South Africa police are investigating cases of murder after three missing friends were found dead in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.
KZN police spokesperson, Colonel Thembeka Mbele, said the bodies of Zinhle Nqobile Mkhize, 33, Njabulo Lindani Khoza, 21, and Nonhlanhla Kubheka, 30, were found inside Babanango forest in Zululand on Saturday morning, June 26. The cause of their deaths has not been released.
“They were found after an intensive search conducted by the team immediately after they were reported missing,” said Mbele.
Last photo posted by Zinhle after returning from a funeral the day she was last seen
Last week, Nkandla police had requested assistance from members of the community in finding the trio who were last seen on June 19.
“They were last seen on 19 June 2021 at 18:00 while they were travelling together with Nonhlanhla Kubheka’s vehicle in the Nkandla area. Kubheka’s vehicle was found the following day at her cottage in Nkandla with the keys on ignition and the driver’s window broken but the victims were nowhere to be found.” police said.
A murder case has been opened as police appeal to anyone with information to contact the investigating officer, Sergeant Dlamini.
In the window of a vintage shop in the Sydney suburb of Annandale, a sign expresses the frustration of many Australians with their country’s pandemic strategy.
“Dear Customers, We will be closed for the foreseeable future because Scott Morrison is a useless dickhead who only ordered enough vaccine to vaccinate 4% of the population 18 months into a pandemic,” reads the sign, shared on Twitter, in reference to the Australian Prime Minister.
Artist James Powditch put up the testy sign at the Roulette store and art studio he runs on Saturday, as the city of 5 million people, plus towns and cities in its surrounds, went into yet another hard lockdown, this time for two whole weeks. By Sunday, a cluster of coronavirus infections of the Delta variant that began in Sydney’s Bondi neighborhood had grown to 110 cases.
Australia was celebrated for its initial response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and for getting its economy more or less back on track long ago.
But with that security has come complacency, particularly in the federal government, which failed to secure enough vaccine doses to prevent the regular “circuit breaker” lockdowns that come every time a handful of cases emerge, or even the longer restrictions that Sydney is experiencing now. Australia’s borders, controlled by strict quarantine measures, have been all but shut for more than a year.
Now Australians, who basked in their early successes, are wondering how much longer this can go on.
“We can’t leave the country, people can’t come in, and we end up periodically in lockdowns, which cost a friggin’ fortune,” said Powditch.
“People have been accepting that this is a diabolically difficult situation, but once we start watching the rest of the world open up, we’re going to turn to anger over the way things like vaccines have been rolled out here.”
Already there are signs that Australians are getting weary of these sporadic disruptions to their lives. On Sunday, large crowds were seen on Bondi Beach, despite the stay-at-home orders. While outdoor exercise is allowed, images from Bondi showed people bathing in the winter sun and sitting on benches with drinks.
A 48-hour lockdown was also imposed in parts of Australia’s Northern Territory, including its capital, Darwin, after four Covid-19 cases were linked to a worker at a gold mine. He is believed to have become infected during an overnight stay at a quarantine hotel in Brisbane. Now painstaking efforts to trace all 900 workers who have left the mine for cities across Australia over recent days are under way, as the country relies heavily on a robust track-and-trace system to keep clusters contained.
Australia has recorded just 910 deaths in its population of 25 million, one of the lowest per capita death tolls in the developed world, and cases have remained low as well.
While it beat much of the world in getting its economy back up and running, its tourism sector has taken a massive hit, its universities are struggling without the fees international students usually bring and some Australians, who travel abroad in relatively high numbers, are starting to feel the itch to go on holidays overseas.
Even New Zealand — the only country with which Australians had an open travel corridor — announced a three-day suspension of quarantine-free travel between the nations starting Saturday because of the outbreaks.
Australia has fully vaccinated just over 4% of its population, compared with more than 46% in the US and 47% in the UK, according to Our World in Data. Its rates are more comparable with Indonesia and India, which, like much of the developing world, were left out of the agreements with pharmaceutical companies that secured hundreds of millions of vaccine doses for most of the rich world.
