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Mandela Day Launch with volunteer exhibitions targeting youth
23 April 2018, 7:01 PM

The Nelson Mandela Foundation launches the 2018 Mandela Day centenary campaign at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg on Monday. The campaign serves as the launch of a global initiative that is not only a tribute to the former statesman, but also a countdown to his centenary celebrations of his birthday.

The Mandela Day Launch featured a number of volunteer organisations exhibiting their work. The exhibitions largely share a similar drive in their volunteerism and social change—it must be targeted and often times led by youth.

SHOUT for a Safer South Africa places a brightly coloured miniature library at its centre.

SHOUT utilises the funds from song sales to build SHOUT style libraries. SHOUT Chairman Gavin Koppel says the libraries are specifically built in the most impoverished places in South Africa.

“We became warriors and soldiers of peace and education” said Koppel.

The Vision Mission exhibition featured nearby provided eye tests to spectators. It is the result of collaboration between the South African Optometric Association and Ster-Kinekor Theatres.

Their target age groups are learners and school age people and all the volunteers are trained optometrists.

Fikile Makhoba, one of the optometrist volunteers, is self-employed and finds the volunteer work important.

“We’re able to screen people who’ve never been tested before,” said Makhoba.

“Because you’ve never been to an eye test, because you don’t know how other people see, you wouldn’t necessarily complain and say ‘oh I think I got a problem with my eyes’.”

Geraldine Engelman, head of the Corporate Social Investment (CSI), Wellness and Transformation at Ster-Kinekor Theatres shares that Vision Mission has been highly impactful over time.

“We have so far screened about over 300,000 children all over the country since 2005, provided spectacles to about almost 14,000 children, we’ve done about 8 corneal transplants…it’s an annual project that we do and it’s all around the country.”

Volunteer Mogashame’s love for children is what prompts her volunteerism and that is why she works for “Read to Lead” – a reading campaign by the Department of Basic Education. The campaign is important to her because “children in rural areas, townships are not exposed [to reading]” said Mogashame.

Volunteer Koketso Mogashame stands before a “Read to Lead” poster.

Other exhibitions were lighter hearted like “Choices”, a product of the Align-Ed Network.

The Choices Board Game targets high school students with the aim of discussing the consequences of making right and wrong decisions in life decided by a roll of the dice.

Member of the Operation Team for the Choice Board Game, Pat Anderson, taught visitors at the booth how the game worked. Their group targets any and all high schools and their students, said Anderson.

The University of Johannesburg (UJ) Community Engagement program stood out in orange. According the University of Johannesburg website, Community Engagement provides academic credit for students, “in the form of service learning and community-based research”.

A Community Engagement Specialist, Lebogang Mawelela, professes that, “at UJ Mandela Day is an institutional event…it’s not about 67 minutes, every day is Mandela Day.”

A learner signs up to learn more information.

Mawelela values the impact not just for UJ students but also the communities they impact—especially the youth.

“They benefit from seeing community engagement as a lifestyle.”

Lebogang Mawelela speaking on the work of UJ Community Engagement.

ANC addresses media on situation in Mahikeng
20 April 2018, 5:27 PM

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe has just addressed journalists outside the meeting venue. It’s unclear if a decision on the impasse between Premier Supra Mahumapelo and the people in the North West will be reached tonight.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, Deputy President David Mabuza and other ANC leaders including the embattled North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo are locked behind closed doors for an urgent party meeting. This follows two days of violent protests amid calls for Mahumapelo to resign.

The President arrived earlier this afternoon after cutting short his trip to the United Kingdom.
Mahikeng was totally shut down on Thursday – looting and barricading of streets continued unabated on Friday.

A group of residents gathered outside the venue of the meeting.

They want to know whether the ANC will recall embattled Mahumapelo.

Earlier the residents, who were expecting ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa to address them moved from a local stadium to a shopping mall.

The residents who have been involved in violent protests are anxiously awaiting the outcome of the urgent ANC meeting. Mahikeng and surrounding areas remain on lockdown.

 

Amid heightened tensions in the North West capital, residents say they expect president Cyril Ramaphosa’s visit to restore order in the area.

Mahikeng is engulfed in violent anti-Supra Mahumapelo protests. There has been widespread looting and destruction of private and public property.

Three days of violent protest action has left a trail of destruction, vehicles torched, shops looted and the local cultural centre set ablaze.

The residents who have been involved in violent protests are anxiously awaiting the outcome of an urgent ANC meeting which is expected to decide the future of Premier.

Mahikeng and surrounding areas remain on lock-down. Residents have burnt some buildings, prevented public transport from operating, forced businesses to close and basic services to come to a standstill, as they call for the resignation of Mahumapelo.

 

Learners from about six schools in Ganyesa village near Vryburg, North West, have joined the protests.

Despite Police Minister Bheki Cele’s call for the protesters to refrain from burning infrastructure and looting shops, the situation remains tense.

 

Learners from about six schools in Ganyesa village near Vryburg, North West, have joined the protests.

