Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Thousands Protest in Jerusalem, Call On Netanyahu To Resign; Pope Francis Calls For Gaza Ceasefire In Easter Message; U.S. Coast Guard: First Pieces Of Baltimore Bridge Removed; Erdogan Opponent Claims Victory In Istanbul Mayoral Race; King Charles Attends Easter Service; South Africa Struggles with Rampant Crime, Police Corruption; Fish Around Florida Keys are Spinning in Circles and Dying; Californians Hoping for a Superbloom of Wild Flowers; Japan's New Rising Baseball Star; Manchester City and Arsenal Play to Scoreless Draw; Japan's Rintaro Sasaki Following in Footsteps of Greats. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired April 01, 2024 - 01:00   ET



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome, everyone. I'm Michael Holmes. Appreciate your company.

Coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM:

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says there is no victory against Hamas without moving into Rafah as ceasefire talks resume in Egypt.

Thousands protest in Jerusalem calling for the Israeli prime minister to resign.

And a blow for the Turkish President Recep Erdogan as the opposition party sweeps local elections.


ANNOUNCER: Live from Atlanta, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Michael Holmes.

HOLMES: And we begin in Israel where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says pressure from the U.S. will not stop his forces from going ahead with a planned military ground offensive in Rafah.

Speaking at a news conference on Sunday, he said any delay, so far has nothing to do with Washington's opposition to the plan nor the holy month of Ramadan, adding that such an operation takes time to plan. He also again claimed the operation was necessary to defeat Hamas.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We will go into Rafah and eliminate Hamas battalions there for one simple reason, there is no victory without entering Rafah and there is no victory without eliminating Hamas battalions there.


HOLMES: U.S. officials telling CNN high level talks between U.S. and Israeli officials over Rafah could take place as soon as Monday. Those talks originally scheduled for last week were abruptly called off by Netanyahu after Washington refused to block a un resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and the release of hostages.

Meantime, Egyptian state media reporting negotiations over a ceasefire and hostage deal between Israel and Hamas resumed in Cairo on Sunday, talks had reached a stalemate in recent days, according to a source. A CNN analyst explains one key sticking point in negotiations.


BARAK RAVID, CNN POLITICAL & GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: The main issue that is the main sticking point in those talks is the Hamas demand that Israel would basically we draw from this area in the middle of the Gaza strip that divides the enclave into two parts and prevents people from going from the south back to the north. Israel is willing to allow some gradual return from the south to the north, but it does not agree, at least at the moment, we draw from this corridor and the main thing the Israeli cabinet needs to decide is whether it agrees to this demand by Hamas because it seems at the moment, if Israel does not agree and Hamas sticks to its position, which is the case, right now, does not going to be a deal.


HOLMES: Meanwhile, the Israeli military says it is continuing with its operations that Gaza's largest hospital for a 14th straight day. The IDF says it is conducting what it calls precise operational activity in and around al Shifa hospital in Gaza City. But the hospitals medical staff is mourning the complex is turning into a graveyard as the Israeli siege continues. They say the situation is already, quote, horrific and inhumane.

In central Gaza, two people were killed on Sunday in an Israeli drone strike around Al-Aqsa martyrs hospital, according to the hospital spokesperson, thousands of displaced people are sheltering on the hospital grounds, along with several journalists teams working from tanks in the area as well. It is, of course, still a struggle to get humanitarian aid into Gaza. "Reuters" capturing this video of what appears to be an airdrop supplies on Sunday, though it's unknown where these specific supplies came from. Jordan's armed forces say they made ten different airdrops of humanitarian aid into northern Gaza on the same day.

And a ship carrying aid organized by World Central Kitchen is also on route to Gaza after leaving a port in Cyprus. The World Food Programme's executive director, Cindy McCain, is calling for full access to deliver critical aid to the region.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CINDY MCCAIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME: We need access, we need four unfettered access. And right now, we don't have that. We can occasionally get a few trucks in. We can occasionally get up all the way to the north, but is not consistent and it is not to scale either. All of the other issues regarding maritime and air-drops and all those are all good.


We need any way to be able to get food in any way we can. But they can't take it to scale. We really need access to the road and we need to be able to get up to the north all the way without being caught at checkpoints and turned around.


HOLMES: A new Palestinian Authority government was sworn in on Sunday, according to the Palestinian news agency WAFA. The new cabinet is led by Prime Minister Mohammed Mustafa, an ally of President Mahmoud Abbas. Mustafa was appointed in March to replace the former prime minister, who resigned in February. The new government met immediately after the swearing in.

Abbas saying, quote: Work is underway with Arab and international parties to stop Israeli aggression on Gaza.

