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  • RSS BBC News – Africa

    • Parents seek Nigeria kidnap girls April 17, 2014
      The parents of some of the girls abducted from their school in north-east Nigeria head into the forests in a dangerous search for their daughters.
    • Pistorius forensic tests challenged April 17, 2014
      The tests carried out by a forensic expert for Oscar Pistorius' murder trial are rigorously challenged by the state prosecutor in South Africa.
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      Officials in Guinea-Bissau say a run-off vote will be held next month after no candidate won an outright victory in Sunday's presidential election.
    • Remittance fees 'hurt Africans' April 16, 2014
      Communities in sub-Saharan Africa are being "hurt" by high fees charged by money transfer operators, charity Comic Relief says.
    • UN mulls medal for peacekeepers April 16, 2014
      The UN Security Council hears a proposal to create a medal for bravery in UN peacekeeping, to be named after a Senegalese soldier who saved lives during the Rwandan genocide.
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      The Belgian director of Africa's oldest national park - Virunga in the Democratic Republic of Congo - is shot and wounded in an ambush.
    • 'Last' Chadian soldier leaves CAR April 16, 2014
      Chad has withdrawn all its peacekeepers from the Central African Republic, an official confirms, after accusations they sided with Muslim rebels.
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      Rebel forces in South Sudan say they have recaptured the oil hub of Bentiu and want oil companies to halt operations.
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      A London Marathon runner from Sierra Leone is missing after she disappeared and failed to catch a flight home.
    • Jordanian envoy kidnapped in Libya April 15, 2014
      Masked gunmen kidnap Jordan's ambassador to Libya in the capital, Tripoli, in an attack that left his driver wounded, officials say.
    • VIDEO: Hunt for 100 abducted girls in Nigeria April 16, 2014
      Security forces in Borno State in Nigeria are searching for dozens of teenage girls abducted by suspected members of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
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      The prosthetic leg belonging to Oscar Pistorius has been shown to the court during his murder trial. He denies murder, claiming he mistook Reeva Steenkamp for a burglar.
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    • VIDEO: At site of Nigeria bus station blast April 14, 2014
      A powerful bomb blast has ripped through a crowded bus station on the outskirts of Nigeria's capital, Abuja, killing at least 71 people.
    • VIDEO: Cleaning up Cairo's waste system April 14, 2014
      The Egyptian government is turning to its traditional rubbish collectors - the Zabaleen - to revolutionise Cario's waste disposal industry.
    • VIDEO: Pistorius trial day 23 - in 60 secs April 16, 2014
      The girlfriend of Oscar Pistorius was shot in quick succession as she fell down, a forensics expert has told the South African athlete's murder trial.
    • VIDEO: Pistorius trial day 21 - in 60 secs April 14, 2014
      The prosecutor at the Oscar Pistorius murder trial suggests the South African athlete is using his emotions "as an escape".
    • VIDEO: Ghana's 'waste to wealth' initiative April 12, 2014
      Suzanne Vanhooymissen reports on the large and smaller-scale enterprises set up to segregate waste and encourage recycling in Ghana.
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    • Putin cautious on force in Ukraine April 17, 2014
      Russia's President Putin says he hopes he will not have to exercise his "right" to send troops into Ukraine, as crisis talks are held with Western leaders in Geneva.
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      Bad weather, murky water and strong currents are hampering the search for about 280 people missing after a South Korean ferry sank.
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      The Co-operative Group reports losses of £2.5bn, the worst results in its 150-year history, after what its chief executive calls a "disastrous" year.
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      Some female MPs have stopped attending Prime Minister's Questions because it is so "bad", says Speaker John Bercow.
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      A lorry driver is arrested following a five-vehicle pile up on the M26 in Kent in which two people died and seven others were injured.
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      Retirees could be told how long they are likely to live after stopping work, says pensions minister Steve Webb.
    • Lucas cleared over fracking protest April 17, 2014
      Green MP Caroline Lucas and four co-defendants are cleared of obstructing a public highway during an anti-fracking protest in Balcombe, West Sussex.
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      Smoke from fireworks was "not to blame" for a pile-up on the M5 near Taunton which killed seven people, a coroner rules.
    • Anglo Irish bank pair found guilty April 17, 2014
      Two former Anglo Irish bank chiefs have been found guilty of making loans designed to illegally prop up the bank's share price.
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      RMT workers on the London Underground are to take five days of strike action according to the union.
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      BBC News presenter George Alagiah is diagnosed with bowel cancer and will take a break from broadcasting while he receives treatment.
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      Royal Bank of Scotland says law firm Clifford Chance has cleared it over allegations that it forced small firms to close so it could make a profit.
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      Two enormous steel sculptures of Kelpie horse heads towering over the M9 at Falkirk are lit up for the first time.
    • Leigh and Loach selected for Cannes April 17, 2014
      Veteran British directors Mike Leigh and Ken Loach see their new films selected for competition at this year's Cannes Film Festival.
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      The BBC obtains a letter sent by Cardiff City that says the defeat by Crystal Palace in early April should not stand.
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      Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert says he is unable to talk about why two members of his coaching staff have been suspended.
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      Defending champion Ronnie O'Sullivan is drawn to face Robin Hull in the first round of the World Championship in Sheffield.
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      Gareth Bale proves he can be a game-changer on the big occasion for Real Madrid with the winner in the Copa del Rey final
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  • RSS Reuters: Politics

