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Eastern Cape Education head says province on track to welcome learners for 2022
14 January 2022, 6:05 PM

The head of the Eastern Cape’s Education Department Dr Naledi Mbude has given assurance that the province is on track to welcome learners back when schools in coastal provinces reopen next week.

Parents in some areas have accused the department of dragging its feet in fixing schools that were damaged by storms during the December holidays. Mbude says that they’ve assessed the situation.

“We are ready to open schools in terms of the readiness assessment that the national department sends to all provinces. The Eastern Cape has been hit by disaster, but in terms of our readiness, the province is ready. We’re waiting for contractors because of the issue of construction, the industry on its own is closed during the December holidays and now we are ready for them to move on the 57 schools, while the 39 others are being assessed because every day there’s something that happens to the buildings.”

Mbude on the province’s readiness for the 2022 academic year:

Cape Town’s travel-related industries show massive growth
14 January 2022, 4:42 PM

The City of Cape Town says its trade and travel-related industries have seen a 58 percent growth between October and December last year.

Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Growth, James Vos, says over 700 000 travellers visited Cape Town in that period.

He says 20 000 passengers on average passed through Cape Town International Airport per day in the last two weeks of December. He says this is a clear sign that the travel industry is heading for a recovery this year.

“I’m very happy to confirm that flights to and from Cape Town continue to increase. These are positive signs that Cape Town is open for business. I say this because the visitor economy is everyone’s business. It supports thousands of jobs and linked industries. We will continue to make airlift and connectivity a priority for economic readiness to get more passengers arriving to spend money in our destination.”

Discounts for tourists

At the beginning of December, Cape Town Tourism announced deals and discounts in the tourism industry in an effort to counter the effects of the recent international travel ban on the country and the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said there’s an urgent need to adapt. He said the aim was to ensure the survival of the tourism sector.

“Absolutely tens of thousands of cancellations, hundreds of millions of rand if not billions, an estimate produced by our provincial government is that just in December, Cape Town will have lost about R250 million from cancelled bookings, so it has a huge impact on the local tourism economy. That is why we had to innovate so quickly to see what we can to help businesses through these difficulties,” said Hill-Lewis.

Vrede Dairy Farm beneficiaries finally get their shares
14 January 2022, 4:00 PM

After years of struggle and the matter reported to the Public Protector, beneficiaries of the Vrede Dairy Farm project in the Free State have finally received their shares.

The Vrede Dairy Project was established in 2012 and there were 85 initial beneficiaries. An investigation by the provincial government however found that only 65 were the rightful beneficiaries of the farm.

Free State Premier Sisi Ntombela says those who have been left out were found to be working as professionals in other sectors. She says they had to oblige to hand over the farm to beneficiaries as per recommendations of the Public Protector and the high court order.

“So today we are handing over to them, you can see they are going to get 583 cows and 9 houses. And equipment, machines and also they are going to get 2020 hectares it means we are also giving them land. So we are very excited about this project it’s a good project, you can see for yourself. It is now from today in their hands, it is up to them.”

Suspects in Vrede Farm scandal

In June last year, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said the extradition process for Atul Gupta and his wife has started. This is in relation to a matter that involves 17 suspects, four of them being the companies named in the Vrede Dairy Farm scandal.

The Free State Agriculture Department’s former heads, Peter Thabethe and Dimakatso Moorosi, former chief financial officer Seipati Dlamini and businessman Iqhbal Sharma appeared briefly in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court in June.

They were charged with contravening the Public Finance Management Act.

“King Khoisan SA” feels violated after being arrested for cultivating cannabis at Union Buildings
14 January 2022, 3:32 PM

The man who was arrested for cultivating cannabis at the Union Buildings says he felt violated by police during his arrest on Wednesday. The man who calls himself “King Khoisan SA”, has been camping at the seat of government since 2018.

He and Donovan Manuel, who was also taken into custody, appeared briefly in the Pretoria Magistrate’s court yesterday.

They are part of a group that has been living in tents on the lawn next to the statue of former late President Nelson Mandela. They want government to recognise their language and acknowledge them as the first nation of South Africa.

Khoisan says he feels his privacy was violated.

“I felt very violated by the police. They lied about having a search warrant which they didn’t show, and they moved to my sleeping quarters with their dogs, forensics also came, they also moved along. They were scrutinising the camp from one place to another. For them it was common but for me, it was once again invading my privacy.”

Police say the suspects are welcome to put forward their allegations in court.

National State of Disaster extended for another month
14 January 2022, 3:00 PM

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini -Zuma has extended the National State of Disaster by another month until the 15th of February.

The extension is granted in terms of the Disaster Management Act. The Act empowers the Minister to extend a State of Disaster on a month-to-month basis once the first three months have expired.

The Department says the extension has taken into account the need to continue augmenting the existing legislation. It says it also considered the contingency arrangements undertaken by organs of state and all other role players to respond to the impact of the National State of Disaster on lives and livelihoods.

The Department says its calling on citizens to continue following all the COVID-19 regulations by wearing a face mask at all times, maintaining social distance, avoiding closed and poorly ventilated spaces and large gatherings as well as the washing of hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

It says it’s also calling on all South Africans to heed government’s call to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity and ultimately protect lives and livelihoods.

The new month-to-month extension officially kicks in on Saturday when the current one expires.

It will now be the 20th time that the State of Disaster is extended on a month-to-month basis.

Latest on COVID-19 pandemic

Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla has announced that Gauteng has officially exited the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases says 5 920 cases were identified across South Africa in the last 24-hours – representing a positivity rate of 14.3%.

Phaahla has warned that despite a noted decrease in COVID-19 related deaths, the Omicron variant is highly transmissible.

He was speaking during a virtual media briefing on government’s efforts to fight the pandemic:

“Gauteng province has officially exited the 4th wave this week and all other provinces have reached their peaks, the other 8 provinces, and are now on a decline. Of note is the fact that the decline in new infections is not a steep decline as was the incline. So this virus rises steeply but it goes down slowly. But at least it is going down and that is encouraging.”

“The Omicron variant has been spreading to various parts of the world. The pattern seems to be the same. Notwithstanding the reduced severity overall, the Omicron variant is still very deadly – especially for people of advanced age and also people with comorbidities and those who are unvaccinated.”



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