Soweto stresses: there is now a massive police presence in various parts of Soweto, following what looks like more xenophobic violence overnight. Several shops owned by foreign nationals were looted, while others were set alight following the death of a 14-year-old boy, who was allegedly shot dead by a shop owner after being accused of stealing. EWN Senior Correspondent, Gia Nicolaides:
We really have been going from one shop to the next, where each shop owner has expressed that there have been threats made against them. Police have been firing rubber bullets (to control the situation) since 10 this morning and these locations are all five minutes apart. The looters are said to be teenagers suspected of taking nyaope and every time we keep stopping at a shop anywhere, it's either been looted or there's a police presence there and authorities have taken to removing the shops' stock and placing it in a place of safety at a police station. Some observers say this isn't a xenophobic looting of shops, but that all shops in Soweto are being looted as an act of revenge from these teenagers who feel they were wronged over the killing of the 14-year-old boy.
Chief Executive Officer at the SA Human Rights Commission, Kayum Ahmed:
We've been dealing with the question of xenophobic attacks for a number of years. We are deeply concerned with the violence we are seeing being committed by these teenagers, whether it's connected to xenophobia or not. Foreign nationals are very important to South Africa as they contribute to our GDP and we need to make sure they are protected under all circumstances. We are working with the police on the ground - although there isn't intelligence on location to inform the situation - because we don't want to see a repeat of the 2008 attacks.
Vavi vs Mantashe on Guptagate: on the Wednesday edition of the Midday Report, a comment by Cosatu General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi was that, in the absence of any other explanation, it was unavoidable that the finger of blame for the Waterkloof landing by the Gupta family pointed at President Jacob Zuma. Vavi was reacting to the decision to withdraw charges against two senior airforce officers who had been accused of allowing the Gupta family to land their wedding guests at the national keypoint. So far, Bruce Koloane (the former chief of state protocol in the Department of International Relations) is the only person who has been disciplined when he was demoted from his position, but later appointed Ambassador to the Netherlands by President Zuma. Just after the landing in 2013, ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe issued a statement saying those responsible for allowing this to happen must be held accountable. Mantashe's comments following the dropping of charges:
What is important about this case is that it has now been followed and every claim has been investigated and to me, that satisfies this situation. People must know that it's a learning point and if mistakes have been made, they must learn from it. (On Vavi's comments) they don't care about processes, they only care about having everything pointing back to Zuma - I am not part of that class. I am not sure if you would punish the Gupta family if they are given the right to land. If I had been given the right to land, I would land there too!
Access at educational institutions: more reports have emerged today about Lekae Combrink-Nawa who has been barred from studying at the Tshwane university of Technology (TUT) because he has no legs and is using a wheelchair. The university says it doesn’t have the facilities to allow him to study there. TUT spokeswoman Willa de Ruyter:
It was a last option for us that he couldn't register. The building isn't wheelchair friendly and it would be costly to convert to it be this, eventhough there are a number of buildings that are wheelchair friendly. Government has made a commitment to provide prosthesis for the student so that can at least address mobility. We would like all students to have equal opportunities and we're really grateful to the Minister (of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande) for coming to assist him.
Lekae Combrink-Nawa's father, Dr Lance Nawa, who also works at TUT:
I would like to first welcome the intervention by the Minister to provide prosthesis. I had a meeting with Professor Van Staden, the Vice Principal who said he would have a look at the case and also for other students.The spokesperon has indicated that it's the department that has come with an intervention eight months later and there are departments that would - out of compassion - come with interventions. The major issue here is access to public facilities. We don't want to sound unappreciative - as if we can't look after our own situation at home - my son has prosthetics but they are outdated and they make him fall.
Aviation affairs: a comment on Wednesday by Transport Minister Dipou Peters is that many countries in Africa appeared to prefer to sign airline agreements with European and Middle-Eastern countries and were not signing agreements with other African countries. Editor of SA Flyer Magazine, Guy Leitch:
The simple truth of the matter is that African countries don't have the appetite to open up their skies. There have been bi-laterals with foreign carriers, but not with local ones. There's an enormous amount of protectionism in the pricing of tickets and that would be lowered when there would be more open skies and airline infrastructure needs to be looked into. SA is relatively open, which has allowed airlines such as Kulula to exist, but SAA has benefited the most from protectionism within the continent of Africa.
Malawi floods update: rescue and mop-up operations are now underway in the country after massive floods caused by heavy rain there. EWN Correspondent, Govan Whittles:
I'm out on a boat right now and the river has flown onto a football field, so a lot of land has been affected and houses have their roofs off - a lot of damage. Experts say it will take about 2 weeks for the water to go down and so planting won't be able to happen for some time right now.
Cuba-US talks: in Havana, the US and Cuba are now starting their highest level talks since probably the 1960’s, after the diplomatic thaw that was announced last month. US policy expert, Brookes Spector:
These talks are about the substance, not about red carpet arrivals at an airport. The highest ranking person dealing with Latin issues in the US government is a part of these talks. This is going to affect Cuba's economy a great deal, but the trade embargo as a fixed bid of US policy is dependant on Congress and cannot be overturned by the Presidential authority and overturning it would also allow Americans the ability to use credit cards in Cuba.
Lobola app: news this morning of a new app that claims to be able to tell men and women how many cows would have to be paid for lobola, should the man decide he should pay lobola when he marries his betrothed. It’s been developed by Robert Matsaneng:
I've got physical attributes that I use to calculate a BMI and then I get a body type from there. When I was doing some research with my family, I ended up basing a lot of the features on the app on that (the research). (On the reaction) I released the app in October and there's been mixed reaction and increased reaction in recent days. Some people have been negative and some have come with suggestions. Users have been men who try it out for curiosity and also women. (On what he'd expect for his daughter) I don't expect monetary value, but a gesture to appreciate the way I raised my daughter, whether it's monetary or not - it all depends on what is practical to the guy in question. Cows were practical at a certain point in time.