Yusuf Alli – Cii News | 03 March 2014
News that made headlines on various newswires around the world.
Fundraising for the Cii Mozambique Quraan Project campaign was declared closed.
A Cii Projects team would travel to Pemba, Capo Delgado province to make the arrangements for the arrival of the Quraans and Quraan learning aids.
The team put together a package that includes 2000 copies of the Quraan, 3000 copies of each of YassarnalQuraan part 1 and 2 in Portugese, 3000 copies of Juz 30 (Amma Para) and 3000 copies each of Duroosul Islam part 1 and 2 in Portugese.
In total the package includes 17 000 kitabs that would go a long way in saving the Islamic heritage of people living in this remote area of the world.
Media houses descended on Pretoria on Monday morning to cover one of the most talked about murder trials of the year.
Outside the North Gauteng High Court, broadcast vans and marquee tents lined Madiba Street from the early hours of the morning, with local and international journalists preparing for live broadcasts in rainy weather.
Monday is the start of the trial of paralympic star Oscar Pistorius, charged with murdering his model girlfriend ReevaSteenkamp on the 14th of February in 2013.
The case has generated worldwide attention with hundreds of reporters expected to cover the trial.
A Middlesbrough fan had been fined for ripping up pages of the Noble Qur’an during a football game last December, as a Birmingham court found him guilty for the religiously aggravated public order offence.
“Incidents of this kind are considered extremely offensive to some members of the community,” Ronald Healy, the chairman of Birmingham Magistrates’ Court bench, said while passing the sentence, the Mirror reported.
“We hope that in the future you will not ever, ever participate in any such incident,” he added.The incident goes back to three months ago when two Middlesbrough fans were suspended from matches after facing accusations of ripping up the Noble Qur’an during game against Birmingham city.
One of the two fans, Mark Stephenson, was seen ripping up pages torn from a copy of Qur’an by another supporter.
He also pretended to set fire to some of the pages of the holy book while holding a lighter.
“It’s the Muslim bible, we hate Muslims,” Stephenson said when he was asked by a steward what the book was.
A copy of the Quran emerged intact when all other contents of a car were destroyed in a fire that charred the vehicle in Saudi Arabia.
Its owner was driving in the southern Saudi province of Jazan when the car suddenly caught fire, prompting him to jump out.
A Saudi man who was driving in that area rushed to the man to help him out before noticing that only a Quran copy remained intact after all other contents were wiped out.
“The driver told me that the car belongs to his father who always kept a copy of the Quran in it.
“When I looked into the charred car, I was stunned to see that everything was destroyed except the Quran, which remained intact.
“I decided to document this miracle with pictures by my mobile phone,” he told Sabq daily.
As America’s most significant Israel lobby movement meets in Washington, hundreds of anti-war protestors have gathered in the city to challenge the Israeli thirst for conflict.
Medea Benjamin , The co-founder of CODEPINK, a peace and social justice movement, leading the rallies spoke to Press TV.
AIPAC, the most powerful pro-Israel lobby group in the United States, is pressing the administration of President Barack Obama to adopt harsher polices against Iran during the three-day conference which began on March 2.
Meanwhile Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will maintain a tough line against heavy international pressure to make concessions to Palestinians.
The Israeli prime minister made the remarks on Sunday shortly before heading to Washington for a meeting with US President Barack Obama.
The Israeli premier vowed to resist pressures and to “stand steadfast” on the interests of Israel in dealing with Palestinians.
Obama and Netanyahu are going to discuss issues around the so-called peace talks in the Middle East.
A group of Jewish settlers led by fanatic rabbi Yehuda Glick toured the courtyards of the Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem on Sunday morning.
Local sources said that Glick and 22 other settlers embarked on a “suspicious” tour of the Aqsa plazas under protection of special Israeli police forces.
They noted that a big number of worshipers and scholars were present in various areas of the holy site.
The sources said that policemen at the gates and entrances to the Mosque took the IDs of young men wishing to enter the Mosque until they got out of it.
The DA would head to court to have the law that allows e-tolling declared unconstitutional, the party said on Sunday.
“I will be in court representing Gauteng residents who have expressed an overwhelming majority of opposition to e-tolling,” spokesman MmusiMaimane said in a statement.
The case is due to be heard in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday and Wednesday, he said.
“We are of the view that the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill (E-tolling Bill) was incorrectly passed by Parliament and signed into law by President Jacob Zuma.”
He said if the case is successful, the law would need to be sent back to Parliament to deliberate on for a second time.
Ukraine’s Prime Minister ArseniyYatsenyuk had warned his crisis-hit country is on the “brink of disaster”, accusing Russia of declaring war on his nation.
“If President [Vladimir] Putin wants to be the president who started a war between two neighbouring and friendly countries, between Ukraine and Russia, he has reached his target within a few inches. We are on the brink of the disaster,” he told reporters in English on Sunday, a day after Russia’s parliament approved the use of military force in Ukraine.
Ukraine’s navy chief said on Sunday that he had switched allegiance to Crimea’s pro-Russia authorities.
Kiev said it had launched a treason case against Denis Berezovsky, who surrendered his headquarters in the port of Sevastopol on only his second day on the job.
Yatsenyuk’s concerns were echoed by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who condemned Russia’s “incredible act of aggression” in Ukraine and threatened “very serious repercussions” from the US and other countries including sanctions to isolate Russia economically.
A Soweto man had confessed to beating his girlfriend to death.
Warrant Officer Kay Makhubela said a man was arrested for attempted rape
At the police station he informed the police he had locked his girlfriend in the house and that he had beaten her to death
The police went back to his house and they found the girl on the floor.
Makhubela said another woman had laid a charge of attempted rape against the 32-year-old man yesterday.
