Eastern Cape pushes for alcohol ban as crime, trauma cases spike

  • A report by the Eastern Cape coronavirus command council shows a significant spike in serious violent crime since 1 June. 
  • 3 145 violent criminal cases reported at the province’s 197 police stations since the move to Level 3 lockdown.
  • Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba reported that the province’s trauma units have been stretched by patients with alcohol-related injuries.

In the space of seven days, more than 3 000 violent criminal cases were opened at the Eastern Cape’s 197 police stations, with the province’s Health MEC saying trauma units are under increased pressure due to alcohol-related injuries since the move to Level 3.

The Eastern Cape provincial coronavirus command council revealed in a report on Monday that there has been a significant spike in serious, violent crimes since the country moved to Level 3 lockdown on 1 June, which allowed for the sale of liquor.

This, as Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane announced that he would be petitioning the national government to reinstate the alcohol ban in his province to contain the spread of Covid-19.

A total of 3 145 cases were reported in the province since June. Among the crimes are:

– 77 reported rape cases;

– 94 murders;

– 354 assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm; and

– 25 culpable homicide cases.

There were also 354 cases of attempted murder opened at the province’s 197 police stations. The report noted that the crimes coincided with the opening of the liquor trade.

“The total number of cases reported during the same period is 3 145 but the above is of a serious nature [and] can be directly or indirectly linked to the abuse of liquor,” the province’s report revealed.

There were also 51 drunk driving cases opened; 25 cases of driving under the influence where someone was injured, while there were 26 cases where no one was hurt during the accidents.

Surge in trauma cases

On Monday Eastern Cape Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba reported a surge in a number trauma cases at the province’s 91 hospitals and more than 700 clinics, saying this was due to alcohol-related accidents.

“Unfortunately, with the sale of alcohol allowed again, we have seen a surge in the number of trauma cases at our hospitals. At Frere Hospital alone there were 67 trauma cases over the weekend. These are all related to the sale of alcohol. It is the same in all other facilities as well.

READ | Booze ban: Mabuyane to push for alcohol ban in the Eastern Cape

“This is why I want to make a plea to the people of the Eastern Cape to drink responsibly. When they over-indulge, that has been proven to result in car accidents, stabbings, and general violence which adds more pressure to our already over-stretched doctors and nurses,” said Gomba.

“We all need to be responsible and not abuse alcohol or else our healthcare system might be overwhelmed because of the number of trauma cases and Covid-19.”

‘Enforce the law instead’

The province’s liquor licensing authority – the Eastern Cape Liqour Board – has threatened to clamp down on irresponsible drinkers and non-complying traders following the spike in crime.

The Eastern Cape Black Business Forum has slammed the proposed call for another ban of alcohol and urged law enforcers to crack down on those who drink and misbehave instead.

On Tuesday, the forum’s secretary, Luthando Bara said: “Does alcohol contribute to the spread of the virus? No. Does it cause the body to weaken its ability to deal with the virus? No. Which leaves us with only one variable. Alcohol causes people to congregate. If law enforcement agencies are doing their job of ensuring that people do not congregate but consume alcohol at home, then alcohol cannot be said to be a contributing factor.”

“It is way too late in any case to stop alcohol usage, the horse has bolted. Even the suggestion that the province intends to lobby for a ban of the sale of alcohol, panic buying, overstocking and bootlegging will follow and will not address the main issue without proper policing and enforcement.”

He said the BBF’s view is that the government must do what it has to do which is to strengthen both communication – to consume at home and enforcement – and to not congregate or drink and drive.

Article by News24

Article by Financial Mail

Sloppy science taints Dlamini-Zuma’s tobacco court defence

The government believes that banning cigarettes will force people to quit; that 95% of smokers do so successfully without help; and that smoking cigarettes makes contracting Covid-19 more likely.

These claims are part of the “scientific” reasons for banning tobacco contained in the government’s court papers. The trouble is, they’re simply not true.