And mass anti-government protests rocking Jerusalem for a second straight day on Sunday. Thousands of demonstrators taken to the streets demanding the release of all remaining Israeli hostages, and calling for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign and hold early elections.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As soon as we can do it, we hold for a new elections to take place. Bibi Netanyahu is not doing his job anywhere in the last few years. He's bringing the country down in every, every aspect possibly. So we got to replace him immediately.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen to the crowd, listen to the people of Israel who were saying enough is enough. We need a functioning government.


HOLMES: CNN's Melissa Bell has been following developments and has more for us from Jerusalem.


MELISSA BELL, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For the first time since the war began, the protest movement has returned to the streets of Jerusalem, with many thousands coming out to protest to the way the government has handled the war so far, urgent calls for the remaining more than 130 hostages to be bought home, but also anger at Benjamin Netanyahu and his government and calls for elections to be held now. Tents have been set up, just down there by the Knesset. The protesters intend to keep their pressure up over the counter coming days.

We heard from these ready prime minister himself just ahead of the protest at saying that she believed it was his policies that were responsible for bringing half the hostages home so far, and doubling down on the idea that he believed that ground offensive in Rafah was necessary in order to flush out the remaining Hamas battalions. But that's tonight is not what we've heard from these protesters a good deal of anger, a great calls now that his time in office should end, the change this should be made, and that this war should be brought to an end.

Melissa Bell, CNN, Jerusalem.


HOLMES: Over the weekend, Palestinians across the region rally to mark the 48th annual Land Day, that's the day in 1976 when protests over Israeli land confiscations turn violent. In Ramallah on Saturday, demonstrators filled the streets of that west bank city, waving flags and banners in support of their fellow Palestinians in Gaza.

It was a similar scene in northern Israel where Arab citizens marched in support of the people of Gaza and for the end of the war, the commemorations of the nearly half century old land confiscations come amid new contract controversy over new confiscations. Israel's finance minister earning international condemnation recently when he declared more than 800 hectares of Palestinian land in the West Bank's Jordan valley to be, quote, state lands.

Joining me now is Gideon Levy, a columnist for "Haaretz" and former adviser to Shimon Peres.

It's always good to see you, Gideon. You wrote a piece in Haaretz, which began with the line and I'll just read it for people. You say in the past six months, the occupied West Bank has undergone on a metamorphosis.

And later in that piece, that quoting again, it's impossible to overestimate the depth and breadth of the changes wrought in the West Bank in those months.

How has that metamorphosis play it out? What does it look like?

GIDEON LEVY, COLUMNIST, HAARETZ: It looks like a jail. The West Bank, which was quite open in recent months until the war became always checkpoints everywhere, but still, most of the village and the towns have only one exit and one entrance. And all the other roads, including big towns, are blocked by the Israeli armed forces. In the same time, people are prevented going to work in Israel, 150 some Palestinians who used to work with permissions in Israel cannot go there for half a year and in the same time, even to their only orchards, they cannot get most of them.

[01:10:05] And this year, they're picking of olives, which is one of the most important sources of income, even this became a great, great problem for them because in most of the cases they cannot reach their land.


LEVY: The settlers, just one word about the real stars of all this, the settlers, because they spent behind all of it. They take the advantage of the war. It was expected to be more violence tower the shepherds and the Palestinians, to steal more lands, steal more shapes, it's really almost anarchy and all under the eyes of Israeli armed forces will do nothing about it, and in many cases even encourage it.

HOLMES: And a lot of those set was wearing military uniforms as well as being armed. And I was -- because I was going to ask you about that, the increase in settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank settlements, expanding more legal outpost, more land being seized. Do you see all of that as part of a plan -- a deliberate strategy with the Gaza conflict as a distraction of sorts.

LEVY: No doubts. They take that, taking advantage of the war when all the global attention is in Gaza, the Americans don't pay attention to what's going on in the West Bank. And obviously, the Israeli public opinion couldn't care less, but that's always do.

Any those times, they go wild with the government, which is the most right-wing government ever, when the settlers have their representatives in the most powerful positions, like minister Smotrich, and same-side happening on a daily basis. I mean, I'm turning them once a week, at least from week to week, the ground looks different now.


LEVY: Another outpost, another checkpoint, and life becomes very, very unbearable. And then when they will be a uprising, everyone will say, oh, we were so surprised, how could it happen?

HOLMES: Yeah. The other, the other aspect, too, that's been going not are noticed, but almost literally thousands upon thousands of Palestinians have been rounded up in the West Bank. What's your take on the sheer numbers detained and being held and the tactics behind such big numbers? They're not all terror suspects, surely.

LEVY: No, most of them are political prisoners both of them with collaboration with their Palestinian Authority. Anyone who had anything to do with Hamas first the fall is detained in most of the cases without trials for months and months, in the same time everyone who dares to express any kind of empathy with the suffering of Gaza. Their brothers with the pain of Gaza is also arrested.