The police traced him to his house in Moletsane, Soweto, in the early hours of the morning and arrested him for attempted rape, after which he confessed to killing his 22-year-old girlfriend.
US President Barack Obama warned Israel against “international fallout” if direct talks with the Palestinian Authority fail and Tel Aviv continues its illegal settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Speaking prior to his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama said that Washington’s ability to protect its staunch ally from being isolated in the world would be “limited” if Tel Aviv continues expanding its illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Obama also warned that international condemnation will mean reduced influence for Washington over issues that are of interest to Israel.
In his interview, which was published on Sunday, Obama said “the window is closing” for a so-called peace deal with the Palestinian Authority, calling on Netanyahu to “seize the moment.”
Last month, US Secretary of State John Kerry also warned that Israel would face a possible international boycott if it failed to reach a peace deal with the Palestinian Authority.
Twin car bombs at a bustling city marketplace blasted buildings to rubble and tore apart bodies the same night an attack on a farming village razed every thatched-roof hut.
At least 90 people have been killed this weekend, as Nigeria’s rebel group step up attacks.
In Maiduguri, the attackers chose a densely populated area with narrow alleyways that maximized the blasts, and did it on a Saturday night when the market was open late.
According to survivors, the victims include children dancing at a wedding celebration and people watching a soccer match at a cinema.
Fifty-one bodies were retrieved by Sunday morning but red cross officials said many more are believed buried in rubble.
In a village 60km away, suspected extremists also struck on Saturday night, killing 39 people.
According to reports, elderly families are more likely to be held up in armed robberies because they are physically weaker and seen as soft targets.
Statistical information leading to such conclusions had been revealed in the first volume of Statistics SA’s Crime Statistics Series, which provides an in-depth analysis of data on house robberies and burglaries.
KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng topped the list of provinces in house robberies – where there is contact between the victims and perpetrators – and house burglaries, with Pinetown, Hillcrest, Newlands West and Kloof being hot spots.
Blue Security operations director Henk van Bemmelen said the older generation were more severely targeted by armed robbers as they were physically weaker and their homes often did not have the latest security systems.
Predictably the report stated that evening hours were the most common time for burglars to break into houses and robbers to hold families up.
Westville SAPS spokesman Stephen Clark said most house robberies took place between 5pm and 9pm and in almost all cases there was no forced entry.
He said in 90 percent of cases they get into the house through an open front door, which is visible from the road.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa on Sunday said it would respond to Cosatu within the required timeframe on why it should not be suspended or expelled from the union body.
Its general secretary Irvin Jim said they would respond to the Congress of South African Trade Unions and honour the seven days that they had been given.
Cosatu and Numsa were at loggerheads since Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi was suspended for having an affair with a junior employee who initially accused him of rape but never pressed charges.
Jim questioned the calls for Numsa to be suspended or expelled, as well as union leaders who supported the call. He said word on the ground was that Vavi must return to his position, and that workers wanted a special national congress.
Reports said some schools in Limpopo have still not received their textbooks for the 2014 school year.
Sipho Mothobuka, the principal of Moloketla Primary which is one of the affected schools says the education department make a fuss on the radio to say that the books are delivered, but that is not so and it is a problem.
A maths teacher at the school, Daniel Ramatladi, said teachers sometimes wrote out the whole textbook on the blackboard.
City Press found that there were serious textbook shortages across grades and subjects, although these were not nearly as bad as the shortages experienced in the province during 2012.
Elijah Mhlanga, a spokesman for the basic education department, said that the shortages could be a result of the migration of students between different provinces at the beginning of the year.
Two policemen were sentenced to 10 years in jail for killing an Egyptian blogger more than three years after the incident, which was one of the events that inspired the 18-day revolt in 2011.
Policemen Mahmoud Salah Mahmoud and Awad Ismail Suleiman were accused of manslaughter and of torturing Khaled Said in June 2010 after unlawfully arresting him at an Internet cafe in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.
The case stirred public anger and pictures of Said’s badly injured face went viral on the Internet, sparking calls for protests across the country against human rights violations by then President Hosni Mubarak’s security forces.
Massive protests the following year led to the toppling of the long term ruler.
An initial trial sentenced the defendants to seven years in jail in October 2011 after finding them guilty of unlawful arrest and excessive brutality.
Egypt’s Court of Cassation ordered the retrial after the defendants appealed, while angry supporters of Said felt the sentence was too lenient.
Eastern Cape police had been urged to shoot criminals who pose a danger to police officers.
The New Age newspaper quoted deputy police commissioner Maj-Gen Zamuthango Mki, who called on police to shoot when their lives are in danger of criminal
Mki was speaking at the funeral of Sergeant Thembile Gulwa at Ngcwazi village, in Ngqamakhwe, on Saturday.
Gulwa was shot dead in an incident involving seven people in Kinkelbos, Port Elizabeth, in February.
A 37-year-old man was arrested for Gulwa’s murder.
Six other people are still at large.
Mki told community members to stop protecting criminals.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said in an interview that the war in Afghanistan was not fought with his country’s interests in mind.
Expressing “extreme anger” towards the United States government in an interview with the Washington Post newspaper, Karzai said Afghans died in a war that’s not theirs
He was quoted as saying he was certain the 12-year-old war, the United States’ longest and launched after the attacks of September 11, 2001, was for the US security and for the Western interest.
Karzai’s refusal to sign a security deal with Washington that would permit foreign troops to stay in Afghanistan beyond this year has frustrated the White House.
He said he felt betrayed by what he described as an insufficient US focus on targeting Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan rather than in Afghan villages.
Karzai said civilian casualties in Afghanistan dissipated his country’s “common cause” with the US.
Mozambique agriculture minister Jose Pacheco said that more than 300,000 people in the southern African state face famine this year.
