Olympic champion Wayde van Niekerk marked a long-awaited return to competitive athletics by winning the 400m at the Gala dei Castelli held at the Municipal Stadium in Bellinzona, Switzerland on Tuesday.
Running in Lane 4, the South African ran 45.58 seconds to finish ahead of Jochem Dobber of the Netherlands and Poland’s Karol Zalewski in a low-key return after recovering from a debilitating knee injury and then COVID-19.
The 28-year-old stormed to Olympic gold four years ago in Rio de Janeiro, clocking a world record time of 43.03 seconds, beating the time of 43.18 seconds set by Michael Johnson during the 1999 World Championships in Athletics in Seville, Spain.
In June 2017, after a 30.81 seconds victory in the seldom-run 300 metres distance, breaking Michael Johnson’s world-best time of 30.85 which was set in 2000, Van Niekerk became the only sprinter in history to have run sub-10, sub-20, sub-31 and sub-44 performances at 100m, 200m, 300m and 400m respectively.
However, things took a turn for the worse when he tore knee ligaments at a charity touch rugby game in October of the same year, which required surgery. A lengthy rehabilitation marred with setbacks has kept him out of action for almost three years.
After making his return to running in Bloemfontein in February, van Niekerk set his sights higher.
Despite the postponement of Tokyo 2020 to 2021, the 28-year-old said there were positives for him as he sought to reach his peak once more, as he was before the freak injury in 2017.
In April, in an interview with the Olympic Channel that not only did he have a return to top form in mind, but he intends to lower his world record under 43 seconds.
“I am hungrier than before,” he said.
“I still believe I can go sub-43. I can go way better than what I have in 100m and 200m, that’s where my mind was before the injury and that’s where my mind is at for the future.”
Meanwhile, sprinter Akani Simbine extended his winning streak to three in Europe with another victory in the 100m in Bellinzona. He raced to first place in 10.02, just managing to hold off Italian Filippo Tortu (10.07), who was followed by Sri Lanka’s Yupun Mudiyanselage (10.24).
Another South African, Antonio Alkana, finished third in the 110m hurdles with a season’s best time of 13.40. Simbine and Alkana will now move on to Rome to take part in the Diamond League event on Thursday.
Zimbabwe Tackles Food Insecurity In Rural Areas
Zimbabwe on Monday it has put in place an active response to food and nutrition insecurity in rural areas where it will support 5.4 million vulnerable people.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, said that after the 2019 Cyclone Idai and the COVID-19 outbreak, the Zimbabwean government had increased its support to vulnerable groups.
“In spite the natural disasters experienced by the country such as droughts, Cyclone Idai and COVID-19, Government has put in place an active response to the prevailing food and nutrition insecurity among rural livelihoods.
“The government had increasing its support to 76 per cent in 2020, up from 73 per cent in 2019,” the minister was quoted as saying by The Herald newspaper.
“This is mainly through supporting the vulnerable groups by distributing food aid and cash transfers, removing restrictions on food importation such as the removal of import duty on maize and wheat, and cooking oil, among other basic commodities,” Mutsvangwa added.
She said the government had put in place food subsidies through continued implementation of social protection measures.
Mutsvangwa recognised the role played by development partners, but said the government remains the biggest contributor in ensuring food security.
“Government has also remained the major source of crop inputs and food support, contributing 48 per cent in that regard.
“Development partners’ support has also increased from the traditional 13 per cent to 33 per cent.
“The combination of efforts by government and development partners has seen the majority of districts receiving food aid to support the population ZIMVAC has projected to be food insecure,” she said, referring to the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee.
Policemen Accused Of South African Teen Murder Denied Bail
A South African court has denied three police officers on trial for allegedly killing Eldorado Park teenager Nathaniel Julies bail.
Magistrate David Mhango decision on Monday brought shouts of jubilation and clapping of hands to those at the Protea Magistrate’s Court.
The policemen – Simon Ndyalvane, 46, constable Caylene Whiteboy, 23, and sergeant Foster Netshiongolo – failed to forward exceptional circumstances as to why they needed to be released on bail, the Magistrate said.
Ndyalvane and Whiteboy face charges of murder, discharging of a firearm in a public place, being in possession of prohibited ammunition and defeating the ends of justice.
Netshiongolo has been charged with defeating the ends of justice and being in possession of prohibited ammunition.
Last week, Whiteboy admitted in her affidavit read out by her lawyer, Jeff Maluleke, she was the one who fired the fatal shot.
She, however, alleged Ndyalvane, who is her senior officer, instructed her to pull the trigger.
Whiteboy claims when she fired the gun, she did know it was loaded with live ammunition.
Sixteen years old Julies was allegedly shot by a police officer in Eldorado Park. The officer later dumped him at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, where he died. His death sparked protests and a clash between residents and the police.
Speaking of the incident, Julius mother, Bridgette, said the officers acted “like they were killing a dog.”
“I went to identify him and to find him in that condition. It was so devastating. It was like they were killing a dog.
“On his chest, it looked muddy with blood and I was told that he was bubbling blood through his mouth and nose.
“My sweet loving boy is gone. Police should be protecting us and we must trust them but when such things happen it cuts deep.”
In giving his verdict, Mhango said Nathaniel died because he had been shot by Whiteboy and the teenager was not armed at the time.
“One can’t suspect that it was case of mistaken identity, this was a deliberate act to shoot the deceased,” he said.
Mhango also said Netshiongolo had been booked off sick on the day in questions. However, he took orders from Ndyalvane to go and plant ammunition at the scene of the crime and cover Nathaniel’s blood with soil.
“He was aware he was tampering with scene of crime
“He was not supposed to engage himself with any work activities on that day as he was sick,” he said.
Mhango said there was a likelihood the three would interfere with State witnesses should they be released on bail. Another reason he was denying them bail, he said, was because the community was also demanding justice.
The matter return to court on November 6.
#NigeriansMustGo Trends In South Africa
South Africans have taken to social media to show their displeasure at Nigerians, making NigeriansMustGo the top trending hashtag on Twitter in Africa’s most industrialised nation.
The hashtag on the microblogging platform comes days after a small protest was held outside the Nigerian High Commission in the capital, Pretoria, under the banner #PutSouthAfricansFirst.
Nigeria’s High Commissioner to South Africa, Bala Kabiru, said not all Nigerians in South Africa could be branded as criminals.
“We don’t accept the profiling of Nigerians in South Africa,” he was quoted by local as saying.
The latest hashtag has been partly fuelled by a report in local media that a police raid led to five Nigerians being arrested and charged with human trafficking after 11 women were found to be working as sex workers at brothels disguised as a bed-and-breakfast.
Last week, Digital Forensic Research Lab – which is made up of forensic researchers who track conflicts – said it had identified a dismissed lance corporal in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) as running a fake Twitter account used to fuel xenophobia. The former soldier has not commented.
Some South Africans accuse immigrants of taking the jobs of locals, and of being involved in crime.
Others say that most immigrants are law-abiding, and should not be blamed for South Africa’s economic and social problems.
During last week’s protest, Nigeria’s High Commissioner Bala Kabiru said: “We don’t accept the profiling of Nigerians in South Africa.”
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