Again, when there are no borders and no limits, when there is the darkness of the war in Gaza. The authorities and the settlers allow themselves to do whatever they want. Also, the conditions in jail changed dramatically. I brought it the testimony last week. It's really Israeli Guantanamo.

HOLMES: Yeah. Yeah, somebody else you write in your article in how retired people to read it, you say, and you just touched on this a little bit. There is in your words, a fire in the West Bank that is, quote, large and raging. You write that the West Bank has gone back in time almost quarter of a century to the period of the second intifada, but without the intifada. But could there be a third intifada? What could happen?

LEVY: I'm not sure, Michael, because the Palestinians are still bleeding from the second one. They lack leadership, they lack organization. You see all the violent resistance is based on individuals who take their faith and take some kind of gun and go and try to shot, to stab an Israeli.

This is not an intifada. This is an expression of violence by individuals. They lack right now a spirit of open uprising. And I'm not sure we are facing another intifada soon.

HOLMES: Certainly a dire and delicate situation in the West Bank. Gideon Levy, always a pleasure to speak with you. Thanks so much.

LEVY: Thanks, Michael.

HOLMES: Oh, Christians around the world observe the Easter holiday on Sunday, but not every house of worship was able to celebrate as much as they would like. The church of the Holy Sepulcher held mass for congregations in Jerusalem. That site believed to be the place of course, where Jesus was crucified with his tomb nearby.

More somber services, obviously, being held in Gaza. People offering prayers for peace instead of holding their usual celebrations.


One woman said it was, quote, very different holiday from before, reduced the prayers and rituals, a church director says, not even houses of worship as safe from the effects of Israel's war with Hamas.


MUSSA AYAD, DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS, HOLY FAMILY CHURCH (through translator): The condition of the Christians is the same as that of other Palestinian people. Some people have been lost. Some people have died, some patients need medications. There's need for food. Of course, there's a need for security because there's war. There's a military operation, strikes, shrapnel, all of these things have affected us. Some areas inside the churches have been hit, leading to a large number of wounded people. There's pain.


HOLMES: Pope Francis recognized that pain and once again called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza during his address on Easter Sunday.

CNN's Christopher Lamb with details on the pope's own health and struggles and his plans around the holiday.


CHRISTOPHER LAMB, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Following concerns about his health, Pope Francis has presided at Easter Sunday mass and given his Easter Sunday message from St. Peters in the Vatican.

Francis has been battling bouts of ill health recently and on Good Friday, pulled out of a service in order to what the Vatican said was to preserve his health.

On the Easter Sunday message, Pope Francis addressed various conflicts going on in the world and reiterated his call for a ceasefire in Israel-Hamas war. Here's what he had to say.

POPE FRANCIS, CATHOLIC CHURCH (through translator): I appeal once again the access to humanitarian aid be ensured to Gaza and call once more for the prompt release of the hostages seized on the 7th of October, and for an immediate ceasefire in the Strip.

LAMB: During Holy Week and in the run-up to Easter, Pope Francis presided at five major liturgies. On Thursday, he went to a female prison in Rome and washed the feet of 12 women prisoners. On the Saturday before Easter, he celebrated the Easter vigil, a service of more than two hours long.

Following the mass on Easter Sunday, he toured St. Peter's Square on his pope mobile, greeting the pilgrims would gathered many thousands who were there and seemed in good spirits.

Pope Francis, 87 years old, and despite his age and his health, has insisted that he will continue in the post of pope and is refusing to consider resignation

Christopher Lamb, CNN.


HOLMES: A Turkish opposition leader claims victory in Istanbul's mayoral race ahead. The heavy blows dealt to President Erdogan's political party in nationwide elections, which could signal a big change for Turkey's future. That's when we come back.


HOLMES: There is progress to report from Baltimore Harbor. The U.S. Coast Guard says the first pieces of the collapsed bridge had been lifted from the water nearly a week after that container ship crashed into the structure. This is, of course, only the beginning of what will be a long process.

CNN's Gloria Pazmino gives us a closer look at the crash site and the magnitude of the task ahead.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) GLORIA PAZMINO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So you can see we have been able to get extremely up close to the wreckage of the Dali and we're starting to really get an appreciation on a sense of just how massive this drop is going to be.

You're looking at 4,000 tons of steel and concrete that are sitting on top of that bow. That is going to be the most complicated part of this operation moving all of that debris and taking it off the ship so that they can begin this cleanup process and then there's everything that's laying below the surface, the part that we can't see. There is more metal, more concrete, more debris in the water.

And that's going to be critical because they have to be able to make that safe for the divers whose mission is to get back into the water and continue searching to attempt to recover the bodies of those who were boss. But as were sitting here now, finally, being able to really see it and get up close to it you really just get a sense of the enormity of the job at hand.