The government and minister of co-operative governance & traditional affairs Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma were forced to provide reasons for the ban on tobacco sales by the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita), which has challenged the ban in court. The case starts this morning, in the judge’s chambers, and in court tomorrow.

In a supplementary affidavit provided for Fita, psychiatrist Mike West, who specialises in treating people with addictions, dismantles the government’s arguments.

West says people trying to stop smoking need support or licensed medication, and that the data shows that people “under significant stress” are twice as likely to fail in their quit attempts. (West was not paid for his work.)

But his analysis exposes how the government’s arguments include flawed estimates of how many SA smokers will get Covid-19, incorrect study references, false claims, outdated science from the 1990s, and studies cherry-picked to show the negative effects of smoking on Covid-19.

In its opening argument, the government claims smoking tobacco increases the risk of contracting the coronavirus. “The evidence is that the use of tobacco increases … the risks of transmission,” it says.

However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) itself says there is “no evidence” to show this. Instead, the WHO’s scientific brief on Covid-19 and smoking says the risk of smokers getting the disease, or of being more susceptible to landing up in hospital, has not been investigated. “There are currently no peer-reviewed studies that have evaluated the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection among smokers,” it states.

One claim made by the government is that smokers are more likely to get Covid-19 because they move their hands to their mouths more often. West responds that anyone who eats also puts their hands near their mouths, and no evidence exists that repetitive hand-to-mouth actions are linked to more Covid-19 infections.

Elsewhere, the government references Asian studies that did indeed find worse outcomes among hospitalised smokers with Covid-19. West took the time to match the government’s scientific references and twice it quotes the wrong study to back up its claims. He fixes its citations.

One study done in China by Fei Zhou and printed in The Lancet, which the government cites, showed that there was no difference between the rates of death of smokers or nonsmokers. However, the government doesn’t quote that conclusion.

The government also argues that the lockdown has caused 88% of people to quit smoking, based on data from the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). However, a study done by University of Cape Town (UCT) researchers found that 90% of smokers surveyed obtained tobacco anyway during the lockdown, but on the black market.

The government says in its court papers that 95% of people who stop smoking don’t need any assistance, pharmaceutical or otherwise; this claim is based on a book it says was written in 2012.

However, West found that the book was actually written in 1990, when little medication to stop quitting was available.

“The author states that 95% of smokers who successfully quit have done so on their own without any support. It is worth noting that in 1990, the only available supports were counselling and nicotine gum, the latter of which is not often successful when used in isolation,” he says.

West says the known interventions to help people stop smoking were developed after the book was written.

“Nicotine patches were only introduced in the 1990s, and the medications bupropion and varenicline only received approval in 1997 and 2006, respectively … It is no wonder that 95% of patients quit without support — there simply wasn’t any support available in 1990,” he says.

Elsewhere, the government’s statistics seem shaky. It quotes the HSRC as saying that 1% of SA’s 8-million smokers will get Covid-19, which amounts to 80,000 people. Of these, it says, 10% – or 8,000 people – will need intensive care treatment. However, the HSRC provided no study to corroborate these numbers.

West says: “On further enquiry with Priscilla Reddy from the HSRC, I was informed [those] figures were, ‘conservative estimates that were guided by prevalence and infection rate studies such as the seroprevalence studies conducted in several countries and districts’”.

He says Reddy “did not elect to share or reference any of these studies”.

Yet those HSRC numbers contradict other models. For example, the SA Covid-19 Modelling Consortium estimates that about 4% of symptomatic patients will require intensive care — not 10%.

Another argument made by the government is that banning cigarettes will reduce people sharing cigarettes – or “zol” – and thus sharing saliva. But if cigarettes on the black market are 90% more expensive, as the UCT study found, the likelihood of people sharing a smoke actually increases.

There were other noticeable errors in the government’s court papers. For example, it claims Israel banned cigarette sales during Covid-19 (it didn’t) and that SA has 4,000 ventilators (it doesn’t).

One area where West concedes there is some evidence is that smokers who do end up in hospital are more ill and are more likely to need a ventilator, as seen in Chinese studies.