    • Obama budget plan would boost U.S. tax revenues, cut deficits: CBO April 17, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's fiscal 2015 budget request would boost U.S. tax revenues by nearly $1.4 trillion over 10 years if fully enacted, slashing deficits by $1.05 trillion while funding new spending, the Congressional Budget Office said on Thursday.
    • California Governor Brown wants rainy-day fund in constitution April 17, 2014
      SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - California Governor Jerry Brown on Wednesday stepped up his efforts to enshrine a rainy day fund in the state's constitution, stealing some thunder from Republicans backing a similar measure as he seeks an unprecedented fourth term.
    • Detroit pension deal approved by one retirement system April 17, 2014
      (Reuters) - The board of Detroit's General Retirement System on Wednesday approved economic terms of a settlement with the city that include cuts to pension benefits, putting in place another key component of Detroit's effort to exit bankruptcy by October.
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      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Wednesday urged the Indian government that emerges from ongoing elections to follow economic policies that encourage investment, saying Washington would like to see bilateral trade grow to $500 billion a year.
    • Obama, Republicans openly feud over immigration legislation April 16, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Partisan bickering over immigration reform legislation intensified on Wednesday as President Barack Obama and House of Representatives Republicans accused each other of standing in the way of progress one year after bipartisan Senate legislation was introduced.
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      OLYMPIA, Washington (Reuters) - Two incompatible ballot measures on background checks for gun buyers in Washington state enjoy majority support in a poll released on Tuesday, but the one advancing stricter gun controls is more popular.
    • Detroit pension deal approved by one retirement system April 16, 2014
      (Reuters) - The board of Detroit's General Retirement System on Wednesday approved economic terms of a settlement with the city that include cuts to pension benefits, putting in place another key component of Detroit's effort to exit bankruptcy by October.
    • Wisconsin passes law to curb private custody transfers of children April 16, 2014
      NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wisconsin has adopted a law to limit private custody transfers of children, the first law of its kind in the United States, responding to a Reuters investigation that exposed the dangers of the unregulated practice.
    • Obama, Biden visit Pennsylvania to promote job-training plan April 16, 2014
      OAKDALE, Penn. (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden took a trip to a Pennsylvania community college on Wednesday to promote a plan to train workers for skills they need for hard-to-fill jobs.
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      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg ramped up his efforts to fight gun violence on Wednesday with a plan to spend $50 million on a grassroots network to organize voters on gun control.
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      WASHINGTON/MANILA (Reuters) - When a Philippine government ship evaded a Chinese blockade in disputed waters of the South China Sea last month, a U.S. Navy plane swooped in to witness the dramatic encounter.
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      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Departing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who took withering criticism over the botched rollout of President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, is considering a run for the U.S. Senate in Kansas, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.
    • F-35 fighter jet to make first trans-Atlantic flight in July April 16, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Defense Department has approved the first trans-Atlantic flight of Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 fighter jet in July to take part in two international air shows near London, U.S. and British officials said Wednesday.
    • HUD's Donovan says U.S. Senate housing bill is best chance of reform April 16, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's top housing official on Wednesday said a proposed Senate bill provides the best chance to overhaul the mortgage finance system this decade, but more debate over down payment requirements for government-backed loans is needed.
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      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Groups supporting Senators Rand Paul and Marco Rubio lead the pack of potential Republican presidential candidates in spending money and investing in possible campaigns this year, more than 20 months before the first votes are cast in 2016.
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      (Reuters) - Former Louisiana Governor, Edwin Edwards, a convicted felon now running for the U.S. Congress, has raised nearly $33,000 in donations since launching his campaign last month, according to a contribution report.
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      (Reuters) - Michigan officials and President Barack Obama's Administration are discussing a plan to free up $100 million in federal money to aid Detroit's retired city workers, the Detroit Free Press reported on Tuesday.
    • Bill signed allowing surprise inspections of Arizona abortion clinics April 16, 2014
      PHOENIX (Reuters) - Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on Tuesday signed into a law a bill allowing state health authorities to conduct surprise inspections of abortion clinics without first obtaining a warrant, handing another victory to abortion foes.
    • Two incompatible gun ballot measures lead in Washington state April 16, 2014
      OLYMPIA, Washington (Reuters) - Two incompatible ballot measures on background checks for gun buyers in Washington state enjoy majority support in a poll released on Tuesday, but the one advancing stricter gun controls is more popular.
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      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon on Tuesday detailed $48.3 billion in cuts to major weapons programs like Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 fighter jet that would kick in from fiscal 2016 to 2019 if Congress does not reverse automatic budget cuts that are to resume in 2016.
  • RSS CNN.com – Africa

