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RAF to help repatriate Limpopo bus crash victims
18 September 2018, 1:49 PM

The manager of the Road Accident Fund in Limpopo, Christinah Mthethwa, says they are working closely with the Zambian embassy to assist with the repatriation of the remains of eleven people who died in a bus crash.

Forty-one others were injured when a bus overturned between Mookgopong and Mokopane in Limpopo on Monday.

The bus was transporting passengers from Zambia to Johannesburg.

Mthethwa says they have already met with the survivors.

“Of course we have already seen all the survivors which we are finalizing their pay we have those who have passed on we are working closely with the Zambian embassy in ensuring that we assist with the repatriation. So far identification of the deceased have not been confirmed the embassy is the one that is facilitating in terms of ensuring that the families come through.”

Limpopo police spokesperson Moatshe Ngoepe says the deceased have not yet been identified.

“We have opened a case of culpable homicide and the process of identifying all the deceased is still unfolding. We are working hand in hand with the relevant authority at this stage our investigation are still continuing.”

For initial report of the accident, see video below:

SA journalists discuss the impact of fake news on media
3 May 2018, 9:57 PM

A panel of journalists sat with media professionals, Embassy representatives, and citizens to discuss how the media and information market has been influenced by fake news and what impact it has had.

The event, called the World Press Freedom Day Event, was hosted by Media Matters in collaboration with different media companies, including the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF), Media Monitoring Africa, and the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism. It began by asking the question: Are the media helping us escape our echo chambers?

 

This question was asked in combination with the theme of the discussion, which was focused on the prevalence of fake news in recent years. It highlighted how journalists not only must be wary about their sources and their multimedia sharing content, but also consumers of media and their role in spreading fake news.

Media Monitoring Africa gives some statistics on the source of fake news in South Africa, of which the media company made mention they wanted to call “dodgy news” instead.

Those statistics revealed a spike in fake news when Cyril Ramaphosa became president. It shows that most fake news creators are male, and that fake news headlines can often include some bit of truth to seem more believable.

The panelists used this early discussion to platform their own talking points. A radio host at Power FM Iman Rapetti moderated the discussion, and introduced other panelists Sheldon Morais from Primemedia, Dinesh Balliah from Wits University, and Mduduzi Manana who all put their two cents in on the issues at hand.

“There’s a social currency with being the first to tweet out something,” said Sheldon Morais on the responsibility of a journalists to report things accurately but also speedily.

He harped on the narrative of fake news and journalism, underscoring how when a journalist is too concerned with being first on a story or a social media blast, they sacrifice verifying their sources or their retweets and end up paying the price of being wrong and disseminating false information.

Dinesh Balliah went more in depth on the concept of the echo chamber, stating “The chamber is not the problem, unfortunately it’s the echo.” She made mention how journalists, and also the consumers of media as a whole, have ushered social media into an atmosphere where we follow and are fed information we agree with, which has led to several echo chambers that give us only the things we want to hear.

Different perspectives arose during the discussion. However, Balliah saw a clear problem with echo chambers, when Iman Rapetti asked.

The event ended on a story from a question taken from one of the listeners in the audience. He made reference to Egypt’s checkpoints for Israeli/Palestinian refugees and connected that to checkpoints for journalists and their editors. He brought it all home by asking at what point do journalists heed to their “checkpoints” on stories that expose the worst tragedies, and upend an agenda that their higher ups may have? Rapetti thanked him for his question and facilitated discussion about it, but no one had a clear answer.

Media Matters stated they were proud of the event taking place and were happy with the range of experts on their panel.

Ten aid workers missing in South Sudan
26 April 2018, 5:02 PM

The UN in South Sudan said on Thursday a convoy including 10 aid workers had gone missing in the southwest of the war-torn country, presumed kidnapped.

The convoy disappeared after departing from the town of Yei, in Central Equatoria, early Wednesday heading for Tore, according to a statement issued by the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

“We are deeply concerned about the whereabouts of these humanitarian workers and are urgently seeking information about their well-being,” said Alain Noudehou, the UN’s humanitarian chief in South Sudan.

Aid workers have frequently been targeted during South Sudan’s four-year-old civil war.

The conflict has killed tens of thousands, forced millions from their homes and pushed millions more to the brink of starvation.

In its statement, OCHA said this was, “the second incident involving aid workers being held by armed groups in April alone, and the third in six months.”

“These individuals, UN and NGO staff, are here to help the people of South Sudan and should not be targeted. Our colleagues must be released without condition so that their work can continue,” he said.

The statement added that the 10 missing aid workers are all South Sudanese nationals.

They include staff working for OCHA and the UN’s children’s agency (UNICEF) as well as the South Sudanese Development Organisation (SSDO), Christian aid group ACROSS, Plan International and Action Africa Help (AAH).

Sassa prepared to work with Sapo in social grant payments
26 April 2018, 4:52 PM

Sassa in the Eastern Cape says it’s ready to work with the South African Post Office (Sapo) towards the payment of social grants.

The agency has less than a week to fully migrate core components of the grants scheme from Cash Paymaster Services, as ordered by the Constitutional Court, to Sapo as agreed in December in 2017.

Sassa Provincial Manager Bandile Maqetuka says they have evaluated the state of readiness in all offices.

“I met with a staff member of Sassa to evaluate our state of readiness for the roll out of the new payment cards as of the 2nd of May 2018. I can confidently confirm that we are more than ready to in all our 51 local offices in the Eastern Cape. We also met with the Post Office. They are also ready. As for the 2nd of May, the post office will be deploying its employees at all local offices to issue the new payment cards to all those who preferred to be paid through the post office arrangement,” Maqetuka says.

See below for when SASSA and SAPO made the social grant agreements official.


 

White House doctor withdraws nod from cabinet job
26 April 2018, 4:39 PM

Presidential Doctor Ronny Jackson withdrew his nomination to head the Department of Veterans Affairs on Thursday following allegations he improperly handed out drugs and was drunk at work.

“I am regretfully withdrawing my nomination to be Secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs,” Jackson said in a statement.

Jackson insisted that the allegations against him were false, but said he was withdrawing anyway due to the distraction they were causing.

“Unfortunately, because of how Washington works, these false allegations have become a distraction for this president and the important issue we must be addressing – how we give the best care to our nation’s heroes,” Jackson said.

Jackson’s withdrawal came just a day after he indicated that he would fight on, telling reporters that his shock nomination was “still moving ahead as planned.”

Trump surprised even his closest aides a month ago with an evening tweet announcing the Navy rear admiral was his pick to run the 370,000-plus person agency.

Jackson was the physician to presidents Trump, Barack Obama and George W. Bush and was well regarded by many current and former White House staff.

But he was widely seen as vastly under qualified to run a notoriously dysfunctional government agency and already faced a tough battle for congressional confirmation.

Following the announcement, a tidal wave of allegations surfaced over his behaviour, from passing out at work to dolling out drugs to staffers like the “candy man” and crashing a government vehicle.

Senate Democrats released a litany of allegations on Wednesday, citing “conversations with 23 colleagues and former colleagues.”

The allegations included handing out sleeping tablets on Air Force One, opioids to at least one White House staffer and prescribing drugs for himself.

“On at least one occasion, Dr Jackson could not be reached when needed because he was passed out drunk in his hotel room,” according to a document released by Senator Jon Tester, a Democrat.

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