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48 Northern Cape schools closed due to COVID-19
13 July 2020, 4:24 PM

Forty eight schools in the Northern Cape have been closed thus far due to COVID-19 infections.

The provincial education department says these are not breakouts but individual cases.

It says the facilities are closed until they have been disinfected and it is safe for educators and learners to return.

The department’s spokesperson Geoffrey van Der Merwe says they are monitoring the situation very closely.

“We have made the necessary arrangements with the department of health to establish the contact traces for testing and have isolated staff and learners where necessary. The Pixley ka Seme, John Toalo Gaetsewe and ZF Mgcawu district offices were also closed with immediate effect due to positive COVID-19 cases reported,” Van der Merwe says.

In the video below, parents worried children run risk of contracting coronavirus:

KZN parents up in arms

Parents of learners at oDumo High School in Mandeni, on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast, are up in arms after schooling was stopped last week, allegedly by teachers. It is believed that teachers downed tools after raising concerns about safety on school premises.

The school is currently under construction. Member of the school governing body, Jabulani Khuzwayo, says learners have already lost far too much time due to the impact of the lockdown.

“The school has been closed. We don’t know why it has been closed. We have not been informed who closed it. According to our understanding, the school has been cleaned and it’s conducive for teaching and learning to take place. Teachers left our children unattended. No COVID-19 case has been reported in this school. We are left in the dark. Our children want to go to school, but we are have no idea what is going on. We are worried about the future of our children.”

Spokesperson at the provincial education department Muzi Mahlambi says teaching is expected to resume by the end of this week.

“We are aware of the problem that is at oDumo High School in Mandeni where there is construction and educators are feeling that the manner in which the constructor has lay the tools around is not safe for them. We have since sent the implementing agents to assist us with that regard. We are very hopeful that by Wednesday everything should have been cleared up so that the environment becomes conducive for educators and learners to be working at the school.”

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has said the 2020 school year will have to be carried over to 2021 due to interruptions to the school calendar.

Legal action being considered against those disrupting schools

The Council of Education Ministers (CEM), led by the Minister, is also considering legal action against political parties and civic bodies found to be disrupting schooling. Many have been protesting, calling for schools to be shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, the Department says these disruptions are in contravention of the South African Schools Act, which prohibits people from interrupting classes.

It says out of 24 000 schools, 775 were affected by COVID-19 since reopening to grade 7 and 12 pupils on 8 June.

Minister Motshekga has encouraged parents who are uncomfortable about sending their children to school to consider homeschooling.

Eastern Cape Judge Patrick Jaji succumbs to COVID-19
13 July 2020, 3:16 PM

An Eastern Cape judge is the latest high profile South African to succumb to COVID-19.

Judge Patrick Jaji passed away on Sunday in hospital.

” The effects of COVID-19 pandemic have now reached the doorsteps of the Judiciary in a very real and saddening way. Judge Jali was a dedicated bastion of the Constitution and rule of law. His untimely death robs us of the opportunity to experience his future contribution to the Judiciary,” Judge President of the Eastern Cape Division of the High Court Selby Mbenenge says in a statement issued on behalf of the Judiciary.

The Chief Justice’s Office has sent its condolences to his family and friends, saying his loss will be deeply felt by his colleagues and the staff in the Eastern Cape Division of the High Court.

Judge Jali was permanently appointed to the High Court in 2017. He had worked as an attorney from 1996-2010.

His death comes as South Africa’s infection rate continues to climb.

He also joins several high profile South Africans who have succumbed to the disease. These include, the North West MEC of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Gordon Kegakilwe, former KwaDukuza mayor and ANC spokesperson Ricardo Mthembu and Langeberg mayor Henry Jansen.

The Gauteng, North West and Western Cape Premiers, as well as the Mpumalanga Public Works, Roads and Transport MEC, are among South Africans who are currently recuperating from the disease.

The country currently has more than 200 000 infections and over 4 000 deaths.

Below is the provincial breakdown of the statistics:

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Bee farming booming in SA
13 July 2020, 2:35 PM

The coronavirus pandemic has had a negative impact on people and businesses. But, there are some entrepreneurs whose businesses are beginning to flourish as a result of the pandemic.

One of these sectors is bee keeping, which has recently seen a rapid increase in demand for honey. People use honey to fortify their immune system.

South Africa imports more than 80% of its honey, despite an existence of local bee farmers. And, there is still very few women participants in the industry. Tumi Mobu is one of them. She quit her job in the food industry to join apiculture. Although her bee harvesting business was not doing so well, the outbreak of the coronavirus changed all that. As people become more health conscious – the demand for honey has increased and Mobu’s business started to grow.

“I have established the exponential growth in the sales of honey during this pandemic. People starting to understand the symptoms of COVID, which are flu like symptoms. Trying by all means to stay organic; trying to stay with the natural produce to combat the pandemic. So, I have been growing from leaps and bounds,” Mobu says.

Although her subsistence bee farming business is relatively small, she aims to grow and become fully commercial as a bee farmer and supplier.

“I see myself having my own factory. Being called a commercial bee keeper at that moment. Having my own produce or production plan that is where I see myself. Employing a lot of people and having contributed to a healthy South Africa.”

Despite her business’ relatively small size, her list of customers is growing steadily. She is now getting orders from across the country. In her own little way, she says, she is also playing a positive role in the fight against COVID-19 while also making a profit.

