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Thousands protest Rwanda in eastern DR Congo city

Thousands of anti-Rwanda protesters marched through the eastern DR Congo city of Goma on Monday, AFP journalists saw, as M23 rebels tightened their grip on the surrounding countryside.  

A mostly Congolese Tutsi group, the M23 resumed fighting in late 2021 after lying dormant for years, accusing the Democratic Republic of Congo’s government of failing to honour an agreement to integrate its fighters into the army. 

The group’s resurgence has destabilised regional relations in central Africa, with the DRC accusing its smaller neighbour Rwanda of backing the militia.

The frontline between the Congolese military and the M23 had been calm for several weeks, but fresh clashes from October 20 saw the militia make advances across North Kivu province. 

ALSO READ: DR Congo warns of ‘militarising’ wildlife parks in Rwanda spat

Rebels in recent days seized the towns of Kiwanja and Rutshuru, along a strategic highway leading to the provincial capital Goma, which lies on the Rwandan border.

The DRC’s government decided to expel Rwanda’s ambassador on Saturday. Rwanda stated that it had noted the decision “with regret”.

On Monday, thousands of people demonstrated against Rwanda in Goma, according to AFP journalists, where police officers used tear gas to disperse them from the border post with the country. 

“We denounce the hypocrisy of the international community in the face of Rwanda’s aggression,” said Mambo Kawaya, a civil society representative attending the demonstration.

Protesters chanted for weapons to fight Rwanda, as well as slogans hostile to Uganda, which some also accuse of backing the M23.

The rebel group first leapt to prominence in 2012 when it briefly captured Goma before a joint Congolese-UN offensive drove it out.

It is one of scores of armed groups that roam eastern DRC, many of them a legacy of two regional wars that flared late last century.

Despite official denials from Kigali, an unpublished report for the United Nations seen by AFP in August pointed to Rwandan involvement with the M23.

ALSO READ: Frustration and hope: the African migrants in limbo in Rwanda

The same report said the M23 plans to capture Goma, an important trade hub of about one million people, to extract political concessions from the Congolese government. 

Rwandan President Paul Kagame tweeted on Monday that he had held a discussion with UN chief Antonio Guterres on how to de-escalate.

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Paging Dr. Peanut!


Paging Dr. Peanut! submitted by /u/Xandrya
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Somalia appeals for international help after deadly blasts

Somalia’s president has issued an urgent plea for international help for wounded victims of devastating car bombings at the weekend that claimed the lives of 100 people.

Bulldozers were still clearing the blast site in the capital Mogadishu on Monday in the hunt for bodies feared trapped under the rubble.

Saturday’s attack, which also wounded more than 300 people, was claimed by the Al-Shabaab jihadist group and was the deadliest in the fragile Horn of Africa nation in five years. 

“We appeal for the international community, Somali brothers, and other Muslim brothers and or partners to send doctors to Somalia to help the hospitals treat the wounded people,” President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said in a statement on Sunday. 

He warned that the death toll could rise, as ill-equipped hospitals were swamped.

ALSO READ: UN warns Somalia humanitarian crisis remains ‘dire’

Somalia has been mired in chaos since the fall of president Siad Barre’s military regime in 1991 and has one of the world’s weakest health systems after decades of conflict.

“We cannot airlift all these numbers of wounded people… anyone who can send us (help) we request to send us,” said Mohamud.

Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre has ordered schools closed so that students can take part in a national blood donation drive.

Mohamud said he himself was among several hundred people who had donated blood to hospitals for the victims.

The World Health Organization said on Sunday it was ready to help the government treat the wounded and provide trauma care.

– We are ‘at war’ –

Al-Shabaab, an Islamist group linked to Al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack in which two cars packed with explosives blew up minutes apart near the city’s busy Zobe intersection, followed by gunfire.

It said it had targeted the country’s ministry of education.

The explosions tore through walls and shattered windows of nearby buildings, sending shrapnel flying and plumes of smoke and dust into the air.

Ali Yare Ali, a local government official in Mogadishu, told reporters that between seven and nine bodies were suspected to be under the rubble of buildings destroyed by the blasts.

The attack took place at the same junction where a truck packed with explosives blew up on October 14, 2017, killing 512 people and injuring more than 290, the deadliest attack in Somalia.

Somalia’s allies denounced the bombings, with the United States, the United Nations and the African Union among those issuing messages of support.

The attack tests the government’s ability to secure the conflict-weary nation, including the capital of nearly 2.5 million people. 

“The Somali nation and these terrorists are at war, as I speak now, there is fighting ongoing in many parts of the country,” Mohamud said Sunday.

