The Department of Basic Education has cautioned the public of fake social media posts that suggest that some matric examination question papers have been leaked.
“The posts are fake, misleading and seek to cause unnecessary confusion and panic. The examinations are proceeding well without any major incidents reported.
“The department wishes to reassure the National Senior Certificate candidates, their parents and guardians and members of the public that there have been no examination paper leaks nor an announcement about any rewrite of any papers whatsoever,” the department said in a statement.
The department said the Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga has made no such announcement about any incident related to examinations, adding that the social media posts are a pure fabrication and malicious.
“The department can confirm that week three of the NSC exams concludes today and, since the start of the examinations, no serious irregularities have occurred.
“This implies that the measures put in place to secure the examinations are working well thus far. A total of 136 of the 231 question papers have already been written and today is day 15 of the 28-day examination period,” the department said.
The department thanked those involved in the examinations and further urged learners to continue to apply their minds with diligence to this all-important examination and not to be distracted.
A 31-year-old police constable has become the first woman to complete the South African Police Service (SAPS) Special Task Force (STF) Selection Training Programme in the history of the organisation.
SAPS spokesperson, Brigadier Athlenda Mathe, said the member – with 11 years’ service – was regarded as the only female police officer to have successfully completed the STF training programme without any amendments to the training to suite females.
“She is also the only female police officer that is currently serving in the STF unit as an operational member,” said Mathe.
On Thursday, the member formed part of a platoon of 10 male police officers, who were bestowed with their STF Parachute Wings by the National Commissioner of the SAPS, General Fannie Masemola.
The Special Task Force Parachute Wings are awarded to members who have undergone and completed the STF Selection Training Programme.
“The STF Parachute Wings are worn on the left chest and signify that the recipient has been trained to a high level of skill in weapon proficiency, advanced para-military rural tactics, advanced tactical policing for high risk incidents, hostage release tactics in a variety of high risk incidents, as well as the ability to deploy operationally by parachute into rural environments,” she said.
Also standing on parade were an additional 10 STF members who were bestowed with their Operators Badge after undergoing a two-year probation period during which they were already serving as members of the elite unit.
The female police officer from the Western Cape, whose identity cannot be revealed for security reasons, says this momentous achievement must be a motivation for other women who continue to break barriers in male dominated environments.
“If you really want something, you must do everything to obtain it. I wanted to be part of the best , either the best or nothing. If I can do it, other women can and will be able to do it,” she said.
The Special Task Force is the only paramilitary unit in the SAPS and falls under the Specialised Operations Component, which is led by Major General Nonhlanhla Zulu. Together with other units and components, they report to the organisation’s first female Deputy National Commissioner, Lieutenant General Tebello Mosikili.
Masemola said the organisation will continue to empower and recognise women.
“Out of 906 applications to join this elite unit, 589 applicants qualified for provisional selection. Ultimately, only 93 applicants reported for selection, [and] only 11 successfully completed the STF Basic Training programme. Suffice to say, the 11 successful candidates, together with the currently serving 10 STF members, have done the organisation proud.
“All members on parade have shown dedication and commitment to their profession. The STF selection criteria is very stringent and those who are selected, must prove their mettle throughout their intensive and rigorous training,” he said.
The STF Unit was established in 1976. The unit’s mandate includes responding and providing operational support only to high-risk incidents, which include terrorism, hostage related incidents and rescue missions, amongst a host of other high risk matters.
The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) on Thursday granted Eskom an 18.65% tariff increase.
Eskom had requested a 32% tariff hike.
Announcing its decision, NERSA said the 18.65% increase was based on its approved tariff of 146.48c/kWh in the 2022/23 financial year.
“The NERSA-approved revenue is R334bn for the 2024/25 financial year, which translates to a tariff of 195.95c/kWh, resulting in a 12.74% increase based on the tariff of 173.80c/kWh NERSA approved tariff for the 2023/24 financial year.”
The decision, said NERSA, was “based on the information at its disposal and the analysis of Eskom’s fifth Multi-Year Price Determination (MYPD5) revenue application for the 2023/24 and 2024/5 financial years”.
NERSA spokesperson, Charles Hlebela, in a statement said: “The allowable revenues… must be recovered from both Eskom standard and non-standard tariff customers (Negotiated Pricing Agreements and international customers) based on the previously approved tariff principles and structures using the Eskom Retail Tariff Structural Adjustment (ERTSA) Methodology, as approved by NERSA.”
He said Eskom’s application for the 2023/24 financial year’s revenue was R351billion, including Regulatory Clearing Accounts (RCAs) and court orders.
“NERSA’s approved allowable revenue is R318 billion after considering adjustments for inefficiencies and prudency reviews.
