INTERNATIONAL: A social media campaign that has been initiated by Kenyans, aims to tell the story of each victim of the Garissa University College massacre, using the hashtags #147notjustanumber and #theyhavenames. The facilitators say this initiative aims to humanise the “victims of terror”. Friends and families of the victims have started sharing details of the lives of those killed – including photographs, full names, ages as well as a brief story about each one. Some of the stories tweeted about so far are: “Leah N Wanfula, who at 21 was the first of nine siblings to go to university”. There’s “Gideon Kirui, 22, whose entire family saved up for him to continue his education”, and “Selpher Wandia, 21, who was studying to become a teacher.” By Monday evening, the hashtag #147notjustanumber had been mentioned 52 000 times. Also, as an act to honour the murdered students, a public Google document that will contain all the details of the victims is currently being compiled. It will also contain details of other Al-Shabaab victims within Kenya. Meanwhile Kenyan Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia announced that 112 of the student remains had been positively identified. The bodies are being kept at Nairobi’s Chimoro Mortuary.
TECH NEWS: Instant messaging (IM) services are set to overtake SMS usage in South Africa in the coming year, according a local technology expert. A survey by World Wide Worx and GeoPoll called Mobile Africa 2015, which interviewed 3 500 mobile phone users in five African countries, has illustrated how SMS usage is under threat in SA. According to the survey, 52% of South African respondents said they still use text messages when it comes to their most common phone activities. In all the African countries combined, 45% of respondents said they still use SMSes. However, usage of IM is rising fast, as 41% of South African respondents said they use IM services such as WhatsApp. Meanwhile, 41% of South African respondents also said they use social networking service Facebook, which also offers messaging features. Arthur Goldstuck of World Wide Worx told Fin24 that these statistics point to a spiralling decline in text-message use in SA and the rest of Africa. “A few years ago it (SMS services) would have been pervasive. Now they’re used by less than half the respondents across these five markets. IM is killing it off steadily and will overtake it in the coming year,” said Goldstuck. The survey did not reveal statistics for voice usage in SA, but he said a similar picture could be painted to that of text messages. Goldstuck said that last year WhatsApp had over 10 million users in South Africa. Apart from sending SMS messages, taking photos is a top activity among 45% of phone users. Forty percent of SA respondents also said they listen to FM radio and browse the internet on their phones, while 34% said they play games and download apps. Social networking service Twitter is used by 14% of SA respondents as well, according to the survey.
NEWS: Suspended Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF) Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Wiekus Kotze, yesterday accused Julius Malema of using bullying tactics to rule, saying party employees were at the mercy of the leadership. In a statement, Kotze said the party’s leadership abused its power, and intimidated and threatened those who dared question them. Kotze claims he was suspended last November for unknown reasons and had still not been called into a disciplinary hearing. His only crime, he says, was to question the financial practices of the party. “Those who work for the EFF are at the total mercy of the leadership. As a result, a culture of fear reigns within the party. It is that fear that Julius [Malema] exploits to great advantage,” he said. Kotze first joined the party as a member and later became CFO, a position that gave him access to the party’s national and provincial financial records.
NEWS: Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace arrived in Pretoria on Tuesday afternoon for their first state visit in 21 years to consolidate bilateral relations with South Africa. International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and Post and Telecommunications Minister Siyabonga Cwele were among the officials present to greet the Mugabes. Nkoana-Mashabane told reporters that the two-day visit with the head of South Africa’s third-biggest trading partner was intended to strengthen trade ties. The focus is largely on the consolidation of our bilateral ties – political and economic, she said. Business delegations from the two countries would meet to remove all obstacles of trade and economic relations.
ENTERTAINMENT: The current Miss South Africa, Liesl Laurie from Eldorado Park, says watching her mother struggle with drug addiction inspired her own journey. Laurie recently joined the 67 Blankets campaign and helped to knit blankets for girls from the Hadassah Centre for Women in De Deur, Meyerton. The centre helps young women overcome problems such as drug abuse, abuse and prostitution. Liesl is passionate about empowering young women to believe in themselves and to never give up on their dreams. Her mom, Karen, who is a high school teacher, told the Sowetan that her recovery was a long and difficult road for both her children.
SOURCES: News24Wire, Sowetan, The Guardian, Times Live, Daily Nation