#BRINGBACKOURGIRLS: The devil strikes again

Since April 14th I have been overwhelmed at the world we live in and the schizophrenia our society sometimes succumbs to. I find it exceptionally shocking, to say the least, how in this day and age people still have minds of the primitive and still believe women are nothing more than vectors for reproduction.

militants

For our Breaking Ground current affairs show this week on Voice of Wits I thought it important to do a package on this story that has taken international media by storm and sparked great controversy among feminists and several societies around the globe.

Important to know, Boko Haram is a militant group based in the northeast of Nigeria. Founded by Mohammed Yusuf in 2002, the organisation seeks to establish a so-called pure Islamic state ruled by sharia.

weapons

The violence linked to this terrorist group has resulted in an estimated ten thousand deaths between 2002 and 2013. They aim to put a stop to what it deems as Westernization, hence their name meaning ‘Western education is forbidden’.

The group is known for attacking Christians, Muslims and government targets, bombing churches, mosques, schools and police stations, and kidnapping western tourists.

In light of this their latest attack has in the least shocked the world, the kidnapping of almost three hundred girls on April 14th. Boko Haram stormed a secondary school in the northeastern village of Chibok and seized 276 girls who were taking exams. Fifty-three managed to escape, two have died from snake bites and about twenty are ill – according to Boko Haram Leader Abubakar Shekau. 276 remain in captivity.

kidnapped girls

A video went viral last week with Shekau admitting his militant group are responsible for the kidnapping of the girls. He also admits he will sell these girls as slaves and for sex at markets in line with their religion. He also entered into negotiation grounds saying he will release the girls if the government release their militants who they have been holding since 2009. Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan says military force is the an option right now for Nigeria.

Image: NIGERIA-UNREST-BOKOHARAM-FILES

In a recent video sent to the AFP earlier this week – the 276 girls allegedly appear in the video wearing full body burqa’s and reciting the First verse of the Qu’ran. All the girls have been converted to Islam and are being thought the ways of the Islamic religion.

Authorities are unsure where the girls are and if they are being trafficked but the Nigerian government have come under much scrutiny for reacting effectively in bringing back the girls.

The first lady of Nigeria has been quoted as denying the girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram. She says they are made up lies to make the government look bad. President Goodluck Jonathan says they are working at finding the girls. The President also reassured the parents of the girls that they will try their best to return them to their homes.

goodluck joanthan

US officials say they have offered the Nigerian government help from the first day, they say the Nigerian government refused their help until now.
The offer now accepted the two countries have very different ideas on what they think the US will do in Nigeria. The Nigeria government says the want a deployment of US security personnel in the country. However spokesman of the White House Jay Carney says Nigeria needs to ensure security in their country first as the US is not looking at military force now.

Meanwhile President Barack Obama indicated that Boko Haram might become the eventual target. It is also suspected that Boko Haram is allied with Al Qaida and receives their weapons from Libya.

People all around the world have rallied together showing their support for these kidnapped girls by holding vigils for the girls and protests to voice their terror and shock of the situation. Wits University will hold a protest this Friday on #BringBackOurGirls.

mothers

Also The South African All Nigerian Nationals in the Diaspora non-profit organization invites people who are interested to attend a night vigil to keep faith with the innocent Nigerian school Girls abducted by terror group Boko Haram, on Saturday at 6pm at the Africa Heritage House in Rivonia.

[AUDIO] To dope or not to dope?

Listen to the full package here: To dope or not to dope? 

Cannabis, ganja, weed, dagga , pot, marijuana – a wild plant which has many South Africans up in arms debating over – To dope or not to dope?

This has been the question on the lips of many people over the last three weeks over whether South Africa should legalise medical or recreational marijuana.

The wild plant Cannabis, which is illegal in South Africa. Photo: Supplied.

The wild plant Cannabis, which is illegal in South Africa. Photo: Supplied.

Julian Stobbs and Myrtle Clark – dubbed the “dagga couple” are a middle aged couple who live on their plot in north Gauteng and are both in the TV industry.

