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Artists in KZN gather to revive arts
4 July 2020, 4:23 PM

A group of artists in the KwaZulu-Natal Natal Midlands have come together to revive the arts during the national lockdown.

The group known as, The Aesthete, showcased performing arts to locals in the comfort of their own vehicles – thus adhering to all the lockdown regulations.

The event was held in the majestic scenery of the hilly, Knoll Historical Guest Farm. Spectators, safely tucked away in their cars, experienced live bands, dance performances and even sculpture exhibitions. The festivities came as the country marked 100 days under lockdown.

Visual Artist Paul Murray says events like these, at least once a month, will make a financial difference to artists who are struggling.

“Artists have been hard hit hard by the lockdown this is amazing for us because we can try and sell something here. Some guys are even selling their paints and craft for a much cheaper price,” says Paul.

The route also takes the visitor into the world of live music and dance. Performer Natalie Baxter says it feels good to perform again after many of their gigs were cancelled due to the lockdown.

“I haven’t gotten a chance to perform for so long we were suppose to go on a big tour to Cape Town, we were going to play at the Cannabis Expo and it got cancelled. We are happy to be playing music again,” says Natalie.

Spectators, young and old alike, came out in their numbers, willing to pay the minimal entry fee.

“This is my first outing since lockdown started and it feels good. I love beautiful work that these artists are actually doing. I also love the idea of the drive through.”

“I think it’s absolutely wonderful to be out in the open everyone; keeping the distance and wearing the mask (while) listening to beautiful music. I haven seen the are yet I’m looking forward to that.”

The Knoll Historic Guest Farm, like its name, has a rich history in the area. It was known, in the 1980s, as the spot where many travellers would meet to wind down and enjoy each other’s company.

One of the even’t organisers says the lockdown has hit artists hard and they want to slowly begin to revive their spirits again.

“Well today we are doing driver throughs to weddings, funerals, baby showers – so we thought let’s do a drive through exhibition. We have artists all over South African who stay here mostly are from midlands. We have different kinds of them this is our 9th event in seven months. We hope to take this all over South Africa.”

The journey ends atop an open hilly space where spectators can park their cars, buy food – that’s delivered to your vehicle and wind down the warm winter afternoon enjoying some live music.

The arts, entertainment and events industry is one of the industries that have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

A R150 million relief fund was set for sporting and cultural sectors, but many rejected it as too little to make any difference.

Marry Twala
Veteran actress Twala passes on
4 July 2020, 3:26 PM

South African veteran actress Mary Twala has passed on at Parklane Hospital in Johannesburg. She was 80 years old.

The Order of Ikhamanga recipient was married to one of South Africa’s all time favourite actors, Ndaba Mhlongo, until his death.

The news of her passing was confirmed by a tweet from their equally legendary son Somizi Mhlongo.

The veteran actress featured in a number of South African local productions. She’s starred in films – Sarafina, Taxi to Soweto,  Mapantsula, A Love in Africa, Malunde, Dr Lucille, Nyaka-Nyaka, Ngaka, Deliwe, Friends, Game for Vultures, Waati, Science Classic and Score. She’s won a Best Supporting Actress award for Taxi to Soweto.

Her television career includes performances in Undenzani Melwane, Iqhawe, Die SonKriel, Hlala Kwabafileyo, Soul Buddyz, Child Of Soweto, Khululeka, Yizo-Yizo, SOS and Muvhango. Hlala Kwabafileyo won her a best Comedy Performer Award. She was once also a guest cast in one of SA’s favourite soapies, Generations.

Cyril Ramaphosa
‘Loopholes in justice system adding to the GBV scourge’
4 July 2020, 2:56 PM

A North West  psycho-social expert says the country is faced with a mammoth task of dealing with the increase in gender-based violence. Professor Hayley Walker-Williams says loopholes in the justice system are also adding to the scourge. The North West University scholar says victims of gender-based violence who continue to receive threatening communication from perpetrators behind bars are not only left terrified, but they may also end up withdrawing charges.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has told South Africans that government has strengthened the justice criminal system more effectively to deal with gender-based violence cases. He has called for an end to the scourge, while also advocating for stronger legislation in dealing with what he calls South Africa’s second pandemic.

