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South African minister supports decision
not to broadcast footage of vandalism

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- A decision not to air footage of burning public institutions was taken in the spirit of social cohesion and nation building, not censorship as purported, Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi said Monday.

The minister was speaking after the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) was criticised for making a decision not to publicise any content displaying violent protests and the wanton vandalism and burning of the infrastructure. Critics say the decision is nothing but self-cesorship.

The Department of Communications “respects the editorial independence of the SABC” and “welcomes any positive action by the public broadcaster that seeks to condemn the vandalising of infrastructure and the destruction of schools, and public infrastructure,” Muthambi said.

South Africa has been hit by a new wave of violent protests recently. In protests over municipal demarcation in Vuwani, Limpopo Province, dozens of schools were burned down along with other public properties.

“We unequivocally condemn the destruction of public and private infrastructure. It is our belief that the decision by the public broadcaster not to show footage of people burning public institutions, such as schools and libraries, in any of its news bulletins, will go a long way to discourage attention seeking anarchists,” said Muthambi.

She said one of the SABC mandates is to prioritise nation building and the promotion of social cohesion.

It is therefore important that the institution is supported in its endeavours to promote social stability, national identity, patriotism and love for the  country, the minister said.

She commended communities, and civil society organisations which continue to work with the government and guard jealously against vandalism of public infrastructure.


South African firefighters reach Canada to help fight wildfire

EDMONTON, Canada (Xinhua) -- Some 300 South African firefighters arrived here Monday to help fight a wildfire that has ravaged forests of more than 5,800 square km.

The firefighters, who arrived in Edmonton, capital of Alberta province in western Canada, are from many regions of South Africa, Alberta’s fire information officer Travis Fairweather said.

“We know that their training matches our training and we’ve gone and given them training in the past,” said Fairweather. “We know when they get here they can just get off the plane and get right to work.”

The incoming firefighters have completed “Working On Fire,” a government-funded, job-creation program focusing on implementing integrated fire management in South Africa.

The wildfire, which broke out at the end of last month and destroyed part of Fort McMurray city in Alberta, continues to burn out of control and has reached the neighboring province of Saskatchewan.

Some 2,300 firefighters are currently battling the wildfire in Alberta. Firefighters have been flown in from across Canada and the United States.

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