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Msibi’s bail application resumes
14 October 2021, 9:37 AM

The bail application for the former MEC for Agriculture and Land Reform, Mandla Msibi, and his two co-accused is expected to resume at the Nelspruit Magistrates Court on Thursday morning.

Msibi and the two accused are facing two charges of murder and one attempted murder which they allegedly committed in August in Mbombela.

The court adjourned the bail application on Wednesday after a bomb scare at the court premises.

In the video below, SABC Reporter Nhlanhla Jele reports on Wednesday’s court proceedings:

Msibi and the two co-accused have now spent three full days behind bars-as their bail application is dragging since Monday.

Msibi who was a MEC in Mpumalanga and an African National Congress provincial election manager handed himself to the police on Monday.

He is being accused of two counts of murder and one of attempted murder.

The investigating officer on the case is expected to continue with his testimony in court.

VIDEO: Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane announces Msibi’s dismissal on Tuesday:

On Wednesday, the Provincial Executive Committee of the African National Congress (ANC) in Mpumalanga suspended  Msibi.

 

Japan to dissolve Parliament, setting the stage for a general election
14 October 2021, 8:52 AM

Japan will dissolve its Parliament on Thursday, setting the stage for an election at the end of the month that will pit new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida against unpopular opposition in a battle over who can better fix the pandemic-battered economy.

Kishida enjoys reasonable public support about a week into the job, polls show, boding well for his goal of maintaining a lower house majority for his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its Komeito party coalition partner.

Voters will want to see a government with plans for decisive action to end the pandemic and rebuild the economy. A recent Sankei newspaper poll showed that about 48 percent say they want the Kishida administration to work on coronavirus most, followed by economic recovery and employment.

Kishida’s party is promoting his push for coronavirus measures including supplying oral antiviral medication this year, as well as his vision of realising a “new capitalism” that focuses on economic growth and redistribution of wealth.

The ruling party has also called for a sharp increase in defence spending to acquire the capability to destroy ballistic missiles, amid China’s increasingly assertive posture over Taiwan. The largest opposition party, the Constitutional Democrats (CDPJ), led by Yukio Edano, has highlighted issues such as its support for same-sex marriage and different surnames for couples.

The LDP remains socially conservative and, while progress has been made on LGBTQ rights in society, Kishida has said he was not in favour of same-sex marriage. The biggest challenge for Constitutional Democrats is their low support ratings.

A recent poll by the Asahi Shimbun daily found only 13 percent were planning to vote for them, far behind the LDP’s 47 percent; most other polls record support in the single digits. Canvassing in many districts is already underway but formally the campaign will kick off on October 19, followed by the vote on October 31.

Ethiopian offensive in two northern regions intensifies: Tigrayan forces
14 October 2021, 8:40 AM

An air and ground offensive by Ethiopian troops and their allies against rebellious forces from the northern Tigray region is intensifying, a spokesperson for the Tigrayan forces said on Wednesday, claiming “staggering” casualties.

Getachew Reda of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) told Reuters by phone that the Ethiopian military and allies from the Amhara region were fighting the Tigrayan forces on several fronts, in both the Amhara and Afar regions which neighbour Tigray.

A spokesperson for the Ethiopian military did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The military and government have not acknowledged a fresh offensive, which the TPLF says began with airstrikes last week, days after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was sworn in for a new five-year term.

“It’s an ongoing fight and the number of casualties is staggering,” Getachew said, adding that he could not give details of the number of dead or wounded. He said there was fighting near the town of Weldiya in Amhara and that fighting had resumed in Afar, in the Haro and Chifra areas near the Amhara border.

Reuters was not able to independently verify the situation on the ground or to confirm casualty numbers because the area is closed to journalists and many phone connections are down.

The fighting has raised fears that it could further destabilise the Horn of Africa nation of 109-million people and plunge Tigray deeper into famine. The conflict has already drawn in Ethiopia’s neighbour, the secretive and repressive nation of Eritrea, which sent troops across the border to support the Ethiopian military when the conflict erupted in November 2020.

Aid workers citing witnesses told Reuters that Eritrean fighters were still inside Ethiopia and taking part in the conflict.

Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The US State Department said on Tuesday it was considering the use of economic sanctions to penalise parties responsible for the violence.

Thousands of civilians have been killed and millions displaced by fighting since war erupted in Tigray. Tigrayan forces were initially beaten back, but recaptured most of the region in July and pushed into the neighbouring Amhara and Afar regions, displacing hundreds of thousands more people.

Amhara claims the Western Tigray, a swathe of fertile farmland with a strategically important border with Sudan, which has been under Amhara control since the fighting began. Tigray’s borders are now surrounded by hostile forces and the United Nations says the government is blockading food aid to hundreds of thousands of starving people – a charge it denies.

Another humanitarian worker citing witnesses said Eritrean forces were fighting Tigrayans in Berhale, a town in the Afar region.

Star Trek’s William Shatner becomes world’s oldest space traveller
14 October 2021, 8:31 AM

Having made a career out of playing an explorer of the cosmos, William Shatner,  Captain James Kirk of Star Trek fame, did it for real on Wednesday, becoming at age 90 the oldest person in space aboard a rocketship flown by billionaire Jeff Bezos’s company Blue Origin, an experience the actor called profound.

Shatner was one of four passengers to journey for 10 minutes and 17 seconds to the edge of space aboard the white fully autonomous 60-foot-tall New Shepard spacecraft, which took off from Blue Origin’s launch site about 20 miles (32 km) outside the rural west Texas town of Van Horn.

The crew capsule returned to the Texas desert from the suborbital flight under parachutes, raising a cloud of dust. Shatner emerged gingerly from the capsule in the desert silence, appearing reflective as the others celebrated by cheering and popping champagne bottles.

Bezos was on hand and embraced Shatner who was wearing a cap and a blue flight suit with the company’s name in white letters on one sleeve.

“What you have given me is the most profound experience I can imagine,” Shatner told Bezos as the two chatted for several minutes. “I am so filled with emotion about what just happened.” The all-civilian crew experienced a few minutes of weightlessness, having travelled about 65.8 miles (106 km) above the Earth’s surface – higher than the internationally recognised boundary of space known as the Karman Line, about 62 miles (100 km) above Earth.

It marked the second space tourism flight for Blue Origin, the company Bezos,  the Amazon.com Inc founder and current executive chairman, founded two decades ago. Bezos flew aboard the first one in July.

Manhunt launched for Kenya athlete Agnes Tirop’s husband
14 October 2021, 8:08 AM

Police in Kenya are they are on the hunt for the husband of one of country’s fast-rising athletes, Agnes Tirop, who was found dead in her home.

Twenty-five- year- old Tirop’s body was found in her in the high-altitude training hub of Iten in western Kenya with stab wounds, according to Athletics Kenya.

President Uhuru Kenyatta has called for speedy investigations into the murder and bring to book her killers.

She represented Kenya in the 5 000m race at the Tokyo Olympics and finished fourth in the finals.

Police told local media in Kenya that her husband had phoned her parents while crying asking God to forgive him for something bad that he had done.

At her home, police found her on her bed with a stab wound on the neck.

Athletics Kenya in a statement said they were distraught to learn of the death of the decorated athlete whom they described as a Jewel.

Just last month, Tirop broke the women-only record in the women’s 10km at Road to Records Race in Germany, while last week she finished second at the women’s half marathon in Valencia.

She won bronze medals at the 2017 and 2019 in 10,000M at World Athletics championships.

President Kenyatta while mourning Tirop regretted that the rising athlete lost her life through a criminal act. He termed her killers as cowards.

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