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World  acclaimed British musical “We Will Rock You” headed to South Africa 



An extensive, newly reimagined world tour of the multi award-winning British rock musical “We Will Rock You” is headed to South Africa next year.

Based on the uniquely inclusive songs of the legendary British rock band, Queen, with a book by renowned British-Australian comedian, Ben Elton, the musical will embark a two-city tour – Cape Town and Johannesburg – for a five-week season in October 2020. 

The Artscape Theatre Centre in the Mother City will be the first to stage the tour, scheduled to take place from Saturday, September 5, 2020 to October.

The Montecasino’s Teatro in Johannesburg will follow through with a series of performances, from Saturday, October 10 to Sunday, November 22.

Produced by SA promoter, Showtime Management, organisers are offering an early bird special discount at www.computicket.com for the month of December 2019 across all ticket prices.

“Showtime Management is excited to be involved in a new partnership with international producers to bring the new generation We Will Rock You hit stage production to this country in 2020 before going on a world tour,” a statement from the organisers thus read. 

“We have successfully produced a number of Broadway and West End hits in South Africa featuring SA talent that have gone on to critical acclaim in various overseas territories.

“Revisiting We Will Rock You as an originating partner with our new international partners on this new look production is a proud milestone for Showtime,” Showtime’s Hazel Feldman added.   

Showtime previously staged We Will Rock You in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban in 2005 and 2006 to much-acclaim and postive reviews.  

Following sold out seasons in the two South African venues, the show went on to enjoy a highly successful tour to New Zealand and Korea in 2007.

Based on an internationally acclaimed book by comedian, screenwriter and author Ben Elton, the musical tells the story of a group of bohemians in a dystopian future and features 24 of Queen’s greatest hits.

It premiered in London in 2002 and has gone on to tour Europe, North america, UK and Australia.

The South African production will be directed and choreographed by Olivier Award nominee Nick Winston (Annie, Loserville, Waiting for Godot). It will feature a combined South African and international creative team.

Full casting and further dates and venues to be announced in due course, organisers said. – ZONK NEWS WIRES

Boko Haram kidnaps 17 youths in north Cameroon: officials


Boko Haram militants have kidnapped17 children and youths, some as young as 11, in the north of Cameroon near the Nigerian frontier, police and local officials said on Thursday.

Since it began a decade ago, Nigeria’s Boko Haram insurgency has killed more than 27,000 people, displaced some two million, but has increasingly spilled over into neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

“Boko Haram attacked around 2300 (22:00 GMT) in Mbreche district, about 30 kilometres (20 miles) from the Nigeria border. They kidnapped 21 people, but four managed to escape,” a local official said.

A police official confirmed the kidnapping of the 17 young people, both male and female, who range from ages 11 to 20.

“The army has launched a rescue operation. Among the four people who got away, one says he recognised the kidnappers as Mbreche inhabitants who were recruited by Boko Haram,” the official said.

Since 2014, Cameroon says militant attacks on its territory have caused “several thousand” deaths. The insurgency has forced more than 250,000 people to flee their homes as well as trigger an influx of 60,000 Nigerian refugees.

Boko Haram has since split in two, with the emergence of a branch that has sworn allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) group, known as Islamic State Group in West Africa or ISWAP.

The other faction, loyal to the movement’s historic leader, Abubakar Shekau, is known for targeting civilians, including village attacks and suicide attacks. 

The ISWAP, which has about 3,000 men grouped at Lake Chad, has been building its capacity and mainly targets the army. 

Militants often make incursions into Cameroon in search of food reserves, such as livestock, and to kidnap women and children for ransom or to be forcibly recruited.

Boko Haram also targets the soldiers of the Cameroonian army. 

The country also faces a serious crisis in its English-speaking areas, the North-West and South-West regions, where for two years separatists and the army have fought a conflict , killing more than 3,000 people. – AFP

South African bowler takes wicket, performs magic trick


South African wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi became an immediate social media sensation on Thursday when video emerged of him celebrating a wicket by performing a magic trick in the middle of the pitch.

South African wrist spinner Tabraiz Shamsi became an immediate social media sensation on Thursday when video emerged of him celebrating a wicket by performing a magic trick in the middle of the pitch.

