Daan Steenkamp's Snippets

Earnings: you will recall that legal earnings were published a while ago which showed impossible figures and would have made many of us feel quite inadequate – a much more realistic set of figures came to light at the end of last week: https://businesstech.co.za/news/finance/471060/heres-how-much-money-lawyers-earn-in-south-africa

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The ruling by JP Hlope in the Bongo corruption case has had two cosequences:

  • the failure by the JSC to take up the charges against Hlope has prompted repeated calls for his suspension on various grounds; the latest again by former constitutional judge Kriegler, citing gross misconduct.
  • Fingers being pointed at the lack of capacity and incompetency of our NPA which, in this case, has exposed a whistleblower and its inability to tackle the very issue that is unravelling the fabric of our social structure.

And then we ask why our citizenry has lost its faith in legal process. The latest De Rebus ran an article by Nxulalo on judicial misconduct – worth a look?

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Practice news:

  • You should have heard the news that the DA is taking on the SAPS over the forensic laboratory backlog. Ms Joemat-Petterson has found this “unacceptable” since the news broke – but was late to get on the bandwagon. Of course, three months ago the police had a plan…
  • The LPC, these days, tells me things I know every 2nd day – its latest invitation to give comment on its transformation plans for the profession leaves me cold: some of its suggestions are idiotic, to say the least. Take, for instance, its suggestion to push up pro bono hours to 200 per annum and to compel attorneys earning more than R3m (yes, that bar for advocates is set at R5m) compulsorily taking in trainees and the like. The latter, especially, is a turnover threshold: a nett earnings threshold would have made much more sense. Published under: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1cVLHITwWkshO3weXqL2XHFbeOyO6xYrY/view
  • You may not have heard but the Zondo Commission staff have not been paid for five months, as their money ran out!
  • The Msunduzi municipality have not been issuing rates certificates for some time as it has come to their attention that no one had been officially appointed to do so! These guys, a few years ago, had the temerity to suggest that should become a metropolitan council. Dream on.
  • Conveyancers should note the introduction of new office fees for Deeds Offices.

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Hard information

Economy

At a loss with pension opportunities? It has become clear that South Africa’s financial future is no longer stable. So, where does one invest one’s pension? If you invest here, you get tax relief, but the investment is risky. If you invest elsewhere you get no tax relief, but investment is probably more secure. One new option is on the cards in the sense that the government is fiddling with the percentage of pension fund assets that may be invested in infrastructure building in South Africa. This is necessary as it has run out of money and is over-promising its own investment in infrastructure. On the options available; take a look at the following summary:  https://www.moneyweb.co.za/qa/advisor-questions/can-south-africans-contribute-to-an-offshore-annuity

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If you’re prepared to be unsettled, take a look at the following GDP per capita figures affecting Europe: https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-OsNSF5lEVik/YEBeCbT0n5I/AAAAAAAADMI/Qiy1aXGpHeQGAjsS8JD2oMf6hHFBaSP_QCLcBGAsYHQ/s1152/GDP_Europe.png  Bottom line: don’t buy in Italy!

Business

Over the past months there have been several reports of gatvol communities taking on the local authorities over non-existent services. Moneyweb refers to this trend as a sea change driven by voters who are tired of the corrupt and inept; examples abound, ranging from potholes to sewerage spillages, water and electricity outages and so on. The latest in this saga is the Pietermaritzburg Chamber which has thrown down the gauntlet. The fact is that the municipality has already lost the capacity and funds to comply and the end result can only be direct involvement by citizens.

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Ideally one needs a market to regulate itself (despite the short-term discomfort that adjustments may cause): if there is an oversupply of taxies then lower prices would drive the weaker out and so on. This is usually fine when the private sector is involved but, when the state is involved, such as in the provision of rail services, regulation may be necessary – right? There are two ongoing examples of this interplay i.e. the intent to reinstate proper rail services by Mr Mbalula and the intervention by the city of Cape Town in metered taxi licences. The difficulty, of course, is that the greater the impediment to doing business, the greater the options to circumvent those impediments which is a primary driver of corruption.

