South Africa: Today's latest news and headlines, Tuesday 28 July

Stay informed and up to date with the latest news in South Africa by reviewing the day's biggest headlines on Tuesday 28 July.


As major metros remain tense following widespread protest action on Monday, the President's office comes under further scrutiny amid allegations of nepotism and corruption concerning an exorbitant personal protective equipment (PPE) supply deal.

TODAY'S LATEST NEWS IN SOUTH AFRICA, Tuesday 28 JULY

Protests rock South Africa, as lockdown pressure builds


South Africans will be hoping for a period of peace today, following a spate of violent protests which erupted in major metropolitan areas across the country on Monday. While Cape Town saw the bulk of disruptions, with protests against evictions disrupting traffic and resulting in deadly force being used by law enforcement agencies, civil unrest was recorded in the south of Johannesburg and in Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal.


Most protests have emanated from a lack of basic service delivery and adequate housing, which has been underpinned by the harsh economic downturn resulting from lockdown. As more South Africans face unemployment and sink deeper into poverty, experts have warned that incidents of violent civil unrest are expected to increase.


The South African Police Service (SAPS), which was kept busy fighting running battles with protesters on Monday, has warned all demonstrators who sought to undermine the law of severe consequences.

President's spokesperson on 'leave of absence' amid PPE scandal


Khusela Diko, spokesperson to the President Cyril Ramaphosa, has taken a leave of absence amid damning allegations of corruption and nepotism. The scandal, which involves a dubious R125 million tender awarded to a company owned by Diko's husband, AmaBhaca king, Madzikane II Thandisizwe Diko, for the supply of PPEs to the Gauteng Health Department has rocked government.


The allegations are especially damning for Ramaphosa, who recently vowed to take 'severe action' against any public officials who were found to have profited from the pandemic in looting state funds. On Monday, the African National Congress' (ANC) top structures in Gauteng met to decide Diko's fate and further investigative action required.


While the ANC deliberated, Diko announced that she had taken a leave absence, saying:


"I wish to thank the Presidency for timeously acceding to my request. It is of the utmost importance that the work of the Presidency and government as a whole is not undermined or adversely impacted by these allegations, especially at this time when our nation's focus is on battling the COVID-19 pandemic."

IMF approves $4.3 billion emergency loan


The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Monday said it had approved $4.3 billion (R70.7 billion) in aid to South Africa to help it fight the coronavirus pandemic – the largest loan or pandemic disbursement for any country so far.


The Washington-based crisis lender said in a statement:


"The IMF approved $4.3 billion in emergency financial assistance under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) to support the authorities' efforts in addressing the challenging health situation and severe economic impact of the COVID-19 shock."

Task team to conduct independent review of UNISA


Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, has appointed a ministerial task team to conduct an independent review of the University of South Africa (UNISA).


Nzimande said given the size of UNISA, not only in South Africa but on the entire African continent – having 407 759 students in 2020 and growing, the institution is clearly too big to fail, as too many people depend on its success.


Nzimande said since the merger of UNISA with Technikon Southern Africa in 2004 (incorporated with the distance education component of Vista University), it appears that there has not been sufficient attention on addressing the underlying drivers of institutional coherence and sustainability.


He said UNISA is gradually experiencing "mission-drift" by becoming more 'full-time', yet there has never been a plan supported by national government in favour of such a move. (Source: SAnews)

Three in court for conspiring to steal from SASSA


Three suspects accused of conspiring to steal money by hacking into the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) system are expected to appear in the Nelspruit Magistrate Court.


The suspects, aged between 27 and 39, were arrested in Nelspruit during an intelligence driven operation by the Hawks' Serious Corruption Investigation, together with Cyber Crime, Local Criminal Record Centre and SASSA on Friday.


The suspects are accused of conspiring to steal monies by hacking into the SASSA system.


Hawks Mpumalanga spokesperson, Captain Dineo Lucy Sekgotodi said an electronic device which was intended to be used to extract information including a laptop, scanner, SASSA cards, and the suspect's vehicle were seized.


"The three will be facing charges of corruption, fraud, conspiracy to commit an offense and contravention of the Electronic Communication Act.  Investigations are still ongoing," Sekgotodi said.

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