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Parents of Enyobeni 21 livid after tavern owners charged with crimes against a few victims — but not for causing their deaths

Kicking off their campaign to have President Cyril Ramaphosa order an independent inquiry into the deaths of 21 young people at Enyobeni Tavern in Scenery Park, East London in June, parents were left fuming when tavern owner Vuyokazi Ndevu and manager Siyakhangela Ndevu were charged with selling alcohol to a few of those who died at the tavern.
The parents of 21 young people who died during a party celebrating the end of exams in June this year, were infuriated on Friday (25 November) as tavern owner Vuyokazi Ndevu and manager Siyakhangela Ndevu were formally charged only with selling alcohol to the underaged victims.
The pair has not been charged with causing the deaths of any of the youngsters — only for the selling of alcohol to minors and other charges relating to the transgression of liquor licence conditions.
This left many bereaved family members without a sense of justice for the deaths of their loved ones.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Luxolo Tyali said, “We asked the court to postpone the case to 25 April. That is a prosecutorial strategy to ensure that when we go for trial we are ready.
“We need to be able to distinguish this case of selling liquor to underage persons and the one that everyone is interested in that relates to the deaths of the 21 children. That one is still under investigation and as soon as the docket is ready to be enrolled in court it will be enrolled.
Charges ‘laid according to evidence’
“When we enroll a matter we follow evidence. based on the information that is at our disposal.”
On Friday State advocate Tango Pangalele mentioned only the names of nine victims and one survivor. Parents demanded that their children should be included on the list. Ntombizonke Mgangala, Sinothando Mgangala’s aunt, said they are not happy with the postponement of the case:
“It is too far. if it was postponed to January it would have been better. But there is nothing we can do. All we want is to get justice for our children.. they only mentioned nine children in court yet we had 21 children who died there. Four of them were over 18. Where are the rest?
“They must tell us why they did not include the other children.”
The parents also called for those who caused the deaths of their children to be held accountable. The children mentioned in court are: Nathi Ngqoza (18), Bhongolwethu Ncandana (15), Sikelela Tshemese ...

Long walk to education — rural EC learners travel on foot 20km to and from school daily

15,000 learners who need transport are not getting it. And from next year there’ll be 22,000 more.
Grade 11 learner Sinethemba Nkululeko wakes up daily at 3am to walk ten kilometres from his village to school in Willowvale, Eastern Cape. At 3:10pm he walks the ten kilometres back home. He is one of 15,000 learners in the province who are eligible for scholar transport but are not getting it, because there is no budget.
Responsibility for school transport was moved from the Eastern Cape Department of Education to the Department of Roads and Transport in 2011. According to Unathi Binqose, spokesperson for the provincial department of Roads and Transport, about 140,000 learners are in need of school transport, but currently 125,000 are being transported. Binqose said even this number is stretching the department’s budget.
Binqose said that the department has to cut costs on events, travelling and accommodation for its employees in order to pay for scholar transport. Next year the department will only have budget to transport a bit more than 100,000 learners, leaving over 20,000 more learners without transport.
This means over 35,000 learners will likely be without school transport next year.
Long walk to education
Teachers in rural areas are worried that their schools might shut down because the learner numbers are dwindling every year due to the high rate of school dropouts.
Seventeen-year-old Sinethemba goes to LM Malgus Senior Secondary School in Willowvale. “Since 2020 there has been no scholar transport here. I wake up at 3am everyday because I walk about 10km from Zenzile Village to get to school. I leave my home at 4am and it is very dark in winter. For safety, I walk with my two classmates. We cross the rivers and walk through the thick bushes. Then we arrive at school at 6am for morning classes.
“By 3:10pm the school closes and it is another 10km back home. I get back home about 5pm. Then I have to go to the river and fetch the water to wash my school uniform, bath and cook. I also have to collect the livestock and still do my homework. Then at 9pm I go to bed and sleep. But in the classroom sometimes it’s hard to concentrate because I feel tired.”
His classmate Luzuko Bohlo, 20, from Bikana Village also complains about the distance. He said, “I wake up at 4am and then go to school at 5am. Our school shoes are worn ...

