Man arrested as fire ravages Overberg
A 34-year-old man was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of causing the fire still burning in the Betty's Bay/Pringle Bay area of the Overberg in the Western Cape. Police said the man was arrested on a charge of contravening the National Environmental Management Act, which outlaws burning or discarding an object in a manner likely to cause a fire. He is scheduled to appear in the Caledon magistrate's court on Monday. Investigations into the cause of the fire are continuing, but witnesses reportedly saw a flare landing in thick vegetation outside Betty's Bay. It is believed the flare was discharged during New Year's Eve celebrations. So far three homes have been partly or completely destroyed in the blaze, according to media reports. There are also unconfirmed reports of a woman suffering a fatal heart attack reportedly due to smoke inhalation.
Thieves steal state bigwig’s lobola cattle
Newlywed presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko has become the latest stock-theft victim after 24 cattle, paid as lobola for her, were stolen in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape. Her family is still angered by the theft, despite their having been recovered, saying they were “dismayed by heartless livestock thieves who had no respect for the sacredness of lobola and no fear of the ancestors’ wrath”. Diko’s new husband, AmaBhaca royal King Thandisizwe Diko, had paid an undisclosed sum as lobola, which included the 24 stolen cattle. The cattle, which were grazing on nearby communal grazing land, were all stolen on December 27, barely two weeks after the wedding.
Contraband seized in Panayiotou’s cell
Convicted murderer Christopher Panayiotou has lost some privileges behind bars after being found in possession of a cellphone and SIM cards in his single prison cell. Panayiotou, who was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his wife, Jayde, in Port Elizabeth, is serving time at the St Albans maximum correctional centre in the Eastern Cape. Provincial correctional services spokesperson Vuyo Gadu told TimesLIVE on Thursday that the items were found in his cell during a search early in the morning of December 20 2018. An iPhone 6 and three SIM cards had been found, said Gadu. Panayiotou’s privileges would be reduced, which might include fewer visits and phone calls.
Fresh clashes over women in temple
Clashes broke out in southern India for a second day on Thursday as Hindu hardliners went on the rampage, seeking to enforce a general shutdown in protest over two women entering one of the country's holiest temples. A day after violence among rival groups and with police left one man dead and 15 people injured, authorities said that 266 protestors had been arrested across the state of Kerala. Anger erupted among Hindu traditionalists on Wednesday after news that the two women in their 40s, escorted by police and dressed in black, wrong-footed devotees to sneak into the Sabarimala temple via a side entrance before dawn to pray. This was the first time that any woman of menstruating age (those aged between 10 and 50) had set foot in the gold-plated temple, located on a hilltop in a tiger reserve, since India's Supreme Court overturned a ban in September. – AFP
State seeks death for Khashoggi accused
Saudi Arabia's attorney-general sought the death penalty for five of 11 defendants charged with the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi as their high-profile trial opened in Riyadh on Thursday. All 11 accused were present with their lawyers at the first session of the trial, the attorney-general said in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency. Saudi Arabia had twice submitted formal requests for evidence from Turkey -- where Khashoggi was murdered inside the kingdom's Istanbul consulate on October 2 -- but had received no response, the statement added. The names of the defendants have not been officially released. Five top officials in Saudi Arabia -- including royal court insider Saud al-Qahtani -- were sacked over the Khashoggi murder, but there is no proof they are among those charged. – AFP
When a big cat’s not in the mood …
When you're an endangered species and your partner just isn't in the mood, drastic measures are called for, as Ginni, one of Prague Zoo's Asiatic lionesses, found out on Thursday when she underwent an artificial insemination procedure. The attempt was a last-ditch effort after failed hopes the zoo's three cats, male Jamvan and females Ginni and Suchi brought from India in 2015, would procreate naturally and widen the European gene pool of the animals. "Jamvan is not dominant enough, he is not willing to mate or when he tries, they chase him away," Prague Zoo mammals curator Pavel Brandl said. The Asiatic lion is slightly smaller than its African relative and while the wild population has recovered somewhat, it still only numbers about 600 in the Gir Protected Area in India's Gujarat, its only natural habitat. – Reuters