“We are at war with them, and we are killing each other.”

– ‘Horrible scenes’ –

Mohamud called on all Somalis to show solidarity and support those affected by the attack.

“We must get united in providing assistance to the families, children and parents of those who were martyred,” he said, lauding donations of water, food and clothes to survivors.

It was not immediately clear how the cars loaded with explosives evaded the numerous checkpoints that ring-fence the coastal city.

Witnesses said the road was busy with rows of tuk-tuks and other vehicles when the first blast hit.

First responders were met with a second explosion, killing the elderly and women with children strapped on their back, police said.

“I could not sleep last night because of the horrible scene,” police officer Adan Mohamed told AFP on Sunday. 

ALSO READ: UN says Somalia famine risk worst in half a century

Al-Shabaab fighters have stepped up their attacks in Somalia since Mohamud was elected in May and vowed an “all-out-war” on the Islamists.

In August, the group launched a 30-hour gun and bomb attack on the popular Hayat hotel in Mogadishu, killing 21 people and wounding 117.

The insurgents have been seeking to overthrow the fragile foreign-backed government in Mogadishu for about 15 years.

They were driven out of the capital in 2011 by an African Union force but the group still controls swathes of countryside and continues to wage deadly strikes on civilian, political and military targets.

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Phalatse’s threat to go to court ‘the last kick of a dying horse’

Joburg mayor Dr Mpho Phalatse has survived yet another motion of no confidence after lawyers representing the Democratic Alliance (DA) threatened to take council speaker Colleen Makhubele to court if she proceeded with the motion in the council sitting on Thursday.

The DA lawyers relied on the Standing Rules of Order of Council, specifically Rule 92(1) which states that “a motion is admissible if the matter is not pending before a court of law”.

A motion of no confidence against Phalatse was accepted by the programming committee last week Friday, citing the Field Band Foundation corruption case against her from 2017 when she was still the MMC for health and social development.

The Field Band Foundation matter was referred to an independent Forensic investigation company which later cleared then Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba and Phalatse of any wrong doing.

The ANC later reported the matter to the Public Protector and she found against Mashaba.

ALSO READ: DA’s Mpho Phalatse plans to interdict upcoming City of Joburg council sitting

Mashaba later took the matter for review and it’s expected to be heard on 31 January 2023.

DA Johannesburg caucus leader Bongani Nkomo said the party was left with no choice but to go to court after council speaker Colleen Makhubele failed to conduct herself in a manner that was in line with the rules of council.

Makhubele ‘flouting the rules’

Nkomo said it was very convenient for people to say the DA was doing everything to hold on to power but forget how Makhubele has flouted the rules.

“Mayor Tania Campbell was removed via a motion of no confidence because the process was above board. One thing we cannot accept in Joburg is the clear flouting of rules for political expediency by the speaker and we remain silent,” said Nkomo.

“We cannot lay down while council rules are flouted to allow the ANC back into power; it is not the DA trying to hold on to power at all costs.”

ActionSA Johannesburg caucus leader Funzi Ngobeni said despite them agreeing with the DA that the motion was inadmissible; they have not gone to court and have not threatened anyone with the court.

“We have not gone to court on this matter; it is not even the coalition that has gone to court. The DA has gone to court. ActionSA has made its view clear that the motion does not meet the prescript of our council rules and that is where it ended,” said Ngobeni.

ALSO READ: ‘A project to grab Joburg’s resources’ – Phalatse blasts plans to oust he

Ngobeni said the Field Bond Foundation matter was also on the Municipal Public Accounts Committee (MPAC) agenda and the rules of the council say a motion cannot be tabled if the matter was in one of the committees.

He said the was no reason for the ANC-led coalition to circumvent the rules and rush into putting a motion that was illegal because it would be challenged.

“They do have the numbers, if they want to go and table a motion, it should be tabled properly so that you can go to council and exercise your democratic right of removing the mayor legally.”

Phalatse threat ‘last kick of a dying horse’

Political analyst Dr Ntsikelelo Breakfast said the argument by the DA was contradictory because when it suited them, it was fine to dislodge the ANC from power.

“They removed the ANC in Nelson Mandela Bay from power and there was no hullabaloo about that. When the same principle was applied to them then hell broke loose and they went to approach the court of law,” said Breakfast.

Breakfast said Phalatse’s threat to go to court was the last kick of a dying horse and an attempt to block a transition that might bring a change of government in the metro.

He said the biggest losers in this bickering happening in the Joburg metro were the residents.