But even here, the WHO cautions that the evidence is of poor quality, since the studies didn’t look to see if smokers who needed intensive care were also overweight, older, male or with uncontrolled diabetes – all known risk factors for Covid-19 complications.

West says the same: “The literature referenced in the response in support of these statements is either nonexistent, or of low to very low quality.”

He then explains that studies on smokers in intensive care are limited: “Some studies do not differentiate between current and past smokers, none of the data sets stratify smokers according to pack-year-history (a measure of quantity in duration of smoking).”

This matters, since newer studies appear to show that current smokers are less likely to die than former smokers from Covid-19, though no one knows whether or not this is just an anomaly.

Much of the government’s argument details the harm of tobacco and severely increased risk of lung cancer, heart disease, and low birth weight of babies born to smoking moms. This is not disputed by Fita.

But it is not clear what curbing these side effects of smoking have to do with controlling the spread of Covid-19 specifically.

While smoking is obviously bad for people, and it can lead to worse outcomes if smokers land in hospital with severe Covid-19, the government’s court documents appear to be a haze of outdated science, sloppy references and leaps of logic in contradiction to the WHO.

Article by Financial Mail

This is who is paying tax in South Africa

Finance minister Tito Mboweni has published new data on how South Africa’s tax statistics have changed over the last five years.

Responding as part of a written parliamentary Q&A, Mbonweni’s data indicates that there has been a clear decrease in persons submitting Personal Income Tax (PIT) while the number of Corporates submitting returns (CIT) has increased.

Despite this shift, provisional tax data published by SARS in April shows that Personal Income Tax (PIT) is still a key source of revenue.

In 2019/2020 the revenue collector collected a gross amount of R1.6 trillion, which was offset by refunds of R291.9 billion, resulting in net collections of R1.35 trillion.

This represents growth of R68.2 billion (5.3%) against the 2018/19 financial year, the revenue collector said.

SARS noted that the main sources of revenue that contributed to the R1.35 trillion collected were:

  • Personal Income Tax (PIT) contributed R528.9 billion (39%);
  • Value-Added Tax (VAT) contributing R346.6 billion (25.6%);
  • Company Income Tax (CIT), contributed R214.7 billion (15.8%);
  • Customs duties contributed R55.4 billion (4.1%).

The below table, provided by Mboweni, shows the total number of persons who submitted personal tax returns in each of the past five tax years.

The below table shows the total amount of tax paid by personal taxpayers in each of the last five tax years.

The final tables show the total number of companies that submitted corporate tax returns in each of the past five tax years and the total amount of tax paid by corporate entities in each specified tax year.

Demographics

South Africa’s annual tax statistics published at the end of 2019 also provides interesting data on who is paying South Africa’s Personal Income Tax.

SARS’ data shows that:

  • 2,680,449 (54.5%) of assessed taxpayers were male taxpayers; 2,236,580 (45.5%) were female;
  • 1,342,511 (27.3%) of assessed taxpayers were aged 35 to 44 years; and
  • 1,976,674 (40.2%) of assessed taxpayers were registered in Gauteng, of which 636,460 lived in the Johannesburg Metro and were taxed on an average taxable income of R446,838.

This graph shows how income tax collection looks distributed geographically:

This graph shows how income tax collection is distributed between males and females:

This graph shows how income tax collection is distributed across broad income groups:

This table shows how income tax collection is distributed across narrow income groups:

Article by BusinessTech

U-turn – You will not be arrested for transporting alcohol after hours

No, you will not be arrested for transporting booze after hours, including Friday, Saturday, Sunday and any public holiday.

The U-turn comes just days after SA police spokesperson Brig Vish Naidoo issued a stern warning to the public, saying anyone caught transporting alcohol after 5pm on Thursday and before 9am on Monday will be charged with violating the National Disaster Act.

“Between Monday at 9am and Thursday at 5pm is the only time people are allowed to purchase and transport alcohol for their personal use,” Naidoo said. “Any other time beyond that will be a contravention of the regulations. People must be warned.”

