Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 95 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 2.03 million. In South Africa, there have been 12,267 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,337,926. Deaths have reached 37,105 (a daily increase of 254), while recoveries have climbed to 1,098,441, leaving the country with a balance of 202,380 active cases.
Load shedding: Stage 2 load shedding resumes on Monday from 05h00, with no indication of an end time.
- Expunged: Government plans to put a process in place to expunge criminal records as a result of breaking South Africa’s Covid-19 laws – but it has no intention to do it any time soon, and especially not during the current second wave. The justice department said that South Africans need a proper deterrent to convince them to obey the laws, and just paying a fine isn’t going to cut it. Criminal records attained from breaking lockdown laws persist for 10 years, and prevent you from getting a job and travelling to some countries. [ENCA]
- Bad banks: Evidence has been submitted in an ongoing court battle against major SA banks, showing how they auction off repossessed properties for a fraction of their market values. A sample of 12,000 properties sold at auction revealed that most were sold at between 50%-60% of their market value, while in the worst cases, some were sold at 17% of their value. Some sold for just 1%. The class action suit is seeking to recoup billions of rands lost to this practice. The banks have yet to file a response. [Moneyweb]
- Top rot: Two senior SAPS officials, who were in charge of investigating and suspending the crime intelligence head over PPE tender irregularities, are now themselves being investigated for being a part of the R200 million PPE tender corruption that has plagued the SAPS. It is alleged that the officials were in charge when various PPE contracts were signed with brokers -not suppliers – just days after the relief was announced. [Daily Maverick]
- Lockdown laws: Industries are struggling to stick to the latest lockdown laws, as the practicality of the regulations are brought into question. One of the biggest to be hit is the taxi industry, with operators saying they cannot afford to do the strict cleaning and sanitisation routines required by the law, not without the promised support from government. One of the conditions to get access to the funding is to formalise their operations. [TimesLive]
- Markets: Markets are steady heading into the new week as Chinese GDP provides some solace, adding 6.5% year-on-year, while Chinese retail sales missed the mark. This week will see the inauguration of Joe Biden as the US president, as well as interest rate decisions by both the SARB and ECB. It’s a dollar holiday today as the US celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The rand starts the day at R15.23 to the dollar, R18.39 to the euro and R20.69 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]