They have been smoking for almost 20 years in the comfort of their home. The couple claim they are creative people and smoke the drug to enhance their imagination. They are both in the television industry.

In 2010 the couple’s home was raided by police after they received a tip off that there was a drug lab on their premises.

Their home was broken into by the police at 2am on an August morning. The police poked and messed around for six hours in their home, ravaging their belongings in search of weed.

They searched the garden and found no drug lab on the premises. The pair admit they felt criminalised and unfairly treated for the mere fact that they smoke marijuana.

The couple has dedicated their lives for the fight to legalise this drug in the country. 

The growing of Cannabis. Picture: Supplied.

The growing of Cannabis. Picture: Supplied.

They will try to convince the constitutional court to completely relegalise dagga in South Africa and not only decriminalise it. To decriminalise it means would mean that you will not have a criminal record for possesion of the drug but it will still be wrong within the legislature of the country.

Gareth prince – another dagga activist started his campaign in the late 90’s after the law society in the Cape of Good Hope refused to admit him as an attorney.

They said he was not a fit and proper person because of his two previous convictions of possession.

Prince –a Rastafarian took them to the Cape High Court – they ruled against him. He appealed and lost again. In 2000 he turned to the constitutional court.

Weed smokers believe that they should have the right to put into their body whatever they choose to and government should not take a paternal role by trying to protect them from using marijuana.

The cannabis society spoke on Street Talk SA about their reasons why they feel growing and using cannabis should be legal.

Cannabis has been shown to cure epilepsy and attention deficit disorder in children by using the drug in cookies.

Cannabis crushed and rolled in rizzla, a paper, and smoked. Picture: Supplied.

Cannabis crushed and rolled in rizzla, a paper, and smoked. Picture: Supplied.

Professor Michael Herbst – Head of the Cancer Association of South Africa explains that while cannabis can have superficial benefits for people and children, it is still harmful and prolonged use could endanger the user’s life. long term use of cannabis has shown to increase the chances of testicular cancer, lung cancer and cancer of the throat.

The Professor says while it seems like the drug has positive and negative attributes – the CANSA institute cannot implement the use of cannabis as it is still deemed as illegal and it is a criminal offense to have it in your possession.

Doctor Tshidi Gule – Founder and Director of the Medispace Wellnes Clinic explained why exactly cannabis is an illegal drug. This is because it is a more harmful than beneficial product and it is a drug and can cause addiction in teenagers and adults

If cannabis is relegalised in South Africa – Herbst says it is important to know the difference between marijuana and medical marijuana. The THC levels in medical marijuana are reduced significantly which reduces the side effects the drug has on the user. THC in pure marijuana is high and this is how weed smokers prefer it because the high after smoking it is heightened significantly.  

Colorado in America is the most recent state to legalise medical and recreational marijuana. Nancy Grace – a legal commentator, television journalist and former prosecuter – says it is a horrible idea.

However, in South we see Mario Ambrosini from the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) being a strong front line member in the fight to legalise cannabis – after he was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer last year. He made his appeal in parliament, saying using cannabis and bicarbonate soda is what has kept him alive thus far. 

The Minister of Public Service and Administration Lindiwe Sisulu along with Aaron Motsoaledi, the Health Minister said they would strictly consider his request as this is a “caring society”.

However health professionals say cannabis is not needed for cancer.

If this wild plant is legalised – questions around how the growth and use of it will be regulated are hot topics.

Raw cannabis ready to smoke. Picture: Supplied.

Raw cannabis ready to smoke. Picture: Supplied.

These questions remain unanswered – people speculate that it would be treated similar to alcohol laws and if a person is caught driving under the influence for example they will be arrested and jailed.

A report from a UN agency shows that around eight percent of South Africans use the recreational drug, twice the global average of four percent.

For now Dr Gule says the government has a big task ahead of them in the decisions which lie ahead of them.

 

[AUDIO] Looming Eskom nightmares

Picture: Supplied.

Picture: Supplied.

I did a news package for Vow FM on the looming Eskom nightmares this past week.