“For the 2024/25 financial year, Eskom applied for revenue of R381 billion, including RCAs and government injection, as per the court order. The NERSA-approved revenue is R352 billion after considering adjustments for inefficiencies and factoring the RCA as per the Energy Regulator decision of 14 December 2022,” reads the statement.
NERSA approved a total revenue of R300 billion for the 2023/24 financial year, which translates to a tariff of 173.80c/kWh.
“The NERSA-approved revenue is R334 billion for the 2024/25 financial year, which translates to a tariff of 195.95c/kWh, resulting in a 12.74% increase based on the tariff of 173.80c/kWh NERSA approved tariff for the 2023/24 financial year,” the regulator said.
The Energy Regulator said it would consider the ERTSA for the 2023/24 financial year following the submission of an application by Eskom.
It said it would subject all customer costs to further extensive prudency reviews, efficiency tests and performance thresholds.
The Energy Regulator said it made its decisions after conducting the due regulatory process, which included publishing Eskom’s revenue application and inviting written comments from stakeholders. It also conducted public hearings to solicit comments from interested and affected stakeholders.
“As a result, NERSA received approximately 2000 written comments from stakeholders, who raised concerns about affordability.
“It is important to note that Eskom’s revenue application for the 2023/24 and 2024/25 financial years was considered against various challenges that are affecting the South African economy. Accordingly, the Energy Regulator’s decision provides a balance between the sustainability of Eskom and the economic well-being of the consumers and the economy,” it said.
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala says the provincial government is redoubling efforts to provide water and other basic services including electricity, sanitation, roads and internet access.
Zikalala was addressing scores of community members during an engagement at Mzwandile Mhlawuli Sportfield in uMzumkhulu.
The Premier launched a water master plan and borehole intervention programme aimed at alleviating water shortage in rural communities.
On Tuesday, Zikalala inspected and commissioned a borehole at KwaSkeyi, a rural community in Highflats. The Premier also drank the clean water flowing out of the borehole during the launch of the province’s Water Master Plan and Borehole Intervention Programme.
The provincial government said the water master plan spells out the water related challenges and outlines the short, medium- and long-term solutions.
As part of the medium-term measures, the provincial government – through the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs – has built 250 boreholes in six districts, namely Amajuba, uMkhanyakude, Zululand, uMzinyathi, uThukela and Harry Gwala.
“We are pleased that the launch of these production boreholes and production pumps occurs as we conclude Public Service Month and Heritage Month. This is a testament to government’s commitment to fulfil the constitutionally enshrined right to water, which is guaranteed in our Bill of Rights.”
Zikalala said government has a keen interest in ensuring that everyone, especially those in rural communities, also taste the full benefits of freedom by ensuring that they receive basic services like water and decent sanitation.
“Water is life. It is a precious resource we cannot survive without. We cannot grow the economy and create employment without it. It is necessary for agriculture and is always at the heart of economic development. With the advent of COVID-19, we also saw water becoming central in fighting the pandemic, which first announced itself in KwaZulu-Natal in March 2020 (sic).
“Our prevention strategy for arresting the spread of the infectious virus has been based on strict hand hygiene by washing hands regularly,” Zikalala said.
Other major water projects in KwaZulu-Natal include the uMshwathi Bulk Water Scheme (BWS) launched in November 2020 at a cost of R500 million; the Lower uMkhomazi BWS, Umgeni Water, which is estimated to be completed in 2023; the Cwabeni Project, which will be completed in 2022, and Stephen Dlamini Dam, estimated to be completed in 2023.
Zikalala said once completely developed, the uMkhomazi Water Project will be the largest water transfer scheme in South Africa, at an estimated total cost of R23 billion.
“The water master plan is one of the clearest indications by our government of our commitment to building better communities by delivery that is tangible, demonstrable and measurable. This provincial water master plan lays out all the facets of that requirement and will be a test of our mission to build a capable developmental State, which adequately addresses the needs of our people in its delivery of quality, sustainable services. The plan will require no less than R150 billion in the next 10 to 15 years,” the Premier said.
Zikalala was joined by the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Ravi Pillay; MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development, Bongi Sithole-Moloi; MEC for Social Development, Nonhlanhla Khoza; MEC for Health, Nomagugu Simelane; MEC for Human Settlements and Public Works, Jomo Sibiya; Provincial House of Traditional Leaders chairperson, Inkosi Phathisizwe Chiliza and local leadership.
Retired Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo will chair the no-fault compensation fund, as the country gears up for the mass COVID-19 vaccine rollout programme.
Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, made the announcement in Parliament on Wednesday.
Mkhize believes that the fund will give the country an opportunity to implement the vaccine adverse events compensation scheme at the same time South Africa is expected to vaccinate its citizens next week.
He said this guarantees that every citizen’s rights are fully protected during the inoculation process and that there is sufficient recourse should those vaccinated experience damages.
