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Israel to free 207 African migrants from prison
15 April 2018, 4:43 PM

Israel will release 207 African migrants from prison following a supreme court ruling after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu controversially reversed a deal with the UN refugee agency on the detainees’ fate.

There are around 42,000 African migrants in Israel. Authorities transferred 207 of them from a nearby open detention facility in February after they refused to leave the country.

Israel’s supreme court on April 10 gave the government until Sunday to finalise a deal it said it was working on to deport some of the migrants to another country.

Without a deal, the court said authorities must release those held at Saharonim prison.

“In light of the fact that the negotiations between Israel and a third country are still ongoing and due to a supreme court ruling, the migrants held in Saharonim prison will be freed today,” the immigration service said in a statement.

Uganda said on Friday it was “positively considering” a proposal from Israel to accept 500 of the mostly Eritrean and Sudanese migrants.

Earlier this month, Netanyahu cancelled an agreement with the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, aimed at avoiding forced deportations of thousands of migrants.

The reversal, just hours after he announced the deal himself in a televised address, followed pressure from his right-wing base.

That left the government with its initial plan, announced in January, under which migrants who entered Israel illegally would face a choice between leaving voluntarily or facing indefinite imprisonment with eventual forced expulsion.

As the migrants could face danger or imprisonment if returned to their homelands, Israel had offered to relocate them to an unnamed African country — either Rwanda or Uganda, according to deportees and aid workers.

Rwanda has since said it could not be part of the arrangement.

The UN refugee agency has strongly criticised the deportation plan and urged Israel to return to the deal, which would have allowed thousands of migrants to remain in the country in return for an equal number being relocated to Western nations.

Some Israelis, including Holocaust survivors who say the country has a special duty to protect migrants, have also opposed the deportation plan.

Of the 42,000 African migrants in Israel, half are children, women or men with families who are not facing immediate deportation, according to interior ministry figures.

Migrants began entering Israel through what was then a porous Egyptian border in 2007. The border has since been strengthened, all but ending illegal crossings.

Police probe threats against referee’s wife after Juventus row
15 April 2018, 3:28 PM

British police are reportedly investigating threats made against Michael Oliver’s wife after the referee’s controversial penalty decision helped Real Madrid send Juventus crashing out of the Champions League.

Oliver, who also referees in the Premier League, awarded a stoppage-time penalty to Real after Mehdi Benatia was ruled to have fouled Lucas Vazquez.

Juventus were furious with the decision and their veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was sent off for barging into Oliver during prolonged protests.

Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo converted the spot-kick to send the Champions League holders into the semi-finals with a 4-3 aggregate victory.

Buffon was scathing of Oliver’s decision when he spoke to the media after the match, saying he had a “bag of rubbish for a heart”.

The 33-year-old official’s family have endured serious abuse since the incident.

BBC Sport reported on Sunday that Oliver’s wife Lucy, a women’s Super League referee, had her mobile phone number posted on social media after the game, which led to her receiving abusive text messages.

Police are also investigating reports of people banging on the front door of the couple’s house and shouting abuse through their letterbox.

Lucy Oliver’s phone number has since been deactivated, but her social media account has also been targeted by Juventus supporters.

Oliver was the fourth official for Huddersfield’s win over Watford in the Premier League on Saturday and is due to take charge of West Ham against Stoke on Monday.

United aims to keep Man City title celebrations on hold again
15 April 2018, 2:13 PM

Manchester City could be confirmed as Premier League champions without playing on Sunday, but only if rivals Manchester United suffer a shock defeat at home to bottom club West Bromwich Albion.

Pep Guardiola’s side are once again on the brink of securing the title after an impressive performance in beating Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 at Wembley on Saturday.

Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling scored for City either side of an Ilkay Gundogan penalty as they bounced back in style from the disappointment of their Champions League quarter-final exit at the hands of Liverpool in midweek.

It had been a traumatic week for City, who threw away a two-goal interval lead to lose 3-2 at home to United in the derby last weekend, missing the chance to become champions in front of their own fans at the Etihad Stadium.

