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ANC election posters defaced in the Free State
13 October 2021, 5:47 PM

The African National Congress (ANC) in the Free State says it is concerned by the defacing of its election posters in Metsimaholo and Kopanong municipality.

ANC Free State Head of Elections, William Bulwane, says the burning and destruction of party posters will not derail them in their quest to reclaim all the municipalities in the province.

Bulwane says they have reported the matter to relevant authorities.

“We appeal to our communities not to assist to loose to opposition parties to turn our province into a violent province. We have already used law enforcement institutions and the IEC to report these barbaric acts. Demonstration of burning and removal of ANC posters is a sign of defeated minds and people who are not keen to promote our hard-earned democracy and decisions of our people.”
File photo: Defaced political posters:

 

The Electoral Commission of South Africa says that this flies in the face of a democratic electoral system.

Election posters are one of the means used by political parties to send their messages to South Africans to convince them to vote for them.

Ripping off the posters of parties constitutes a crime. The IEC says if prosecuted, a person can serve five to ten years in jail.

If a party is involved in defacing the posters of opponents, it constitutes breaking the Electoral Code and such a party can be prosecuted through the Electoral Court.

Blue Origin poised to transport ‘Star Trek’ actor Shatner into space
13 October 2021, 5:24 PM

Billionaire U.S. businessman Jeff Bezos’s company Blue Origin is set for its second suborbital tourism flight on Wednesday, with actor William Shatner – who embodied the promise of space travel on the “Star Trek” TV series and films – among the four-person all-civilian crew poised to blast off in Texas.

Shatner, at age 90, is due to become the oldest person ever in space. He and his crewmates are scheduled for a 9:30 a.m. (1030 EDT/1430 GMT) takeoff aboard the white 60-foot-tall (18.3 meters-tall) fully autonomous New Shepard spacecraft at Blue Origin’s launch site about 20 miles (32 km) outside the rural west Texas town of Van Horn.

The four astronauts, all wearing blue flight suits with the company’s name in white letters on one sleeve, climbed into the crew capsule atop the spacecraft and strapped in after ascending a set of stairs accompanied by Bezos. Each rang a bell before entering the capsule. Before that, they rode a vehicle with Bezos at the wheel to the launch pad after about a half hour delay.

Winds were light and skies were clear ahead of launch time.

Joining Shatner for what the company said is expected to be a roughly 11-minute journey are former NASA engineer Chris Boshuizen, clinical research entrepreneur Glen de Vries and Blue Origin vice president and engineer Audrey Powers.

Blue Origin said the astronauts will experience about three to four minutes of weightlessness and travel above the internationally recognized boundary of space known as the Karman Line, about 62 miles (100 km) above Earth. The crew capsule is due to return to the Texas desert under parachutes.

The flight, previously scheduled for Tuesday, was pushed back a day for wind-related reasons.

The four crew members went through training on Tuesday and the mission team completed a flight-readiness evaluation to ensure “all systems are go for launch,” Blue Origin said on Twitter.

Blue Origin had a successful debut space tourism flight on July 20, with Bezos and three others aboard, flying to the edge of space and back on a trip lasting 10 minutes and 10 seconds. On that flight, pioneering female aviator Wally Funk at age 82 became the oldest person to reach space.

Bezos, the Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) founder and current executive chairman, formed Blue Origin two decades ago.

Shatner, who turned 90 in March, has been acting since the 1950s and remains busy with entertainment projects and fan conventions. He is best known for starring as Captain James T. Kirk of the starship Enterprise on the classic 1960s TV series “Star Trek” and seven subsequent films about fictional adventures in outer space.

As an actor, Shatner was synonymous with space voyages. During the opening credits of each episode of the series, he called space “the final frontier” and promised “to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

Shatner said there is both irony and symmetry to his space trip, having played a space explorer for decades and now actually becoming one.

“Having played the role of Captain Kirk … assigns me the knowledge that a futuristic astronaut would have, but I’ve always been consumed with curiosity,” Shatner said in a Blue Origin video.

Shatner’s participation in the flight has helped generate publicity for Blue Origin as it competes against two billionaire-backed rivals – Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Holdings Inc (SPCE.N) – to attract customers willing to pay large sums to experience spaceflight.

Branson inaugurated his space tourism service on July 11, riding along on a suborbital flight with six others aboard his company’s VSS Unity rocket plane. SpaceX, which has launched numerous astronauts and cargo payloads to the International Space Station for NASA, debuted its space tourism business by flying the first all-civilian crew to reach Earth’s orbit in a three-day mission ending Sept. 18.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration two weeks ago said it will review safety concerns raised by former and current Blue Origin employees who have accused the company of prioritizing speed and cost savings over quality control and adequate staffing.
Reporting by Mike Blake; Additional reporting by Peter Szekely in New York and Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Will Dunham
Eswatini teachers’ association confirms deployment of army at schools
13 October 2021, 2:49 PM

The Eswatini National Association of Teachers (SNAT) has confirmed that police and soldiers have been deployed in schools in the country to monitor the situation.

