Flash Briefing: Destruction in wake of riots, looting; govt considers stipends to address poverty; Cajee brothers got ‘golden passports’

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  • An uneasy calm prevailed across most of South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces as key roads reopened and clean-up operations began in earnest on Friday following some of the most violent protests the country has ever seen. At least 212 people died during a week of mayhem, hundreds of shops were looted, and key infrastructure was destroyed. The unrest was triggered by ex-President Jacob Zuma’s incarceration on contempt-of-court charges and exploded as poor communities took to the streets in their thousands to vent their anger over appalling living conditions and a lack of jobs. The government has received reports of extensive damage being done to 161 malls, 11 warehouses, eight factories and 161 liquor outlets and distributors.
  • A week of deadly protests in South Africa has given impetus to proposals that the government pay out cash stipends to address the high levels of poverty and inequality that fuelled the unrest. “The basic income grant is being given serious consideration,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said in an online lecture on Sunday. “It is being discussed in the governing party and at government level.” Discussions about the aid are taking place as the Treasury and the presidency consider a separate support package for businesses and individuals affected by the turmoil. The destruction may slow the nation’s recovery from a 2020 economic downturn in South Africa, which has one of the world’s most unequal societies. Data published by the International Monetary Fund in 2020 showed that the top fifth of the population receive more than 68% of income, compared with 47% for an index of emerging markets.
  • An investigation by The Guardian has revealed that Raees and Ameer Cajee, the brothers who founded cryptocurrency investment scheme Africrypt, bought citizenship from the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu. According to the report, the Cajee brothers are among more than 2,000 people who bought citizenship in 2020 using the country’s controversial “golden passports” scheme. A Vanuatu passport would give the brothers visa-free access to several countries, including the UK and European nations within the Schengen Area. In June, the Cajee brothers made headlines following news reports that they had absconded with cryptocurrency valued at over R51bn.

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