Social media network Twitter has rolled out a new feature in South Africa to help those with suicidal thoughts to reach out for assistance, directing users to expert help.
Twitter users who search for terms associated with suicide or self-harm, will receive a large notification encouraging them to contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), which operates the country’s only suicide crisis helpline.
SADAG operations director Cassey Chambers says many people turn to social media to share their feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
“To be able to give those people a resource to access help in a time of crisis is helpful to SADAG, so we can help more people who feel like suicide is the only option,” Chambers says.
Twitter’s public policy head for Sub-Saharan Africa Emmanuel Lubanzadio says the social media platform’s community can be an important source of real-time support for anyone struggling with thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Twitter also has a dedicated reporting form for people threatening suicide or self-harm.
“A specialised team reviews these reports, and upon receiving them, they will be in direct contact to let the individual know someone who cares about them identified that they might be at risk,” Lubanzadio says.
The company launched a special emoji in the shape of an orange ribbon, the international symbol for World Suicide Prevention Day, which is on 10 September, which will appear when people tweet with the hashtags #WorldSuicidePreventionDay, #WSPD, #WSPD2020 and #SuicidePrevention this month.
Twitter has also deployed a similar prompt in Kenya and Nigeria.
Braamfontein – Wits University has resumed the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine trial, after the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority and local ethics committees gave the go-ahead.
Vaccine trial leader Professor Shabir Madhi said pausing vaccination to review safety is evidence of the application of sound clinical practice.
“It demonstrates the rigour of the independent oversight process under which this trial is being conducted,” he said.
The Oxford Covid-19 vaccine trial is also underway in the United States, United Kingdom and Brazil.
The trial was paused in the United Kingdom last week after a medical event concerning one trial participant.
Professor Madhi confirmed that vaccination resumed on Tuesday.
“The South African study is overseen by the same independent Data and Safety Monitoring Committee as in the United Kingdom, so all sites in South Africa paused vaccination. The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority and Wits University ethics committees have now approved resuming vaccination. Assessing safety of the vaccine is the reason why studies such as these are essential in South Africa, before there is widespread use of the vaccine,” says Madhi.
The City of Joburg’s Disaster Management Centre is embarking on a flood and thunderstorm awareness campaign at various hotspots until December 2020.
The centre’s communication manager Niel Rooi says the locations are based on their historic annual incident assessment data, which identifies human-induced flooding and historic areas that are prone to flooding during rainy seasons.
“Flood and thunderstorm awareness and its reduction and mitigation measures are informed by flooding occurrences during the previous two rainy seasons, and as identified by annual regional risk reduction assessments,” Rooi explains.
During rainy seasons, most residents in informal settlements and some formalised housing areas experience water pooling due to blockage of drainage pipes and water downflow paths.
Rooi says residents will be given safety tips on how to react to different flood and thunderstorm cautions, alerts, and warnings.
To comply with Covid-19 regulations, where there are large gatherings, the awareness team will communicate by means of loud-hailing or mobile PA system.
“We have a close working relationship with the Johannesburg Roads Agency, the City’s entity responsible for rehabilitation and maintenance of the roads and stormwater infrastructure, to work together on areas of mutual interest during the campaign,” Rooi adds.
Some of the areas the team will visit include Diepsloot, Cosmo City, Kliptown, Klipspruit, Joubert Park, Denver and Setjwetla informal settlements.
Rooi has asked residents in the spirit of KleenaJoburg to clean in and around water inflow and downflow paths in their immediate vicinity. A request has also been made to residents to open drainage holes in boundary walls to prevent water-pooling and flooding in their yards.
For all disaster, fire, traffic and rescue related emergencies, residents can call the City’s 24-hour Emergency Centre on 011 375 5911.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic forced a global shift to dependency on the digital economy workplaces have opened up unprecedented technological risks such as unsecured devices, shadow IT and unregulated internet access, and fraudsters have launched unprecedented cyber warfare.
Businesses across the globe have typically taken an immature approach to cyber security, believing that a firewall is an adequate fortress to defend their intellectual property.