Speaking on state radio, Pacheco said the famine, which affected mainly the central and southern regions of Mozambique, had been caused by various factors, including drought, flooding and insect plagues.
Crops were also being destroyed by wild animals, such as elephants and hippos.
Pacheco said the government was developing mechanisms to help peasant farmers produce more food.
These included arranging financial packages to enable farmers to buy fertilisers and agricultural implements and to help them irrigate their fields.
The government has also secured $100 million from Brazil for agricultural machinery to boost agriculture in the country.
The Cape Muslim Congress had launched its manifesto when it launched its election campaign at a mosque in Tafelsig, in the Western Cape.
The party didnt promise free houses or essential services or to nationalise mines or banks.
But the party’s leaders said it would, however, “fight until the death penalty is reinstated for murderers and child molesters and for the sterilisation of violent criminals and alcoholics and drug addicts.”
Unlike other parties the CMC says it intended to “keep it real” in Mitchells Plain.
Yagyah Adams said the CMC promised not to mislead people with promises of free houses, electricity and water or the nationalisation of mines and banks.
It would reinstate the death penalty, end state corruption and the “wasting of billions of rand” which would be used for service delivery.
The National Union of Metalworkers of SA said it was not forming a political party to contest the coming election.
Deputy general secretary Karl Cloete said The United Front, which Numsa resolved upon in its special national congress, was a mobilising tool to organise and co-ordinate working class struggles.
He said the idea that Numsa was forming a political party to contest this year’s elections was false and baseless.
Numsa resolved at its special national congress in December that the union would not endorse or help the ANC’s elections campaign, and would not endorse any political party in the 2014 national elections.
He said Numsa members and officials have a right to vote for a political party of their choice.
Food deliveries to thousands of people living in a blockaded area in southern Damascus ground to a halt after a truce collapsed and clashes broke out between Syrian rebels and government forces.
The clashes, which erupted on Sunday afternoon and lasted until yesterday, were the most serious violence in weeks in the Syrian capital’s Palestinian-dominated district of Yarmouk
This undermined a tentative truce struck there in early January.
A UN spokesman in Damascus, Chris Gunness, urged all parties to “immediately allow” the resumption of aid to the area, where malnutrition is rife.
Activists estimated that over 100 people have died of hunger or hunger-related illnesses since a blockade began nearly a year ago, preventing food and medical aid from entering Yarmouk.
The halt in the food distribution in Yarmouk also underscored problems that plagued a February 22 UN Security Council resolution that called on warring parties to facilitate food and aid deliveries to Syrians in need.
The Israel central bureau of statistics said the number of Israeli settlements being started in the West Bank more than doubled during 2013.
The bureau said work began on 2,534 new housing units in the settlements in 2013, compared to 1,133 in 2012.
The announcement came just hours before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with President Barack Obama in Washington.
The two had long been at odds over Israel’s settlement policies, with Obama previously saying the continued building of settlements did not “advance the cause of peace.”
Earlier this month, aid agencies highlighted the growing number of Israeli demolitions of Palestinian properties in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, despite renewed US-backed peace negotiations.
An armed group in military uniform had seized the city council headquarters in the Iraqi city of Samarra and taken employees hostage.
This was the second such attack in recent months.
Two fighters, possibly wearing explosives-rigged vests or belts, seized the Samarra city council building with an unknown number of employees inside.
Clashes broke out between the fighters and security forces, and a human bomber detonated an explosives-rigged vehicle near police and militia forces when they arrived at the scene.
The blast wounded 24 people, most of them police
The attack in Samarra follows a similar incident in Tikrit, another city in the central Salaheddin province, where fighters detonated a car bomb and seized the city council headquarters on December 16.
Security forces ultimately freed the Tikrit hostages, but a city council member and two police were killed.
Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema emerged from a meeting with investors confident that the EFF would take power from the ruling party.
He said the investors have realised that the EFF is a viable alternative.
After the meeting, representatives of the investor companies refused to identify themselves or speak to the media.Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, EFF spokesman, identified the investor companies as, among others, JP Morgan, Coronation, Investec, and Micro Synergy.
Malema also said he was uneasy with the credibility of the Independent Electoral Commission.He cited allegations of voter rigging during the recent by-elections in Tlokwe in North West.
He said Elections have potential to cause civil war.
The Freedom Front Plus said the cruelty involved in the killing of a family on a KwaZulu-Natal farm at the weekend suggests such attacks were racially and politically driven.
The party’s spokesman Dr Pieter Groenewald said the majority of farm murders were accompanied by cruelty, and it created the impression that it was racially and politically driven.
A 76-year-old farmer, his 65-year-old wife and their 33-year-old son were attacked and burned to death at their farm near Richmond at midday on Sunday.
Police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane said the house was ransacked, and firearms, household items and an undisclosed amount of cash stolen.
Police were investigating three cases of murder, and no arrests had been made.
Groenewald said the FF Plus would ask the minister of police to approve another investigation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said there had been an unconstitutional coup in Ukraine.
He said ousted leader Viktor Yanukovich was still the legitimate leader of the country despite giving up all power.
Putin said there was no need to use force in Ukraine’s southern Crimea region at the moment, but Russia reserved the right to do so as a “last resort”.
In comments broadcast live on state television, Putin said Russia had no need yet to send troops into Ukraine but reserved the right to use “all means” to protect citizens should the necessity arise
according to the headquarters of the Ukrainian navy in Sevastopol, Russian forces that have surrounded the military bases in Ukraine’s autonomous region of Crimea have given an ultimatum to Ukrainian navy forces there to surrender,
Seven Somalians were arrested in Pienaar, near Nelspruit, for possession of illegal firearms.
The seven Somali shop owners were arrested after police found them with 12 illegal firearms during riots in Pienaar.