But all the officials here have told us that they are confident that they're going to be able to get it done working together, have all of the technology necessary, and they're going step by step, taking a meticulous approach to make sure that they get it right and that eventually they can reopen the port, they can start rebuilding and that this important symbol for the city of Baltimore and the city of Baltimore on the state of Maryland, can get cleaned out and the people here can start getting back to normal.

I'm Gloria Pazmino, CNN.


HOLMES: The people of Turkey delivering President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his political party their biggest ever electoral blow on Sunday. A nationwide municipal elections, voters reinforce the power of Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu and his opposition party as a strengthening political force. With most of the votes counted, Imamoglu said he is leading the election by a million votes. His Republican Peoples Party gaining may oral seats in 15 other cities.


EKREM IMAMOGLU, ISTANBUL MAYOR/OPPOSITION CANDIDATE (through translator): The nation itself gives the order and the instructions, not just one person, officials receive instructions from the nation. A period of one man rule is over as of today, it is done. The Republican democracy to go full speed ahead from now on.


HOLMES: The outcome of the election marks are dramatic defeat for President Erdogan and his AK Party after two decades in power. The longtime leader acknowledging the losses and saying he will respect the will of the Turkish people.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PEOPLE (through translator): We will open-heartedly analyze the results of the March 31st elections within our party and make our self-criticism boldly.

Although not finalized yet, the election results show us that we are experiencing a loss of ground in local administrations across the country. Of course, we will discuss the reasons for this decline we see on the local basis.


HOLMES: Our Scott McLean following developments from Istanbul.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In local elections in Turkey where a referendum on the ruling government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and voters have very clearly sent a message that they are not happy, not only in Erdogan's AK Party failed to win back major cities in this country. But it appears that they are on track to also lose some areas that had been considered strongholds. And perhaps the biggest blow of the night is right here in Istanbul where people have come to celebrate the win of the incumbent mayor, Ekrem Imamoglu, a man who is widely considered to be one of the very few, perhaps the only opposition figure popularity in the spring take on Erdogan in a general election.

And not only has Imamoglu won reelection, but it appears that he's won with a very comfortable margin. His party has taken a district in Istanbul where Erdogan himself was born and raised.

And Erdogan personally injected himself into this race. His face is on banners and billboards. He's been here for rallies as well, but also hanging over the country at the time, the dire the wake of the economy where inflation is out of control, interest rate 50 percent and people are really feeling it in their wallets.


Now, President Erdogan is constitutionally barred from running for another term in office, but there are some loopholes which could allow him to run one more time. And if he does, he will now surely have a very formidable opponent and the reelected mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu.

Scott McLean, CNN, Istanbul.


HOLMES: Argentina and Colombia have just announced that they have taken what they call concrete steps to overcome their differences after they grew increasingly sour. And it's not the only regional dispute involving the new government in Buenos Aires.

Earlier this week, Argentina accused Venezuela of cutting off electricity to the Argentine embassy in Caracas after the diplomatic mission hosted a meeting with Venezuela's opposition leaders.

Tensions have been growing between the two nations since the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro criticized Argentina's far-right President Javier Milei's election win last November.

CNN in Espanol's Andres Oppenheimer sat down earlier this week with President Milei to talk about the tense relations between the two countries.


JAVIIER MILEI, ARGENTINE PRESIDENT (through translator): Well, without a doubt, the worst presidents in Latin America due to scandals all that has something to do with the dictatorship of Venezuela, with the communism that Petro wants to promote in Colombia, what Nicaragua has, or what Cuba has, that's all the worst of all, they are truly despicable.

ANDRES OPPENHEIMER, ANCHOR, CNN EN ESPANOL (through translator): Very recently, hours ago, Argentina, along with Peru, Uruguay, Costa Rica and three or four other countries issue a statement expressing their serious concern about the selections or pseudo-elections as I call them in Venezuela. What more can Latino American countries do to promote democracy in Venezuela? Are they contemplating some kind of diplomatic sanctions or something?

MILEI: At the moment, we have a breakthrough. They are being condemned. For example, here, the previous government would not have condemned in of those dictatorships. So, in principle, we make an emphatic condemnation, raised those flags in all the places, and obviously, if we would have to move forward with sanctions, would not have any type of problem with that.

OPPENHEIMER: Will you try to convince other countries to adopt diplomatic sanctions against Venezuela?

MILEI: Yes, I would be willing to do it because the carnage that's happening in Venezuela is truly unprecedented, the same as the prison island of Cuba. Then they all, the cases that are on the way, like the case of Colombia with Mr. Petro, who, well, you cannot expect a lot from someone who was a terrorist murderer, a communist.


HOLMES: Well, just ahead on the program, King Charles makes his first major public appearance since revealing his cancer diagnosis. What this means for the British royal family? That's when we come back.



MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: In the United Kingdom, King Charles met with the public for the first time since his cancer diagnosis earlier this year. The 75-year-old monarch was all smiles as he greeted a crowd outside of St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on Easter Sunday.

Charles and Queen Camilla attended Easter service with a few royal family members. The outing coming more than a week after the Princess of Wales revealed her own cancer fight.

CNN's Max Foster reports.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: A lucky few royal well-wishers, given a surprise invite into Windsor Castle to see the King making his first major public appearance since his cancer diagnosis.

Then, an even bigger surprise when he went for a walk and a chat.

KING CHARLES, BRITISH MONARCH: You haven't got a coat (ph).

FOSTER: A royal source telling CNN all future engagements remain subject to medical advice near the time. But this was an encouraging sign of how the treatment is progressing as we look towards summer and how the road ahead is looking positive.

KATE WILLIAMS, CNN ROYAL HISTORIAN: He's obviously looking (INAUDIBLE). I'm really grateful. He's walking. He's, you know, out there again, but we've been told that this isn't a return to public duties. What it is, is a gentle return to the public eyes.

So we are seeing Charles, you know, out and about waving, you know, seeing people. But he's not going back to the full duties of kingship. And we don't yet have a timeline as to when that's going to be.

FOSTER: The service at Windsor is a tradition for the royals. Prince Andrew amongst those invited showing that he's part of the family, if not part of the firm anymore.

The Princess of Wales didn't attend as she receives her own treatment for cancer. But that was expected as she also spends time with her children during the school holidays.

CATHERINE, PRINCESS OF WALES: We hope that you will understand that as a family, we now need some time, space and privacy while I complete my treatment.

FOSTER: It's an unprecedented time to the royal family with two senior royal sidelines due to serious illness, leaving only a handful of working royals to carry out public duties. Queen Camilla has shouldered much of the load in Charles' absence. Prince William is expected to resume public engagements in mid-April, but it's been a strain on the system.

ERIN HILL, SENIOR EDITOR ROYALS, PEOPLE MAGAZINE: King Charles really wanted to have a slimmed-down monarchy when he took on the throne, but he never could have anticipated slimming down to where it is now.

FOSTER: And there's also a matter of trust. The statement by the Princess of Wales diffused a frenzy of conspiracy theories about her health and whereabouts. But there are lingering questions about a digitally-altered photo of Catherine and the children and concerns that the palace isn't being transparent enough.

Media cameras were invited to film the events rather than in-house media teams. Behind the scenes, the King has been carrying out meetings and continuing his work as head of state, as both he and Catherine continue their cancer treatments.

Royal fans often come here to Windsor for a chance to see the king. For a lucky few, they're invited into the castle and they actually spent some time with him. And they're all saying how well he looked. So encouraging signs for a monarchist here in the U.K.

Max Foster, CNN -- Windsor Castle, England.


HOLMES: Well, after a day of Easter celebrations, people in Germany may have another reason to celebrate. Cannabis is now legal for adults' recreational use in Germany. They seem pretty happy about it.

The country's federal council cleared the way to decriminalize the substance in late February. Under the new law, adults can possess up to 25 grams of cannabis. They're also allowed to grow up to three plants for private use.


HOLMES: Production and distribution of the drug are also permitted in licensed clubs. The law gives Germany some of the most liberal cannabis rules in Europe.

Thirty years into its young democracy South Africa is struggling with a crime wave it can't seem to control. Violent, brazen attacks and heists which should be handled by police are instead being turned over to private security patrols because police corruption is rampant as well.

CNN's David McKenzie road along with a security guard in the middle of a pursuit and spoke with both the victim of crime and an admitted criminal about the lawlessness gripping the country.


ANTON KOEN, CEO, NOJACK: Lima-Charlie 6-3.

This was a vehicle that was triggered by the license plate recognition system. We need to be on top of the vehicle as soon as we -- or as fast as we possibly can.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sir Anton is chasing a hijacked vehicle. This happens all the time in South Africa. They are in touch with private security groups throughout this eastern part of Johannesburg and one thing you don't hear anything about is the police.

KOEN: (INAUDIBLE) direction northeast -- direction northeast play (ph).

MCKENZIE: Police can't cope, underfunded and struggling with corruption.

KOEN: They are shooting. They are shooting.

MCKENZIE: Dashcam footage shows the criminal gangs private security are often up against. In South Africa, more than 20,000 vehicles were hijacked last year. Murders are at a 20-year high. Cash-in-transit heists are now commonplace. Armored vehicles targeted in broad daylight by heavily-armed gangs.

This heist on a major Joburg highway in October.

MCKENZIE: Was it difficult to get a gun?


MCKENZIE: We met a cash-in-transit criminal who claims he's gotten out of the game. We agreed to hide his identity, so he would talk freely.

