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Stats SA blames Justice Department hack for delay in release of civil debt data

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Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) had to delay the publication of data on civil cases for debt last week because of the recent backlog at the Department of Justice.

The data is published every month and was due for release on 21 October. But in lieu of the numbers, the agency published the following notice:

“Stats SA conducts a monthly sample survey of civil cases recorded and civil summonses for debt issued in South Africa. This information is obtained from selected magistrates offices. The collection of data for August 2021 has been severely affected by the recent hack of the Department of Justice and will not be achieved in time for the forthcoming statistical release, which had been scheduled for Thursday, 21 October 2021. A new publication date will be announced as soon as possible,” it said. 

This is the latest delay in the publication of data for reasons outside of Stats SA’s hands. The June data on mining production and sales was delayed because the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy failed to deliver the figures on time, highlighting its capacity issues. Read here.

The latest incident highlights the wider consequences of events like a hack on SA government departments, which are often underperforming in the first place. 

This data set, it must be said, is not watched by markets in the way that monthly inflation or mining figures are, but it is still an indicator of how the economy is faring.  

In July, the number of civil summonses issued for debt increased by 28.9% in the three months ended July 2021 compared with the same period last year. Civil judgments recorded for debt leaped 53.0% for the same period compared with the three months ended July 2020.

As for the August data, the South African public is for now in the dark – almost as if Eskom were running the show. DM/BM

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