Let’s wrap up some of the top stories happening in South Africa this week.
SOUTH AFRICA’S UNEMPLOYMENT RATE DROPS
Despite challenges such as high living costs, soaring interest rates, fuel prices, and ongoing load shedding, South Africa experienced a decrease in its unemployment rate in the third quarter of 2023.
The latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey by Statistics South Africa reveals a 0.7% drop, from 32.6% in Q2 to 31.9% in Q3. The number of unemployed individuals decreased by 72,000 to 7.8 million, while the employed population increased by 399,000 to 16.7 million in Q3, compared to 16.3 million in Q2.
PRISONERS ALLOWED TO USE COMPUTERS IN CELLS
The Supreme Court of Appeal has declared that preventing prisoners from using personal computers in their cells is unconstitutional and infringes on their right to education. The court directed the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services and the Commissioner for Correctional Services to revise the policy within 12 months.
Until then, those registered as students at recognized tertiary institutions may use a computer without a modem in their cells for educational purposes, subject to inspection and compliance with rules.
WOMAN ARRESTED FOR MURDERING RELATIVES FOR INSURANCE CLAIMS
A 49-year-old woman has been arrested in Centurion on suspicion of murdering her relatives to benefit from insurance claims. The arrest followed a two-month intelligence operation, with Detective Sergeant Keshi Mabunda leading the investigation.
The suspect is linked to multiple deaths, including her son in July 2023, husband in 2016, two daughters in 2015 and 2005, and a female relative in March 2023. The suspect fraudulently obtained insurance policies for the victims before their deaths. She will face a murder charge in the Mmabatho Magistrate Court on November 17, 2023.
RESIDENTS URGED TO EXERCISE CAUTION WHEN BUYING FROM SPAZA SHOPS DUE TO EXPIRED GOODS
Residents of Ekurhuleni City are urged to be cautious when purchasing products from spaza shops, following a series of incidents that have led to at least six children’s deaths and several hospitalizations nationwide, allegedly due to the consumption of expired or counterfeit goods from spaza shops and street hawkers.
The City of Ekurhuleni said: “The City’s Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) have intensified food hygiene and safety inspections at food handling premises to stop the practice. “The city encourages the public to buy foodstuffs only sold from premises that have a Certificate of Acceptability. This certificate is only issued after inspections are conducted and the premises meets all food safety requirements.”
The following are markings that can be used to identify whether food stuff is still fresh to eat:
- Date of minimum durability (“Best Before” or “Best Before End”), which means the date which signifies the end of the period under any stated storage condition during which the product will remain fully marketable and will retain any specific qualities for which claims have been made. Beyond the date, the food may still be perfectly satisfactory. These foodstuffs do not require to be removed from the shelves and can be sold for human consumption.
- “Sell by” or “display until” means the last day of offer for sale to the consumer, after which there remains a reasonable storage period at home. The food that has past the sell by or display until date must be removed from the shelves and must not be sold for human consumption to the public.
- “Use By” (Best Consumed Before, recommended last consumption Date, Expiry Date) means the date which signifies the end of the estimated period under the stated storage conditions, after which the product probably will not have the quality attributes normally expected by the consumers and after which date the food should not be regarded as marketable. These foodstuffs must be removed from the shelves and must not be sold for human consumption to the public.
Certain foods are exempt from date markings, including some alcoholic products, chewing gum, and untreated fruits and vegetables.
“The public is also discouraged from playing the role of an EHP by inspecting and seizing foodstuff from the shops as this is impersonation of a EHPs. In terms of the Health Professions Act, 56 of 1974 no person shall perform any act deemed to be an act pertaining to any registerable health profession, such as environmental health profession,” the city said.
SOUTH AFRICA CONSIDERS CLOSURE OF ISRAELI EMBASSY OVER GAZA CONFLICT
Deputy Minister of International Relations Candith Mashego-Dlamini has informed MPs that the South African government is in discussions about the potential closure of Israel’s embassy in Pretoria. Mashego-Dlamini emphasized that the normal relations with Tel Aviv are challenging to maintain amid civilian casualties in Gaza.
President Cyril Ramaphosa recently announced that South Africa has referred Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes, seeking an expedited investigation into the matter. The discussions on the closure of the embassy reflect the government’s stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict.
