SA’s aging fuel refineries holding us back

BMI Research says SA will become increasingly dependent on imported fuels, as ageing refineries cannot supply the fuels modern cars need.

Allowing the government to set the petrol price once a month is keeping SA’s cars and fuels stuck in the past, BMI Research warned in a note released on Tuesday morning.

SA had to indefinitely delay its plan to introduce Euro V fuel standards in July because the profitability of local refineries is too low for them to recoup the investment required to upgrade their plants.

Since modern cars are increasingly designed to run on the cleaner fuels that SA’s ageing refineries cannot produce, the country’s dependence on imported petrol and diesel will grow.

“Increases to the new vehicle emissions tax last year will promote the sales of more modern and efficient vehicles. However, domestic refining capacity will be unable to meet the demand for higher-quality fuel,” the report said.

“As a result, SA will face a higher import burden for higher-quality fuel. This poses additional headwinds to domestic refiners due to the increasing competitiveness of fuel imports.

“A build-out in global products capacity has lowered the cost of imports, with production centres in Asia and Europe already upgraded to higher standards.”

BMI said one “flash of positivity” was Sinopec’s purchase of Chevron’s 110,000-barrels-a-day Cape Town refinery.

“The more risk-tolerant Sinopec already possesses experience in upgrading refineries to higher fuel standards in China and, whilst the potential investment in a higher-quality product slate is unlikely with Chevron as operator, Sinopec may view the upgrade as a longer-term opportunity within the country,” BMI said.

“However, upgrading existing capacity will nonetheless be expensive, with Chevron previously estimating the cost of upgrading the Cape Town refinery to be around $1bn.”

Source: Business Day

How to buy the right laminator for the job

Laminators make a good addition to any office environment. They are a quick and easy way to protect photographs and other documents. Lamination protects documents by permanently bonding clear plastic film to one or both sides of the item. This makes them tear-proof and waterproof; protects items from moisture and environmental damage; prevents creasing and wrinkling; prevents staining and smudging; and prolongs life by preventing light damage.
There are a number of different types of laminators to choose from.

Remember the following:

Usage
The volume of documents to be laminated will determine which type of laminator you will need. Compact, desktop laminators are ideal for small offices, while commercial laminators are designed for high volume use in commercial applications. A commercial laminator offers long lasting dependability, durability, low maintenance and high quality lamination.
Depending on the type of machine, a card carrier or laminating pouch carrier sheet will be required. More expensive laminators have adjustable speed and heat settings.

Types of laminators
Pouch laminators use a lamination pouch that is usually sealed on one side, and coated with a heat-activated film that adheres to the product being laminated as it runs through the machine. The document is bonded to the substrate (which can be any number of board products, such as paper or card) or another sheet of laminate plastic. The pouch that holds the document, laminate and substrate is passed under pressure through a set of heated rollers. This ensures that all the adhesive layers bond to one another.

Pouch laminators are ideal for use in the home or in a small office environment. The machines are relatively inexpensive and quite effective. They have a small footprint and won’t take up much space.

Heated roll laminators use heated rollers to melt a glue that is extruded on to lamination film. The film is then applied, under pressure, to the substrate using rollers. Heated roll laminators are used to embellish or protect documents or photographs. These machines vary in size from those suitable for an office to industrial-sized machines. Industrial machines are used by businesses such as printers for high-quality, high-quantity output.

The primary advantage of using a heated roll laminator is speed. The melting of the glue prior to applying the film to the substrate allows for a much faster application of the film. Laminates and adhesives used in heated roll laminators can be up to 50% cheaper than cold roll laminates. The materials are non-adhesive until heated, which makes them easier to handle. Because glue is solid at room temperature, this type of lamination is less likely to shift or warp.
Cold roll laminators use a plastic film that is coated with an adhesive and has a glossy backing. The glossy backing doesn’t stick to the glue, and when it is removed the adhesive is exposed. It then sticks directly on to the item which is to be laminated. Cold lamination has the benefit of being suitable for items which could be damaged by heat. These include items made of vinyl or documents printed with wax-based ink.

Cold laminators range from simple, two-roller machines to large, complex motor-driven machines. The rise of inkjet printers, and their use of inks and papers damaged by heat, increased the popularity of cold roll lamination. Cold laminating processes are used outside of the print industry too, such as when coating a sheet of glass with a protective film. They are also used for laying down adhesive films in the sign-making industry.

