It's Nelson Mandela International Day, a day of service celebrated on July 18, Mandela's birthday.
20 passengers were injured, two seriously, when a South African Airways flight was hit by severe turbulence today enroute to Hong Kong from Johannesburg. According to South African Airways, the turbulence occurred over Malaysia and the crew of the flight immediately requested medical assistance for the passengers, which was arranged and ready on arrival of the aircraft in Hong Kong. SA286 landed on Wednesday at approximately 0430 GMT. Hong Kong's ATV showed pictures of several people on stretchers being taken to ambulances waiting at Hong Kong International Airport. A total number of 165 passengers were on board. The seriously injured were taken to the Prince Margaret Hospital and the North Lantau Hospital.
Oscar Pistorius' defence team wrapped up its case in the murder trial of the Olympic and Paralympic athlete this morning and the court adjourned for a month to allow the legal teams to prepare and submit their closing arguments. Pistorius' lawyer, Barry Roux told the court a number of witnesses had refused to testify because of the publicity and they did not want "their voices all over the world".
Eight South African policemen have been sacked over the death of a Mozambican immigrant who was shown in graphic video footage being dragged behind a police vehicle. The 27-year-old taxi driver, Mido Macia, died in police custody on February 26 last year after being arrested for parking his taxi on the wrong side of the road. Bystanders filmed Macia being manhandled, handcuffed to the back of a police van and dragged hundreds of metres in Daveyton, east of Johannesburg. Just over two hours later, he was found dead in his cell. National police commissioner, General Riah Phiyega said nine officers had originally been suspended without pay over the incident, but one had been found not to have been involved. The eight men are on bail on charges of murder and are due in court on February 16 next year.
South African police fired rubber bullets to disperse workers who blocked the entrance to the construction site of state power utility Eskom's Medupi power station on the third day of a wage strike. More than 220,000 metal and engineering workers from the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), the country's single largest labour grouping, went on an open-ended strike on Tuesday, a week after a crippling platinum mine strike ended. The strike has disrupted construction work at two badly needed Eskom power plants: Medupi in northern Limpopo province and Kusile, whose completion has been delayed, partly by industrial action. NUMSA was due to meet the main employers' body, the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa later on Thursday to try to end the latest strike.
Oscar Pistorius's defence sought to show the double-amputee sprinter feels highly vulnerable and acted out of fear not anger when he shot dead his girlfriend. Defence lawyer Kenny Oldwage told his trial court Pistorius has a "split personality" : a world-class athlete and a highly vulnerable individual with a serious disability. Lawyers defending the paralympian on charges that he deliberately shot and killed model Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day last year are calling their final witnesses. On Thursday, medical expert Wayne Derman took to the stand, testifying that Pistorius was not always the fearless superhero depicted in sports advertisements. Derman, who has known Pistorius for six years, had testified the runner is conditioned to "react through auditory stimulus" a result of training to starter pistols fired at the beginning of athletic races.
The heads of the World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations refugee agency say funding difficulties have forced cuts in food rations for nearly 800,000 refugees in Africa, worsening already alarming levels of acute malnutrition, stunting and anaemia. Speaking at a news conference in Geneva, WFP's Executive Director, Etharin Cousin and UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Gutteres made an urgent joint plea for 186 million dollars to allow WFP to restore full food rations and prevent further reductions during the year.
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