Speaking to TimesLIVE on Thursday, Johannesburg metro police spokesperson Wayne Minnaar said an exception to the transporting of alcohol from one place to another would be made for licensed traders only.

“Permits are for dealers and not for individuals who make private purchases,” said Minnaar.

However, the warning on transportation is no longer valid.

According to a specialist attorney in liquor law, Danie Cronje, Naidoo has retracted his statement.

In a post shared on LinkedIn, Cronje said Naidoo confirmed that members of the public can transport liquor at any time. It was only the purchase booze after hours that was restricted to the days and times referred to in the regulation, said Cronje.

“We can confirm that Naidoo said it is not an offence for members of the public to transport liquor on any day or at any time,” he said.

“Naidoo stated that members of the public are not encouraged to transport liquor during times when liquor may not be purchased as this opens the risk for dealing in liquor outside the prescribed times, but he emphasised that it is not a crime for a member of the public to transport liquor outside these hours,” Cronje added.

peaking to TimesLIVE, Cronje said members of the public cannot be arrested should they be found to have alcohol in their vehicles.

“There is nothing in the regulations that prohibits the transportation of liquor by members of the public.

“I can’t say the police won’t arrest you because they often interpret the regulations incorrectly, but based on the regulation there is no contravention,” he said.

TimesLIVE made several attempts to get a comment from Naidoo. At the time of publishing this article, a response had not been received.

The latest Government Gazette, which officially explains the sale, dispensing and  transportation of liquor, states that the sale of liquor at any licensed premises or through e-commerce delivery is permitted only from Monday to Thursday between 9am and 5pm.

The transportation and distribution of liquor to licensed premises is permitted, subject to directions which may be issued by the relevant cabinet member.

Article by TimesLive

SA may be getting new rules on what qualifies as a bicycle – with big implications for e-bikes

  • A new draft law seeks to change the definition of a bicycle in South Africa, to include e-bikes – but only if they can go no faster than 25km/h.
  • And e-bikes that go faster than 45km/h may require a licence to drive, just like a motorbike.
  • That could have implications for safety, insurance, who gets to use bike lanes, and how legally dangerous it will be to overclock an e-bike.


    South Africa will be getting a new definition of what qualifies as a bicycle, if the transport department gets its way.

    The National Road Traffic Amendment Bill, published this week, notably seeks to set the drunk-driving limit in South Africa to zero, potentially meaning drivers will have to watch what they drink the night before getting behind the wheel to go to work.

    But it also, for the first time, brings e-bikes into road legislation, in a fashion that has everyone from insurance experts to e-bike importers taking notice.

    The draft law proposes broadening the definition of a “pedal cycle”, which currently allows two or three wheels but no motor, to include bicycles with both pedals and an electric motor.

    There is a limit, though: that motor may not be capable of propelling the bicycle or tricycle unassisted at a speed not exceeding 25km/h.

    Separately, the definition of what qualifies as a “motor vehicle” is also altered. If passed in its current form, an exclusion for e-bikes from being considered motor vehicles will drop away as soon as they have a “maximum design speed” of more than 45 km/h.

    That could see moderately fast e-bikes banned from areas reserved for bicycles, such as cycle lanes, while requiring motorcycle-type licensing for both the vehicles and their riders if they can go fast enough.

    Bicycles may go faster – but they’re lighter.

    Those kinds of speeds are not unusual on bicycles that come with no electrical help at all, says David Maree, a professional rider and a rider representative at Cycling SA. But there’s a crucial safety difference between a cyclist barrelling down a hill at 70km/h and someone on an e-bike going at similar speeds, he says.

    “With a bicycle you’re looking at 7kg, that e-bike is 20kg to 30kg, and the momentum isn’t the same. If you hit someone with a 7kg bike you are still doing damage, but it is nothing like what you do with a 20kg bike.”

    While Maree can see a safety argument for limiting e-bike speeds, he is not clear on how it would be policed. He himself deals in “de-restricting” e-bikes, allowing them to go faster than their manufacturers intend – often to meet criteria such as South Africa’s draft limits.

