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Rest of Eshowe massacre victims laid to rest
6 March 2021, 7:01 PM

Four of six family members, who were murdered in Eshowe two weeks ago, have been laid to rest in Inanda,  KwaZulu-Natal.

The victims were between the ages of eight and 70. They were attacked and shot dead in their home, allegedly by a relative.

Mourners came from far to bid farewell to Octavia, Mbali, Thabo Khumalo and young Anothando Sgampu.

The two other victims, Christopher Khumalo and Snothile Hlongwane were buried in Eshowe last weekend.

It’s alleged that 36-year-old Sthembiso Mthimkhulu, a relative who is believed to be a social worker – entered the victims’ house, using an axe. Armed with a pistol, Mthimkulu allegedly shot them at close range after summoning them into a room.

The incident has left the family shocked and divided.

SABC News reporter Jayed-Leigh Paulse reports from the funeral:

Relative, Thokozani Mbatha, says she believes a sugarcane farm is the reason for the murders.

The sole survivor of the brutal attack is a 9-year-old girl.

Mbatha says she has been taken to a place of safety.

“The child is traumatised and in a place of safety. She did not come to the funeral because the family was not sure of who would be watching,” says Mbatha.

She believes that the suspect mistook the child for Anathando, who was killed.

The funeral was also beset by controversy. Bereaved family members and mourners had to wait for three hours before the service could start.

“There was a delay because the chief was not consulted. The family and local councillor had to go and speak to the chief before the funeral and he allowed them to continue. The right protocols had not been followed but they are thankful they could continue,” says another relative, Nelisiwe Madlala.

Mthimkhulu has appeared in the Eshowe Magistrate’s Court on six counts of murder.

Police Minister Bheki Cele visited the family after the massacre and called for justice.

India thrash England, book place in World Test Championship final
6 March 2021, 6:17 PM

India have booked their place in the World Test Championship final. They thrashed England by an innings and 25 runs on the third day of the fourth and final cricket test in Ahmedabad. England were dismissed for 205 and 135 runs in their respective innings, in reply to India’s 365. The hosts also wrapped up the series 3-1.

India resumed their first innings on 294 for seven on day three. Washington Sundar was on 60 and
Axar Patel on 11. The two put on 106 runs for the 8th wicket before Patel was run out for 43.

The last three wickets fell within five deliveries, and with the score on 365. Sundar finished unbeaten on 96 and India enjoyed a first-innings lead of 160 runs.

But England had a disastrous start to their second innings. Ravidranchan Ashwin struck early to get rid of Zak Crawley for just five and then Jonny Bairstow was out for a duck with the very next delivery. England were struggling on 10 for two.

Opener Dom Sibley managed just three, while danger man, Ben Stokes, was out for two and England were in all sorts of trouble on 30 for four.

Captain Joe Root tried to provide some resistance. He made 30 before Ashwin struck again.

Ashwin and Patel had a field day at the office. They claimed five wickets each as England again struggled against spin.

The hosts were finally dismissed for just 135 when Ashwin bowled Dan Lawrence for 50. With that, India secured a stunning innings and 25-run victory and secured their place in the WTC final in June.

“Now we can accept and admit that we are in the final. Till now, it was more of a distraction for us, because we are a side that is very committed to playing test cricket, and all these extra things can be a distraction for us. There was never a question of commitment or whether we were going to go for a win or not. It did become a bit of a distraction for us in New Zealand. But from then on, it was just focus on one game at a time and now we are in the finals, which we can’t wait to be a part of,” says the Indian captain, Virat Kohli.

For England, it’s back to the drawing board. Difficult lessons were learnt.

England captain, Joe Root, says: “I think we have to be honest, have to be realistic about things. We’ve just got to keep looking to get better. Keep looking to learn, keep looking to improve individually and as a group and know that we still have a year of very big test cricket ahead of us. It’s really important that we become a better side for this experience and this series, and we keep looking to evolve and move forward.”

India will meet New Zealand in the WTC final. The match will get underway at Lords in England on June 18.

Lebanon’s caretaker PM pleads for a new government as protests continue
6 March 2021, 5:35 PM

Lebanon’s caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab threatened on Saturday to stop performing his duties to pressure politicians to form a new government, citing an incident in which shoppers fought over milk to illustrate the parlous state of the economy.

Diab’s cabinet resigned on the back of the August 4 Beirut port explosion that devastated swathes of the capital. Prime minister-designate Saad al-Hariri was nominated in October but has failed to form a new cabinet since due to political deadlock between him and President Michel Aoun.

An ongoing financial crisis, which erupted in 2019, has wiped out jobs, raised warnings of growing hunger and locked people out of their bank deposits. A new cabinet could implement reforms needed to trigger billions of dollars of international aid.

“If seclusion helps with cabinet formation then I am ready to resort to it, although it goes against my convictions for it disrupts the entire state and is detrimental to the Lebanese,” Diab said in a televised speech.

