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NEWSFLASH NEWS AGENCY 11 February 3 pm

Good afternoon,

In this bulletin:

# The alleged Parliament arsonist’s case is postponed once again
# Black Sash welcomes the extension of the social relief grant to March next year
# And Rugby: South African teams play local derbies in the United Rugby Championship this weekend

# The man accused of starting last month’s fire at Parliament, Zandile Mafe, made a return to the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court today. This comes after he was denied bail a week ago. He has been charged with arson and terrorism. A spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority, Eric Ntabazalila, says the case has been postponed until the 25th of March. He says the accused still needs to file his appeal against the court’s refusal to grant him bail. The state attorney indicated to the court more suspects might be added to the case.

# The civil justice group, Black Sash, says despite the undignified value of the 350-rand social relief grant and its systemic flaws, it is a work in progress. They welcome president Cyril Ramaphosa’s extension of the grant to March next year announced in his state of the nation address. Spokesperson Esley Philander says it provides the most immediate pathway to a permanent basic income support programme for those that are unemployed and ultimately a universal basic income:

Play sound: ENG EsleyONSONA

# The Agricultural Business Chamber says it is ready to partner with government for inclusive growth and job creation. Agbiz chairperson, Francois Strydom, says president Cyril Ramaphosa’s recognition in his state of the nation address that an enabling environment for business is critical for attracting investment, and helping to solve unemployment is significant. He says investment in port infrastructure and the call for third-party operators on rail show that business concerns are being heard at the highest level.

# The international medical humanitarian organization, Doctors Without Borders, and the People’s Health Movement called on the South African government to revoke patents granted to American pharmaceutical corporations for a Covid-19 medicine and an mRNA vaccine. A spokesperson, Tom Ellman, says the patent granted to Eli Lilly for a product called Baricitinib is currently limiting access for South Africans to affordable generic versions of this medicine. Ellman says it is outrageous that people in South Africa are being denied access to lifesaving treatments because of patents.

# Rugby: The four South African teams in the United Rugby Championship will tackle each other in local derbies tomorrow before taking a week-long break. The Lions play the Stormers in Johannesburg at three o’clock and the Bulls and the Sharks will take to the field at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria two hours later. They all then travel to Europe for one round of matches before returning to welcome overseas teams for two rounds in South Africa next month.

# Financial indicators: The dollar is trading at 15-rand-13-cents and the euro at 17-rand-24-cents. One British pound costs 20-rand-51-cents and Bitcoin trades at 43-thousand-383-dollars-4-cents. Gold is selling at one thousand-827-dollars-12-cents a fine ounce and Brent crude oil is quoted at 92-dollars-24-cents a barrel.

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