A shocking judgment that cannot be allowed to stand

Posted 24 April 2018

The Standard Bank v Nkwana case recently decided in the Pretoria High Court seemed to be a major step back for home owners facing repossession and eviction. The case was argued on behalf of Nkwana by Lawyers for Human Rights, and will almost certainly be appealed - especially the court's ruling that it was okay for banks to continue selling repossessed properties for a fraction of their market value. This absurd judgment prompted a response from former public protector Thuli Madonsela: "With due respect to the court, I consider this judgement to be grossly unjust and inequitable. It is as a setback regarding social justice. Should this matter be taken on appeal, it would be great if all those concerned about social justice join in as amicus curae."

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Dismay as judge dismisses damages claim for child who drowned in pit toilet

Posted 23 April 2018

Five year-old Michael Komape drowned in a pit toilet at a Polokwane school in 2014. His family sued the Limpopo Department of Basic Education for R3m in damages, calling more than a dozen witnesses in a two week trial argued in November last year. It was a harrowing exploration of a dysfunctional government department that had the money to fix school infrastructure, but didn’t – returning unspent money year after year to the provincial treasury. The state offered the family R450,000 in compensation before the trial commenced, but this was rejected as too low. Judge Gerrit Muller threw out the family’s claim for damages of R3m – leaving the family effectively bereft.

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AfriForum lobs a few grenades at Julius Malema

Posted 19 April 2018

AfriForum is throwing the book at EFF leader Julius Malema, with multiple private prosecutions being brought against him. The latest private prosecution relates to fraud and tender corruption involving Limpopo company On-Point Engineering. AfriForum advocate Gerri Nel - who famously prosecuted SA Olympic blade runner Oscar Pistorius for the shooting of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp - has attacked the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for failing to take forward numerous cases against Malema. Malema, in response, challenged the "white racists" to bring it on, and said the prosecutions were to divert attention away from his call for land expropriation.

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Pretoria court cements its reputation as the banker's best friend

Posted 16 April 2018

A judgment just handed down by the Pretoria High Court allows the banks to continue selling repossessed properties without a reserve price. This flies in the face of changes announced just months ago - after years of lobbying - to stop this practice (which has resulted in homes being sold at auction for as little as R10). Late last year High Court rule 46 was amended to allow judges to impose a reserve price. Reading through this judgment, it is hard to argue with those who say the courts are merely extensions of the banks. The judgment has shocked many in the legal community who have being fighting banking malpractices. The case is being appealed by Lawyers for Human Rights.

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Grace Mugabe gets a taste of land invasion

Posted 15 April 2018

Grace Mugabe, wife of the deposed Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe, has complained to the police that vandals had invaded one of the farms she "owns" in the Mazoe district of Zimbabwe. Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) parliamentarian Eddie Cross was so moved by this outrage that he penned this open letter to her, asking what it is like to be at the receiving end of the cruelty she meted out to ordinary Zimbabweans and farmers. Here is a rather decent though probably incomplete catalogue of her crimes.

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Property rights are human rights

Posted 13 April 2018

The EFF’s attempt to amend the Constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation – with the support of the ANC – is a direct attack on the most fundamental rights enjoyed by all South Africans. If they can take away your land without compensation, they can take anything they want. Chris Hattingh of the Free Market Foundation looks at what’s going on.
 

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SA's sad history of land, blood and missing title deeds

Posted 10 April 2018

SA has a long and sad history of land expropriation and then denying black South Africans the right to own land. When this prohibition was removed in 1991, government passed ULTRA - the Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Act, which was supposed to hand title deeds to 5m South Africans. This never happened and remains one of the burning scars of the last two decades.

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7 things Cyril must do to reverse SA's downward trajectory

Posted 08 April 2018

President Cyril Ramaphosa seems to have a lot going for him. His early new-broom sweeps have been incisive and the market indicators are responding well. A plethora of good news has come his way in the weeks since he was sworn in. Alan Hirsch, Professor and Director of the Graduate School of Development Policy, University of Cape Town, explains what he must do to correct SA's current trajectory.

