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One quarter of Gaza’s people one step away from famine

Reading Time: 2 minutes At least 576 000 people in the Gaza Strip, one-quarter of the population, are one step away from famine, a senior UN aid official told the Security Council on Tuesday, warning that widespread famine could be “almost inevitable” without action. “Very little will be possible while hostilities continue and while there is a risk that they will spread into the overcrowded areas in the south of Gaza. We therefore reiterate our call for a ceasefire,” said Ramesh Rajasingham, coordination director of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. One in six children under age two in northern Gaza suffers from acute malnutrition and wasting and practically all the 2.3 million people in the Palestinian enclave rely on “woefully inadequate” food aid to survive, he told the Security Council. Rajasingham said the UN and aid groups face “overwhelming obstacles just to get a bare minimum of supplies into Gaza.” These include crossing closures, restrictions on movement and communication, onerous vetting procedures, unrest, damaged roads and unexploded ordnance, he said. Israel is committed to improving the humanitarian situation in Gaza, said Israel’s deputy UN Ambassador Jonathan Miller, adding that the limitations on the quantity and pace of aid are dependent on the capacity of the UN and other agencies. “Israel has been clear in its policies. There is absolutely no limit, and I repeat, there is no limit to the amount of humanitarian aid that can be sent to the civilian population of Gaza,” Miller told the Security Council. WHO warns of famine in Gaza: ‘ISRAEL MUST DO MORE’ The US urged its ally Israel to keep border crossings open for humanitarian aid deliveries to Gaza and to facilitate the opening of more crossings, Deputy US Ambassador to the UN Robert Wood told the Security Council. “Simply put, Israel must do more,” he said. “We continue to call on Israel to improve deconfliction procedures to ensure aid can move safely and securely.” The World Food Programme “is ready to swiftly expand and scale up our operations if there is a ceasefire agreement,” WFP Deputy Executive Director Carl Skau told the Security Council. “But in the meantime, the risk of famine is being fueled by the inability to bring critical food supplies into Gaza in sufficient quantities, and the almost impossible operating conditions faced by our staff on the ground,” Skau said. The war in Gaza began when Hamas fighters attacked Israel on October 7, killing around 1 200 people and seizing 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies. Israel’s air and ground campaign in Gaza has since killed around 30 000 Palestinians, health authorities in the Hamas-run enclave say. “Starvation as a method of warfare is illegal and Guyana condemns those who are deliberately using this as a tool against the population in Gaza,” Guyana’s UN Ambassador Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett told the 15-member council. Israel’s campaign in Gaza “is a collective punishment for the Palestinian civilian people,” Algeria’s UN Ambassador Amar Bendjama told the Security Council. “Our silence grants a licence to kill and to starve the Palestinian population.” Israel-Gaza War | ‘There’s no safe place in Rafah anymore’

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Motus reports economic downturn impacting vehicle sales

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IEC Western Cape hosts workshop for organisations ahead of elections

Reading Time: < 1 minute The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in the Western Cape is set to conduct a workshop aimed at empowering various organisations in the region. The workshop, to be hosted by IEC Provincial Electoral Officer Michael Hendrickse in Cape Town, will bring together NGOs and religious bodies. Hendrickse outlined that the workshop will cover several topics, providing participating organisations with knowledge and insights into electoral processes and related issues leading up to the upcoming election on May 29, 2024. The discussions will encompass the impact of legislative amendments, the inclusion of independents as candidates, the three ballot papers, and the rollout of balloting education, including special votes. The workshop aims to facilitate awareness and information sharing on these topics among members of the participating organisations. For the first time in the general elections, voters will be given three ballot papers where they will choose their preferred political party and candidate of choice. Independent candidates will for the first time contest for a seat in the National Assembly. Candidates will compete for a spot in the 400-seat National Assembly and be allocated through a proportional system. 200 seats are reserved for the National list, contested only by political parties, and the remaining 200 seats are divided among the nine regions, contested by both independents and parties. This year’s election coincides with South Africa’s 30 years of democracy. IEC is satisfied with the outcome of the second voter registration weekend

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Ekurhuleni commissions backup generators to address water woes

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The Electoral Amendment Act will have financial implications: IEC

Reading Time: < 1 minute The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says besides dealing with budget cuts in an election year, they also have extra expenses flowing from the Electoral Amendment Act. The IEC’s officials appeared before Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee to among other things, discuss its budget and timetable for the 2024 general elections. The May 29 vote, will be the first that allows independent candidates to contest national and provincial elections. The commission’s Chief Financial Officer Dawn Mbatha says they are going into elections with a budget cut of R281 million and with the financial implications of the Electoral Amendment Act, such as the introduction of a third ballot paper. Mbatha says, “The projected longer ballot and this does have financial implications, also the impact of the longer ballot has an impact on electoral material like boxes and security seals. Also the increase of staff and increase expected in litigation.” VIDEO: IEC media briefing on state of readiness for 2024 general elections

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Gaza truce proposal: What we know so far

