By Panashe Chigumadzi (@panashechig
A round-up of last week’s biggest news and newsmakers.
1. Cape Town sees largest march since apartheid in support of Gaza
On Saturday, nearly 200 000 people marched around blocks Parliament’s main gates in Plein Street as speakers addressed them in a protest believed to have been one of the biggest the city has seen.
The march was called by the National Coalition for Palestine (NC4P), which comprises more than 30 religious and civil society organisations, trade unions and political parties, including the Muslim Judicial Council, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the ANC Youth League.
In a statement, the NC4P said it was demanding “decisive action from the South African government against the Israeli attacks, killings, displacement and destruction of the Gaza Strip”.
According to reports, more than 1 900 people have been killed since Israel launched Operation Protective Edge against Gaza a month ago.
The end of a three-day ceasefire in the region was marked on Friday morning by the firing of more rockets from Gaza into Israel. In retaliation, Israel resumed air strikes against targets in the Gaza Strip.
Earlier last week, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe avoided a direct response to a question on what government’s position was on growing calls for a boycott of goods from Israel, and the withdrawal of both countries’ ambassadors:
“We want peace in the Middle East. We are committed to facilitating the resolution of the conflict there. That is why [President Jacob Zuma] sent special envoys [to Palestine]. So that’s the position of the South African government,” he told journalists on Thursday during a media briefing in Pretoria.
2. Elders from Northern Nigeria demand return of Chibok girls in return for support for Nigerian President
More than 120 days since the Chibok girls were abducted in the North of Nigeria, the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) on Monday gave President Goodluck Jonathan up to October to rescue the more than 200 Chibok schoolgirls abducted by the Boko Haram sect or they would not support his 2015 presidential re-election bid.
Former Speaker Alhaji Sule Maitama, who spoke on behalf of the Northern Elders Forum, attributed the insurgency in the north to the lack of strong will by the president, government corruption and incompetence.
“The Northern Elders Forum does not believe that the Nigerian military cannot defeat these terrorists. We also reject the notion that multiple internal security challenges such as attacks on villages, ethno-religious conflicts and banditry springing up by the day in many parts of the North are all a coincidence.”
“It is no secret that the vast majority of Northerners lament their marginalisation, insecurity and poverty, and blame it in large part on the inability and unwillingness of its past and present leaders to utilise all access to power which they enjoy, to bring us redress and relief.”
3. 10 new cases of Ebola in Nigeria as the outbreak spreads
As African nations take measures to halt the spread of the deadly virus, the 10th case of Ebola was confirmed in Nigeria last week, while Senegal and Rwanda each announced their first suspected cases.
Meanwhile, the Spanish health ministry said on Monday that it had imported a US-made experimental drug, called ZMapp, to use in treating a 75-year-old missionary priest, who contracted the disease in Liberia and was flown to hospital in Madrid.
The experimental drug has been used to treat, with apparent success, two Americans diagnosed with Ebola in Liberia who were evacuated back to the United States. ZMapp has never been tested in humans.
4. 5.5 Orkney earthquake shakes South Africa
At lunchtime on Tuesday, an earthquake measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale was felt over wide areas of South Africa and Southern African countries of Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique.
The epicenter of the earthquake was Orkney, a mining town near Klerksdorp in the North West province.
Later that night an aftershock hit the nearby township of Khuma.
Families in the North West suffered the most extensive damage to their homes and a 31-year-old man died when a wall collapsed on him. At least 17 people were injured and hundreds of houses were affected.
The quake, which lasted approximately 20 seconds, was one of South Africa’s largest-magnitude earthquakes in the past decade. The largest one hit in 1969, in Ceres, not far from Cape Town, and registered 6.3 on the Richter scale.
5. Outrage over Indian ‘fashion shoot’ that glamorizes rape culture
A ‘fashion shoot’ by Indian photographer Raj Shetye’s depicting a model being groped by men on a bus in a setting chillingly similar to the 16 December 2012 Delhi gang-rape, has caused outrage on both local Indian and international social media networks
The link for the photos titled ‘The Wrong Turn’ show, which went viral on Twitter and Facebook, has been deleted after angry reactions and is now redirected to an error page.
In an interview with Buzzfeed.com, Mr Shetye denied that he based his shoot on incidents of December 2012, when a young medical student was raped and tortured by six men on a moving bus. The 22-year-old woman, who came to be known as ‘Nirbhaya’ or fearless, died 16 days later of horrific injuries.
“It is not based on Nirbhaya. But being a part of society and being a photographer, that topic moves me from inside. I stay in a society where my mother, my girlfriend, my sister are out there and something like this can happen to them also,” the photographer was quoted by Buzzfeed as saying.
Shetye said the photo shoot was a way of “throwing light” on the gang-rape and to show that it can happen to anyone, no matter “which class she belongs to.”
6. University of Pretoria students in Blackface scandal
Two students from the University of Pretoria will face disciplinary action after a photo of the two dressed up as black domestic workers went viral.
The pictures were taken at a private party but the university said that disciplinary action will be instituted against the students because they allegedly brought the institution’s name into disrepute.
The incident comes just days after the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said that there had been a spike in racism related incidents, particularly at universities around the country.
“The SAHRC remains deeply concerned about the lack of transformation taking place in South African society 20 years into its democratic dispensation,” SAHRC chairperson Lawrence Mushwana said.
The SAHRC has since begun investigating this case.
7. Kim Kardashian becomes Kim West
A couple of months after her wedding to rapper Kanye West, reality TV star Kim Kardashian has made it official: she’s Mrs. West now.
Mrs. West has said before that she’ll use Kardashian as her middle name and West as her surname.
Kardashian West took to Instagram on Tuesday to share her new passport photo and included in the caption the hashtags: #Mr.West and #NameChange.