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Wednesday, October 17 2018 @ 12:32 pm UTC

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Teacher stress and safety challenges

Debbie Schäfer.

WESTERN CAPE NEWS - Debbie Schäfer, Western Cape Minister of Education, joined thousands of teachers in the province on Friday 5 October to celebrate World Teachers' Day.

With the recent flare-up of attacks on teachers across the country, it is important that Government has programmes in place that provide psycho-social support to all teachers in need, said Schäfer. "We are aware that a number of our teachers are faced with increased disciplinary challenges in their classrooms."

World Teachers' Day represents an effort to raise awareness, understanding and appreciation for the vital contribution teachers make to education and development across the world.

The Western Cape's theme this year is "The Year of Value-Driven learning". The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has also adopted a mindset change programme, which aims to help individuals make the shift from adopting negative attitudes to positive approaches instead.

Through the Employee Health and Wellness programme (EWP), the WCED aims to address teacher stress and safety challenges.

This includes:

Profiling schools in gang and violent areas (which commenced at the start of 2017) and offering EWP services.
An agreement with the EWP service provider to make contact with schools in gang and violent areas and advocate services and support. The service provider will also make contact with schools where incidences of violence, trauma and gangsterism are reported.
For 2019, an agreement was forged in the Provincial Education Labour Relations Council (Perc) to focus specifically on teachers in schools at risk and provide psycho-social support and training interventions.
During the period 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018, 30 group trauma debriefing sessions took place at schools across the province, benefiting approximately 471 teachers.

Incidents supported during group trauma debriefing sessions are: loss of learners, loss of teachers, hijacking, stabbing, violence, armed robbery and gang violence.

The top psycho-social issues presenting in teachers accessing the EWP services are:

Relationship issues (personal);
Organisational issues (work relations, performance management);
Mental illness / psychiatric problems;
Schäfer stressed that the department requires the assistance of parents and community members. "They too have a crucial role to play. Parents need to take primary responsibility for their children's discipline and values and also need to set the right example of how one should behave.

Parents must also be made aware that if their children do choose to behave inappropriately towards a teacher, their children's actions will have severe negative consequences," said the MEC.

"We do not want to see learners' futures jeopardised through such unnecessary and unacceptable actions and we trust that this will serve as a caution. Our teachers are our most important resource, not just for the WCED, but for the country as a whole. They are valued professionals and should be given the respect that they deserve."

Schäfer wished all the teachers a happy World Teachers' Day and extended a big "thank you" for what they do.
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The power utility’s decision to overvalue its assets at R1.3 trillion when they are allegedly worth R200m will worsen its position.

Plus, Eskom’s decision to overvalue its assets at R1.3 trillion when they were worth R200 million would worsen its position.

BUSINESS NEWS - Power utility Eskom is clutching at straws if it thinks plans to unbundle or sell some of its core assets to prevent bankruptcy are feasible, since such a decision is unlikely to get the nod from its main stakeholders – its creditors, government and unions.

This is according to energy expert Ted Blom, who added that without agreement among all parties, the plan was a mere pipe dream.

The Sunday Independent yesterday reported that plans to privatise sections of Eskom allegedly emerged after senior executives met last week to discuss the company’s continuing financial woes.

Both the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) have rejected any suggestion of privatisation of the state-owned enterprises because, they claim, that would result in job losses.

Blom said while the benefits of unbundling or breaking up the assets were good in terms of improving transparency and governance, it would be impossible without determining who was going to bear the R1 trillion missing from its balance sheet and its massive debt.

Plus, Eskom’s decision to overvalue its assets at R1.3 trillion when they were worth R200 million would worsen its position.

NUM general secretary David Sipunzi said they were opposed to any form of privatisation and such a decision must be made in consultation.

“We believe that if Eskom wanted to unbundle, we would have been engaged. There needs to be consultation, but we know there are people who are running down Eskom so, when it is sold, it would be sold for one cent,” Sipunzi said.

He said if Eskom was to be sold, it had to be sold “voetstoets” and that should be preceded by public consultation as the asset was a public entity.

Sipunzi expressed concern that privatisation would also effectively increase electricity tariffs, which would be borne by the consumers, with the poor particularly likely to be affected.
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RUGBY NEWS - South Africa are working to improve their consistency and execution after an embarrassing loss to Argentina as they prepare for an intense clash against the Wallabies this weekend.

The Springboks face Australia in a Rugby Championship match in Brisbane on Saturday, determined to bounce back after being hammered 32-19 by the Argentines in Mendoza.

Coach Johan "Rassie" Erasmus said he was ashamed by the defeat after a solid 34-21 win over the South Americans in Durban the week before.

The squad have been trying to fix what went wrong, with a focus on their failure to convert scoring opportunities.

