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Faf du Plessis
Proteas looking for decent performance during the Pakistan tour
25 January 2021, 7:03 PM

The South African cricket team will not only look at completing another Test series victory against Pakistan in the sub-continent, but will also take on the responsibility of putting on a decent show in a country that has recently allowed for international cricket to return to its shores. The Proteas last toured Pakistan in 2007, winning the Test series.

Although Pakistan has been poor against the Proteas, batsman Faf du Plessis acknowledges that the home side does put on a strong performance in their own backyard.

Conditions will also play a huge role in the outcome of the series.

The first Test will be held in Karachi which has been the home team’s hunting ground, losing only two games out of 42 played at the venue. This was against England in 2000 and the Proteas seven years later. The current squads are both similarly placed, with the two assembling fairly inexperienced sides. Almost the entire Proteas team has not toured Pakistan before, with only a few that have had a taste of the Sub-continent conditions.

Batsman Faf du Plessis, sees this Test as another opportunity for both teams to give their players a platform to gain further experience.

“Both test team are busy figuring out way forward in terms of gaining experience as much as possible. For all of us, it’s a first time playing test cricket in Pakistan but for a lot of our team it’s the first time playing in the sub-continent. I think we are expecting it to be a very tough task against Pakistan and they are a very dangerous team in their own conditions as with other sub-continent team.”

The former captain will be interested to see how the reverse swing goes, which is expected to play its part.

“It’s almost like the game is moving a little bit away from the reverse swing but the umpires and the rules on trying to scuff up the ball has become very strict with everything that has happened, bouncing the ball in the rough has become less of late so if you are playing in the sub-continent what happens quite often is that next to pitch the square is moist and green so the general scuff up of the ball does not happen like it used to.”

Du Plessis is hoping for big scores looking at the trend of Test matches on the sub-continent.

“Teams come here and score big runs. So, I’m hoping it’s the case this time around where there will be big scores almost Day 1, 2 and 3 belonging to the batters. Day 4 and 5 spin and stuff like that comes into equation. That is how it was back then. Just on a personal point of view, I’m expecting it to be a little different maybe spin a little earlier than it used to be back then.”

Du Plessis, who has an average of 27 against Pakistan, is hoping that he does well in this Test series. He and opening batsman Dean Elgar were the in-form batsmen against Sri Lanka.

“I’m batting well at the moment. I’m feeling good and I just want to play my best cricket. I’m really excited for this tour. I have worked hard. I want to put in some good performance in the sub-continent as a batter to do well overseas.”

Du Plessis says the return of Babar Azam to the Pakistan team will be a confidence booster to the home side.

Azam, who missed the New Zealand Series, will captain Pakistan for the first time at home in a Test series.

Cyril Ramaphosa
Ramaphosa confirms SA will receive Indian COVID-19 vaccine soon
25 January 2021, 5:36 PM

President Cyril Ramaphosa has confirmed that the country will receive its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from India very soon.

New Delhi has allowed the commercial export of vaccines and a shipment is expected to arrive any day now.

India makes 60% of the world’s vaccines and is home to several major manufacturers.

After a long wait, South Africa will finally receive its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from India this week.

Sources in the Indian government have told the SABC that the next commercial shipment of the vaccine will fly out to South Africa soon.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government signed a purchase agreement with Serum Institute which is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer. It has been bulk producing the Oxford AstraZeneca shot in India.

Per the agreement, 1 million doses will reach South Africa this week and 500,000 doses will be flown out next month.

Ahead of the first delivery South Africa’s health officials granted regulatory approval to the Serum Institute to supply the jab.

But that was only half the battle, Serum Institute also needed permission from the Indian government to begin commercial exports, which it was granted over the weekend.

Brazil and Morocco were the first to receive shipments.

South Africa will be paying for the vaccine, unlike many shipments to India’s neighbouring countries which will be covered by grants.

The exact cost for each dose has not been confirmed, but some reports suggest the country will be paying just over 5 dollars per dose. The high price, reports suggest, is because South Africa has been categorised as an upper-middle-income country.

India itself has purchased 11 million doses of the Oxford jab from the Serum Institute for less than 3 dollars a shot.

The government has said that while prioritising domestic requirements, New Delhi will ensure regular vaccine supplies to partner nations like South Africa in the coming months.

South Africa is battling a second wave of infections as well as a new, more infectious variant of the virus.

EXPLAINER: South Africa’s vaccine rollout strategy: 

Housing project
North West residents up in arms over stalled housing project
25 January 2021, 4:36 PM

Residents of Extension 13 in Kanana near Klerksdorp in the North West have raised concern about a stalled housing project in the area. They say there has been little movement in the project for the past seven years.

More than 400 houses were expected to have been completed by now.

Beneficiaries were left with incomplete structures. Some were without a roof, windows and door frames, while others, have only a foundation to show.

Residents say they are tired of waiting for their homes.

“On this paper, it shows that the house has been paid up, but at the moment, I am still staying in a shack because I have not received a house,” says one resident.

“I want to see myself staying in this house. Since they created foundations in 2014 till today,” says another resident.

An 84-year-old woman is among those who was supposed to get a home.

