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Alleged Western Cape underworld kingpin, police appear in court for money laundering
10 May 2021, 4:45 PM

The case against alleged underworld kingpin Nafiz Modack and anti-gang unit policeman, Ashley Tabisher, has been transferred to the Blue Downs regional court.

The pair made a brief appearance in the Bishop Lavis Magistrate’s Court on a charge of corruption and money laundering. It’s alleged that Modack offered Tabisher R10 000 and a cellphone in exchange for information on when police would carry out operations against him.

Modack also faces a slew of other charges including conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder and extortion.

He is set to apply for bail on consolidated charges in the Blue Downs regional court. This follows multiple charges brought against him in recent weeks since his arrest. Among them, the attempted murder of Cape Town attorney, William Booth, the 2019 attempted murder of anti-gang unit member Charl Kinnear as well as kidnapping and extortion of an investor, Sameer Vallie.

In court on Monday, Modack’s lawyers said his client was being mistreated at the secret location where he’s being held.

“First, Mr Modack complained about sleeping on a concrete floor and that affected his kidneys and also complained about Halaal food not being served in prison. He wanted his bail application to be done today which was a bit strange because you cannot separate the two bail applications with the same accused,”  says NPA Spokesperson, Eric Ntabazalila.

Outside court, Modack’s supporters put up placards questioning why the state plans on opposing bail.

Supporter, Safia Mohammed, claim’s he’s a humanitarian.

“We are here to know why Modack is not out and yet. Remember, every flower has a root and we want to know who the root is, that’s keeping Modack in, why don’t they want Modack to come out? What is the reason?”

Another supporter, Yumna Williams, says Modack does good in their community.

“The feeding didn’t stop. The feeding will continue, with him or without him, but it’s not the same. So, we have come out here to support him in feeding, because a hungry child is basically a sad child,” says Williams.

Modack and Tabisher are expected to appear in the Blue Downs regional court on Friday, with others linked to the cases, including Zane Killian, Jacques Cronje, and Ricardo Morgan.

A date for a bail application is expected to be set on Friday.

SABC to proceed with eviction of illegal occupiers from its Mahikeng flats
10 May 2021, 3:30 PM

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) says it intends to proceed with a process to evict all illegal occupiers of SABC properties in Mahikeng, in North West. This after the illegal occupiers failed to restore possession of the Bop TV flats and other SABC properties back to the SABC, as ordered by the North West High Court.

The SABC‘s Group Executive: Corporate Affairs and Marketing, Gugu Ntuli, says they will continue with the eviction process.

“Effectively, the occupants had to leave, they had to vacate the blocks of flats in Mafikeng. The occupants obviously haven’t done so and according to the ruling, we actually indicated that if this was not pursued, if the occupants remained in the building, we would then have to proceed with an eviction process.”

SABC disposes non-core assets:

The SABC had decided to dispose of some of its non-core assets as part of its turnaround strategy. It included more than 20 houses and 60 flats that had been rented out.

In April, Sanco’s Provincial Secretary Khumalo Molefe said they would not allow the SABC to take any decision “without public participation.”

“We have learnt about the unfortunate and unjust action by the SABC based somewhere in Auckland Park, in Gauteng, to sell our property here in Mahikeng in the North West without any public participation. We reject this attempted hijacking of our public property by the SABC and we will not only reject it, they will find us in the building. We will defend these buildings and we know how these buildings came about. It was because of the contributions of our parents from the University of the North West to every building. It is because our parents contributed through their taxes through their blood and sweat that you find in the province. We will not stand by the side and allow the SABC, sitting somewhere in Auckland Park, to take the decisions about our public property.”

SABC Spokesperson Mmoni Seapolelo, said at the time, the public broadcaster would continue with the auctioning of its non-core assets.

“The SABC will in May 2021, in line with section 52 D of the Public Finance Management Act for the disposal of non-core assets, hold a public auction of residential property which were rented by SABC employees and none employees. In order to ensure a fair and transparent process and as part of the recommendations of this process  a public auction will be held in May 2021.”