"We felt we played really well in Durban and let ourselves down in Argentina with our execution," assistant coach Matt Proudfoot said in Brisbane.

"So we are looking for the same consistency and to play with the same level of physicality like in Durban.

"Our execution, whether at breakdown or from set piece, needs to improve across the board," he added.

The Springboks face an Australian team hurting after two heavy defeats by New Zealand, and Proudfoot said he was wary of a Wallabies side desperate for a win.

"They will be determined to bounce back and will no doubt be in our faces, so we need to prepare with the same intensity that we can expect from them on Saturday," he said.

"We are in fact two teams looking to bounce back, so I think this game is going to be crucial for both sides, to see how each one responds.

"It will be a tight game played on the advantage line by both sides who will be looking to get on the front foot."

South Africa have recalled hooker Schalk Brits to their squad ahead of livewire Akker van der Merwe, and also handed uncapped Toulouse outside back Cheslin Kolbe a chance.

Kolbe had previously been ignored by national coaches who believed he lacked a Test physique, but Proudfoot said he deserved an opportunity.

"I think he deserves his chance in the group because I think he has really performed well (for Toulouse)," he said, adding that Kolbe "can really create something out of nothing".
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NATIONAL NEWS - A Centurion fire that has been burning since Saturday evening will take days before it is completely put out, Tshwane emergency services said on Sunday afternoon.

Spokesperson Johan Pieterse said personnel from two fire stations had been on site in Sunderland Ridge since Saturday night to ensure the fire did not spread to another stack of tyres about 20 metres away, Centurion Rekord reports.

“The emergency services team will remain on site until the fire, which is likely to burn for a number of days, is completely out, while the environment and agriculture management team will monitor the impact of air pollution at the Pretoria West air quality monitoring station.

“These tyres are stored in an open field to be used as a rifle shooting range.”

He said the cause of the fire was subject to investigation, and that the metro’s environment and agriculture management department would also investigate the legality of storing tyres on such a site.

Pieterse said the intensity of the fire as well as the limited access to water in the area posed a challenge to their work.

“This is the second time we’ve had a fire in this area. We had one about a year and two months ago.”
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VAT and fuel price hikes

The unneccessary burden on South African pockets

It has been a bumpy ride for South Africans thus far. In the stint of less than a year, we've seen and experienced a lot. From the euphoric developments like the unseating of a despised president to the first positive Cabinet reshuffle in almost a decade, but then the depressing surprises of a VAT increase and weighty consecutive fuel price increases.

Particularly, the negative one of fuel prices has stirred much anger while catapulting the poor into deeper pockets, with an unfazed government of corrupt delinquents plundering scores from the heaps of tax raked from the people.

The price of petrol stood at a considerate R6.92 in July 2008 and increased exponentially to R15.53 in July 2018 at the coast, and from R7.16 to R16.02 inland – nearly tripling in the last decade translating into a whopping 124. 42% and 123.74% respectively.

Reason for the price hikes? External factors, they claim.

Actually, these external factors such as oil prices and a weak Rand shouldn't be too much of a problem. Some of our neighbouring countries source their petrol from South African-based SASOL, yet, on average, sell fuel around R5 cheaper than the price in the manufacturing country!

Instead of further burdening a financially strapped nation with exorbitent fuel prices and a VAT increase, government should have explored other methods to garner the defecit.

1. Reduce the size of our ridiculously large cabinet

It is no secret that the incompetent cabinet President Cyril Ramaphosa inheritted from Jacob Zuma costs South Africans a prodigious amount totalling nearly a billion Rand, R720 million to be precise.

Getting rid of all unneccessary departments through merging should actually be one of President Ramaphosa's top priorities. Here are millions to be saved, but elitist favour demands otherwise.

2. Reduce the almost useless levies

Most parastatals were infested by the pervasive network of Gupta-brokered corruption and are now going through the consequences.
In particular, the Road Accident Fund has failed. It bites a chunk of R1.93, yet financially it continues to hover in the red with contingent liabilities amounting close to R190 BILLION!

Much of the company's income has been unaccounted for, leaving us all to wonder whether it's worth to continue contributing to something clearly lacking credibility and accountability.

The fuel levy has a similar negative story to tell. Where are all those billions? Why don't we see the benefits?

3. Do away with government-regulated prices

I recently read an interesting article by Martin van Staden of the Free Market Foundation who proposed a good way to force the prices of our fuel down by enabling competition in the industry.

This, he writes, is normal in most countries except South Africa. For instance, in the United States a consumer can drive just a few kilometers more and fill up for less, which obviously forces other companies to lower their prices to win customers.

4. #TakeBackTheTax

This is a new campaign that could effect the return of BILLIONS if its calls are heeded by top ranking officials in the government.