“Unfortunately, it does affect service delivery because you cannot have development if you have instability.”

The ANC- led coalition is expected to bring another motion of no confidence against Phalatse in the next ordinary council sitting.

– lungam@citizen.co.za

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South Korea’s Halloween crowd surge: What we know

South Korea is investigating the exact cause of a deadly crowd surge that killed 154 people at a Halloween event, as public outrage grows over perceived policing and crowd control failures.

What went wrong and why did so many people die at the first post-pandemic Halloween party in Seoul’s popular Itaewon nightlife district? 

Here is what we know: 

– What’s going on? – 

The government promised a “thorough and transparent investigation” into the exact causes of the deadly crush in Itaewon, and police said Monday they had launched a task force and started the probe.

They’ve deployed forensic experts, seized footage from 50 security cameras in the area, and interviewed scores of witnesses, victims, and workers at nearby stores, according to a senior police officer.

– How did it happen? – 

Typically, a gathering of over 1,000 people has to submit “safety management plans” to the government in advance for review by police and fire departments.

But in the case of the Itaewon Halloween festivities, there is no designated event organiser — individual bars, clubs and restaurants simply hold their own events and people flock to the area.

Just weeks before, a “Global Village Festival” was safely staged in the exact same streets — but it was an organised event sponsored by local authorities.

As a result, it had “effective crowd control with many police officers and district office staff in charge”, said Kim Min-kyu, who runs a currency exchange shop near the site of the accident and saw both events.

Police have admitted to lapses in their real-time management of the event.

“Police officers on the scene didn’t detect a sudden surge in the crowd,” Hong Ki-hyun, chief of the National Police Agency’s Public Order Management Bureau, told local reporters.

– Why was it so bad? –

Experts say the crowd crush could have been prevented with proper preparation, But they admit things have gotten more difficult after years of pandemic-related lockdowns.

“Everywhere in the world event organisers are struggling with the post-Covid crowd,” said Eric Kant, a crowd safety specialist who runs the Phase01 Crowd Management.

“A lot of visitors are new with partying, they are indeed very excited, and maybe do not understand risks very much,” he added.

Key risk factors for crowd surges are “unrestricted entry” of people into a small space, and “no ticket sales” which means organisers have no exact estimate of demand, experts say — all of which happened at Itaewon.

“This is a recipe for disaster in mass gatherings,” crowd safety expert Milad Haghani of the University of New South Wales told AFP.

ALSO READ: Over 140 killed in Seoul Halloween crush, authorities say

Even for the Halloween event — a public gathering with no tickets — authorities could have been actively managing the situation to prevent overcrowding.

“On the day, this would mean monitoring the numbers, at the very least,” said John Drury, an expert on crowd psychology at the University of Sussex.

“It would also mean a public information campaign beforehand to discourage such large numbers attending.”

He warned that psychology studies show people actually seek out “objectively dangerous levels of density” at events, and organisers need to be aware of this risk.

– Who is to blame? –

So far, no one has been held accountable, even as public anger flares at the government and police for their apparent lack of oversight.

Top-ranking officials have brushed off questions about taking responsibility, saying the priority is currently on helping the victims and dealing with the aftermath of the accident.

Much local criticism has focused on the police — but experts say they are not necessarily at fault.

“We should remember that the primary role of the police is generally not crowd management,” said Martyn Amos, a professor at Northumbria University who works on crowd simulation.

“It’s possible to manage an event largely using stewards, with the police there to ensure public order and to deal with criminal activity,” he told AFP.

– What happens next? –

The government is under immense pressure to resolve this quickly — and properly.

The opposition Democratic Party has already slammed the government’s handling of the event, and will likely push for resignations once the national mourning period ends on November 5.

The Itaewon crush could deal another blow to President Yoon Suk-yeol’s popularity ratings — already at record lows.

There is also a possibility that the disaster, if mishandled, could become a major political liability for the government. 

In 2014 then president Park Geun-hye was in power during the sinking of the Sewol ferry in which 304 people — mostly school children — died. She was widely criticised for her handling of the incident.

The issue lingered over her presidency until she was impeached three years later over a corruption scandal. 

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‘Another giant has left us’ – Tributes pour in for Jeremy Mansfield

It has become a year of showbusiness legends shuffling off this mortal coil. Yesterday morning, as the sun rose at 5.15am, it set on the life of radio and TV personality Jeremy Mansfield.

The broadcast legend lost his battle with liver cancer on Monday after moving into palliative care two months ago. This year three other greats, journalist and raconteur Barry Ronge and radio heroes Kevin Savage and John Berks, passed on, too.

