Connect with us

Feature Stories & News

Airline cleaners find abandoned foetus clogging plane’s toilet in South Africa

The foetus was discovered by cleaning staff as the plane was being prepared and passengers boarded for an early morning flight

News Central

Published

on

Airline cleaners find abandoned foetus clogging plane's toilet in South Africa

Cleaners found an abandoned foetus blocking the toilet of a plane in South Africa on Friday, the domestic FlySafair airline said, prompting the offloading of passengers and a police investigation.

The foetus was discovered by cleaning staff as the plane was being prepared and passengers boarded for an early morning flight from the coastal city of Durban to Johannesburg.

“Upon final preparations of the waste management system for the departure of flight, our technical crew discovered what appeared to be an abandoned foetus,” the airline said in a statement.

Police confirmed the incident and said they were investigating.

Passengers were asked to disembark the plane and their journeys were re-scheduled.

“We will be doing everything within our power to aid authorities in the necessary investigations and thank our loyal customers for their patience with the resultant delay,” said FlySafair executive Kirby Gordon.

Continue Reading

Feature Stories & News

Elephant attacks in Botswana spark support for reversal of hunting ban

Last month, the government lifted a blanket hunting ban, imposed in 2014 by then-president Ian Khama

News Central

Published

on

Elephant attacks in Botswana spark support for reversal of hunting ban
(File photo)

An elephant carcass lies at the edge of a field in Legotlhwana village, northeast Botswana — evidence of the desperation and anger felt by a farmer whose crops have been repeatedly destroyed.

Ishmael Simasiku, 71, indignantly recounts how he was guarding his field as he does every night when an elephant broke through the perimeter fence and helped itself to his watermelons.

Simasiku’s attempts to repel the elephant using torchlights and gunshots fired into the air were futile. The animal only retreated briefly and returned.

Fed up, he shot it dead on May 14.

“The elephant came from the forest and was destroying my crops. The (sports hunting) ban made my life worse,” said Simasiku, holding a watermelon half-eaten by an elephant.

The retired policeman in this village near the border with Namibia has seen his corn harvest fall by about 90 per cent over recent years as elephant numbers have boomed.

Under the country’s wildlife conservation policy, Botswana’s elephant population has increased nearly 10-fold since 1970, to 130,000 today, according to the UN Environment Programme.

As elephants grazed behind him in Chobe National Park , Thebeyakgosi Horatius, head of the park’s human-wildlife conflict office, confirms that elephants are “killing people (and) destroying their crops”.

His department runs a 24-hour emergency response team to react to elephant attacks.

Last month, the government lifted a blanket hunting ban, imposed in 2014 by then-president Ian Khama, on the grounds that elephant numbers were growing.

Related: Botswana suspends elephant hunting ban

The decision angered many conservationists and stirred up a political hornet’s nest as elections loom later this year.

“To me, it’s so sad and extremely painful that all these years’ work to build up to what we had achieved is being put in reverse,” Khama told reporters by telephone.

“Our tourism is wildlife-based. We have already seen it taking a hit. I’m told our numbers have dropped by 10 per cent since they started talking about (re-starting hunting).”

Locals appeal for understanding –

Tourism is the second largest contributor to Botswana’s GDP after diamonds.

But an end to the ban on sports hunting has been welcomed by many Botswanans.

On April 26, Merafhe Shamukuni, 53, was walking home down a steep pathway in Kasane, Botswana’s wildlife tourist town, when he was attacked and killed by an elephant.

His sister, Dorcus Shamukuni, 49, tearfully remembers her brother who worked as a builder and cared for their wheelchair-bound father.

“No one expected he was going to die that way,” said Shamukuni.

While global conservationists are up in arms over the resumption of hunting, locals appeal for understanding over problems caused by freely roaming elephants which live unfenced in Botswana.

“We are here in Africa, facing this on a daily basis (and) all they are interested in is to come and see those animals for a few hours and go back where they are comfortable.

“We are in trouble, something really has to be done,” said Shamukuni, who works at a four-star hotel in Kasane.

“I work in tourism, I know the importance of animals…but I don’t see the reason they should be killing us in this manner.

“Human beings should be controlling the animals, not animals controlling us.”

At least, 34 people have been killed by elephants since the hunting ban came into effect — 15 of them killed last year alone when 9,000 properties were destroyed, according to government statistics.

President Mokgweetsi Masisi, on a visit to the United States, recently tweeted of another death from elephant trampling.

“The tragedy comes virtually 24 hours after I responded to an elephant protester in Las Vegas and now a brother has fallen,” he said. 

Locals in Chobe district, home to Botswana’s largest concentration of elephants, fear being overrun.

“I’m so sick of people who say we should not kill. When we had hunting, we never had elephants coming into our villages,” said safari guide Petros Tshekonyane, 48, who recently found an elephant devouring his garden.

“It has to come to an end. This is too much. I can’t continue planting for elephants.”

Poaching on the rise? –

Walking around after sunset is risky, and residents wake up to broken fences and destroyed vegetable patches.