GLEN: People who are angry with the level of crime, they will never sleep with their stomach empty. Those are the people who are crying with crime.

MCKENZIE: He says around a dozen gang members target the vehicles, often with insider intelligence. They have spotters, drivers, and shooters, splitting the cash evenly.

Did you ever kill anyone?

GLEN: Yes. I know it's bad, I feel bad about it. Some of them, you go, and you want to rob and they do not surrender. They want to become heroes.

MCKENZIE: But father of four, T.T. Ngwenya says he never wanted to be a hero. He just wanted to put food on the table.

T.T. NGWENYA, FORMER CASH-IN-TRANSIT GUARD: As I needed the money, you must take out that you're going to be killed because you will never work for your children.

MCKENZIE: He always knew they would be hit. And in May 2021, they were. The dashcam video shows the gang working quickly, efficiently even. They made Ngwenya and the other guards line the grass. When they blew off the roof, it crushed his legs.

NGWENYA: And the big thing to me, I am no longer able to stand. I'm no longer walking as the way I was before I joined that job. And now, always in pain. I'm shot with some pills you see. I'm a father.

KOEN: Seems like the value of life actually means nothing to a lot of people anymore. I think at the moment, our crime is out of control. Our crime is really not in control. We are having a hard time fighting, fighting crime.

MCKENZIE: South Africa is losing the war against crime. The promise of its democracy hijacked by corruption, desperation, and greed.

David McKenzie, CNN -- Johannesburg.


HOLMES: Coming up on the program and environmental mystery in the Florida Keys. Fish dying in very strange ways and scientists can't explain why it's happening.



HOLMES: Well, there is an underwater mystery swirling around the Florida Keys, dozens of different fish species inexplicably swimming in circles until they go belly up.

CNN's Bill Weir reports for Marathon, Florida where researchers are racing to figure out what's causing the bizarre behavior and how to stop it.


GREGG FURSTENWERTH, FLORIDA KEYS LIFETIME RESIDENT: I started diving when I was eight years old with my mom, so I've been in the water for a very long time.

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Gregg Furstenwerth has seen a lot in his life spent underwater around the Florida Keys but he'd never seen anything like this.

FURSTENWERTH: I noticed the fish were spinning and so I started taking video of that. But I really had no idea what I was looking at.

WEIR: Since last fall, he's seen stingrays moving upside down, Goliath groupers flailing on their sides, and dozens of other species swimming in tortured, flailing loops.

FURSTENWERTH: Well, I mean, I've said that, you know, it's like I'm in the middle of a disaster movie and I'm that guy yelling from, you know, the mountain top, trying to get people to pay attention.

WEIR: State Fish and Wildlife officials, and Florida's Bonefish & Tarpon Trust have logged nearly 200 incidents with over 30 species acting this way, mostly in the lower Keys but as far north as Miami.

MICHAEL ROLPH, CAPTAIN, MYKEYS TOURS: Yes, this is crazy. I was out on a six-hour charter, I had two people on the boat, and we were down off a ligament by the banks and we happened to see a fish floundering on the flats.

And then, so we got close to him. We wanted to see if there was a problem. And we could obviously tell that he was in distress.

WEIR: It turned out to be a sawfish, a critically endangered species that might lose four or five mature adults a year. But in just a few months, at least 27 have beached themselves or died after intense episodes of what anglers are calling the spins.

ADAM CATASIUS, RESEARCHER, THE WATER SCHOOL AT FLORIDA GULF COAST UNIVERSITY: So typically, when we think of fish acting strangely or dying, we either think of low oxygen conditions in the water or red tide and so we saw neither.

WEIR: At The Water School, Florida Gulf Coast University, Mike Parson's team is part of a statewide effort to solve the mystery of the spinning fish.

And while tests for most toxins have turned up empty, the most promising suspect is found living off seaweed at the bottom. A tiny critter named Gambierdiscus.

MIKE PARSONS, PROFESSOR, THE WATER SCHOOL AT FLORIDA GULF COAST UNIVERSITY: This is the highest we've seen of the Gambierdiscus cells in the Keys. We don't know if it's the main cause.

WEIR: The single-cell algae can produce various neurotoxins and is showing up at record-high levels. But it's just one more stressor on marine life already reeling from pollution, overfishing, and off-the- charts ocean heat waves brought by climate change.

PARSONS: So there's concern and curiosity, I guess, on could the hot temperatures in the summer cause some changes that may be led to the fish behavior now? And we just don't really have all of the pieces together to try to link one for the other.

FURSTENWERTH: They really have no idea what is happening. I mean, there is no concrete conclusive proof of what is happening yet. And that is still to be determined, which is quite terrifying.

WEIR: It is scary, isn't it?

FURSTENWERTH: It is because if it continues, it's going to be the end of this ecosystem as we know it.

