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Netflix begins shooting second SA Original

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Image: Tegan Smith

Netflix, the world’s leading internet entertainment service, has started production on its second original African series, Blood & Water, a coming of age, mystery drama based in Cape Town.

Blood & Water will be directed by one of South Africa’s most recognisable black female directors, award winning Nosipho Dumisa (Best Director, Fantasia International Film Festival) and produced by Gambit Films led by Bradley Joshua and Benjamin Overmeyer as producers, with Daryne Joshua & Travis Taute as co-directors and writers and Simon Beesley as lead editor.

The series will include a line up of fresh, talented young cast including two newcomers as the female leads. Blood & Water follows the exploits of the intelligent yet spontaneous 16 year-old, Puleng Khumalo played by Ama Qamata (My Perfect Family, Rhythm City), as she investigates the cold case of her abducted-at-birth older sister. In the search Puleng meets beautiful, alluring Fikile “Fiks’’ Bhele from nearby private school, played by Khosi Ngema starring in her debut role. Joining the female leads is Thabang Molaba playing Karabo ‘KB’ Molapo, resident bad boy and high school heart throb who is struggling to live up to his father’s high expectations. In her on-going search Puleng finds an ally and assistant investigator in Wade, played by Dillon Windvogel (Arendsvlei), while also having to handle the opinionated Wendy Dlamini, who at times is a bit too ‘woke’, played by Natasha Thahane (Skeem Saam, The Queen, Lockdown).

Talking to the casting process, Director Nosipho Dumisa, said ‘Blood & Water presented us with the opportunity to bring a mixture of fresh new faces alongside seasoned actors. After seeing hundreds of actors and newcomers from both Cape Town and Johannesburg, we’re excited to be a part of opening up the industry.’ 

Completing the diverse cast are Gail Mabalane (The Road, The Wild), Sello Maake (The River, Scandal, Generations), Arno Greef (Binnelanders), Ryle De Morny (Top Billing), Getmore Sithole (Scandal), Xolile Tshabalala (High Rollers), Sandi Schultz (Binnelanders), Monique Rockman (Nommer 37) and Cindy Mahlangu (The Herd).  

The series is expected to launch globally on Netflix, in 190 countries, in 2020.

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SA’s Internet goes down again

South Africa is about to experience a small repeat of the lower speeds and loss of Internet connectivity suffered in January, thanks to a new undersea cable break, writes BRYAN TURNER

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Internet service provider Afrihost has notified customers that there are major outages across all South African Internet Service Providers (ISPs), as a result of a break in the WACS undersea cable between Portugal and England 

The cause of the cable break along the cable is unclear. it marks the second major breakage event along the West African Internet sea cables this year, and comes at the worst possible time: as South Africans grow heavily dependent on their Internet connections during the COVID-19 lockdown. 

As a result of the break, the use of international websites and services, which include VPNs (virtual private networks), may result in latency – decreased speeds and response times.  

WACS runs from Yzerfontein in the Western Cape, up the West Coast of Africa, and terminates in the United Kingdom. It makes a stop in Portugal before it reaches the UK, and the breakage is reportedly somewhere between these two countries. 

The cable is owned in portions by several companies, and the portion where the breakage has occurred belongs to Tata Communications. 

The alternate routes are:  

  • SAT3, which runs from Melkbosstrand also in the Western Cape, up the West Coast and terminates in Portugal and Spain. This cable runs nearly parallel to WACS and has less Internet capacity than WACS. 
  • ACE (Africa Coast to Europe), which also runs up the West Coast.  
  • The SEACOM cable runs from South Africa, up the East Coast of Africa, terminating in both London and Dubai.  
  • The EASSy cable also runs from South Africa, up the East Coast, terminating in Sudan, from where it connects to other cables. 

The routes most ISPs in South Africa use are WACS and SAT3, due to cost reasons. 

The impact will not be as severe as in January, though. All international traffic is being redirected via alternative cable routes. This may be a viable method for connecting users to the Internet but might not be suitable for latency-sensitive applications like International video conferencing. 

Read more about the first Internet connectivity breakage which happened on the same cable, earlier this year. 

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SA cellphones to be tracked to fight coronavirus

Several countries are tracking cellphones to understand who may have been exposed to coronavirus-infected people. South Africa is about to follow suit, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From Israel to South Korea, governments and cell networks have been implementing measures to trace the cellphones of coronavirus-infected citizens, and who they’ve been around. The mechanisms countries have used have varied.  

In Iran, citizens were encouraged to download an app that claimed to diagnose COVID-19 with a series of yes or no questions. The app also tracked real-time location with a very high level of accuracy, provided by the GPS sensor. 

In Germany, all cellphones on Deutsche Telekom are being tracked through cell tower connections, providing a much coarser location, but a less invasive method of tracking. The data is being handled by the Robert Koch Institute, the German version of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

In Taiwan, those quarantined at home are tracked via an “electronic fence”, which determines if users leave their homes.  

In South Africa, preparations have started to track cellphones based on cell tower connections. The choice of this method is understandable, as many South Africans may either feel an app is too intrusive to have installed, or may not have the data to install the app. This method also allows more cellphones, including basic feature phones, to be tracked. 

This means that users can be tracked on a fairly anonymised basis, because these locations can be accurate to about 2 square kilometers. Clearly, this method of tracking is not meant to monitor individual movements, but rather gain a sense of who’s been around which general area.  

This data could be used to find lockdown violators, if one considers that a phone connecting in Hillbrow for the first 11 days of lockdown, and then connecting in Morningside for the next 5, likely indicates a person has moved for an extended period of time. 

The distance between Hillbrow and Morningside is 17km. One would pass through several zones covered by different towers.

Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said that South African network providers have agreed to provide government with location data to help fight COVID-19. 

Details on how the data will be used, and what it will used to determine, are still unclear. 

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