Compounding the problem is hesitancy towards Covid-19 vaccines in Australia. One survey by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, with research firm Resolve Strategic, found 15% of adults surveyed were “not at all likely” and 14% were “not very likely” to take a vaccination in the months ahead. The survey was taken after an April ruling that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was linked to a very rare blood disorder side effect, involving blood clots.
Australian officials have said they hope to reach herd immunity — the point at which about 80% of the population is vaccinated — before reopening its borders. Prime Minister Morrison earlier said that may not be until mid-2022. More recently, he was even unable to commit to a Christmas 2022 reopening
In a question to the Prime Minister, journalists on Channel 9’s Today program on Thursday suggested that Morrison and his slow vaccine rollout were responsible for the ongoing lockdowns.
Morrison replied by saying an increase in supply “will really kick in next month in July,” and that 600,000 Pfizer doses were due in next week.
“The challenge we’ve had, of course, has been with AstraZeneca. I mean, the medical advice has restricted its availability to those over 60, and prior to that over 50. Now, that was a big shock to the rollout and they are events outside of the government’s control,” he said, adding there were new supply arrangements with AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna.
“So, we’ll keep working towards that goal, by the end of the year, of offering that vaccine to everybody who would want one and there will be an escalating ramp-up as we move through the second half of the year,” he said.
Can’t get in, can’t get out
The government has also been criticized for leaving about 36,000 Australians stranded overseas. Caps on arrivals to the country have made booking seats on flights difficult and expensive, and the cost of quarantine is in the thousands of dollars. It’s the responsibility of the person arriving to foot the bill.
It’s just as hard for some living in Australia to get out. If someone from overseas has Australian citizenship or permanent residence, they need a government exemption to leave the country.
The result is not just holidays lost, but lost time with family and friends.
At the last census in 2016, around half the people living in Australia were either born abroad or had at least one parent born overseas.
One Brisbane resident from Canada, who is working in a hospital in health care, is hoping a speedier vaccine program will mean fewer border controls and, hopefully, a trip back home.
“I’m originally from Canada, and don’t know when I will see my family again. Honestly, I think at least 2 years,” the health care worker wrote in a message to CNN.
“We’re so frustrated! The vaccination process is ridiculous. I’m a health care worker in the top list of people and there was so much confusion. We were told to email and that we’d be contacted when our appointment was … then we’re told just to show up because that program was actually not recording anything,” she said.
“It’s still only open to [people age] 50+ even though spreaders are averaging 20-30 years of age. We’re sick of lockdowns, knowing the vaccine is out there.”
And for some residents with strong ties abroad, there are more serious implications to this global isolation.
Katerina Vavrinec, a 34-year-old from the Czech Republic living in Sydney, said she has sought counseling for mental health issues arising from the separation from her friends and family, and the anxiety that has come with it. She hasn’t been to her home city of Prague for three years.
“Keeping borders shut is going to have a huge impact on people’s mental health,” she said, pointing to the high number of Australians with family ties overseas. “So this is going to have huge impact on the mental health of millions of people.”
Vavrinec is on maternity leave and due to return to work in just over a week, though she’s not sure what that will look like in lockdown. But she’s found a silver lining.
“I’m actually quite happy that we’re in lockdown because I’ve been quite frustrated with the indefinite border closures. So I’m hoping that the lockdown forces people to realize that completely isolating Australia from rest of the world is not going to get us out of this.”
A new generation of US cold warriors just got some powerful validation.
When Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke about China in a New York Times interview in Paris, he offered one of the most revealing insights yet into the Biden administration’s foreign policy. Blinken said that France and the US were “on the same page” on the need to defend the free world order as China gains influence. The alternative, he warned, would be no global order or a Chinese-led world order that would be “profoundly illiberal in nature.”
Blinken, who delivered a tough US message to China in dust-up talks in Alaska in March, was putting colloquial meat on the bones of President Joe Biden’s recent warnings that democracy is under threat — and not only from illiberal trends in the West.
