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“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a conversation on #BlackTwitter about why the continent of Africa isn't on more black Americans' vacation wish list. Since I've spent most of my year in Zambia, the conversation piqued my interest.

Serengeti, Tanzania

Serengeti, Tanzania

I was floored and saddened by the ignorant and downright asinine comments made by people attempting (and failing) to be Twitter funny. I'm not going to call individual people out, but I screenshot some responses just so I could respond to exactly what was said. Here are a few of my favorite (read: dumbest) tweets:

"I see enough blacks daily. Why would I want to see more of y'all but darker?"

Wow. Self-hate much? Tupac said it best. "The blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice. I say the darker the flesh, then the deeper the roots." Black is beautiful. Period. And guess what? Just because an American is black, they're just that...a black American. That happens to be different than a black South African, for example. They have two totally different backgrounds and perspectives on life.

Further, plenty of people of various descents live in Africa. South Africa is a great example of this. There are people of African, European, Asian, and Indian descent born and living in South Africa, so being black and African isn't mutually exclusive. But I'm pretty sure the person who made this comment knew that already (insert sarcasm here).

"I don't imagine Africa good for anything except safaris. I know I'm wrong though."

Yeah, you are. While safaris are a great benefit to visiting the continent, they aren't even offered in all parts of Africa, so it's a very limited point of view. Many countries in Africa have bustling cities, beaches, mountains, and more. 

"It's expensive."

This may be true, but not always. South African Airways just had a deal to Johannesburg for about $500. That's better than most deals you can get to some parts of the Caribbean or Europe. As is the case for other destinations, there are ways to save money by using credit card and hotel points, Groupon, and other online resources. You need to plan and prepare for possible expenses with any major travel.

"There's nothing I want to see in Africa except the sphinx and pyramids."

Why is that? Because that's what history books told you that's all there is? Why hold such a limited view of what there is to see? There are many notable sites outside of Egypt, including Victoria Falls in Zambia & Zimbabwe, Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Table Mountain in South Africa and Aksum in Ethiopia, just to name a few. Don't get me wrong, the sphinx and pyramids are on my wish list too; they're just not on there alone.

Victoria Falls in Livingstone, Zambia

Victoria Falls in Livingstone, Zambia

"Because it's too hot for me."

Guess what? Africa has seasons. SURPRISE! It's not hot all of the time. Dry and rainy seasons vary from country to country. But if you do some research (hint, hint), helpful links like this one come up and can help you plan the best times to travel.

"I'm not trying to get sick."

What does this even mean? Sick from what? Malaria? Yellow Fever? Or just your ignorance?
There are vaccines and pills for everything under the sun, not to mention DEET mosquito repellent. And if you do happen to get diarrhea or the flu while visiting, there are pharmacies and hospitals where you can get medication. Imagine that!

"Black Americans have the same idea of Africa that other Americans have. It's desolate and dangerous."

I'm not going to lie and say there isn't any truth to this. There are some places that are desolate and dangerous, just as there are some desolate and dangerous places in the United States. It's all about perspective. If you do decide to visit somewhere dangerous, register with the State Department's STEP program, research, and use common sense while you're there.

Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa

"Why would I want to go?"

Because Africa is great. And I hate to speak in general terms (I realize Africa is a continent, not a country); however, I've been to 6 out of 54 African countries and I fall deeper in love with the continent with each place I go. Each country is different, with varying landscapes, languages, cultures and customs. No country is the same. That's why you should want to go. 

At the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania

At the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania

The biggest point I want people to takeaway from this post is to not be one of those people who says, "I don't want to go there or do this" without knowing why. Some of my greatest trips have been to places that weren't necessarily on my radar, but I was open-minded enough to go and had the time of my life. Don't let the media and what other people say influence your decisions to see what the world, including Africa, has to offer.

© Provided by Deutsche Welle ZA

The study should serve as a "wake-up call" to promote recovery of animal populations, Ken Norris of the Zoological Society of London said on Thursday.

The data provided by the Zoological Society has been compiled and published by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) for their Living Planet Report. In the study, the scientists paint a grim picture on vertebrates living in the wild, including mammals, bird, fish, amphibians and reptiles.