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How to cut the world's murder rate

Posted 05 April 2018

The planet has rarely been so peaceful. Even with terrible fighting in such places as Congo, Syria and Yemen, wars between and within countries are becoming less common and less deadly. But a dark menace looms. Some of the developing world’s cities threaten to be engulfed by murder. The Economist looks at some potential solutions that have actually worked - such as Colombia, now experiencing the lowest murder rate in 42 years.

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Petition to Ramaphosa to freeze evictions and investigate bankers for crimes

Posted 03 April 2018

The Lungelo Lethu Human Rights Foundation has sent a petition to President Ramaphosa detailing rampant abuses by the banks. It has asked the President to make it far more difficult to evict defaulting home owners by forcing the courts to sell repossessed properties at market price and allowing financially distressed customers at least six months to get back on their feet before recommencing bond repayments - as is common in many other countries. It also wants the President to order an investigation into the criminal liability of banking executives and directors for knowingly selling properties for less than their value after the Constitution was introduced in 1994.

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Zimbabwe hits the fast lane

Posted 27 March 2018

Hundreds of thousands of people poured onto the streets last month to mourn the passing of Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) founder and former leader, Morgan Tsvangirai. Just two months earlier one million Zimbabweans took to the streets to celebrate the ouster of former president Robert Mugabe, who will go down in history as a genocidal despot, alongside the like of Pol Pot and Josef Stalin. The MDC elected a new leader, Nelson Chamisa, 40 years old and an advocate, who carries the hopes of a younger generation of Zimbabweans into the up-coming elections. MDC MP Eddie Cross looks at how radically things have changed in Zimbabwe over the last few months.

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The guillotine finally falls on Zuma

Posted 26 March 2018

He is no longer President Zuma. He is citizen Zuma, and with that comes the terrible baggage of his past. This week we learned of the charges that Zuma is to face,  confirming what many have long believed - that Zuma became president as a way to stay out of jail.

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How regulators play God, and fail

Posted 22 March 2018

Regulations intended to protect the poor end up doing the reverse. The Reserve Bank is there to "protect the value of the ran". How do you think that has panned out? Credit regulators accuse Shoprite of reckless lending in a bizarre ruling that affected just 0,2% of loans. And taxi regulations encourage violence against Uber drivers, but the real target of that violence is you, argues Leon Louw of the Free Market Foundation. 

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Alberton couple kick Standard Bank to touch

Posted 19 March 2018

An Alberton couple recently defeated an attempt by Standard Bank to repossess their home after they demonstrated that they had settled the arrears the bank was claiming. Thousands of other South Africans in a similar position should pay attention. It could save their houses.

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Not all conspiracy theories about courts and lawyers are false

Posted 16 March 2018

Not all conspiracy theories involving courts and lawyers are false. Here, in the grimy halls of justice, the banks are daily flouting the law in ways that most people do not realise. But the tide is turning in favour of customers. A relatively small change to High Court Rule 46 means banks may no longer sell a property without a reserve price. It means properties must be sold at market prices. That in itself will go a long way to halting evictions and dousing the banks’ enthusiasm for foreclosure.

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Has the land grab begun, or will it be nipped in the bud?

Posted 14 March 2018

Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba recently ordered police to stop land invasions in Orange Farm and Blue Hills, both near Johannesburg. President Cyril Ramaphosa, responding to another land grab at Olivenhoutbosch near Pretoria, has likewise warned land invaders that they would face the full might of the law. The National Assembly last month passed a majority vote allowing for land expropriation, and has now referred the matter to the Constitutional Review Committee. Is this setting a pattern for the future, or will the rule of law prevail?