‘Britain’s sale of arms to Saudi Arabia a major foreign policy blunder’
10 July 2020, 2:44 PM

Other than its terrible history of colonialism, the UK has not done too badly in terms of domestic protection of equality before the law for all of its citizens regardless of race, colour, creed or gender.

In the international arena Great Britain has particularly in the 21st century made a concerted effort to align itself with the protection of human rights and the global democratisation particularly in Africa, where many former colonies of the British protectorate are located.

The recent announcement in London by the British International Trade secretary Liz Truss that Westminster has resolved to resume arms sales to the discredited regime in Saudi Arabia left humanitarian groups perplexed.

Saudi-led forces have bombed the neighbouring Yemen beyond recognition and probably beyond repair since the start of the war with the Houthi rebels in 2015.

Global appeals for restraint have fallen on arrogant and deaf Saudi ears. To date, the conflict has cost more than 100 000 lives, majority of those innocent men, women and children of Yemen nationality.

In fact to date, more than 80% of Yemenis have been left in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. The UN International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has described the Saudi-led annihilation of powerless Yemen as a crisis of “cataclysmic proportions”.

Hence the widespread bewilderment at the UK government’s decision to resume supplying Saudi Arabia with arms. The decision has left activists across Britain aghast more so in the light of a landmark court ruling in June 2019 declaring arms sales to Riyadh unlawful.

At the time of the ruling No:10 immediately suspended lucrative arms sales to the oil-rich Gulf state, saying the government would keep the suspension in place while it conducted a review.

Lo and behold, the outcome of the review now reveals that although the UK government found “credible incidents of concern” in the behaviour of the Saudi’s continuous bombing and shelling of Yemeni, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government saw the excesses as “isolated incidents”. This decision London took despite expressing a view that the Saudis actions were a “possible breaches of international humanitarian law”.

To put it bluntly, it is war crimes that Saudi Arabia stand accused of. And buy all accounts, on the strength of evidence gathered by human watch groups, Riyadh as guilty as charged.

Britain’s backing of the Saudis further makes a mockery of Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab’s recent introduction of the so-called “global sanctions regime”. This is supposed to be aimed at “people that have committed the gravest human rights violations” around the world.

Just days before the shocking announcement of the resumption of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, secretary Raab revealed that the UK government has unleashed sanctions on 20 Saudi nationals held responsible for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi which attracted global condemnation.

The 20 faces asset freeze and visa bans, a sanction that now seems like a joke in the light of the light of the subsequent announcement of strengthening of ties between Westminster and Riyadh.

In the aftermath of a mercy Brexit, the UK would do itself a great favour by aligning its foreign policy with human rights proponents instead of entering into dodgy deals with discredited regimes who possess tons of blood money.

Britain has one of the world’s most active civil societies and I believe that Boris Johnson’s government will continue to face growing opposition to its collaboration with murderous regimes.

The Saudis need to be isolated, not insulated from scrutiny. The Yemenis and many other victims of the Western-backed belligerent Saudi-led massacre of innocent people in Yemen will come back to haunt the British in a way imperialism has blighted their history.

As we speak the Saudis have remorselessly bombed Yemen schools, hospitals, weddings, funerals, food infrastructure – the list is endless. Britain shouldn’t be arming a blood-thirsty regime such as this. The UK courts have said stay away from them. Uphold the rule of the law, for Yemenis’ sake!

 

Uganda cracks down on media ahead of elections in 2021, watchdog say
10 July 2020, 2:22 PM

Uganda’s security forces are cracking down on authors and journalists who challenge the 34-year-old rule of President Yoweri Museveni ahead of elections next year, a watchdog told Reuters.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said it documented the cases of 10 journalists and writers assaulted by security personnel, detained, or charged with offences to do with their work this year, compared to four such cases last year. “Police and the military have turned political reporting into a dangerous assignment,” said Muthoki Mumo, the committee’s representative for sub-Saharan Africa.

Calls seeking comment to police spokesman Fred Enanga, Information Minister Judith Nabakooba and presidential spokesman Don Wanyama were not answered. Presidential elections are scheduled for early next year.

Opposition leaders say the clampdown makes campaigning even harder after the government forbade mass rallies, citing the spread of the new coronavirus. “It will be near to impossible to campaign,” said opposition legislator Asuman Basalirwa, pointing out that most television and radios stations are pro-government.

Satirical Ugandan author Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, 32,  said he was arrested in April and interrogated for five days in the Ministry of Defence Headquarters in Mbuya about whether his novel “The Greedy Barbarian” is a satire of Museveni. He was beaten with a baton, punched in the face, and chained up, he said, showing Reuters scars and a scan of a damaged kidney he said came from the torture.

“I was like, tomorrow I will tell them anything because I am going to die… my body became numb, the blood stopped flowing,”he told Reuters, his voice trembling. “I prayed to God to bless my family, my wife and children.”

He was eventually charged over Facebook posts that prosecutors said encouraged people to disobey anti-coronavirus measures.

Uganda military spokesman Brigadier Richard Karemire said he was unable to comment because he had not spoken to the people who handled Rukirabashaija’s case. Political opponents of Museveni, 75, have frequently been arrested and beaten.

University professor Stella Nyanzi’s profanity-ladeninvectives against Museveni earned her a large online following but also landed her in jail. She was released in February after serving more than a year on cyber harassment charges stemming from anti-Museveni Facebook posts.

A popular blogger, Joseph Kabuleta, was arrested last year after calling Museveni a thief. He told local TV he had been stripped and drenched during interrogation.

 

 

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