According to the document, the number of wild animals has plunged 58 percent between 1970 and 2012. If the trends do not reverse, the populations are set to reach a 67 percent drop by 2020.

"Wildlife is disappearing within our lifetimes at an unprecedented rate," Marco Lambertini, WWF International chief said in a statement. "These changes are critical to humanity," he added.

"Biodiversity forms the foundation of healthy forests, rivers and oceans. Take away the species, and these ecosystems collapse, along with clean air, water, food and climate services they provide us."

New mass extinction

Humans harm wildlife in several ways, most notably by destroying animals' habitats, overconsumption and pollution, according to the report. Factory fishing, for example, has emptied the seas of 40 percent of sea life, and nine out of ten fisheries are either over- or full-fished globally.

Conservation experts now agree that Earth has entered the sixth "mass extinction event" in the last half-billion years. These events are marked by species disappearing at least 1,000 faster than the usual rate.

Paris accord boosts hope

However, there is still a chance to reverse the trend, the report said.

"I don't speak at all about doom and gloom - we do see a lot of positive signs," WWF global conservation director Deon Nel told Reuters.

One of those signs is the Paris climate accord, in addition to a newly launched set of Un measures for sustainable development by 2030.

"We have succeeded in making a strong business case for climate," said WWF's chief Lambertini said. "Now we have to make an equally strong business case for conservation of natural systems."

This initiative is likely to be even more difficult, as negative impacts of disrupted eco-systems are "less direct and less tangible on a global scale," according to Lambertini.

Mercedes-Benz has revealed a concept version of its new mid-size X-Class pick-up truck. As the firm’s first truck in this segment, and the world’s first pick-up from a premium brand, it’s a hugely important vehicle for the upmarket car manufacturer – is it special enough to justify a premium price tag?

So why is Mercedes-Benz making a pick-up?

02_mercedes-benz_x-class_concept_pick-up© Provided by Motoring Research 02_mercedes-benz_x-class_concept_pick-up

There are Mercedes-Benz vans and trucks and buses, so why not a pick-up wearing the three-pointed star? This is an exalted premium brand that also has supreme brand bandwidth, probably greater than any other in the world.

Making a pick-up to tap into growing demand seems only natural. Did you know, for example, pick-ups are the best-selling type of car in Australia? 1 in 8 new cars in Argentina is a pick-up? Even in Britain, 1.3% of the new car market is pick-ups, and will thus be a top-four market for the X-Class. There’s a customer base there, alright…

WATCH: Mercedes-Benz X-Cross pick-up concept revealed

It’s actually based on a Nissan Navara

03_mercedes-benz_x-class_concept_pick-up© Provided by Motoring Research 03_mercedes-benz_x-class_concept_pick-up

The Mercedes-Benz X-Class shares a platform – and a factory in Barcelona – with the Nissan Navara and Renault Alaskan. This is through Daimler AG’s relationship with the Renault-Nissan alliance, although the firm is adamant that it offers something a bit different to its more mainstream rivals.

What does the boss say about it?

04_mercedes-benz_x-class_concept_pick-up© Provided by Motoring Research 04_mercedes-benz_x-class_concept_pick-up

Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, said: “With the Mercedes-Benz pickup, we will close one of the last gaps in our portfolio. Our target: we want to offer customers vehicles matching their specific needs. The X-Class will set new standards in a growing segment.”

One of the final remaining gaps in the brand’s enormous portfolio has at last been filled by the X-Class one-tonne mid-size pick-up – something that actually made Zetche rather emotional at the reveal event. “I hate gaps in the product line-up.”

So who are its target customers?

05_mercedes-benz_x-class_concept_pick-up© Provided by Motoring Research 05_mercedes-benz_x-class_concept_pick-up

Mercedes-Benz reckons the X-Class will “bridge the gap between commercial and private, urban and rural”. It’s a pick-up for those who’d rather be driving a posh car, a multi-function all-rounder for those who want car, SUV and van in one, but don’t want to really compromise in any. Builders and landowners are going to love it. Mercedes-Benz also mentions families with active lifestyles and cool adventury-type people, but so do all carmakers when describing new models, so we’ll just throw that in for reference here.