Despite Police Minister Bheki Cele’s call for the protesters to refrain from burning infrastructure and looting shops, the situation remains tense.

 

Community spokesperson, Moshe Moepetsane, says the learners are complaining about arms manufacturer Denel’s awarding of a more than one-million-rand bursary to Mahumapelo’s son, Oarabile.

“The bursary should be for people who are poor, poor families, because the premier is having everything and getting a salary. The son of the premier cannot be granted the bursary because of that,” Moepetsane says.

The protests have been going on for two days, and some residents say that Mahikeng is “at a standstill” due to the looting and the shutting down of roads. Botswana has already shut down its main road  leading to Mahikeng.

 

For more on Ramaphosa’s response and the protests, click below:

Education must be adequately resourced: Lesufi
20 April 2018, 3:51 PM

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says it is imperative for government to ensure that education is adequately resourced. He was speaking in Pretoria at the 35th anniversary celebration of the establishment of UNICA, a school for learners with autism.

Autism is a developmental disorder, characterised by troubles with social interaction and communication.

“As the government, we are putting lots and lots of investments at three important levels. The first one is infrastructure, the second one is teaching levels and the third one is curriculum. We want to compete with the best to ensure that our children are not assigned to be switch board operators or assigned to do side things. We want them to be at the centre of the economy and we want to invest in their skills development programmes,” says Lesufi.

Lesufi has made special comment on learners with autism in the past, saying they deserve education just as much as everyone else. He stated that we need to work towards getting better education for special needs learners, including those with autism.

To see more on Lesufi’s work and action, watch below:


 

Commonwealth backs Prince Charles as next head
20 April 2018, 3:44 PM

Commonwealth leaders agreed Friday that Prince Charles should follow his mother Queen Elizabeth II as the next head of the group, the BBC and other media reported.

Queen Elizabeth  on Thursday told leaders from the 53 member states that she wanted her eldest son to succeed her in the symbolic figurehead role.

Leaders, gathered at Windsor Castle for private talks, agreed that Charles, heir to the thrones of 16 Commonwealth nations, should follow the monarch in the non-hereditary position, the BBC, Sky News television and the domestic Press Association news agency reported.

Following Queen Elizabeth’s public call as she opened the group’s summit on Thursday for potentially the final time, a series of Commonwealth premiers voiced their support Thursday for Charles as a figure of stability and continuity.

Queen Elizabeth, who turns 92 on Saturday, spoke of her own “extraordinary journey” since pledging to serve the Commonwealth for life when aged 21.

“It is my sincere wish that the Commonwealth will continue to offer stability and continuity for future generations and will decide that one day, the Prince of Wales should carry on the important work,” she said, referring to Charles.

Queen Elizabeth has been the Commonwealth’s symbolic figurehead since her father king George VI’s death in 1952.

Some republican voices had been angling for change in future.

British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, head of the Labour Party, said on Sunday that the role could go to a rotating presidency.

But British Prime Minister Theresa May gave her backing to 69-year-old Charles.

“The government supports the Prince of Wales as the next head of the Commonwealth. He has been a proud supporter of the Commonwealth for more than four decades,” her spokesman said.

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau said: “I very much agree with the wishes of Her Majesty that the Prince of Wales be the next head of the Commonwealth.”

Maltese PM Joseph Muscat added: “We are certain that when he will be called upon to do so, he will provide a solid and passionate leadership for our Commonwealth.”

And Grenada’s prime minister Keith Mitchell told the BBC: “It would be good news.Having the Prince of Wales would certainly not be an unhelpful act at this point in time.”

Queen Elizabeth gave up long-haul travel to attend the biennial Commonwealth summits in 2013 and gatherings look set to be held outside Europe in the near term.

Charles represented her at the 2013 summit in Colombo.

WATCH: The Queen of England put forward Prince Charles as the new head of the Commonwealth:

Police Committee recommends R20 million for IPID
20 April 2018, 2:49 PM

The chairperson of Parliament’s Police committee, Francois Beukman, says they will recommend to National Treasury that the Independent Police Investigative Directorate  (IPID) receives at least R20 million in additional funding.

The IPID is appearing before the committee as part of the annual budget hearing process.

The directorate has indicated that with staff compensation taking up more than 60% of its budget, it leaves them with very little money to effect its mandate. Beukman says more funds will strengthen IPID.

“Important IPID gets necessary financial support. It’s clear from submission, corruption in the police is a huge problem…it’s clear systemic corruption, you need to at least add R20m if you want to do the job.  They must make this recommendation.”

The Executive Director of IPID, Robert McBride, says they are constantly urged to turn a blind eye to corruption in the police service. The Independent Police Investigative Directorate is appearing before Parliament’s Police committee as part of the annual budget hearing process. McBride says they are constantly targeted by SAPS members to turn a blind eye to corruption.

“Everyday (we are) inundated with requests to look the other way. This team sitting here has bled too much. Not looking the other way… so those approaching us, you can stop. Just back off” McBride says.

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