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That Telkom is discontinuing ADSL services is old news. But what new offerings will it make to replace the old? A comparison may be found at https://mybroadband.co.za/news/fibre/388168-new-openserve-fibre-prices-how-much-cheaper-it-is-than-vumatel.html

In brief, Openserve is the cheaper option but its uptake sucks.

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A new youth policy, aimed at promoting young South Africans, has been mooted by the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities. The policy includes the introduction of new basic income grant up to the age of 35 and other policies which would make it easier for such people to be introduced into work. I was fascinated by the following of these interventions: Abolish the requirement for experience for entry-level jobs to enable more seekers to enter the labour market and gain job experience. Weird: does one need experience for an entry-level job and how does one prevent anyone from preferring someone with experience over another?

Property

National house price inflation, by segment, may be found at https://businesstech.co.za/news/property/473542/theres-been-a-surprising-shift-in-south-africas-property-market – of interest may be a graph in which the rates of inflation, for various areas and types of property, are set out.

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Somewhat less boring is a note written by an attorney on those practitioners who moonlight as estate agents or employee estate agents. As a candidate, my principal, had a regulatory foot X foot attorney’s wood and copper plaque on his door but a massive billboard, right opposite the courthouse, saying: IT’S A DEAL! Those days, platteland attorneys were allowed to act as estate agents to supplement income and this served my principal well. He would sell, take the commission, draw the contract and then do the conveyancing. Legal work was just so much less lucrative! Should you? Take a look: https://propertyprofessional.co.za/2021/03/04/law-firms-that-employ-estate-agents-danger-of-riding-two-horses/

Many moons ago there was a continued debate about so-called MDP’s, i.e. multi-disciplinary practices and those, pushing for change, argued that practitioners were disadvantaged in the marketplace as our code of conduct did not allow practitioners to compete on equal terms with those who were not so constrained. Not much came of it.

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The EAAB saga continues: its latest failure was “technical problems” encountered by those writing the board exams: https://propertyprofessional.co.za/2021/03/04/eaab-this-must-stop/

Comment

Are some cases too big to prosecute? Possibly: take Biden who let a Saudi prince of the hook after that worthy had been being fingered for the assassination of a recalcitrant journalist. Take Mr Zuma…

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The HPCSA argues that, if euthanasia is legalised, many unscrupulous doctors and healthcare workers might abuse that option. Does the possibility of abuse weigh heavily enough to prevent those for whom life has become utterly meaningless, or too painful, to seek a way out? Surely the answer is to look for a way of allowing euthanasia, which will not lend itself to abuse, rather than opposing the idea.

SWMBO had, with the best of intentions, thrown Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning at me when I was too young to want to know why life needed meaning, but, I think that as one ages, the question increasingly arises why one would want to see tomorrow. I have little doubt that there is no single such motivation, be it to aid a loved one, to espouse a cause, to be appreciated and so on. However, for one to interfere in, nay, prescribe the life choices of another, is breathtakingly audacious.

This week we buried Ben, an irreplaceable friend: I was overcome by sadness but was outraged at the bekeringspreek delivered by a dominee from a church that my friend had abandoned forty years ago; by the platitudes of his daughter who had excommunicated him for no reason other than her mother’s say-so. I knew him as a thoughtful man who had appreciated life and who was at peace with himself. Consider the sightlessness of a religious idiot, who , in the name of his own principles, would hold up the conscious ethical conduct of another, as wrong.

Quotables

Come, my friends,

‘T is not too late to seek a newer world.

Push off, and sitting well in order smite

The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds

To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths

Of all the western stars, until I die.

Tennyson

Lighten up

Guy’s on death bed. Priest says “Denounce satan my son” and he says…

“Now is not the time to make enemies Father!”

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I’ll never forget my Uncle’s last words on his death bed:

“I am your Father”

Still doing the Star Wars impressions right to the end.

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Contributed by:
Daan Steenkamp Attorneys
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