South Africa needs to establish a Pandemic Preparedness Initiative now

A pandemic preparedness strategy should be a high-level, cross-cutting mechanism to coordinate the national components of a robust public health initiative that plans for future pandemics and activates emergency responses when a new pandemic risk develops.
The Covid-19 pandemic came as no surprise to infectious disease specialists – it had been anticipated for decades. Although the spread of a virus from one species to another is fortunately relatively rare, viruses can potentially adapt to a new species environment, then spread to become a pandemic. Therefore it is imperative that countries develop robust strategies for responding to pandemics, supported by clear operational plans at national and provincial levels. This piece argues in favour of a structured, nationally mandated, permanent programme to achieve this.
Almost two decades before Covid-19, we were forewarned of this risk with the spread of two other coronaviruses to humans. There was the “first” Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV-2 virus) in 2002-4, which spread from bats and infected about 8,000 in China and had a mortality of 8%. In 2012, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus spread from camels to humans and infected 2,500 people, killing more than 30% of those infected. Pandemics, such as HIV/Aids, influenza and Zika are among others that have spread to humans and added to significant suffering and death. The 2013-16 Ebola epidemic in West Africa caused 11,323 deaths and had a significant human-suffering and socioeconomic impact on Africa.
Despite these warnings, the world was still caught unprepared for a pandemic such as Covid-19. As millions succumbed to the various waves across the globe, hospitals became overwhelmed, PPE was in short supply, oxygen was unavailable for severely ill patients, diagnostic tests were unavailable and scale-up took months instead of days or weeks. Surveillance systems were lacking in most parts of the world, and appropriate national intervention teams often did not exist – even in the most resourced countries. Even when effective vaccines were developed in a timely manner, there were limited national plans for acquisition and equitable distribution. Manufacturing capability in low-middle-income countries was limited to countries like India. Investing in long-term public health does not garner votes and is just not attractive politically almost anywhere in the world.
The result of this lack of pandemic preparedness was that millions died, the global economy tanked in many regions and, as usual, the poor and marginalised of the world were worst-hit.
We write in support of the South ...

Three children are murdered every day in South Africa — we need action, not outrage

Four-year-old Bokgabo Poo’s horror rape, murder and dismemberment united government and communities in grief and fury. But in a country with under-reported statistics of three child murders a day, outrage on the part of authorities is a poor substitute for action.
Little Bokgabo Poo was described as an outgoing, confident four-year-old with a big and engaging smile who loved her daddy. Her granny Lilian Poo believed that she had a bright future ahead of her.
“We saw a doctor, a teacher, a minister and a lot of good things [in her],” she said.
But on 11 October 2022, Bokgabo’s dismembered leg and arm were found in a shallow grave the day after she went missing while playing in a park in Wattville.
Piecing together eyewitness statements, CCTV footage and media accounts, a picture of her gruesome death appears.
In the late afternoon of 10 October, while her mother, Tsholofelo Poo, was at a community meeting, Bokgabo was playing in the park with a five-year-old friend when she was approached by a man.
Well-known in the community as someone who was always around children, and who had sweets and money in his school bag, he gave the boy she was playing with R2 to buy lollipops at the local tuckshop. He agreed eagerly. When he returned, Bokgabo and the man were both gone.
Bokgabo was never seen alive again, but CCTV footage captured at a tavern showed the four-year-old girl approaching a shop with Ntokozo Zikhali pictured close by.
Zikhali, self-titled “Harry Potter”, was out on bail for the rape of a nine-year-old at the time. Tragically, in the footage she was skipping happily alongside the man alleged to have raped, murdered and dismembered her shortly thereafter.
A week after Bokgabo’s death, The Sowetan published a front-page article titled, “How many more must die?” On it are the faces of 19 children, all murdered in the past four years.
Among them is six-year-old Bontle Mashiyane from Mganduzweni near Hazyview. When she, like Bokgabo, was raped, murdered and mutilated for muti in April 2022, she was the third child from her school, Sincobile Primary, to die in this way.
One of the four people arrested for Bontle’s rape and murder was out on parole at the time of her death. He was released in December 2021 after being convicted of murder in 2016, a murder he had committed while out on bail for the attempted murder of a teenager, a crime for which ...

