Daily Archives: March 23, 2018

Environmental Affairs on Avian Influenza outbreak affecting several seabird species

Avian Influenza outbreak on seabirds

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), together with all relevant management authorities, is managing seabird colonies and stringent biosecurity measures are being implemented at the various seabird rehabilitation centres, captive institutions and known breeding localities to address the spread of the H5N8 strain of the Avian Influenza that is affecting several seabird species, such as, Swift terns, African Penguins and Cape Gannets, across the country’s coastline. The Swift terns seems to be most affected than many other species.

In an effort to manage the spread of avian influenza, a decision was taken to halt all the research activities involving the handling of seabirds. This highly pathogenic H5N8 avian influenza is the same strain reported in the poultry industry in 2017. This strain of bird flu has not been found to affect people, as was confirmed through testing of people in contact with infected chickens in South Africa in 2017. However, bird flu viruses can in rare cases cause infections in humans. Thus, strict biosecurity measures should be enforced and precautions should be taken when handling affected seabirds.

Wild birds are carriers of the disease and are able to carry the disease through flyways. In seabirds, the disease is spread through direct contact between healthy and infected birds. Most seabird species live in colonies, and may contract the disease from each other, or through indirect contact with contaminated equipment or other materials. The current outbreak adds further pressure to already declining seabird populations. Processes are in place to ensure extended surveillance of infected seabirds.

The Department will exercise even stricter precautions and stringent biosecurity measures during the preparation of the voyage to Marion Island (April 2018).

Members of the public are urged to exercise caution when approaching seabirds, especially found along the beach as well as when visiting seabird colonies. Sick seabirds should be reported to the nearest local veterinarian, conservation authority or to a permitted seabird rehabilitation centres.

Source: Government of South Africa

SA, Norway to strengthen relations

South Africa and Norway will meet today to discuss ways to strengthen their bilateral relations.

International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Luwellyn Landers and his Norwegian counterpart, Secretary-General Marienne Hagen, will meet in Tshwane.

The High Level Committee will give the Deputy Minister the opportunity to discuss with his counterpart matters of mutual interest which will benefit both countries.

South Africa and Norway have sought to deepen co-operation in areas such as the maritime sector, alternative and renewable energy, environmental protection, science and technology and skills development, DIRCO said on Friday.

The High Level Consultation meeting takes place within the framework of the 1996 Memorandum of Understanding on Bilateral Political Consultations between the two countries.

South Africa and Norway have developed a close relationship dating back to the early struggle years when Norway became an active supporter of organised resistance against the apartheid regime.

In the 1990s, a new era of cooperation in higher education and research was initiated, both bilaterally and multilaterally, including a number of joint projects between South African and Norwegian higher education institutions.

From 2002, through 2017, a series of bilateral research cooperation programmes have provided support for 86 joint research projects. The fourth program in this series is the SANOCEAN, which will start in 2018 and run through 2023.

According to the Norwegian consulate in Tshwane, the goal of the SANOCEAN project is to enhance the knowledge-base for policies and decisions for sustainable development in the areas of oceans and blue economy, environment – with emphasis on oceans and pollution, climate change and sustainable energy in South Africa and Norway.

South Africa and Norway have also been conducting annual high-level bilateral consultations to identify areas of common political and economic interest.

Following the launch of Operation Phakisa, South Africa and Norway re-confirmed their mutual interest in exploring opportunities for development of ocean space and the blue economy, including the maritime sector, marine resources and aquaculture.

The two countries have further agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation on the environment and to explore opportunities in the area of renewable energies.

Source: South African Government News Agency

Gauteng Provincial Commissioner welcomes the sentencing of killers of two Sandringham police officers

The Gauteng Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant General Deliwe de Lange has welcomed the sentencing of the two accused, Sandile Nyathikazi and Nhlanhleni Nzama, who murdered two Sandringham Police officers on the N3 South Highway, on Sunday 26 March 2015 at about 11:05. They were sentenced to two life imprisonment each for murder, 20 years for the murder of their accomplice and a further 55 years for attempted murder of another police officer, robbery with aggravating circumstances and possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition. During the sentencing, the Honourable presiding Judge Mokgoatleng commented that he is surprised by the manner in which members were shot at where almost 90 cartridges of assault rifles and over 50 catridges of pistols were found on the scene.

The incident took place when three Sandringham members, Constables Mthokozisi Myeza (29) and Casey Mafokoane (36) who died and constable Mafanele who was shot and wounded, spotted a silver BMW with five passengers that ignored a signal to stop along London Road in Alexandra. They pursued the vehicle until it joined the N3 south Highway. When the BMW came into a sudden halt, the occupants started shooting at the police officers and police also returned fire. In the process, another vehicle, a gold Mercedes Benz, also stopped behind the officers’ vehicle and shot at them. Myeza was fatally shot. Mafokoane and Mafanele were shot and wounded but Mafokoane died on his arrival at the hospital due to multiple wounds. Constable Mafanele was admitted at Milpark Hospital where he undergone three operations and survived. One of the suspects was also shot and killed at the scene.

