The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) will on Wednesday repatriate and officially hand over the mortal remains of Captain Simon Mkhulu Bobe and Lance Corporal Irven Thabang Semono to their families.
Bobe and Semono were killed and three of their colleagues injured in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Wednesday last week after a mortar bomb landed inside one of the South African contingency military bases.
The soldiers were part of the Southern African Development Community Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (SAMIDRC) deployed to support and assist government of the second-largest country in Africa to restore peace, security and stability.
According to the SANDF, the remains will be officially handed over during a military procession ceremony at Waterkloof Air Force Base today.
The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Thandi Modise, is expected to form part of the officials attending the handing over ceremony.
Modise, along with the Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Thabang Makwetla, the Acting Secretary for Defence, Dr Thobekile Gamede, and the Chief of the SANDF, General Rudzani Maphwanya, have since expressed their heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased soldiers.
The Gauteng e-toll scheme is expected to be delinked from the end of March this year.
This was announced by Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi during the State of the Province Address (SOPA) on Monday evening.
“E-tolls are a system that was introduced in the province by national government on the basis that we wanted to improve our road network. We have now reached a stage where we all accept that the people of Gauteng have rejected e-tolls.
“We had a meeting with all affected parties. We held a meeting with the Minister of Finance [Enoch Godongwana]; we also held a meeting with the Minister of Transport [Sindisiwe Chikunga]. All of us now have reached an agreement that by the 31st of March this year, the formal process to switch off and de-link e-tolls will begin and e-tolls will be history in our province,” he said.
Lesufi added that the Finance Minister will provide more detail.
The scrapping of e-tolls has long been in the pipeline and Minister Godongwana, during the mini budget speech in October 2022, called for moving on from “debates of previous years and find solutions to this challenge”.
During that speech, the Minister explained that the Gauteng provincial government had agreed to “contribute 30 percent to settling SANRAL’s debt and interest obligations” related to the tolls.
“Gauteng will also cover the costs of maintaining the 201 kilometres and associated interchanges of the roads and any additional investment in road will be funded through either the existing electronic toll infrastructure or new toll plazas, or any other revenue source within their area of responsibility.
“Government proposes to make an initial allocation of R23.7 billion from the national fiscus, which will be disbursed on strict conditions,” the Minister said then.
The Western Cape Department of Agriculture has urged pig farmers to heighten biosecurity measures following laboratory results confirming African Swine Fever (ASF) in pigs of small farmers on the outskirts of Groeneweide Park, George.
ASF is a virus that affects pigs and there is no vaccination or treatment currently available for the prevention of the disease.
The department said the new outbreak confirmed recently is the fourth outbreak of disease in the Garden Route area since 2022.
“Previously, there had been outbreaks in KwaNonqaba and Mossel Bay in 2022 and 2023, which were both resolved; and an outbreak in Thembalethu in 2022, which remains a concern. It is estimated that about 45 pigs have died thus far, with about 250 pigs remaining in the area,” department spokesperson Daniel Johnson said.
Johnson said the area has been placed under quarantine, and community members have been urged to not remove any pigs or pig products from the area to prevent the further spread of the disease.
Johnson has also emphasised that ASF virus is specific to pigs and does not affect humans or other species of animals.
“The public needs to know that pigs slaughtered at abattoirs have undergone meat inspection. Pork products found in supermarkets are safe for human consumption,” Johnson said.
Critical measures to minimise the spread of ASF
• All carcasses should be disposed of safely.
• Pigs should be confined to prevent roaming and potentially picking up and spreading the disease.
• Hands, shoes, clothing and equipment should be sanitised before and after being in contact with a pig.
• Any meat products should be thoroughly cooked before being fed to pigs.
• Farmers should confirm that any purchased pigs are bought from known ASF-free herds.
Usually, the first signs of an ASF outbreak are the sudden death of pigs, and in some cases, other symptoms can include breathing difficulties, redness of the skin, especially underneath the pig and on the ears, hind leg weakness and loss of appetite.
“Occasionally, the pig may also have blood in their faeces and their vomit. Should these signs be seen, please contact your closest State Veterinary Office at https://www.elsenburg.com/veterinary-services/animal-health-and-disease,” Johnson said.
