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South Africa murder rate among highest in world: police minister 

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- South Africa is among the countries that has the highest murder rate in the world, with 57 murders reported every day, Police Minister Bheki Cele said on Tuesday.

Releasing his annual report on crime statistics in Parliament, Cele said 20,336 people were murdered in South Africa in the period from April 1, 2017 to April 31, 2018,  up 6.9 percent from the 19,016 murders reported in the previous corresponding period.

Of these murdered victims, 3,915 were women and children, the statistics show.

Among the nine provinces, the Western Cape has the highest reported murder rate, to be followed by KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape. Seven of the top 10 police stations for murder cases are in the Western Cape where gang-related crimes are high. The province reported  808 gang-related murders in the period surveyed.

Firearms were used in almost half of all murders, to be followed by knives, sharp instruments and other unknown items.

Among other crimes, robbery of cash-in-transit vans also saw a sharp increase in the period surveyed, increasing by 86 counts, from 152 to 238, with most robberies happening on the roads and in business areas, and 40 in spaza shops and malls. In most instances, security guards’ weapons were taken from them.

Rape has increased by 0.5 percent, or by seven more people per day meaning that 109 people are raped every day in South Africa.

While residential burglaries have decreased by 7.5 percent, this still means that 625 homes are burgled every day in South Africa.

“This situation must be reversed with lightning speed. The worst thing we can do is come and give the same or worse statistics next year,” Cele said at a press conference after releasing the report.

He said South Africans should not have to adapt to dangerous conditions or “take it as a norm that when on the road, you must be hijacked, or when at home, someone must break in and terrorize you and your family”.

It looks as if that South Africans are living in a war zone, when there is peace and no war in the country, Cele said.

But Cele rejected the notion that the country has been plunged into a state of lawlessness.

“We haven’t reached a state of lawlessness in South Africa and we won’t,” he said.

“I think our emphasis should be on what ought to be done rather than the crime statistics, which doesn’t give any joy,” the minister said.

In response to the report, the opposition Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) called for the reinstatement of capital punishment.

“The deplorable state of crime in our country, particularly in regards to the murder rate is reason enough to get South Africans talking about the reinstatement of the capital punishment,” said Narend Singh, a Member of Parliament from the IFP.

Francois Beukman, Chairperson of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Police said, “What is quite important to note is that the murder increase of 6.9 percent is really alarming and totally unacceptable... violent crime is indeed a clear and present danger to all South Africans.”

The Democratic Alliance (DA) said the government led by the African National Congress (ANC) “is losing the battle to keep South Africans safe”.

The DA attributed the high crime rates to the inability of the South African Police Service (SAPS) which it said “is severely under-resourced, under-staffed, under-trained and under-equipped.”



South African GDP forecast faces dowside risks: Finance Minister

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- South Africa is currently bedeviled by a myriad of local and international pressures which threaten the country’s economic growth forecast rate of 1.5 percent this year, said the Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene on Monday.

Nene said this while speaking at inaugural Thought Leadership Conference hosted by the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) in Johannesburg.

“The outlook for the economy remains fragile. The contraction in gross domestic product growth in the second quarter of 2018 and the downward revision to the first quarter data pose significant downside risks to national treasury’s projection of 1.5 percent growth presented in February,” said Nene.

He pointed out that South Africa is facing subdued business confidence, weak activity in the supply-side of the economy and various headwinds to household spending.

He stated that the country needs economic growth of over 5 percent to meet the demands of the over 57 million people with an unemployment rate of over 27 percent.

Nene said, “Low growth may threaten the overall long-term potential growth rate of the economy if it translates into the inability of a country to implement critical growth-enhancing interventions such as productive infrastructure investment or improving quality education and skills training.”

South African government pays over 17 million people in social grants (old age, children and disability). The low growth rate is making it difficult to meet those obligations and the overall progressivity of tax and fiscal policy, said Nene.

He also observed that the weak growth limits the ability to enact counter-cyclical fiscal and tax policy, which could otherwise be deployed as an additional measure to boost aggregate demand.

“Rising trade tensions and tightening financial conditions have introduced downside risks to the global growth outlook,” Nene said. “In addition, a mix of idiosyncratic challenges in several emerging market economies and broader fears of a deteriorating global environment for trade and dollar funding has impacted countries such as South Africa.”

He explained that South Africa is still heavily reliant on foreign savings to finance the current account deficit as the domestic funding is not sufficient to meets its demand.


South Africa business confidence index continues to decline

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) --  The business confidence in the country continues to declines in the last three quarters of 2018, said Rand Merchant bank (RMB) on Tuesday.

The bank released the RMB/Bureau of Economic Research (BER) business confidence for the third quarter in 2018 on Tuesday in Johannesburg. The report showed that the business confidence index (BCI) and activity continues to weaken. At the first quarter of the year, the index was 45 before falling to 39 in the second quarter and 38 in the third one.

“The underlying South African business landscape continues to weaken, with more sectors showing signs of strain. While confidence hasn’t (yet) fallen to the levels observed during the previous (and severe) recession of 2009, we remain deeply concerned about the prospects,” said Ettienne Le Roux, chief economist at RMB.

A total of 1,700 business people in the five sectors which are manufacturing, wholesale, retail, new vehicle trade and building and construction were surveyed during the month ending September 6, 2018. The RMB stated that in the third quarter there were some fears of inflation and high interest rates.

They also stated that the rand fell to over R15/U.S. dollar because of trade tensions between the U.S. and Turkey. The report also observed that there is a renewed disillusionment about the broad policy direction the country is taking.

“It goes without saying, the political and policy factors weighing down on business confidence (such as the government’s land reform plans) must be resolved to produce impetus for an increase in sentiment. This is especially the case now that global headwinds are mounting, domestic public finances are stretched and monetary policy is facing rising inflation risks,” Le Roux said.

Le Roux also said, “Given the historically tight relationship between the RMB/BER BCI and real GDP growth, the renewed downward trend in confidence is disconcerting. On past form, it points to economic growth weakening even further after already slowing from 1.4 percent year-on-year in the first quarter to 0.5 percent in the second quarter.”


South Africa recession will have negative repercussion: Finance Minister

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- South African Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene on Monday said the falling of the country into technical recession will have negative consequences in the country, including low revenue collection.

He was speaking at the 2018 Tax Indaba in Johannesburg.

Last week Statistics South Africa announced that the country is on technical recession following the gross domestic product (GDP) contraction by 0.7 percent in the second quarter this year.

“Lower tax collections have serious consequences and can impact everyone, whether it be through lower expenditures on education or health, or through increases in tax rates to make up for shortfall,” Nene said. “The ability of a government to borrow at reasonable interest rates is also dependent on its ability to collect taxes.”

He warned that any under-performance in our tax revenues will have wide repercussions. Tax collection have declined in South Africa in the last two fiscal years. The government had to raise income tax rates, taxes on capital gains and dividends and subsequently raised the value-added tax rate.

He warned against corruption and called for good governance and ethical leadership.

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