News in South Africa 16th November:

1. Roadblocks ramp up:

The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) has warned drivers in South Africa that policing efforts are being ramped up on the country’s roads ahead of the festive season.

Roadblocks ramp up
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

The group said that motorists who intend to travel for the festive season holidays need to start fixing their vehicles and ensure that they are fit to be on the roads, or risk having their cars impounded.

“Law enforcement operations are being stepped up on the roads, and officers have vowed to clamp down on unroadworthy vehicles as they contribute to road crashes and fatalities. No excuses will be accepted,” it said.

Campaigns have already kicked off on major routes and are expected to continue throughout the festive period.

Authorities are specifically looking at vehicles that have defects, as well as drivers who are over the alcohol limit.

According to the RTMC, specific defects are under the spotlight, as they have been identified as being core contributors to fatal crashes on the roads:

  • Defective breaks;
  • Burst tyres;
  • Defective lights.

“Law enforcement officers will not hesitate to discontinue and even impound vehicles with the above defectsincluding cracked windscreens,” it said.

“The impoundment of a vehicle will cause great inconvenience to motorists as they will have to fix the vehicle at extra costs and have the vehicle taken for roadworthy tests before it is allowed on the road again. This will be in addition to traffic fines and impoundment fees.”

The group advised that motorists ensure these defects are dealt with to avoid having their trips interrupted by “foreseeable and preventable factors”.

With heavy rainfalls predicted for this period, the RTMC said that wipers will also be looked at to make sure they are in a perfect state as they affect visibility on rainy days.

2. Eskom group exec resigns:

The acting group executive for generation at Eskom, Rhulani Mathebula, is leaving the utility with immediate effect.

This is the second change to the position in almost six months.

Mathebula was appointed after the previous head of generation, Philip Dukashe, resigned from the position in May. Mathebula is an Eskom veteran, having joined the utility 19 years ago.

Making the announcement at a briefing on Tuesday, Eskom chief operating officer Jan Oberholzer said: “When [Mathebula] tabled his resignation, he said the demand of the job was untenable, and it impacted his health and family time. We need to understand the demand of this role, and the demand on the head of generation in turning this ship around.”

Oberholzer said that Eskom had appointed Thomas Conradie as the new acting group executive for generation.

Conradie has been with Eskom for almost 24 years. Since 2014, he has been managing the Lethabo power station near Vereeniging. He has previously managed the Kriel, Matla and Majuba power stations in Mpumalanga.

He holds an MBA from Unisa and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Stellenbosch University.

As load shedding worsens to record levels, Eskom has seen high-profile departures in recent months – among them the respected head of its energy transition department, Mandy Rambharos, who quit to join a US nonprofit. Earlier this year, Riedewaan Barkadien, the chief nuclear officer, resigned after 27 years with Eskom.

In October, Eskom’s board was replaced, and the new directors have been handed the fate of CEO André de Ruyter, who is fighting for his job.

3. Cyberattacks on the rise:

The number of cyberattacks reported in South Africa is on the rise, with malicious campaigns spiking in September, according to cybersecurity company Trellix, and cryptocurrency being the biggest target.

Cybercriminals have redoubled their attacks on both individuals and corporates since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the remote work trend exposing flaws in digital security systems. Incidents of backdoor computer malware in South Africa surged by more than 140% by the middle 2022, coinciding with the presence of new, more evasive ransomware.

Almost 2.8 million country-wide detections were registered by Trellix in October, up more than 16% from the month prior. Cybercriminals’ campaign file detections spiked in September, with the overwhelming majority connected to cryptocurrency.

The most commonly detected campaign in South Africa over the past three months is known as “MyKings Botnet Clipboard Stealer”. Globally, this campaign has been active for the last six years and it is used to steal cryptocurrency through an infected computer. The campaign commonly uses a clipboard-stealer trojan which effectively copies and replaces crypto wallet addresses, diverting cryptocurrency to a wallet belonging to the attackers.

“South Africans seem to have jumped into the crypto world with some vigour. Everywhere I go, the people I speak to, it’s always someone’s got some money in something to do with crypto,” said Carlo Bolzonello, South Africa country lead for Trellix, during a cyberthreat intelligence briefing on Tuesday.

South Africans’ interest in cryptocurrencies is being further exploited by cybercriminals and scammers through pervasive get-rich-quick schemes. Users are often tricked into following links that promote bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies on social media, putting them in danger of phishing scams and even malware installs.

4. Transnet needs to go private:

African Rail Industry Association (Aria) CEO, Mesela Nhlapo, said that Transnet must consider concessioning the core network to the private sector.

She added that there would be no private sector investment in either rail or the upstream economy going forward if there is no third-party access to the network, given the state-owned freight rail company’s failures and poor management.

Nhlapo added that private sector access would stem Transnet losses and inlock billions of rands in investment into critical maintenance.

5. Cannabis – legal limbo:

South Africa remains in a ‘legal limbo’ around cannabis, with the new Cannabis for Private Purpose Bill awaiting finalisation, leaving growers and private users uncertain about the boundaries of the law.

Myrtle Clarke, founder of Green for All, told 702 that the legislative framework remains unclear, with the bill in question becoming a point of contention between lawmakers, private groups and users.

Amendments to the bill proposed by private entities have not been taken into account in the drafting process, Clarke said, adding that the version of the regulations that is open for public comment has come out as being more unconstitutional than they were before the changes.

Currently, the laws allow that cannabis can be used and cultivated within private spaces. However, uncertainty persists about what constitutes “private spaces”, she said – ie, whether your home, car or other owned space is included.

While you can grow and consume cannabis at home, trade remains illegal unless you can get your hands on a licence, which is near-impossible to attain.

Another hole within the current legislative framework around cannabis is that in the landmark ruling by the Constitutional Court that ignited the semi-legalisation of non-medical use – there is no specification on the number of plants one is allowed to grow.

The proposed bill aims to address this, but until laws are in place, everything continues to operate in a legal grey area.

As a result, there are instances where police arrest people with small amounts, arriving at a home claiming that a person has too many plants, said Clarke.

Legal firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr said that as it stands, under the Medicines Act, through an application to the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority, patients can buy and use unregistered medical cannabis products for legitimate, therapeutic purposes.

Adult individuals may legally grow and consume cannabis in private for any reason, as well as purchase it for medical purposes.

You can grow and consume cannabis at home, we do not have too much information about what a private space is. – Myrtle Clarke, Founder of Fields of Green for All

All information sourced from articles posted by: BusinessTech, Fin24, Business Insider, Mail & Guardian, and 702.

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