    • Luxury shoes made in Ghana April 15, 2014
      Fred Deegbe was standing outside a shop window five years ago, marveling at the shiny pair of wing-tip Oxfords he'd just bought, when he started wondering whether such beautiful designer shoes could ever be produced in his country, Ghana.
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      When gunmen stormed into Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall, Abbas Gullet was one of the first emergency responders on the scene. As head of Kenya's Red Cross, he was in charge of coordinating services for people in need.
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      When gunmen stormed into Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall, Abbas Gullet was one of the first emergency responders on the scene. As head of Kenya's Red Cross, he was in charge of coordinating services for people in need.
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I can’t waste all my time thinking about my death – Cost of repatriating the dead

Posted by African Press International on July 19, 2013

HARARE/JOHANNESBURG,  - Cynthia Ndlovu, 30, a single mother employed as a cleaner at an up-market hotel in Johannesburg, South Africa, is too busy trying to save money for her family to worry about the possibility of dying far from her home in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second largest city.

“I can’t waste all my time thinking about my death. God will take care of me when that happens. The most important thing now is to save as much money from my job as possible so that I pay my son’s school fees, feed him and send some to my parents back in Bulawayo,” Ndlovu told IRIN.In addition to the long hours Ndlovu works at the hotel, she sells food at Parktown bus station in central Johannesburg and does laundry as a way of supplementing her salary of less than US$200 a month.Many of her friends belong to burial societies which, in the event of their deaths, will cover the cost of their bodies being repatriated back to Zimbabwe as well as funeral expenses, but Ndlovu considers the R50 (US$5) monthly dues such groups typically charge too much to part with.

“I have to save every cent I get from my regular and part-time jobs, otherwise life would be too difficult for me. The best way to avoid problems for your family when you die is to go back to Zimbabwe as soon as your health gets poor,” said Ndlovu.

But death is not always preceded by illness, particularly for migrants living in Johannesburg, a city with high rates of violent crime. Stanley Moya, 28, from Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital, was attacked by muggers on his way home after work in the Johannesburg suburb of Berea. He was killed and his body was left in a nearby ditch, where it was discovered the following morning. More than a month later, his body remains in a Johannesburg mortuary.