WIER: Off the charts, ocean temperatures are of course just one of the massive stressors on marine life down here these days.

There was a three-year study recently in which a hundred percent of the bonefish that were tested in the Keys turned up at least seven different pharmaceuticals from opioids to anti-depressants.


WEIR: And so, this behavior has not been seen before, but it is sort of an attack from a thousand different angles for the creatures living down here and may be a warning for the rest of us.


HOLMES: Bill Weir there. Like nature is trying to tell us something.

Well, Japan's cherry blossom season has officially begun. Tourists and locals in Tokyo flocking to see the famous flowers reach peak bloom. The season can only begin when according to state media, whether officials monitoring one specific tree in Tokyo are able to spot 11 blossoms.

And it's an annual sign of spring in California, wild flowers blooming up and down the state this year. Thanks in part to a very wet winter. Spectators are hoping they're going see even more spectacular sites than usual.

Here's Stephanie Elam.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's amazing.

ELAM: As spring begins to unfurl in California, flower fans are hoping for another show stopper, a phenomenon known as a superbloom.

EVAN MAYER, BOTANIST AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THEODORE PAYNE FOUNDATION: The superbloom is many, many flowers, millions if not billions of flowers blooming simultaneously.

ELAM: Expanses of orange, yellow, and purple flowers so densely clustered that they are visible from space, like in 2023, after one of the wettest winters on record.

The thing is, superblooms aren't a guarantee. It takes the right conditions for that riot of hues to appear. During California's devastating drought years there's no brilliant display.

MAYER: But when those conditions come together and you get a lot of rain and cool days, you're going to see tons of flowers, and this year I think we're on track for that.

ELAM: All of these beautiful blooms just draw people in. But this is nature so naturally there are threats. And here in California that often is snakes.

Like 12-year-old Mayling (ph) found out.

What is the coolest thing you've seen when you come out here?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A snake. I got the dog and I started running.

ELAM: In 2017, some California parks were crushed with superbloom seekers.

The town of Lake Elson banned visitors to one canyon in 2019 after hundreds of thousands of people trudged off trails, destroying precious petals in their quest to take the perfect picture.

MAYER: These are fragile ecosystems. They're wild ecosystems, and they can be damaged pretty easily by being stepped on, sat on, driven on,

ELAM: Yet experts say respectfully viewing a superbloom is a great way to connect with nature.

MAYER: You'll just see one of the most incredible things that happens in our natural world.

Stephanie Elam, CNN.


HOLMES: After the break, look out Shohei Ohtani, this rising Japanese star is only 18 years old and already a baseball phenomenon.


HOLMES: a frustrating day on the pitch for Manchester City in the English Premier League. Arsenal held them to a scoreless draw, leaving Liverpool atop the table. Here's Patrick Snell.


PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: While it was Liverpool the big winners in more ways than one on Easter Sunday after the title chasing (INAUDIBLE) Brighton in a vital match at Anfield as their two big rivals in this enthralling race to be current champions of England took points off each other in a goalless draw at the Etihad.


SNELL: By the time Man City and Arsenal took to the field of play they knew Liverpool bagged all three-point (ph) city, going close in the first half of this game when their (INAUDIBLE) defender Nathan are getting on the end of a Kevin de Bruyne (ph) coronary can't get a proper connection on it from close range there.

After the break, the former City player Gabriel Jesus, you have the home fans concerned as he just failed to connect with the (INAUDIBLE) across and a strange one very near the end of City's Erling Haaland looks like he's in a great position to score, but somehow totally failing to make any sort of meaningful contact.

Kind of summed up the game really both Spanish head coaches left to ponder a goalless draw at the full-time whistle City had scored in 47 consecutive home leak fixes before this Sunday, but no breaking down the gunners here.

MIKEL ARTETA, ARSENAL MANAGER: The commitment of all the players and the discipline that they having are only defensive parts and even were really high on the page and trying to win the war, we went (INAUDIBLE) a lots and then when they break that (INAUDIBLE), you have to drive back and they extend deep and they start to move that structure. You have to be really patient that are no rush and you have to defend the box really well.

I think its 2021 the last time that they have an equivalent 57 games. So that's three years. So that's the difficulty of it.

PEP GUARDIOLA, MANCHESTER CITY MANAGER: -- nine games and yes, well see him. So Wednesday, another one and we'll see what happens.

Well, early on Sunday, Liverpool doing their part by beating Bryson, but the whole fans initially in shock, the Reds behind after 85 seconds.

Johnny (INAUDIBLE) with a wonderful strike right in front of the cop. The host predictably hitting back and it's the Colombian (INAUDIBLE) Diaz reacting quickest to bring relief to the Anfield faithful. He levels just shy of the half-hour mark.

