58 murders a day; Record Steinhoff fine; 40% of borrowers default; Sanlam for Rhinos; Spur, Aspen

By Linda van Tilburg

  • The number of murders in South Africa has climbed to the highest level in a decade as an overburdened police force struggle to keep violent crime in check. An average of 58 people get murdered every day and homicides have climbed by 3.4% to 21,022 in the 12 months to March. The number of sexual offences including rape rose by 4.6% to more than 52,000. President Cyril Ramaphosa has decided to skip the UN General Assembly meeting this month to focus on dealing with rising violence and the country’s struggling economy, according to his spokesperson Khusela Diko.
  • Steinhoff has been fined a record R53m by the financial regulator for failing to properly disclose accounting problems. The penalty was reduced from an initial R1.5bn in light of the retailer’s precarious financial position. The regulator said it was concerned that putting too much pressure on Steinhoff’s balance sheet could result in job losses. It was also probing 10 individuals in connection with the 2017 scandal, but the majority are said to be outside the country and the regulator is pursuing a civil case against former CEO Markus Jooste. Steinhoff CEO Louis du Preez said that there were no further FSCA actions outstanding and that the matter had been concluded.
  • South Africa’s mining output increased for the first time in nine months in July as coal and iron ore production surged. Mining production rose 2.4% from a year earlier compared with a revised 4.1% decline in June. Iron ore was the big driver of the swing in mining output after its production surged by 23.7% and platinum-group metals rose 2.7%. Gold production continues to lag the rest of the industry and declined by 13.1%, while a drop of 39.1% in diamond production also weighed on the sector.
  • The rand rallied in afternoon trade after US President Donald Trump decided to delay an increase in tariffs on Chinese goods by two weeks and an announcement by the European Central Bank of new stimulus measures. The Rand traded at R14.57 to the dollar by the end of yesterday. Resources also rose with the platinum index rising 5.76%; Anglo American Platinum climbed by more than 5% and Impala Platinum by more than 6%. Aspen stocks rose by 11%, Steinhoff was up 3.8% and Naspers shares rose by 2.2%. Shares in Prosus were down 2.9% on the JSE.
  • South Africa’s unsecured loan boom has left 40% of borrowers in default and millions of people in a debt trap. That is according to fund manager Differential Capital. About 7.8 million of the country’s 60 million residents have taken out a combined R225bn of loans without collateral, mostly for short term needs such as furniture and urgent family care. A report by Differential Capital said reckless lending is almost systemic in the industry and even with the high number of defaults, the industry stays profitable by charging extortionate pricing and rescheduling loans that are in default.
  • And in other financial news, Sanlam Investments is creating a new asset management company that plans to put aside part of its revenue to help protect the rhinos in the Kruger National Park. Amplify as the new entity is known will have R8bn under management. And Spur is going to start its own click and collect service to take on the likes of Uber Eats. It was revealed in the company’s full year results.