The concept of a new Cold War between the US and China is hardening into conventional wisdom in Washington. One critique however is that the original version was an ideological clash between the capitalists of the West and the communists of the Soviet bloc. The US and China are locked in a more classic duel between a rising power and a declining one — though Blinken certainly seems to see an ideological component.
Chinese President Xi Jinping, who will soon lead the Chinese Communist Party’s 100th anniversary celebrations, has adopted a far more strident position for China on the global stage. Beijing is flexing its power in the Pacific and beyond, and events in Hong Kong show Chinese repression on the march within its territory.
But whether Beijing is interested in (or capable of) waging a global battle against democracy is another question. Is Xi’s use of populist nationalism primarily designed to maintain support for an autocratic ruling Party, or is it the authentic expression of a globally ambitious Chinese foreign policy?
Either way, policymaking in Washington and nascent US political campaigns — from economics to infrastructure and from defense improving the social safety net — is increasingly formulated through a lens of inevitable confrontation with China. From here, at least, it’s getting harder to argue that the Cold War analogy misses the mark.
‘The only thing that helps in these times is kindness and empathy’
Prague, Czech Republic – Czech President Milos Zeman called transgender people “disgusting” in an interview on CNN affiliate CNN Prima News on Sunday, during a discussion of a controversial new law in Hungary.
The Hungarian law bans all educational materials and programs for children that are considered to promote homosexuality, gender reassignment and the concept of sexuality deviating from the one assigned to a person at birth. It has been met with fierce criticism from other members of the European Union.
Zeman said interference in internal affairs of any EU member country is a gross political mistake, and he defended Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. “I do not see a reason not to agree with him,” Zeman said.
He later added: “I can understand gays, lesbians and so on. But do you know who I do not understand at all? These transgender people.”
Zeman described transgender people as “intrinsically disgusting to me.”
Hungary’s position has drawn doubts over whether it belongs in the European Union. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen last week denounced the bill as “clearly” discriminatory, saying “it goes against all the values, the fundamental values of the European Union, and this is human dignity, it is equality, and is the human fundamental rights.”
Zeman’s comments came as several cities around the world celebrated Pride with parades and marches aimed at gaining visibility for the LGBTQ community and marking the 1969 Stonewall riots.
Prague’s Pride festival is planned for the first week of August.
According to ILGA-Europe, an advocacy group, local rights activists fear the Czech Republic could follow in the path of increasingly illiberal neighbors Hungary and Poland. Passage of a marriage equality law has repeatedly stalled in the country, and according to a December 2020 report by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, Czech citizens are required to undergo gender reassignment and sterilization as a condition of officially transitioning.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Sunday evening that favorable weather and a functional trench through the debris site continues to provide her with optimism in the wake of Thursday’s partial building collapse.
Calling the search and rescue teams heroic, Levine Cava told reporters, “It’s an inspiration to all of us, and to people all around the world. Their work, getting a fire and the smoke under control, was very pivotal, and the good weather today, were two very positive developments in the search, and they have allowed the search and rescue effort to move forward without some of the previous challenges that we have faced.”
Cava and Miami-Dade County Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said that the trench that crews created by cutting through the rubble provided opportunities to suppress smoke and smoldering fires as well as create a higher level of access to aid in their search.
“They are actively working on the trench and it actually was extremely helpful for the location of bodies,” Levine Cava said.
The mayor also pleaded with families with missing loved ones to fill out police reports, as there are still some family members that detectives have not been able to reach and who have not opened police reports.
“The site is open 24 hours a day. We’re taking DNA swabs from everybody at the location so if relatives come in, we will take DNA swabs and this will be critically important for identification,” Levine Cava said.
At least nine people are dead, officials said on Sunday during a news conference.
There are at least 152 people missing after a residential building partially collapsed in Surfside, Florida, Thursday. Search and rescue teams are racing to find survivors.
Emergency officials are also asking people to call 305-614-1819 if they have relatives who are unaccounted for.