What are its rivals?

06_mercedes-benz_x-class_concept_pick-up

Maize prices in South Africa, the continent's top producer of the staple crop, are near record highs in the face of rolling heat waves and poor rains over key growing areas.© EPA / Patrick Seeger Maize prices in South Africa, the continent's top producer of the staple crop, are near record highs in the face of rolling heat waves and poor rains over key growing areas.

JOHANNESBURG - South African commercial farmers intend to increase the area planted with maize by 26.5% to 2.46-million hectares‚ in the 2017 production season‚ due to favourable weather forecasts.

The improved weather outlook will enable farmers to replenish maize stocks‚ which dropped significantly during the 2016 drought‚ resulting in higher food prices.

The area planted to white maize is expected to rise 43.4% to 1.45-million hectares while that of the yellow variety will likely rise 8% to 1-million hectares.

The increase in the area planted would likely put further downward pressure on grain prices‚ which have already dropped significantly from the record peaks they hit earlier this year.

The South African Weather Service said earlier this week the country could expect wetter conditions during the early and mid-summer periods.

The expected warmer conditions from the previous forecast had also subsided somewhat‚ which may be further evidence of wetter conditions in these periods‚ forecaster Cobus Olivier said.

In the case of sunflowers‚ the expected area planted is estimated at 670‚000 hectares‚ which is 6.8% less than the 718‚500 hectares planted last season.

The intended planting of soybeans has increased 2.6% to 516‚000 hectares.

© Copyright (c) Daily Maverick 2013, All Rights ReservedEditor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

In a somewhat unprecedented move, this summer's domestic T20 competition will go ahead without a title sponsor – unless something drastically changes in the next few weeks. This sheds some light on cricket's relevance and the country's economic climate, but that does not mean all hope is lost. By ANTOINETTE MULLER.

This season's domestic T20 competition in South Africa will go ahead without a sponsor – as things stand currently, anyway. Cricket South Africa announced this week that the competition, previously sponsored by RAM, will continue after the two parties could not agree on a deal for the 2016 edition of the competition.

The tournament is due to begin on November 12 and while it is possible that CSA might yet pull a rabbit out of a hat, it is looking increasingly unlikely. This news could not have come at a worse time. The governing body is desperately trying to make its T20 competition relevant and gain the same sort of growth that has made the Australian Big Bash so successful.

It is an unprecedented move. A fairly prominent competition going ahead without a title sponsor is almost unheard of in this day and age and CSA pressing ahead is most likely as a result of fairly healthy cash reserves ( in September, it announced a R107-million surplus, R89-million better than budgeted ). It also suggests that CSA feel that they are getting the model right and despite modest growth, feel that it is something worth persisting with.

There are many theories about why CSA has failed to find a sponsor, chief among them the fact that the investigation into attempted fixing during last season's competition has not yet been completed. CSA and RAM, however, have both denied that this is the reason.

The lack of a sponsor probably tells us more about the economic climate and cricket's relevance in South Africa. While the national team enjoys prominence, the domestic competitions have struggled to find footing – and bums on seats.

These numbers matter because sponsors pay handsomely for what is effectively a form of advertising. If the bums and eyeballs aren't there, there might be some reluctance to buy into the process. And considering the glut of options around the world, corporates might feel that their money is best spent elsewhere, especially considering that some of South Africa's biggest stars will be busy with international duty for a large part of the competition. While the competition might have attracted some overseas talent, it is struggling to whet the local appetite – both of fans and of sponsors.

Domestic cricket in South Africa doesn't pack quite the same punch as it does in other countries. Two years ago, the Ram Slam had an average audience of just 315,497 (for comparison, the Big Bash averages 1.1-million) with 1.76-million in total. In a country with a population of over 50-million, these are small figures. And while CSA has done a good job at selling off rights to an international audience, it's the local companies that want to see their return on investment for paying for sponsorship.