Frank Limbo, 48, is a farmer from Satau village who has survived both an elephant and a lion attack.

“One way of controlling is hunting, it has been done in the past,” he said.

Kavimba village’s chief, Josephat Mwezi, 74, said elephants were previously found only in parks “but now they are where we live. We are not after their extinction. We want them… confined to their areas.”

Community activist, Watson Mabuku admits that poaching has increased in recent years because “we were deprived of our source of protein” when hunting was outlawed.

Hunting resumption will see 400 permits issued annually.

But according to Khama, it will have little effect in reducing the population because around 650 calves are born each year.

He described most of the animals as “refugees” fleeing poaching in Angola and Zambia and said they should be encouraged to return to their home ranges.

Masisi’s plan to re-start hunting could find favour with villagers five months ahead of what could be a tough election for the ruling Botswana Democratic Party.

But Amos Mabuku, who heads a community conservation charity involving 5,000 families in Chobe district, dismisses any link between elections and hunting.

“It’s not a question of politics, it’s about sustainable use of natural resources and caring for your people,” said Mabuku.

Continue Reading

Feature Stories & News

Light in the dark: Sudanese internet users find alternatives amidst blackout

In one Khartoum mall, customers swarm several mobile shops and cyber cafes that offer rare access

News Central

Published

on

Light in the dark: Sudanese internet users find alternatives amidst blackout

In a lush garden cafe in Sudan’s capital, a group of youngsters sit eyes glued to mobile phone screens, seeking ways to by-pass an internet blackout imposed by army rulers.

“It’s as if we have gone back in time — we are cut-off from everything, even from the outside world,” said Mohamed Omar, 25, sitting around a wooden table with his friends at the cafe in an upscale Khartoum district.

“Internet is what allows us to know what’s happening inside the country and outside.”

Internet on mobile phones and fixed land connections has been widely cut across Sudan since the violent dispersal of a protest camp outside army headquarters on June 3 that left dozens dead and hundreds wounded.

The ruling military council imposed the blackout to prevent further mobilisation of protesters, according to users.

“They cut the internet so that people can not communicate, to prevent (them from) gathering,” said Omar, who has regularly attended the protests that rocked Khartoum for months.

Initial protests were sparked by a tripling of bread prices in December, and led to the downfall of long-time president Omar al-Bashir on April 11.

But the protesters did not stop there, quickly demanding that the military council that seized power hand over to civilian rule. 

Even routine activities like checking social media or booking a taxi through an online app has now become nearly impossible.

“My parents live abroad, the internet was our only means of communication,” said Omar, sporting a neat goatee and an elegant knee-length truffle grey tunic.

“Before, we could see each other by video, now I have to (make an international) call,” he added.

‘Gross violation’ –

At the cafe, some sat around wooden tables, while others typed on their phones and some browsed on their laptops.  

Here, an hour of internet costs 50 Sudanese pounds, which is approximately one dollar.

Generally across Sudan, the internet is now accessible only through land telephone lines or fibre optic cables, and the connection is erratic. 

In one Khartoum mall, customers swarm several mobile shops and cyber cafes that offer rare access.

At the shops’ entrances, men and women — sitting, standing or leaning against the walls — have their eyes fixed to their mobile phones. 

“Cutting the internet is one of the means by the military council to widen the gap between (the protest movement) and the people,” prominent protest leader, Mohamed Naji al-Assam told reporters this week.

The impact of the blackout was felt Tuesday night when few came out onto the streets, even as protest leaders called for new night-time demonstrations.

Human Rights Watch slammed the blackout as a “gross violation”.

“Governments that seek to repress peaceful political opposition have in many instances cut off internet access during times of political sensitivity and crisis,” the rights group said in a report on June 12.

For the generals, the internet and social media are a threat.

“Regarding social media, we see during this period that it represents a threat for the security of the country and we will not allow that,” military council spokesman General Shamseddine Kabbashi told reporters last week.

And on Wednesday, the authorities prevented a consumer protection association from holding a press conference on the internet blackout.

‘People still communicate’ –

Businesses, hit by the blackout, are struggling to keep their services going.  

Kamal, an employee of an international travel agency, said his company — which regularly books tickets for embassies and UN agencies — has been forced to make bookings through phone calls and text messages, because they can’t access the internet.

“We get calls from our clients, then we call our back office in Nairobi. It is they who book the ticket and text us the ticket number,” he said.

“We forward the ticket number to the client, who then goes to the airport to take the boarding pass from the airport counter itself.”

“If a ticket needs to be modified, we used to do it from our system itself… but now we (have to) send people to the airline office.”

Other Sudanese travel agencies were shut for several days this month after protest leaders launched a civil disobedience movement, in the wake of the crackdown on protesters.

“Earlier, four, five, six or seven tickets could be booked in one day, but now, it takes four days to book just one ticket,” said travel agent, Hoiam whose agency was shut during the disobedience campaign.

The main factor was the “very poor” internet connection at her office, she said.

The internet blackout has been imposed by the generals “to put an end to the revolution,” she said.

“But still, with or without internet, people manage to communicate.”

Continue Reading

Trending