The cause of the collapse is still unknown
Survivors felt shaking during construction on nearby building, a Surfside commissioner says
Eliana Salzhauer, one of three town commissioners for Surfside, Florida, said Sunday night that survivors of the Champlain Towers South collapse she encountered have said they felt shaking during construction on a nearby building in recent years.
Salzhauer also said a 2018 report completed by structural engineers was alarming.
Family members of people missing in the rubble, including Magaly Ramsey, daughter of missing Magaly Delgado, also told CNN their family members had been concerned about shaking from the nearby construction.
Salzhauer said some survivors told her they were bothered by all the shaking of their building that had occurred while a high-rise was being constructed next door. They told her there was shaking, cracking and water leaking in the garage, she said.
One victim, Stacie Fang, 54, was publicly identified Friday while three more, Antonio Lozano, 83, Gladys Lozano, 79, and Manuel LaFont, 54, were identified Saturday night.
At least nine people were killed after the residential building partially collapsed in Surfside, Florida, on Thursday. One victim remains unidentified, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said earlier during a Sunday night news briefing.
A total of 134 people have been accounted for while 152 remain unaccounted for, she said.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday the country is officially in the third wave of the coronavirus, saying it it has become more serious than previous peaks.
JOHANNESBURG – President Cyril Ramaphosa briefed the country on the results of a National Coronavirus Command Council meeting this week, saying that nation would be moved to adjusted alert level 4.
“After 14 days, we will examine where we are. We will assess the impact of the restrictions to determine if they need to be maintained or adjusted,” he said.
The restrictions are as follows:
( 1) All gatherings – political, social, or cultural – are prohibited;
( 2) Funerals and cremations will continue, but can’t exceed 50 people in numbers;
( 3) After-funeral gatherings prohibited;
( 4) Public spaces like parks will remain open, but no gatherings are permitted at such places;
( 5) A curfew will be in place from 9pm to 4am. All establishments must be closed by 9pm;
( 6) All alcohol sales have been prohibited;
( 7) Restaurants can only sell food for takeout or deliveries;
( 8) Schools and other education institutions closing for winter will be brought forward. Schools will begin to close on Wednesday, and all schools must be closed by Friday; and
( 9) Contact classes in tertiary institutions will be closed this week and access to the buildings will be closed. Residences, however, will remain open.
An exhaustive list will be made available once it is has been gazetted by government.
The president explained the ban on alcohol sales was to assist the healthcare sector with an alleviated workload. Last year and during New Year, Eyewitness News spoke to a number of healthcare workers who explained that trauma cases decreased significantly once alcohol was banned during the first COVID-19 wave. It allowed for health facilities to focus their resources on coronavirus cases.
“Because of the burden of infections in Gauteng, travel for leisure purposes will be prohibited,” he said.
The president highlighted the seriousness of the current resurgence of COVID-19 infection numbers, saying that the delta variant was concerning.
As of Sunday night, South Africa recorded over 15,000 new coronavirus infections. pushing the overall number of infections in the country to over 1,913,000. According to the health department, the country currently has 158,000 active cases.
South Africa also recorded 157 new deaths in the same 24-hour cycle, bringing the national death toll close to the 60,000 mark – at 59, 778.There has been a spike in COVID-19 infections countrywide in recent weeks.
“The situation has gone worse,” Ramaphosa said on Sunday night.
He said the delta variant of the disease, which “spread like wildfire in India,” has been found in provinces such as the Eastern Cape, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal. He also said this was becoming the dominant variant in the country, and that it is thought to be twice as contagious as earlier variants of the virus.
“Because it is more contagious, it can infect far more people,” he said.
“Complacency comes at a high price,” he said, addressing the public’s frustration with current COVID-19 regulations.
He said private and public health facilities are struggling with the COVID-19 patient numbers. “What we are seeing is that the existing containment measures in place are not enough to cope with the speed and scale of the infections we are seeing in this third wave.”
He said the government looked at international examples to help reduce person-to-person contact and help to flatten the curve, “as we did with the first wave and as we did with the second wave”.