The Eyewitness News Breakfast Brief

Eyewitness News previews a selection of the news that you will find on the website today.

Picture: Engin Akyurt/Pixabay

On this morning, 53 more people have died in the country after contracting the virus, taking our death toll to 88,987. Over the past 24-hour reporting cycle, we've also racked up 331 more infections. On the vaccine front, over 21.7 million jabs have been administered so far but many people still need to go and get their second Pfizer shot. The Health Department says that so far, 2.7 million vaccination certificates have been downloaded.

Almost 900,000 matriculants will be sitting for their final exams from today and some have told Eyewitness News that they were "anxious but positive". They'll kickstart the National Senior Certificate exams with an English paper. The class of 2021 is the second group of grade 12s heading into the final stretch of the schooling careers amid the coronavirus pandemic. Officials have promised tighter controls after two papers were leaked last year.

While the country battles through the latest bout of frustrating load shedding, City Power says its priority is to ensure that Joburg residents have access to clean and sustainable energy. Just hours after Eskom announced we'll be saddled with stage two blackouts until at least Saturday, the city launched its new energy plan yesterday. City Power says it currently receives 90% of its electricity from Eskom and 10% from the Kelvin power station, which is an independent power producer.

Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane and Public Works MEC Babalo Madikizela have been granted an interim order, suspending the interdict halting the implementation of the Public Protector's remedial action. Busisiwe Mkhwebane found the two politicians had improperly benefitted from funds meant for a memorial for the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Mkhwebane's remedial action directed the Hawks to investigate. Mabuyane and Madikizela went to court to stay the remedial action and to have Mkhwebane's report reviewed and set aside.

After two years of accusations of abuse of state power, deputy Finance Minister David Masondo has now been cleared of setting specialised policing unit, the Hawks, on his ex-lover. In a report released yesterday, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane says there’s no evidence to support the allegations that Masondo used his influence and state resources to settle a personal matter. The woman - known only as Ms X to protect her identity - was arrested by the Hawks in 2019 after she allegedly tried to solicit a R300,000 bribe from the deputy minister. She in turn laid a criminal complaint against Masondo, which included allegations of intimidation and defamation. The National Prosecuting Authority declined to pursue any of the charges against both parties.

Electoral commission chair Glen Mashinini has promised that the agency will deliver free and fair elections despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 lockdown this year. The deadlines were shorter than usual, but he says the IEC is ready for Monday's polls. The IEC also confirmed it is finally retired its zip-zip machines, in favour of new technology. The machines were in the news in 2019 when there were claims that some people managed to vote twice.

Emfuleni ratepayers say they want those responsible for the collapse of service delivery in the area to be held accountable. The local council has debt amounting to nearly five billion rand. Service delivery has been severely affected as a result. However, political parties have been visiting the area, promising to change the lives of residents. The ANC in Emfuleni has denied that is to be blamed for the collapse of service delivery in the cash-strapped municipality despite being in control there since 1994.

ActionSA leader, Herman Mashaba, says if he receives the mandate to form a coalition with another party, he is ready to join forces. Mashaba is confident that his party will emerge as the biggest in Johannesburg. He was campaigning in Soweto yesterday.

COVID-19 hospitalisations have been declining in the Western Cape but trauma cases are rising. This coincides with relaxed lockdown regulations and normal alcohol sales since the 1st of October.

Despite staging a disruptive truck driver's demonstration that clogged up one of the busiest arterial routes in the country, no one has been arrested. Truck drivers blocked a large section of the N3 highway near Montrose yesterday, causing major traffic headaches in the Free State and for people heading to and back from KZN. Police say these drivers were trying to attract Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula's attention and they wanted to voice their opposition to the employment of foreign truck drivers in the country. The police’s Motantsi Makhele says no one was arrested because this was a peaceful protest.

In international news, Britain's 95-year-old Queen Elizabeth II will not attend the COP26 UN climate conference in Glasgow, after "advice to rest" from doctors following an overnight hospital stay, her Buckingham Palace office said Tuesday.

Global powers and aid groups that have loudly demanded an inclusive Afghanistan under the Taliban are now facing criticism for sending all-male delegations to Kabul to meet the hardline Islamists.

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