It has revealed that around R7 BILLION are lost to illicit trade of cigarrettes. A lot could be done with this money, and again, government just prefers the easy way to raise funds instead.

That said, let's wait for government to heed our calls. Hopefully it isn't too much to ask to be relieved from fuel price increases and a VAT increase meant to make us pay for money that was stolen from our own pockets.
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Ramaphosa says SA in grip of violent war on women

NATIONAL NEWS - President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday called for an end to what he termed a violent war on women in South Africa and said a summit would be held at the end of the month to mull ways to stop it.

Ramaphosa said: “In towns small and large, in cities, in homes, in schools, in colleges, in universities, in parks and open spaces, a war is being waged in South Africa on women’s rights to security and equality. It is an affront to our common humanity,” Ramaphosa told the Women’s Day rally in Paarl in the Western Cape.

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Mielies vir Suid-Kaap-boere

MOSSELBAAI NUUS EN VIDEOS - 10 Vragmotors met mielies het gisteraand in Mosselbaai aangekom.

Drywers van die trokke staan vanoggend trots voor hul vragmotors by Cobra Transport buite Mosselbaai en wag om aflewerings te begin doen.

Die mielies kom vanaf Fochville en is bestem vir Suid-Kaap-boere wat geraak word deur die droogte.

Die projek het oorspronklik begin om aan Calvinia hulp te verleen en het uitgebrei na ander omgewings wat ook hulp nodig het.

Die projek word bestuur deur Burre Burger (082 97 09219) en gefonds deur die algemene publiek en ondernemings.
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3 Months jail time for smoking in your own home

NATIONAL NEWS - The citizens of the Republic of South Africa have until middle August to comment on the proposed new Tobacco Control Bill.

The proposed Tobacco Control Bill has caused uproar as it suggests jail time (up to three months) for persons who smoke in public conveyance, who smoke in cars containing either other persons or any person under the age of 18 and for persons who smoke in their own homes if they employ a domestic worker, garden services, tutor or Au-pair.

The proposed bill will also make it illegal for restaurants, pubs and clubs to have designated smoking areas inside.

Furthermore, smoking inside any building will be prohibited, as will smoking in certain outdoor spaces such as beaches and sport stadiums.
The proposed bill also holds property owners responsible for anyone that smokes on their property.

Should you own property and fail to display sufficiently visible “no smoking” signs, you could be jailed for up to a year.

If the proposed bill is passed, smokers will essentially only be able to smoke in a designated area outside that is at least five meters away from doors and windows.

If this bill is successfully passed, the tobacco industry will face major changes.

The bill also proposes plain packaging for cigarettes, such as that which has already been implemented in Australia.

The danger of plain packaging is that it opens the door to illicit trade by making it easier for crooks to disguise illegal cigarettes as the real thing.

South Africa has already lost R27 billion in revenue since 2010 due to the illicit trade of cigarettes, and this loss could potentially increase by 30% after the proposed bill is passed, if the trend in Australia holds true.

This bill is also radically different to previous legislation in that it classifies e-cigarettes and vaporizers as tobacco dispense devices, which means that they will be subject to the same aforementioned new rules which will apply to cigarettes.

South Africans have the power to stop this bill in its tracks by submitting their comments on it via email to lynn.moeng@health.gov.za before August 10.

Article: Caxton publication, Witbank News
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NATIONAL NEWS - The Department of Water and Sanitation published a report

that painted a stable picture of the water situation around the country but has emphasized that South Africa is not out of the woods just yet.

Recent rains around the country have given a glimmer of hope that the days of the water crisis might soon be over even though it is too early to consider lifting water restrictions.

Gauteng takes the top spot with dam levels almost at full capacity at 99.7%.

The figures indicate a great improvement from 2017 where levels were recorded at 90.2%. The Vaal Dam is among the water resources that has recorded the highest levels in the country at 97.6%. It is important to have the Vaal Dam at full capacity because it services Gauteng, the economic hub of the country. The dam has improved by three percent since last year.

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Minor petrol price hike in August

The wholesale price of illuminating paraffin will rise by 4 c/l, while the retail price of LPG will increase by 17 c/kg.

JOHANNESBURG - The Department of Energy has announced that the fuel price is set to rise by 1 cents a litre and diesel will cost 4 c/l less from 1 August.

The wholesale price of illuminating paraffin will rise by 4 c/l, while the retail price of LPG will increase by 17 c/kg.

The Automobile Association's Layton Beard says the increase can be attributed to the improved currency exchange rate.

“The exchange rate performances and the increase in international oil prices have resulted in this increase that we’re seeing now that’s being announced by the Department of Energy. During July, the recent weakening trade of the rand against the US dollar slowed and over the same period, international oil prices showed a slight average decrease.”

At the beginning of July, 93 octane costed 26 cents more, while 95 went up by 23 cents per litre.

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