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South Africa: Today’s latest news and headlines, Monday 4 January

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It’s the first Monday of 2021, and while most of the country is still in holiday mode, the news cycle has not taken a break over the festive season. Let’s take a look at the latest news and headlines on Monday 4 January 2021.

Unsurprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic has dominated the news as it has for all of 2020. As the country grapples with the spread of the virus in the second wave of infections, questions are being asked about whether South Africa’s acquisition of the vaccine has fallen short and risked the lives of more people.

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Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Sunday 3 January looked to allay fears about South Africa’s access to the vaccine, by leading a briefing of the health ministry.

TODAY’S LATEST NEWS IN SOUTH AFRICA, Monday 4 January  

COVID-19 vaccine: 67% of population to be immunised by end of 2021

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced on Sunday 3 January 2021 that the COVID-19 vaccine is expected to become available in South Africa from the beginning of the second quarter, with the majority of citizens expected to be immunised by the end of 2021.

During a virtual briefing to the media held over Zoom on Sunday, Mkhize said that the government is working hard to agree on deals with a variety of initiatives – including the Covax facility and various world nations – to ensure that at least 67% of the population receives a vaccine in this calendar year.

“We are targeting for 67% of the population to achieve herd immunity,” he said. “Therefore we would say that the first phase will deal with frontline workers, then essential workers, the elderly, and those with co-morbidities. This will be complemented later with immunisations to 22 million people.”

Zimbabwe closes its borders amid a surge in COVID-19 cases

The government of Zimbabwe have instituted a 30-day national lockdown closing its international borders.

The International Cross-Border Traders Association (ICTA) confirmed that no travel into or out of Zimbabwe would be allowed until the end of January at the earliest.

Zimbabwe’s government reinstituted a national lockdown on Saturday 2 January causing great concern for those in the country that rely on informal cross-border trade to make ends meet.

Hospitals, pharmacies and supermarkets will remain in service along with other essential services with the hard lockdown sparking despair in some and anger in others.

A landlocked country, Zimbabwe is bordered by South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique. The country is particularly reliant on imports from South Africa and suffers frequent shortages of essential goods.

WHAT MBUYISENI NDLOZI SAID ABOUT NELSON MANDELA

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has joined the chorus of criticism directed at government over its handling, or is mishandling, of the procurement of a vaccine to combat COVID-19.

The trade union federation said President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration has displayed “gross incompetence” while managing the country’s procurement process.

As the country’s Covid-19 caseload surpassed the grim 1 million mark last Sunday, President Ramaphosa announced stricter lockdown measures. He also said that a vaccine will become available, but only in the second quarter of 2021 through the COVAX facility, adding that the government is engaging with various pharmaceutical companies over their vaccine candidates.

Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said that these negotiations are taking place “a little too late” as the country battles the second wave of infections fuelled by a new variant of the virus said to me “more infectious.”

Pamla said the government is “trying to explain something that cannot be explained,” and then referred to the “bureaucratic bungling” that characterized the HIV-Aids crisis in the country saying the circumstances are eerily alike.

“When we went into a lockdown earlier in 2020 we all understood our health system was going to collapse, they needed to make sure that they are not just ready with health and safety mechanisms and PPE, but also they would have worked with all the suppliers of the vaccine to make sure that at least those people that we expect them to keep the lights on and yet we don’t seem to have a plan. No, it’s gross incompetence, its gross incompetence.”

Pamla says the least government could have done was to ensure healthcare and essential workers have access to the vaccine by now.

SA man who survived 9000km flight at -60C clinging to a jet from OR Tambo to Heathrow gets asylum

A stowaway who clung to the undercarriage of a jumbo jet and survived an 11-hour, 9000km flight from South Africa to London has spoken for the first time of his terrifying journey, recalling how he emerged from a coma months later to learn his best friend had fallen 5,000ft from the aircraft to his death.

Themba Cabeka, 30, was unconscious in hospital for six months after being discovered on the grounds of Heathrow Airport.

He had been starved of oxygen and subjected to temperatures of -60C as the British Airways jet flew from Johannesburg on June 18, 2015.

Only two people have lived after stowing away to Britain: Pardeep Saini, a car mechanic from Punjab, who endured a ten-hour flight from Delhi to London in 1996, and now Cabeka.

7 bodies retrieved from Mohokare River at Lesotho-SA border

Lesotho police have recovered the bodies of seven people believed to have been trying to cross into South Africa through the Mohokare River.

The first body was discovered just before Christmas, with the seventh body retrieved last night, reports said.

It’s believed the deceased were trying to cross into South Africa via the river using what seemed like mattresses.

There are fears that there could be more bodies in the water.

The deaths follow news that 41 people who crossed illegally from Lesotho into South Africa were arrested Saturday.

LATEST WEATHER FORECAST, Monday 4 January  

Take a look at weather forecasts for all nine provinces here.

LIVE TRAFFIC UPDATES FOR CAPE TOWN, JOHANNESBURG AND DURBAN

Stay one step ahead of the traffic by viewing our live traffic updates here.

Horoscope today

Free daily horoscope, celeb gossip and lucky numbers for Monday 4 January.

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