Daily news update: Crime stats, Magashule in court and Wayde van Niekerk heads to the US

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule appears in the dock during his first appearance at the Bloemfontein Magistrate's Court on corruption charges, on 13 November 2020. Picture: EPA-EFE/Conrad Bornman

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Daily Covid-19 update: 6,524 health workers received jab as 1,911 new cases reported

Healthcare workers are given the jab of the first batch of Johnson and Johnson vaccines at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, 17 February 2021, in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Michel Bega

As of Friday, 19 February 2021, the cumulative number of detected Covid-19 cases is 1,500,677 with 1,911 new cases identified, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has confirmed.

151 more Covid-19 related deaths were reported. This brings the total number of Covid-19 related deaths to 48,859.

Meanwhile, the total number of vaccines that have been administered stands at 6,524.

Magashule asbestos case postponed to August 2021

ANC Secretary General, Ace Magashule appears at Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court with his co-accused, including 3 people arrested last night on February 19, 2021 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. Magashule were arrested, charged and released on bail in connection with the multimillion rand asbestos contract scandal in the Free State. (Photo by Gallo Images/Alet Pretorius)

The Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court has moved the R250 million Free State asbestos contract case, involving ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, to 11 August 2020 for pre-trial at the Free State High Court.

There were three additional accused added to the case, namely Nozipho Belina Molikoe, Thabiso Makepe and Albertus Venter, taking the number of accused to 16. The three were all granted bail of R50,000 each.

‘Under my term, there was no corruption’ – Magashule maintains his innocence

ANC Secretary General, Ace Magashule leaves the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court where he appeared with his co-accused, including 3 people arrested last night on February 19, 2021 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. Magashule were arrested, charged and released on bail in connection with the multimillion rand asbestos contract scandal in the Free State. (Photo by Gallo Images/Alet Pretorius)

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule says when all is done and dusted, he will spill the beans and tell the public everything.

Magashule addressed members of the media on Friday afternoon following his appearance at the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court in relation to the corruption that mired R250 million asbestos-eradication tender in the Free State.

He maintained his innocence and that there was no corruption under his leadership in the Free State. 

Zuma, Cele joked about former president’s potential arrest warrant, says daughter

Jacob Zuma and Bheki Cele at Zuma’s Nkandla homestead on Thurs, 18 Feb 2021 | Picture: Twitter /@DZumaSambudla

Former president Jacob Zuma’s daughter Dudu Zuma-Sambudla says “no Nkandla tea” was served on Thursday when Police Minister Bheki Cele visited her father.

Zuma-Sambudla took pictures of the two ANC veterans in Zuma’s living room as South Africans took to social media to speculate on what they were discussing.

Following the meeting, Cele’s spokesperson Lirandzu Themba said: “Minister General Bheki Cele has concluded his visit with former president Jacob Zuma in Nkandla which started this morning at 11:00 and will update ANC leadership on the outcome of his visit first.”

Crime stats: 12,218 raped in October-December as murders, sexual assaults spike

Police Minister Bheki Cele. Picture: Gallo Images/Darren Stewart

The third quarter of the 2020-2021 financial year saw an increase in the targeting of delivery vans and trucks as well as an increase in rape, murder and cash-in-transit (CIT) heists.

This is according to Police Minister General Bheki Cele who presented the quarterly crime statistics on Friday, reflecting crimes that occurred between 1 October 2020 and 31 December 2020.

“The national crime statistics from October to December 2020 do not paint a good picture, and hence force us as the Saps to dig deep and put the shoulder to the wheel.”

Criminal case opened against Ace Magashule’s supporters

Supporters of the ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule gather outside court as he appears in the dock during his first appearance in court on corruption charges in Bloemfontein, South Africa, 13 November 2020. Picture: EPA-EFE/CONRAD BORNMAN

Free State police have opened a criminal case against organisers of an illegal gathering outside the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

A large crowd of people gathered outside the court waiting to be addressed by ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule.

The crowd contravened the Covid-19 lockdown Disaster Management Act, by gathering in numbers larger than 50, with some not wearing masks.

IEB matric results boasts a 98.07% pass rate despite Covid

Matric Exams

The Department of Basic Education director-general (DG), Mathanzima Mweli, shared an update on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the basic education sector on Wednesday. File image.

Despite the turmoil from the impact of Covid-19 in 2020, Independent Examinations Board (IEB) matric pupils still managed to overcome stress, changing countries and the unique challenges of online and home schooling.

“It is interesting to note that the hard lockdown had differing impacts across schools within the IEB,” the board’s chief executive, Anne Oberholzer, said on Thursday.

Some schools were able to make a smooth transition to online teaching and learning as they had the resources available and had already been using them.

‘Compulsory wearing of masks is about protecting others’

A woman selling clothes along a busy street in Olievenhoutbosch can be seen wearing a mask to prevent contracting Covid-19, 21 August 2020. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Liberty Fighters Network’s (LFN) application to have the national state of disaster and the compulsory wearing of masks declared unconstitutional and invalid has been dismissed.

The matter was heard in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Friday, 19 February 2021, with Justice Norman Davis delivering the judgment.