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Zuma's mortgage banker, VBS, placed under curatorship

Posted 12 March 2018

VBS, a small mutual bank with R2bn in assets, shot to prominence in 2017 when it awarded then President Zuma a R7,8m home loan. It has now been placed under curatorship by the Reserve Bank following a run by municipal depositors, who have been warned that they are violating the law by placing money on deposit with VBS, as it does not have a full banking licence.

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Land reform fears are overblown

Posted 08 March 2018

Parliamentary discussions on land reform have prompted much breathless commentary. But, while the proposed changes remain unclear, a mushy compromise is more likely than a Zimbabwe-style land grab, says London-based economist John Ashbourne of Capital Economics.

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170 billion reasons why the SA Reserve Bank is a target for capture

Posted 07 March 2018

Former Reserve Bank employee and now senior economist at Efficient Group, Dawie Roodt, says there are 170 billion good reasons why the state would want to get its hands on the assets of the Reserve Bank, says Moneyweb.

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Why SA needs formal rules for class action suits

Posted 06 March 2018

South Africa needs formal rules for class action suits. One of the problems class action litigants face is first being recognised by the court as a class. In this article written in The Conversation, Theo Broodryk of Stellenbosch University lays out a few ground rules for class action suits that would advance the cause of justice. 

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Russia to the US: our nuclear missiles are untouchable

Posted 02 March 2018

If anything should put the fear of God into the West, it is the State of the Nation address given by Vladimir Putin earlier this week. He detailed a new generation of nuclear weaponry that is impervious to US or any other defence system. Putin prefaced his speech by saying Russia had been forced to revamp its military and offensive capability after the US and NATO had betrayed an agreement not to move an inch closer to the Russian border. The US now encircles Russia with military bases and holds hostile military exercises with earshot of Russia's borders. This is how Russia is responding, but this seems not to matter to the crazed neoconservatives in the US, who relish the idea of more wars and more military spending.

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Dealing with the land question without killing the golden goose

Posted 02 March 2018

Land will become one of the major political issues in 2018 and beyond, with "expropriation without compensation" being the preferred route of redistribution for the ANC and EFF, among others. In this article Neels Blom lays the table with a look at what two different studies have shown in terms of land distribution by race, gender and nationality. On the face of it, whites have a disproportionate amount of agricultural land, but this ignores land that has already been transferred to blacks in prior years.

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How Royal Bank of Scotland trained employees to forge signatures

Posted 28 February 2018

Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) employees were trained to forge signatures on documents and fabricate financial instruments on a routine basis to foreclose on homes they couldn't prove they owned. They also pushed struggling businesses into liquidation and then sold the assets for a profit - all to boost bonuses. One great grandmother nabbed the bank forging her signature to take out an insurance policy shje never asked for. This, by the way, has been going on in numerous cases in SA, with the courts turning a blind eye. It's time for bank whistleblowers to step forward.

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26 changes to the cabinet - some good, some awful

Posted 28 February 2018

Perhaps the best news in the cabinet reshuffle announced on Monday by President Cyril Ramaphosa is that Nhlanhla Nene is back at the finance ministry, and Pravin Gordhan gets to run public enterprises. Zwane is gone as mining minister, replaced by fiery trade unionist Gwede Mantashe. Most of those ministers with links to the Guptas are gone, except Gigaba - who has been moved from finance to his old portfolio of home affairs (where he famously imposed new visa rules, causing a slump in tourism and a loss of billions to the economy). You have to scratch your head at some of the appointments, which suggest there is still a Zuma gun pointed at Ramaphosa's head. City Press looks at the reshuffle.

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More people on welfare than have jobs in SA

Posted 26 February 2018

There are now more people receiving social grants in SA than there are people with jobs. Narius Moloto, secretary general of trade union federation NACTU, says this is another form of political patronage used by the ANC to buy votes. He says SA is over-administered and suggests scrapping provinces to eliminate wasteful expenditure. Welfare is intended as a short-term intervention to assist the poor during times of great need - but in SA it is turning out to be a trough with no bottom.

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