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Rwanda court to rule on case of Rusesabagina, hero of ‘Hotel Rwanda’
20 September 2021, 12:00 PM

A Rwandan court is expected to rule on Monday in the case of Paul Rusesabagina, a one-time hotel manager portrayed as a hero in a Hollywood film about the 1994 genocide, later accused by Rwanda’s authorities of masterminding terrorism from exile.

Rusesabagina, 67, denies all the accusations and says he was kidnapped from Dubai this year to be put on trial. His supporters call the trial a sham, and proof of President Paul Kagame’s ruthless treatment of political opponents. His family says he is in poor health.

Prosecutors have sought a life sentence on nine charges, including terrorism, arson, taking hostages and forming an armed rebel group which he directed from exile in the United States.

Rusesabagina became a global celebrity after the 2004 film “Hotel Rwanda” depicted him risking his life to shelter hundreds as the boss of a luxury hotel in the Rwandan capital Kigali, during the 100-day genocide when Hutu ethnic extremists killed more than 800,000 people, mostly from the Tutsi minority.

Actor Don Cheadle was nominated for an Oscar for the role. Rusesabagina used his fame to highlight what he described as rights violations by the government of Kagame, a Tutsi rebel commander who took power after his forces captured Kigali and halted the genocide.

Rusesabagina’s trial began in February, six months after he was arrested on arrival in Kigali on a flight from Dubai. His supporters say he was kidnapped; the Rwandan government suggested he was tricked into boarding a private plane. Human Rights Watch said at the time that his arrest amounted to an enforced disappearance, which it called a serious violation of international law.

 

Ramaphosa calls on prospective councillors to rebuild trust in communities
20 September 2021, 10:40 AM

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on prospective councillors regardless of their political affiliation to work together and rebuild trust in communities and improve communication with them.

In his weekly letter to the nation on Monday morning, Ramaphosa said local elections should not be about securing the most votes, but have to be about ensuring the interests of communities are placed above all else.

The president said it was evident that some residents have lost confidence in their ward councillors.

He said the loss of confidence among others emanated from councillors failing to attend to the problems facing residents timeously and not keeping them updated about disruptions in their localities.

He also decried the fact that councillors only come to their communities at election time. He has encouraged those standing for election to listen to what people want and continuously interact with them more effectively and more often.

No scientific basis to keep SA on UK’s Red List for travel: Vaccinologist
20 September 2021, 9:41 AM

Vaccinologist Dr Shabir Madhi says there is no scientific basis for the United Kingdom’s decision to keep South Africa on its Red List for travel.

Britain published its updated list last week, with South Africa still listed under red. Eight countries were removed from the list, including Kenya and Egypt.

The UK says as of October the new rules do not yet recognize South Africa’s vaccination programme, meaning local travellers would still be subject to tight restrictions.

Madhi says experts find this difficult to understand as the standards of locally-used vaccines are not inferior to jabs in other parts of the world.

“It is more irrational than anything else and there is no scientific basis for this decision to be made. The vaccines that are being used in SA are not inferior to those being used in the UK or anywhere else in the world. SA has the Delta variant that is dominating but SA has more people vaccinated than places such as Kenya and Pakistan for example, which have been removed from the Red List. So it is difficult to comprehend the basis on which this decision has been made.”

Costly test rules scrapped

According to reports, the government will remove the requirement for fully vaccinated travellers to take a lateral flow test before departing their destination and a costly PCR test on their return to Britain, which can add hundreds of pounds per person to a trip.

Ministers will also simplify the destination categories into either low or high risk, scrapping amber, reported the Times newspaper, with many countries, including Turkey, expected to be removed from the high-risk Red List.

Flintham said any new system would be better than the current setup.

“It will improve if we move anywhere away from the draconian measures that we really are using at the moment,” he said.

Data shows that Britain’s recovery is lagging. UK flights were down 39% compared to pre-pandemic levels for the two weeks to early September 6, while France, Spain, and Italy were down between 24-28%, according to Eurocontrol.