In the structure of the fund, Mkhize said there has been no undertaking by any manufacturers to contribute, and this it will mainly be a government-funded exercise.
“Retired Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo has graciously agreed to assist us with the mammoth task of chairing the first of its kind fund,” said Mkhize.
He said Judge Ngcobo’s extensive experience as a jurist, including having headed the highest court in the land – the Constitutional Court – and his recent experience in health-related complexities, such as the Health Market Inquiry chair ,makes him an ideal candidate.
“He will able to oversee all claims and uphold the principles of fairness, transparency, equity and constitutional rights of our citizens,” said Mkhize.
The Minister said the fund is another indication of government’s preparedness that whilst the State has fully indemnified manufacturers against any third party claims, it also has sufficient mechanisms to protect citizens.
According to Mkhize, the Health Department has procured 31 million vaccines from Johnson & Johnson (J&J).
“An initial agreement for 11 million vaccines was signed and the initial purchase price was paid.”
He said the agreement included an option for the department to secure an additional 20 million vaccines.
While the conditions of the first agreement have been met, the multinational corporation put a precondition for no-fault compensation regulations to be published by 30 April 2021 for their second agreement.
“This condition has also been made by Pfizer as well,” Mkhize said.
The Minister said the National Coronavirus Command (NCCC) has since accepted the recommendation for the draft regulations to be published for public comments in relations to the no-fault compensation fund.
“This will take a period of about five days and we recognise that this period is shorter than the usual processes that has been used for public consultation that is followed by Parliament.”
In the meantime, Mkhize said public comments will be processed to formally gazette the final regulations by 22 April 2021.
“We intend for the no-fault compensation fund to be independent, and have the credibility and skill that is required.”
Meanwhile, South Africa has suspended the rollout of the J&J COVID-19 vaccine as a precautionary measure and a final decision is expected soon.
This comes after the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) paused the rollout of the vaccine following reports of a rare clotting condition in six people out of 6.8 million doses administered.
Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Barbara Creecy has noted the decision by the North Gauteng High Court to set aside the environmental authorisation for the Thabametsi power station.
The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries will abide by the order of the court and refer the application for an environmental authorisation back to the Chief Director: Integrated Environmental Authorisations for review and decision.
Environmental Authorisation for the Thabametsi power station in Limpopo was reviewed by order of the High Court in 2017 with a revised decision being issued by the Department in January 2018.
“The Department is committed to ensuring that the Constitutional rights of South Africans to an environment that is not harmful to health and well-being are always taken into consideration, while ensuring that economic growth is not hampered. South Africa has adopted the National Development Plan (NDP), which maps out the vision of the country for the 20 years ahead,” the Department said on Wednesday.
This includes the transition to a lower carbon economy and climate resilient society in line with the overarching principle of sustainable development, which is the cornerstone of the NDP’s Vision 2030.
Gauteng Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation MEC, Mbali Hlophe, has held an urgent virtual meeting with stakeholders in the arts fraternity following grievances and concerns over the implementation of government’s relief fund.
The concerns, which were contained in a circulating audio clip, were followed by an email from SAACYF Gauteng and other organisations in the sector.
In a statement, the department said the development comes amid the MEC’s weeklong provincial drive, encouraging individuals within the sector to apply for the second wave of the relief fund.
Among the concerns and grievances of artists were issues of outstanding payments to successful applicants for the first phase of the relief funds, as well as the list of successful organisations and individuals.
“The MEC explained the process undertaken and further highlighted the fact that the department had to comply with government regulations in the disbursement of funds, including verification of the award process by auditors,” reads the statement.
Engagements, said the department, have resolved on several issues aimed at addressing a stalemate on progress regarding the first phase of the relief funds. These include the department working closely with the structures in the arts sector on matters of mutual interest.
The art sector has been mandated with assisting the department with the mobilisation of artists to attend the roadshows.
“The department will effect payments to qualifying beneficiaries of the first phase upon finalisation of all processes,” reads the statement.
A follow-up meeting is to be held with the department before month end to discuss the grants in aid and online applications.
The second phase is earmarked for individuals running programmes within the sector of sport, arts, culture and creative industries, also targeting those at local and community levels.
“I am happy about the outcome of our meeting. It brought to the fore the urgency within which the matters in this sector should be addressed,” said Hlophe.
“Working with stakeholders in the sector, we will simplify the process, enable and facilitate wider reach and access without in anyway or whatsoever floating government regulations.”
The Cultural and Creative Industries Federation of SA (CCIFSA) Gauteng said in the statement that it appreciated Hlophe’s swift response in dealing with the sector’s concerns.
