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Protest
Oath Keepers militia members arrested for role in US Capitol siege
19 January 2021, 8:53 PM

A Virginia man with an apparent leadership role in the far-right militia group known as the “Oath Keepers” was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly “planning and coordinating” the January 6 breach of the US Capitol, the Justice Department said.

Thomas Edward Caldwell, 65, of Clarke County, Virginia is one of several members of the Oath Keepers named in a criminal complaint as having participated in the Capitol riots by President Donald Trump’s supporters.

He faces charges of conspiring to commit an offense, obstructing an official government proceeding, unlawful entry and disorderly conduct.

Other members of the Oath Keepers who were also charged include Jessica Watkins, 38, of Champaign County, Ohio, who in the criminal complaint referred to herself on her Parler account as the “C.O. (commanding officer) of the Ohio State Regular Militia,” as well as Donovan Ray Crowl, also of Ohio.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, describes the Oath Keepers as “one of the largest radical anti-government groups in the US,” which believes in “baseless conspiracy theories about the federal government working to destroy the liberties of Americans.”

In a criminal complaint, investigators said Caldwell used Facebook to communicate with fellow members of the Oath Keepers and helped make hotel arrangements for their stay in the Washington, D.C. area.

He later posted photos from the siege, saying “Us storming the castle. Please share… I am such an instigator!”
Caldwell then urged members to storm state capitols. “Let’s storm the capitol in Ohio! Tell me when!” he wrote.

The FBI has been combing through well over 140 000 videos and photos to track down suspects who participated in the assault on the US Capitol, in which supporters of President Trump forced their way into the building, ransacked offices and documented much of the attack on social media.

Michael Sherwin, the top federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., has said he suspects hundreds will face charges in the investigation, which is unprecedented in size and scope.

As the arrests have mounted, many of the suspects are accused of having ties to far-right fringe groups such as the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, another right- group, or they are characterised as white supremacists or Nazi sympathisers.

One such person who will make his initial appearance in a federal court in New Jersey on Tuesday is Timothy Hale-Cusanelli.

Investigators said he is a US Army reservist with a security clearance whom they described as “a vowed white supremacist and Nazi sympathiser who posts video opinion statements on YouTube proffering extreme political opinions and viewpoints.”

Biden Inauguration | 25 000 National Guard troops expected on the streets of Washington DC

Ramaphosa establishes committee to oversee COVID-19 vaccine rollout
19 January 2021, 7:46 PM

President Cyril Ramaphosa has established an Inter-Ministerial Committee under the chairmanship of Deputy President David Mabuza to oversee the country’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout program.

Government is planning to vaccinate 40 million South Africans before the end of the year in an effort to achieve herd immunity.

The first one million doses of the vaccine destined to vaccinate frontline health workers are expected to arrive later this month.

Speaking during a webinar organised by the ANC’s Progressive Business Forum, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the committee would assist government in ensuring that the distribution of the vaccines are well managed.

“People are therefore correct to say they want to know where are we going to get the vaccine, what they will cost, when are they arriving, who are the classes of people who are going to get the vaccines first, and the various phases we are going to go through and the distribution of the vaccines and it is in a light of this that we too in government are treating this matter as seriously as our people are. Today we established an Inter-Ministerial Committee which will be chaired by the Deputy President to ensure that the whole process of distribution of the vaccination process is well done.”

Vaccine rollout plan: 

According to the government, the vaccine is going to be rolled out in three phases. 

Phase one 

  • Front line healthcare workers (HCW). Target population: 1 250 000 

 Phase two 

  • Essential workers. Target population: 2 500 000 
  • Persons in congregate settings. Target population: 1 100 000 
  • Persons > 60 years. Target population: 5 000 000 
  • Persons >18 years with co-morbidities. Target population: 8 000 000 

Phase 3 

  • Other persons >18 years. Target population: 22 500 000 

Dr Zweli Mkhize gives more clarity on SA’s vaccine rollout:

SA has money to purchase vaccines: Ramaphosa

Ramaphosa has also allayed fears that the country does not have the money to purchase vaccines to immunise South Africans against COVID-19.

Government has been criticised for waiting too long to enter the worldwide vaccine race with fears mounting that government doesn’t have the budget to fund the biggest vaccination drive in the country’s history.

Earlier, the Director-General of National Treasury Dondo Mohajane said they might consider tax hikes to secure enough money for the vaccines.

