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 EWN.co.za this morning, as thousands of children from inland schools return to class today, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga is calling for social distancing space in classes between pupils to be reduced. She says all COVID-19 protocols remain in place, including space of up to a meter between desks. Motshekga hopes this will allow more children to attend school. She says they're in consultation with the Cooperative Governance Department.

The State says it can't be held at ransom by the man accused of starting a fire at Parliament. Zandile Mafe made a second appearance in the Cape Town Magistrates Court yesterday as the only suspect arrested in connection with the blaze. He's facing a litany of charges, including arson and terrorism. Mafe, through his lawyer, Advocate Dali Mpofu, told the court he'll go on a hunger strike if his bail application is not heard.

The IFP says the police ministry must take responsibility for the alleged lack of security at Parliament after a fire gutted several parts of the national key point. The party says it's concerning that it's been over a week since the devastating blaze and the nation has not heard a word from Police Minister Bheki Cele or his deputy.

The DA wants the national government to do away with the state of disaster - as it believes it is no longer necessary for managing the coronavirus. The official opposition has called on President Ramaphosa to allow the State of Disaster to lapse on the 15th of January, the day it needs to be renewed if it is to remain in place. Party leader John Steenhuisen believes it's doing South Africa more harm than good, by undermining the country's social, economic and democratic recovery.

Taxi operators could receive about R5,000 each per licence from the R1 billion taxi relief fund which was launched yesterday. Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has explained that the figure is the outcome of a calculation based on the existing number of minibus taxis, metered taxis and e-hailing partners in the country. The relief package is meant to help cushion the impact of COVID-19 on the sector.

Psychological support has been provided to the family and community of a slain homeless man in Cape Town. Dumisani Joxo died after he was shot in the face, allegedly by a city law enforcement officer over the weekend. The officer is facing a murder charge, but has since been let out on bail.

Police are hunting a suspect responsible for the murder of a 19-year-old woman in Manenberg. The incident occurred over the weekend It's one of at least two deadly femicide cases reported in the Western Cape since the start of this month.

Threats of more rain in the Eastern Cape has seen some community members volunteering to relocate, while officials desperately try convincing others to move. The damage in the flood-affected region is untold, and aid relief group, Gift of the Givers, says even their initial estimates of those affected could be much higher. The organisation's spokesperson Corene Conradie says they've discovered even more heart-breaking stories of loss.

With the wildfire in the Kleinmond area almost completely under control, the investigation into the cause of the blaze will soon start.

The City of Cape Town says those who damage and steal public infrastructure cannot be allowed to rob everyone of resources needed to improve lives. The municipality's offering a monetary reward for information that helps apprehend train vandals. The City is offering a R5,000 reward for information that leads to the positive identification and arrest of those responsible for the stoning of a brand new train set, with repair costs estimated to be around R20,000. The incident took place in the Steenberg area last week.

In news abroad, more than half of people in Europe will likely catch Omicron by March, the World Health Organization said Tuesday, as the World Bank warned the contagious variant could hamper global economic recovery.

Despite soaring cases and record-high COVID-19 hospitalisations, the United States is approaching the "threshold" of transitioning to living with the coronavirus as a manageable disease, Anthony Fauci said Tuesday.

Tennis superstar Novak Djokovic on Wednesday admitted meeting a journalist when he knew he had COVID-19, describing it as an "error of judgement".

VIDEOS

DBE Minister Angie Motshekga encourages parents to vaccinate their kids as schools reopen - As schools prepare to reopen, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga is encouraging young people who are eligible for the vaccines against COVID-19 to get their shot. Motshekga was speaking on 11 January 2022.

Department of Basic Education: Up to 700 000 learners may have dropped out of school due to COVID-19 - The Basic Education Department estimates that between 150,000 and 700,000 children have dropped out of schools due to COVID-19 disruptions. The department said this was concerning despite it being an estimate.