nSight1 blasts off into space

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Pretoria – Weighing just 2.5kg, South Africa’s first privately owned nanosatellite, nSight1, has been successfully launched into orbit from the International Space Station (ISS). Deployed on 24 May, nSight1 will orbit Earth and capture images with a re…

MEC Albert Fritz on Child Protection Week dialogue

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Child Protection Week Dialogue: Minister Fritz launches support group for parents who lost children to violence & murder

Today, Western Cape Minister of Social Development, Albert Fritz, announced plans to coordinate Support Groups for parents who have lost children through violence and murder.

Minister Fritz was speaking at the Department of Social Development (DSD) Child Protection Week Dialogue, to commemorate national Child Protection Week.

The Support Groups will be piloted in our Metro South Region, which includes communities which are heavily affected by violence, such as Mitchells Plain, Lavender Hill, Philippi, Grassy Park etc.

The Support Groups would render ongoing counselling and group therapy support to families, and walk with them on the path of healing from the trauma.

Minister Fritz was joined by Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, and Provincial Health Minister Nomafrench Mbombo.

The Dialogue featured a panel discussion with experts, academics and stakeholders working in the child protection spaces. The panel was made up of;

Dr. Lesley Corrie (DSD Children & Families Director)

Ms. Kamesh Flynn (DSD ECD programme)

Prof. Shanaaz Mathews (Childrens Institute, UCT)

W/O Avron Petersen (SAPS FCS unit � Bellville)

Ms. Nomasango Xabanisa (Sibongile Day & Night Care Centre)

Ms. Melissa Jacobs (SA ECD)

Nicolette van der Walt (ACVV)

Minister Mbombo, in her address, spoke of her department’s continued support for children through ever expanding clinic services and health infrastructure.

Premier Zille reiterated the Western Cape Governments commitment to supporting families and providing services that provide safe spaces for children. The Social Development Department continues to allocate the largest portion of its funding to services to children and families, however government cannot do it alone, said Premier Zille.

Premier Zille emphasized the importance of families, and specifically committed parents taking responsibility for their children.

Minister Fritz also led a moment of silence and candle-lighting ceremony with the parents of Stacha Arendz and Rene Roman, in memory of their children and other children murdered this year.

As we continue to commemorate Child Protection Week and beyond, we urge the public to report any cases of child abandonment, neglect and missing children to any of our regional and local offices, or to contact our DSD Hotline on 0800 220 250. We can protect our children if we continue to work ‘Better Together’.

Source: Government of South Africa

Boat operators face price fixing charges

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Pretoria – Five vessel owners, who ferry passengers between Robben Island Museum and the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, are facing prosecution on charges of price fixing and collusive tendering.

The Competition Commission of South Africa investigated the boat operators after it received a complaint from the Robben Island Museum against the five respondents.

They are all vessels owners, who provide chartering services to the museum’s clients from the V&A Waterfront to Robben Island and vice versa.

An investigation into the matter found that the respondents met in September 2015 at the Cape Town Fish Market Coffee Shop. They discussed and agreed to increase the prices they would charge the Museum when responding to a tender it issued.

The tender was for bidders to be listed on the Museum’s database as a preferred service providers for a 12-month period.

The operators who are implicated in this matter include, Thembekile Maritime Services (Pty) Ltd (Thembekile); Silverbuckle Trade 21 CC t/a Yacoob Yatch (Silverbuckle); Nauticat Charters (Pty) Ltd (Nauticat Charters); Ferry Charters (Pty) Ltd (Ferry Charters); and Tigger 2 Charters (Pty) Ltd (Tigger 2 Charters).

The Commission’s investigation also found that subsequent to the agreement reached at the coffee shop meeting, Thembekile and Nauticat Charters increased their prices to R18 000 per trip for 140 passengers.

Ferry Charters did not alter their prices, as it was already charging R18 000 per trip for 140 passengers and this resulted in all three quoting the same price of R18 000 for per trip for 140 passengers.

[Furthermore] Silverbuckle and Tigger 2 Charters also increased their prices as agreed during the coffee shop meeting, but not to the same extent as that of the other respondents as their vessels are smaller, the Competition Commission said.

Their behaviour constitutes price fixing and collusive tendering, in contravention of the Competition Act and the Commission has referred the complaint to the Tribunal for adjudication.

The Commission said it is seeking an order from the Tribunal declaring that the five respondents have contravened the Competition Act and that they are liable to pay an administrative penalty equal to 10% of their annual turnover.

Source: South African Government News Agency

Indications Iran Doubling Down on Use of Proxy Forces

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WASHINGTON � An influx of cash that was the byproduct of the deal Iran struck with a group of world powers to curtail its nuclear program may not be changing the way Iran goes about wielding influence across the Middle East and beyond.

