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Former Mpumalanga Agriculture MEC Mandla Msibi, co-accused granted R20 000 bail
19 October 2021, 1:00 PM

Former Mpumalanga Agriculture MEC Mandla Msibi and his co-accused have been granted bail of R20 000 bail by the Nelspruit Magistrates’ Court.

They are facing murder charges and attempted murder. It’s alleged that they were involved in a shooting incident that claimed the lives of two people and left a third wounded in August.

Their case was delayed last week after a bomb scare which prompted officials to evacuate the entire court building and proceedings were adjourned for the day.

Mandla Msibi’s bail application adjourned following a bomb scare:

Msibi was also axed as the provincial African National Congress (ANC) election manager.

According to the evidence presented in court, the victims Christopher Ngwenya and Sindela Lubisi were killed from a hail of bullets. Sfiso Mpila, who was amongst them, escaped with a bullet wound on the leg.

Two bullets were found on Ngwenya’s head.

Investigating officer Boy Bhila indicated that he has video footage showing the accused and others who are still at large.

However, defence advocate Coert Jordaan said the charges against Msibi and the two accused are malicious and a smear campaign to destroy Msibi’s image.

Jordaan says the state did not indicate its intention to oppose bail from the onset until the investigating officer testified.

He says the officer also failed to execute his duties because he effected arrest seven weeks after the incident occurred. Additional reporting: Motsebi Monareng 

Murder-accused Mpumalanga MEC Mandla Msibi fired

KZN court to sentence hitman convicted of killing ANC councillor
19 October 2021, 11:47 AM

The Esikhawini Regional Court in northern KwaZulu-Natal is expected to sentence hitman Fisokuhle Ntuli on Tuesday.

Ntuli has been convicted of killing African National Congress (ANC) Councillor Thami Nyembe. Ntuli is also linked to 10 other cases ranging from murder to possession of unlicensed firearms.

Nyembe was killed in KwaNongoma in 2016.

Inside the court, heavily armed police are keeping a close watch on proceedings.

In a twist of events, the defence has asked the court that a social worker be called to share information around Ntuli’s personal circumstances.

The matter has been adjourned to December 9th.

No special deals to allow unvaccinated players at Australian Open: official
19 October 2021, 10:14 AM

Australia’s Victoria state will not do special deals with unvaccinated athletes to allow them to compete at major events, an official said on Tuesday, putting Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open title defence and bid for the Grand Slam record in doubt.

World number one Djokovic, level on 20 Grand Slam titles with Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal, declined to reveal his vaccination status again this week and said he was unsure if he would defend his Australian Open crown as authorities work out COVID-19 restrictions for the tournament.

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Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said he opposed special arrangements to let unvaccinated athletes compete in the state, which is scheduled to host the Grand Slam at Melbourne Park in January.

“On the question of vaccination, no,” he told a media briefing.

“(The virus) doesn’t care what your tennis ranking is, or how many Grand Slams you’ve won. It’s completely irrelevant. You need to be vaccinated to keep yourself safe and to keep others safe.”

Tennis Australia, which organises the Grand Slam, declined to comment.

Victoria, which is due to exit a near three-month lockdown this week, recently included professional athletes in a vaccine mandate covering millions of “authorised workers”, without clarifying whether it applied to athletes from overseas or other Australian states.

Andrews suggested the mandate covered international athletes, too.

“Professional sport is part of those (items on the) authorised worker list and they have to be double-dose vaccinated,” he said.

Andrews said Victoria’s stance could be a “moot point”, given the federal government might not issue visas to unvaccinated athletes.

“I don’t think an unvaccinated tennis player is going to get a visa to come into this country and if they did get a visa they’d probably have to quarantine for a couple of weeks,” he added.

“I don’t think that the person you indicated (Djokovic) or any other tennis player, let’s not personalise it … or golfer or Formula One driver will even get a visa to get here.

