· The Pretoria Forensic Chemistry Laboratory, charged with analysing blood samples and the like, is, if the photos are to be believed, bereft of standard operating procedures, fridges and stock.
· Attorneys in trouble: 14 Eastern Cape lawyers are in LPC trouble for failing to meet court-order deadlines to register trusts for disabled children who they represented.
· The irony is that our best Public Protector to date was appointed by Nummawan… The front-runner for the post is tainted by her findings in the Phala Phala affair and assertions made by commentators that she had set her sails to the prevailing wind.
· If you are a practitioner and have not completed the compulsory FICA risk and compliance return, you are destined for trouble. In passing, I defy you to answer all the questions.
· Wonderfully: ‘I am one of the best ever, unfortunately they’re blinded by hatred’. Mkhwebane.
o Our SCA had held that a forfeiture order can only be made during divorce proceedings and a request therefor may only be brought by a party to the marriage. An article by a UKZN lecturer suggests that public policy requires reconsideration of this guideline: https://perjournal.co.za/article/view/11707/19167
o The Concourt has ruled that a survivor of a life-partnership, in which the parties had undertaken reciprocal duties of support, should be able to claim benefits under the Maintenance of Surviving Spouses Act. The following article examines this in relationships where one party provides cash and the other support: https://perjournal.co.za/article/view/13159/18633
o Derivative misconduct may be described as the conduct of an employee, innocent of the direct act, who, through his silence, makes himself guilty of a violation of the trust and confidence of his employer. The following article focuses on a fair approach to actions against employees in such cases: https://obiter.mandela.ac.za/article/view/15950/19858
o The mistaken belief that consent to penetrative six may constitute a valid defence in cases of rape is dealt with herein: https://perjournal.co.za/article/view/15002/20012
o CCMA disputes may be settled by way of a settlement agreement which settlement may be made an arbitration award by agreement between the parties. May such an award be rescinded? Read: https://www.ensafrica.com/news/detail/7509/can-an-arbitration-award-arising-out-of-a-set
v The following article provides an interesting note on domicile in same-six marriages: https://caf.co.za/getting-married-abroad-heres-what-you-need-to-know/
v The reason behind the haste to amend our Divorce Act is a Concourt direction that a new act should be promulgated by the end of June next year. I gather that changing the Divorce Act as well as the Marriage Act requires cooperation between several authorities and we are likely to see a lot of heated debates going forward.
v I raised the issue of very small sectional schemes not maintaining a functioning body corporate in the past. If all the members in such a scheme involved were to acknowledge that the outgoing member does not owe any levies, that acknowledgement and may preclude the prosecution by an owner against a conveyancer giving transfer where he does not have a formal levy certificate. However, would this acknowledgement excuse the transferring conveyancer from not disclosing to a future purchaser that the compulsory savings and the like are not up to standard and, would this exclude sanctions by the LPC?
v “In short, I thoroughly deprecate notarial contracts entered into before a notary public by an agent of parties who never meet and do not themselves appear before the notary public. I do not believe that this is in the best interests of the contracting parties, the notary public or the general public.” Judge Satchwell..ex WEST, 2004(1) SA 109. The fact is that notaries are quite hard to find in especially rural areas. Resultantly a great many antenuptial contracts are executed by third parties before a remote conveyancer. One wonders whether this practice will ever stop?
v The new FICA drive requires one to establish the name of the employer of any person and the capacity in which that person serves with his employer. Our current standard FICA forms do not provide for this, and I have asked LEXIS-NEXIS to consider amending the standard forms to provide for this information.