Her granddaughter Mmadikeledi Khauoe, who spoke on her behalf says, only the foundation of the house was constructed right next to the home where the family currently stays in. Her grandmother, she says, got injured several times by the abandoned slab.

“All that we want is that we want the RDP to be built because these foundations have injured my grandmother several times and she is not well due to her age. So, what we want is that if they cannot afford to build the house they must come and remove this foundation.”

The local Ward Councillor in the Matlosana Local Municipality, Thabo Seabeng says records at his disposal, indicate that the project has been completed and the contractor paid. But that is contrary to evidence on the ground. He says his efforts to get authorities to address the problem, have been unsuccessful.

“I have engaged relevant authorities more than 10 times but their answers are not satisfying. Really, they are not satisfying.”

The Department of Local Government and Human Settlement has acknowledged that a number of housing projects in the province have not been completed.

MEC for the Department Mmoloki Cwaile says, “Around 30 000 houses or projects are not complete, but majority of those houses are supposed to have been completed. There are foundations that NHBRC have declared them not proper and we will, of course, not continue to build on those. We would have to start afresh.”

The department has undertaken to ensure the unfinished housing projects, are attended to, once funds become available.

Storm
Stormy weather, cold front expected to shift to Gauteng: SA Weather Services
25 January 2021, 3:20 PM

Strong winds and heavy rains continue to lash communities in northern KwaZulu-Natal. The South African Weather Service says this is because of two energy systems in that area, the tropical depression from Mozambique cyclone Eloise, and a cold front.

Municipal disaster management teams are on the ground assisting the most vulnerable.

The South African Weather Service says the stormy weather conditions and the cold front is expected to move to Gauteng later this week.

Fifty-year-old Bongani Mbokazi’s modest mud dwelling in the Biva area at Jozini is waterlogged. This tiny space houses his life’s possessions – a rusty one plate gas stove to the left, a mattress on a pile of bricks to the right, and a bucket of water from which he washes himself.

Mbokazi is in a wheelchair following the amputation of his right leg in November.

Speaking through councillor Vusi Gumede, Mbokazi says, the rains left him battered.

Tropical Storm Eloise | Homes damaged following heavy rains in Mpumalanga

Even further inland, along a slippery, muddy path, Mfana Gumede lives with his partner and two young children. His dried, muddied feet tell the story of a hard life. They’re among a few stick and mud dwellings, that sit isolated, about half an hour from Jozini town.

The conditions in the area have been erratic, initially due to the effects of Tropical Cyclone Eloise that hit Beira in Mozambique on Saturday. This brought hot, sticky and humid conditions.

By Sunday, it had been downgraded to a tropical depression. Come Monday, temperatures dropped, the wind speed picked up and rains continued to fall.

Weather forecaster Lulama Pheme says this is due to the existence of two energy systems in the northernmost areas.

“What it does when it touches the land it becomes overland depression. There was a cold front that was coming. Now, it has moved to the south. So, it is, yes, from cyclone Eloise, which has changed now to a depression because it went over land … and now it makes a lot of rain in that area.”

Tropical Storm Eloise | Rivers flooding, dam levels rising in Limpopo

This largely agricultural community is taking shelter. Farmers say the heavy rains are a second blow to their crops in less than a year. Farmer Thulani Mpontshane says COVID-19 was a blow to his business and that the excessive rains could even cause further damage.

“We are feeling so bad. COVID-19 affected us a lot last year. So, we lose everything we had last year. We planted. We were not able to get customers. Customers were at home. So, there was no one that was buying our crops. Actually, when the storms are coming, they’re going to hit everything in the farm. Actually, we don’t have enough money because we didn’t make money last year. So, it’s going to be a problem.”

Meanwhile, head of disaster management at the municipality, Ayanda Gumede, says teams are currently responding to about 50 families that have been impacted.

“As you can see, they have only one house and it was totally damaged. We have brought the temporary shelter; the tent; the sponge; the blankets; there is plates and pots a stove. All the kitchen stuff that might be needed by the family for the life to go on.”

And as life goes on, and this storm clears, these families say while they are grateful for the temporary assistance, they need long-term assistance to move out of the mud and onto solid ground.

Tropical storm Eloise leaves a trail of destruction in Limpopo

Poirier stuns McGregor in UFC rematch
24 January 2021, 12:30 PM

Dustin Poirier scored a sensational knockout victory over Conor McGregor at UFC 257, decking him in the second round to put himself in pole position for another crack at the lightweight title.

The KO was the first in McGregor’s storied career and came after the Irishman had dominated the fight from the opening bell.

Controlling the centre of the octagon, McGregor landed some hard shots with his right hand but he couldn’t find the blow with his left that would have finished the fight, and instead Poirier scored with a hard right to get his back off the fence before landing a flurry of blows to win.

The knockout also silenced the thousands in the crowd cheering on McGregor and the arena emptied out quickly once the fight was over.

Poirier, who won the interim lightweight title in 2019 but came up short when Khabib Nurmagomedov beat him for the undisputed crown later the same year, Nurmagomedov has since retired and if he does not return, Poirier is likely to face Michael Chandler, the former Bellator champion who scored a thunderous first-round knockout victory in his UFC debut over New Zealand’s Dan Hooker in the evening’s co-main event.

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