Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 153.5 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 3.22 million. In South Africa, there have been 1,222 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,584,064. Deaths have reached 54,417 (+11), while recoveries have climbed to 1,507,778, leaving the country with a balance of 21,869 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 318,670 (+0).
- Vaccines: South Africa has received its first batch of Pfizer vaccines, with a batch of 325,000 doses arriving in the country at midnight. More shipments are expected in the coming weeks, to make a total of 1.3 million by the end of the month, and 4.5 million by June. South Africa’s vaccine rollout is still in its first phase, with phase 2 expected to start in the middle of the month. Questions still surround whether government is able to roll out the vaccine fast enough to hit targets. 318,000 healthcare workers have been vaccinated so far, targeting 500,000 by May 16. [EWN]
- Canned: Cabinet has endorsed a report which will send shockwaves through South Africa’s hunting and wildlife industry – throwing support behind the protection and conservation of iconic animals, which would see the end of canned lion hunting, cub-petting, and commercial rhino farming. The 580-page report was compiled by researchers and specialists, who found that the treatment of many iconic animals in the country was unacceptable, and detrimental to South Africa’s image. The panel, by majority, agreed that keeping lions in captivity should be done away with, among other findings for elephants and rhinos. [Daily Maverick]
- Holes: The Joburg Road Agency spent R15 million to develop an app for residents to report potholes around the city – but this has left authorities with a big backlog of holes to fix, and a R15 million hole in the budget. The terms and conditions in the app development were reportedly poorly developed, leaving the city and the JRA out of the loop. Now another app needs to be developed. Making matters worse, while the city is trying to make progress on the state of the roads, those who used the app identified hundreds of issues, and have claimed damages in the millions of rands. [TimesLive]
- Heists: As lockdown has eased in South Africa, police and security firms are seeing a spike in cash-in-transit heists in the country. These heists are being perpetrated by well-organised and heavily-armed criminals, who have adopted an aggressive approach, unafraid to shoot to kill, security firms report. Some experts believe that the crimes are orchestrated from within the protection units, where inside information is given to the criminals. They implore security companies to rescreen employees to weed out any possible weak spots. [ENCA]
- Markets: South Africa’s rand eased on Friday as weaker-than-expected Chinese factory indicators and firmer economic growth in the United States put demand for riskier currencies under pressure. The rand has lost momentum as investors worry about local economic growth and the duration of expansionary fiscal and monetary policies in developed economies that have so far supported flows into the currency and a healthy trade surplus. The currency starts the week at R14.50/$, R17.43/€ and R20.02/£. [Reuters]