However, for Nthabiseng Mosia, a distraught mother and gender-based violence victim, this call comes a little too late. Mosia says she lives in fear after her two sons, 11-year-old Lesego and 12-year old Koketso Mosia, were allegedly murdered by their father Dannyboy Khumalo two months ago.

In the video below, two siblings allegedly poisoned by their father are laid to rest:

Although Khumalo is in custody at the Kgosi Mampuru Correctional facility in Pretoria, he allegedly continues to harass her.

Mosia says she still receives WhatsApp messages from him.

“Hello my love. It does not help for you to say that. I told you. I did not do this willingly and you know that I will always love you, my love. You know why I did this my love. You are the only one who knows. This pains me. I have to accept everything my love and I will always love. I love you baby and you know,” reads the messages.

The question is how did Khumalo manage to obtain a cell phone while in prison? SABC News journalist Bafedile Moerane also called the numbers, allegedly belonging to him.

Moerane: Is this Dannyboy talking?

Accused: Yes it is me.

Moerane: Where are you my brother?

Accused: I’m at Kgosi Mampuru.

Moerane: Where?

Accused: At Kgosi Mampuru? Yah In Prison?

Moerane: Yah…So where did you get the phone my brother?

Accused: You know there is always a plan, so what is Nthabi saying?

Moerane: Eish her heart is broken.

Accused: She is heartbroken hey? Yah but she understands.

Mosia says these phone calls make her doubt whether justice will be served.

“When he speaks to me through the voice note, it gives me the impression that he might be outside. Like as he is custody, I am asking myself questions, that how did he get a cellphone? Why does he have to speak to me? How will I even heal when he still manages to speak to me? The justice system is failing, because now this person can still talk to me as if he is outside.,” says Mosia.

Mosia says she is still battling to come to terms with what happened.

“This is troubling me. I am even sick. I went to the doctor and they told me I have too much stress and really I can accept what happened, because when I try to, this guy talks to me and everything starts all over again.”

Professor Hayley Walker-Williams, a psycho-social expert from the North West University, says cases like these are a clear indication that more still needs to be done to strengthen the justice system.

“There is lots of loopholes in the justice system, that is why gender-based violence is so under reported in South Africa because these women live in fear. So they fear their safety, they fear stigmatisation and they fear not being protected by the justice system. These women still leaving in fear because the threat is not extinguished so even though these perpetrators are incarcerated they continue to threaten the women, threaten their personal safety, their livelihoods, their families and they often do this to get the women to withdraw the charges.”

The Correctional Services Department has promised to urgently investigate Khumalo’s alleged possession of a cell phone while in prison.

In the video below, calls for a tougher sentence as a man appears in court for the murder of his children:


Mixed bag of reactions to Santaco’s call for taxis to resume normal operations
29 June 2020, 8:02 PM

The decision to have taxis return to operating as normal has been met with mixed reactions by operators across the country.

Taxi operators in Johannesburg continued to load their vehicles to full capacity in defiance of the COVID-19 lockdown regulations.

In terms of the lockdown regulations, taxis are mandated to load 70% passenger capacity. Taxi organisations say with the reduced load capacity, they are unable to make ends meet including repaying the installments on their vehicles.

SABC News on Monday afternoon visited the Bree Street Taxi Rank in downtown Johannesburg and commuters were seen sitting close to each other, making it impossible for them to observe social distancing. Passengers were wearing masks as per COVID-19 regulations.

Commuters told SABC News that while they sympathise with the plight of taxi operators, they are also concerned about their own health and safety, especially with Gauteng’s infection rate increasing.

The passengers say they have no choice but to use the taxis as it is the most convenient and efficient mode of transport for them.

Mixed views on full load

Commuters in Limpopo also expressed concerns about their health.

“Surely we were more than 12, the increase is a serious matter. I can’t say I’m safe, I have no choice because it’s a driver’s decision, what can I do.”

“It’s not really ideal. Sometimes I’m not feeling right that’s why I’m saying we’re forced to pay for other seats.”

Taxi operators in and around Polokwane were divided on the decisions by the National Taxi Alliance (NTA) and South African National Taxi Council (Santaco).

Some operators were carrying full loads on Monday, while others stuck with the 70% capacity as per government’s rules.

“Full because even the money is sorted, it’s fine yes we’re working 100% full load 15-seater,” says one operator.

“I’m working nicely, no I’m not carrying a full load I’m carrying 10 people,” says another operator.