“Doesn’t the scramble for milk constitute a sufficient incentive to transcend formalities and roughen out the edges in order to form a government?” Diab said referring to the recent incident at a Beirut supermarket in which shoppers fought over powdered milk.

A video of the squabble went viral on social media, leaving many people shocked at the desperate state of the economy. Groups of protesters have been burning tyres to block roads across the country on a daily basis since the Lebanese currency tumbled to a new low on Tuesday, enraging a population long horrified by the country’s financial meltdown.

The collapse of the Lebanese pound, which fell to 10 000 to the dollar on Tuesday, was the last straw for many who have seen prices of consumer goods such as diapers and cereals nearly triple since the financial crisis erupted.

On Saturday demonstrators protested in front of the banking association, demanding access to their deposits, and then walked to the parliament building in downtown Beirut to express their frustration at the deteriorating economic conditions.

“Social conditions are aggravating, financial conditions are putting a severe strain on the country, political conditions are increasingly complex,” Diab added in his speech.

“The country is confronted with enormous challenges that a normal government cannot face without political consensus so how can a caretaker government face these challenges?”

 

Zeerust business forum wants construction of town’s mall stopped
6 March 2021, 5:13 PM

A Zeerust business forum in the North West wants the construction of a shopping mall in the town to be halted, saying it won’t benefit the community.

Zeerust is a small town between Mahikeng and Rustenburg. Its economy is predominantly driven by retail businesses and farming.

The 17 000 square metre Autumn Leaf Mall – a first for this small town – is expected to boost the town’s economy. But the Ramotshere Moiloa Business Forum has raised some concerns. Among them, is the future of informal traders.

“Firstly there was no public participation and also we are concerned about the hawkers on the street to say where are they going to sell their vegetables. What is their plan for those people? Secondly, we have requested since 2019 for the developer to make available the scope of the project and bill of the quantities. Out of that, we are going to make sure that we prepare our entrepreneurs and source funding for them so that they are able to participate,” says the forum’s Snega Konyana.

The municipality says due process was followed, including public participation. It also says no public funds are involved in the R400 million business initiative, which is expected to create more than 2 000 jobs.

“On the 16th of February, we had public participation where we called all the business people – SMMEs in Ramotshere Moiloa Municipality, and then we invited the developers to come and tell me the SMMEs about the chances of them benefiting in the municipality. The hawkers know that in the mall, which we are building now, there is going to be a place for them to sell. We are going to even have a drop-off taxi zone where we are going to have a mini taxi rank,” says the municipality’s Alfred Nyamane.

Residents are looking forward to a new shopping experience.

“They’ll be helping because Zeerust is small and there are too many people so shops get full. We’ll be happy,” says one resident.

“They’ll be helping us get jobs, we’ll be happy,” adds another.

“We’ll be happy because shopping will be quick. Shops get full now,” says another community member.

The Autumn Leaf Mall is expected to open in March next year.

Ivory Coast votes for parliament as Ouattara opponents join forces
6 March 2021, 4:08 PM

Ivory Coast voted on Saturday in a legislative election, with President Alassane Ouattara’s allies facing a combined challenge from opposition parties led by two of his predecessors.

The poll comes only months after Ouattara won a third term in an election marred by unrest that killed at least 85 people, the country’s worst violence since a 2010-2011 civil war.

Below is a discussion on that unrest:

After boycotting the presidential election in October to protest Ouattara’s decision to seek a third term, the parties of former presidents Henri Konan Bedie and Laurent Gbagbo are fielding parliamentary candidates on joint lists.

Clear control of parliament by Ouattara’s Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP) would strengthen his hand to pursue an agenda based on attracting investment to the world’s top cocoa producer.

“The fact that all major parties are participating in this election is a development that confirms the democratic momentum in our country,” Ouattara said after casting his own ballot.

Turnout appeared light in the early hours of voting. Polls close at 1800 GMT and final results are due on Sunday.

“We are voting for peace. We don’t want any more endless debates between Ivorians,” said Aïcha Coulibaly, a hairdresser, who wore an RHDP t-shirt as she voted in Abobo, an Ouattara stronghold of the commercial capital Abidjan.

The opposition is under pressure to show it remains relevant after over a decade of political dominance by Ouattara, who came to power after defeating the incumbent Gbagbo in the 2010 election and then prevailing in the civil war that followed.

Gbagbo’s faction of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) is participating in a national election for the first time since he was ousted in 2011 and sent to the International Criminal Court to face war crimes charges. He was acquitted in 2019.

“I am happy to participate in this vote. Since 2010, I hadn’t voted,” said retiree Alfred Balli after casting his ballot in Yopougoun, a Gbagbo stronghold of Abidjan.

Bedie’s Democratic Party of Ivory Coast (PDCI) dominated national politics from the 1940s until he was overthrown as president in 1999. It backed Ouattara for years but split with him in 2018.

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