Daan Steenkamp's Snippets

News:

·       the conveyancing exam pass rates for this year was published: the number of candidates in Gauteng that passed both papers was 2.9%, that of Cape Town 2.7% and so on. Dismal. 

·       An interesting statistic is South Africa’s murder conviction rate compared to that of other countries:

·       a full bench of our High Court has reported Moyo’s lawyers (think the infamous Adv Mpofu) to the LPC for accusing that entity of prejudice.

Hard news:

·       a week ago, the Pretoria’s High Court handed down a judgement declaring section 7 (3) (a) of the Divorce Act Inconsistent with our constitution insofar as it applies only to out of community marriages. This section deals with the transfer of certain assets on divorce and is worth a look. I do not have the reference at the time of writing.

·       The following case deals with the removal of a trustee following on marital unhappiness:  http://www.saflii.org.za/za/cases/ZAGPPHC/2022/313.html

·       When the allocation of exclusive use areas in terms of section 27 of the sectional titles act was scrapped, there was much uncertainty over what happens to exclusive use areas allocated in terms of that section. The following case deals, albeit indirectly, with such an allocation: http://www.saflii.org.za/za/cases/ZAWCHC/2022/61.html

·       It happens often that shares in companies are sold on the basis of a guarantee given by the seller that the tax affairs, of the company sold, company are in order. In this case, the tax affairs of the company sold proved not to be so and the purchaser sought to invoke the guarantee years later: http://www.saflii.org.za/za/cases/ZAWCHC/2022/69.html

·       PAIA applications are not common: http://www.saflii.org.za/za/cases/ZAWCHC/2022/82.html 

Economy

The rise in our inflation rate to 5.9% probably prompted the Reserve Bank to raise the Repo rate by a half percent this week past. Why control of the inflation rate matters, is that inflation erodes the value of money and the Reserve Bank mandate is to protect the public against the ravages of inflation. Interestingly, inflation favours borrowers over savers. The value of borrowed money erodes and it becomes easier to repay debt even though interest rates increase. This is especially true for governments that borrow, as the value of their debt reduces over time.

Inflation does not affect all equally: consider the following graph drawn from Codera: 

Statistics South Africa published an inflation rate calculator which allows individuals to calculate their own inflation rate: https://apps.statssa.gov.za/cpi_calc/default.aspx

Broke:

·       Our Post Office is technically insolvent in that its liabilities exceeds its assets by some R2.5bn. This does not necessarily mean that the Post Office is on the verge of financial collapse, however, it does mean that it is not paid UIF, PAYE deductions and the like. Deducting tax from an employee’s salary and not paying this over to SARS is illegal and carries sanctions…

·       Ubank may not be insolvent but has been placed under the curatorship of KPMG by reason of it requiring a capital injection to comply with minimum requirements set by the state. This bank is owned by the Theba Trust Fund and controlled by NUM…’nuff said.

Other financial indicators that matter are:

·       the Rand/US $ ratio is substantially down, which is attributed to the shrinking Chinese economy (China is a large consumer of our commodities) and load shedding;

·       after a six-year decline, fixed investment spend has grown in South Africa; a counter to the impact of slowing household sector spend; and

·       the cancellation of some R17bn of tenders by SANRAL will impact heavily on our civil engineering industry. 

Tax: the following growth shows alcohol taxes around the world – you will find South Africans amongst the third most highly taxed, worldwide:

Business

The increase in our Repo rate as well as CPI will probably impact on wage demands in the coming season.

We import some 40% of the wheat that is required in South Africa and the Russian/Indian embargoes will undoubtedly push up the price of bread. Interestingly, our wheat production has decreased with farmers switching to canola, oats, and soya beans which are more lucrative crops. If this situation persists, we might well find that more farmers will revert to wheat production.

State services:

·       The Consumer Goods & Services Ombudsman recently took on service providers on the issue of non-refundable deposits. If service-providers insist on retaining such payments. you might well consider section 17 of the CPA, backed up by an appeal to this entity if the service-provider refuses to reconsider. My experience with this entity is not that positive as I had ordered goods via the net and, when the provider did not deliver the goods nor make a repayment, that entity proved toothless.

·       SARS recently published a new service charter — yawn. Transfer duty receipts take longer then of yore and an appeal against an assessment deemed incorrect, can be a nightmare. See: https://www.sars.gov.za/about/service-charter/

·       You might recall my complaints about obtaining a new passport and having to bribe my way into Home Affairs: the impact of Covid on travel extends to the issue of visas: I need a visa to visit Switzerland and was reduced to having to fly to Pretoria for my interview as the KZN representative is all but non-functional. Others have had similar experiences. 

·       Exist to safe and sufficient water is a basic right enshrined in our Constitution. A recent Businesstech report holds that some 44% of our water supply systems are a high risk or critical – poor water quality and the necessity of boiling drinking water has become an unfortunate reality. The Department will be issuing red notes to those who do not comply– to what end? The entities involved do not collect sufficient revenue and do not have the capacity to comply.

Property

We all know that commercial property has not done well of late. Yet reports from Cape Town would have us believe that there is an encouraging turnaround of this trend in that city – the problem is that those who hold this view would benefit directly from a change in sentiment leading to greater investment there.

Bolstering the above take are reports that Balwin and Redefine are doing well – possibly my scepticism is unfounded.

Those involved in property law should note a directive issued by the Judge President regarding appeals in terms of S57 of the CSOS act. Ask me for a copy.

Quotables 

“The poor water quality compliance results are of serious concern to the Department of Water and Sanitation as the majority of supply systems present a potential health risk to consumers. Water services authorities must investigate the root cause of the failure and implement remedial actions to ensure compliance against limits outlined.”

Blue Drop 2022 report

Lighten up

I have taken more good from alcohol than alcohol has taken from me.

Winston Churchill

WARNING: Consumption of alcohol may cause you to roll over in the morning and see something really scary (whose name, and/or species you can’t remember).

Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat. 

Alex Levine

God created alcohol just to stop the Irish from ruling the world.

Patrick Murray

Contributed by:
Daan Steenkamp Attorneys
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