News in South Africa 8th October:
1. Pick n Pay warns of profit fall:
Pick n Pay warned that its headline profit will fall by between 50% and 60% in the six months to end-August.
Core retail sales – including food, groceries and general merchandise, but excluding liquor, clothing and tobacco – grew 8.7% year-on-year (6.4% like-for-like), with 9.9% growth in South Africa (7.6% like- for-like).
The Groups liquor and tobacco categories were most affected by government trade restrictions, with full prohibition over liquor sales for 15 weeks of the 26-week trading period, and reduced trading hours for all but the first three weeks of the half-year. The sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products was prohibited between 27 March and 17 August. This inevitably had a profound impact on liquor and tobacco sales, with negative growth of 47.5% over the period.
Clothing sales were prohibited during the Level 5 lockdown, and were subject to some continuing
restrictions under Level 4. The Groups clothing turnover decreased 4.2% in South Africa, delivering
market share gains in key categories.
Group turnover increased by 2.6% year-on-year, as sales of food and groceries rose by almost 10% in South Africa.
2. Unions give Government 14 days:
The country’s largest unions, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), have given government 14 days to respond to their demands.
On Wednesday the labour unions embarked on a national protest against corruption, unemployment, and gender-based violence as well as the government not agreeing to this year’s public sector’s wage.
They say if the government fails to respond in time to the demands, more mass action is on the cards.
Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla says it was a successful day because droves of people hit the streets to join the protest.
3. Former VBS head to do time:
The disgraced former Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of VBS Mutual Bank has agreed to testify against his fellow-accused in the looting of more than R2 billion from the bank.
Phillip Truter was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court sitting in Palm Ridge after he pleaded guilty to charges including corruption, fraud, money laundering, and racketeering.
He’ll spend seven years in jail – three years of his sentence have been suspended for five years in terms of a plea deal with the State.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has said Truter’s testimony will strengthen its case against the other suspects.
4. Criminal crack down:
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss Shamila Batohi has warned that the days of acting with impunity by those who break the law are now “limited”.
Batohi was addressing the parliament portfolio committee for justice and correctional services against the backdrop of high-profile arrests relating to the multimillion-rand asbestos tender in the Free State.
“The wheels of justice are turning. It’s been slow and there have been events in the past week that shows that this is the case [that there is improvement],” she said.
“But chair, let us be frank and candid. This is one tiny, tiny pinpoint of a massive iceberg. There are still huge challenges in this regard.”
She said that after an anti-corruption workshop held last year, directors of public prosecutions were asked to prioritise cases. In total, 33 were identified.
“What is important to note is in addition to the 33 cases, we engaged with the DPCI [Hawks] and they gave us a list. It’s a total of 87 cases that we are focusing on. And today, 26 cases since April 2020 have been enrolled — those that meet this criteria we are talking about,” said Batohi.
She said though 26 may not be a big number, it showed that the wheels of justice were turning.
5. Foschini investing in local factories:
The Foschini Group announced that it is investing in local factories to cut down on its reliance on China.
The Foschini Group (TFG) said yesterday that its switch in focus to local manufacturing had stood it in good stead through the lockdown and the staff complement in these operations could increase by “several thousand” from about 550 over time.
TFG chief executive Anthony Thunström said waiting 180 days for a clothing consignment from China was risky in the current environment, given the delivery could be disrupted by the pandemic and even other factors such as the trade war between the US and China.
Thunström said TFG employed about 550 people in local manufacture, and the group would grow this capacity over time.
He said the group was currently able to make and supply its stores in South Africa with clothing in 42 days, providing opportunity to supplement stock that was selling faster, and also reducing the risk of having too much stock that was not selling that well.