“If I’m wrong I’m sure the federal government will let you know.”

The federal government’s home affairs department was not able to provide immediate comment.

Australia’s borders have been shut to non-residents through the pandemic, although authorities have issued visas to athletes and sports staff for major events, including the last Australian Open in February.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government would relax border controls for residents and their overseas-based family members from next month but international tourists and other visa classes would have to wait longer.

Melbourne, Australia’s second largest city, has been locked down since August as authorities scrambled to contain an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant.

Restrictions for the city’s 5 million people will be eased from Friday when 70% of the adult population in Victoria is expected to be fully vaccinated.

Unvaccinated people, however, will remain barred from sports events along with restaurants, pubs and other parts of the economy.

Andrews said the ban on unvaccinated fans may apply right through to the 2022 Formula One Australian Grand Prix in April.

“This is here for a while …. We’re not going to be essentially encouraging people to not get vaccinated because they reckon they can wait a few months or a few weeks,” he said.

“You can’t wait out coronavirus.”

 

UK watchdog to launch investigation into music streaming
19 October 2021, 9:51 AM

Britain’s competition regulator said on Tuesday it planned to launch an investigation into the music streaming market to see whether it was functioning properly for consumers.

The Competition and Markets Authority said it intended to launch a market study into music streaming, its latest move to attempt to promote competition in digital markets.

An industry body estimates that streaming accounts for around 80% of British music consumption, with the market dominated by the likes of SpotifyApple Music, Amazon, and YouTube.

Megahit “Squid Game” puts focus squarely on Netflix’s overseas growth
19 October 2021, 8:43 AM

The success of the South Korean dystopian drama series Squid Game has led investors to bet on Netflix Inc’s plans to explore more international content to boost slowing subscriber growth.

With a 111 million-strong fan base in just 27 days after its release, the low-cost survival drama has become Netflix’s biggest original show launch ever, underpinning its efforts to ramp up investments in overseas content.

“We continue to view international expansion as a key driver of subscriber growth, particularly in less-penetrated, emerging markets,” Guggenheim analysts said in a client note.

In the first half of the year, the streaming giant had reported its slowest pace of subscriber additions since 2013 due to the coronavirus-led break in production.

But, as “Squid Game” became an instant worldwide sensation after launching towards the end of the third quarter, analysts said actual global subscriber additions can topple estimates of 3.8 million and benefit the next three months too.

THE CONTEXT

Netflix has lost a lot of market share since the onset of the pandemic as newer, more exclusive platforms gained quick popularity from stay-at-home entertainment seekers.

Apple TV+, for instance, is banking on the success of “Ted Lasso” and raised its share of the global streaming pie by 75% this year, according to research firm Parrot Analytics.

Netflix’s most formidable challenger Disney+ sits on a base of 116 million paying subscribers in a short span of two years.

Meanwhile, AT&T-owned HBO Max raised its global subscribers forecast to between 70 million and 73 million by July, indicating the preference to stream content-on-demand is here to stay.

International shows like Money Heist, Lupin, and The Crown have drawn cross-border fame and several Emmy award nominations, helping steady the overseas subscriber growth.

“The streaming wars, as they currently stand, are not a battle to unseat Netflix within viewers’ homes, but rather to earn a place alongside the red giant,” MoffettNathanson analysts said in a research note.

Bloomberg News reported that Squid Games would add about US$900 million to the company’s value, citing internal documents.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Analysts estimate Netflix’s third-quarter revenue to grow 16.14% to US$7.48 billion when it reports results on Oct 19

* Earnings per share is estimated at US$2.56

* As of Friday’s close, its shares have gained about 16% so far this year

WALL STREET SENTIMENT

* Wall Street analysts are largely bullish, with 33 out of 45 rating the stock “buy” or higher, while eight have a “hold” rating and four rate it as a “sell” or lower.

* The median price target is US$650 versus the current price of US$629.84.

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