The arrests followed the death of a schoolboy, who was shot dead, allegedly by a Somali shop owner.
The pupil was buried on Sunday.On Sunday night, residents of Pienaar went to loot shops owned by Somali nationals in the area
21 people were arrested for public violence.
An Egyptian court banned all activities of Hamas in Egypt, in another sign that security forces plan to squeeze the Palestinian group that runs the neighbouring Gaza Strip.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, said the decision harms the image of Egypt and its role towards the Palestinian cause. It reflects a form of standing against Palestinian resistance
The judge, who asked to remain anonymous, told Reuters news agency that the court ordered the banning of Hamas work and activities in Egypt.
The court also ordered the closure of Hamas offices in Egypt, one of the judges overseeing the case told Reuters.
The case was filed by a group of Egyptian lawyers last year asking for Hamas to be banned and be designated as a terrorist organisation.
Since it seized power in Egypt last summer, Egypt’s military has squeezed Gaza’s economy by destroying most of the 1,200 tunnels used to smuggle food, cars and weapons to the coastal enclave, which is under an Israeli blockade.
Three men were beaten and stoned to death, allegedly by disgruntled community members in Vlei, in the Sweet Home Farms informal settlement near Cape Town.
Two of the men were found stoned to death on Monday, with their wrists had tied together.
The third man, believed to be in his 30s, was found dead near the bodies of the other two.
He seemed to have been assaulted and partly burnt
The motive for the killings was not known, but the men were alleged to have been involved in rapes in the area.
The police conducted door-to-door visits in the area last week to urge members of the community not to take the law into their own hands.
The SA Weather Service said more rain and possible flooding is expected in parts of the country in the coming days,
Forecaster Jaqueline Riet said a steep upper air trough was causing scattered to widespread rain and showers over the eastern half of the country.
This could cause heavy rain and possible flooding in Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, the northern parts of KwaZulu-Natal and the eastern half of North West province tomorrow.
Rainfall would decrease around Friday and Saturday, but another upper air trough was expected over the eastern half of the country by Sunday.
“This could once again cause scattered to widespread showers in the region,” said Riet.
A Russian official said potential sanctions by Washington against Moscow would lead to the “crash” of the US financial system and end its global financial domination.
Kremlin economic aide Sergei Glazyev said that Russia would reduce its economic dependency on the United States if Washington decides to impose sanctions against Moscow over the issue of Ukraine.
Glazyev said that Russia could stop using dollars for international transactions.
He said they would find a way not just to reduce their dependency on the United States to zero, but to emerge from those sanctions with great benefits for themselves.
The comments came a day after US President Barack Obama threatened Russia with sanctions.
Moscow’s military deployment to Crimea comes after Russia’s parliament gave the green-light to president Putin to use military forces to protect its interests in the Black Sea territory.
Two separate petrol price increases totalling 56c/l were set to hit motorists in less than a month, increasing the already record-breaking fee at the pumps.
Motorists were still reeling from the national petrol and diesel increase of 39c and 24c a litre respectively last month, which saw petrol rocket to a record R13.96 a litre.
The petrol price would go up another 36c/l for all grades at midnight, while levies on fuel will increase by 20c/l next month.
The Department of Energy said the price of crude oil and the weakening rand were the driving factors behind the increase.
Consumers are likely to feel the pinch in many areas, as the combination of petrol increases and the e-tolls take their own toll on pockets.
Last Wednesday, Shoprite Checkers announced that e-tolls would add about R4 million a year to their distribution costs.
For the first time in South Africa’s history, the cost of fuel was more than R14 per litre.
Petrol increased by 36 cents per litre at midnight while diesel wouldrise by between 27 and 28 cents per litre.
The South African Petroleum Retailers Association’s Gerrie Lewis said consumers would be hard pressed to deal with the latest rise at the pumps.
The Democratic Alliance continued its court bid today to prove laws governing e-tolling were unconstitutional.
The official opposition claimed a bill, which was passed in September 2013, should have been debated by the provinces as well as in Parliament.
Those opposing the application included President Jacob Zuma, the National Assembly speaker Max Sisulu and Transport Minister Dipuo Peters.
Today the South African National Roads Agency Limited will continue arguments in the Western Cape High Court, to defend the implementation of e-tolling and the laws governing it.
The DA claimed the Parliamentary process used to usher in the law was unconstitutional.
The matter could be debated for a second time in Parliament if the court rules in favour of the DA
A 16-year-old youth was arrested for allegedly raping a 3-year-old girl at the Jabulani hostel in Soweto.
Warrant Officer Kay Makhubela said the girl was playing with other children when the youth allegedly took her to the toilet and raped her last night.
Her parents came into the toilet and found her being raped
She was taken for medical care.
The youth was arrested and taken to a place of safety.
The civil war in South Sudan had left people so hungry and desperate for relief that they were even fleeing across the border into Darfur, a long-troubled region of famine and suffering in neighbouring Sudan.
The UN said about 900,000 South Sudanese were homeless since the war erupted in December, and about 195,000 of them have fled as refugees to Uganda, Ethiopia and even into Darfur.
The UN humanitarian coordinator for South SudanTony Lanzer said he never thought he would see people fleeing into Darfur.
Lanzer was organising donations for international relief aid in the coming weeks during the dry season, when roads are passable.
A total of 3.7 million South Sudanese are “food insecure,” or unsure of where their next meal will come from.
Witnesses and Lebanon’s official news agency said Syrian military helicopters had launched three raids in areas inside Lebanon close to the border town of Arsal.
Witnesses said helicopters carried out the raids in the largely unpopulated mountainous areas on the outskirts of Arsal near the Syrian border.
It was unclear if there were any casualties in the raids, which Lebanon’s National News Agency said hit the areas of Khirbet Yunin and Wadi Ajram.