‘The air is different in a free country’ – The power of Mandela’s legacy in today’s democratic SA

While not blind to the flaws of a democratic system, the late Nelson Mandela believed in giving people a voice and trusting them to find solutions. Addressing The Gathering 2022 on Thursday, Richard Stengel – author and former Time magazine editor – spoke of the power of Mandela’s legacy in today’s South Africa.
“This is wrong. I have seen it. What are you going to do about it?”
For Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first democratic president, the purpose of democratic rule was to uplift all of the country’s citizens. The role of government was to do for people what they could not do for themselves – give them a hand and allow them to live up to their aspirations.
“That’s what always motivated him: giving people a voice, allowing them to choose. He believed in consensus because he believed human beings, in the aggregate, make the best choices.”
These were the words of Richard Stengel – author, former Time magazine editor and former US deputy secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs – during a video address at Daily Maverick’s The Gathering 2022. The event was held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Thursday, 24 November.
Stengel is well known for collaborating with Mandela on his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom. In the more than 60 hours of tapes that went into creating the book, Mandela never took his eye off his “great and abiding goal” – freedom for his people and all South Africans.
“I’ve never known anyone so focused . To him, everything, and I mean everything, was subservient to the freedom struggle,” said Stengel.
Mandela once shared a story of witnessing an assault on Robben Island, where he was imprisoned for 27 years. In response, he confronted the head of the South African prison system, saying, “This is wrong. I have seen it. What are you going to do about it?”
“There aren’t many sentences that crystallised Nelson Mandela better than that,” said Stengel. “That is who he was as leader. He was a pragmatist, yet he was also a moral leader.”
Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations
Democratic struggles
While Mandela believed in South Africa as a democratic country, he knew that democracy did not solve all the world’s problems, according to Stengel. In 1997, Mandela warned of the dangers of majority rule within South Africa. Once established, he said, many people would go into politics for power ...

‘Time to throw the rules away’ — experts agree SA must modernise business models, infrastructure to revive economy

Government and private sector both need to go back to the drawing board and start from a trust basis to grow the economy together.
Throw out the script and start fresh. That seemed to be the consensus from the Daily Maverick panel discussing challenges around the business environment and the economy at The Gathering in Cape Town on Thursday morning.
Mark Barnes, former chief executive of the South African Post Office and founder of the Purple Group, suggested moving away from a black economic empowerment model that simply transfers value from old members to a select few and rather moving towards injecting equity capital in local businesses.
“As an example, another 5% increase in social grants would equate to around R10-billion. Why not take that R10-billion and invest it in local businesses to give them a fighting chance?” said Barnes.
Business Maverick journalist and host Ray Mahlaka posed the question of how to deal with the ticking time bomb of unemployment. Kasthuri Soni, chief executive officer of Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator — a not-for-profit social enterprise that solves youth employment through partnerships — said the NPO has been able to provide 900,000 pathways to young people over the last 11 years, through partnerships with the private sector, government and the civil sector.
“What we have to remember is that the youth unemployment crisis is complex and layered, so there is no silver bullet or linear solution,” she said. Harambee’s suite of solutions includes a core model of unlocking opportunities for youth in both the formal and informal sector by partnering with employers such as Nando’s, Telesure, and Clientele. “First National Bank was an early adopter of the programme and has employed thousands of youth via the Harambee model,” she said.
Harambee also runs a digital simulation academy called Digilink, which connects employers with entry-level digital talent to bridge the skills gap and bring youth into the economy. One such example is Inga from Khayelitsha who was a qualified software programmer and was unable to find work. Through Digilink, she worked with BMW and is today employed by the company in a software development role.
Michael Jordaan, co-founder of Bank Zero and former chief executive of First National Bank, says finger-pointing when it comes to problems doesn’t lead to results. “I started investing in start-up companies that solve problems I care about. It’s quite amazing and energising to surround yourself with people who make a difference. I encourage ...

