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17 die, 10 missing as four African migrant boats sink off Tunisian coast

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At least 17 African migrants have died while 10 were reported missing after four boats carrying around 120 people sank off the Tunisian coast of Sfax as they tried to embark on the dangerous mission of crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Italy, a Tunisian security official, Lt. Col. Ali Aayari, said on Sunday.

Aayari, who is in the Tunisian Coast Guard, added on that 98 migrants were “rescued off the coast of Sfax by rescue officials when the incident” which happened on Saturday.

“Unfortunately, 17 of the migrants and refugees died when the makeshift boats sank. The boats were four and most of the migrants were women and children. 10 people are still missing while 98 were rescued by officials,” Aayari said.

The coastline of Sfax has been notorious for being a major departure point for people fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa and the Middle East and seeking a better life in Europe, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said in reaction to the accident.

In recent months, dozens of people have drowned off the Tunisian coast, with an increase in the frequency of attempted crossings from Tunisia and Libya towards Italy, the UNHCR said.

The Tunisian Interior Ministry said earlier in the week that it had arrested more than 20,000 refugees and migrants off its coast last year while at least 15,000 reached the coast of Italy in 2021.

Earlier this month, 13 African migrants, including six children and four women, were confirmed dead when their boats sank off the Tunisian coast on their way to Europe, a judicial official in the country, Mourad Turki, said.

“Another 10 migrants were declared missing as the two make-shift boats sank off the coast of Sfax, while 37 were rescued. Among the bodies recovered were four women and six children,” Turki added in a statement.

Majority of the migrants were said to be from sub-Saharan Africa and had set off in the two boats to cross the Mediterranean into European countries in search of greener pastures, with many of them fleeing conflicts and poverty in their countries

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South African serial rapist gets four life imprisonment terms

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A South African serial rapist and killer, Philani Justice Nkosi, has been sentenced to four life imprisonment terms by a Mpumalanga High Court for rape and murder.

The court also sentenced the 35-year-old to 15 years imprisonment after he was found guilty of murdering one of his victims who recognised him.

Nkosi was sentenced on Friday after the court found him guilty of one count of murder, three counts of rape and robbery with aggravating circumstances.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson, Monica Nyuswa, who expressed satisfaction with the sentence, said Nkosi committed the offences between 2014 and 2018 in Bhuga Trust and Halfway Trust in KaBokweni.

“In one incident which stands out, the accused attacked a 12-year-old victim while she was on the way to the local shop. He dragged her to the nearby bush, raped and strangled her to death,” Nyuswa said.

“He also raped another woman in March 2016, stabbed and robbed her of cash.

“The accused continued with his crime spree until December 2018 when he raped an adult woman who was on her way home from work.

“The matter was reported to the police, and the accused was subsequently arrested and linked to other crimes through DNA,” Nyuswa said.

Nkosi who pleaded not guilty to the crimes, claimed the two rape survivors were prostitutes and that the deceased was his girlfriend.

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Tanzanian court sentences 11 people to death for killing South African conservationist

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A Tanzanian High Court has sentenced 11 people to death after they were found guilty of killing a South African conservationist, Wayne Lotter, who was murdered in Dar es Salaam in 2017.

The convicts include nine Tanzanians and two citizens of neighbouring Burundi.

The victim was a renowned anti-poaching activist who was singled out by the convicts for disrupting their illegal poaching activities, according to prosecutors while testifying in court on Friday.

State prosecutors told Judge Leila Mgonya that the 51-year-old Lotter who was based in Tanzania, was a founder of the PAMS Foundation, an NGO which worked to stop the poaching of elephants and trafficking of ivory in the East African country.

He was shot dead in Dar es Salaam when the taxi he was travelling in was ambushed and though the exact motive for his killing is still unknown, his colleagues believe he was singled out for his work on protecting elephants, local media reports.

While handing down the death sentences, Judge Mgonya said there was compelling evidence that linked the 11 to the two counts of conspiracy to commit murder and murder on which they were charged

“Some of the suspects, in their statements recorded by police officers, confessed to have taken part in the conspiracy meetings and in killing. The evidence provided was strong enough to convict them,” the judge said.

Tanzania is one of the worst hit African countries in terms of elephant poaching, with a data released early this year noting that more than 66,000 elephants have been lost in the last 10 years due to the activities of illegal poachers.

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