Moya did not belong to a burial society, and his friends do not know how to contact his relatives in Zimbabwe to notify them of his death. The young man had crossed into South Africa illegally and did not possess a passport. Even if his relatives could be found, Moya’s lack of documentation would likely make it impossible to repatriate his body.

“Stanley might end up being buried here by the South African government, and his parents and relatives are likely to go for years thinking that he is still alive. Many Zimbabweans here do not think it is important to prepare for their own death, and this gives all sorts of problems,” said Tichaona Chidziva, a bartender in Berea who knew Moya.

Smuggled home for burial

Innocent Makwiramiti, a Harare-based economist and former chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, told IRIN that the millions of Zimbabweans who have fled their country’s political and economic crisis since 2000 face a daily struggle to survive, preventing many of them from preparing for death.

Without a contingency plan, relatives of deceased migrants face acute difficulties repatriating their bodies to Zimbabwe; they sometimes resort to illegal means, said Makwiramiti.

In early 2012, Gibson Mudhokwani*, 70, a retired teacher living on a paltry pension in Harare, resorted to smuggling home the body of his daughter, who had worked as shop assistant in Pretoria before dying of an unknown illness. He lacked the minimum R10,000 (just over $900) necessary to repatriate her body legally.

“I had no money to process the papers and cover the transportation of the body, so we hid her body in [my neighbour’s] truck and paid $20 at the border so that the vehicle would not be searched,” Mudhokwani told IRIN.

He took his daughter’s body to his rural home in Mhondoro, about 90km southeast of the capital, where she was buried without the burial order required by the law.

With two sons working in Botswana, Mudhokwani has since joined a funeral scheme that, in the event of their deaths, would cover their repatriation and burial costs.

“I have advised my sons to send me $20 a month to pay for the funeral scheme,” he said.

Burial societies

Not all Zimbabwean migrants leave these worries to relatives. Many living in South Africa have started their own burial societies, with members recruited from the same areas back home as a way of controlling transportation costs.

“You can die anytime and people have to dig into their pockets; my family can’t manage that”

“You can die anytime and people have to dig into their pockets; my family can’t manage that,” said Dorcas Dube, 54, a domestic worker in Johannesburg who has belonged to a burial society with about 200 members from her rural area near Zimbabwe’s border with Botswana since 1999.

She pays annual dues of R200 a year ($20) and an additional R70 ($7) whenever another member dies. Should she die, the burial society would cover the approximately R14,000 ($1,395) cost of repatriating her body to her village and “a decent burial”. Her family would receive an additional R3,500 ($349).

Members are divided into 17 groups, and if someone in Dube’s group dies, she is required to join a group of 11 fellow members who accompany the body home in a mini-bus hired by the undertaker, with the body travelling in an attached trailer. After journeying overnight and most of the next day, they assist the deceased’s family with funeral preparations, attend the funeral itself and then make the long journey back to Johannesburg.

Kingdom Mpofu, spokesperson for Dube’s burial society, has been a member for 22 of his 57 years. He views belonging to such a group as a social responsibility. “If you don’t belong to a burial society, you’ll be a burden to your family. The sooner [you join] the better… to set an example to your children.”

Membership has practical as well as financial benefits. Not only does an undertaker organize transportation, the company also processes the necessary paperwork for repatriating the body. “You can organize transport yourself, but paperwork is a problem,” said Mpofu. “You need a certificate from the undertaker and a death certificate. If you don’t have that, you can’t go through [the border].”

He added, “To bury someone [back home] is very important – so they can join their ancestors.”
Several life insurance companies in Zimbabwe have also set up programmes to assist with the repatriation of bodies. Nyaradzo Funeral Assurance Company, one of the most well-known life insurance companies in Zimbabwe, has formed partnerships with funeral parlours in southern Africa and Europe, where Zimbabweans are found in significant numbers. The parlours process all the required documents while Nyaradzo organizes road or air transportation and covers the costs of burying the returning bodies.

“Our cash plans cater for all types of people, from the low-income groups to the rich, and we accept as little as $10 a month from contributors. We attend to up to five burials of people from outside Zimbabwe per week,” said Phillip Mataranyika, the company’s executive officer.

* Not his real name

fm/ks source http://www.irinnews.org

 end
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