This after learners from different schools joined the pro-democracy protests.

It is alleged that more than 82 schools are closed countrywide due to the ongoing protests. Learners have reportedly vandalised some schools.

The pupils are refusing to write exams saying, they have lost study time due to the unrest.

They are also calling for the release of some activists who were arrested during the unrest.

SNAT’s Mbongwa Dlamini says, “Students are rioting demanding the released of the three MPs. What we have observed, the situation started to escalate this week on Monday. The reason behind it is that the minister decided to open schools for all students. The riots were there last week but was not this much because students were in smaller groups. We have a number of schools that are protected by soldiers and police.”

Deployment of army to Eswatini schools following protests: Siphetfo Dlamini

Amnesty International calling for investigation into Eswatini protestor shooting

Early this month, Amnesty International called on Eswatini authorities to investigate the police shooting of a protester and the alleged excessive use of force in the tiny country.

According to the rights group, thousands of peaceful protesters outside parliament were violently dispersed with security agents using live ammunition.

The aim of the demonstration was to deliver a petition to the US embassy, urging the United States to intervene following the arrest and detention of two members of parliament.

“So, as Amnesty International we are saying that Eswatini authorities must launch a prompt, impartial investigation into the shooting that we saw on Friday, leading into one person landing into hospital after they were shot in the head by the security forces. We believe, as Amnesty International, that people should not be shot at for basically demanding basic freedoms in the country.  It’s upon the government of Eswatini to opt to sit down with these pro-democracy activists and have a genuine debate about the future of Eswatini because that’s the only sustainable way to be able to make sure that we have a country that aspires to what all people want to see,” says Amnesty International spokesperson Robert Shivambu.

The country has experienced a lot of civil and political unrest this year.

AC Milan defender Hernandez tests positive for coronavirus
13 October 2021, 2:05 PM

Theo Hernandez has tested positive for COVID-19 on his return from international duty with France, AC Milan said on Wednesday.

The left back started both of France’s games at the UEFA Nations League Finals in Italy, providing a goal and an assist as the world champions defeated Belgium and Spain to lift the trophy.

“Hernandez has tested positive for a swab carried out at home. The relevant local health authorities have been informed and the player is doing well,” read a note on Milan’s website.

Hernandez is the second member of the French squad to contract the virus in the last week, after Juventus midfielder Adrien Rabiot missed the final following a positive test on Saturday.

Hernandez has been a key player for Milan this season, making nine appearances in all competitions, and the news comes as blow ahead of a busy run of games for the team.

Stefano Pioli’s side, who are second in Serie A, face Hellas Verona and Bologna over the next two weekends, either side of a Champions League trip to Porto.

A reflection on Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s tenure
10 October 2021, 2:02 PM

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s term ends at midnight (Monday 11th October). He became a Constitutional Court judge in 2009 and later nominated for the position of Chief Justice by former President Jacob Zuma in 2011.

When Justice Mogoeng was interviewed for the position of Chief Justice more than ten years ago, one of the critical questions he faced, related to his religious views.

The Judicial Service Commission wanted Justice Mogoeng to explain his statement in which he quoted the Bible in relation to obeying the rule of law.

The JSC Commissioner who asked him at the time was CP Fourie: “I find it odd at best that as motivation  for your statement, that you must obey the law of your government, that you refer to the passage and which I have read. If one looks at that passage in isolation and you try and dissect and understand, it says there literally, it appears to  be in conflict with your oath of office. And it also appears to me to impact on our independence.  And I would like you to comment on that please.”

Mogoeng had to clarify the statement about his religious views in detail to the panel: “Context is critical here, Commissioner. I was coming from a position that criticism has been levelled against me on the basis that because I am a Christian it is very likely that the Constitutional rights of a community such as a gay and lesbian community or gay and lesbian people, which is a right that conflicts with the bible or the provisions of the bible, the likelihood exists, according to the criticism,  that I was going to uphold the Bible in total disregard of the Constitutional rights of other people in so far as there is a conflict. Now the point sought to be made broadly speaking is the following: that even the Bible expects a Christian to obey the law. For instance, you may be in any country whether you are in Zimbabwe or where ever, you may even be  a ratepayer  and there may be an ordinance that says you must pay the rates and taxes, and your attitude might be that I don’t even want to recognise this government, I didn’t even vote them into office, let them go with their own laws.  The context is,  it doesn’t matter whether that’s a Christian government or not a Christian government as long as there is a law that must be obeyed. You are duty bound to obey that law until such time that it is repealed.  As for my government, it was not in any negative sense. I am very much alive to the fact that it was the people of South Africa who made the Constitution. And I was very much alive within the context of the controversy that was already brewing at the time when I made that statement.”

He will not only leave office as Chief Justice but his 12 year non-renewable term as a Constitutional Court  Justice also comes to an end.