Sam Cowan, who cohosted 947’s breakfast show with Mansfield for 13 years and later joined him to deliver the same irreverence on community station HotFM for another three years, wrote on Facebook: “Jeremy lived large, he didn’t know how to do small.

“He loved hard, laughed loud and managed to combine mischief and mayhem with heart and soul. The city was brighter and lighter with him on the airwaves, he changed lives every day. When he wasn’t raising millions for charity, he was raising fresh hell!”

Mansfield an icon

Former colleague Darren Scott said: “Another giant has left us. Jeremy Mansfield was one of those handful of radio personalities, like the late John Berks, who had a significant impact on the radio landscape in this country.

“The word legend is attributed to many… Jeremy transcended that and ranks up there with the few that can be called icons!”

Scott remembered Mansfield’s irreverence when they worked at Capital Radio: “Back in those days, Jem [Mansfield] brought one of his myriad of brilliant, hilarious characters to my show – the fictitious Hump Hanepoort, the rugby-loving station “security guard” – and up to the last time we saw each other, he would always greet me with Humpie’s traditional ‘Jirre Jissus Mr Squat! How are it?’ greeting!”

Mix 93.8FM afternoon drivetime host Al Your Pal broadcast a moving tribute to his mentor. His radio career started on Mansfield’s show Rude Awakening. He got the job when he pranked Mansfield.

ALSO READ: ‘Benchmark for Breakfast radio’ – tributes pour in for Jeremy Mansfield

“I remember my first days on radio when I pranked Jeremy with ‘Koos the Traffic cop’. He then asked me to join the Rude Awakening and dubbed me ‘Al your Pal’.We came up with crazy stunts and pranks. Got to work with him and the rest of the team on charities that touched my heart, broke my heart and made one feel good to be part of his magic,” said Al.

“Today is the day that he breaks my heart and I think many others as we say goodbye to the legend that entertained over a million of us in the mornings. Thank you for seeing what you did in me. Give them hell up there!”

Mansfield remembered for ‘soft’ heart

Cowan remembered Mansfield for his soft and giant heart. “Under a naughty exterior Jeremy had a huge soft heart. A lot of people got to see and hear that over the radio, but he saved his vulnerability for a select few.

“He was determined that the world be a better and shinier and funnier place and he drove the road to that destination at 1 000 miles an hour with no rear view mirror, all of the rest of us clinging on for dear life!”

Scott added: “I’m sure you and [Kevin] Savage have already found a Brewer’s Tavern in Heaven, sharing stories and on your umpteenth beer by now!”

ALSO READ: Jeremy Mansfield passes away aged 59

Mansfield’s broadcast career has seen him host one of the most popular radio breakfast shows of all time on 947. He also presented M-Net’s show Front Row and was on SuperSport and HotFM. Recently he had been vlogging on YouTube with his show Mansfield2Day.

– news@citizen.co.za

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Rescuers search for bodies as Philippines storm death toll hits 101

Philippine rescuers on Monday waded through thigh-deep mud using long pieces of wood to search for bodies buried by a landslide, as the death toll from a powerful storm rose to 101.

Just over half of the fatalities were from a series of flash floods and landslides unleashed by Tropical Storm Nalgae, which destroyed villages on the southern island of Mindanao on Friday.

Mindanao is rarely hit by the 20 or so typhoons that strike the Philippines each year, but storms that do reach the region tend to be deadlier than in Luzon and central parts of the country.

There is little hope of finding survivors in the worst-hit areas after the storm swept across the archipelago nation, inundating communities in and around the capital Manila over the weekend.

The national disaster agency has recorded 66 people still missing and scores of others injured.

Perfidia Seguendia, 71, and her family lost all their belongings except the clothes they were wearing when they fled to their neighbour’s two-storey house in Noveleta municipality, south of Manila.

“Everything was flooded — our fridge, washing machine, motorcycle, TV, everything,” Seguendia told AFP.

“All we managed to do was to cry because we can’t really do anything about it. We weren’t able to save anything, just our lives.”

The Philippine Coast Guard posted pictures on Facebook showing its personnel in devastated Kusiong village, in Maguindanao del Norte province of Mindanao, struggling through thick, thigh-deep mud and water as they searched for more bodies.

Kusiong was buried by a massive landslide, which created a huge mound of debris, just below several picturesque mountain peaks.

ALSO READ: At least 42 killed as storm lashes southern Philippines

Rescuers poked long pieces of wood into the morass looking for five missing villagers, after recovering 20 bodies in recent days, the coast guard said.

