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Harvey Weinstein extradited to California to face trial on rape charges
20 July 2021, 7:08 PM

Former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was extradited from New York to California on Tuesday to face trial on rape and assault charges, his spokesman and the New York Department of Corrections said.

Weinstein was convicted in New York in 2020 for sexual assault and rape and was sentenced to 23 years in prison.

In Los Angeles, he is wanted for trial on charges of attacking five women from 2004 to 2013.

“This morning at approximately 9:25 custody of Mr. Harvey Weinstein was handed over to the appropriate officials for transport to the state of California per a court order,” the New York Department of Corrections said in a statement.

In April, Weinstein asked a New York state appeals court to throw out his conviction for sexual assault and rape and grant a new trial, saying the trial judge made several errors that denied him an impartial jury.

Weinstein, 69, was sentenced in March 2020 by Justice James Burke of Manhattan criminal court to 23 years in prison for assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi and raping former aspiring actress Jessica Mann.

Weinstein has denied any nonconsensual sexual encounters.

His conviction was seen as a watershed moment in the #MeToo movement against sexual abuse and harassment.

Weinstein made seven arguments in his bid to overturn his conviction, from seating a juror that Weinstein’s lawyers accused of being grossly unqualified to an unduly harsh sentence.

His lawyers also argued he was denied a presumption of innocence when Burke allowed the jury to hear testimony from three women who alleged Weinstein assaulted them even though their accusations did not result in a criminal charge.

The three women described for the jury what prosecutors characterized as Weinstein’s signature pattern of behaviour: luring women to hotel rooms or his apartment to discuss film roles, then attacking them.

Weinstein’s lawyers had asked Burke during the trial to bar two of the three from testifying.

Jurors were instructed that the three women’s testimony could only be used as evidence of Weinstein’s intent, not propensity to commit sexual assault.

Weinstein said the third-degree rape charge should be dismissed because the alleged misconduct occurred too long ago, and a new trial should concern a single count of first-degree criminal sexual act.

Fear sweeps Eastern Cape taxi industry following shooting of two bosses
20 July 2021, 6:18 PM

Two fatal shootings of taxi bosses in a few days have sparked fear and outrage in the Eastern Cape taxi industry. The incidents took place in Gqeberha and East London.

No arrests have been made in both cases.

While investigations continue, police have been urged to work around the clock to ensure that perpetrators are brought to book.

The motive behind these recent killings is not known at this stage. Both men, who belong to different associations, were killed in a hail of bullets while getting into their vehicles. Santaco in the province maintains that there are no tensions amongst taxi associations.

Provincial Santaco Deputy Chairperson, Gabs Mtshala says they are concerned.

“This is dampening the spirit of peace that we are having currently. We were united just last week when we were fighting against looting and the disruption of property now that is dampening that spirit hence we say we don’t understand.”

Provincial police spokesperson Thembinkosi Kinana says they’re following close leads.

” The Provincial Commissioner has assembled a team of capable detectives to investigate the circumstances that surround the incidents. At the moment we have not made any arrests but our investigation continues.”

Transport MEC Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe has called for calm in the industry.

“We request communities to let law enforcement officers do their own investigation and come up with a report. We must not be suspicious as much as we know that they often fight over routes.”

The Transport Department has committed to working closely with the industry to ensure there’s calm and peace.

Correctional Services launches COVID-19 vaccination roll out program
20 July 2021, 4:53 PM

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola says he’s confident that the department will be able to meet the August 10 deadline to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to over 8 000 inmates and personnel per day as set by health authorities.

The vaccination will take place at 90 prison facilities countrywide. The facilities have about 170 000 prisoners.

The department launched its vaccination roll out program at Sun City Correctional Facility in Johannesburg.

Lamola, who officially launched the vaccination program, says the department will work against time to meet the August deadline.

“We are very confident because the officials and inmates are coming forward in numbers. The numbers are trickling as you can see. Which encourages us that we would be able to to reach the deadline. If we can vaccinate about 8 000 people per day then we would be able to meet the deadline that’s being set by the Department of Health.”

 

The vaccination will take place daily with inmates and personnel to be inoculated with the single dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

This is how some of them responded after being vaccinated.