Community members hijack flats belonging to the SABC in Mahikeng:

Shopping
Cost of living continues to rise in SA amid COVID-19 pandemic
10 May 2021, 3:05 PM

Consumers are finding it hard to get by due to the high cost of goods and services. The price of food and other essentials has gone up with taxi fares also expected to increase from next month. A survey has found that the cost of living among South Africans has significantly increased, especially since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In April, the R350 social relief grant came to an end, adding more woes for the poor who were dependent on this monthly income for their sustenance.

A survey done by a technology company, M4Jam, has found that the cost of living for South Africans has become unbearable.

CEO of M4Jam, Georgie Midgley, says the majority of the respondents surveyed across the country say they had to change their spending and consumption patterns including cutting down on non-essentials such as data and fast food.

“99% of people felt that the cost of living has increased. The increase is largely felt in food and in transport, which is obviously the essentials that people need to live. After that, there’s things like utilities which is electricity, water, phone, internet – all of those essentials are increasing on a day-to-day basis. People are defiantly feeling squeezed and pushed,” says Midgley.

Human Rights organisation, Black Sash, has been advocating for the payment of a basic income grant for the most vulnerable and the poor. The group says the grant has provided a lifeline from starvation for many poor people in South Africa.

“There’s no income for them. People need to survive and we don’t know how they are going to survive. Government is failing to provide for its people in terms of its constitutional obligation because where you don’t have income support; the constitution says the government is obligated to provide financial support for those who cannot find (it). Despite people being able-bodied, wanting to work, there are just no jobs,” says Black Sash National Advocacy Manager, Hoodah Abrahams-Faker.

South Africa’s economy is currently not doing well with some economists even saying that it’s technically bankrupt. The unemployment rate is sitting at over 30% with government spending billions of rands to service its debt of over R3 trillion.

The country’s woes have also been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the vaccine rollout lagging behind.

Economist, Bonang Mohale, says the poor will suffer the most during these difficult times.

“The loss of livelihoods, the people that are unemployed, that are retrenched would probably be ten times more than those people that have been killed by the virus. We lost about 2.2 million jobs. You multiply that by five people that are dependent on the single breadwinner. Now, you understand why 10 million people are unemployed. So, the majority of our people are going to starve to death, die from hunger and starvation,” says Mohale.

Taxi organisation, Santaco is also expected to increase taxi fares from the 1st of July.

Santaco Spokesperson, Thabiso Molelekwa says the petrol price increases and the impact of COVID-19 on the taxi industry, especially on operational costs are some of the reasons for the increase.

He also says government delays in subsidising the taxi industry is adding to the industry’s financial woes.

“If you look at the past eight months, you will realise that the petrol price increase pattern has been quiet steep. The industry has not recovered from the impact of COVID-19. You have operators who have not really settled the arrangements they have made with the different financiers in terms of their vehicles. Everything has gone up, and as a result, that would affect elements of what makes our operational costs, the insurance, instalments in terms of vehicle financing, spares that we use.”

In the video below, consumers urged to use credit wisely:

 

Tumi Mathaise: The cost of living is too high

It is 8am and Tumi Mathaise is already hard at work, slicing meat and boiling rice in big silver pots, placed on top of gas stoves. He sells a plate of food for R35 in the Johannesburg CBD.

With the money he gets, he pays rent for his family and sends some of it back home, in North West, to pay for his siblings’ tuition. He says since the COVID-19 outbreak, the price of basic foods, like mielie-meal, rice and oil has increased,. he says the price of the gas he uses for cooking has also increased.

“To be honest with you, it is difficult these days. You can see I am cutting this meat, but from this bag, I won’t get any profit. This bag is  R700 but I am not going to get the profit I used to get before. Before, I used to get a profit of R300 or R350. But now I get R150. It means things have gone up. The cost of living is too high.”

drugs
Western Cape police seize drugs worth R13 million in separate busts
9 May 2021, 9:32 PM

Western Cape police have revealed that they seized illegal drugs last week valued at about R13 million in three major busts in two days.

Spokesperson Novela Potelwa says in total six suspects were arrested and some of them have already appeared in court. Potelwa says police on Tuesday last week intercepted large quantities of heroin, crystal meth and cocaine valued at R5.4  million on the West Coast town of Vredendal.

