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Residents alerted authorities after noticing huge amounts of these insects inside their homes
Blister beetle outbreak caused by climate change: Prof van den Berg
28 December 2019, 1:44 PM

An entomologist from the North West University, Professor Johnnie van den Berg, says the infestation of what is believed to be red-headed blister beetles at Tlapeng village, outside Mahikeng, is caused by climate change and the recent torrential rains.

The insects secrete a liquid substance that burns and infects the skin. Residents have complained about the beetle and alerted authorities after noticing huge amounts of these insects inside their homes.

Professor van den Berg says residents should not worry too much, as the insects will go away soon.

“It is not a disaster. This problem will go away very quickly. The outbreak is because of the climate we’ve had over the past week or so. First, we had a severe drought and then a lot of rain. In this particular area, there must be this many beetles and the worms that change into the beetles in soil and these beetles will appear. Unfortunately in some houses, the lights are on and these beetles will aggregate and that what causes the problem.”

The SANDF says the incident seems to have been an inside job and has taken in a number of suspects for questioning as investigations continue.
SANDF confirms that stolen weapons are still missing
27 December 2019, 1:43 PM

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) says the weapons that were stolen at the Lyttelton SANDF military base in Pretoria have not been found.

This is contrary to earlier reports quoting the National Defence Union Secretary, Pikkie Greef, that the weapons have been found near Hammanskraal, a day after they were stolen.

SANDF Spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini confirmed that the stolen weapons have not been found.

He says the suspects will appear at the Military Court at Thaba Tshwane in Pretoria on Friday.

Dlamini would not confirm how many suspects will be appearing in the military court, saying that he does not know.

Earlier reports stated that four officers had been arrested and 19 guards were taken in for questioning.

Dlamini also says all the military bases of the SANDF are guarded by their own members.

Earlier this week the Democratic Alliance (DA) accused the SANDF of letting South Africans down during a time of peace and goodwill after allowing the perpetrators to enter the military base and getting away with the automatic rifles manufactured for extreme warfare.


Turkey to send troops to Libya at Tripoli’s request: Erdogan
26 December 2019, 1:32 PM

Turkey will send troops to Libya at the request of Tripoli as soon as next month, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday, putting the north African country’s conflict at the centre of wider regional frictions.

Libya’s internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) has been fending off a months-long offensive by General Khalifa Haftar’s forces in eastern Libya, which have been supported by Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

Last month, Ankara signed two separate accords with the GNA, led by Fayez al-Serraj, one on security and military cooperation and another on maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean.

“Since there is an invitation (from Libya) right now, we will accept it,” Erdogan told members of his AK Party in a speech.

“We will put the bill on sending troops to Libya on the agenda as soon as parliament opens.” The legislation would pass around Jan. 8-9, he said, opening the door to deployment.

For weeks Ankara has flagged the possible mission, which would further stretch its military less than three months after it launched an incursion into northeastern Syria against a Kurdish militia.

Turkey has already sent military supplies to the GNA despite the United Nations arms embargo, according to a U.N. report seen by Reuters last month.

The Tripoli government and Haftar’s forces were not immediately available for reaction to Erdogan’s comments.

Erdogan visited Tunisia on Wednesday to discuss cooperation for a possible ceasefire in neighbouring Libya. On Thursday, he said Turkey and Tunisia had agreed to support the GNA.


Moscow has voiced concerns over a possible Turkish military deployment to Libya in support of the GNA. Erdogan has said Turkey will not stay silent over mercenaries from the Kremlin-linked Wagner group supporting Haftar.

“Russia is there with 2,000 Wagner (fighters),” Erdogan said on Thursday, also referring to some 5,000 fighters from Sudan in Libya.

“Is the official government inviting them? No.”

“They are all helping a war baron (Haftar), whereas we are accepting an invitation from the legitimate government of the country. That is our difference,” he added.

Haftar’s eastern-based Libyan National Army has been trying since April to take Tripoli from the GNA, which was set up in 2016 following a U.N.-brokered deal. Turkish and Russian officials held talks in Moscow this week to seek a compromise on the issues of both Libya and Syria.

Russia’s Vedomosti said on Thursday the discussions had lasted much longer than the expected three days.

In Syria, Russia is an ally of Syrian President Basharal-Assad while Turkey has backed rebels seeking his ouster during the more than eight-year civil war.

The latest talks follow reports that Russian-backed attacks were forcing tens of thousands more Syrians to flee towards Turkey.

Turkey has also been ramping up efforts to strike deals with nations around the Mediterranean, where Ankara has been at loggerheads with Greece over resources off the coast of the divided island of Cyprus.


Indonesian housewife tackles homelessness for 250 feral cats
26 December 2019, 1:02 PM

On the outskirts of suburban Jakarta, housewife Dita Agusta lives with more than 250 cats she has taken in off the streets, creating a shelter for the animals she hopes will one day be adopted.

“It is hard to see abandoned cats on the streets,” Agusta, 45, told Reuters. She had wanted to rescue cats since she was a child and saw stray cats running wild around her neighbourhood.

When she and her husband, Mohamad Lutfi, a catfish farmer, moved four years ago from Bekasi city in West Java to a bigger house in Parung in the same province, south of Jakarta, she was able to take action and began taking in cats.

Now the couple spends at least one million rupiah ($72) a day to cover the cost of food, medicines and litter for the 250 cats they keep. They also employ a pool of five workers to clean the entire house twice a day to make sure the shelter is hygienic.

She says she does not take in healthy-looking cats, only ones that need help, and expects disabled cats to stay in her shelter forever.

She also regularly walks throughout her neighborhood putting down food for every cat she encounters.

In her home, all 250 cats are neutered to contain the population. They are also groomed to ensure they don’t create health risks for the surrounding community.

Dita Agusta, 45, owner of a cat shelter called “Rumah Kucing Parung”, prepares to feed her cats in Indonesia.


JRA refutes reports of M1 bridge collapse
26 December 2019, 12:20 PM

The Johannesburg Road Agency (JRA) has refuted reports that part of the M1 south bridge at the Booysens off-ramp, in Johannesburg, has collapsed.

On Wednesday, water from a drain system caused sand to erode, resulting in the paving on the side of the bridge to collapse. No fatalities or injuries were reported.

JRA acting managing director Siyabonga Nodu says the bridge structure has not been compromised.

“The bridge structure itself has not collapsed as a bridge structure. The cause of the actual erosion and collapse of the paving blocks is that there is a V-drain there and water that is supposed to go through that V-drain gets channeled all the way to this structure and goes into that block. So the water gets channeled sideways and it looks like there was a crack here, then the water seeped under the structure. The soft sand got eroded and the paving blocks collapsed because of the sand that went out.”

JMPD Spokesperson Xolani Fihla says that the bridge will remain open.

“The engineers from JRA have confirmed that it is only on the side of the road and the bridge structure is still firm and traffic can still move. Our biggest concern at the moment is the sand from the embankment but members from JRA have promised to move this and traffic will flow.”

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