Let’s wrap up some of the top stories happening in South Africa this week.
SOUTH AFRICA’S CONSUMER INFLATION DECREASES IN DECEMBER
Statistics South Africa has reported a decrease in the consumer inflation rate to 5.1% in December, down from 5.5% in November and 5.9% in October. Patrick Kelly, Chief Director for Price Statistics, noted an 8.5% inflation rate for food and non-alcoholic beverages, lower than November’s 9%.
The average inflation rate for the year is 6%, attributed in part to lower petrol prices.
INTERNATIONAL COURT TO RULE ON SOUTH AFRICA’S REQUEST TO STOP ISRAELI ATTACKS ON GAZA
Tensions are high as the Hague prepares to deliver its verdict on South Africa’s explosive request: a halt to Israel’s Gaza offensive in the name of preventing genocide. The International Court of Justice will make the ruling on Friday, 26 February 2024.
This interim ruling won’t settle the full case, but it could have major implications for the ongoing conflict. While Israel vehemently denies the accusations, South Africa is sending its top diplomat to The Hague, ready to fight for a more peaceful tomorrow in Gaza.
COURT HEARS KELLY KHUMALO ‘ORDERED HIT ON MEYIWA’
In the ongoing Senzo Meyiwa murder trial, a state witness claimed that singer Kelly Khumalo ordered a hit on Meyiwa. The revelation came during the cross-examination of lead investigator Brigadier Bongani Gininda. According to the affidavit, accused number 2, Muzikawukhulelwa Sibiya, stated that Khumalo not only ordered but also paid for Meyiwa’s murder.
Cellphone linkages between Khumalo and other accused further implicated her. The affidavit also alleged that Khumalo sought cleansing from a traditional healer, similar to the accused. The missing cell phone numbers reportedly connect Khumalo to two other accused.
REPO RATE UNCHANGED AT 8.25%
The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has opted to maintain the repurchase rate at its current 8.25%. This decision keeps the prime lending rate stable at 11.75%. Governor Kganyago emphasized the need for inflation expectations to anchor closely to the mid-point of the target band for achieving permanently lower inflation and interest rates.
The economic outlook remains uncertain, with mixed conditions globally and both advanced and emerging economies expecting modest growth in 2024. Tight financing conditions are anticipated to persist, making inflation targets and fiscal priorities essential.
AMAZON PRIME TO STOP PRODUCING AFRICAN CONTENT
Amazon Prime Video is reportedly undergoing a restructuring of its international business, with a focus on European originals. This move involves cutting content and staff in sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa to prioritize the European market.
While existing shows in the MENA region remain on the slate, there might be a pause in greenlighting new local originals in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and North Africa. The restructuring may lead to redundancies in local teams, even as Prime Video continues to operate in these territories.
CASE AGAINST MARSHALLTOWN BUILDING FIRE SUSPECT POSTPONED
The case against Lawrence Mdlalose, 29, charged for the Marshalltown building fire, is postponed to 1 February. Mdlalose faces 76 counts of murder, 86 of attempted murder, and arson charges after confessing at the Usindiso Commission of Inquiry.
He admitted to setting the building ablaze to conceal evidence of a murder committed there. Phindi Mjonondwane of the National Prosecuting Authority confirmed the confession’s admissibility in court. Mdlalose appeared before the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, where the postponement was announced.
TWO DEAD, FOUR INJURED IN JOHANNESBURG CBD BUILDING FIRE
A building fire in Johannesburg’s CBD has claimed two lives and left four others injured. The fire occurred at a building on the corner of Commissioner and Nugget streets, displacing over 100 people. Bonisiwe Gumede, a thirty-year-old, has been arrested for allegedly starting the fire during a domestic dispute. Gumede faces charges of arson and two counts of murder.
The case has been postponed for further investigations.
FORMER WESBANK EMPLOYEE EXPOSES ALLEGED RACIAL DISCRIMINATION IN INTEREST RATES
A former WesBank employee claims that the finance provider used a specific system to overcharge black clients compared to their white counterparts. The employee, who worked in the IT department between 2014 and 2018, alleges that the bank used an acquisition system to determine interest rates, resulting in higher rates for black clients.
WesBank has refuted the allegations, stating that all vehicle finance applications are assessed based on affordability and the customer’s credit profile, with credit scoring conducted independently. The bank emphasized its commitment to fair treatment and compliance with regulations.
MORE THAN 1400 PEOPLE LOST THEIR LIVES ON SA ROADS DURING THE FESTIVE SEASON
Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga revealed that 1,427 people lost their lives on South African roads during the 2023 festive season, a 1.7% decrease from the previous year. The majority of victims were aged between 25 and 44, with 1,184 recorded crashes. Notably, the Western Cape recorded a 22.6% increase in road deaths, raising concerns. Gauteng, Mpumalanga, and KwaZulu-Natal also saw increases. The minister emphasized the need for continued efforts to improve road safety.
NSFAS HAS RECEIVED OVER 1.4 MILLION APPLICATIONS FOR 2024
NSFAS has confirmed receiving over 1.4 million applications as of January 15, 2024. Out of 20,000 outstanding allowances, 9,128 have been resolved, while the remaining 11,000 are a priority for processing. The scheme anticipates nearly 1 million additional applications before the January 31, 2024, deadline.
The government allocated R3.8 billion as the initial capitalization fund for the 2024 loan scheme, supporting students in need of financial aid for their education.
BAFANA BAFANA TO FACE MOROCCO NEXT IN AFCON 2023
In a tense AFCON 2023 encounter, South Africa secured a place in the last-16 with a hard-fought draw against Tunisia on Wednesday evening. The goalless match, marked by a slower pace, propelled Bafana Bafana to the next round, solidifying their standing in Group E.
Their next challenge is against Morocco on Tuesday, 30 January. A win in this match will secure their spot in the quarterfinals, heightening expectations for South Africa in the tournament.
AIRLINK RESUMES DURBAN-BLOEMFONTEIN FLIGHTS
Airlink is set to recommence direct flights between Durban and Bloemfontein starting 26 February 2024. This move is part of Airlink’s strategy to broaden its flight network from Durban, designating it as a third hub alongside Johannesburg.
Bloemfontein will join other destinations directly served by Airlink, including Gqeberha, Mbombela (Nelspruit), and Harare. The flights will operate on Embraer Regional Jets, offering morning flights on weekdays and late afternoon flights daily, excluding Saturdays.