On Wednesday police raided two storage facilities at Westlake and Noordhoek where they seized 30 000 mandrax tablets and crystal meth.

Potelwa says there was a third bust for dagga also on Wednesday.

“Lockdown II forces descended on residence in Windsor, Kraaifontein where a dagga cultivating lab with dagga products were seized. The value of the seizure is estimated at is R5.4 million. Police believe the seizures will go a long way in efforts to rid Western Cape communities of drugs.”

 

COVID-19 infection rate over the past week in Gauteng a cause for concern: Dr Suliman
9 May 2021, 9:15 PM

Senior Researcher at the  Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Dr Ridhwaan Suliman says there has been a sharp increase in positive coronavirus cases in South Africa in the last two weeks and people must continue to adhere to protocols to prevent a major resurgence of the virus.

Dr Suliman says the test positivity rate in the last week was 6.7%  which is well above the WHO’s recommended levels. He also says the 60 % increase in the number of new coronavirus infections in Gauteng over the last week is a cause for concern.

“Of particular concern and currently thriving the increase in the national numbers is the increase in the populist province of Gauteng. Currently, Gauteng is averaging just over 500 new cases per day over the last week. Currently, the test positivity we have on average is at 6.7 percent across the country and that increases are quite sharp about 5 percent a week ago. It is certainly concerning with these increase trends we have seen in infection rates. Once the positivity rate starts increasing it confirms that we are not testing widely enough,” says Dr Suliman.

Dr Suliman says the situation in the Free State and the Northern Cape must also be closely monitored.

South Africans are urged to continue wearing masks, practicing social distancing and regular hand washing to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

People are also urged to avoid areas with poor ventilation and crowded spaces. The death toll from COVID 19 is approaching 55 thousand people in South Africa. However, the real death toll could be far higher – given that over 150 000 excess deaths are believed to have taken place in South Africa so far during the pandemic.

“At the moment we averaging 45 new deaths per day across the country and that is a slight increase of 12 percent week on week. The increase is largely driven by an increase in Gauteng and Northern Cape and the Free State. Also when we look at deaths in hospitals is showing a significant increase. But unfortunately, if the infection rate does increase we may see many people, unfortunately, succumbing to the virus.,” adds Dr Suliman.

Question of travel restrictions following detection of variant first diagnosed in India

The Acting Executive Director for the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), Professor Adrian Puren, says COVID-19 travel restrictions need to be balanced with the need to grow the economy.

Prof Puren says there should be a fine balance to manage the situation especially as coronavirus variants are in circulation worldwide.

The Department of Health earlier said it had detected the presence of coronavirus variants dominant in India and the UK in South Africa.

The Department says, “The Network for Genomic Surveillance in South Africa (NGS-SA) confirmed today that 2 variants of concern, other than the B.1.351 already dominating in South Africa, have been detected. These are B.1.1.7 (first detected in the UK) – 11 cases and B.1.617.2 (first detected in India) – 4 cases.”

“In addition, the B.1.351 (first detected here in South Africa) has been sequenced from a patient travelling from Bangladesh.”

The statement says, “The four cases of B.1.617.2 have been detected in Gauteng (2) and KwaZulu-Natal (2) and all have a history of a recent arrival from India. All cases have been isolated and managed according to national
COVID-19 case management guidelines and contact tracing has been performed in order to limit the
spread of this variant.”

Regarding the variant first identified in the UK, the Department says, “Of the eleven cases of B.1.1.7, eight were detected in the Western Cape (with two having a history of travel from Bahrain), one was detected in KwaZulu-Natal and two were detected in Gauteng.”

Prof Puren says it’s a tough situation.

“As you note the variants are in circulation even though there are specific restrictions from various countries. The variants are in circulation, it’s really how we manage that particular scenario. For example, in the UK and other countries, it’s really either to have the results of PCR or either test, quarantine or isolate or test during that particular period and release those particular individuals.”

Prof Puren also says the country will experience new coronavirus variants in various geographic areas.

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