    But many buyers in the  growing e-bike sector may stick to governing limits built into their bikes, he believes, which may reduce injuries.

    Enforcement aside, bringing e-bikes into the realm of motor vehicles will very likely cause trouble with it comes to insurance – and the Road Accident Fund (RAF), says Gert Nel, a specialist personal-injury lawyer who happens to have a keen interest in cycling.

    “Somewhere someone is going to get hurt, and then questions will arise,” says Nel. Questions such as: if someone is injured by an e-bike designed to go faster than 45km/h, does that person have a claim against the RAF? If so, will that hasten a nearly inevitable process to move funding for the RAF away from being drawn via a petrol levy, leaving electric vehicles as non-contributors even while they are covered by the RAF?

    That will likely only be settled by a court once the first such incident occurs, Nel says. In the meanwhile, changes may start to seep in at the level of municipal bylaws and rules relating to specific, pedestrian-safe spaces as e-bikes pick up speed.

    “The ordinary guy on the street sees e-bikes as bicycles until they start going so fast that they seem to be a danger and people get uncomfortable,” says Nel.

    “That’s when we’ll see regulation.”

Article by BusinessInsider

ANC and unions plan to use private pensions to fund South Africa’s growth

An alliance between South Africa’s ruling party and labour unions is pushing for the mobilization of domestic pension funds to drive economic growth and urging caution about borrowing money from international financial institutions.

A discussion document dated 25 May, prepared for meetings of the alliance members, cited the use of so-called prescribed assets during the apartheid era to fund infrastructure.

South Africa has been ruled by the African National Congress, which is in an informal alliance with the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party, since white-minority rule ended in 1994.

Attempts to fuel growth “must include a large drive toward domestic resource mobilization from both the public and private sectors,” according to the document seen by Bloomberg and verified by Cosatu.

Measures taken must include “among others, impact investments, interchangeably developmental and productive-asset investment requirements,” it said.

The alliance encouraged the use of both privately managed pensions and civil-servant retirement funds administered by the state-owned Public Investment Corp.

South Africa’s economy is forecast by the country’s central bank to contract 7% this year as a result of the coronavirus outbreak and the loss of the last investment-grade rating on the nation’s debt.

While South Africa has shunned the use of funds from institutions such as the International Monetary Fund in the democratic era, labour groups have now backed the government’s approach to the lender to seek $4.2 billion from its Covid-19 relief facility.

“International finance should therefore only be accepted if the conditions do not undermine, compromise or subvert South Africa’s national sovereignty, democracy or independence,” the document said.

It should “neither interfere with our domestic development policies and goals nor our fundamental right to self-determination,” it said.

Article by BusinessTech

No more Covid-19 testing if you’re younger than 55

Health officials in the Cape Metro will now only test for Covid-19 in people with comorbidities that are older than 55.

Everyone who accesses a health facility will get screened but only those who have symptoms and fall in the following categories will be tested:

  • People already in hospital with Covid-19 symptoms.
  • Health care workers with Covid-19 symptoms.
  • People who are older than 55 with diabetes or hypertension and Covid-19 symptoms.
  • People who are younger than 55 with underlying conditions and Covid-19 symptoms.
  • People who live in a care home or an old age home with Covid-19 symptoms.

Pippa Hudson asked Dr Keith Cloete (Head of Health at the Western Cape Department of Health) why the approach to testing has changed.

We want to reduce mortality… our focus turns away from people least at risk… we want to preserve tests for where it makes the most difference…

Dr Keith Cloete, Head of Health – Western Cape Department of Health

If you’re younger than 55 and you have symptoms, assume you have Covid-19… After 14 days, you’ll be fine… There’s no purpose in getting a test.

Dr Keith Cloete, Head of Health – Western Cape Department of Health

Screening is vital…

Dr Keith Cloete, Head of Health – Western Cape Department of Health

In other areas, you can still get tested. In the Metro, we’re at the point that we’re [only] looking at the vulnerable.