A team tasked with investigation later arrested two men, Nyathikazi and Nzama. Their trial started at the South Gauteng High Court during March 2017 whereby 40 witnesses testified until the accused were convicted on 13 counts during March 2018. On the 22 of March they were both sentenced.

We are appealing to the members of the community not to fold their hands and let armed criminals run around victimising innocent citizens of this province. Our dedicated teams of police officers are out everyday to put the criminals where they belong-they must all rot in prison. Those who continue rob the community of service delivery by killing our police officers will be hunted down in order to spend their lives in prison, says the Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant General Deliwe de Lange.

Source: South African Police Service

CGE Briefs Committee on Its Submission on Traditional Courts Bill

Parliament�The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) briefed the Portfolio Committee on Women in the Presidency on its written submission regarding the Traditional Courts Bill.

The committee noted the following:

Having a core mandate that pertains directly to women, the committee reiterates the importance that the rights of women that are protected, promoted and fulfilled within the development of legislation. This must include proper public participation.

Having undertaken oversight in various provinces and engaged with several Government Departments, entities and institutions including the CGE, the committee acknowledges the extent to which women, widows, women with disabilities and young girls are discriminated against particularly in rural areas. To this end, it is imperative that any law being developed should ensure that women are not discriminated against.

Acknowledges the extensive and broad consultation undertaken by the CGE on the Traditional Courts Bill.

It is imperative that the Traditional Courts Bill, ensures that the Constitutional rights of women and children are respected, not violated and that treaty provisions contained in the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Southern African Development Community (SADC) gender protocol, United Nations Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child are adhered to and are given expression in domestic law. Thus the Bill serves as an opportunity to facilitate the empowerment of rural women.

Public participation of women and girls from rural areas on the Traditional Courts Bill is important and is encouraged. Given the lack of knowledge on women’s rights and children’s rights it is equally important that education initiatives are implemented alongside engagement with women in rural areas on the Bill to ensure active and meaningful participation.

The committee is in full support of the Opt out option that the Bill currently provides for persons who choose not to participate in a matter concerning him/her before a traditional court and instead choose to deal with the matter within another court given that customary law is premised on the principle spirit of voluntary affiliation as stated in the Preamble to the Bill.

The committee reiterates the importance of the representation of women within the processes and procedures as it relates to the Institution of proceedings in traditional courts and the Composition of and participation in traditional courts.

The committee noted with concern the provisions currently outlined in Schedule 2 particularly subsection (c) and (g) as this is not clear in terms of synergy with existing legislation that deals with gender based violence, customary marriage and legislation relating to the protection of children’s rights as outlined in the Children’s Act and the Child Justice Act. Moreover, the committee was made aware of the work currently undertaken by the CGE with the South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) on forced child marriages as a means of addressing ukuthwala. Similarly, the Committee reaffirms that all matters related to gender based violence be dealt with in terms of the applicable legislation for example the Domestic Violence Act and Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act. To this end, the reference to advice in Schedule 2 of the Bill is thus problematic if not clearly defined to ensure that women and children’s rights are not infringed.

The committee commends the progressive provision in the Bill that enables the CGE to monitor and evaluate traditional courts. However, given the financial implications and constraints faced by the Commission it would be imperative that the Bill is adequately costed to ensure that the CGE is able to monitor, evaluate and report on traditional courts effectively.

Source: Parliament of the Republic of South Africa

HEFTY JAIL TERMS IMPOSED ON FIVE SOUTH AFRICAN ABALONE SMUGGLERS WELCOMED

CAPE TOWN–The Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation of the South African police, better known as the Hawks, in Western Cape province has welcomed the hefty sentences imposed on five suspects who operated an illegal abalone enterprise.

The members of the syndicate were sentenced by the Cape Town High Court on Monday. Steven Phillip Muller, Willie van Rensburg , Gavin Wildschutt , Tony Du Toit and Johannes Liebenberg were found guilty on numerous charges, including contravention of the Marine Living Resources Act as well as the Prevention of Organized Crime Act (POCA).

The Hawks’ intelligence-driven investigation exposed their export companies which were dealing with illegally harvested abalone concealed in containers and shipped to China. Various places were raided and abalone worth more than 21 million Rand (about 1.77 million US dollars) was seized and 18 suspects were arrested and brought to Court.

Wildschutt and Du Toit were sentenced to 15 years imprisonment on POCA and other charges such as contravention of the Marine Living Resources Act 18/1998, Van Rensburg was sentenced to eight years imprisonment, while Muller was sentenced to four years imprisonment. Liebenberg was sentenced to one year imprisonment on one count of contravention of the Marine Living Resources Act 8/1998 which was wholly suspended with stringent conditions.

During the court processes, one of the suspects linked to the syndicate died, three absconded and warrants of arrest have been issued. The other six suspects, who were workers of these entities, entered into plea agreements and were all given suspended sentences while three were found not guilty and released.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK