Daan's Snippets

News:

·       TIA? This week past the Master’s office in Pietermaritzburg ran out of ink for the third time… Further delaying issues are the retrieval of files which, if applied for now, will only become available in September!

·       Guardian’s Fund woes: the repeated loss of funds from this institution was much publicised with the emphasis on inefficiency, and lack of security and financial control. A report that some of the monies stolen were retrieved, indicates that the perpetrators are known but the Fund has kept mum on charging those involved; maybe next year, meanwhile the officials concerned are suspended with full pay…

·       Whilst on the topic: the Chief Master had introduced a pilot scheme on QR coded letters of appointment in deceased Estates in Johannesburg and Durban. I am told by practitioners that the proposed scheme works very well – the directive may be viewed at https://www.justice.gov.za/master/m_docs/2023-01_CHM-directive.pdf

·       State of State avoidance: most S’effricans happily avoid interaction with our state. Make a will and ensure that control of funds, for the benefit of minors, are held out of the hands of bureaucrats. The Guardian’s Fund holds a lot of public money, and its holdings are managed by the PIC. Its investments produce a return of 4.25%, which is below our inflation rate and, given the size of the investment, hardly blows the lights out.

·       Not cool: a Gauteng magistrate, who used Google to search for evidence, was chastised by a reviewing judge, who had reservations about the reliability of the evidence so obtained.

·       Similarly, ChatGPT references in a regional court were found to be false… However, try asking for a love letter based on a Shakespeare love sonnet – fun!

·       More on trusts/PBOs: https://www.webberwentzel.com/News/Pages/trusts-and-pbos-now-required-to-file-third-party-returns-to-sars.aspx

·       Emoji’s have become part of electronic communications. The problem with these is that they are not necessarily interpreted in the same way by everybody; be careful.

·       A bus that has no direction? I heard a representative of the RAF saying on the radio that the RAF is not in disarray and that the pictures taken of employees working on/from boxes is not true. Most colleagues, in this line of work, would disagree. As an aside, the LPC posted this link to RAF practitioners: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1TdUSn5n1OYUm3Tkx66ITM2Wy0JPAYcy8/view?pli=1

·       The latest political nonsense is a bid to gag Media24 from referring to two politically affiliated gentlemen as members of the so-called ‘Alex Mafia’. Fun.

·       It is not only the RAF which is in disarray – the State Attorney has yet to issue a summons for Nummawan’s R18.2m legal bill, two years after having been ordered by the SCA to do so: now here is grist for a conspiracy mill.

Hard News:

o   The validity of black customary marriages are often challenged, owing to the variations in procedure leading to such marriages and the effect of an annulment on inheritance – the following case was in the news recently: http://www.saflii.org.za/za/cases/ZAECMHC/2023/36.html

o   A new marriage act, which intention to deal with the complexities of religious, customary and civil marriages is on the cards – the following article (in Afrikaans) deals with the history of such marriages in South Africa and the suggestions made: https://www.netwerk24.com/netwerk24/stemme/aktueel/so-lyk-voorstelle-vir-nuwe-huwelikswetgewing-20230720

o   Webber Wentzel published a note saying that one should be cautious of fit for purpose clauses in construction contracts, as liability, in the event of a breach, excludes negligence which might leave the contractor uninsured against a contractual claim: https://www.webberwentzel.com/News/Pages/fitness-for-purpose-clauses-in-construction-contracts-should-be-approached-with-caution.aspx

o   Retrenchments are rife of late; do consider the following guideline article: https://www.ensafrica.com/news/detail/7326/employer-obligations-in-disclosing-informatio

o   Objecting to fees raised by an auditor; a cornerstone provision that objection may be made to fees, presupposes that sufficient information is provided to inform the potential objector of the fees raised: https://www.ensafrica.com/news/detail/7326/employer-obligations-in-disclosing-informatio

o   do payments, made into an attorney’s trust account which serves as conduit for the payment to others, constitute dispositions without value in terms of the Insolvency Act? If such a payment was for fees, would the answer be different?  Http://www.saflii.org.za/za/cases/ZAGPJHC/2023/777.html

o   Can a disciplinary chairperson impose a ‘suspended dismissal’ on an employee? See: https://www.ensafrica.com/news/detail/7352/is-there-space-for-suspended-dismissals-in-la

o   More on sections 112 and 115 of the Companies Act: http://www.saflii.org/cgi-bin/disp.pl?file=za/cases/ZAGPJHC/2023/772.html&query=%20ithemba (courtesy of West)

Conveyancing:

Economy and business

Trends:

·       The African Development Bank opined that our GDP rate for this year should weaken to 0.2% – the IMF says 0.3%. Yawn. Noteworthy, however, is ADB’s footnote that South Africa is the worst GDP performer in the Southern African region for 2023/224. It expects our GDP to pick up to 1.5% next year and the IMF, 1.7%.

