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, the criminals who were nabbed after a dramatic shootout with police at The Hill in the south of Johannesburg are pleading poverty to explain their unlawful activities. Eight men were killed and 8 others were arrested last night after the gang of 25 was cornered by the Crime Intelligence unit. The men were allegedly on their way to rob to a cash van. Four police officers have been admitted to hospital after the criminals opened fire on a chopper that was circling overhead. In recent weeks there has been an apparent surge in cash-in-transit crimes, with a police officer and a member of the defence force linked to a heist just last week on the West Rand.

With suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule now preparing to put his case of innocence before the Bloemfontein High Court as his allies have failed to agree on whether the ANC's Luthuli House is better off with or without him. The embattled secretary-general has maintained he knows nothing about the multi-million rand Free State housing asbestos project and that his name should not be linked to the theft and corruption charges. He is accused number 13 - out of 16 others including 5 companies - who are being tried by the National Prosecuting Authority. Magashule was also suspended from the powerful ANC office - due to these corruption charges - but he says they are part of a political ploy to keep him out of the governing party's secretariat. He was joined by some of his allies yesterday, who unintentionally brought some comic relief when asked about the impact of Magashule's suspension.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura says R20 billion was spent procuring goods and services in Gauteng's township economies between 2014 and 2019 despite the Township Economic Development Bill not being passed last year as planned. Delivering his State of the Province Address, Makhura said there had been significant gains in that sector despite the bill being subject to public hearings. He says it should be passed this year. Makhura focused his address on losses brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery.

Opposition parties have dismissed Premier David Makhura's State of the Province Address as unimaginative and lacking when it comes to providing solutions for the province's crime, unemployment, service delivery and corruption problems. They were speaking outside the Brixton Multipurpose Centre following the premier's address yesterday, where he was occasionally heckled on issues of land and youth unemployment. The DA says Makhura failed to give a clear plan of action, while the EFF said his plans are useless until the land issue is addressed.

Police Minister Bheki Cele has told the SA Human Rights Commission investigating the July 2021 unrest that the KwaZulu-Natal police commissioner played a role in ensuring the Nkandla gathering when former President Jacob Zuma faced jail did not escalate. Cele was speaking in Sandton - he was the first witness at the Gauteng leg of the hearings. He says Commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi's presence on the ground contained the situation.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's parliamentary impeachment continues in Parliament this morning after months of delays due to court challenges. The Constitutional Court recently gave Parliament the green light to move ahead with the process. The committee for the Section 194 inquiry will receive a briefing by Parliament's constitutional and legal services office on the Constitutional Court judgment and proposed way forward.

There are growing calls for the finance minister not to increase excise tax on liquor when he delivers his budget speech tomorrow. Ahead of the 2022 National Budget Address tomorrow, South African Breweries has called on government to implement an excise adjustment that's in line with inflation. This SAB says will give, in particular small businesses, in the sector some relief following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ANC has accused the Western Cape Premier of contravening public service guidelines in the appointment of a special advisor. Alan Winde has applied to the Public Service and Administration Minister to appoint former Transport MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela. Madikizela resigned as MEC and DA Western Cape leader in April last year following claims that he'd lied about his qualifications.

There've been renewed calls on the Land Reform Department to speed up the restitution of District 6 claimants. This after another former resident, Hawa Wilkinson, passed away on Sunday. She was born in the area in the 1950s and was 10 years old when it was declared a whites-only area.

Our daily COVID-19 positivity rate is at 7.4%. This means 1,151 tests came back positive over the past 24-hour cycle. Sadly, the Health Department's ongoing audit also confirmed 137 previously unreported deaths, taking our national death toll to 98,804. On the vaccine front, just over 31 million jabs have been administered in South Africa so far.

In international news, President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops into two Moscow-backed rebel regions of Ukraine Monday, defying Western threats of sanctions and prompting an emergency UN Security Council meeting to try to avert war.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday defended his use of emergency powers to end weeks-long trucker-led protests and argued that lingering threats require the measures to remain in force for now.

VIDEOS

Minister Dlamini-Zuma: If COVID-19 disappeared, we would end national state of disaster - During a media briefing on 21 February 2022, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was asked what factors need to be considered before government decides to end the national state of disaster.

Medicinal cannabis part of Gauteng’s R45 billion agricultural development hub - In his State of the Province Address, Premier David Makhura announced that Gauteng was in talks with representatives in the cannabis industry as the province planned its inclusion in the agricultural development hub. Makhura delivered the address at the Brixton Multipurpose Centre, in Johannesburg, on 21 February 2022.