News in South Africa 28th July:
1. Retrieval of loot underway:
The SAPS, aided by the SANDF, has embarked on a retrieval operation in townships, seeking out looted products and goods.
However, the constitutionality of their actions is being questioned. The police are demanding receipts for anything from appliances and clothing to alcohol – and if residents fail to produce them, the items are confiscated.
Some people are able to show they purchased their items, but those who cannot, end up with nothing. The action has been criticised, with many saying that receipts often get thrown away after purchase, and items like food are being torn away from people who already have little to eat.
One woman, who could show her receipts, was able to convince officers to leave her clothes and appliances. Others could not. They say they are being left with nothing.
2. Mismanaged economy:
South Africa’s economy has been in a bad shape since 2015, with the situation made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic, says the ANC’s head of economic transformation Enoch Godongwana.
While the outlook for 2021 is largely positive, Godongwana says the ANC itself has admitted to ‘dropping the ball’ over the last 10 years.
He stated that two specific issues have been directly detrimental to the economy and are of the government’s ‘own making’.
“The first one is the electricity shortages. It is unacceptable that we have had shortages since 2008 and we continue trying to fix Eskom and electricity supply.
“The second issue has been the weakening of state institutions through various means – including corruption.
“So those issues we must admit have not helped the economy and therefore exacerbated unemployment and poverty issues. Those are the issues that have got to be tackled head-on moving forward.”
Godongwana said that GDP growth does not on its own translate to large employment creation, so extraordinary measures are necessary.
He said that a large number of unemployed South Africans are youth between the ages of 15 and 24. This age group should be in the education system and there should be a focus on preparing these South Africans for the workforce.
Another large group of unemployed South Africans are graduates or have some tertiary education, so the focus should be on transitioning these people to a work environment.
3. Social relief grant till 2022:
Though the social relief of distress grant was helpful in addressing hunger and poverty in SA during the coronavirus pandemic, the system of applying was mired by a number of challenges, a report by the Black Sash revealed.
The report titled “Social Protection in a time of Covid-19: Lessons for a basic income grant” was launched on Tuesday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday announced the return of the R350 social relief of distress grant — known as the “Covid-19 grant” — which will remain in place until the end of March 2022.
The Black Sash said it began monitoring the Covid-19 social relief grant application and distribution process with its partner organisations, including the Community Advice Office of SA (CAOSA) and Social Change Assistance Trust (SCAT). In its research, the Black Sash found that despite SA having 11 official languages, the online application systems were available in English only.
“For many of the people whom the system was meant to help, English is a second, third or fourth language.
According to the Black Sash, despite about 6-million beneficiaries successfully accessing the Covid-19 social relief grant, others were excluded as the programme was mired in a number of challenges.
The challenges include:
- The online system was inaccessible and exclusionary for those with no digital devices, internet access, and digital literacy;
- Asylum seekers and special permit holders became eligible for the grant through the Scalabrini court order in June 2020. However, after the judgment, Sassa had to build a special digital platform to accommodate their identification numbers, and home Affairs had to verify their migrant status. These processes excluded them from receiving the Covid-19 SRD grant immediately. By the end of the 2020 this group had not received a single rand;
- Almost 68% of Covid-19 social relief recipients were men. This was due to the high numbers of women (97% of 7.1-million), who received the child support grant, and qualified for a caregiver’s allowance instead;
- The South African Post Office (Sapo) did not process cash payments efficiently. Branches ran out of cash, their technology often did not work, and long queues were not well-managed; and
- People residing in rural and peri-urban areas encountered far greater challenges in accessing the grant than those living in urban areas.
In the report, the Black Sash contends that the grant was insufficient to alleviate the multiple hardships that individuals and households encountered daily, worsened by the pandemic.
“These include hunger, unemployment, poverty, depression, gender-based violence, inadequate access to water and electricity, and environmental crises such as extreme weather, drought and flooding.”
Researchers also found that applying for the grant on digital online platforms proved difficult for many applicants as there was lack of connectivity, limited or no access to cellphones, computers, cellular networks, data and airtime.
4. Africrypt under investigation:
The South African-born crypto-investigator looking into the alleged Africrypt heist says that the founders’ claims they were hacked and victims of theft do not add up.
There are several aspects to the Africrypt ‘hack’ – reckoned to have lost R43 billion – that have caught the attention of law enforcement authorities across the globe.
The first is the size of the reported theft at $2.9 billion or about R43 billion. It’s a figure so eye-poppingly huge that many have questioned whether this volume of money could have come out of SA.
The other aspect of the theft that has law enforcement on high alert is whether this was the result of a hack – as claimed by Raees and Ameer Cajee, the two brothers behind Africrypt – or whether it was an inside job. The Cajees fled South Africa, apparently in fear of their lives after receiving death threats immediately after the alleged hack.
There are also some disturbing tie-ins between Africrypt and Mirror Trading International (MTI), the crypto scam headed by CEO Johann Steynberg that roped in more than 23 000 bitcoin from hundreds of thousands of investors around the world.
MTI is currently in provisional liquidation, and Steynberg remains at large, having gone awol in December 2020 when MTI members’ requests for withdrawals went unanswered.
5. Shoprite assisting looted communities:
Retailer Shoprite has deployed its Usave Ekasi trucks to the Jabulani community in Soweto shop for essential grocery items after the local mall was destroyed in the recent unrest.
Jabulani Mall, situated in South Africa’s biggest township, Soweto, was one of the many shopping centres damaged by looters when violent rioting and looting took place in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
Since the unrest, some Shoprite stores in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng have not been able to operate. The retailer has been working on restocking and rebuilding its affected stores with plans to reopen as soon as possible.
Until this is done, Africa’s largest retailer has sent in it is mobile trucks to ensure that consumers at least have access to essential products.
“Two Usave eKasi trucks were recently deployed to Jabulani in Soweto to enable community members to purchase basic food items and other necessities until Shoprite Jabulani reopens,” the retailer stated.
The unrest in the country caused a wave of destruction in KwaZulu-Natal and some parts of Gauteng – at least 200 shopping centres were looted and plundered. In addition, 161 malls, eight factories, and 11 warehouses were extensively damaged, according to data compiled by the South African Property Owners Association.
The grocery trucks will next visit the Ratanda community, a township south of Johannesburg, before moving to other affected areas, it said.