Human Settlements Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi has dispatched the department’s emergency housing team to establish the extent of damage caused by a storm that hit several houses in Nongoma, KwaZulu-Natal, on Saturday.
According to the department’s preliminary assessments, to date, several households in Ekubuseni, Gomodo and Holinyoka villages were largely affected, leaving four households homeless.
Kubayi said after the completion of the assessments, the Emergency Housing Unit will then intervene based on the four categories of emergency housing interventions provided by the department.
The four categories of emergency housing interventions include restoration, relocation, rebuilding and repairs.
Restoration provides building materials to all households whose structures were destroyed by the storm, while relocation provides Temporary Emergency Accommodation (TEAs) for all homeless families.
Rebuilding involves reconstructing Temporary Residential Units (TRUs) for all destroyed mud houses, while repairs include fixing all damaged formal houses after the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) has completed the structural assessments.
“I have directed officials to ensure that affected households are assisted as a matter of urgency. We have roped in one of our agencies, the NHBRC, to help the team assess the integrity of all structures that have been affected,” Kubayi said.
Established in 2023, the Emergency Housing Unit is tasked with the responsibility of responding to emergencies, including fires and floods.
This is done through collaboration with other spheres of government.
“Our main objective in emergency housing response is to ensure that we respond swiftly and provide solutions that will enable the affected communities to rebuild their homes,” the Minister said.
The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) confirmed on Wednesday that three soldiers were killed and two injured in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
This, according to a statement released yesterday, was after a mortar bomb landed inside one of the South African contingency military bases.
The soldiers are part of the Southern African Development Community Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (SAMIDRC) deployed to support and assist government of the second-largest country in Africa to restore peace, security and stability.
“As a result of this indirect fire, the SANDF suffered two casualties and three members sustained injuries,” the statement read.
The injured members were rushed to the nearest hospital in Goma.
According to the SANDF, details of the incident are still sketchy at the moment, while further investigations will be conducted to determine the basis of the incident.
The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Thandi Modise, along with the Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Thabang Makwetla, the Acting Secretary for Defence, Dr Thobekile Gamede, and the Chief of the SANDF General, Rudzani Maphwanya, have since expressed their heartfelt condolences to the families of the deceased soldiers.
They also wished the injured members a speedy recovery.
State power utility Eskom says it will be going live with the piloting of load limiting at Bedford in the Eastern Cape.
This comes after the successful implementation of the project in another Eastern Cape town, Adelaide.
Eskom Cape Coastal Cluster General Manager Mbulelo Yedwa said: “Electricity load limiting through smart meters is being implemented to better balance the supply and demand of electricity on the grid during Stages 1 to 4 of load shedding allowing customers to continue to use essential appliances with the capacity of up to 10 Amperes.”
The power utility explained that instead of being load shed during Stages 1 to 4, customers with smart meters in Bedford will have their load limited.
“An hour before the start of load shedding, these customers in selected pilot areas will be prompted to reduce their consumption from 60 Amperes to 10 Amperes by sending a message to the Customer Interface Unit (CIU) of the smart meter.
“Customers will also be notified by text message. If the customer load is still above 10 Amperes, the smart meter will automatically make two more attempts 30 seconds apart. After three failed attempts, the next reset will be in 30 minutes,” Eskom said.
The initiative, according to Eskom, is aimed at reducing the impact that load shedding has on customers with the following benefits:
- Customers will still be able to use essential appliances during load limiting e.g lights, TV, cellphone charger, fridge, security.
- No more delayed restoration of supply after load shedding due to failure of equipment.
- Avoid theft and vandalism of Eskom infrastructure. Protect equipment fatigue from repetitive switching.
- Reduction in cable faults
“It is the responsibility of the customer to reduce consumption by switching off non-essential appliances and only keep connected essential appliances up to a maximum of 10 Amperes for the duration of the load limiting period,” Eskom said.
Government is working tirelessly to ensure that unemployed doctors who want to join the public service are placed by 1 April this year, Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla has announced.
This follows an ongoing public outcry over doctors who have completed statutory community service programmes but remain unemployed.