The outgoing Chief Justice leaves office with an unresolved matter over his religious views in public. This relates to the Pro-Israel comments he made at a Webinar hosted by an Israeli newspaper last year. It led to a complaint laid against him by the South African Boycott Divestment Sanctions Coalition.

The Coalition’s National Co-ordinator is Roshan Dadu says, “In this webinar he clearly contradicted government policy on Palestine by saying that criticising Israel was going against the will of God. The Judicial Service Commission agreed with us and Justice Mojapelo ordered the Chief Justice to  issue  an unconditional apology for  knowingly becoming  involved in political controversy which is  in contravention of the Judicial Service Act. However, the Chief Justice not only refused to abide by their order. He went on to state in the public in a prayer meeting that he will never retract or apologise even if 50-million people took to the streets. And he then submitted an appeal. The SABDS Coalition made a submission to the appeal that there were no grounds to challenge the detailed report made by Justice Mojapelo.”

The BDS Coalition says its fight with the outgoing Chief Justice over his Pro-Israel comments is not yet over.

Dadu says, “The  last we heard was that the appeal was heard in June but that  the appeal panel was still considering the matter. It is clear that the decision is being delayed until the Chief  Justice’s term has come to an end. However, we say that the matter cannot rest here.”

“How can we allow a Chief Justice of Post-Apartheid South Africa to defend  a colonial state that discriminates against the indigenous Palestinian population that occupies its land that bombs and kills civilians in Gaza, forcibly removes people from their homes in Jerusalem, shoots, maims and arrest children in a racist apartheid state? How can we let him get away with it?”

Chief Justice Mogoeng ordered to apologise for pro-Israel comments:

When Mogoeng was facing pressure, Pro-Israel lobby group South African Friends of Israel showed support for the Chief Justice. They still maintain that Justice Mogoeng does not owe an apology for his comments. Director of Public Policy at the Zionist Federation of South Africa and SA Friends of Israel Benji Shulman says they commend Mogoeng for not giving into pressure.

“We wish the outgoing chief justice well as he finishes  his 12 year term as the helm of the constitutional court of South Africa. He is someone who refused to buckle to pressure from divisive groups in this country who did not like his comments on impartiality about playing a positive role in South Africa in bringing peace between Israeli and the Palestinians, simply because he did not take an anti-Israel position. He was targetted and vilified for saying that South Africa has a positive role to play and that there should be peace between Israelis and the Palestinians.”

Shulman believes that Mogoeng is criticised because he did not display an Anti-Israel stance.

“Well, it goes without saying that if he had taken an Anti-Israel position, then all these groups that make so much noise would be absolutely silent and their silence would be deafening. But because he has promoted peace and dialogue and communication, he was targetted. So, we are very glad that he refused to buckle to this pressure that he refuse to apologise and that he can leave his term with integrity and with impartiality and with  judiciousness. And we thank him for upholding the values of the Constitution and we wish him well in his endeavours in the future.”

A Constitutional Law expert Pierre De Vos says Mogoeng’s legacy as Chief Justice will be clouded by some of his controversial religious views in public.

“When Justice Mogoeng was appointed as Chief Justice there were many critics of the appointment who claimed that the Chief Justice was going to lack  independence and  does not have a strong judicial skills and largely the Chief Justice proved the critics wrong, – showing independence, strong  leadership and the like. Unfortunately, the Chief Justice also like any other judge is bound by the Code of Judicial Ethics which says if you are a judge you cannot get involved in statements that will be politically controversial, but here is the  Chief Justice (who) has unfortunately stretched over the line.”

De Vos says while Mogoeng’s religious views should be recognised, it does not give him the free will not to comply with the Judicial Code of Ethics.

“Making a statement about vaccines and safety of vaccines and secondly, making pro-Israel statements, now these statements were both influenced by the Chief Justice’s strong religious beliefs that must, of course, be recognised. But  in terms of the Code of Judicial Conduct your religious views does not give you a free pass not to comply with the Code of Conduct and this is where the Chief Justice went straight over the line.”

Reaction to Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s comments on Israel:

It’s unclear whether the JSC will pursue Mogoeng even after retirement if his appeal is dismissed. We leave you with this statement by the Chief Justice which was broadcast in March this year, where he justified why he will not apologise for his Pro-Israel comments.

“I will not reject my God. I will not apologise for believing in my God. I will not apologise for being a Christian. I will not apologise for prayer. I will not apologise for holding up the word of God. I will never, even if 50-million people can march everyday for the next ten years, for me to retract or to apologise for what I said I will not do it. I will never say I hate anybody or any Nation. I will never. There will therefore be no retractions. There is nothing to retract. There will be no apology. Not even this political apology that in case I  have offended anybody, without meaning to offend them for that reason….I will not apologise for anything. There is nothing to apologise for. There is nothing to retract. I can’t apologise for loving. I can’t apologise for not harbouring hatred and bitterness. I will not. If I perish, I perish.”

SABC takes a look at outgoing Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng’s career:

 

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