Mediators are rushing to finalise a new truce in war-torn Gaza.The truce is expected to last 42 days according to a proposal still to be finalised, said a source in Hamas.Around 250 hostages were taken during the Hamas attack, of whom 130 are still in Gaza, although some 31 are thought to be dead, Israel says. But less than two weeks before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan – frequently cited as the targeted deadline – the exact terms of a possible deal remain unclear. Sources describe a plan for a six-week halt in fighting and the release of scores of hostages and hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, as well as stepped up aid for besieged Gaza. Here is what we know about the proposed ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian militant movement Hamas whose 7 October attack set off the Gaza war. How long would it last? Biden, speaking to reporters on Monday, said an agreement “in principle” would last through Ramadan, which starts on 10 March or 11, depending on the lunar calendar. Qatar, which hosts Hamas’s political bureau, is “hopeful, not necessarily optimistic” for a deal before Ramadan as the situation “is still fluid on the ground”, a foreign ministry spokesperson said on Tuesday. The truce is expected to last 42 days according to a proposal still to be finalised, said a source in Hamas, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the subject. Hamas has been pressing for a permanent withdrawal of Israeli military forces from the Gaza Strip, and the source said the truce could potentially be “renewed”. Biden said Israel “would not engage in activities during Ramadan”, while the Hamas source said Israeli forces would withdraw “from cities and populated areas” in Gaza. That would allow some displaced Gazans to return to their homes, the Hamas source said, while noting that men between the ages of 18 and 50 would not be able to. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, has indicated Israel will stick to its goal of ultimately eliminating Hamas in response to the group’s unprecedented 7 October attack. The attack resulted in the deaths of around 1 160 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures. Israel’s military campaign has killed at least 29 878 people, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-ruled territory’s health ministry. Who would be released? The only previous truce in the war – which lasted for one week in November – saw the release of more than 100 hostages, including 80 Israelis, seized during the 7 October attack. Some 240 Palestinians jailed in Israel were also freed. READ | Qatar pushing for Gaza ‘pause’ before Ramadan: foreign ministry Around 250 hostages were taken during the Hamas attack, of whom 130 are still in Gaza, although some 31 are thought to be dead, Israel says. Under the proposal for a new truce, the Hamas source said, the group would release 42 Israelis – women and children under 18 years of age along with sick and elderly people. Palestinian prisoners would be released in exchange at a 10-to-one ratio, the source said. What would it mean for aid? Mounting international pressure for a new truce comes amid dire warnings about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and concern about an expected Israeli invasion of far-southern Rafah. Netanyahu has warned that any truce deal would merely delay, not prevent, a ground invasion of Rafah, where around 1.5 million Palestinians have sought refuge. The latest truce proposal envisions between 400 and 500 aid trucks entering Gaza each day, the Hamas source said. That would be up from an average of just over 100 trucks per day in recent weeks, according to Amnesty International. The truce period would also see efforts to bring hospitals, bakeries and water stations back online, the Hamas source said. Israel’s Channel 12 has reported that Mossad chief David Barnea told the cabinet that a failure to increase humanitarian aid would torpedo the truce deal.

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Peanut butter manufacturers called to test their products

Reading Time: < 1 minute The National Consumer Commission (NCC) is calling on all manufacturers of peanut butter to start testing their products. Earlier this month, Pick n Pay recalled their No-Name and Eden All Natural peanut butter from its stores, which had elevated levels of aflatoxin which may cause harm to humans. Woolworths also recalled their peanut butter dairy product recently. The Head of Complaints and Investigations at the commission, Prudence Moilwa says they suspect something went wrong in the manufacturing of peanut butter. She says they are investigating this further. “Currently we are conducting investigations against the house of natural butters which is the main supplier that has been supplying all these peanut butters, both to Pick n Pay and Dis-Chem, and other suppliers that have supplied on this product eventually to Woolies. So, the reason why we want everybody to test is just the way that the overlap in the supply chains of certain suppliers and manufactures and retailers, where we think that there is a possibility that we cannot go after a particular manufacturer.” Peanut butter brands pulled off shelves: Thezi Mabuza

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Phoenix resident shot dead in alleged drive-by shooting

Reading Time: < 1 minute A resident of Sunford in Phoenix, in the north of Durban, has been shot dead in an alleged drive-by shooting. The victim has been identified as 52-year-old Mohamed Abed Adham. The police have not established a motive for the shooting, which took place at the weekend. KwaZulu-Natal VIP Protection Services’ Gareth Naidoo says Adham succumbed to his injuries on the scene despite emergency medical intervention. Naidoo says, “On the date in question, KZN VIP received multiple calls about a shooting in Sunford Phoenix. Security and medical teams dispatched to the scene where one person sustained gunshot wounds. Paramedics attempted to stabilise the victim for an hour. Sadly, the person was declared deceased due to the extent of the injuries.”

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‘SACE sanctions fall short of the constitutional requirement’

Reading Time: < 1 minute Advocate Chris McConnachi for Section 27 on behalf of the Centre for Child Law has submitted in the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein that South African Council for Educators (SACE) sanctions fall short of the constitutional requirement. Section 27 is appealing the High Court in Pretoria judgment, so that the two educators who assaulted two primary school learners be subjected to fresh hearings. In one case, a teacher was charged with beating two Grade 2 learners over the head with a PVC pipe, causing physical and psychological harm. In the second instance, a teacher hit a Grade 5 learner across the face, causing the child to bleed from the ear. Both teachers received lenient sanctions from SACE and were fined R15 000 each with R5 000 suspended. McConnachi wants the SCA to amend SACE policies to also serve the interest of learners. Section 27 says there should not be a blanket approach when applying its mandatory sanctions policies.

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LIVE: Funeral Service of Namibian President Hage Geingob

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