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Australia cancels Novak Djokovic’s visa again
14 January 2022, 11:00 AM

The Australian government cancelled Novak Djokovic’s visa for a second time on Friday, saying the world tennis No. 1, unvaccinated for COVID-19, may pose a risk to the community.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke used discretionary powers to again cancel Djokovic’s visa, after a court quashed an earlier revocation and released him from immigration detention on Monday.

“Today, I exercised my power under section 133C(3) of the Migration Act to cancel the visa held by Mr Novak Djokovic on health and good order grounds, on the basis that it was in the public interest to do so,” Hawke said in a statement.

Djokovic, a vaccine sceptic, fuelled widespread anger in Australia when he announced last week he was heading to Melbourne for the Australian Open with a medical exemption.

Australia has endured some of the world’s longest lockdowns, has a 90% vaccination rate among adults, and has seen a runaway Omicron outbreak bring nearly a million cases in the last two weeks.

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said on morning television on Friday that visa decisions were a matter for the country’s Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, but the policy settings of the government overall were “crystal clear”.

“That is that people who enter Australia who are not Australian citizens should be double dose vaccinated unless they have a clear and valid medical exemption against that,” he said on Channel 9’s Today Show.

An online poll by the News Corp media group found that 83% favoured the government trying to deport the tennis star.

Fans, however, including many Serbian Australians, gave him noisy support when he was detained, anti-vaxxers have hailed him as a hero, and his family have portrayed him as a champion for individual rights.

The Committee for Melbourne, which represents business and arts leaders, says the city’s reputation for hosting events has been damaged by the dispute.

“The Djokovic visa and vaccination saga has reflected poorly on all those involved, which is a tragedy considering the excellence of our infrastructure and tournament planning,” Chief executive of the committee Martine Letts told The Age.

VIDEO | Briefing on COVID-19 and vaccination rollout programme
14 January 2022, 9:41 AM

The Minister of Health Dr Joe Phaahla  convenes a virtual media briefing on government efforts in the fight against COVID-19 and the national vaccination rollout programme.

Mashaba rubbishes claims of divisions within ActionSA
14 January 2022, 6:26 AM

ActionSA leader, Herman Mashaba, says there are no divisions in his party and that Thursday’s protest march  in Johannesburg was held by people who have been expelled.

The protestors have threatened to collapse the new party over its candidate list for councillors in Johannesburg. Mashaba has described them as people who had joined the party for the wrong reasons.

“They unfortunately joined Action SA for wrong reasons, they participated as ward councillors and lost and they expect us to just put them on. If anyone believes that they come from the ANC because they wanted positions in Action SA, unfortunately they made a terrible mistake. They are expelled because after losing their wards they think we must change our list, which was given to the IEC long before the time, so we expelled them, and they can go back to the ANC where they come from.”

Disgruntled members of ActionSA threaten to collapse the party:

Destabilising the party

The feud is mounting between the ActionSA leader in KwaZulu-Natal, Dr Makhosi Khoza and the party’s national leadership.

Dr Khoza claims she has suffered a hail of insults by some in the party’s national leadership accusing her of working with the ANC to destabilise the party.

Khoza recently stepped down as the party’s KZN chairperson after the ANC elected her as Municipal Public Accounts Committee chairperson in eThekwini metro.

While during the inauguration of eThekwini in November she was accused of having voted with the ANC even though the Action SA position was that its councillors would form a block with the opposition.

Dr Khoza explains, “I was obviously also quoined how did I allow the ANC to vote for me and which was a very difficult question for me because what do you say when people are voting for you. Do you say don’t vote for me? The ANC did vote for me. Well, I probably received a hail of insults from some members of the senate in the party who were thinking that I am being planted to destroy the Action SA within.”

Meanwhile, Action SA National Chairperson Michael Beaumont says the party stands by Dr Khoza. “No, I am not aware of anyone who has hailed insults to that effect. I think the leadership of the ActionSA and certainly the leadership I have engaged on this matter has a great deal of confidence in Dr Khoza and her leadership. And for what it’s worth, I think it was very clear the statement issued by Herman Mashaba on the 23rd December expressed confidence to her as a leader. You know if there are certain individuals who feel differently within the Action SA, no those views are not known to me and I don’t agree with them.”

‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Rules Again, ‘The 355’ Misfires
9 January 2022, 8:40 PM

Jessica Chastain, Penelope Cruz, Lupita Nyong’o and the cast of Universal’s globe-trotting espionage thriller “The 355” were no match for “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which dominated at the box office in its fourth weekend.

The latest Spidey adventure, starring Tom Holland as the title web-slinger, collected a leading $33 million from 4,108 theaters between Friday and Sunday, boosting its domestic tally to $668 million.

After this weekend’s haul, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” stands as the sixth-highest grossing movie in history at the domestic box office, surpassing “Titanic” ($659 million) and “Jurassic World” ($652 million). At this rate, it’ll soon take the No. 5 spot, which currently belongs to “Avengers: Infinity War” ($678 million).

It’s no small feat that “Spider-Man: No Way Home” generated $30 million in a single weekend this far into its theatrical run. In pandemic times, most movies would be lucky to sell that many tickets in their opening weekend, much less after playing in theaters for nearly a month — all while a highly contagious COVID-19 variant continues to rapidly spread. But, as this weekend illustrates, audiences aren’t willing to leave the house and visit their local multiplex for just any movie.

Universal’s star-studded action spy film “The 355” had to learn that the hard way. The film managed to fall short of already low expectations, generating a dismal $4.8 million from 3,145 North American venues over the weekend. The bad news? It’s unlikely to rebound in its theatrical run since “The 355” has garnered mostly negative reviews (it holds a bleak 27% on Rotten Tomatoes). The good news? The film, which cost $40 million to produce, will likely move to digital rental platforms in 17 days, and it will play on the streaming service Peacock in 45 days, which could attempt to mitigate theatrical losses.

Directed by Simon Kinberg and co-starring Diane Kruger and Fan Bingbing, “The 355” follows international spies who form an unlikely team in order to put an end to potentially world-ending events. In Variety’s review, chief film critic Owen Gleiberman called it “generic, over-the-top, and 20 minutes too long, kind of like a Netflix movie.” Moviegoers were kinder, awarding the film a “B+” CinemaScore.

“The 355” landed in third place on domestic box office charts, ranking behind “Sing 2,” which opened in theaters around Christmas. The animated musical comedy, also from Universal Pictures, added $11.9 million from 3,713 cinemas over the weekend, pushing its North American total to $100 million. It’s the first animated film to cross the $100 million mark since Disney’s “Frozen II” in 2019.

That’s a notable achievement at a time when parents haven’t been taking their young kids to the movies, though box office analysts remain concerned about the sluggish return of family audiences. In 2019, animated films generated more money than any other genre, thanks to family-friendly hits like “The Lion King” ($543 million), “Toy Story 4” ($434 million), “Frozen II” ($430 million), and “Aladdin” ($335 million). There hasn’t been a single pandemic-era film geared toward kids that has been able to come close to reaching similar heights. So it has been worrying to film operators that Disney has already nixed plans to release Pixar’s “Turning Red” in theaters. Instead, it will debut on Disney Plus in March.

“The industry needs the family audience back in force for a sustained recovery,” says David A. Gross, who runs the movie consulting firm Franchise Entertainment Research.

In fourth place, Disney and 20th Century’s “The King’s Man” brought in $3.3 million from 3,040 venues. So far, the prequel in “The Kingsman” action franchise has made $25 million at the domestic box office and $49 million internationally.

Five men to appear in Pretoria court on human trafficking charges
9 January 2022, 7:00 PM

Five alleged human traffickers are expected back in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Monday morning. They were arrested on New Year’s Eve in Sunnyside.

One of the suspects allegedly lured a 17-year-old girl from her home in Hammanskraal, north of Pretoria in March last year. The victim was kept against her will, forced to take drugs and subjected to sexual exploitation.

The Hawks rescued the 17-year-old and a 25- year-old woman from a flat in Sunnyside. Four male Nigerian nationals and a South African man face charges of contravening the Trafficking in Persons Act for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

In another case, 39- year old- foreign national, John Frederick and 25-year-old Thulani Mnisi face charges of human trafficking and are also expected back in the Vanderbijlpark Magistrate’s Court on Monday morning.

The two were arrested when three women aged between 18 and 33 were rescued from a brothel operating under the guise of a guesthouse in Benoni on Gauteng’s East Rand late in December.

It’s believed the 18-year-old raised the alarm after she alerted her cousin of her abduction. The call led to the arrest and the rescue of two others.

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