News in South Africa 22nd December:

1. Warning over crime spike during holidays:

While many law-abiding South Africans are taking a break from the hustle and bustle of their typical work routines at this time of the year, it is essential to remember that some criminals won’t be relaxing over the festive season.

Warning over crime spike during holidays
Image taken by: kat wilcox

The holiday period brings plenty of opportunities for all manner of crimes.

Because burglars and robbers are aware many people will be leaving their homes for an extended time, the suburbs could be a prime target.

Wahl Bartmann, CEO of private security company Fidelity ADT, stated that there had been an increase in house break-ins from criminals looking for fast-moving goods like jewellery and electronics.

Meanwhile, Bull Security operations manager French Jooste said his company had seen a rise in follow-home robberies. Furthermore, petty crime within residential neighbourhoods was also picking up.

Citing the Unisa School of Criminal Justice’s research into house robberies, Bartmann pointed to several trends in South African house robberies that people needed to be aware of:

  • Most attacks occur between 19:00 and midnight as people relax, sleep, cook or watch TV, and the security systems and beams are not activated.
  • Robberies can continue until 04:00. 
  • An average of 30% of all house robbers have committed murder or won’t hesitate to commit murder.
  • The average age of a house robber was 19 to 26 years of age
  • On average, an armed robbery gang had four members.
  • 97% of robbers were armed.

The research also revealed that robbers could monitor the home for as long as two weeks before striking.

Jooste advised homeowners to check for house markings ⁠— including objects that might appear to be rubbish ⁠— and suspicious vehicles in their street, which should be reported immediately.

In addition, newspapers or flyers lying outside could give away that you are not at home. Asking a reliable neighbour to collect them could help with this.

2. Wage Commission recommends 20% increase:

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) Commission has published its adjustment proposals for 2022, recommending an increase slightly above inflation.

As of March 2021, the minimum wage in South Africa is R21.69 for each working hour. The commission has recommended an increase of CPI+1%, which would take the new rate to R23 per hour.

The inflation rate (measured by CPI) as of October 2021 was 5%, so the adjustment should be about 6%, the commission said. The actual amount, however, will depend on the inflation in the month in which the adjustment takes effect.

Domestic workers are expected to benefit from the proposed adjustments for 2022, with the commission recommending that domestic worker salaries be increased to 100% of the National Minimum Wage.

Under the Act, the minimum wage for domestic workers was initially set at 75% of the National Minimum Wage in 2020. The Commission proposed that it be increased to 88% of the national minimum wage in 2021 and to 100% in 2022.

“As a result, the minimum wage for domestic workers in 2021 came to R19.09 per hour. The equalisation of the domestic sector was proposed in 2020 by the Commission, wherein there was a minority report proposing a phased-in approach.

“In line with its earlier proposal, the Commission recommends that the minimum wage of domestic workers be increased to the national minimum wage in 2022,” it said.

This would bring the minimum wage for domestic workers to R23 per hour – a 20% increase from R19.09 in 2021 – or approximately R3,700 a typical work month (20 days, 8 hours a day).

There is a minority view in the commission’s proposal that the national minimum wage be increased by a slightly higher CPI+1.5%.

While the move to bring more workers in line with 100% of the NMW is a positive stride, unions and other critics of the policy have argued that it remains a poverty wage, as it is below the upper-bound food poverty line for an average-size family.

The food poverty line in South Africa is at R624.00 per person per month, or R2,188 for the average-sized household (which has between three and four members). The food poverty line covers only the resources required to meet the minimum required daily energy intake.

The lower-bound poverty line is at R890 per person per month or about R3,115 for an average-sized household. This poverty line encompasses a minimum of non-food essentials in addition to the food poverty line.

3. EU restrictions could cost SA R25bn:

The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) in an open letter to the head of the European Union Delegation, Riina Kionka, has called for the resumption of travel between European Union countries and South Africa, saying the country’s tourism sector could lose billions in revenue should it continue.

In the letter released on Tuesday, TBCSA CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa notes that the country’s tourism sector stands to lose €1.4 billion (about R25 billion) if the travel ban continues.

Tshivhengwa says the ban – which was instated on November 25 – had already cost the sector around €51 million (about R911.7 million) in international booking cancellations in just the first two days.

“We know already that when the travel ban was announced on 25th November our sector lost €51 million in the first 48 hours due to cancelled international bookings.

“I cannot overstate the negative impact this travel ban is having on our industry, local communities, and conservation efforts, particularly over our all-important Christmas holiday period,” he writes.

This latest travel ban by the EU on South Africa comes after the discovery of the Omicron Covid-19 variant.

However, the council argues that given that community transmissions of the variant have increased in more than 50 countries around the world, the persistence of the EU in maintaining the ban serves no use in slowing down infection rates.

“We are now calling for the EU to reinstate travel between South Africa and your countries on the basis that high infection rates in over 50 countries across the world mean a person is as likely to catch the omicron variant in Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels or Paris or as they are in Johannesburg or Cape Town,” writes Tshivhengwa.

He argues the travel bans “have become redundant in the face of this reality”.

4. US to lift travel ban for SA:

Travel bans imposed on South Africa immediately following the discovery of the Omicron variant gave the United States enough time to “figure out what was going on” but will be lifted “pretty soon” according to top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci.

South Africa’s detection of the Omicron variant at the end of November was meant to perform a global service in the interest of public health amid the coronavirus pandemic. It was, instead, rewarded with a flurry of travel bans, described as unscientific and discriminatory, imposed by almost 70 countries in the weeks that followed.

Now, almost a month since South Africa first raised the Omicron alarm, the variant has been detected in at least 89 countries. It’s become the dominant variant in England and Scotland, which only recently rescinded restrictions on travellers departing from South Africa. Omicron also now accounts for 73% of cases in the United States.

Despite Omicron dominating cases in the US, as in South Africa, the travel ban has held firm. Only returning citizens, or those who qualify for specific exemptions, are allowed to enter the US.

But this is likely to change soon, according to the US’ top advisor on the Covid-19 pandemic, Fauci.

“I think when you get to the point when there’s enough of a virus in your own country, it doesn’t really make any sense of trying to keep it out, because this [Omicron] is spreading so rapidly right now,” Fauci said at the National Press Club on Monday.

“In the beginning, if you want to buy some time, when you have very little [Omicron] if any in your own country, which is what we did with the southern African countries, to give us a chance to regroup and figure out what was going on, that made sense.

“We’re likely going to pull back on that pretty soon, because we have enough [Omicron] infection in our own country and we’re letting in people from other countries that have as much or more infection than the southern African countries.”

5. Record-busting stocks:

As it closes in on its best year since 2012, South Africa’s benchmark stock index is set for more gains on the back of a weakening rand, attractive valuations and supportive monetary policy.

The FTSE/JSE Africa All Share Index has posted multiple record highs as it climbed almost 20% this year, compared with a 7% retreat for the MSCI Emerging Market Index, as of Tuesday morning. In dollar terms, the Johannesburg gauge is up more than 10%, led by the travel and leisure sector and telecommunications companies.

With inflation still within the central bank’s target range, investors are betting policy makers won’t raise rates aggressively as they continue to support a fragile economy emerging from the pandemic. Accommodative policy together with a weaker rand – which boosts index heavyweights with foreign-currency earnings – may help sustain index gains, even as the Federal Reserve cuts back stimulus.

“We have a positive outlook for South African equities in 2022, expecting double-digit returns,” said Jonathan Kennedy-Good, a Johannesburg-based analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co. “Above-trend GDP growth and still low  – albeit gently rising – rates in South Africa should help equity returns. A weaker rand should boost off-shore earnings over domestics.”

Even after this year’s gains, valuations on the FTSE/JSE Africa All Share Index remain well below those of emerging-market peers. That presents buying opportunities for Allan Gray, South Africa’s largest privately owned money manager.

“The number one factor we think is always valuation,” said Tim Acker, a Cape Town-based portfolio manager at Allan Gray. “We are actually finding quite a lot of attractive opportunities, which makes us optimistic about the prospect for future returns.”


All information sourced from articles posted by: MyBroadband, BusinessTech, Moneyweb, Business Insider, and Fin24.

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