The 29-year-old, playing for Paarl against Durban in a domestic Twenty20 game, dismissed Wihan Lubbe and then reached into his trouser pocket where he pulled out a red handkerchief.

As he waved it in the air, it became a magic wand, much to the amusement of the crowd watching at Paarl’s Boland Park.

“I have always been fascinated by magic,” Shamsi said in a recent interview. From 15 or 16, I wanted to become a magician as it was a hobby of mine.”

Shamsi, who has played two Tests and 17 ODIs for the Proteas, was unable to conjure up a win for his team as Durban claimed a comfortable six-wicket victory. –AFP/RELAXNEWS

In memorium: Madiba’s 6th year death annivesary 



As South Africans continue to observe the late Nelson Mandela’s 6th year death anniversary this month of December, SA’s ambassador to Denmark and daughter of the late struggle icon Nelson Mandela, Zindzi Mandela remembered Madiba with an impassioned Twitter message Thursday.

The South African also paid tribute to the late struggle icon, and pointed out Madiba’s  readiness to “serve others”. 

In another news, Cuba took the lead by unveiling a new Mandela memorial last month in a befitting move aimed at paying tribute to its strong ties with South Africa.

Fernando Gonzalez, President of the NGO Cuban Institution of Friendship with Peoples was quoted by the media as saying: “For us it is a very special moment… we had been waiting a long time for the bust here.

“It will be a place where heads of state, African delegations, will be paid tribute to. These leaders fought for the unity of the African continent, for its independence.” – ZONK NEWS WIRES

Malawians await ruling on contested presidential poll


Over the past four months, Malawians have eagerly followed live broadcasts of witnesses presenting evidence to judges of alleged rigging in an election narrowly won by President Peter Mutharika. 

For the first time in the southeast African nation’s history, the court proceedings were aired on private radio stations.

The testimonies, which ended on Friday, challenge the credibility of the May elections that saw Mutharika narrowly secure a second term with 38.5 percent of the vote.

Runner-up Lazarus Chakwera alleges he was robbed of victory in the ballot, which he lost by just 159,000 votes. 

His Malawi Congress Party (MCP) and the opposition United Transformation Movement (UTM) have petitioned courts to annul the poll.

Presidential election results have never been challenged in court since Malawi’s independence from Britain in 1964.

The opposition bussed in thousands of supporters to Lilongwe for the occasion. They caused mayhem in the capital, blocking roads and throwing stones at the police.

Protesters have been demanding the resignation of the electoral body chief, and many of the demonstrations turned violent.  

As interest in the testimonies spiked, the judges allowed some private broadcasters to live stream the proceedings on radio.

“Judges and lawyers are aware of the interest that the live broadcasts have raised among Malawians here and abroad,” Information Minister Mark Botoman said.

In Nthandire, a crowded slum in Lilongwe, it was a common sight to see groups of men glued to their radio sets, following the proceedings late into the night.

‘No longer passive’

“I want to understand how and why the judges would have made the decision,” said 42-year old architect Potential Chitsulo.

Various witnesses have testified before the constitutional court since the hearings started in July.They presented evidence of tampering to a panel of five judges, including altered ballot papers.

The MCP’s sixth and final witness, IT expert Daud Suleman, demonstrated how the Malawi Electoral Commission’s network and servers were breached and manipulated.

“People are following the case without necessarily going to court,” said journalism lecturer Temwani Mgunda, adding that the broadcasts had helped sustain interest in the case.

Gospel Kazako, the owner of Malawi’s Zodiak Broadcasting station — the biggest in the country — told AFP the broadcasts had spurred political engagement among the people.

“It reveals to me that me that Malawians are no longer passive participants of the electoral process,” Kazako said.

Avid listeners will now have to wait for the ruling. The constitutional court has 45 days to hand down its verdict. 

If judges uphold the fraud allegations, fresh polls could be called within a matter of days, according to a former attorney general.

“How the court then will decide on this case is critical,” said a popular online activist known as Lord Denning.

“No wonder there is an almost unanimous attention towards the court by all Malawians and other non-Malawians alike”. – AFP


Eskom resorts to Stage 2 load-shedding to avoid total collapse of power



Eskom announced Thursday it will implement Stage 2 load-shedding from 4pm until 11pm.