CEO of Snode Technologies Nithen Naidoo says there is an urgent need for always-on surveillance and real-time risk analysis for potential breaches.
“Cybercriminals are deploying a varied arsenal of insidious tactics to access your company’s information technology: coronavirus-specific phishing schemes, malware, memetics, deepfakes and mass cognitive influence operations. In this new normal, organisations must aggressively confront these potential risks. Fundamental to the success of security efforts is launching cyber defence solutions that are impactful, agile and quick to adopt. Failure to do so could be catastrophic,” he says.
Business continuity is the key modus operandi in these precarious times. Cyber security efforts need to be upgraded to defend the digital infrastructure that is integral to a company’s success. As such, it is imperative that South Africa has access to locally-developed cyber defence technology that accounts for its unique requirements through a secure, trusted technology supply chain.
“At Snode we focus on digital defence innovation with in-house developed technology and home-grown talent. Cyber security must be approached as far more than just a checkbox exercise; the newfound fragility of information technology systems means that organisations must go the extra mile to not only remain resilient and secure but to spring into the digital landscape of the future. Our central premise is built on the need to mature the cyber security posture of our businesses and solidify South Africa’s fierce reputation for world-class defence innovation. In a new era of cyber defence, it is important that business leaders and governments adopt a forward-thinking approach towards integrating cyber security into their business operating model,” Naidoo says.
Central to this is to invest in robust cyber solutions to anticipate, combat and refine their approach to adverse business conditions, vulnerabilities and threats as a result of the world’s heightened online footprint.
“Companies should be looking beyond the short-term implications of operating in cyberspace due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and gear themselves towards a defence strategy to ensure success during the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” Naidoo adds.
Johannesburg – Tech company Google has announced plans to help businesses, jobseekers, educational institutions and vulnerable populations to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 crisis locally and across the continent.
The tech company’s initiatives will address the need for funding, training and services across identified sectors, including support for 500 000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and 25 000 teachers.
Google has set up a digital hub providing free tools and resources to businesses and individuals.
The hub will give 500 000 small businesses help to get online or improve their digital presence through Google My Business (GMB), which helps businesses connect with millions of users every month.
Google South Africa director Alistair Mokoena says small businesses have been hardest hit during this period. “Many of them have had to figure out quickly how to pivot their operations to a digital-first approach. Yet, there remains a gap between those who can access these online opportunities and those who can’t. That’s the gap we want to bridge with this initiative,” he says.
Google is also launching a new Marketing Kit tool to help people put together marketing kits for their businesses, while the free Market Finder tool, which includes updated insights for negotiating a Covid and post-Covid environment, is there to help with localisation, international payments and logistics for African businesses looking to reach new customers around the world. The tool helps businesses keep customers informed with their latest news, create custom posters and social posts.
Google is also providing underserved communities and job-seekers with R12 5-million in IT support scholarships through Google.org across Africa. Job-seekers can also access the Grow with Google training portal for help in growing their careers, or businesses at their own pace and through flexible and personalised training courses.
Google is working with partners across Africa, through Google for Education, to help deploy its suite of education products in schools and help 500 000 students continue learning.
To help teachers keep teaching, Google aims to give 25 000 educators access to free online training sessions and resources, such as Teach From Anywhere.
To provide assistance to vulnerable populations, Google.org has set aside R50 million in grants to NPOs that support education, entrepreneurship and women empowerment across Africa. Of that, R8,3 million is going towards a grant to the Praekelt Foundation, a software development non-profit that builds open-source, scalable mobile technologies and solutions to improve the health and wellbeing of underprivileged people, in order to help train micro and small businesses in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria.
An additional R8 3 million grant is going to Youth Employment Services in order to provide 12 month employment opportunities and digital skills to young black people in South Africa.
“We will continue to help businesses recover and grow, help more people prepare for jobs, and support students, teachers and underserved communities. We hope to create real economic opportunity for everyone,” Mokoena says.
Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki has announced that he is planning to have two friendly matches against Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) opponents before taking on Sao Tome in back-to-back 2021 Afcon qualifiers.
Ntseki has been busy trying to tie down two friendly matches, one set for 7 October, and another for 11 October this year, against two Cosafa opponents.