The organisations say business is dwindling since the lockdown and they are concerned that their vehicles may be repossessed by their financiers. Santaco co-ordinator in Limpopo, Malose Madisha, says some of their members are still adhering to the lockdown regulations.

NTA spokesperson Frans Kgasago says they have to carry the full capacity of commuters in order to make a profit.

“The decision that was taken by national even the provincial executive we took the very same decision that there’s nothing that we can do as long as our taxis shall be sanitised. At the end of the day, all the passengers must wear masks, so we adhere to that and we’re busy loading as per a national instruction,” says Kgasago.

Taxi operators in various townships around Durban, in KwaZulu-Natal, say they will continue loading 70% of their capacity in order to allow senior structures in the industry to negotiate with government.

In the morning, some taxi ranks were defying the lockdown regulations and carrying 100% of their passenger capacity. But as the day progressed, they went back to 70%.

In the video below, Santaco briefs the media: 

Police had their hands full

In Mpumalanga, traffic was affected in the Mbombela CBD and surrounding areas following a standoff between the police and taxi operators. The taxi operators wanted to operate at 100% capacity.

The Mbombela Taxi Rank was later opened after a meeting with the police.

The Eastern Cape Transport Department warned operators who are defying lockdown rules that they will be dealt with.

“Unfortunately there have been cases of taxi operators who are loading at 100% capacity. They are scattered across the province and our law enforcement officers are on the ground dealing with that. But generally in the Eastern Cape taxi operators have abided by the rules and we wish to commend them for that. We are also calling on individuals taxi operators and passengers alike that those who continue to break the law, there will be consequences for that,” said Provincial Transport Spokesperson, Unathi Binqose.

Western Cape Minister for Transport, Bonginkosi Madikizela, described the taxi associations’ decision to violate lockdown rules as unfortunate. Madikizela says although he understands their frustration, their action does not help in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus.

Earlier, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said grievances by the taxi industry should not result in lawless behaviour.

He appealed for calm as negotiations to resolve the industry’s concerns continue.

In the video below, some taxi operators say they will stick to lockdown rules:

Some teachers at a North West school refuse to report for duty
29 June 2020, 6:43 PM

Teaching at Potchefstroom Secondary School in Muhadin in the North West has been affected after some teachers affiliated to the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) refused to report for duty amid coronavirus concerns. They had written to the Department of Basic Education in the province alleging the school is not complying with COVID -19 regulations. Learners at the school say their future is bleak.

The school has 69 grade 12 learners. According to the school governing body, about 12 teachers have not been reporting for duty since schools reopened for grade 7 and 12 learners on June 8.

Learners say, for the past three weeks, they have been going to school but instead of being taught they just sit around.

“We are not being taught yet you will be expected to sit down for exams within a month’s time. It is really frustrating, I do not know what is going on.”

“Ever since the schools have been reopened we have not received our reports for term one and the universities are expecting us to apply with those results.”

“We have been in school for a long time, it has always been our mandate to finish it and the government suddenly opens the school, so that we come to school and study but still our teachers are no here.”

The school governing body says it has reported the matter to the Department of Basic Education, but nothing has been done.

“This school was cleansed twice and they did not come to school even after we have done the deep cleansing. So we are aware of their complaints, there is a letter that they wrote, we have seen it and still, after we tried to address their concerns they did not still come up and we have engaged the Department of Education on this matter,” Chairperson for the School Governing Body, Sam Tselanyane, says.

Members of both the Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysers Unie (SAOU) and the National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) have been going to class. Naptosa says the Department of Education in the province needs to step in.

SADTU in the province says it will respond to these allegations once it has gathered facts regarding the matter.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education in the province has indicated that action will be taken against educators who have absconded.

Spokesperson Elias Malindi says: “And now we are left with no choice as the department but to institute the disciplinary processes on these very same teachers because even the department ensured that they engage with the school governing body to communicate about these issues.”

The school was closed on Monday after one of the learners contracted COVID-19.

Schools urged to stick to COVID-19 protocols 

On Saturday, the national Basic Education Department urged schools to adhere to strict protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus as cases surge.

According to the latest figures, schools across the country have recorded 1 692 COVID-19 positive cases. Of the infected, 523 of them are learners and 1 169 are staff members. These cases are only from June when schools reopened amid the nationwide lockdown.

In the video below, Cosas talks about the state of readiness to reopen schools to more grades:



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