But President Ramaphosa says the country can afford to purchase the vaccines.

Money
DA calls on Treasury to disclose details of COVID-19 relief expenditure
19 January 2021, 6:25 PM

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on National Treasury to disclose the details of how each of the country’s municipalities spent its share of the R500 billion COVID-19 relief package.

It says the information should be published on the Treasury website similar to how COVID-19 tenders from national and provincial governments were published in August last year.

The party also says it wants to know what National Treasury and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs have done to assist the Special Investigating Unit and law enforcement authorities to hold responsible officials to account.

R20 billion of the R500 billion was earmarked for assistance to municipalities during the pandemic.

Last year, the DA called on Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to appear before the Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to account for the spending of municipal COVID-19 relief funds.

The party says it will now write to the Director-General of National Treasury, Dondo Mogajane, to ask for a comprehensive account of municipal COVID-19 related expenditure.

Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke gives an update on COVID-19 relief funds audit:

 Infographic: R500 billion COVID-19 economic stimulus

Residents from Eastern Cape town decry incomplete police station as crime spikes
19 January 2021, 5:00 PM

Residents of Indwe, in the Eastern Cape, say incomplete renovations of a local police station that started five years ago is contributing to a spike in crime.

The renovations were halted in 2018 after the construction company left the project.

Refurbishments were meant to improve holding cells and the charge office amongst other things.

Frustrated residents now live in fear because of safety concerns.

Chairperson of the Community Policing Forum, Rebecca Sondarha says the number of police officials on duty has decreased.

“We are pleading to government to finish the renovations so that suspects are held here because there are very limited resources and they used to transport suspects and there is no police personnel. Today there are only two police officers, one in the charge office while another one is patrolling the area. If there are two police officers during a night shift, they lock the gates because they have to protect themselves.”

Community member Zwelinzima Skere says residents live in fear as there is no police visibility in their area.

“Ever since they stopped the renovations, nothing seems to happen. Most of the time they will tell you there are no police vehicles because they went to Queenstown or Port Elizabeth to fetch suspects. We won’t say police do not work but there are very limited resources. You’ll find two police officers during a weekend and you won’t get any assistance.’

When SABC News visited the police station, the crew came across Bantu Jiza who was met by one police officer working in the makeshift charge office.

This is not the first time, he says, he could not be assisted.

Jiza adds that during the night, the police station gates are locked, while residents are told there are no vehicles to attend to their complaints.

“I once got here and the gates were locked. I wanted to report a case, you could hear that there were people inside. They always tell us there are no vehicles. There are very few police officers here. People are mugged in town and nothing happens because there are no police officers to attend to those issues.”

Provincial police spokesperson Thembinkosi Kinana says they are looking into the matter.

“Due to failure by the contractor to perform in terms of the guideline, the department had to temporarily suspend construction. There are assessments being done and we will resume the work as soon as it is done.”

Residents have called for a speedy intervention as the lack of policing in the area is very concerning.

Gary Barlow
Take That lead singer Gary Barlow turns 50
19 January 2021, 3:30 PM

British singer Gary Barlow OBE turns 50 on Wednesday.

The Take That lead singer was born in Cheshire, England in 1971 and according to his 2006 autobiography, his love for music started at a young age.

Take That, comprised originally of Barlow, Howard Donald, Jason Orange, Mark Owen and Robbie Williams, was formed in 1990 and was built around Barlow’s vocals and songwriting skills.

Barlow wrote the majority of the group’s songs, including “Back For Good” and “Pray”, for which he received an Ivor Novello Award.

After Take That split in 1996 Barlow launched a successful solo career with both of his first singles reaching number one in the UK charts. The band reunited in 2005 and Barlow continued to release solo work, including a collaboration with Andrew Lloyd Webber for the official Diamond Jubilee single, “Sing”.

Away from recording music, Barlow was a judge on British singing competition show “The X Factor” from 2011 until 2013.

He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2012 Queen’s Birthday Honours for his services to the entertainment industry and to charity.

In 2014, Barlow and bandmates Mark Owen and Howard Donald were caught up in a tax avoidance dispute. Prime Minister at the time, David Cameron, refused to back a call for him to hand back his OBE.

Barlow married wife Dawn Andrews in 2000. The couple have three children: Daniel, Emily and Daisy.

In 2012, the singer announced that he and his wife were expecting a fourth child but later that year he shared the “devastating” news that the baby had been delivered stillborn

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