Listen to the full package: ESKOM: Is there light at the end of the tunnel?  

How is it okay that the biggest electricity parastatal in the country is not efficient and is failing the demands of the citizens of the country with regard to electricity supply.

People complained about being without electricity two weeks ago, for more than 24 hours, some places in Pretoria were without power for days on end.

As a result it seemed as life as they knew came to a stop. Businesses closed down or went out of business. Traffic lights were out causing major traffic pile ups on the roads and some people could not even cook their food.

For the first time since 2008 load shedding became a very dark reality in the country.

Last week Thursday Eskom declared a power emergency due to the severe constraint on the power grid as a result of the rainy weather.

Eskom’s spokesperson Andrew Etzinger says this is due to the severe wet weather the country has experienced recently.

Whether is was an issue of wet coal or the matter that Eskom does not buy good quality is yet to be known.

This was the fourth power emergency warning which was issued over the past several months. Etzinger said last week that if the situation remained stable – load shedding will be a last resort. 

Etzinger said last week that the electricity situation in the coming week will depend entirely on the weather. 

The Deputy CEO of Business Unity South Africa Raymond Parsons says Eskom needs to take more responsibility of the problem.

The parastatal says while the grid might stabilise quickly – it will remain vulnerable for at least another two years.

Millions of South Africans were without power for between two and four hours on Thursday.

This resulted in traffics jams, businesses closing and families being unable to cook food. Emily Parsons – a small business owner says buying a generator is too expensive and unrealistic for her. 

At the same time, the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry says load-shedding will hurt businesses badly if the problem persists. Raymond Parsons says in turn the economy won’t be benefiting either.

Hospitals and clinics face the biggest problem as load shedding hits the country. The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) spokesperson says hospitals have huge responsibilities towards its patients and need to avoid risky situations which endanger patients’ lives – by having efficient generators on standby.

Energy expert Cornelis Van der Waal says the implementation of Independent Power Producers known as IPP’s are important.

In the meanwhile the DA is calling on the electricity giant to pay back the R31 million bonuses awarded to directors immediately, in order to buy generators for emergency services such as hospitals affected by the power cuts.

On Monday the DA revealed a nine-point plan to address South Africa’s electricity crisis immediately.

It includes investigating why Eskom executives get huge bonuses and asking the National Energy Regulator of South African to launch an independent probe.

The DA erected billboards along Gauteng highways reading – “Load shedding: Proudly brought to you by the ANC.”

The DA’s Wilmot James says Eskom needs to meet South Africa’s electricity demands before the demands of neighbouring countries. 

Whether there is a light at the end of the tunnel for South African’s and Eskom remains to be seen – for now Eskom urges people to exercise sustainability.

[AUDIO] NSFAS funding leave students stranded for education

Students launched an angry protest against the Tshwane University due to the lack of funding from NSFAS. Photo: SowetanLive

Students launched an angry protest against the Tshwane University due to the lack of funding from NSFAS. Photo: SowetanLive

I did a radio package for a current affairs show on the Voice of Wits (VOW) radio station this past week on the NSFAS issues and what students were feeling and the current situation now.

Click here to listen

In the first month of the academic year many students around thecountry started protesting because of the lack of funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS)

Students argued that they were not being allowed to register for the 2014 academic year because NSFAS had not allocated enough funds to cover a their tuition and residence fees. Students at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) were asked to leave their residences with immediate effect because of their protests at the university.

Students at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) burnt tyres in anger because the institution refused to allow them inside to register.

Twenty students from the University of Johannesburg were arrested and suspended from registering to study at the university because of protests over NSFAS funding. Photo: Provided

Twenty students from the University of Johannesburg were arrested and suspended from registering to study at the university because of protests over NSFAS funding. Photo: Provided

Students at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) protested for one full day about the lack of funding from NSFAS, they were arrested by police and appeared in court on February 15, 2014 for the court interdict from the university to stop protests immediately.

The university was ordered by court to allow all students back into campus to register to study for this year, hwoever the university refused to allow the students back in to register.