Syrian war planes and helicopters regularly carry out air strikes and rocket attacks in the border area inside Lebanese territory.
In December, the Lebanese army used its air defence systems against Syrian helicopters after one such attack in the area around Arsal.
That was believed to be the first time the Lebanese army had responded to a raid, though it had previously threatened to do so.
Yabroud is part of an important rebel supply route that leads to pro-Syrian rebel towns in Lebanon, including Arsal.
The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance said Provincial legislatures must insist on debating e-tolling legislation as the SA National Roads Agency Limited implements future e-tolling projects.
OUTAS spokesperson John Clarke said “To exclude the provinces in bills of this nature is simply outrageous.”
President Jacob Zuma signed the amendment bill into law in September, in effect opening the way for e-tolling in Gauteng.
Clarke said to bypass provincial legislatures was to show contempt for the public interest and the constitutional rights of South African citizens.
The Democratic Alliance had applied to the Western Cape High Court to declare the legislation governing e-tolling unconstitutional.
Two years after the death of her five-year-old son, a mother pleaded guilty to his murder and child neglect.
Cindy-Lee Jansen and her boyfriend, Marco Rudolf Barnard, entered into a plea bargain in the High Court in Pretoria for Anthony’s murder.
Barnard pleaded guilty to culpable homicide for his part in the boy’s death.
Jansen and Barnard are alleged to have repeatedly assaulted the boy, who dying of head injuries.
He also had multiple bruises and cigarette burns on his body.
Judge Mahomed Ismail accepted the plea bargain, and said: “This is a very serious offence, which unfortunately resulted in the loss of a young boy’s life.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia cannot order the “self defence” forces in Ukraine’s Crimea back to their bases because the troops do not answer to Moscow.
Lavrov repeated Russia’s assertion that armed men deployed there are not Russian forces and said that Russia’s Black Sea naval personnel were in normal positions.
He vowed to prevent bloodshed in Ukraine, including attacks against its own citizens, saying they will not allow attempts against the lives and well-being of those who live in Ukraine and Russian citizens who live in Ukraine.
He also said it was up to the Crimean and Ukrainian authorities to grant international observers access.
Lavrov’s comments came as other top diplomats were meeting in Paris to try to find a solution to the crisis.
A woman died and four other people were rescued after their cars were swept away in flooding in Brits, in the North West.
Meisie van Tonder, aged 56, was found by police divers this morning, while the four others were rescued last night,
North West provincial government spokesperson Lesiba Moses Kgwele says van tonder and the four others were swept away by heavy floods on Tuesday afternoon.
She had not been accounted for after her car and another in which four occupants were rescued were swept away by the flooding De Kroon stream near the Brits Mall.
Kgwele said the provincial disaster management centre had been placed on high alert as the SA Weather Service predicted more heavy rains in the province over the next few days.
According to a United Nations report, Syrian government forces were waging a campaign of siege warfare and starvation against civilians as part of a military strategy.
The UN’s independent Commission of Inquiry said that Syrians were being “denied humanitarian aid, food and such basic necessities as medical care, and must choose between surrender and starvation.”
The report condemned what it called a “starvation until submission campaign.”
The commission said more than 250,000 people remain under siege in Syria, with the report covering a litany of war crimes and crimes against humanity carried out by both sides from mid-July last year to January 20.
It singled out 20,000 people trapped in Yarmouk refugee camp with no food or medical supplies.
The report said people have nothing to eat, having exhausted all their supplies and resorted to eating plant leaves, and reports of deaths from starvation were received
Nine bombings mainly targeting Shia-majority areas of Baghdad have killed at least 12 people, as Iraq suffers its worst violence in years.
Reports said the seven car bombs and two roadside bombs, which hit six different areas of Baghdad, also wounded more than 60 people.
Baghdad, one of the most frequently-targeted cities in the country, is hit by near-daily bombings and shootings.
Commercial areas are favourite targets for groups seeking to undermine government efforts to maintain security.
Violence in Iraq has killed more than 1,790 people since January 1, according to AFP figures based on security and medical sources.
Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the Islamic Movement, was sentenced to eight months in prison for allegedly inciting violence in a 2007 speech.
An Israeli Magistrate Court in Jerusalem sentenced Salah following his conviction in November 2013 for a sermon he gave at Jerusalem’s Wadi Joz neighbourhood.
During his trial he was found guilty of inciting what it called all Muslims and Arabs to “start an intifada to support Jerusalem and the holy Al-Aqsa mosque.
Salah was also given an additional eight months’ suspended sentence, which means he faces a similar sentence if he repeats the offence within three years.
The Aqsa Foundation for Heritage and Endowment said on its website that Salah’s lawyers will appeal the judgment.
The court condemned Salah on charges of “inciting violence”, in the case which is known as the “Sermon of Wadi El-Joz” during the events of Friday, February 16, 2007, which took place against the backdrop of the crime of the Israeli occupation which saw the demolition of a part of Al-Aqsa mosque through the Mughrabi Gate on February 6, 2007.
Judgment on whether the e-tolling legislation is unconstitutional and invalid was postponed in the Western Cape High Court.
Judge Owen Rogers said he would need time to deliberate on arguments around the tagging of the Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Act.
He said he cannot fix a date for the giving of judgment, but anticipated it will be in about two weeks.
The Democratic Alliance approached the court to have the amendments declared unconstitutional and invalid because they had not been passed according to what it deemed to be proper procedure, which would be with input from the provinces.
The respondents in the application are President Jacob Zuma, National Assembly Speaker Max Sisulu, National Council of Provinces chairman Mninwa Mahlangu, Transport Minister Dipuo Peters, the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral), and the National Treasury.
Cii News once again received confirmation that charge against the accused in an alleged sexual abuse case that occured in a Lenasia Masjid hadnot been dropped.