TB drug resistance — New tests set to improve treatment efficacy among patients

Tuberculosis can be resistant to treatment with several different drugs. Tests that identify which drugs someone’s TB is resistant to are critical to ensuring that people are not treated with drugs that don’t work for them, especially given the significant side effects associated with some of the drugs. Elri Voigt assesses the state of play in testing for TB drug resistance and the promise of exciting new technologies, such as whole genome sequencing.
Some strains of the tuberculosis (TB) bacterium have mutated to become resistant to some of the drugs commonly used to treat TB. Accordingly, one of the first questions to ask when someone has TB is which drugs will be effective in fighting that person’s TB. Unfortunately, quick answers to this question are not always available. As a consequence, people are at times treated with drugs that won’t work for their particular strain of TB. What’s worse, these drugs often have significant side effects.
As a result, the race is on to develop quick and affordable resistance tests for all commonly used TB drugs.
But first, some alphabet soup to set the scene. Drug-sensitive TB (DS-TB) is TB that is not resistant to any of the four standard drugs used to treat TB. RR-TB is TB that is resistant to rifampicin (one of those standard four drugs). MDR-TB (multi-drug resistant) is resistant to both rifampicin and isoniazid (isoniazid is also one of the standard four). People with RR or MDR-TB are treated with anything from three to seven drugs, mostly different from those first four. Pre-XDR-TB (extensively drug-resistant) is MDR-TB that is also resistant to a class of drugs called fluoroquinolones (most common examples are moxifloxacin and levofloxacin). XDR-TB is pre-XDR-TB that is also resistant to one of an additional list of drugs (the most notable on this list being bedaquiline).
Why better testing for drug-resistant TB is needed
Many people undergo a long diagnostic process and might not be properly diagnosed for TB, let alone DR-TB, explains David Branigan, TB Project Officer at the New York-based Treatment Action Group (TAG). As a result, he says, some TB patients may be undergoing treatment failure due to being on the wrong treatment regimen.
“That’s not appropriate. It’s not okay to treat people like that. There needs to be a better standard of care that’s implemented,” he says.
Part of the solution is to make better use of existing resistance tests, but since quick tests for resistance ...

After another fire rips through ‘tortured’ Masiphumelele, community members weigh in on struggles and solutions

Fire safety workshops, proper housing and more power boxes. These are some of the suggestions residents of Masiphumelele in the Cape Peninsula have for reducing fire risks. This was after the second fire in a month tore through the area on Monday, 21 November.
For the second time in a month, Masiphumelele residents are struggling to pick up the pieces in the wake of a fire. On Wednesday — two days after the latest blaze — victims were attempting to rebuild with what little remained of their homes.
The fire, which broke out in Masiphumelele’s Z-section, affected 1,014 people: 295 men, 379 women, 289 children and 51 infants.
“It is very devastating, this fire, because people were traumatised with [the previous fire]. And now. comes another fire, so everyone is asking, what is going on? Why is Masiphumelele being tortured like this?” said Mkhululi Mfiki, a community leader in Z-section.
Read more in Daily Maverick: “Fire rages in Masiphumelele – the second blaze in a month”
The previous fire broke out on 31 October and destroyed 309 structures and displaced 610 people.
Vatiswa Zwana, a resident of Z-section, told Maverick Citizen she was forced to flee her home without her possessions when the fire broke out. She is now staying at a friend’s residence.
“You need [building] material to start with. We’ve got nothing. There’s no point in me asking for shoes and clothes — where am I going to live?” she said.
The nonprofit organisation Living Hope was at Masiphumelele on Wednesday, finalising the lists of fire victims alongside community leaders. The organisation is assisting with the distribution of food and aid through its network of soup kitchens in the area.
“With the kitchens, we try to set up a schedule of who feeds when and get everyone involved with the different stakeholders, because there’s other organisations like Gift of the Givers [assisting],” explained Linda Jaca-Njovane, Living Hope’s community liaison for Masiphumelele.
Gift of the Givers arrived in mid-afternoon with food for affected residents.
Residents of the community have provided support to fire victims by accommodating them in their homes and assisting with rebuilding.
“Everybody you see carrying a hammer and a spade here trying to help is [a member of the] community,” said Zwana as she stood among the burnt-out shacks.
Recurring problems
While Masiphumelele has been plagued by fires over the years, many of the risk factors remain the same. Mfiki said there was a dire need for the City of ...

