Flash Briefing: Russian relations – Ramaphosa, Pandor at odds; SARS super-wealthy unit; culpable homicide laws

  • The South African government is attempting to patch up Russian relations following the minister of international relations and cooperation Naledi Pandor’s call for Russia to withdraw from Ukraine. President Cyril Ramaphosa was reportedly caught off guard and is unhappy with Pandor’s statement as he felt it contradicted SA’s official stance, which is to remain neutral and call for mediation. Other members of the BRICS bloc – an associate of five major emerging economies including Russia and South Africa – have refrained from criticising Putin’s invasion.
  • SARS commissioner Edward Kieswetter says that the revenue service’s new unit for the super-wealthy is not there to ‘go after’ wealthy taxpayers but that it was established to provide clarity on the tax obligations imposed upon this demographic, to ease compliance, and assist them in their tax affairs with minimal fuss. The unit’s focus is on assessing the nature of income within this demographic, any onshore/offshore financial arrangements and the legal structures of ownership that their wealth is tied up in. Kieswetter said that the unit will make the lives of honest taxpayers much easier.
  • The South African Medico-Legal Association, which represents medical and legal practitioners and other leading healthcare organisations, has urged the government to review the law surrounding culpable homicide and its application in healthcare settings. The healthcare organisations argued that the current law has a low threshold of criminal culpability and that even if a healthcare practitioner acts in good faith or commits a slight error of judgment, the prosecution can easily formulate charges and secure a criminal conviction. This comes after two cases in 2019 in which the state showed its intent to proceed more eagerly in cases of this matter. 
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