Police spokesman Warrant Officer Kay Makhubela said the accused had simply been released whilst the investigation was been finalised.
Separately the father of the victim, a former Muezzin himself, said he was shocked by the incident and shaken when witnessing the footage of the crime.
He said he required more support from the community and a swift justice be enacted
The trial of Al-Jazeera journalists put in the dock by Egypt’s coup regime has heard defendants charge they were tortured and denied medical care.
The high-profile trial is seen as a test of the military-installed government’s tolerance of independent media, with activists witnessing a return to autocracy three years after the Arab Spring uprising that toppled longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak.
The trial of the Qatar-based channel’s journalists also comes against the backdrop of strained ties with Doha, which was a strong supporter of Morsi and his now-banned Brotherhood.
The 20 defendants include well-known Australian reporter Peter Greste. Eight of them are in custody, and the rest on the run or abroad.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have said they are withdrawing their ambassadors from Qatar because Doha had not implemented an agreement among Gulf Arab countries not to interfere in each others’ internal affairs.
The three countries said the move was necessary “to protect their security and stability”.
According to a report published by Saudi state media on Wednesday, the decision to withdraw diplomatic envoys was made because Qatar did not implement a security pact about non-interference in the internal affairs of the other states that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
Final touches were being given to the first level of the temporary circular bridge over the mataf (area for circumambulation around the Holy Ka’ba) at the Grand Mosque in Makkah, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
Its entrances have been connected with the ground floor and the outer courtyards. All the provisions for safety, lighting, acoustics, ventilation and water drainage have been completed.
The upper level of the 12-meter-wide and 13-meter-high bridge was opened for wheelchiar-bound pilgrims by Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, head of the Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, last July. The top level currently connects to the first floor of the Grand Mosque.
The opening of the first level of the temporary bridge had been postponed until after Haj. With the opening of the two levels, the bridge will be able to accommodate 5,000 visitors an hour.
The United States and European diplomats failed to negotiate a peaceful solution to Ukraine’s crisis as Russia’s foreign minister refused to meet with his Ukrainian counterpart in Paris.
US Secretary of State John Kerry sought on Wednesday to arrange face-to-face talks between Russia’s Sergei Lavrov and Andriy Deshchytsia on the confrontation that started when troops, said by the US to be Russian, appeared in Ukraine’s autonomous republic of Crimea.
“Russia made a choice and we have clearly stated that we believe it is a wrong choice, that is the choice of moving troops to Crimea,” said Kerry.
“Russia can now choose to deescalate this situation and we are committed to working with Russia together with our friends and allies in an effort to provide a way for this entire situation to find the road to deescalation.”
In an interview with the Associated Press news agency, Deshchytsia said he had hoped to brief Lavrov on a Ukrainian plan to offer Crimea more autonomy while still claiming it within the country’s borders. Any vote taken toward autonomy would require international observers to replace armed groups in order to work, he said.
After an intense round of diplomacy with Lavrov and several European counterparts in Paris, Kerry said the meetings were “very constructive”.
India, the world’s biggest democracy, announced on Wednesday the start of national elections on 7 April that are expected to bring Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi to power on a platform of economic revival.
Voting for the 543-member parliament is set to take place in nine phases until May 12 with counting scheduled four days later on 16 May, when the ruling Congress party faces a probable defeat.
The biggest election in history will see 814 million adults eligible to vote, from the remote Himalayas in the north to India’s tropical southern tip – 100 million more than last time in 2009.
The Saudi port city of Jeddah witnessed a serious drugs crisis with 1000 incidents in the past two months alone wherein husbands divorced their wives stemming from drug abuse..
Expressing his concern about the situation, Yahya bin Fahm Al-Sulami, a judge at the District Court for Guarantees and Marriage Contracts, told Arab News,the government should introduce compulsory drug testing for anyone who wants to get married in the Kingdom.
Many parents in Jeddah agree that there should be mandatory testing of men who want to marry their daughters. They say there had been an increasing number of young people abusing drugs in the city.
A social worker said addicts are “violent and unreasonable” towards their wives and children. “His influence may also see other family members becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol.”
South African President Jacob Zuma received a hostile reception when he walked onto the pitch at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Wednesday night.
Jeers and boos rang out as Zuma’s name was called out and he walked to the field for the post-match ceremony following the international soccer friendly between Bafana Bafana and Brazil.
Zuma was handing over the hosting of the Fifa World Cup to Brazil, who are the host nation for the 2014 edition later this year.
Zuma was joined on a stage by Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, SA Football Association President Danny Jordaan as well as several Brazilian dignitaries, who received a commemorative plaque marking the event.
Zuma was famously booed at the memorial service of former state President Nelson Mandela, at the same venue, in December last year.
Eskom started power cuts.
Eskom spokesman Andrew Etzinger says there will be load shedding in different suburbs across the country.
He said it was likely to continue until 10pm.
Municipalities were informed of the need to reduce electricity and they would decide in which suburbs to cut power.
Etzinger said seven days of heavy rain had left coal stocks wet.
Eskom asked their large industrial customers, to reduce their consumption by 10 percent, but said it appears this will not be enough.
The United States had frozen more than $458m that the US Justice Department says former Nigerian leader Sani Abacha and his conspirators, obtained through corruption and hid in bank accounts around the world.
The department said in a statement that about $313m was restrained in bank accounts in the Bailiwick of Jersey and $145 million was restrained in bank accounts in France, on Wednesday.
It said it was pursuing additional holdings in the United Kingdom with an expected value of at least $100m, but that the exact amount would be determined later.
Abacha died in 1998 at age 54.
Nigeria has for years been fighting to recover his money, but companies linked to the Abacha family have gone to court to prevent repatriation.