Dr Keith Cloete, Head of Health – Western Cape Department of Health

 

Article by Capetalk

Lockdown regulations declared invalid and unconstitutional by high court

The high court has ruled that government’s lockdown regulations are not legal but they will nevertheless remain in place for at least the next 14 days.

Government spokesperson Phumla Williams said on Tuesday evening that government had taken note of the judgment delivered by the Gauteng Division of the High Court today declaring the Alert Level 4 and Alert Level 3 Lockdown regulations unconstitutional and invalid.

Judge Norman Davis ruled in favour of Liberty Fighters Network, the Hola Bona Renaissance Foundation and attorney Reyno de Beer, after the group launched an urgent court challenge to the regulations.

The judge found that “little or in fact no regard was given to the extent of the impact of individual regulations on the constitutional rights of people and whether the extent of the limitation of their rights was justifiable or not”.

“The starting point was not ‘How can we as government limit constitutional rights in the least possible fashion whilst still protecting the inhabitants of South Africa?’ but rather ‘We will seek to achieve our goal by whatever means, irrespective of the costs, and we will determine, albeit incrementally, which constitutional rights you as the people of South Africa, may exercise,’” he said.

“The examples are too numerous to mention,” he said. “One need only to think of the irrationality in being allowed to buy a jersey but not undergarments or open-toed shoes and the criminalisation of many of the regulatory measures.”

Still, he said, some provisions passed muster.

“The cautionary regulations relating to education, prohibitions against evictions, initiation practices and the closures of night clubs and fitness centres, for example, as well as the closure of borders all appear to be rationally connected to the stated objectives,” Davis said.

Those regulations were unaffected by the order handed down.

The regulations around the ban on tobacco were also not affected, since those are subject to separate court challenges.

In terms of the remainder, the declaration of invalidity was suspended for 14 days, with the judge saying one must “be mindful of the fact that the Covid-19 danger is still with us … and to create a regulatory void might lead to unmitigated disaster and chaos”.

In the interim, he directed Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, in consultation with the relevant ministers, to review, amend, and republish the regulations with “due consideration to the limitation each regulation has on the rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights”.

Accountability Now’s Paul Hoffman SC said the judge had been careful to give government 14 days to remedy the lack of rationality of the measures he had declared unconstitutional and invalid.

“Either government is going to accept that Judge Davis is right and they are going to fix the regulations and make them rational or take the judgment on appeal,” Hoffman said.

He said in the case of the latter, there would likely be an argument about whether the relief granted should be suspended pending the outcome of the appeal.

Hoffman explained that the judgment did not have to be referred to the Constitutional Court for confirmation, though, because the high court was empowered to set aside regulations.

Cabinet said it would make a further statement once it had fully studied the judgment.

In a separate 170-page affidavit filed last month, the Democratic Alliance said the party opposed the “draconian” limitations on the rights of South Africans that came at great economic cost. However, this judgment is not related to the DA’s court case.

DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach said at the time: “I am advised that … the regime under the Covid regulations resembles a state of emergency, but is not subject to the same safeguards,” adding that Dlamini-Zuma had broad and intrusive regulatory powers that were not subject to parliamentary oversight.

She argued that, had Ramaphosa declared a state of emergency, this would have only empowered him for 21 days, unless an extension was given by National Assembly approval through a 60% majority vote.

“Under a state of emergency, the president may promulgate emergency regulations as are necessary of expedient to restore peace and order, but must make adequate provisions for terminating the state of emergency. The Cogta minister is not required by the DMA to describe how we will return to something resembling normality and in the Covid regulations, she has not.”

Breytenbach added that, under a state of emergency, Ramaphosa must table emergency regulations in parliament, while the Disaster Management Act did not require any parliamentary oversight.

“In short, the regime under Level 4 Covid regulations resemble a state of emergency in material respects, but it’s not subject to the same safeguards. The Covid regulations, and all of the directions issues under them, may thus be unconstitutional in their entirety.”

