The Eyewitness News Breakfast Brief

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

Picture: Stephanie Albert/Pixabay

On EWN.co.za this morning, our daily COVID-19 infection figure has almost doubled in the last 24-hour reporting cycle. The latest stats show 8,561 tests have come back positive. It's almost a 100% increase compared with the 4,373 cases confirmed the previous day. Sadly, another 28 fatalities were also recorded, taking our national death toll to 89,871. Only 25.7 million vaccine doses have been administered in South Africa and many people still need to go and get their second Pfizer shots. While very little is known about the new Omicron variant - which has been detected in many countries - government is calling on everyone over 12 to get inoculated while scientists work to establish the severity of this new variant.

The Health Department says the Omicron coronavirus variant is likely present in all provinces and will overtake the Delta variant. The department also says a number of children have been infected in Tshwane in Gauteng, the current epicentre of infections. Deputy Minister Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo and infectious diseases specialists briefed Parliament’s Health committee last night about the new variant and the country's preparations to deal with the fourth wave of infections.

The Ballito Rage Festival may have been cancelled due to COVID-19 but the Plettenberg Bay leg is still on. Organisers pulled the plug on the 6-day event in Ballito in KwaZulu-Natal just one day in after 36 people tested positive for the virus. The Plett festival is scheduled to start on Friday, despite concerns it could potentially turn into a super spreader.

While the Mineral Resources and Energy Department says it has corrected its petrol price miscalculation, only petrol stations can issue refunds to those who overpaid as a result of the error. The department announced yesterday that it overstated the petrol price by 6 cents. It had earlier said that all grades would go up by 81 cents a litre instead of the correct hike of 75 cents. Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe says there are no plans to change the formula used to calculate fuel price adjustments.

Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo says it's not in the interests of the state capture inquiry to allow former spy boss, Arthur Fraser, to cross-examine witnesses who testified against him. Zondo has dismissed Fraser’s application to question witnesses, including former top officials of the State Security Agency. Zondo said Fraser’s application did not comply with the rules, in that he did not specify which parts of the witnesses’ testimony he disputed. He also did not provide a full version of his side of the story, even though the State Security Agency was prepared to provide him with documents that he claimed he needed in order to do so.

KwaZulu-Natal Police Commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi has disputed the testimony by former Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula in which she said that 800 soldiers were on the ground to support law enforcement during the July civil unrest. While testifying at the SA Human Rights Commission's inquiry yesterday, Mkhwanazi says not only did Mapisa-Nqakula lie, she also got 'personal' when he called her out. The commission says it will consider re-inviting the former minister to testify. It has also warned that if any witness is found to have lied under oath, they may be liable for a fine or imprisonment of up to six months.

Deputy President David Mabuza says there needs to be global solidarity to help tackle the scourge of HIV and Aids. As chairperson of the South African National Aids Council, Mabuza delivered the keynote address in Limpopo yesterday to commemorate World Aids Day.

The Makhanda High Court will on Friday rule on the application seeking to stop petroleum giant Shell from carrying out its seismic survey on the Wild Coast. Four environmental and human rights organisations have come together in a bid to block Shell from starting seismic testing for the exploration of petroleum resources. In court papers, Shell says the applicants have failed to substantiate the urgency of their application.

In world news, the defence in Ghislaine Maxwell's sex-trafficking trial sought Wednesday to find inconsistencies in the witness testimony of an alleged victim who said she was sexually abused by the heiress and the late financier Jeffrey Epstein when she was just 14 years old.

World number one Novak Djokovic said he supports "fully" the Women's Tennis Association's decision to suspend its tournaments in China over concerns about the safety of female player Peng Shuai, who accused a top Communist Party official of sexual assault.

The wife of the man known as the "godfather of Black music" was shot and killed Wednesday in a break-in at the couple's Beverly Hills home, police said.

VIDEOS

Arthur Fraser’s application to cross-examine witnesses dismissed - Chairperson of the Zondo commission, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, denied Arthur Fraser’s application to cross-examine witnesses, which he claimed implicated him during their testimonials at the commission. Zondo made the announcement in a media briefing on 1 December 2021.

At least 23 countries have reported cases of the Omicron variant - The World Health Organization (WHO) said at least 23 countries have reported cases of the Omicron variant and that number is expected to grow. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus thanked Botswana and South Africa for detecting, sequencing and reporting this variant and condemned the travel bans on South Africa and other southern African nations after the announcement of the discovery.