Social development department biased against adoptions, says judge

Department and social workers get a tongue-lashing from high court.
The Johannesburg High Court has ruled that adoption guidelines used by the Department of Social Development and its social workers to stigmatise and delay adoptions, apparently for “cultural reasons”, are unconstitutional.
Two women were harassed and bullied by social workers who seemed intent to place the babies with their grandparents to “maintain their cultural roots”.
The judge found the government’s stance to be “illogical” and evidenced a “level of bias against mothers who put up their babies for adoption”.
At the heart of the issue was the department’s interpretation of the Children’s Act and the guidelines. The judge said the interpretation was misconceived and the guidelines went “beyond what is legislated”.
The adoption guidelines used by the Department of Social Development and its social workers stigmatise and delay adoptions, apparently for cultural reasons, and are unconstitutional, a judge has ruled.
“At best the attitude adopted by the department and social workers can be described as an obnoxious disregard to the pain and trauma caused by them. At worst, their attitude can be described as a deliberate stratagem to discriminate and punish women who seek to have their babies put up for adoption. In either event, their attitude is intolerable,” said Johannesburg High Court Judge Fiona Dippenaar in her recent judgment.
The case before her was brought by two single women, aged 23 and 27, who had both “made the difficult life choice” to put their babies up for adoption. The women had gone through the legal processes, as determined by the Children’s Act, but were being harassed and bullied by social workers who seemed intent, in spite of strong opposition, to rather place the babies with their grandparents to “maintain their cultural roots”.
In the case of the child referred to as Baby “B”, four years have passed since he was placed with his potential adoptive parents and the department still refuses to issue a letter of recommendation, despite being ordered by the Children’s Court to do so.
While the department did issue a recommendation letter for Baby “L”, it subsequently launched review proceedings to set it aside.
Baby ‘B’
The birth mother of Baby B, in her affidavit before the court, said the father of the child wanted nothing to do with her pregnancy and disappeared. She gave birth in 2018 at Leratong Hospital. A social worker “interrogated” her about her plan for adoption and unbeknown to her, lodged a ...

Illegal electricity connection tensions mount between families in shacks and government housing in Kariega

Wires swing like washing lines from the bungalows to the shacks.
Long black wires hang like washing lines from poles and on the busy footpath across an empty field between the bungalows of Gunguluza in Kariega and the neighbouring informal settlement which is home to about 2,000 shack dwellers.
The fully serviced bungalows were put up by the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality in 2020 to house vulnerable groups including elderly and disabled people during the Covid pandemic.
The municipality is currently installing electricity meter boxes in the bungalows with four large transformers and dozens of electricity poles. Meanwhile, people living in the informal settlement just metres from the bungalows are complaining that their pleas for electricity have been ignored for nearly four years. Many have now resorted to making illegal connections from the bungalows.
Elderly people and people with disabilities living in the bungalows say they are too scared to stop them. Residents, who asked not to be named in fear of being targeted, say they worry about their safety and the safety of learners who regularly use the footpath.
“We are afraid of people using illegal connections because they steal our electricity in broad daylight. They even swear at us. We watch them steal our electricity because there’s nothing we can do,” said an elderly woman who did not want to give her name.
Another resident who moved into a bungalow this year says her 21-year-old daughter is disabled and confined to a bed.
Visit Daily Maverick’s home page for more news, analysis and investigations
“We asked municipal officials from the electricity directorate to handle this, because we don’t want these people to kick in our doors at night when we disconnect them from our poles,” she says.
The chair of the development committee, Siyabonga Stemele, told GroundUp that the municipality had failed to explain to shack dwellers, who have been waiting for years, when they will get electricity.
“All shack dwellers in Area 11 have no electricity, while bungalows are connected. The municipality is busy putting electricity poles in certain sections of Gunguluza, telling us they are busy drawing up a new map. This is the reason people have decided to steal electricity from the elderly citizens and disabled people,” he said.
Questions sent to the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality last week had not been answered by the time of publication.
But in a statement this week, Mayco member for electricity and energy, Lance Grootboom said 23,000 people in the ...