According to Transparency International The former military dictator looted between $3bn and $5bn of public money during his five-year rule of Africa’s top oil producer from 1993 to 1998.
Reports emerged of bogus collectors in the Balfour area in Mpumalanga who were producing fake documents which supposedly had the signatures of Ulema and aid organizations.
The men who were said to be of Indian origin approached local resident, Iqbal Timol, who Chairman of the Balfour muslim organization to acquire funds for an alleged Islamic centre in India.
The organization they were supposedly collecting for was Madressa Jamiul Uloom in the Muzaffarnagar district in Basera, India.
The letter was supposedly undersigned by Moulana Yahya Bham and also bore the signatures of Moulana Adam of Rustenburg, and Anwar Ali Moosa from Ansaarul Muslimeen Dawa Centre in Lenasia.
Upon seeking confirmation from the various scholars and Organisation, it was found that Moulana Adam, had not signed a collection ketter of that sort for the past six years.
Moosa,said a collection letter signed by the Ansaarul Muslimeen dawa centre in Lenasia had long expired.
While Moulana Bham said he had no knowledge of the aforementioned letter, he said he will put out and email on such forms and have more safety features
The letters were conviscated from the two men by Timol, who said they were transported by a blue Toyota tazz, who usually brings collectors to the area.
Amnesty International said thousands fleeing violence in the Central African Republic are now facing another humanitarian crisis in neighboring Chad.
In a report, the organization said that many refugees, including a large number of children, are suffering from severe malnutrition and with no shelter other than the shade of trees.
It said the rainy season is due to start shortly and unless shelter, food and medical facilities are urgently made available, their already desperate situation will quickly deteriorate.
Amnesty International’s Central Africa researcher Christian Mukosa said It’s unacceptable for thousands of men, women and children who were forced to leave CAR fearing for their lives, to die here in Chad for lack of even the most basic assistance.
The UN says nearly 300,000 people have fled the violence in the CAR to Chad, Cameroon and Ethiopia.
The Central African Republic has been facing deadly unrest since December 2013, when Christian armed groups launched coordinated attacks against the mostly Muslim Civilians, in revenge for the Seleka group that toppled the government in March 2013.
SA Weather Service said rainy weather conditions were expected to continue in parts of the country for the next seven days.
Areas that would be most affected included Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West, KwaZulu-Natal, and the northern half of the Free State.
Forecaster Dransby Dulo said an 80% chance of showers and thunder showers was expected on Thursday and Friday in Gauteng, Limpopo, and Mpumalanga.
He said this could cause possible floods in the area.
A 60% chance of showers and thunder showers could be expected over the weekend in these areas.
The rainy weather conditions should clear up in the next seven days.
The leader of the Free Syrian Army Riad Al-Asaad survived an assignation attempt in Turkey by an explosive device planted in the engine of his car that killed his son Mohamed.
Al-Asaad announced the death of his son on Twitter.
This assassination attempt came almost a year after another attempt by a warplane affiliated to Bashar Al-Assad’s forces that targeted him in Deir Al-Zoor. His leg was cut in the incident.
Last November, several media outlets reported Al-Asaad had died, but he denied the news himself.
Al-Asaad has been critical of the performance of the Syrian opposition and called them agents of the Syrian regime. He said: “The revolution is on-going and it will sweep everyone in its way.”
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif held a meeting with peace talks committees representing the government and pro-Taliban fighters.
Pakistani news channel Geo News said the meeting took place at the premier’s house.
Speaking to media after the meeting, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan team’s leader Maulana Samiul Haq said they had discussed with the prime minister future strategy to carry forward the peace talks.
Samiul Haq further said the process was moving forward effectively, and noted that time had come for decisions to be made.
The Pakistani government has resumed stalled peace talks with pro-Taliban fighters to find a way to end the clashes that has claimed thousands of lives in the country over the past years.
Representatives of both the government and the TTP also met on Wednesday for the first time in three weeks.
A NATO air strike in eastern Afghanistan accidentally killed five Afghan soldiers.
The latest incident was likely to worsen already fraught relations between Kabul and the US-led coalition.
A Logar provincial official said government officials were in meetings to decide their response and to conduct a further investigation into the incident.
Ties between Kabul and Washington are already tense over the killing of Afghan civilians by US soldiers.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai says the United States and its Western allies launched the war in Afghanistan for their own interests.
The Afghan president also urged the United States to end air raids in Afghanistan, saying that, instead of militants, civilians are being killed in these airstrikes.
EWN reports said Public Protector Thuli Madonsela was expected to release her final report on the over R200 million rand upgrades to President Jacob Zuma’s private Nkandla residence later this month.
Madonsela has been investigating allegations of improper conduct and maladministration relating to security installations and upgrades at Zuma’s KwaZulu-Natal home, amounting to R208 million.
Her office confirmed she’s met with everyone implicated in her report to solicit their comments and was ready to make her findings public.
It’s also understood Madonsela had consulted with a task team from the ministerial security cluster to ensure her report did not compromise the president’s security before it is released publicly.
Madonsela’s spokesperson Kgalalelo Masibi says Madonsela will make the announcement on 19 March at 12:30pm.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union had called on the North West police chief and mineral resources minister to step down.
The union also called on the labour minister to stop trying disband AMCU.
Thousands of union members marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria this afternoon.
Amcu members have been on strike for more than a month, demanding salaries in the platinum sector be increased to R12,500 over three years.
The unions president Joseph Mthunjwa said that not even Jacob Zuma would be able to stand in their way over their wage demand
The union said Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant is colluding with mining bosses.
A representative from the Presidency accepted the memorandum of demands from protesters.
There was an armed robbery The Darul Uloom In Azaadville, west of Johannesburg.
Police said, according to information received, the perpetrators entered through a gate which is said to be always left open.