Twelve of the dead, including seven from one family, were buried Monday in two mass graves dug by a backhoe. 

Mourners, who survived the landslide, laid flowers and candles at the site.  

“We have shifted our operation from search and rescue to retrieval because the chances of survival after two days are almost nil,” said Naguib Sinarimbo, civil defence chief of the Bangsamoro region in Mindanao.

Meanwhile, survivors faced the heartbreaking task of cleaning up their sodden homes.

Residents shovelled mud from their houses and shops after piling their furniture and other belongings in the streets of Noveleta.

“In my entire life living here, it’s the first time we experienced this kind of flooding,” said Joselito Ilano, 55, whose house was flooded by waist-high water.

“I am used to flooding here but this is just the worst, I was caught by surprise.”

– More rain on the way –

President Ferdinand Marcos began touring some of the hard-hit areas on Monday, including Noveleta, as aid agencies rushed food packs, drinking water and other relief to victims.

Marcos said preemptive evacuations in Noveleta had saved lives.

“While the calamity was huge, the number of casualties was not that high, although there’s a lot of damage to infrastructure,” he said.

Nalgae inundated villages, destroyed crops and knocked out power in many regions as it swept across the country.

It struck on an extended weekend for All Saints’ Day, which is on Tuesday, when millions of Filipinos travel to visit the graves of loved ones.

Scientists have warned that deadly and destructive storms are becoming more powerful as the world gets warmer because of climate change.

ALSO READ: Hundreds of aftershocks shake earthquake-hit northern Philippines

The state weather forecaster warned that another tropical storm was heading towards the Philippines even as Nalgae moved across the South China Sea.

Starting Wednesday, the new weather system could bring more heavy rain and misery to southern and central regions badly affected by Nalgae.

Landslides and flash floods originating from largely deforested mountainsides have been among the deadliest hazards posed by storms in the Philippines in recent years. 

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Gauteng Traffic Police member nabbed in Soweto for alleged possession of hijacked car

The Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) K9 and Undercover Reaction Unit have arrested a 29-year-old Gauteng Traffic Police member for alleged possession of a hijacked white Volkswagen Polo in Dobsonville, Soweto. 

According to JMPD spokesperson Xolani Fihla, on Monday morning, officers received information from Crime Intelligence of an off-duty SAPS member who had been hijacked in Randfontein. 

The information also indicated that the suspects were on their way to sell the vehicle in Meadowlands. 

“The information was operationalised and the team was strategically placed at Impala Road in Dobsonville Gardens to be on the lookout for the vehicle,” said Fihla in a statement.

“While waiting, the hijacked vehicle was spotted with one occupant inside. The operational team followed the hijacked vehicle and attempted to stop it using blue lights and sirens. The suspect sped off in an attempt to evade an arrest. A high-speed chase ensued and the suspect was cornered at the intersection of Mohajane Street and Steve Kgame Drive in Dobsonville Extension 4.”

ALSO READ: Ex-cop arrested in connection with Krugersdorp gang rape case

The suspect attempted to flee on foot and officers gave chase.

He was eventually arrested and when searched, a PX4 pistol and the victim’s cell phone were allegedly found in his possession. 

The officers conducted an inquiry into the firearm and they discovered that it belonged to the Gauteng Department of Community Safety and it was not reported stolen. 

“The suspect was questioned about the firearm. He informed the officers that it is his service firearm and he is employed by the Gauteng Traffic Police. The suspect’s appointment card and firearm permit were also found in his possession,” said Fihla.

The hijacked vehicle was searched and a used ammunition cartridge case was found.

The man was arrested and a docket was opened at Dobsonville SAPS for further investigation.

The suspect was detained at the Meadowlands SAPS holding cells. 

ALSO READ: Mpumalanga cop arrested, money recovered from sangoma after cash-in-transit heist

The hijacked vehicle was seized and booked in at the SAPS Lenasia pound. All the other exhibits which include the firearm, used cartridge, and the victim’s cell phone were booked in at Dobsonville SAPS. 

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Finetown shooting: Eyewitness says police ran away during the incident

The community of Finetown, south of Johannesburg, was in shock yesterday after seven people were killed and four more were injured by gunmen who opened fire on them on Saturday. How the shooting transpired Four suspects had tried to rob street vendors selling chicken feet in the area. The vendors and community members resisted and threw stones at the suspects, damaging the rear window of the would-be robbers’ vehicle. “The suspects drove off and came back on foot, armed with firearms. They shot at the vendors and bystanders, said police spokesperson Brenda Muridili. According to community members, the suspects started…