Today's Big Stories

Cancelled Putco bus routes to be replaced by Autopax buses

Image from autopax.co.za

Cancelled Putco bus routes to be replaced by Autopax buses

Public transport company Putco is planning to stop its routes that go from Mamelodi to the Pretoria CBD, from Evaton and Meyerton and the route through Kempton Park, Joburg and Edenvale, because it says it cannot afford to run them any longer. Gauteng Transport MEC Ismail Vadi has announced that Prasa's wholly-owned subsidiary Autopax will be taking over these routes. Autopax are known as operators of long-haul bus services City-to-City and Translux. EWN's Dineo Bendile:

MEC Vardi has announced that a plan has been put in place to cover the affected areas. The Autopax with a 3-month contract signed at a R18 million. While Autopax does have experience with long-distance bus routes, it doesn't have much experience with shorter, urban routes, but hopefully from tomorrow morning, the service will hopefully be running smoothly from tomorrow morning.

Gauteng Roads and Transport MEC, Ismail Vardi:

I'm quite confident, we've been in discussions with them for quite some time now and we're confident they will be running well from tomorrow morning. The money (the R18 million) comes from National Treasury; this is not the only contract we have, we have other companies that we contract to including Putco, but some of the other services won't be affected, such as the Moloto route. Autopax have a wealth of experience in running long-distance bus services and not much in the area of short-distance, frequent bus services, but we're confident they will get this experience in good time.

Death by R20: how a Gauteng man died at a public health facility

In the EWN bulletins this morning is a report that a man was unable to admit his father to the Bheki Mlangeni District Hospital because he was unable to pay the R20 admin fee. His father then died. Attorney at Section27, Sasha Stevenson:

What we do here a lot is foreign nationals are often asked to pay huge amounts of money to access health services or facilities, which is hugely problematic as it's illegal. The Constitution notes that everyone has the right to health care services and the Constitution further provides that no one may be refused at a health care facility.

Ramaphosa back in Lesotho

President Jacob Zuma has now again sent Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa back to Lesotho after three opposition leaders fled the country into South Africa following what looks like the assassination of former Lesotho Defence Force commander, Maaparankoe Mahao. EWN Africa's Jean-Jacques Cornish:

Peace coming to Lesotho? It's such a fractuous little kingdom. It's never really settled down and the reason why we are so worried about this is because a lot of our water in South Africa comes from there. Ramaphosa is the SADC mediator and I think he has the skills to do this and has an understanding of the complexities of the situation there.

The return of Sylvester the lion

Confirmation this morning that Sylvester the lion is finally back home in the Karoo National Park after escaping nearly a month ago. SanParks spokesperson, Reynold Thakhuli:

It looks like it covered about 300 kms from the Park - it covered territories in the Northern Cape and the Western Cape over a period of 3 weeks, so we are relieved to have it back. It was quite difficult to get hold the lion - it killed about 26 sheep and 1 kudu - it was discovered on Monday and was captured.

Facebook to open shop in Joburg!

News this morning is that Facebook is opening an office in South Africa – primarily to focus on markets here, in Kenya and Nigeria. Editor of Stuff Magazine, Toby Shapshak:

Facebook is a business like any other business and they sell advertising and will need people on the ground doing just that. As the other tech giants around the world have found out, you have to go local to get insights about a country. Google has seen this, Microsoft and others. They're going to have to run a large sales operation to get advertising locally. It is definitely a goal-scoring moment continentally, but it's also South Africa - one, Kenya and Nigeria - nil!

Tourist family's harrowing ordeal due to new visa regulation issues

News this morning is that a mother and three children who were held at the detention centre at the OR Tambo International Airport and were to be deported because they didn’t have an affidavit from the father, have now been formally allowed into the country. Chair of Gift of the Givers Dr Imtiaz Sooliman assisted with mediation:

Due to the new rules, they needed an affidavit from the father, who was on a flight from Boston, and the children were minors, needing this affidavit. The family was taken to a detention centre, where officials told them that 'if they don't know the rules, that's not their problem and they should wait there'. The new visa regulations are good and important for preventing child trafficking, but when you need the Minister involved per case, this is problematic. What you need is a highly-specialised Home Affairs official who can make these high-level decisions. Blanket decisions shouldn't be made: people shouldn't be treated like criminals.

Last chance Grexit: decision to review by 9pm Central African Time

The clock is ticking down to a deadline for Greece to pay its debts to its creditors as it owes the international monetary fund one point six billion euros. EWN Greece's Takas Tsividis:

This is breaking news: there is unverified information from the Prime Minster's office that he had a phone call from the President of the EU about trying to find a solution about the debt before the deadline at 9pm Central African Time. This information is unverified, but it is credible. Greece from tomorrow on, if there is no solution, is at the end of a cliff. The PM is trying to find a last-minute solution, although he also said that Greece is not willing to compromise or bow to the ultimatum of the creditors.

Jupiter meets Venus, while Earth watches

From the eyes of Midday Report Host, Stephen Grootes: "Early Monday evening, as I tried to put the children to bed, I noticed two rather large stars hanging very low in the sky. Having a five year old, he pointed out that in fact they were Venus and Jupiter and I discovered that they are actually what astronomers call 'a conjunction': "

Image: universetoday.com

Astronomer at the South African Astronomical Observatory, Dr Nicola Loaring:

All the planets are going around the orbit with the Sun and they appear to get closer to us from time to time; there's now way that Jupiter and Venus are close to earth, where Jupiter is 90 million km's away from Earth and Venus is 890 million km's away from Earth. These two are also the brightest planets in the sky.

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