The assailants, who arrived in four vehicles, entered the office and pointed a firearm at an employee and proceeded to take cash to the value of around R10 000 from a small safe.
While attempting to get into the bigger safe, the man who was being held at gunpoint managed to scream, which caused the robbers to fire shots and flea from the scene.
According to Ml Rafiq Vally, the scholars go on a break from Thursday evening to Friday afternoon so staff would have been at a minimal.
No one was hurt in the incident.
No arrests have yet been made.
A Northern Cape man hacked his family to death with a metre-long axe in the early hours of Thursday morning.
It is alleged that the 53-year-old Douglas man went into a killing frenzy, chopping off the head of his 19-year-old nephew, while he was sleeping in his bedroom before also hacking the teenager’s mother to death.
The man then struck his 80-year-old mother, several times with the weapon, although she managed to crawl out of the house and was found lying in a pool of blood in front of the house.
Community members who did not want to be named said her intestines were hanging out and she had two open wounds on her back andShe would have died had they not arrived at the scene on time.
The man’s 17-year-old niece, Henrieta Langeveldt, managed to get out of the house and jump over a 1.7-metre-high fence to look for help.
Northern Cape police said that they have launched a manhunt for the alleged killer.
Eskom said the country’s power grid has stabilised and there’s a good chance no load-shedding will take place today.
The power utility has also withdrawn the emergency status it announced yesterday.
Eskom began implementing rolling blackouts across South Africa claiming that the relentless rain had caused the supply crisis.
Now it says the demand dropped significantly and the systems are stable.
The emergency was lifted at 10pm last night.
An incident of alleged police brutality in Cape Town, which was filmed by a member of the public, is being investigated by Western Cape police.
The footage was posted on Facebook by Nicole Speelman, who filmed the incident from her office in Cape Town.
In the footage, two uniformed police officers were seen punching and kicking a naked man. Security personnel were also seen holding the man’s arms.
Bystanders are seen walking past and stopping to observe.
Speelman also stated in a Facebook post that she yelled at police from her office window, and a policeman came up to her office to arrest her for screaming at the police.
Western Cape police spokesperson November Filander told eNCA that police were assessing the footage
Egyptian airport authorities barred 62 international female peace activists on Wednesday from entering Egypt en route to the besieged Gaza Strip for an International Women’s Day event.
Some of the activists were deported, while others stayed at Cairo Airport, staging a protest against the Egyptian authorities’ repressive measures against them,
The activists include Northern Ireland Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire, American human right campaigner Medea Benjamin, and Northern Ireland human rights advocate Anne Patterson.
Security sources told Anadolu news agency that the activists are listed as “unwanted individuals” at Cairo Airport, and that they have to enter Gaza through Israeli borders if they wish.
According to activist group CODEPINK, the delegation has planned to travel to Gaza “to witness the hardships facing the 1.7 million residents, deliver humanitarian aid, and call attention to the need for a longer-term strategy to achieve peace and justice for Palestinians.
Russia and the US were still stuck in a stalemate on Ukraine
However Vladimir Putin said relations between the two countries should not be sacrificed because of their differences.
President Putin’s remarks were carried in a Kremlin statement, following a Thursday night telephone call with President Obama.
During the one-hour call the US leader urged his Russian counterpart to engage with diplomatic efforts to defuse the crisis.
Crimea’s parliament voted unanimously in favour of joining the Russian Federation.
A referendum, asking whether the peninsula should retain ties with Kiev or join the federation, is due to take place on March 16.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said that Muslims are being “cleansed” from the west of the Central African Republic and thousands of civilians risk being killed right before their eyes.
Antonio Guterres told a meeting of the UN Security Council that thousands of Muslims had fled the country, as violence between Christians and Muslims continued to take its toll.
His comments came as the country’s foreign minister and the head of the UN both urged the Security Council to send additional international forces to the crisis-torn country.
Guterres said since early December we have effectively witnessed a cleansing of the majority of the Muslim population in western CAR.
Tens of thousands of them have left the country, the second refugee outflow of the current crisis, and most of those remaining are under permanent threat.
According to the UN, 650,000 people are internally displaced in the CAR due to the conflict, with more than 232,000 in the capital Bangui alone. Nearly 300,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries
Malaysia has banned an Ultraman comic book because it uses the word “Allah” to describe the Japanese action hero.
The Home Ministry said in a statement that the Malay-edition of “Ultraman, The Ultra Power” contained elements that could undermine public security and societal morals.
According to a statement, “Ultraman is idolised by many children” and equating the lead character, Ultraman King, with Allah would especially “confuse Muslim children and damage their faith”.
Allah, the Arabic word for God, is used by Muslims around the world to refer to the one and only God.
Rosli Ani, a representative of a Muslim NGO known as Per3, said Allah cannot be used by outsiders or Christians, adding that People now may know the difference but children will not.
The government says Allah should be exclusively reserved for Muslims because of concerns that its use by others would confuse Muslims and tempt them to convert.
South Africa’s national roads boss says Urban e-tolling is to be extended to KwaZulu-Natal and the rest of the country.
Nazir Alli, the chief executive of the South African National Roads Agency, also lashed out at opponents of the much-criticised system.
Speaking at the Progressive Professionals Forum’s infrastructure development symposium, Alli said Sanral planned to introduce the system throughout the country.
Alli declined to say when e-tolling would be implemented in KZN but said it would make sense to first roll it out on the N1 between Joburg and Cape Town.
He added that the argument that the fuel levy should pay for infrastructure was “inequitable” and wearing thin with the technological advancement of hybrid and electric cars.
Alli lashed out at the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) and its court challenges against e-tolling.
He also criticised the media for allowing the organisation to be heard, saying it had lost its battle in the Constitutional Court and taken R1 million from the DA to fund its legal fees.