News South Africa: Today’s latest news and headlines, Friday 16...

South Africa: Today’s latest news and headlines, Friday 16 October

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Never miss a beat when it comes to the latest news in South Africa, be sure to check out what’s making headlines on Friday 16 October.

As the Free State province braces for impact associated with rising tensions around farm murders and subsequent political antagonism which has drawn clear battle lines in the sands of Senekal, President Cyril Ramaphosa has unveiled a post-pandemic economic recovery plan which focuses on job creation through massive public works programmes. In sports news, the Springboks, unable to clear lockdown-induced ‘hurdles’, withdraw from the Rugby Championship throwing already-decided fixtures into disarray.

TODAY’S LATEST NEWS IN SOUTH AFRICA, FRIDAY 16 OCTOBER

Senekal ‘showdown’ has police and protesters on high alert

The small town of Senekal in the Free State is set for a chaotic showdown as two men accused of killing 21-year-old farm manager Brendin Horner make their second appearance in court. The pair’s first arraignment was met with protest action, spearheaded by fed-up farmers, which soon spiralled out of control and led to the destruction of public property.

The clashes between police and farmers sent shockwaves through the country, with political adversaries picking clearly defined sides and, in the process, adding fuel to the deeply divisive fire.

On the one hand, the Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus), AfriForum and the Democratic Alliance (DA) — in conjunction with several agricultural and rural safety organisations — threw their weight behind the farmers’ plight.

Police Minister Bheki Cele, who recently visited the area in an attempt to quell tensions, Justice Minister Ronald Lamola and the ruling African National Congress (ANC) condemned the farmers’ protest action and called for immediate arrests. Local businessman, Andre Pienaar, was subsequently arrested and charged with attempted murder, malicious damage to property and public violence. The court’s decision to deny Pienaar bail — which is being challenged by an appeal – caused further outrage among members of the farming community.

Leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Julius Malema, has vowed to attend today’s court case and has assembled a contingent of ‘Ground Forces’ who promise to ‘defend democracy’. On the eve of the hearing, Malema explained that he would ‘lead from the front’ and conduct ‘civil arrests’ of farmers who dared to challenge the rule of law, saying:

“If going to Senekal will cause a civil war, if a man exercises his constitutional rights that will lead to a civil war, so be it.

We are not going to live in fear because white farmers are former generals.”

A heavy police presence — ordered by Minister Bheki Cele — has been deployed to Senekal to keep both factions separated in an attempt to mitigate confrontation. It’s reported that, due to the powder keg of raw emotion and threats of violence, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) would be on stand-by to assist police in the event clashes between farmers — and their respective supporters — and members of the EFF.

Malema’s comments on the farmers’ previous protests – whereby the EFF leader posted images of a machine gun with the caption “I’m ready” – have been reported to Parliament’s Ethics Committee  for ‘inviting violence’. Additionally, the DA has laid criminal charges against Malema and EFF MP Nazier Paulsen.

Ramaphosa extends R350 Social Relief of Distress grant

President Ramaphosa, during his presentation of South Africa’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan to Parliament on Thursday, confirmed that the special Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant — which has afforded unemployed South Africans a R350 reprieve during the devastating lockdown period —  will be extended for a further three months.

This coincides with government’s decision to extend the National State of Disaster in order to adequately prepare for a potential ‘second wave’ of infections. Prior to the president’s announcement, millions of desperate South Africans feared that the SRD grant would expire in October in accordance with initial guidelines ratified by the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC).

Ramaphosa, who added that the SRD grant had benefitted more than 6 million South Africans during the hardest levels of lockdown, explained that the financial relief scheme’s extension would act as a buffer while government implemented sustainable aspects of the economic recovery plan, saying:

“Studies have shown that these grants were vital in reducing the impact of the pandemic on levels of poverty and hunger.

As these and other recovery measures are being rolled out, we need to do everything in our means to provide support to those in society who continue to face hunger and distress.

We will therefore be extending the Special COVID-19 Grant by a further three months.

This will maintain a temporary expansion of social protection and allow the labour market sufficient time to recover.”

The focus of Ramaphosa’s Economic Recovery Plan was firmly on job creation, with the president vowing to create 800 000 employment opportunities through public works programmes including construction, community healthcare and education.

