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New Coronavirus variant detected in Botswana and could be deadlier than Omicron

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A new variant of Covid-19 which may be deadlier than the Omicron variant, has been discovered in Botswana.

The new variant is believed to be a mutation of the Omicron variant first detected in southern Africa late last year.

The Botswana Ministry of Health and Wellness said on Wednesday it is watching the variant called Omicron BA.4 and BA.5, which has already been detected in three other countries and in four people in Botswana.

“All four cases are currently being followed up to gather more information on the potential impact on the spread and severity of the disease.

“So far, no conclusion has yet been made as to whether the sublineage is more lethal and more transmissible than the known omicron variant,” Christopher Nyanga, the Secretary-General of the Botse6ans Ministry of Health said.

He, however, noted that the new variant could be deadlier than the Omicron but added the infected patients are fully vaccinated and have only been showing mild symptoms.

“The public is encouraged to get vaccinated and get booster shots if possible. This is important because if new variants of Covid-19 emerge and trigger a new wave of infections (fifth wave), the impact could be more severe for unvaccinated people,” said Nyanga.

“Investigations are underway to determine whether existing Covid-19 vaccines are effective against the new variant,” he assured.

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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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