·       Inflation in South Africa is at the lowest rate in 20 months and the Rand exchange rate is recovering. 

·       Nedbank says that capital investment in fixed infrastructure in South Africa has decreased by 30% compared to a year ago. It holds that our economy cannot grow without such investments. 

·       South African shares are punted as a great investment by local management companies but are probably not that great, compared to overseas shares: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/daan-steenkamp-48a42520_equity-performance-jse-vs-sp-and-eme-msci-activity-7089103302910517248-1SBf/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=member_desktop

News:

o   Several of our SOEs have become increasingly dysfunctional – bearing in mind that, by way of example, Post Offices exist worldwide and are hardly innovative entities. Now there are plans to open a state bank and pharma company: the Gauteng Finance Minister reported that a due diligence had been done for the former and that a state bank will play a crucial role in supporting small, medium and micro enterprises. Kinda sounds like the Land Bank on a smaller scale? Ambitious for a government unable to run a post office.

o   Transnet, another dysfunctional SOE, announced with some pride that it had secured private investment to do what it could not (develop and run our ports efficiently). Well done, but investors require a return which, in this case, will go overseas (the Philippines) rather than remain in South Africa. In the short term, a solution, but a long-term loss.

o   I confess to being a de-dollarisation sceptic. Not because I don’t see merit in the idea, but because I cannot see the motley bunch, with the exception of India and China, who support a Bretton Woods exit, making any meaningful impact on an 80-year-old entrenched arrangement.

o   Motor news has come up with some excitement other than new models: Audi will partner with BAIC (you will recall that its latest model won the Car of The Year award in South Africa) to build electric cars. Toyota announced that it has developed a next-generation battery that would drive a vehicle for twice the distance than its current best-performing battery.

o   ShopRite was censured by the Competition Tribunal for its long-term exclusively lease agreements, the elimination of which must be completed within two years.

o   Digital stokvels: UASV, a pro-African empowerment company, which promised to take Stokvels into the digital era, would appear to be no more. 

o   Standard Bank was named Best Bank (Africa) and Best Bank (SA) at this year’s Euromoney Awards for Excellence.

∞ 

Lastly, good news for those involved in the tourism industry: The Telegraph conducted a survey which resulted in South Africa being named the best country in the world to visit, with Cape Town named the best city to visit.

Property

Trends: 

·       Residential property sales languish, owing to high bond repayments. Nominal prices, nationwide, grew by 1.9% in May, compared to the same period last year. The corollary of this, is a rising demand for rental properties (Alternative energy, solar heating, gas and security are issues that should be considered when letting). Resultantly there was a significant year-on-year decline of residential building plans passed in May (and further weakening is expected), says Loos/FNB.

·       PayProp Rental says that the average national residential rent grew by 4.2% yoy in Q1. The Northern Cape led by far, with a 10.2% rental growth.

·       Despite the rise in rates and slow-down of the residential market, banks still lend royally: Ooba says that more than 80% of bond applications are approved and 100% bonds are common.

·       The overall office vacancy rate is improving (Sentinel says otherwise) but sales are slower than any of the other commercial property types.

·       Rode says that commercial property sales is declining; industrial property is best placed of the major commercial property types. Vacancy rates are improving with nominal rental growth topping out at 7% in Cape Town, with the central Witwatersrand surrounds and Durban coming in at 3.2 and 2.2% rental growth respectively.

·       Listed property is underperforming but stabilising.

News:

o   The Fais Ombud has closed a thousand property syndication complaints, received from members of the public, as it says the these are more appropriately dealt with by a court. Think Sharemax, Blue Zone and so on.

o   With the growth in house prices stalling, now is the time to buy if you have the money! However, would you buy to let? In this respect I recently saw a note punting an investment in retirement housing, as it could readily be let, and your risk is probably lower in that sector than elsewhere.

o   I had recently dealt with fraudulent nondisclosure of defects in a property sold. The following is a note dealing with just this: https://www.cliffedekkerhofmeyr.com/news/publications/2023/Practice/Real/real-estate-law-alert-18-july-fraudulent-non-disclosure-and-misrepresentation-of-property-defects-in-sale-render-seller-liable

Comment

The only almost-new nonsense that is worth comment (aside from the BMF longing to re-purpose Stellenbosch) is dysphemism on the droll antics of our fracted, thieving government, torn between its Rome Statute/ICC commitments and it wanting to please Putin. Ramaphosa even went to court knowing that the issue at hand would not materialise.

Lighten up

It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first.

Ronald Reagan

In politics stupidity is not a handicap.

Napoleon Bonaparte

The problem with political jokes is that they get elected.

Contributed by:
Daan Steenkamp Attorneys
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