Economy and business
· There is little new to report, save to comment that our economy appears to be holding up better than one would have thought – inflation appears to be abating with core inflation dropping. The Rand has strengthened on the back of, amongst other reasons, an investor appetite for risk, improving.
o The Health Professions Council of SA (a creature of statute) is the latest target of the Competition Commission for allegedly creating illegal regulations and its head of legal services allegedly being unfit to hold a senior position… two state entities having a go at each other.
o Interestingly, the above is not the only example of state entities having a go at each other – Transnet is in the process of suing Sasol (okay, Sasol is largely IDC and GEPF) and another for R1.3bn.
o Our energy crisis is still daily news: some time ago it was announced that Eskom would be split into a transmission and a generation entity. Just as well, as the generation side of it is, according to Roodt, dying. One wonders whether the State will allow the private sector to come to the rescue. The following graph illustrates the impact of loadshedding this year:
o Less contentious, but still affecting each one of us, is news that WeBuyCars has managed to partner with the RTMC and produce a website, which will enable one to register the transfer of vehicles. This avoids the dreaded queue at the licensing/inspection offices.
o Affecting the higher flyers, is a proposal by SARS to remove the distinction between resident and non-resident employers, which means that all employers of persons, within our borders, will have to be registered with SARS and pay over PAYE.
o Farmers should take note of the Agro Energy Fund finance programme, intended to enable farmers to access alternative electrical supplies. ‘Loans’ will be partly grant and should therefore be affordable.
o Spar will join PicknPay and Shoprite and eradicate long-term exclusive leases within shopping centres by the end of 2026.
o In 2013 the top-selling South African beer was Castle Lager. Today Carling Black Label is tops. 72% of our beer drinkers are male. Females prefer champagne and flavoured alcoholic beverages, followed by bottled wine and, lastly, boxed wine.
o Cash scarcity has led Ekurhuleni to start replacing high-cost traffic lights with stop signs!
o On another lighter note, most of us would know the term ‘black tax’; now there is ‘pink tax’ – a levy on identical goods simply because they are marketed to women, such as disposable razors which, for women are twice the price that men would pay.
The BRICS beraad has come and gone – a showcase of a nascent alternative geopolitical block comprising a motley bunch of states held together largely by Chinese intent. Those, who commented publicly, are hopeful rather than convinced of the ability of the members to make something of their grouping. Illustrative of how the leader of this bunch sees itself, is the following quote, attributed to President Xi Jinping, by our Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “…the BRICS expansion is historic. It demonstrates the commitment of BRICS countries to cooperate in unity with all developing countries. It meets the expectations of the international community and serves the common interests of emerging markets and developing countries.” China a developing country? Heck, China is probably the oldest continued civilisation in the world today.
· Our average national year-on-year house price inflation of some 4.05%, is old news. What intrigued me was a Lightstone graph which shows the average Gauteng house price inflation at some 2% in April – see https://cdn.lightstone.co.za/marketing/ResidentialPropertyIndices_Aug2023.pdf (third page). Paradoxically, together with this information came a Businesstech article, quoting Chas Everitt, that reverse semigration has caused a property boom in Johannesburg, with buyers from less-populated areas wanting to return. Talking up sales?
· An interesting graph came to me via son number one, and it shows completed constructions for major buildings over 30 years in South Africa. Do look at the dwelling-house graph which is sitting at a fraction of what it was 30 years ago:
· Heartening news is that residential rental growth is at its highest level since 2017 – 4.2% in June.
· Women’s month – just past – necessitated saying something about women in property in the news: women made up 53% of first-time home loan applications in the Eastern Cape. Given that the Eastern Cape still is a largely male dominated/traditional area the percentage is significant – one suspects that this is attributable to the absence of men in traditional societies.
· The Department of Public Enterprises will be replaced by a new state-owned holding company that will manage the finances of our SOEs. This entity ‘will generate a small profit from 2023’!
Municipal incompetence features regularly in the news as this affects all of our middle class. Westville residents have drawn a line in the sand with the eThekwini municipality; they declared that they will not pay for rates and utilities until the municipality consults with them. You will recall that such actions had been taken in the past and had all failed dismally as non-payment lead to disconnections and cannot be defended in law. Writers speculate that this is set to change; time will tell.