The low TV viewership is not exclusive to South Africa, though. In 2015, Finals Day of England's T20 competition recorded the lowest UK broadcast viewership since the competition began in 2003. Both these countries have something in common – aside from where their players were born. Both countries air domestic cricket exclusively on pay-TV. Australia, meanwhile, airs its cricket on free-to-air TV.

And while it certainly won't be the only thing that helps CSA pull a sponsor, shifting some of the domestic T20 competition to free-to-air TV could go a long way in increasing viewership and, as a knock-on effect, foster a cricket culture.

Such a move won't come without challenges. SABC only has three channels, and considering how expensive and inaccessible data still is in the country, online streaming isn't really an option.

But what if the SABC somehow found a way to make that happen? Or what if a channel like eNCA decide to dabble in sport?

Recent stats from Repucom show that just two out of every 10 people are interested in cricket and just over half of those have access to pay-TV channels, which makes the data from the international matches screened on SABC last season all the more interesting.

On average, the TV coverage on SABC has accounted for nearly 90% of the unique TV audience over the last 10 years. SABC's audience also spends more time watching cricket than any other sports in LSMs 5 and higher.

Not only are these golden figures for any sponsor, but it shows that the minority of people who are interested in cricket are dedicated to tuning in for longer periods. Whichever channel then chooses to take on the free-to-air option will benefit equally through advertising.

And it's not as if there isn't an appetite for sponsoring cricket. Sponsorship spend on cricket is a big deal. Globally, it increased from $417-million in 2011 to an estimated $479-million in 2015, according to IEG Research. South Africa was the fifth biggest spender, behind India, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. Considering the country's flagging economy, those are some pretty impressive stats.

So, while this season might see the entirely uninspiring "T20 Challenge" forge ahead, all hope is not lost. DM

Photo: South African bowler Morne Morkel (C) celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Indian batsman Gautam Gambhir during the Super Eight stage match of the World Twenty20 tournament between South Africa and India at Colombo, Sri Lanka, 02 October 2012. EPA/HARISH TYAGI

Every week, The Paper Round takes a look at a sport story and how it has been covered and dissected in the papers, both nationally and internationally. This week: Mamelodi Sundowns, the continental kings. By ANTOINETTE MULLER.

Yes, well, but what does it all mean? After Mamelodi Sundowns were crowned continental kings, by winning the African Champions League on Sunday night, that's a question we'd all like to answer. And it's a good one. After all, a South African team, with a former national team coach, has managed to conquer Africa, yet Bafana Bafana can't even get on the bus to try.

Nick Said, writing for TimesLive, believes that Sundowns' success will go some way in finally starting the journey out of the doldrums. He writes:

"The country's football has been in the doldrums over the last 15 years and the failure of the 2010 World Cup to turn the national team into a major force on the continent a source of some mirth. But Sundowns' success should go some way to dispelling those perceptions‚ and should have scouts and clubs from across Europe taking a closer look at the talent in the PSL. After all‚ if this league can produce the champions of a continent‚ then what other talent is available here?"

That's a fair point, but it's not like European scouts have completely ignored South African talent over the last few years. Yes, there's not exactly been an overflow of Saffas like some other African countries, but they've been there, they've just not always been that successful. Maybe the failures of some South African players in European leagues have turned scouts off the idea that talent exists here in the southern corner and perhaps this success will spell a revival; however, those scouts will first have to convince the players that packing up and leaving is a good idea.

PSL players have a notorious reputation for wanting to be the big fish in a small pond – as they are here – instead of having to adjust to the demands of European leagues. And then there is the struggle with getting players who ply their trade overseas to commit to national duty. There have been more than a few fallouts with clubs and country over the last few years, especially when it comes to things like the African Cup of Nations; not that South Africans have to worry about that for a few years – they will need to qualify for the thing first.

Over on Sport24, S'Busiso Mseleku has high praise for Patrice Motsepe, who bought the club in 2004. Owners of football clubs all across the world often have some completely bonkers ideas, but Motsepe has built an empire in Mamelodi and made good on a number of promises, as Mseleku notes: "The steady climb of Sundowns has seen them dominate the local football scene and it is not by chance that they are the most successful club domestically in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) era that started in 1996.