Lesiba Mothoa, the Gauteng Provincial Coordinator, said: “We believe that the DSACR [Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation] leadership team brought by the MEC to meet artist leaders responded adequately to the challenges presented by the creatives and made firm commitments to resolve most of the critical concerns.
“We therefore support the drive by the MEC, with the support of other sector leaders and organisatios, to go into Gauteng regions to ensure that more artists are assisted with all the information needed to ensure that they access the funds allocated for the 2nd COVID-19 Relief funding,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hlophe has held successful roadshows and engaged with stakeholders in the sector in the four corridors of the province: Ekurhuleni, West, North and South.
The Western Cape Department of Education (WCDE) is doing everything it can to see that Grade 12 learners in the province finish their matric year.
The department has since launched a campaign focusing on the ‘Future You’ and with matriculants thanking their younger selves for making the right choice to complete their studies.
“Using the AE Face Tool, we filmed three Grade 12 learners from Parel Vallei High School and transformed their faces into older-looking versions of themselves.
“This allowed their future selves to thank their younger selves for choosing to finish their matric year,” the Western Cape MEC of Education, Debbie Schäfer, explained.
The department has also designed a website where Grade 12s can pledge to #CommitToFinish and access various learning resources.
“The learner will receive a notification of their commitment and will encourage them to get their fellow learners to do the same.”
The campaign has been launched on various social media platforms, billboards and directly to candidates via SMS and emails to schools.
Learners will also personally receive an examination support booklet, which will inspire them to soldier on.
The booklet provides advice on the examination, bursary options and support networks, as well as old exam papers for eight high-enrolment subjects.
According to Schäfer, the experience has shown that some learners become despondent at the end of the year, following their trial exams and may decide to drop out.
“This year has certainly been a tumultuous year for our Grade 12 learners and their teachers. Despite the disruptive school year, they have shown true grit and determination. They have shown how resilient they are and I am extremely proud of them,” Schäfer said.
Continuous learning, even during level 5 restrictions, has been reassuring, even though the country is still battling with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Teachers, learners and subject advisors communicated via various social media platforms.
“Learners took the initiative and began self-learning at home, and the use of alternative resources for learning and revision, through our e-portal and website, increased significantly,” said Schäfer.
She said the Class of 2020 is determined and the department is supporting them all the way.
“While matric attendance at schools is at 90%, we do not want to see learners dropping out or self-doubt creeping in.
“These learners have worked so hard for the past 12 years to reach this point and we want to support them to finish their matric year.”
Schäfer believes that the choice will change their life and the life of those around them.
“Hence the campaign line, ‘You will thank yourself later!’”
Grade 12s from the Western Cape can go to www.CommitToFinish.co.za to pledge their commitment to finish the academic year.
Following recent posts on social media alleging incidents of human trafficking, the National Police Commissioner, General Khehla Sitole, has appealed to anyone with information on these crimes to contact the South African Police Service (SAPS).
“We are appealing to anyone who may have information on these crime categories, preferably before they are committed, to contact the SAPS on our Crime Stop number 086 00 10111. Information may also be communicated via the MySAPS App, an application which can be downloaded on any iPhone or Android.
“All information will be treated with strictest confidence and callers may remain anonymous,” he said.
In light of the social media posts, Sitole highlighted the seriousness with which human trafficking and other closely related crimes are dealt with by SAPS and specialised units such as the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) and the Family Violence Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit (FCS).
Just last week a video surfaced on social media of an incident that occurred on 10 September 2020 of a man who tried to grab a four-year-old girl while under the watchful eye of her mother at a pizza shop in Florida, Johannesburg.
The SAPS said while the suspect was charged with assault and intent to cause grievous bodily harm, the incident was not a case of human trafficking but served as a stark reminder of the realities of these type of crimes.
He called for a collective approach to be adopted to ensure that not a single person, man, woman or child becomes a victim of this crime.
“We have had sporadic reports in the past of young people, especially females that were allegedly lured away from their homes on the promise of lucrative jobs only to find themselves being trafficked for sex,” said the Commissioner.
The cases of kidnappings, abductions and missing persons are also areas of serious concern to the South African Police Service.
To deal decisively with such cases, the SAPS together with other government departments have put both proactive and reactive interventions in place.
“Each of these crimes are committed under different circumstances and with different motivations.
“Persons may be reported missing following a crime that may have been committed like murder, kidnapping, abduction or the missing person may have just simply run away from home. Whatever the circumstances, such must be reported immediately to the police and there is no waiting period for such a matter to get reported,” urged Sitole.
A person is deemed kidnapped if such a person is removed against his or her consent and deprived of his or her freedom of movement for ransom.
In the case of abduction, a person is deemed abducted if such a person is removed from the custody of his or her parents for the purpose of marriage or sexual intercourse.
However, if such a person is under the age of 16 then the act of sexual intercourse would constitute rape.