South Africa

FIVE MINUTES: South Africa

By Daily Maverick Staff Reporter 20 September 2013

A round-up of the day's news from South Africa.

GOVERNMENT’S APPROACH TO CRIME NOT WORKING, SAYS ISS

Government’s approach to crime is not working, says the Institute for Security Studies. “Serious and violent crime is increasing in South Africa,” said director of the ISS’s governance, crime and justice programme, Gareth Newham. “After a long period of decreases in serious and violent crime, these are the worst figures we have seen in 10 years.” Newham said reducing crime wasn’t just the responsibility of the police, and that other departments such as health, education and social development should play a role. He said violence is “unacceptably high and should be treated as a serious crisis which stands in the way of South Africa’s social and economic development”.

VIOLENCE AND VIOLENT CRIME INCREASES

Murder has increased, as have the crimes of attempted murder, aggravated robber, residential burglaries, car hijackings and thefts out of motor vehicles, police minister Nathi Mthethwa says. Mthethwa giving his annual report on South Africa’s crime statistics. A total of 16,259 people were murdered during the period, which close to 45 a day. Mthethwa said sexual offences had decreased by 0.4%, which DA police spokeswoman Dianne Kohler Barnard said was “highly unsatisfactory, particularly when most rape cases are not reported”. The ANC welcomed the increase in convictions and sentences of serious crimes. Mthethwa said drug and alcohol abuse was a factor, as were violent protests.

NO MORE GAS-GUZZLING CARS FOR MANY SOUTH AFRICANS

South Africans’ love of large cars is taking a back seat in the face of record petrol prices. Car sales have been one of the few growth sectors this year as South Africa struggles to shake off the after-effects of a 2009 recession, but increasingly it is smaller, more efficient models that are finding their way onto the roads. A 16% fall in the rand against the dollar this year, including a four-year low of 10.51 last month, drove local petrol prices to a lifetime high of 13.55 rand a litre in August. As a result, total demand for petrol fell by a whopping 37% from April to July, according to import data, as people stayed at home, shared rides or traded down to cheaper vehicles.

SARB: REPO RATE STAYS UNCHANGED WAGE SETTLEMENTS A CONCERN

The Reserve Bank has kept the repo rate unchanged at 5% per annum, it said on Thursday. Governor Gill Marcus said the Monetary Policy Committee decided to keep the repo rate unchanged at 5% annum. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose to 6.4% year-on-year in August, again falling out of the Reserve Bank’s inflation target range of 3% to 6%. In July, CPI rose to 6.3% year-on-year “Export revenues are hampered by weak external demand, strike activity in the mining and motor vehicles sectors in particular, and declining terms of trade,” Marcus said.  “The trend of wage settlements remains an upside risk to inflation and job creation. The current wage bargaining round has seen a wide range of settlements, generally above the current inflation rate.”

POLICE WITHHELD, FALSIFIED EVIDENCE AT FARLAM COMMISSION

The Farlam commission of inquiry into the death of 34 miners at the hands of police says the South African Police Services has withheld and falsified evidence, and lied in its testimony. “…we have obtained documents which in our opinion demonstrate that the SAPS version of the events at Marikana, as described in the SAPS presentation to this Commission and in the evidence of SAPS witnesses at this Commission, is in material respects not the truth,” the commission said in a statement. The inquiry has been postponed to allow evidence leaders to work through the new material. “We do not make this statement lightly,” the commission said, adding that police would be given the opportunity to explain matters that raised its concern. The material they found has “serious consequences for the further conduct of the work of this Commission”, it said.

EIGHT CLINICS, TWO HOSPITALS TO BE REBUILT IN OR TAMBO DISTRICT

Eight clinics and two hospitals in the OR Tambo District in the Eastern Cape will be demolished and rebuilt from scratch, says health minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi. The minister unveiled plans to turn around the health care system in the province. “We chose it [OR Tambo] as a pilot, specifically because we wanted to take that opportunity to fix a multiplicity of problems the district is experiencing,” he said. OR Tambo has 197 health facilities covering 167 clinics, 12 community health centres, 13 district hospitals, two regional hospitals and three specialised hospitals. He said that the national health department was working around the clock with the provincial Department of Health to improve infrastructure in the rest of the province.

WOMAN AT HEART OF VAVI AFFAIR FAILED TO ACCOUNT FOR R1MILLION

The woman who had an affair with Zwelinzima Vavi that resulted in his suspension as general secretary has failed to account for more than R1-million of the labour federation’s funds, The Times reported. She allegedly made bookings for his travels without authorisation, sources close to an internal investigation into the Vavi affair told the newspaper. Among the allegations are that Vavi could have benefitted in the process. Vavi has challenged his suspension and supporters believe he is the victim of a political conspiracy.

PRISON STRIKERS GET DISMISSAL LETTERS

Striking prison workers at the Mangaung Correctional Centre near Bloemfontein have received a letter of dismissal, Sapa reported. The workers’ union, Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru), said it would fight the dismissals “to the bitter end” and would refer the matter to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation, and Arbitration. G4S, the prison management company, said the prison was running smoothly despite the staff strike action and dismissals. The company was awarded a 25-year contract to run the Mangaung Correctional Centre on behalf of the department of correctional services in 2000. DM

Photo: Government’s approach to crime is not working, says the Institute for Security Studies. The latest crime statistics have just been released and are viewed as a reflection on the leadership of Commissioner Riah Phiyega (above). (SAPA)

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"Go down this set of stairs and then just run - run as fast as you can." ~ Lt David Brink, 9/11

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