"They have already won seven league titles, while their trophy cabinet doesn't look shabby either. This has been achieved by ensuring that Sundowns always have some of the best – if not the best – players on their books. Motsepe also made a promise which he has kept: to make Sundowns players the best paid and most well looked after in the league."

While that's all well and good for the clubs who are lapped up by sugar daddies, it raises a curious question. Will we eventually start seeing the PSL mirror what is happening at some of the other big leagues across the world – where money does all the talking instead of investing in and developing grassroots structures? And, if it does happen, will it matter?

Let's be honest, sport is big business these days and if owners with a little bit of know-how can use it to their advantage – while pleasing the folks who pull the broadcasting rights strings – will anyone even care? We've already seen it happen with Cape Town City FC, where somebody decided they'd like a football club, but didn't like where it was and upped and moved the whole thing as if it were a mobile home. Chippa United has also played musical home ground for the last few years.

European football has many of its roots and strengths in the strong communities that surround it. Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Bloemfontein Celtic and Mamelodi Sundowns are some of the South African clubs that can boast with that luxury of community loyalty, but many other clubs seem to struggle to forge that bond with its supporters. For South African football to become truly successful, that is something that needs to change.

Something else that needs to change is how woeful the international team is and no sooner than you can say "men in suits" does Danny Jordaan enter the fray with his congratulatory message: "This victory will serve South African football very well and will help in building a competitive Bafana Bafana side which is part of our ‘Vision 2022'."

Translation: Thank goodness there's one team that is not completely shit that we can use as a benchmark for a vision four years into the future because the previous vision is looking a bit blurry right now.

A bunch of other teams and official types also wished Sundowns well and everyone pointed to the potential of "growing the brand" when the team heads over to Japan to compete in the Club World Cup.

All in all, this is a great win for South African football and for those passive fans who wish to ride on the coattails of glory.

But, we can't just finish this off there. The Guardian has a story about how Mortada Mansour, the Zalmalek chairman, blames "magic and sorcery" for the loss. Righto. DM

Photo: Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane celebrates after winning the African Champions League (CAF) Final second d leg soccer match between Zamalekand Sundowns Casablanca at Borg Al Arab stadium in Alexandria, Egypt, 23 October 2016. EPA/KHALED ELFIQI

© Copyright (c) Daily Maverick 2013, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

The news is getting surreal. The National Prosecuting Authority wants to throw Pravin Gordhan into jail, so Pravin exposes Gupta corruption. Students protest, buildings burn and universities have given up on holding exams, except for Stellenbosch University. All quiet on the winelands front. The police save us from the evils of a priest standing still. Zuma's chief lackey, Des van Rooyen, interdicts Thuli's report on state capture while the ANC praises her report on state capture. By TRISTEN TAYLOR.

The law of gravity is an instrument of Aryan repression. The ANCYL's chairperson, Collen Maine, is now in the running for a Nobel Prize in economics: apparently, junk status would be great for the country. And the patriotic Russians over at Eskom lurch closer to procuring a trillion rand of nuclear power.

Drama, drama, drama.

I hope that the craft beer swilling folks at the Democratic Alliance have also tripped over into wonderland. I really do because the DA's warning that the Department of Social Development won't be ready to disburse social grants on April 1, 2017 is, well, I can't think of a metaphor about how scary that is.

Seventeen million South Africans depend on social grants. That's about a third of the entire population. Meagre old age pensions and foster care grants are the only things preventing our people from returning to the days of apartheid's rickets and extended bellies. Yet we may not be able to pay social grants. How bad has it got if there is a shadow of a doubt about our welfare net?

Even if the odds are one in a hundred that we fail to pay granny's lifeline in seven months from now, we should be worried. The country will burn if people aren't paid their grants, and so it should. We don't deserve peace if we, out of administrative incompetence, throw 17-million back into extreme poverty.

Hennie Lötter, a South African philosopher, has pointed out that, "Poverty has been called ‘the world's most ruthless killer and the greatest cause of suffering on earth'." The social grants scheme is one of the ANC's finest policy decisions. But let's not go overboard with the praise – helping out the poorest of us is no fantastic moral virtue, it is the very least we can do. We would have lost the remnants of our humanity if we hadn't.

But we have somehow stopped talking about poverty. Or HIV/Aids for that matter. Poverty and HIV/Aids should be the headline news, every single day. We should be tweeting about the desperation in Bloemhof, Lindley and Zastron. And no, they aren't obscure parts of Zamdela. Look ‘em up on Google Maps: I know you're reading this on a smartphone that costs more than a war veteran's grant, so no excuse. Especially since you got free wi-fi with your overpriced latte.

One of the reasons, I think, that we focus on everything but the daily hardships of the majority is that poverty seems so normal. South Africa's inequality is omnipresent: there are the rich and there are the poor and that's the way it has been and always will be. If so, then we have a horrendous collective failure of imagination.

To channel Norman Mailer, fug that. I'm gonna dream that within my lifetime South Africa will have 10% unemployment. I hope that all our kids will not only have enough to eat but can also go on a holiday: even if it is only a trip from the Cape Flats to the beach where they can smear ice cream all over their precious faces. Yes, some children in Manenberg have never gone to the beach.

We should all dream about the eradication of poverty, and to make that dream a reality we need to talk about poverty. All the time.

Another reason, I suspect, why the middle-class is obsessed with flights out of Waterkloof and Game of Thrones instead of foster care grants and shacks is that poverty rattles our conscience. We sit in cafés and throw down a couple of hundred rand. We can't get our kids off the PlayStation, which is most annoying as we also want to save the galaxy one pixel at a time.

Very few of us would have domestic workers if they were paid a living wage of R8,000 a month. You'd have to carry your own golf clubs if our economic system functioned. Heck, the entire economy is based off cheap black labour in mines, farms and smelters. Our nearly 40% unemployment helps to lower wages: the poor have to fight each other for scarce jobs, bidding down their labour value while we reap the benefits.

The guilt of driving a new car while kids walk 10km to school in shoes that their parents bled for leads to weak and desperate justifications. We have jobs because we work hard: try working underground and you'll see what hard work is. We had parents who invested in us: all over this country people are trying their level best just to keep their kids in school, off nyaope and away from violence.

If you think that black people are lazy, please emigrate to America and join Donald Trump.

We should all be ashamed of our inequality and poverty. Hiding away in gated communities and complaining about corruption won't defeat poverty: we have to discuss it. As for the ANC, stop dazzling us with the soap opera of your factional battles. Get back to your desks and make this country what it should be: a country where, "Slums shall be demolished, and new suburbs built where all have transport, roads, lighting, playing fields, crèches and social centres." DM

Tristen Taylor is a Mellon Foundation post-doctoral fellow in philosophy at Stellenbosch University. He used to be the Project Co-ordinator at Earthlife Africa Jhb.

National Director of Public Prosecutions, Shaun Abrahams, says the state will fight the so-called spy tapes ruling, but there is no guarantee that the High Court or the Appeal Court will allow its challenge to go ahead. PICTURED: Shaun Abrahams© eNCA National Director of Public Prosecutions, Shaun Abrahams, says the state will fight the so-called spy tapes ruling, but there is no guarantee that the High Court or the Appeal Court will allow its challenge to go ahead. PICTURED: Shaun AbrahamsCAPE TOWN – Two constitutional rights groups challenging the criminal charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on Wednesday filed a further affidavit suggesting that the NPA was fishing for information to bolster its case.

Freedom Under Law and the Helen Suzman Foundation said in their supplementary papers that they became aware on Wednesday that a subpoena was issued to the CEO of the Government Pensions Administration Agency last Thursday.

The subpoena, which is attached to their affidavit, instructs Krishen Sukdev to provide copies of documents submitted relating to the early retirement of former Sars deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay as well as an affidavit explaining the approval of requests from 3,000 other government employees to retire before the age of 60.

It also demands proof that Gordhan was responsible for such approval in five cases.