However, City are now 16 points clear of second-placed United, meaning a defeat for Jose Mourinho’s men at Old Trafford against a West Brom side on the brink of relegation – kick-off is at 1500 GMT – would wrap up a third title in seven seasons.

A draw in that game would effectively confirm City as champions as well — it would leave United 15 points behind with five games remaining, while Guardiola’s side also boast a far superior goal difference.

Guardiola has won titles with Barcelona and Bayern Munich, while also conquering the Champions League during his Camp Nou reign.

But the Spaniard believes leading City to the title would rank among his finest moments.

“It’s more difficult (to win in England). Physicality, weather conditions, the amount of games. The Premier League is so, so tough,” says Guardiola.

“It’s one of the best by far. Winning titles in every league is important, with Barcelona was special.

“But the Premier League is one of the nicest and most important.”

A United victory on Sunday afternoon would keep City’s champagne on ice for a few more days at least.

But a United defeat against Bournemouth in midweek or a City win over Swansea City next Sunday would wrap up the silverware.

In any case, Guardiola clearly believes his side will need to wait a few days before sealing the deal – he has said he will be playing golf with his son on Sunday afternoon rather than watching United’s game.

“I think United will win. We depend on us,” he told the BBC. “The important thing is to have the chance to win at home. I am delighted to have the chance to win in front of our people.”

An impressive performance on Saturday saw City condemn Spurs to a first Premier League loss since the teams last met, at the Etihad back in December.

The nature of their performance allowed Guardiola to hit back at those who had criticised him after the recent blip of three consecutive defeats.

“People said it was a big failure last week. They don’t understand anything,” he says.

“The Champions League is seven knockout games. The league is nine months. It’s much more important what these players have done.

“The players have my total respect. It’s incredible. They have been unbelievable.”

DA welcomes SIU intention to investigate Winnie’s house scandal
15 April 2018, 12:59 PM

The Democratic Alliance(DA) has welcomed the “keen interest” by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to investigate the alleged fraud and misappropriation of R3 million allocated by the national department of arts and culture (DAC) to the Free State department of sport, arts, culture, and recreation (Dsacr) to convert struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s house in Brandfort into a museum.

DA Free State leader Patricia Kopane says the party has written to the SIU on the April 12 requesting them to investigate these allegations.

“On Friday 13 April 2018 I met with the SIU Free State provincial head, Mr Bulumko Stemele, who acknowledged the receipt of the DA’s complaint, explained the process that needs to be followed in order to determine whether the matter falls within the SIU jurisdiction, he was confident this matter falls within their jurisdiction and committed to reverting to the DA in seven days,” she says.

Over the past decade, in excess of R11 million was budgeted at various times by the provincial and national departments of arts and culture of which R3 million was indicated to be expenses to date. This was according to feedback received from the public protector. However, nothing could be shown for these expenses.

“The DA will continue to hold DSACR to account in honour of the late mama Winnie and the people of Brandfort,” says Kopane.

DA wants explanation over unpaid state doctors in Gauteng
15 April 2018, 10:28 AM

The Democratic Alliance (DA) says in Gauteng Health Department needs to explain urgently why doctors are being short-paid and rectify this as soon as possible.

Many doctors at Gauteng state hospitals had not been paid for overtime and had been told that the Gauteng health department “does not have money to pay them”, says DA spokesman Jack Bloom.

“I have received reports that overtime has not been paid to doctors at the Tembisa, Leratong, and Yusuf Dadoo hospitals and probably other hospitals as well,” he says.

Some doctors at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital had also been short-paid this month, but were told that it was an administrative issue that would be sorted out.

However, Gauteng e-government department head Boy Ngobeni had confirmed in a letter that the health department had given instructions not to pay overtime to medical professionals.

This came on top of a freeze on new medical appointments that was hindering the ability of hospitals to provide quality health care. Aggrieved doctors were now threatening to stop working at night, on weekends, and on public holidays.

“The department needs to explain urgently why doctors are being short-paid and rectify this is as soon as possible,” says Bloom.

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