The power utility said it had decided to implement load-shedding as a measure of last to protect the power system from a total collapse or blackout.

Eskom added that the severe power constraints were due to ‘high levels of unplanned breakdowns that have exceeded the 10 500MW limit.’

“We have unreservedly apologise to South Africans for the negative impact this may have on them and want to assure the nation that we continue to work tirelessly to ensure security of energy supply,” Eskom said in a statement on Thursday.

“We will continue to keep South Africans informed about the status of the electricity system.”

Last week, the power utility said it needed to come up with a way to address the R50 billion shortfall it had accumulated this past financial year.

Eskom Chairperson Jabu Mabuza warned that municipal debt owed to Eskom could approach R30bn by the end of the year.

Municipal arrear debt increased by R5.2bn from March 2019 to R25.1bn as at the end of September, Eskom’s interim results shows.

Mabuza expressed concern, especially because the growing debt is owed by new debtors. – ZONK NEWS WIRES

Cassper’s #Fillup exposes unique (South) African places to explore



Inspired by the celebrated rapper, Cassper Nyovest’s famed #FillUp concert series, South Africans revealed Thursday top destinations they would like to visit and explore in their lifetime.

The hashtag #ShotLeft2FillUp was all the rage throughout the day as it topped Twitter’s hottest top trending topics, alongside Cassper Nyovest’s upcoming Samsung-sponsored  #FillUpRoyalBafokeng stadium concert.

The festival brings a vast range of artists within South Africa and other African countries – yet to be revealed.

An initiative of the South African Tourism (@ShotLEft) which called on South Africans to post pictures of the places they’d like to visit in order to win a trip to the Fill Up Royal Bafokeng concert on Sunday, December 15 in Rustenburg, North West, the #ShotLeft2FillUp had users showing interest towards the continent at large.

 While many seem to have taken fancy to the likes of the Sun City Resort in Rustenburg, North West, and the Mpumalanga’s God’s Window, along with Kruger National Park  – which lies across Limpopo and Mpumalanga – other top world destinations such as the Gesbok National Park, a vast wildlife preserve situated in the Kalahari Dessert region of Botswana and South Africa, featured among their top travel destination wish-list.

So did the land of the gods, Bali, in Indonesia.

Top travel destinations S.Africans wish to explore

SAA secures state-led business rescue



SAA announced Thursday that its Board of Directors took a resolution to place the company into business rescue at the earliest opportunity.

“As previously announced, the SAA Board of Directors and the Executive Committee have been in consultations with the shareholder, the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE), in an effort to find a solution to our company’s well-documented financial challenges,” said SAA spokesperson Tlali Tlali on Thursday.

 “The considered and unanimous conclusion has been to place the company into business rescue in order to create a better return for the company’s creditors and shareholders, than would result from any other available solution,” said Tlali.

“The considered and unanimous conclusion has been to place the company into business rescue in order to create a better return for the company’s creditors and shareholders than would result from any other available solution,”

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan told the media on Wednesday that business rescue was the best way of resolving the dire situation of the airline.

The loss-making airline has been unable to raise funding necessary to continue operations.

According to a Mail & Guardian report, President Cyril Ramaphosa instructed secretary of Cabinet, Dr Cassius Lubisi, to inform members of the executive of the urgent need to change the approach that had already been adopted to get SAA out of the doldrums.

“After discussions with various key stakeholders, including potential lenders, developments have now necessitated a change of approach to the SAA conundrum,” wrote Lubisi.

“This is the only viable route open to the government to avoid an uncontrolled implosion of the national airline. The voluntary business rescue approach will also prevent liquidation applications by any of SAA’s creditors, which would land the airline in an even worse position.” – ZONK NEWS WIRES 

SA mourns the tragic passing of gospel singer Neyi Zimu



The South African gospel fraternity mourns the tragic passing of celebrated gospel singer and pastor, Neyi Zimu, who died at the age of 49 after succumbing to a year long battle with skin cancer.

The devastating news were confirmed this morning, just two weeks after his family publicly revealed that the “Jehova Re Tshepile Wena” hitmaker was battling skin cancer and was about to undergo chemotherapy.

