SAPS releases latest crime statistics

The South African Police Service (SAPS), in collaboration with Statistics South Africa, have released the latest crime statistics for the period of 1 April 2016 to 31 December 2016. The SAPS report titled “Crime situation in RSA” looks at 17 “community-reported serious crimes” in the categories of contact crimes, contact related crimes, property related crimes and other serious crimes. The statistics show that while many crimes have decreased over the period, armed robbery has increased overall by 6.1%.

Read more: SAPS releases latest crime statistics

South Africa’s junk status


On 3 April, Standard and Poor’s (S&P) – an American financial services company who analyse stocks, bonds, and commodities and publish the results to assist investors – downgraded South Africa to junk status. S&P explained this decision in a statement saying, “In our opinion, the executive changes initiated by President Zuma have put at risk fiscal and growth outcomes. We assess that contingent liabilities to the state are rising. We are therefore lowering our long-term foreign currency sovereign credit rating on the Republic of South Africa to 'BB+' from 'BBB-' and the long-term local currency rating to 'BBB-' from 'BBB'. The negative outlook reflects our view that political risks will remain elevated this year, and that policy shifts are likely, which could undermine fiscal and economic growth outcomes more than we currently project.”

Read more: South Africa’s junk status

Intervarsity News 3 April

University of Witwatersrand (Wits)

On 24 March, the Wits Department of Journalism hosted the Taco Kuiper Award for Investigative Journalism, which was awarded to the story of how over 94 mentally ill patients died after being moved to mostly unlicensed NGOs. The event took place in Johannesburg and according to the Wits website, the award of R200 000 went to Suzanne Venter of Rapport for her “Life Esidemeni” story. Taco Kuiper was a successful South African publisher who donated an immense part of his estate to encouraging investigative journalism. He believed in exposing matters of public concern and therefore created a fund for investigative journalism within The Valley Trust, which is partnered with the Wits Journalism Programme.

Read more: Intervarsity News 3 April

Fees Commission continues enquiry into free higher education


On 24 March, officials from the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) appeared before the Fees Commission. Diane Parker, from the DHET, said that student debt has been increasing since 2012. Parker said, “We did an accounting of student debt which was owed to universities by National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) students which had built up from 2013, 2014 and 2015.”

The Fees Commission, set up by President Jacob Zuma after #FeesMustFall protests in 2015 and 2016, is still investigating the feasibility of free higher education in South Africa. The Commission is headed by Judge Jonathan Heher.

Read more: Fees Commission continues enquiry into free higher education

UP Council extends TSC’s term of office


On 15 March, the UP Council, the highest decision-making body at the University, approved a proposal to extend this year’s Temporary Student Committee’s (TSC) term of office until general Student Representative Council (SRC) elections are held in the second semester. According to the current (2013) version of the Constitution for Student Governance (CSG), the TSC administers any urgent affairs of the SRC until a new SRC is elected.

A statement dated 5 December 2016 by Acting Vice-Principal of Student Affairs, Prof. Carolina Koornhof, indicated that the 2017 TSC was appointed by UP Council at its meeting on 28 November 2016, with the TSC beginning their term of office on 1 January this year. According to TSC Chairperson, Henrico Barnard, along with the proposal to extend the TSC’s term of office, a further proposal was submitted to the Council. “It was recommended that Council approve the power to approve any amendments to the CSG [to] be delegated to the Standing Committee of Council, as there are interim measures and Council only meets four times a year,” said Barnard. This recommendation to Council was also accepted. Barnard further explained that the CSG was currently under review and that it was not advisable to have elections in the first semester of 2017 until the CSG review had been concluded. “It is also not feasible to have two elections during 2017, one being a re-election of 2016 and then also the annual elections in the second semester,” added Barnard.

Read more: UP Council extends TSC’s term of office

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