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Guide dogs not easily accessible in SA
26 April 2018, 3:28 PM

International Guide Dog Day was observed around the world on Wednesday. SABC Journalist Justin Kennerley took the challenge of trying to get around the streets of Johannesburg while blindfolded, simulating what a visually impaired person might experience, along with the help of the guide dog named Bonnie.

Bonnie the guide dog.

The South African Guide Dog Association (SAGDA) defines a guide dog as such: “Guide Dogs helps the owner to avoid obstacles; prevent accidents in traffic, to locate destinations and to be a constant companion enhancing life and providing independence, mobility and companionship.”

Walking through the streets of Johannesburg without sight for the first time was, “terrifying,” the radio journalist confesses, though made significantly better with Bonnie alongside to protect him.

Alongside Kennerley was long time guide dog trainer Mandla Nxumalo of SAGDA. He helped facilitate the activity by teaching Kennerley important commands and knowledge of how to work with a guide dog.

Nxumalo, Head of Training, has worked as a guide dog trainer for 16 years and an advocate of their use.

Journalist Kennerley (L), Guide dog Bonnie (C) and trainer Nxumalo (R) crossing the street.

“A guide dog gives you independence”- Nxumalo

Not only does having a guide dog allow visually impaired people increased independence, it also offers you a friend,  states Nxumalo.

These canines also offer a type of mobility not possible with the use of canes or a guiding friend or family member.

“If you have a guide dog you don’t have to wait for someone to come home and guide you” said Nxumalo.

And canes can come with limitations when one tries to walk through the bustling streets and traffic of a busy city like Johannesburg.

Dean Webb is legally blind and does not use a guide dog. Instead, he uses a cane for his primary way for getting around, even with its limitations. His family supports him when those limitations get in the way.

“I’m quite independent with my cane [and] I don’t need to get around the town or city by myself.”

But for those with visual impairments that would like to get into the city more and with increased independence, a guide dog offers that possibility.

Currently, SAGDA reports that there are only 400 guide dogs in South Africa, this despite the South African National Council for the Blind (SANCB) reporting sight disabilities in South Africa as the most prevalent of all disabilities.

The number of barriers keeping South Africans from acquiring a guide dog may be keeping this number low.

“Owning a guide dog means having support from your family.”– Nxumalo

Financial barriers are often a primary deterrent. Besides the cost of purchasing a dog, the costs associated with caring for them abound—money for dog food, proper accommodation, veterinary visits and so forth.

SANCB estimates that “97% of all blind and partially sighted people in South Africa are unemployed.” This indicates that many visually impaired people financially depend on others like family members.

Then there are also the cultural barriers associated with dogs. Nxumalo describes that for many South Africans, dogs are viewed as dirty and sometimes not allowed in the home.

This becomes an issue because all these dogs were trained and raised to be indoor dogs and cannot be relegated to living outside all day, the trainer explained.

Furthermore, a guide dog might mean not using public transportation often.

Stories of visually impaired people not allowed on public transportation because of their guide dog are not uncommon according to Webb,“Because you might be waiting at the Bus Stop and 3 or 4 taxis might pass you by without stopping.”

All of these barriers can culminate, making it difficult for South Africans with visual impairments to access guide dogs.

Malaria warning issued out to holiday travellers
26 April 2018, 2:13 PM

Holiday makers travelling to areas with high risk of Malaria infection this long weekend are warned to take precautionary measures.

The National Institute of Communicable Diseases has reported an increase in the number of Malaria cases in north-eastern Limpopo, use anti-mosquito measures such as nets, repellents and prophylactic medicines.

The National Institute of Communicable Disease has also cautioned travellers to guard against mosquitoes hitchhiking in vehicles returning from malaria areas and transmitting the infection to non-travellers.

Malaria symptoms include ‘flu-like’ symptoms such as a mild fever and sweating, headache, muscle aches and chills. Travellers are urged to seek immediate medical attention if they experience any of these symptoms.

Globally malaria infects over 200 million each year.

Malaria has slowly been on the rise this year as more cases globally have appeared in several different countries.

click below for more on efforts to fight Malaria.

IAAF regulation a blow for Caster Semenya
26 April 2018, 12:13 PM

The IAAF has announced stringent regulations that could prevent Olympic 800-metre champion Caster Semenya from competing in athletics.

The world athletics governing body’s regulations will come into effect on November 1. The IAAF has issued the much awaited regulations for female athletes with differences in sex development and they could have a huge impact on Semenya.

The new rules restrict the blood testosterone levels for female athletes, but only those running distances between 400 and 1 500 metres, which are all Semenya’s specialties. Sascoc president Gideon Sam says they will seek expert advice from their medical commission before moving forward.

“He talks about hesitating to go against their mother body , and that they must study the documents before deciding a move forward on the issue.” Sam says.

Many South Africans have rallied behind Semenya and are giving her support during the IAAF’s regulation considerations, which will directly impact Semenya and her races.

 

Click below to see Caster Semenya’s races


US President Donald Trump
Iran says Europe must not pay Trump ‘ransom’ over nuclear deal
24 April 2018, 3:10 PM

A top Iranian official on Tuesday welcomed European powers’ efforts to salvage a historic nuclear deal, but warned they should not simply hand over “a ransom” to US President Donald Trump.

Trump has threatened not to renew the 2015 accord, which curbed Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

His threats have prompted pressure from European officials ahead of a May 12 deadline for his decision.

“We have welcomed the insistence of the European Union on keeping America in the JCPOA (nuclear deal),” says Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme Council for National Security, in a televised press conference.

“But if this means degrading the Islamic republic of Iran or paying a ransom to Trump, the Europeans are making a strategic mistake,” he says.

The European parties to the agreement — Britain, France, Germany and the European Union — have been trying to convince Trump to stick to the accord.

French President Emmanuel Macron is currently in Washington, hoping to address Trump’s concerns and keep the US in the deal.

The White House has demanded tighter restrictions on Iran’s regional behaviour and its nuclear and missile programmes.

But Iran says any talk of curbing its missile programme — which is central to its defence systems — is off limits.

“The Islamic republic of Iran will not allow any country, under any circumstances, to cross its red lines,” said Shamkhani.

Helen Zille
Zille says DA always ready to act on corruption
24 April 2018, 2:29 PM

Western Cape Premier, Helen Zille, says the Democratic Alliance (DA) is always prepared to act on alleged corruption in its own municipalities.

This comes after the Hawks conducted a search and seizure operation on Monday at the George municipal office, businesses, as well as at private homes of various individuals.

The local authority confirmed that electronic equipment and several documents were taken during the raid. This is part of a forensic investigation at George and the Bitou Municipality at Plettenberg Bay.

The DA says opposition parties in the George council should not claim victory for the raid. Zille says they acted after receiving a tip-off of alleged corruption.

“We welcome this action by the Hawks. We are absolutely serious about eradicating all corruption where the DA governs and establishing a clean government for all the people,” Zille says.

 

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