“We have already identified the two opponents, but will announce their names once every detail has been finalised,” Ntseki said.
After the October FIFA window period, Bafana will take on Sao Tome on 13 November at FNB Stadium before travelling to the islanders for the return game on 16 November this year.
Bafana Bafana will round off their Afcon qualifiers in March next year, playing a home match against Ghana before rounding off the campaign with an away game in Sudan.
Meanwhile, the ABC Motsepe League matches are expected to resume on 1 October and end on 31 October this year.
The national play off matches will be played in Gauteng from 9 to 15 November this year, in which the two finalists will be promoted into the National First Division.
Former Orlando Pirates defender Kamaal Sait has taken it upon himself to make a difference in women’s football.
Sait, 48, who retired in 2004, is working on developing professional players and coaches through The Footballers Lab.
“Our focus is on ladies’ soccer, we want to improve them mentally and on the pitch. We do fitness, coaching and other things that we only see in male teams. We want to make sure we close the gap,” Sait said.
There have been many complaints about the lack of support to empower former male and female players, and Sait feels football’s leaders can do more to grow the game.
“SAFA of late is trying to support ex-players, they are trying their best, but I feel more can be done. There should be more to be done in terms of education. Even the Department of Sport could do more in supporting the game,” Sait said. KickOff
Stacey Fru is a 13-year-old teen sensation, as South Africa’s multiple international award winning child author, activist, philanthropist, edutainer in an online Children’s Television South Africa (CTVSA), public speaker and brand ambassador.
She was born on 16 February 2007, the second child of Dr Emmanuel Fru, a political scientist and Victorine Fru, a master’s degree graduate in communication science.
She is a Grade 8 pupil at Sacred Heart College. Her five children’s books are entitled Smelly Cats (2015), Bob and the Snake (2016), Smelly Cats on Vacation (2018), Tim’s Answer (2019) and Where is Tammy (2019).
Themes in her books vary from culture, illiteracy, religion, respect, love, health, difference, abuse, role models, trafficking, family, friendship, safety and security. Her books support why she is surreal for her age.
She has become South Africa’s, Africa’s and perhaps even the world’s, youngest international multiple award-winning author in the genre of children’s books.
She wrote her initial book, Smelly Cats, aged seven in 2014 without her parents’ awareness.
The message of the first book focuses on variances ensuing from social and religious beliefs. Smelly Cats made her the youngest winner of the National Development Agency’s (NDA) Early Childhood Development award as Best ECD Publication 2015: Special Mention Category’, a prize donated by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Furthermore, Smelly Cats has been approved by the Department of Basic Education as a recommended text for pupils, from the early childhood phase up to primary school level.
In Bob and the Snake (2016) the key message centred on friendship. In the third book, Smelly Cats on Vacation (2018), a sequel to the first book Smelly Cats, focuses on study habits, rest and respect.
Her fourth and fifth books, Tim’s Answer and Where is Tammy? were concurrently published in July 2019. The former deals with the theme of role models and the latter focuses on safety and security. She has stated that her ensuing book will be a novel.
Stacey’s age defying accolades are enlisted at www.staceyfru.co.za. They include her selection as the youngest Mail & Guardian’s Top 200 influential South Africans in 2016; winning the African Child Award for Creative Writing and Social Impact awarded by the Pan African Leadership and Entrepreneurship Development Centre (PALEDEC), in partnership with the International Human Rights Commission, hosted in Accra, Ghana in 2019; the Egyptian President El Sisi’s acknowledgement of Stacey Fru as the Youngest Promising and Most Inspiring Arab African Youth, at the World Youth Forum’s Arab and Youth Summit, hosted in Aswan, Egypt in 2019; recipient of The Global Child Prodigy Award, received in the category of writing, hosted in New Delhi, India in 2019; appointed as custodian of the annual African Children of the Year Awards (partnering with UNICEF to celebrate World Children’s Day, every first Saturday of November) and being selected as an ‘Ambassador of the Youth Café (to champion ‘Youth Empowerment in Africa’) in 2020.
Inner City Gazette TV