“I am, therefore, happy to announce that working with the Minister of Finance we have a solution to address the current challenge of doctors who want to stay in the public service but could not be offered funded posts,” said the Minister.
During the debate on the President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA), Phaahla said the Finance Minister will flesh out more details during his Budget Speech next week on how these posts will be funded.
“Our national team is working with the National Treasury team to thrash out the details and working with provincial health departments to speed up the process so that by 1st April 2024 all those who will not be already in posts can be able to start.”
Phaahla said he was confident that some provinces will even be able to start giving out appointment letters before 1 April 2024.
“The measures we are working on with the Minister of Finance will give us sufficient breathing space while we are working on long-term solutions.”
He told Parliament that over the last 15 years, government has ramped up the training of doctors both in the local universities and the Nelson Mandela Fidel Castro programme in Cuba.
The number of graduates, according to Phaahla, has almost doubled over the last 10 years, from 1 338 graduates who entered the internship programme in 2014 to 2 210 this year.
“The medical profession is very key in the multidisciplinary teams and that is why we are doing everything to retain as many doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and other members of the teams in the public health system.”
In addition, he said his department was committed to working with the medical association and the trade union to look at more opportunities for doctors including offering primary health services in the community as the State prepares to implement the National Health Insurance (NHI).
He told the House that the government interventions are laying the foundation for the implementation of the NHI.
Phaahla also took the time to thank members of both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) who passed the Bill last year.
As stated in the Bill, he said the NHI will be implemented in two remaining phases from 2024 to 2026, while between 2026 and 2028 government will focus on establishing the Board and CEO and several key committees of the NHI Fund.
“We are confident that the innovative funding of infrastructure as stated by the President will also contribute to health facilities.”
In the meantime, he said his department was strengthening key delivery areas.
These include the healthcare benefits design, digital health systems, and risk identification and fraud prevention.
Since the lifting of all restrictions in June 2022, he said the health sector has been on a recovery path.
“Honourable Speaker and Honourable Members indeed as stated by the President, key indicators show that we have recovered well from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
For example, he cited the improved life expectancy approaching pre-COVID, the continued reduction in maternal mortality in pregnancy and reduced infant and under-five mortality rates.
Meanwhile, he said backlogs in planned surgery procedures including in orthopaedics, general surgery and eye operations are being attended to through the mobilisation of specialists to spend time in under-served areas with many doing it free of charge.
In addition, Phaahla said procurement and distribution of medicines has stabilised with the result and that public health institutions now have stock availability of 85%.
As stated by the President in his SONA, the department will also focus on serious interventions to improve the quality of health services by upgrading infrastructure, including building new facilities.
The South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) has advised road users that the N2 will be intermittently closed between Makhanda (formerly Grahamstown) and the Fish River Pass due to blasting operations taking place this month.
Blasting operations started on Monday and will end on 26 February 2024.
Motorists are notified of the following dates:
- Thursday,15 February 2024
- Monday,19 February 2024
- Thursday, 22 February 2024, and
- Monday, 26 February 2024.
“The road will be closed on these days from 3pm, for a maximum period of three hours, up to 6pm to allow sufficient time for cleaning of the existing N2 and making it safe for the travelling public,” SANRAL said.
“Motorists travelling westwards between East London or Qonce (formerly King William’s Town) and Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth) may consider using the following alternative route:
- From East London, follow the R72 to Port Alfred and Kenton-on-Sea through to Nanaga and turn left onto the N2 and continue on to Gqeberha.
Motorists travelling eastwards between Gqeberha and Qonce or East London may consider using the following alternative route:
- From Gqeberha, follow the N2 to Nanaga and turn right onto the R72 at the junction at Nanaga and travel on via Alexandria and Port Alfred to East London.
- From East London, turn left onto the N2 and travel westwards through to Qonce.
“Motorists are requested to plan their trips accordingly, consider alternative routes and use caution when making use of the roads,” SANRAL’s Southern Region Manager Mbulelo Peterson said.
South Africa is to deploy at least 2 900 members of the South African National Defence Force to assist in the fight against illegal armed groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
President Cyril Ramaphosa ordered the deployment in line with fulfilling South Africa’s international obligation towards the Southern African Development Community (SADC) mission to support the DRC.