VOTER REGISTRATION WEEKEND (18 AND 19 NOVEMBER 2023)
The Electoral Commission (IEC) has declared November 18 and 19, 2023, as the voter registration weekend for the upcoming 2024 National and Provincial Elections. Currently, there are 26.2 million registered voters, with 14.4 million being women and 11.6 million being men. Over two days, on 18 and 19 November there will be 23 296 registration stations across the country to operate between 08h00 and 17h00.
UWC SUSPENDS STUDENT INVOLVED IN STABBING INCIDENT
The University of the Western Cape (UWC) has suspended a student who was captured in a video stabbing his partner, a Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) student. The incident occurred at the Orchards South Point student accommodation in Belhar over the weekend. The graphic footage, widely condemned, showed the woman on the floor being attacked. The UWC student, facing attempted murder charges, has been suspended, banned from campus, and prohibited from entering any residences affiliated with the university, according to a statement from UWC.
BANKS FACE CHARGES FOR ALLEGED RAND MANIPULATION
The Competition Commission is pursuing legal action against 28 South African and international banks accused of colluding to manipulate the rand/dollar currency valuation between 2007 and 2013. The implicated banks allegedly generated about a trillion rand a day during this period.
Five banks have admitted to their involvement, with Standard Chartered Bank agreeing to pay a penalty of R42.7 million. The Competition Commission is seeking accountability from banks, including Absa, Standard Bank, Nedbank, FirstRand, Investec, Barclays, and others, for the impact on various aspects of the country’s economy.
WEBB ELLIS CUP SAFE AFTER BURGLARY AT SOUTH AFRICAN RUGBY (SARU) OFFICES
Late on Monday, the South African Rugby (SARU) offices in the Plattekloof area of the Western Cape were burglarized. The intruders managed to steal Springboks memorabilia, jerseys, and laptops. While they broke into the offices, the replicas of the Webb Ellis trophy, including the William Webb Ellis Cup replicas, were confirmed to be safe.
The authorities are investigating the incident, and SARU is assessing the extent of the loss and potential impact on its operations.
PETROL PRICE EXPECTED TO DROP IN DECEMBER
Motorists in South Africa can look forward to some relief in December as the price of fuel is anticipated to decrease. According to unaudited mid-month data from the Central Energy Fund, the expected reductions include a decrease of around R1.05 per litre for unleaded petrol, R1.05 per litre for ULP 93, a drop of R2.10 per litre for diesel, and a reduction of R1.75 per litre for illuminating paraffin.
The decrease is scheduled to take effect in early December.
SOUTH AFRICA PASSES HATE CRIMES AND HATE SPEECH BILL
The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) in South Africa has passed the Prevention and Combating of Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill. This legislation aims to protect individuals in the country from hate crimes and hate speech, specifically those based on factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or other forms of discrimination.
The bill, previously passed by the National Assembly in March, defines hate speech as the intentional communication of anything that can incite harm or promote hatred. The legislation includes penalties such as fines, imprisonment, or both for individuals convicted of these offenses.
WESTERN CAPE E-HAILING DRIVERS STRIKE OVER SAFETY AND EXPLOITATION ISSUES
The Western Cape E-hailing Association (WCEA) has initiated a 3-day strike, citing concerns over violent crimes against drivers and exploitation by major application companies such as Uber, Bolt, and inDrive. WCEA spokesperson Siyabonga Hlabisa highlights the ongoing issues of criminal targeting of drivers and the lack of progress in addressing driver grievances during meetings with app companies.
The strike aims to draw attention to the safety challenges faced by drivers and the need for meaningful responses from both authorities and e-hailing platforms.
RECOVERY OF BODY IN KLIPTOWN RIVER AFTER SLIP AND FALL INCIDENT
The body of an 18-year-old boy from Soweto was recovered in Kliptown on Wednesday morning after he slipped and fell into the river on Tuesday afternoon. Emergency personnel conducted the recovery operation, noting that the river was overflowing due to heavy hail and rain on Monday. Some community members are calling for preventive measures, including sealing the river stream, as there have been multiple cases of drowning in the area.
CITY OF JOHANNESBURG WITHOUT A SPEAKER AS COLLEEN MAKHUBELE IS REMOVED FROM COPE
The City of Johannesburg is currently without a speaker as Colleen Makhubele has been removed from the Congress of the People (COPE).
COPE announced her dismissal after she unilaterally declared that the party joined the newly formed South African Rainbow Alliance (SARA) without proper authorization. Makhubele, however, stated that she will not challenge her removal, attributing it to a power dynamic within the party. The situation leaves uncertainty regarding who will assume the role of the City of Johannesburg’s speaker.