His wife, Nellie Sibisi-Zimu, said Zimu died at Busamed Moderfontein Hospital on Thursday. Sharing details of his diagnosis, she said Neyi was diagnosed with a rare skin condition earlier this year and had been trying different skin therapies.

“Unfortunately none have been as successful as we hope.” She added: “We had resorted to chemotherapy because the doctor’s recommended it.” 

Clues about the singer’s underlying health problems became apparent when his face started to show some abnormalities early this year and it appear to have worsen as he would be seen in public wearing hand gloves.

His health further deteriorated over time, resulting in the singer failing to honour all his concert bookings. During one of his recently scheduled concerts in Polokwane which he failed to honour, his brother Silas Zimu revealed to concert goers that Neyi had been diagnosed with a rare skin cancer, saying they “had thought it was something small”‘ until latest tests proved otherwise.

“The good news is that he is in good hands, specialists and doctors are looking after him 24 hours [a day]. Hence, as a family, we said he needs to be grounded just to get rid of this disease so that he can come back healthier,” Silas said at the time.

 Details of his funeral and burial will be released in due time, the family said.



Geoff Makhubo elected new mayor of Joburg



The ANC staged a dramatic political comeback in Johannesburg on Wednesday when its regional chairperson Geoff Makhubo was elected new mayor of the largest city in South Africa.

Makhubo – a backroom operator currently embroiled in a tender scandal in which he allegedly received R30 million from the city of Johannesburg, won with a comfortable margin after receiving 137 votes.

The Democratic Alliance’s mayoral candidate, Funzela Ngobeni, received 101 votes, while EFF’s Musa Novela got 30 votes. And in a dramatic twist, three DA councillors voted for the ANC.

The sitting of the Joburg City Council on Wednesday was the second attempt to vote a candidate into the city’s top post following the resignation of Herman Mashaba in October.

Last week’s vote in the council was delayed after the speaker Vasco da Gama argued that the legal opinion was needed on what constituted a majority and by extension a winning margin.

In 2016, the ANC in Joburg received 45% of the votes and lost the metro to a DA coalition involving the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Inkatha Freedom Party.

The DA said in a statement that Makhubo’s election as mayor spelled disaster for the city and its people.

“Today is a sad day for the people of Johannesburg who believed in and supported the DA-led multiparty coalition government, even during the toughest of times. We had made great progress in building a City all residents could be proud of. Today, that project will be undone,” the party said in a statement.

“Notably, the ANC again put forward its own candidate, Councillor Geoff Makhubo, who is deeply compromised due to his alleged corrupt involvement in a City of Johannesburg tender, which has allegedly enriched him to the tune of R30-million.

“While Cllr Makhubo was meant to be delivering services and putting the people first, he looted the City’s coffers. Cllr Makhubo is not the man to build a working city; the ANC is not a party which holds sacred the needs of residents.

“Today the City of Johannesburg is in the hands the money-hungry ANC, which will rapidly reverse the progress made over the last three years, as is the dire situation in Nelson Mandela Bay.”

The ANC in Gauteng said the party has learnt from its past mistakes after losing power to a coalition.

Meanwhile, ANC provincial chairperson and Gauteng premier, David Makhura, congratulated Makhubo on his election as Joburg mayor.

“Congratulations to the @ANCJHB & the newly elected mayor of the @CityofJoburgZA, Cde @Geoff_Makhubo. Joburg is one the cities that has the responsibility to pull our nation out of the current economic challenges. We are confident that you will lead our people to prosperity,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

The party’s deputy chairperson Panyaza Lesufi told eNCA that the ANC has learnt from its past mistakes.

“Geoff Makhubo has been a leader of the ANC Caucus all along. It can’t be that he was good when in opposition benches and suddenly he is not good enough to lead the city,” said Lesufi.

“The ANC is not naive to the allegations against Cde Geoff Makhubo but we have to allow due processes to unfold. This is why we have subjected him to a process of the Integrity Committee.”

United Democratic Movement’s leader Bantu Holomisa congratulated the ANC and slammed the DA of being disrespectful of coalition partners.
“Congratulations,” he gushed.

“They must be go and work. DA must learn to respect their future coalition partners.” – ZONK NEWS WIRES