Liverpool with all their adventure at this point, and it's no surprise when they get the win. Really exquisite, cool if you like, finish from Egyptian star Mo Salah (ph) for 2-1 Liverpool, very important win for the Reds. Three priceless points, but Brighton, made the work for it so much at stake. Red (INAUDIBLE) Jurgen Klopp tried to keep everything in perspective.

JURGEN KLOPP, LIVERPOOL MANAGER: It will be tough for him. Yes, it's sometimes nerve wracking and it will be (INAUDIBLE) will be at 180, 200 read whatever from time to time. If you watch it if you played.

But if we all together enjoy this, we have a chance. If you don't we still have a chance just really much more difficult. And that's why we try to stay positive in all these moments. It's a great situation where the boys brought us in. We are there, I don't even know the points tally, but another three.

So maybe we are there up with two other teams fighting for the biggest prize in English football. And we will see how it will end up. But I decided, I will really try hard to enjoy it.

SNELL: Well, Klopp will be a very happy man after Sunday's results. Frustration for Pep Guardiola's side, who haven't been involved in a goalless match since October of 2022. Liverpool lead the way by two points from the gunners. And importantly, they're now three points clear of third-placed City.

There is still so much to play for all three title rivals, have nine fixed his left. Will be across it all for you on CNN's World Sport. For now though, its right back to you.


HOLMES: Our thanks to Patrick Snell there.

Now, in the women's League Cup final tempers flared in a big win for Arsenal. During the match, there was this confrontation between Chelsea Scottish international Erin Cuthbert and Arsenal Swedish manager Jonas Eidevall.

Then when the final whistle blew, instead of a handshake, Chelsea boss, Emma Hayes shoves, see it there, shoved Arsenal's manager. Hayes is leaving Chelsea at the end of the season to manage the U.S. National Women's team.

A Japanese teenager is baseball's new rising star. He is following in superstar Shohei Ohtani's footsteps. In fact, his father was Ohtani's high school coach. Now Rintaro Sasaki is getting ready to play for Stanford.

Hanako Montgomery reports.


HANAKO MONTGOMERY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: At just 18, Rintaro Sasaki is a baseball phenomenon, hitting a record 140 home runs in high school, far surpassing Japanese baseball legends Shohei Ohtani and Yusei Kikuchi, both graduates of Sasaki's alma mater and icons he grew up with.

Right now, I'm in Hanamaki-Higashi, a high school known for its elite baseball team. It's been the birthing ground of some of the biggest Japanese baseball stars in recent years including Shohei Ohtani, Yusei Kikuchi, and soon to be, Rintaro Sasaki.

RINTARO SASAKI, BASEBALL PLAYER (through translator): I was a big kid in elementary school, so I used to wear hand-me-downs from Yusei. Shohei-san also gave me a lot of baseball equipment to use, which I really appreciate.


MONTGOMERY: Sasaki is the projected No. 1 pick in Japan's professional baseball draft. But this player is foregoing all of it to go to Stanford, a decision his father, who's coached Ohtani, Kikuchi, and now his son, advised him to make.

HIROSHI SASAKI, HEAD COACH AND RINTARO'S FATHER (through translator): In Japan, people tend to focus more on shortcomings, but in the U.S., they develop individuality. I think this is a very good choice for him.

MONTGOMERY: This unassuming high school, tucked away among Japan's snowy northern mountains, now boasts three baseball stars. So what's the secret?

Coach Sasaki tells me it's not about the power in the arm, but in the mind.

H. SASAKI (through translator): I think the most important thing is to not blame others or to make excuses. Once I stopped doing that my life changed. And the other thing is to set a firm goal.

MONTGOMERY: And of course, practice, practice, and more practice.

Still, Sasaki has a way to go before reaching the heights of Ohtani, his dad tells me.

H. SASAKI: I'd never seen such a level of athleticism before. The moment they joined the team, I knew they'd be tremendous athletes once they got stronger.

MONTGOMERY: Ohtani and Kikuchi, forever legends for this Japanese high school, and a source of motivation for Sasaki.

R. SASAKI: One day, I want to be playing on the same field as Ohtani and Kikuchi. That's what's driving me.

MONTGOMERY (voice-over): Hanako Montgomery, CNN -- Hanamaki City.


HOLMES: In U.S. college basketball's March Madness, the men's final four is set. The top rank: Purdue Boilermakers defeating number two, Tennessee 72 - 66 in the Elite Eight. Purdue advancing to its first final four since 1980.

North Carolina State continues its Cinderella run into the final four after upsetting Duke 76-64.

Here's how the semifinals will be played Saturday, UConn-Alabama head- to-head; Boilermakers facing the Wolfpack.

Meanwhile, the NC State Women's team has also clinched its spot in the final four along with South Carolina. The other two schools will be determined later today. A lot of money riding on it.

Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Michael Holmes.

CNN NEWSROOM with Rosemary Church up next.