Joburg health workers strike, health department counters with an interim interdict

‘During Covid we were called heroes — is this how you treat heroes?’ Health workers at the embattled Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital are demanding a 10% wage increase as part of a national public sector strike.
A standoff between civil servants and the government has reached boiling point, with workers taking to the street to demand a 10% wage increase.
This follows Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi saying he was unilaterally implementing a 3% wage increase that would remain in place until 2026, when negotiations would next take place.
Nxesi announced the 3% wage increase while discussions were still continuing at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council. Union leaders fear a precedent of disregard for negotiations, and unilateral decision-making, is being set.
Tyres were burning on either side of Chris Hani Road in Soweto, Johannesburg, on Tuesday morning. Workers clad mostly in red union colours were gathered outside, chanting and singing Struggle songs. Some were ensuring that no vehicles, including ambulances, entered the premises. Inside, patients waited in queues, unattended.
Big turnout
Of all the hospitals disrupted in the strike, Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital had the biggest turnout. Union leaders say that’s due to anger and frustration by employees over earning roughly the same for years, while the cost of living skyrockets. Employees also cited issues such as being understaffed, dire working conditions due to lack of functioning equipment, medication and even food.
Read more in Daily Maverick: “Doctors bring lunch for hungry patients as Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital reaches ‘crisis point’ ”
Deputy regional chairperson of the National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers, Mziyanda Ndevu, said: “The picket started two weeks back when all the staff, nurses, porters, your admin clerk, all the employees came together, because they feel like they are being insulted by this government with the 3%.
“What angers the employees the most is that time when the employer reneged in 2020 on a resolution made in 2019. that’s made the workers come out in numbers. We are going to shut down Pretoria if the government doesn’t respond to our demand of a 10% wage increase.
“We will shut down the whole country.”
‘Loyalty betrayed’
Trade union federations Cosatu, the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), and the Federation of Trade Unions of South Africa (Fedusa) refused to accept the government’s offer of a 3% wage increase, a R1,000 cash allowance that will lapse in March 2023, and a 1.5% pay progression for qualifying ...

Promise of crime crackdown as ministers visit site of Eastern Cape shooting massacre

Minister of Police Bheki Cele and Deputy Minister of State Security Zizi Kodwa on Tuesday called for urgent legal reform to help in the fight against crime. This came as an Eastern Cape father told them of the bitter price he paid for taking a stand against stock thieves in his village — his wife and seven family members were gunned down in his house in two separate incidents.
Mlamli Mgxada decided to deal with stock thieves as part of the Masifunisane Crime Prevention Forum in Bityi, a rural village 40km from Mthatha in the Eastern Cape.
Standing up to these criminals cost him his wife, who was gunned down three weeks ago, and seven family members, who were shot dead as they prepared to bury her.
Mgxada has since fled his homestead.
On Tuesday, he was visited by Bheki Cele and Zizi Kodwa. Police officers armed with automatic weapons guarded the home where they were meeting.
“I did nothing wrong. I am just a member of Masifunisane Forum and we are dealing with the stock theft here,” Mgxada said.
“They came to look for me. They killed my wife. Then they killed seven of my family members. They are saying I am the one who is exposing their wrong deeds and they want me dead,” he said.
The seven members of Mgxada’s family were: Notawuzile Fukuzana (68), Nokulunga Mgxada (38), Ntombelanga Mgxada (42), Mkangeli Nomasango (age unknown), Pumzile Mgxada (30) and Nkosikona Mgxada (29).
The deceased are expected to be laid to rest on Thursday.
‘I am hiding to protect my life’
“I am scared. They can kill me any time. I am no longer sleeping in this house. I am hiding somewhere protecting my life. I will return to my house the day I receive the news that these thugs are arrested, but not now,” he said.
According to a police incident report, the attack on the seven mourners took place on Wednesday, 16 November at about 11.30pm. Three unknown men forced their way into the homestead and opened fire. Six people died at the scene and a seventh in hospital.
In the past two weeks, 20 people have been gunned down in areas around Bityi, according to Bhovulengwe Mtirarathe, chief of the Matyengqina administrative area.
“People are being killed daily in the surrounding areas and people are afraid to speak out because they are fearing for their lives,” he said.
‘Review the laws’
During his visit, Kodwa called on the government to ...

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