News in brief: 15 – 31 July 2021

James Sleight

South Africa reinstates the R350 Social Relief of Distress Grant (SRD)

After months of intense pressure from civil society, on July 24 President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the government was bringing back the R350 SRD grant until March of 2022, and extending it to include unemployed child caregivers.

While undoubtedly good news to the nation’s poor, the total falls well short of what has been asked for by several advocacy groups who are asking that government move toward a Basic Income Grant of R1,268. The Black Sash has long advocated that the SRD Grant be raised to at least R585 per month, the current figure given for the Food Poverty Line.

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Making “Ecocide” an international crime

Ecocide refers to wanton, deliberate and large-scale environmental destruction.  The oft-cited example is that of the American Army spraying some 31 000km² of crops and forest cover with a toxic defoliant dubbed Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. The push to make it an international crime started some 25 years ago but is gaining traction in international legal and environmental circles.

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Activists say police raids intended to confiscate looted goods are illegal and unfairly target poor

Police are going door-to-door in townships to reclaim goods believed to be looted during the unrest in Gauteng. Civil society groups have criticised the raids, especially the confiscation of food items from poorer households. Apart from seemingly targeting the poor, activists say that ‘Operation Show Your Receipt’ violates the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA).

“What we are seeing is the criminalisation of poverty and the profiling of vulnerable people. The police are going into informal settlements, entering people’s homes without search warrants and confiscating goods without checking whether they were looted,” said Lazola Kati from the Right2Know Campaign.


Impact of recent unrest in South Africa

Damage estimates from the recent unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng show widespread damage to schools, businesses and infrastructure. basic education minister Angie Motshekgas aid that schools suffered R300m in damage in the violent looting spree. Tens of thousands of businesses have been affected and as many as 150,000 jobs may be at risk. More than just, “cleaning up,” the damage is to such an extent that some schools and business may not be able to reopen at all. There are also concerns that the riots themselves constituted super spreader events and may impact on the numbers of Covid-19 cases. Overall estimates of the total cost have been put about R50 billion and the GDP loss at about R40 billion.

From Stats SA: CPI inflation edges lower in June

It’s not your imagination, trips to the grocery store are noticeably more expensive of late. While consumer inflation eased somewhat in June to 4,9% food and fuel prices are the principle drivers of the current round of inflation.

  • Fuel prices registered a third consecutive month of double-digit inflation, increasing 27.5% in June 
  • Meat prices increased at an annual rate of 8.6%
  • Sugar, sweets & desserts index rose by an annual rate of 7.2% in June 2021
  • Cooking oil products, in particular, have recorded sharp increases

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News in brief: 16 – 31 October 2021

Annual consumer price inflation up slightly in September; Massive database of killings by police made public; UN climate change study paints grim picture; Constitutional court confirms warrantless searches in cordoned off areas unconstitutional; Civil society underwhelmed by Government proposal to replace the Covid-19 SRD grant

News in brief: 01 October – 15 October 2021

Stats SA on South Africa’s protected areas; Medical Research Council estimates Covid-19 has claimed nearly a quarter million South African lives; Report Studies pilot Global Basic Income Grant (BIG) projects since 2000; Gender-Based Violence Council Bill to Be Introduced to Parliament

News in brief: 16 September – 30 September 2021

Consumer inflation edges up in August; Komape family wins court battle seven years after their son drowned in a pit toilet; Covid-19 exposes South Africa’s broken food system; Teen pregnancies spike during pandemic

News in brief: 01 September – 15 September 2021

Gauteng Quality of Life survey shows heavy impact of Covid-19 on economy; 12.9 million apply for Covid19 SRD Grant; Bad news for S.A education as we emerge from Lockdown; Stats SA: Economy records fourth consecutive quarter of growth; Masks work and vaccine saves lives, but disinformation stands in the way.

News in brief: 16 – 31 August 2021

Can the government force us to be vaccinated?; Former Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini to be prosecuted for perjury; South African’s unemployment rate now the highest in the world; SA labour market is more favourable to men than women

News in brief: 1 – 15 August 2021

Concern over fate of SA’s children amidst the govt Covid19 response, Coal dependence of SA power industry, SASSA SRD grant application process under strain, Debate over Copyright Amendment Bill

News in brief: 15 – 31 July 2021

Re-instatement of SRD grant; Making 'Ecocide' an international crime; Police raids unfairly targeting poor.

News in brief: 1 – 15 July 2021

Lockdown impact on school dropout rates; Calls for basic income support; Govt spending breakdown

News in brief: 15 – 30 June 2021

Arts sector in crisis; ECD excluded from vaccinations; Shocking youth unemployment statistics; What is Juneteenth?

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