The deployment comes as the DRC battles Tutsi-led M23 rebels whose attacks and advances in recent days, is threatening the North Kivu provincial capital, Goma.
According to media reports, decades of conflicts in eastern Congo between myriad rival armed groups over land and resources have killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced more than seven million.
The SADC Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (SAMIDRC) was deployed on 15 December 2023 to support the government of the DRC to restore peace and security in the eastern DRC, which has witnessed an increase in conflicts and instability caused by the resurgence of armed groups.
“The employment will cover the period from 15 December 2023 to 15 December 2024 and it was authorised in accordance with the provisions of section 201(2) (c) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.
“The budgeted expenditure to be incurred for the employment amounts to just over R2 billion. This expenditure will not impact provisions for the defence force’s regular maintenance and emergency repairs,” the Presidency said in a statement on Monday.
The obligation to contribute troops to the SADC mission in the DRC is borne by all SADC Member States. SADC is a 16-member group of countries, including the Congo.
The deployment of the SAMIDRC was approved by the Extraordinary SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Windhoek, Republic of Namibia, on 08 May 2023 as a regional response to address the unstable and deteriorating security situation prevailing in the eastern DRC.
As part of the SAMIDRC, a SADC regional force from the Republics of Malawi, South Africa and the United Republic of Tanzania and elements of the DRC Armed Forces are working with the Congolese Army, the Forces Armees de la Republic Democratique du Congo (FARDC), in fighting armed groups operating in the eastern DRC.
In a statement in January, SADC said the presence of the SAMIDRC demonstrates the commitment of SADC member states to supporting the DRC in its efforts to achieve lasting peace and stability and, ultimately, create an enabling environment for sustainable development and prosperity.
Government has procured and connected more 7 000MW of generating capacity onto the grid through its Renewable Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP).
This is according to Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe.
The Minister was speaking during the debate on the State of the Nation Address (SONA) held in Cape Town on Tuesday.
The government-driven REIPPP aims to bring much needed additional megawatts onto the grid through private sector investment in renewable energy such as wind, biomass and small hydro.
Mantashe said that since the programme’s launch in 2011, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) has procured some 13 266MW from 140 Independent Power Producers (IPPs) whose technologies are based on renewable energy, diesel and battery energy storage.
“From these capacities, 7 362MW was from 95 IPPs, who are currently connected to the grid and supplying the much needed electricity. A combination of [renewables and base load] is required to deal with the challenges facing us. The remaining 45 IPPs, with a combined capacity of 5 904MW, are either in construction or preparing to reach commercial close.
“NERSA [National Energy Regulator of South Africa] has concurred with the Minister of Electricity [Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa] that 2500MW of nuclear capacity has to be connected,” he said.
Under the current administration, some 5 939MW has been procured from 46 IPPs, with some 150MW already connected to the grid and a further 1 587MW expected to supply electricity from September this year.
The Minister said South Africa has the potential to lead the way in the global energy transition.
“We firmly believe that South Africa holds significant quantities of minerals needed for the transition from high carbon emissions to low carbon emissions, which informs the view that our mining industry is a sunrise industry,” he said.
Delving deeper into mining, Mantashe said over the past 30 years of democracy, government has done much work in transforming the industry.
“When we did research two years ago… we discovered that at the nine major mining companies that we studied, each one of them didn’t have less than 50% of the management structure being black. We did see that in procurement initiatives created, a lot of business people who are not necessarily seen as part of the mining sector but who have developed on the back of mining.
“If you talk coal, only one major company is white, the majority of them are black. In the manganese sector… black ownership in mining companies is a long list. In gold…ARM is dominant, Harmony is dominant. In the PGMs [platinum group metals] …[there is] black ownership. If you look at all these companies, you can see that there is practical progress being made,” Mantashe said.
He said for the sector to continue growing, exploration is needed.
“Cognisant of the fact that mines are born out of exploration, we have just launched an exploration fund. It is important that we invest in exploration so that the future of this very important sector continues to be bright,” Mantashe said.