“I think like everybody, you have anxiety. If you don’t I don’t think you’re normal. But at the end of the day is the peace that you have of knowing that you’re doing the right thing. It helps and now my anxiety is gone. I am thankful and excited,” says one inmate.

“Yeah, we were given a choice, it was not forced on us. We got all the information about it first. So myself, my family and I opted into it,” adds another inmate.

Acting Health Minister Mamoloko Kubayi is also optimistic that this partnership between the two departments will meet the intended targets and deadline.

“This program today shows aims at making vaccine accessible to all those South Africans without having to matter where they are. What we are saying is that we have a partnership which working very well. But we have to remember that we’ve a  target.”

Parole system

Lamola refuted claims that the parole system was too slow and commended officials for working hard to contain outbreaks at facilities.

Over 14 000 inmates have been released on parole since last year.

“We have already done what is called special parole dispensation for COVID-19. And we’ve released a huge number of inmates, over 14 000 of them. They’re managed under community corrections. So what we are embarking on now is the vaccination of all inmates across the country. Those that are on parole can also vaccinate through the community where they stay because they have IDs and so forth.”

Meanwhile, Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru), as well as South African Prisoners’ Organisation for Human Right (SAPHOR), say the vaccination roll out has come far too late.

To date over 291 Correctional Services officials and 85 inmates have died from COVID-19.

Witness describes transfer of Esidimeni patients as haphazard
20 July 2021, 3:40 PM
The obligation to ensure that dignity was maintained in the transfer of mental patients from Life Esidimeni to Non-Governmental Organisation facilities was with both Gauteng health officials and the management team at Esidimeni. This is according to former Operations Director at Life Esidimeni, Dr Morgan Mkhatshwa.
Mkhatshwa, who described the transfer of patients as haphazard, has been testifying at an inquest into the deaths of 144 patients who died after being transferred from the facility.
Most patients died of hunger and neglect between March and December 2016 after the Health Department cancelled its contract with the Life Group due to financial constraints.

“It was a joint effort between the officials that were on-site at the facility. If there was any mishap, that should’ve been picked up by that team and addressed by that team at that time. No one should have left the Esidimeni facility without identification, without records, without medication. That is totally unacceptable. I’m referring to the joint team. The Department of Health officials and our managers on-site.”

Life Esidimeni Inquest proceedings:

Kolisi to lead Boks on Saturday after recovering from COVID-19
20 July 2021, 2:32 PM
Captain Siya Kolisi has recovered from COVID-19 and will lead the Boks in the first test of the three-match series against the British and Irish Lions at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.
Mapimpi and replacement lock, Lood de Jager, have not played any rugby since joining the Springboks in camp a month ago.
Saturday’s match will be of special significance for vice-captain Handre Pollard.
The flyhalf, who also recently recovered from COVID-19, will play in his 50th test match.

Springboks urged to rise to the occasion when they face British and Irish Lions

South Africa’s backline coach, Mzwandile Stick, has urged his players to rise to the occasion when the Springboks face the British and Irish Lions.

This has been one of the most difficult periods for Springbok rugby due to the COVID-19 infections in the camp, which hampered preparations for the upcoming series.

As a result of the COVID-19 scare, the team’s second test against Georgia, which was scheduled for 9 July, had to be cancelled. Stick says he is glad the team is now back together as a unit.

“A lot of people are going through challenges you know with the pandemic, something that a lot of us didn’t expect but it is what it is.  We had a lot of challenges like the other team, the British and Irish Lions on the other side. But I think for now we are in a good space, we got almost everyone back in camp.”

Facing the British and Irish Lions is a dream come true for any professional South African rugby player.

Pollard says the players are happy to be together again and are looking forward to the challenge.

“Personally for me, I’m ready to go and with such a squad I think this morning when you walk into the team room you feel a different vibe, but the tension in the room it’s always good, it’s going to be like that for the next three weeks. So, I think as a group getting everyone back together again is just lovely and everybody is enjoying it again. It’s time to go now, the prep, all the talking everything is finished. Now it’s time to get stuck in these three test matches,” says Pollard.

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