A top U.S. military official says rather than using any additional monies to invest more heavily in conventional forces, there are indications Tehran continues to focus on cultivating special operators to help lead and direct proxy forces.

If anything, increased defense dollars in Iran are likely to go toward increasing that network, looking for ways to expand it, U.S. Special Operation Forces Vice Commander Lieutenant General Thomas Trask told an audience in Washington late Tuesday.

We’ve already seen evidence of them taking units and officers out of the conventional side that are working with the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) in Syria, Trask added. We’re going to stay focused on these proxies and the reach that Iran has well past Syria and Yemen but into Africa, into South America, into Europe as well.

The 2015 nuclear deal, also known as the JCPOA, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, gave Tehran access to an estimated $50 billion to $150 billion in previously frozen assets. It also cleared the way for Iran to seek new investment to boost its economy.

Critics of the deal feared Iran would take a large portion of that money to boost its military and expand its influence across the Middle East.

Yet despite Iran’s heavy involvement in Syria to help prop up the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, U.S. military officials see no indications much of that money has been set aside for bolstering Tehran’s conventional forces.

Nor do they see that as a likely scenario, even though the latest estimates from the U.S. intelligence community warn Iran is trying to develop a range of new military capabilities, including ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and armed drones.

That takes a long time to change. You’ve really got to build a significant infrastructure, Trask said during the event at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

We’re going to continue to plan primarily against that network of proxies and unconventional warfare that Iran pushes out to create that buffer for the regime, he said.

Already, Iran is supplementing its own forces inside Syria by providing arms, financing and training for as many as 10,000 Shia militia fighters, including units from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

Military and intelligence officials further worry about the sway Iran has over tens of thousands of additional fighters who are part of Shia militias fighting in Iraq. And there are concerns Iran is trying to employ the same type of model in Yemen, where U.S. officials say it has been supplying arms and other help to Houthi forces.

Everywhere you look, if there is trouble in the region, you find Iran, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said last moth during a visit to Saudi Arabia, when asked about Yemen. We’ll have to overcome Iran’s efforts to destabilize yet another country and create another militia in their image of Lebanese Hezbollah.

And some analysts say that Iran will persist, even if the results are not immediate.

You’ve seen this slow ratcheting up of what they’ve been able to do in Syria and it’s not sufficient, said J. Matthew McInnis, a resident fellow at AEI and author of a new report on Iran’s security policy, noting Tehran’s reliance on Russian air support.

Still, Tehran has shown no signs of backing down, he said, willing to wait out its adversaries.

We underestimated the degree to which Iran was committed to Assad, McInnis said. They’re going to fight as long as it takes in Syria.

Source: Voice of America

BIGGEST SOUTH AFRICA UNION CALLS FOR BOYCOTT OF ZAMBIAN GOODS OVER DETENTION OF HICHILEMA

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa’s biggest single trade union, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), has called for a boycott campaign of Zambian products in protest at what it describes as “tyranny raises its ugly head” in that country…

Premier Willies Mchunu attends meeting of portfolio committee on Office of Premier, 30 May

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Xenophobic attacks to come under spotlight: KZN Premier attends portfolio committeeAs he completes 365 Days in Office, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu will today attend the meeting of the Portfolio Committee on the Office of the Premier. The meeti…

Eastern Cape to reallocate unoccupied houses

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Pretoria � The Eastern Cape is set to start a process to trace the missing beneficiaries of unoccupied government subsidy houses.

The Human Settlements Provincial Department has learned that some municipalities are struggling to trace beneficiaries, whose houses have been completed.

Eastern Cape MEC for Human Settlements, Helen Sauls-August, has given the go ahead to all municipalities to reallocate unoccupied houses to other qualifying beneficiaries.

This will be done by following a process of deregistration of approved beneficiaries, who have not taken ownership of their completed government subsidy houses.

MEC Sauls-August said municipalities must undertake the process of deregistration, which requires that missing beneficiaries are traced through advertisement.

The missing beneficiaries must be given a period of 21 days to respond before the deregistration process commences.

If the legal processes is not followed to the latter, the process becomes illegal. Deregistration must be done correctly, MEC Sauls-August said.

She was speaking at a quarterly session with councillors responsible for the Human Settlements Portfolio.

Despite the provincial department’s continuous efforts to deliver housing projects in the province, housing units remain unoccupied and subject to vandalism.

The unoccupied houses also delay the transfer and issuing of title deeds to the correct beneficiaries. This year alone, the department’s plans to lodge, transfer and issue 10 000 title deeds to the correct beneficiaries, the provincial department said.

Source: South African Government News Agency