Covid-19 SA cases rise, world hits 10m; NDZ wins tobacco ban case; Zimbabwe; Steinhoff

By Jackie Cameron

  • More than 10m people around the world are confirmed as having contracted Covid-19 – and more than 500,000 people have died of the new coronavirus. That’s according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus resource centre. The countries with the highest number of cases are: the US, with 2,5m confirmed Covid-19 cases, Brazil, with 1,3m cases, Russia, with about 633 000 cases. India has the fourth-highest number of cases, with just over half-a-million, and the UK is not far behind with about 312,000 cases. Most deaths have been reported in the US, where about 126,000 people have died of Covid-19. Brazil has reported just over 57,000 deaths and Great Britain reports the third-highest number of deaths in the world, at nearly 44,000 confirmed Covid-19 deaths.
  • South Africa has reported just under 2,500 Covid-19 deaths. Numbers of cases are still rising. The health ministry said on Saturday the confirmed number of Covid-19 cases in South Africa has reached 131,800, with 7,210 new cases recorded in 24 hours. Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand, Prof Martin Veller told BizNews that, although the numbers are low, the country is experiencing a sharp rise in cases. For more on that, listen to the BizNews interview with Professor Veller, who shares the details of Covid-19 vaccine trials – and when one is likely to be available – in South Africa.
  • In a blow for Steinhoff shareholders, a judge dismissed a class action suit against the retailer, but says Steinhoff can go after Steinhoff directors and the auditors, Deloitte, who should have rung the alarm bells to put a stop to deals. Former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste, who presided over an astonishing network of questionable deals, has not yet been held to account. Judge David Unterhalter says Steinhoff can go after Steinhoff directors and the auditors, Deloitte, who should have rung the alarm bells to put a stop to deals. Steinhoff International Holdings paid for forensic auditors at PwC to help South African anti-corruption police investigate alleged financial wrongdoing that brought the retailer to the brink of collapse, says Bloomberg, noting that PwC uncovered €6.5bn of irregular transactions between Steinhoff and eight firms between 2009 and 2017. South Africa’s law enforcement authorities have shown no sign of progress in taking a Steinhoff criminal case through the courts.
  • The government has won a legal battle challenging a ban on tobacco sales in the country that was imposed in late March as part of lockdown rules, meaning stores won’t be able to sell cigarettes until further notice. Reports Bloomberg: Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma had “a firm rational basis” to include the prohibition of cigarettes in regulations designed to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, the High Court in Pretoria ruled on Friday. Adequate medical evidence exists linking smoking and more severe forms of Covid-19 to justify the move, according to the judgment. “This in our view is a properly considered rational decision intended to assist the state in complying with its responsibilities of protecting lives and thus curbing the spread of the Covid-19 virus and preventing a strain on the country’s health-care facilities,” the court said.
  • The Zimbabwean government has blocked bank accounts as its economic crisis deepens. The government blocked money transactions on mobile-phone platforms and halted trade on the local stock exchange on Friday, reports Bloomberg. President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the decision was made to tackle “malpractices” that have undermined his efforts to end an economic crisis. Inflation is at 786%, its recently revived currency has collapsed and the World Bank estimates the economy will shrink as much as 10% this year, says the news agency.