Revitalised infrastructure schemes, the push towards renewable energy and the fight against corruption all feature prominently in the president’s Economic Recovery Plan.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has been dealt yet another legal blow, this time by the High Court which dismissed a report on the Financial Services Board. The High Court labelled the Public Protector’s report ‘unconstitutional and unlawful’; terms which have been associated with Mkhwebane’s work on several previous occasions.

The latest setback comes at a critical time for Mkhwebane, who has been locked in a battle to prevent Parliament from moving ahead with removal proceedings. Shortly before the High Court delivered its verdict on the flawed Financial Services Board report, National Assembly Secretary Masibulele Xaso confirmed that a panel had been selected to deliberate Mkhwebane’s future.

Xaso noted that the three-member panel will begin its deliberation on 1 November and has exactly one month to reach a decision.

Last week, the Western Cape High Court dismissed Mkhwebane’s application to halt the parliamentary process.

Mboweni’s application to delay Medium-Term Budget speech granted

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni will have an extra week to prepare for the delivery of the pivotal Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS). Mboweni approached the speaker of Parliament earlier this week, indicating that the president’s final presentation of the Economic Recovery Plan would need to be factored into his own address.

The initial MTBPS was scheduled to take place on Wednesday 21 October and has now been postponed to 28 October.

Building on Ramaphosa’s Economic Recovery Plan, Mboweni’s MTBPS is expected to deal extensively with urgent job creation, flailing state owned enterprises, increased taxes to support social relief efforts and National Treasury processes aimed at limiting corruption within the public sector.

Mboweni is also expected to announce cuts to the bloated public wage bill, a call which will undoubtedly infuriate trade unions and vital partners of the ruling ANC.

Agrizzi’s jail stay cut short, transferred to hospital less than 24 hours in

After being denied bail by the Palm Ridge Commercial Crimes Court on Wednesday afternoon, former Bosasa Chief Operations Officer, Angelo Agrizzi, was remanded in custody while awaiting his trial date. Agrizzi’s legal defence argued, unsuccessfully, that the former Bosasa bigwig should be granted leniency because of severe health complications and his cooperation with the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.

Less than 24 hours into his jail stay, Agrizzi, who arrived at court with a portable oxygen tank, was rushed from Johannesburg Prison to hospital.

Spokesperson for the Department of Correctional Services, Singabakho Nxumalo, confirmed Agrizzi’s urgent transfer and noted that his condition ‘would be monitored’.

Agrizzi stands accused of corruption alongside former ANC MP Vincent Smith.

Springboks withdraw from Rugby Championship, upset fixtures and fans

The 2020 Rugby Championship will be played without defending champions, the Springboks, after SA Rugby announced its withdrawal from the competition due to coronavirus-induced complications.

The latest development comes after a protracted period of back-and-forth between SA Rugby and SANZAAR, the southern hemisphere’s rugby governing body. SAANZAR released a list of fixtures which included the Springboks who were due to kick-off against Argentina in Brisbane on 7 November.

The fixtures will now need to be revised which has far-reaching consequences for the competition.

MTN8: Prize money, previous winners, fixtures and predictions

The 2020/21 PSL campaign gets underway this weekend with the annual MTN8 competition. The top eight teams from last season’s league campaign will be pitted together for a shot at the first piece of silverware of the season.

The tournament follows a consistent seeding format each year with first taking on eighth, second taking on seventh, third taking on sixth and fourth taking on fifth in the MTN8 quarterfinals.

Newcomers Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila get the action underway on Saturday afternoon against the defending MTN8 Champions SuperSport United before Orlando Pirates host Cape Town City FC in the evening.

Kaizer Chiefs host Maritzburg United on Sunday afternoon before Mamelodi Sundowns and Bloemfontein Celtic complete the MTN8 quarterfinal round on Sunday evening.

Find out more about the MTN8, here.

LATEST WEATHER FORECAST, Friday 16 OCTOBER

Take a look at weather forecasts for all nine provinces here.

LIVE TRAFFIC UPDATES FOR CAPE TOWN, JOHANNESBURG AND DURBAN

Stay one step ahead of the traffic by viewing our live traffic updates here.

HOROSCOPE TODAY

Free daily horoscope, celeb gossip and lucky numbers for Friday 16 October.

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