Here is the DA’s grand plan to end cadre deployment

DA leader John Steenhuisen files papers in court over Covid-19 vaccine rollout plan. Picture: Twitter / @Our_DA

The DA has outlined its plan calling on the ANC and President Cyril Ramaphosa to replace the party’s cadre deployment policy and start hiring professionals based on merit.

Earlier this week, the DA submitted a Promotion of Access to Information (PAIA) application to Ramaphosa in order to obtain records on the ANC’s cadre deployment programme.

READ: Muzikayise Malephane pens confession letter on killing Tshegofatso Pule

Muzikayise Malephane at Roodepoort Magistrate court in Johannesburg, 23 July 2020, for the murder of Tshegofatso Pule’s death. She was found hanging from a tree in Durban Deep with multiple stab wounds. The case was postponed to 29 September 2020. Picture; Picture:Nigel Sibanda

On Friday, the day that Muzikayise Malephane was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the murder of Tshegofatso Pule, a confession letter surfaced which he wrote apologising for the killing.

Malephane was given a lenient sentence in exchange for his testimony, which will help in serving the justice and see the alleged mastermind of the murder behind bars. He said in the letter that he regrets every time he thinks about that “fateful night.”

Judge bemoans witnesses’ conflicting evidence in Bongo’s corruption trial

Former Director-general Arthur Frazer and former Minister Bongani Bongo appeared before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) in the New Assembly in Parliament on December 07, 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa. Picture: Gallo Images

Western Cape High Court Judge President John Hlophe says the evidence given by two key state witnesses in the corruption trial of ANC MP Bongani Bongo doesn’t add up.

On Friday, acting parliamentary secretary Baby Tyawa and National Council of Provinces (NCOP) secretary Modhibedi Phindela took to the witness stand after missing their initial deadline to appear in court.

Government to announce decision on e-tolls by end of March – Mbalula

The roads agency says it has not been informed of any decision by government about the future of e-tolls. Image: Moneyweb

Government will announce the future of the much-maligned e-tolls by end of March, said Transport minister Fikile Mbalula during a question-and-answer session in Parliament. “We are equally enjoined to finalise the funding model and the tariff structure on the Gauteng freeway improvement project (e-tolls) by the end of this financial year,” he said.

Gauteng DA has since welcomed Mbalula’s indication that the national government would provide clarity on the future of e-tolls.

20 pupils and staff rushed to hospital following bee attack at Pretoria school

File image for illustration: iStock

Bestcare and Ambu-Link emergency medical services were awarded certificates after assisting a group of school children and school workers who were attacked by a swarm of bees.

About 20 pupils and school staff were rushed to hospital after sustaining mild to severe reactions when a swarm of bees attacked them on Wednesday. According to Xander Loubser of Bestcare emergency medical service, pupils and staff of Laerskool Generaal Nicolaas Smit were attacked by a swarm of bees after a gardener disturbed them while he was mowing the lawn.

Pfizer first dose 85% effective after two to four weeks – study

Pfizer began dosing patients in the US yesterday with a coronavirus vaccine. AFP/File/Don EMMERT

The first dose of the Pfizer vaccination is 85 percent effective against coronavirus infection between two and four weeks after inoculation, according to a study published in the Lancet medical journal.

The survey was carried out on healthcare workers at the largest hospital in Israel, which on December 19 launched a mass vaccination campaign regarded as the world’s fastest.

Agri SA warns of job losses in wake of new minimum wage

Picture: iStock

Almost all farmers who participated in a desktop survey run by Agri SA indicated that they would exceed their wage budget in the 2021 financial year due to the new increased minimum wage, while the majority of participants indicated that they expected to retrench workers for the same reason.

According to the Agri SA Centre of Excellence on Labour survey on the impact of the new national minimum wage in the agricultural sector, 549 out of the 577 participants indicated that they will exceed their allocated budget of R1.7 billion for 2020, with a 24% increase in wage costs over turnover for 2021.

Mthethwa gives the thumbs up to CSA board to deliver the AGM

Nathi Mthethwa

Minister of Sport, Nathi Mthethwa, has expressed his satisfaction with the work done by the interim board of CSA. Picture: CISMedia

Sports Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Friday that he has full confidence in the Interim Board of Cricket South Africa and their ability to deliver the AGM in the next couple of months.

The Interim Board appointed by Mthethwa has had to overcome numerous obstacles in their efforts to fulfil their mandate of making Cricket South Africa’s corporate governance fit for purpose, including legal challenges from dismissed directors and executives and the stepping down of their chairman, Judge Zak Yacoob, following his verbal abuse of a journalist.

Wayde van Niekerk announces new coach, spreads his wings to the US

Wayde van Niekerk

Wayde van Niekerk will compete in Potchefstroom on Tuesday. Picture: Roger Sedres/Gallo Images

Wayde van Niekerk has embarked on a new stage of his career after linking up with a new coach and ending his nine-year partnership with Ans Botha.

Targeting his own 400m world record of 43.03, in an attempt to become the first man under 43 seconds, Van Niekerk confirmed on Friday he would be working with US-based coach Lance Brauman in the build-up to his title defence at the Tokyo Olympic Games in August.

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