Whilst on municipal incompetence: the Attorney General uncovered that the Msunduzi municipality had aided illegal electricity connections to the tune of R111m! I can attest that many large upper-middle-class residences have been built within our municipal boundaries and I know that they do not pay rates. Inexplicably our municipality is broke…
The purpose of this heading in this newsletter has always been to highlight issues which are not directly financial, or relating to practice but which set the scene or background for these. Because of our seemingly inescapable financial downhill trajectory, most of the entries have been negative and today is no exception – but there is some hope at the end of this.
The Phala Phala debacle predictably ended in what was termed a whitewash. The fact is that you and I, if we had been found with that many dollars in a couch, would have had serious difficulties in evading prosecution. But then, we are not all equal before the law – even though the law, in this case, was laid down by the Reserve Bank.
Very recently our ministers descended on the Zama Zama affair, making all sorts of nonsensical declarations, despite that problem having existed for decades. Much the same as happened in respect of the Johannesburg hijacked building burning down. The hijacking of buildings has been an ongoing issue in Johannesburg which has simply not been addressed by authorities for many years. Interestingly, a case before the Johannesburg High Court, has this very issue at the heart of it in that owners have taken on that city, as the eviction order granted, cannot be enforced because the city will not or cannot provide alternative accommodation. Again, ministers waded in and made nonsensical statements ranging from pointing fingers to blaming apartheid (believe it or not!). But then, doing too little too late is endemic in South Africa. Take for instance Minister Gordhan, midst in a logistics crisis, exacerbated by negative findings of the Auditor General on Transnet, suddenly wakes up and asks the board to identify the root causes of the inability of management and staff to meet their performance targets.
The SADC observer mission, mirroring the opinion of other observers, was not happy with the recent Zimbabwean presidential elections. The question is whether any of its members will go as far as not acknowledging the newly elected president – South Africa did so. Defending this, the Secretary General of the ANC suggested that we should not involve ourselves in the internal disputes of a member country. Quite the opposite of the support that his own party required from South African neighbours before the fall of apartheid.
What I particularly found funny was that the Wits Business School hosted a masterclass on energy transition leadership addressed by no other than Gwede Mantashe – arguably the primary spanner in the works in our achieving this very goal! I cannot imagine what usable information Wits would have wanted him to teach its students.
The ray of light that I had referred to above was an opinion by Endres, posted in PoliticsWeb, in which he says that the benefit to be had from our state’s self-destruction is that the private sector is increasingly bypassing the state efforts and taking over the provision of essential services. The state is becoming demonstrably irrelevant, leaving progress to its citizenry which is, arguably, progress of sorts.
“One of the things that we must change in South Africa is to change the passive nature of our society, where society thinks that it must be taken out of poverty instead of working with government in taking itself out of poverty. I can tell you, if you don’t put your skin in the fire, you don’t change the reality the reality around yourself. This is an issue that we need to start building on. We will only succeed if society participates in fighting poverty and other ills of society”
Yes, wonderful if his skin had been in the fire…, and, whilst on the topic, IQ is apparently related to one’s perception of poverty – people’s conduct depends on their perception of the scarcity of the item that they are dealing with and, cash is no exception: https://www.ted.com/talks/rutger_bregman_poverty_isn_t_a_lack_of_character_it_s_a_lack_of_cash
Lighten up – on business schools
A professor explained about marketing to MBA students.
1. You see a gorgeous girl at a party, you go to her and say I am rich, marry me. That’s direct marketing.
2. You attend a party, and your friend goes to the girl to tell her, he’s rich, marry him. That’s advertising.
3. The same girl at the party walks to you and says, you’re rich, do you want to marry me? That’s brand recognition.
4. You say I’m rich, marry me and she introduces you to her husband. That’s the demand and supply gap.
5. Before you say I’m rich, marry me, your wife arrives. That’s restriction from entering a new market.
And then there is Wits: