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, it's been almost two years since COVID-19 darkened our doorstep and South Africa still doesn't have a plan in place to deal with the millions of disposable masks and sanitiser bottles that are being crammed into already overburdened landfills. The World Health Organization is warning that countries don't have enough space to treat and handle the accumulated waste that's being used globally in response to the pandemic. Here at home, our already maxed-out landfill sites and facilities are buckling under the weight of the extra waste.

Suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule returns to the dock today as the pre-trial for his fraud and corruption charges over the Free State asbestos project begins. Two days have been set aside for proceedings in the matter which involves Magashule and 15 others, including 5 companies, former Mangaung Mayor Olly Mlamleli and Edwin Sodi's Blackhead Consulting. They are facing multiple charges over the 2014 two-hundred-and-fifty-five million rand contract to assess and remove asbestos housing material in the Free State - Magashule was premier of the province at the time. He's attempted to challenge the case, which has been postponed several times. Magashule insists this is a politically motivated fishing expedition.

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana will deliver his first Budget Speech on Wednesday and there could be some good news for taxpayers. The Good Hope Chamber at the parliamentary precinct is being prepared for the event. Economists are expecting a low-key budget that sticks to the line that Godongwana spelled out in his Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement in November. While no fireworks are expected, higher levies on fuel, tobacco and alcohol could still burn a hole in people's pockets.

Sixty people have been admitted to hospital following a suspected gas leak in Parktown. Paramedics were called to a university residence last night where students complained about shortness of breath. Of the 170 people who were assessed, dozens were taken to hospital for further care and monitoring. Investigations are now under way into the suspected gas leak.

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has urged parents at Hoƫrskool Jan Viljoen to change their behaviour and attitude in addressing issues of race. The MEC has condemned the behaviour displayed by parents last week which resulted in the police firing stun grenades and rubber bullets. Lesufi returned to the high school in Randfontein yesterday to meet with parents and address allegations of racial discrimination and claims of sexual misconduct. This follows an altercation between black and white pupils that went viral on social media.

The organisers of Operation Dudula have called for shop owners in Hillbrow to employ South Africans only. Dozens of people, monitored by police, took to the streets of Hillbrow at the weekend, gathering at several crime hotspots and suspected drug dens. The group has been chasing away those they deem to be illegal immigrants, accusing them of being responsible for criminality and taking jobs.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura will this morning deliver his State of the Province Address at the Brixton Multipurpose Centre in Johannesburg. The address takes place under the theme "following up on our commitment to the people of Gauteng". It's expected to highlight past achievements and also present a programme of action for the remainder of the current administration. However, the Democratic Alliance has accused Makhura of making empty promises in his two terms as Gauteng premier.

The Health Department says one COVID-related death was confirmed over the past 48 hours. However, the ongoing audit has uncovered another 49 previously unreported fatalities, taking our death toll to 98,667. Our daily COVID positivity rate is at 7.2%. This means 1,456 tests came back positive for the virus over the past 24-hour reporting cycle. Over 30.9 million vaccines have been administered here in South Africa since they became available.

A year has passed and the families of four Nyanga boys who died in a sinkhole along the N2 highway are reminded every day of the tragedy. Axolile Mabangula, Nqabayethu Mlaza, Azola Quweni and Iva Kalikopu fell into the hole and died last February. According to the Western Cape Transport and Infrastructure Department, sand meant to be used to fill holes along roads had been stolen, leading to the tragedy.

Tshwane and the City of Joburg say they will continue cutting services this week to those who have defaulted on their payments. The past 10 days has seen services to certain government departments and business in the capital being cut, with the City of Tshwane saying defaulting residents will now also see their services cut. Some defaulting Johannesburg residents have also been left in the dark and told to pay up.

In international news, US President Joe Biden has agreed in principle to a meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin so long as Moscow does not invade Ukraine, the White House confirmed Sunday after it was first announced by France.

Australia reopened its borders to vaccinated tourists Monday, nearly two years after the continent nation imposed some of the world's strictest COVID-19 travel restrictions.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set Monday to announce an end to all pandemic legal curbs in England, insisting it is time to move on despite political opposition and unease from the UN's health agency.

VIDEOS

Mask Pollution: A threat to the environment - The World Health Organization recently revealed that tens of thousands of extra medical waste from the response to the pandemic had put strain on waste management systems around the world. What has the impact been like here in Johannesburg?