The director of the Helen Suzman Foundation, Francis Antonie said the subpoena showed that the NPA rushed to charge Gordhan without having sufficient evidence and was now trying to build a case.

“The subpoena is an indictment of the investigative and prosecutorial process,” he argued in the submission.

“It is also clear that the NPA … had never completed sufficient investigations, nor had sufficient evidence to take the formidable decision to prefer charges against Minister Gordhan.”

The rights groups have gone to court to force the NPA to withdraw a fraud charge against Gordhan relating to the decision to allow Pillay to take early retirement with full benefits.

The finance minister is due to appear in court on November 2.

Tshiamo (Supplied to News24)© Provided by http://www.news24.comTshiamo (Supplied to News24)Johannesburg – A Soweto mother says she has been feeling bereft since her toddler was abducted during a house robbery on Tuesday night.

“I am not in a good space and I just feel empty and torn inside. A part of me is dead and I can’t even express the way I feel,” Mandisa Mlambo told News24 on Wednesday.

“I keep asking myself if he is still alive. I also can’t stop thinking about his smile. He has so much energy and loves playing with his toys,” she said.

The 14-month-old toddler, Tshiamo, was taken during a robbery at their home in Protea Glen, Extension 28, Soweto.

He was dressed in blue jeans and a grey jacket. He was sleeping when the two men who broke into their house took him.

“I felt helpless and there was nothing I could do to stop them when they took him,” Mlambo said.

'Worst thing ever'

The 29-year-old said she returned home from work at 20:30 and noticed two men standing at the corner of her house. They attacked her and forced her into her house. Armed with a knife, they demanded money from her and the nanny.

“What happened was the worst thing ever. I wouldn’t wish something like this on anyone. I was held hostage at our own home, a place I call my comfort zone.”

After the suspects took the money she had on her, they forced Mlambo into her car and went to Protea Glen shopping mall, where she was told to withdraw money from the ATM. She did not know how much money was taken.

They returned to the house and took cellphones, clothes, and other items. They also took the sleeping toddler.

They tied Mlambo and the nanny up with a rope. The women managed to free themselves around 05:30 in the morning and asked neighbours for help.

Police spokesperson Captain Mpande Khoza said the suspects later withdrew more money from Mlambo’s account at an ATM in Johannesburg.

“We are following every lead and we will keep tracing their movements,” he said.

Anyone with information about the crime could contact Colonel van Wyk on 082-308-7487.

© Copyright (c) IAFRICA.COMThe Economic Freedom Fighters have responded to Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s recommendations for tertiary education, saying that they expected far more drastic change.

“We believe that broadly, the MTBPS did not propose fundamental and structural changes on the nature, form and content of the South African budget,” says acting spokesperson and chief whip Fana Mokoena.

The party attributes this lack of change to a “lack of courage” within government, with particular regards to higher education.

The criticism comes despite Gordhan’s comments in his speech that finding a solution to the current crisis in education should be government’s highest priority.

“We are especially mindful of the need to expand access to post-school education opportunities,” says Gordhan in his MTBPS. “But this is not enough: our progress rests on improvements in the entire education system.”

Gordhan has taken some progressive action, allocating R9-billion to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), and another R8-billion to subsidise fee increases for the ‘missing middle’.

The EFF, meanwhile, believes that all students should have been told that free education can indeed be funded, “through consolidation of a budget framework that primarily prioritises funding of higher education”.

It asserts that budget adjustments can make free tertiary education a reality, despite the fiscal concerns of the National Treasury.

“This is a noble commitment which government should make in the immediate or the 2016 academic year will be collapsed, and this might apply to the coming academic years as well,” Mokoena says.

Both the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Cape Town, among others, have committed to completing the academic year, but ongoing protests and calls for shutdowns confirm the EFF’s concerns that the next few years will continue to be volatile in the absence of concrete government intervention.

“The EFF has officially tabled a perspective on the funding of fee-free education for all, and will present to the Standing Committees on Finance and Appropriations and engage many sections of society with the aim of finding a lasting solution,” says Mokoena. “The piecemeal allocation of funds via NSFAS Loans is not sustainable, and not worth celebrating.”

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