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SA Express to appeal judgment placing it under business rescue
6 February 2020, 2:21 PM

SA Express says it will appeal a judgment by the High Court in Johannesburg – placing the company under business rescue. This after logistics firm, Ziegler, took SA Express to court over its failure to pay R11 million in debt and requested that the court place it under business rescue.

It is the first time that a court order of this nature has been made against a state-owned firm, which could have far-reaching implications for other cash strapped SOEs.

Solidarity’s Connie Mulder says the judgment sets a precedent for other SOEs.

“This judgment has a massive precedent being set. We have now seen with the Companies Act that theoretically SOEs can be placed under business rescue. It says every SOE in SA is under the jurisdiction of the courts and the Companies Act and should be able to be placed under business rescue – if they do become financially distressed and is technically insolvent.”

“Business rescue is the working room, the emergency room, just before liquidation – in SA Express’ case, that is true. If you think SAA was in bad shape, SA Express was in much worse shape. It’s a situation where you are looking at some form of labour restructuring, hopefully, they can try and avoid it, but it is better than liquidation where everyone loses their jobs,” says Mulder.

After a long delay,  SA Airlink tabled its financial statements in Parliament in November 2019.

The airline recorded losses to the tune of R590 million for the financial year that ended on the 31st of March 2019.

The airline had also received a disclaimer audit opinion from the Auditor General. The books then showed the company was really struggling.

The airline also disclosed fruitless and wasteful expenditure worth over R50 million, while irregular expenditure stood at R834 million.

Meanwhile, SAA Business Rescue Practitioners are due to hold talks with trade unions this afternoon to discuss further their restructuring plans for the cash strapped national airline.

It’s the second such meeting in as many days as they race against time to finalise their work and submit a report to the government and creditors of the troubled national airline.

Towards the end of January 2020,  the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) bailed out SAA with an amount of R3.5 billion.

Some analysts were concerned that taxpayers’ money that could have been utilised for valuable projects is now going to bail SAA once again.

They were nonetheless chuffed that the money will be going into the hands of Business Rescue Practitioners instead of executives.

The financial boost has put an end to a month-long search for funding by the government.

Analysts were optimistic that this will help facilitate the business rescue process and avert liquidation, which could have cost taxpayers R40 billion.

The business rescue process began in December 2019 with the local commercial banks providing the initial post commencement funding of R2 billion.

SAA has not made a profit since 2011 and has been relying on government bailouts to remain solvent.

Unisa wage negotiations deadlocked
5 February 2020, 12:25 PM

Wage negotiations between the employer and labour at the University of South Africa have deadlocked. This as labour unions demand an 8% wage increase, but the employer is offering a 6% increment. The strike has left over 300 000 students stranded as over 7 000 workers, across the country, downed tools. The strike has been going on for almost two weeks now.

National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) UNISA branch secretary Unathi Hontoti says workers have rejected the employer’s 6% wage increase.

“Workers are demanding a living wage. Workers are demanding 8% as a living wage and the employer has decided to give us 6%. Currently, where we are seated and obviously it is not an official stand point of an employer, it is 6.3. But where we are seated, we know that on record we have 6.6% which technically when we do differentiation, it goes to 6.2.”

Meanwhile, Acting Director for Communications at Unisa Dr Lusani Netshitomboni says the strike is having an adverse impact on the university’s activities. Netshitomboni urges students to make use of the online services.

“The impact is very bad because we have a situation where a lot of our students are not able to register because of the strike. You will recall that the initial closing date for the university was the first of February, but of course because of the situation that we are faced with; it was extended to the seventh of February – with the hope that by then – the strike would have been concluded. What is happening is that we are encouraging our students to register online. If you are not able to get to campus to get assistance, go online and finalise your application of registration process.”

Zuma’s legal team won’t challenge warrant of arrest
4 February 2020, 1:01 PM

Former president Jacob Zuma’s legal team says they will not be challenging the warrant of arrest issued for their client. However, speaking outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court, Advocate Dan Mantsha expressed his concern about court’s decision to issue the warrant. Zuma, and his co-accused the French arms manufacturer, Thales are facing multiple charges including corruption, money laundering and racketeering.

The charges relate to 780 questionable payments in connection with the controversial arms deal in the 1990s. Mantsha says Zuma’s doctor was willing to help the court understand the nature of his medical condition.

“If the court was not understanding the format of the medical note and it was reasonable as we invited the court to stand down the matter. As I indicated to the court, the medical doctor in question has offered to explain to the judge what the situation is with the former president. The authority of the court must be protected, the administration of justice should not be put in disrepute by any of us and we are very concerned that when courts issue warrants under the circumstances like this, people start to ask whether we are all equal before the law,” says Mantsha.

The Pietermaritzburg High Court issued a warrant of arrest, stayed until May 6, for former president Jacob Zuma for failing to appear in court on Tuesday. In issuing the warrant, Judge Dhaya Pillay said it is important that the matter is treated in the same manner as in any other criminal proceedings.

Earlier, State Advocate Billy Downer asked the court to issue the warrant as Zuma failed to appear for proceedings.

Immigration officials to be deployed to crime-ridden Diepsloot
25 January 2020, 8:30 AM

The Department of Home Affairs will deploy immigration officials to the crime-ridden Diepsloot, north of Johannesburg, to work with the police to verify the documentation of residents. Police Minister Bheki Cele announced yesterday that the Tactical Response Team, better known as Amaberets will be deployed to the township.

Cele addressed residents together with Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi after violent protests on Thursday during which shops were looted. Residents took to the streets blocking roads with burning tyres, rocks and rubbish bins. The protests followed the killing of a police captain allegedly by foreign nationals.  Four undocumented Zimbabwean nationals have since been arrested.

Motsoaledi says the immigration officers will verify who is in the country illegally.

“We must be very careful to label people xenophobic when they have got concerns. We can confirm with you, it is true they are all un-documented. Most people are not documented because they came here to commit a crime. They came as criminals, not as migrants. The fact that people just remain here and kill police, it is because they don’t want to be seen, and they don’t want to be known. They don’t want their fingerprints to be captured. Don’t confuse them with migrants.”

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Suspects in teacher’s shooting are former learners
23 January 2020, 12:01 PM

KwaZulu-Natal Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu has revealed that two of the suspects who allegedly shot a teacher at a primary school in Inanda, are former learners of the school. The other four robbers have also been identified through CCTV footage. This information has been handed over to the police.

A group of six people arrived at the Buhlebethu Primary School in Inanda, north of Durban on Wednesday. They met with the principal under the pretext of wanting to enrol a learner at the school.

Mshengu says the group went into the staff room, on their way out and started to rob teachers.

“The principal witnessed that incident through the cameras and the screams of teachers. She then pressed the panic button and called for help through the intercom, as it were. So, as they were leaving the staff room, then they encountered this other teacher who was probably coming to assist his colleagues who were screaming for help. Unfortunately, he was shot on the chest and then these six people ran away.

Meanwhile, Mshengu says teaching at the school has been suspended until Monday to provide psychological assistance to traumatised learners.

“The psychologist will be back again on Monday to see those that could not come today as we have seen that the attendance is very low today. Most of the learners could not come to school probably because they are shocked. So, we still need to counsel those who are coming to school on Monday – who are shocked after witnessing such a terrible incident.”

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