On Britain’s red list there are currently 62 countries, a designation that requires 11 nights in a quarantined hotel at a cost of more than 2000 pounds. Quarantine hotels are expected to remain in place for red list arrivals.

Any change to the travel rules will apply to England, but devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland could later follow suit.

More than 135 000 people in Britain have died in the pandemic.

Additional reporting by: Reuters

SA Sevens team wins Vancouver leg of World Rugby’s Sevens Series
20 September 2021, 8:59 AM

The South African Sevens rugby team has won the Vancouver leg of World Rugby’s Sevens Series.

They beat fellow Africans, Kenya, 38-5 in the final. Due to COVID-19, the 2021 World Series has been reduced to just two rounds and many of the top teams such as New Zealand, Fiji and Australia are not participating.

The Blitzboks were the overwhelming favourites heading into the weekend and they did not disappoint. They scored six tries in the final through Angelo Davids who dotted down twice, Sakoyisa Makata, Chris Grobbelaar, Ronald Brown and Darren Adonis.

The men in green and gold had a commanding 24-0 lead at half-time.

‘Ted Lasso,’ ‘The Crown,’ win top Emmy Awards on streaming heavy night
20 September 2021, 8:00 AM

Royal drama “The Crown” and feel-good comedy “Ted Lasso” nabbed the top prizes at television’s Emmy awards on Sunday on a night dominated by streaming shows, British talent and rare wins by women.

Chess drama “The Queen’s Gambit” was named best limited series and tied with “The Crown” for the most wins overall at 11 apiece.

The best drama series win for “The Crown” gave Netflix its biggest prize so far, while Apple TV+ entered streaming’s big league with the best comedy series win for “Ted Lasso.” Neither Netflix nor Apple TV+ had previously won a best comedy or best drama series Emmy.

Jason Sudeikis, the star and co-creator of “Ted Lasso,” was named best comedy actor. The show also brought statuettes for Britons Hannah Waddingham and Brett Goldstein for their supporting roles in the tale of a struggling English soccer team that won over TV fans with its folksy humor during the dark days of the coronavirus pandemic.

“This show is about family. This show’s about mentors and teachers and this show’s about teammates. And I wouldn’t be here without those three things in my life,” Sudeikis said on Sunday.

Despite a nominees list that boasted the strongest showing in years for people of color, only a handful emerged as winners.

They included Britain’s Michaela Coel, who won for writing the harrowing sexual assault drama “I May Destroy You” in which she also starred and directed; RuPaul, host of the competition show “RuPaul’s Drag Race;” and the cast of hip hop Broadway musical “Hamilton,” which won the Emmy for variety special after it was filmed for television.

Dancer, singer and actor Debbie Allen was given an honorary award celebrating 50 years in show business. “It’s taken a lot of courage to be the only woman in the room most of the time,” Allen said.

It was a good night for women, and for Britons.

“Write the tale that scares you, that makes you feel uncertain, that isn’t comfortable,” said Coel, who dedicated her Emmy to sexual assault survivors.

Lucia Aniello got a rare directing win for a woman for the comedy series “Hacks” about a fading female comedian. She also was one of the winning co-writers. Britain’s Jessica Hobbs took home a directing Emmy for “The Crown.”

“Not a lot of women have won this award so I feel like I am standing on the shoulders of some really extraordinary people,” Hobbs said.

Seven of the 12 acting awards went to Britons, including Olivia Colman and Josh O’Connor for playing Queen Elizabeth and heir to the throne Prince Charles in a fourth season of “The Crown” that focused on the unhappy marriage of Charles and Princess Diana.

“We’re all thrilled. I am very proud. I’m very grateful. We’re going to party,” said Peter Morgan, creator of “The Crown,” at a gathering in London for the cast and crew.

An exuberant Kate Winslet won for her role as a downtrodden detective in limited series “Mare of Easttown,” while Ewan McGregor was a surprise winner for playing fashion designer “Halston”.

Concerns over the Delta variant of the coronavirus forced Sunday’s ceremony to move to an outdoor tent in downtown Los Angeles, with a reduced guest list and mandatory vaccinations and testing but a red carpet that harked back to pre-pandemic times.

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