Let’s wrap up some of the top stories happening in South Africa this week.
ESKOM REPORTS A LOSS OF OVER R23 BILLION
Eskom, South Africa’s state-owned power utility, faces significant financial challenges as it reported a staggering net loss of R23.9 billion for the 2022/23 fiscal year, nearly doubling the previous year’s loss of R11.9 billion, despite a 9.61% tariff increase. Eskom attributes this dire financial situation to various factors, primarily including generation supply constraints stemming from poor plant performance and delays in commissioning new independent power producer capacity.
In addition to the growing net loss, Eskom also revealed that municipal debt has soared to R58.5 billion, highlighting the company’s mounting financial pressures.
ALLEGATIONS OF TORTURE IN SENZO MEYIWA MURDER TRIAL
In the ongoing Senzo Meyiwa murder trial, the court has heard disturbing allegations regarding the treatment of Accused one, Muzikawukhulelwa Sibiya, shortly after his arrest. According to Sibiya’s defense, he was allegedly assaulted to the point where he soiled himself, and he claims this abuse was intended to force a confession from him. These revelations came to light during the trial-within-a-trial at the High Court in Pretoria, which aims to determine the admissibility of these alleged confessions as evidence.
Meyiwa was fatally shot at the residence of his girlfriend, Kelly Khumalo, nine years ago. Sibiya asserts that Constable Jabulani Buthelezi was among the officers responsible for torturing him into making a confession.
SAPS SIGNS MOU WITH VIRGIN ACTIVE TO KEEP COPS FIT—20% DISCOUNT ON GYM MEMBERSHIP
The South African Police Service (SAPS) might see its officers becoming healthier, more agile, and quicker while on duty.
This comes after a proactive step taken by the South African Police Service (SAPS) as they recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Virgin Active and Planet Fitness, with the goal of promoting the physical well-being of their officers through discounted gym fees.
General Fannie Masemola, speaking at the SAPS Academy in Tshwane after the agreement, announced that SAPS members will receive a 20% discount on their monthly gym membership, and this discount will also be extended to all existing members.
TAX HIKES PLANNED TO BOOST SOUTH AFRICA’S ECONOMY IN 2024
South Africa’s Finance Minister, Enoch Godongwana, has unveiled plans to increase taxes in 2024, aiming to generate R15 billion to stimulate the nation’s economy. Godongwana made this announcement during his medium-term budget policy statement in Cape Town.
The minister disclosed that the country’s primary budget deficit had expanded by R54.7 billion compared to the 2023 budget estimates. The key contributing factors to this deficit increase include a significant drop in corporate income tax revenue, particularly from the mining sector, although personal income tax collections outperformed forecasts.
To address the budget shortfalls, the government plans to reduce spending by R21 billion in the current fiscal year. While the minister did not mention immediate measures such as raising VAT or taxes in the current financial year, tax increases and other revenue-focused initiatives are typically presented in the main budget, which occurs in February.
PROTEAS ON COURSE FOR CRICKET WORLD CUP SEMI-FINALS
The Proteas, has put on a dominant performance, defeating New Zealand by a staggering 190 runs this week. This victory has significantly bolstered South Africa’s position in the Cricket World Cup and moved them closer to securing a semi-final spot.
With six wins from seven matches, South Africa has emerged as one of the strongest contenders in the tournament. Their impressive track record has virtually guaranteed them a place in the semi-finals, where they aim to compete for the coveted World Cup title. Alongside South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia, hosts India also occupy the top four positions, which are crucial for advancing to the semi-finals. However, as there are still 14 group stage matches to be played, numerous teams are in contention, ensuring an exciting and competitive tournament.
PRESIDENT CYRIL RAMAPHOSA HAS OFFICIALLY APPOINTED KHOLEKA GCALEKA AS SA’S PUBLIC PROTECTOR
President Cyril Ramaphosa has officially announced the appointment of Kholeka Gcaleka as South Africa’s new public protector. Gcaleka secured her position with 244 votes from Members of Parliament, exceeding the 60% threshold needed for this critical role. Her appointment follows her previous service as the deputy and acting public protector, making her a suitable candidate to succeed the outgoing public protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, whose non-renewable seven-year term recently concluded. Gcaleka will begin her own seven-year non-renewable term on 1 November, serving as a vital guardian of South Africa’s democratic institutions.
Gcaleka’s appointment is significant as she takes on the responsibility of safeguarding and upholding South Africa’s constitutional democracy, ensuring transparency, accountability, and the protection of citizens’ rights. This move reflects the commitment to maintaining the integrity of Chapter 9 institutions in the country.
NPA DROPS CASE AGAINST “FAKE DOCTOR” MATTHEW LANI
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has decided to drop the case against Matthew Lani, the individual known for his impersonation as a medical professional on TikTok. The NPA confirmed that the case was removed from the court roll following Lani’s appearance in the Johannesburg Magistrates Court this week. Lani was taken into custody by Helen Joseph Hospital security for posing as a medical practitioner while wearing a disguise, including a hoodie, surgical mask, and stethoscope.
The 27-year-old faced charges related to impersonating medical personnel. Lani had previously claimed to be a graduate of Wits Medical School, but the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) had taken issue with his deceptive actions. The educational institutions he purportedly attended denied any association with him. The NPA spokesperson, Phindi Mjonodwana, clarified that there is insufficient evidence linking the suspect to any specific case, leading to the decision to drop the charges.
R350 SOCIAL RELIEF GRANT EXTENDED FOR ANOTHER YEAR
South Africa’s Finance Minister, Enoch Godongwana, has announced the extension of the Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant for another year. This grant was initially introduced to assist low-income individuals impacted by lockdowns during the Covid-19 pandemic and has seen multiple extensions.
Minister Godongwana stated that R34 billion has been allocated to extend the grant for the additional year. He also mentioned that a provisional allocation will be maintained over the medium term while a comprehensive review of the entire social grant system is being finalized.
GDE CONCERNED BY MATRICULANTS’ ABSENTEEISM DURING FINAL EXAMS
The Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) has expressed concern over instances of absenteeism among Grade 12 learners in some of its districts during the final matric exams.
Grade 12 students across the country began their National Senior Certificate exams recently. The Class of 2023 commenced their exams with English Home Language Paper 1 and English First Additional Language Paper 1.
According to GDE spokesperson Steve Mabona, approximately eight candidates approached officials, stating that they were not prepared to write the exams, while two other candidates did not appear due to unknown reasons. Additionally, three candidates were hospitalized due to health issues, preventing them from taking the exams. The GDE is closely monitoring the situation and working to address these concerns.