She challenged the court to consider the consequences of Ramaphosa’s decision, arguing that under a state of emergency, Sections 37(4) of the Constitution permitted legislation that derogated certain rights in the Bill of Rights. Lockdown regulations may not derogate any rights, she said.

Breytenbach said that, if the courts deemed these unlawful, irrational, unreasonable and disproportionate, “the court is required to declare them to be unlawful and set them aside, and is empowered by Section 172(1)(b) of the Constitution to make any other order that is just and equitable”.

Article by TheCitizen

South African Airways Seeking R21 Billion in State Bailout

The administrators running South Africa’s embattled national airline proposed the government provide a 21 billion rand ($1.2 billion) bailout to help repay debt and resume operations after the lifting of Covid-19 travel bans.

The plan includes about 17 billion rand that will go toward repaying South African Airways creditors, the bulk of which was allocated by the National Treasury earlier this year, according to a draft copy seen by Bloomberg. A further 4 billion rand is needed for retrenchments and working capital, the proposal says.

The draft plan “is for discussion purposes only and we await comment from the affected persons,” a spokeswoman for the administrators said, adding that the team has until June 8 to finalize a rescue proposal. South Africa’s Public Enterprises Ministry, which is responsible for SAA, said it hasn’t yet discussed the plan and no decisions have been taken.

While the funding agreement has yet to be finalized, a deal of this nature would represent a truce between the government and SAA’s business-rescue team over the airline’s future. The administrators, appointed in December, had an earlier request for state funding rejected in April, and subsequently proposed firing the entire workforce to stave off liquidation.

Bright Future

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan strongly objected to that plan, and announced his ambitions for the creation of a new airline at the start of the month. President Cyril Ramaphosa reiterated the government’s intention to revive SAA on Sunday, saying he sees a bright future for the carrier.

South Africa’s National Treasury put aside 16.4 billion rand to repay SAA’s creditors in February’s budget, although the funding has yet to be handed over. The carrier’s two biggest commercial lenders are Johannesburg-based rivals Nedbank Ltd. and Absa Group Ltd., according to the rescue plan. A short-term loan of 2 billion rand from a consortium of banks comes due by the end of July, as does a 3.5 billion-rand financing package from the Development Bank of Southern Africa.

SAA’s commercial passenger planes have been grounded since late March, when the government closed borders for non-urgent travel to contain the coronavirus. Some domestic flights are being allowed to operate as of Monday for business purposes, though SAA had previously reduced its local services to a single Johannesburg-Cape Town route.

The administrators said they had identified two potential strategic investment partners before the Covid-19 pandemic brought the international aviation industry to its knees. A third company had shown an interest in forming an alliance, according to the draft plan. All talks are on hold while the industry recovers.

Article by Bloomberg

‘Not all schools were ready to open’: Angie Motshekga

Basic education minister Angie Motshekga said on Monday the reopening of schools had to be postponed at the 11th hour because some were not ready to operate.

“Due to last minute changes, on Saturday we had a meeting with the CEM [council of education ministers] and union bodies. The decision we took on Saturday forced me to do a series of consultations on Sunday,” Motshekga said on Monday, apologising for the postponement.

The minister had engaged heads of department, teacher unions, school governing bodies, NGOs and organisations working with children who had special needs.

“On Saturday, we met and we received three critical reports – one on the state of readiness. We also received a report from Rand Water

“I also had to receive reports from different provinces. Based on those reports, it was clear the sector was at different stages of readiness,” said Motshekga.

She confirmed that schools would reopen next Monday.

She said this week would be used to induct teachers and to “mop up” in order to comply with the safety standards necessary to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

This week would be used to deliver protective equipment and water tanks to schools that needed them, Motshekga said.

On Sunday evening,  Motshekga’s office announced the postponement of a scheduled media briefing in which she was to update the nation about the readiness of schools as pupils in grades 7 and 12 were due to return to school.

Parents expressed their frustration about the last-minute U-turn, with many having already made arrangements to get their children back to class from June 1.

Article by TimesLive