizes.”

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