Tips for problem-free laminating
• Ensure that you have the right type and weight of pouch for the item to be laminated.
• Ensure that the machine is properly warmed up to the right temperature.
• Use a card carrier if appropriate.
• Ensure that the item to be laminated is right up to the sealed edge of the pouch, allowing a 2mm (minimum) border around the rest of the document to avoid jamming.
• Do not use homemade, chopped up pouches. You can always cut the item down to size after it has been laminated.
• Ensure that the pouch to be used is the correct size for the job.
• If you are attempting to use a pouch with several items inside it, always use a carrier sheet whether your machine requires it or not. Be sure to leave adequate space between each item so that you can cut them down after lamination.
• When cutting laminated items, be sure to leave a “seal” around the edge of the document. If you attempt to cut all the way to the edge of the document your laminate may come apart.
• When laminating irregular surfaces such as embossed or textured originals, it may be necessary to send the item through the machine twice to avoid wrinkling.
• Make sure that all pouches are fed in sealed end first.
• Ensure that the rollers and plate are cleaned regularly, as this prevents the build-up of sticky residue which can also cause pouches to jam. Heat the machine to normal laminating temperature and then pass a non glossy piece of card through the machine as if laminating.
• If a pouch is trapped, do not feed anything into the machine to push it out, contact the manufacturer. Do not attempt to carry out repairs before consulting the manufacturer as you may inadvertently cause more damage.
• Never attempt to laminate an irreplaceable document. With items such as photographs, it is best to make copies rather than try and laminate originals.
• Always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for your laminator.

(c) My Office News

Pressure mounts on JSE as it retrenches staff

The JSE, Africa’s oldest and largest stock exchange, has announced the restructuring of its operations that will see it shed 14% of its workforce by the end of the year as it adapted to technological changes.

JSE chief executive, Nicky Newton-King, said in a statement on Friday that the company was restructuring against the backdrop of South Africa’s low economic rate, ratings downgrades and low business confidence and as exchanges were adapting to fast paced technological changes.

Newton-King said the cost cutting would see the technology expenditure cut by a minimum of R70million over two years.

It said the changes would also involve a reduction in the company’s full time staff complement by 60 people, resulting in annualised cost savings of nearly R170m, to be fully realised from 2019 onwards.

The JSE made R65m in annualised savings to date through a combination of removing vacancies and reducing discretionary spend, she said.

“If we want to create a building block for future growth we must take some early decisions and there are none tougher than those that involve our people,” she said.

“We looked at all avenues before considering this action. While we appreciate this will be a very difficult time for the affected employees, the newly aligned company will be in a strong position to serve its current and future clients more effectively,” said Newton-King. She said this was preparing the JSE to meet the challenges head-on.

“The fast moving nature of our business requires us to change the way in which we operate so that we are as nimble and as cost effective as possible.

“We cannot do so without significantly rethinking our cost base, our operating model and the way we are structured as a business,” she said.

She also said the restructuring would see the refreshing of the JSE’s IT operating structure to align to best practice.

“At the same time, our large dependency on IT requires that we look at using technology in a more agile manner to support the execution of our business strategy,” Newton-King said.

Geoff Cook, director and co-founder of JSE competitor ZAR X, South Africa’s first additional stock exchange in 60 years, said on Friday it was not surprising that the JSE was restructuring, owing to the high costs associated with its old-world exchange model.

“The JSE model attracts high infrastructure costs and its technology model is inefficient – the market disruption brought about by modern technology is forcing these changes for it to remain relevant,” said Cook.

Global law firm Baker McKenzie’s latest Cross Border Initial Public Offering Index said South Africa’s three domestic listings raised a total of $250m (R3.34billion) in the first half of 2017. This was the highest amount of capital raised by South African companies recorded during the first half of any year since 2012.

A total of 388 companies are listed on the JSE which has a capitalisation of R14.271bn.

Lumkile Mondi, a senior lecturer at the school of economic and business sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand, said the country’s economic problems made it difficult for the JSE to attract listings.

By Dineo Faku for IOL

South Africa’s recession means households had less and less to spend, but the number one supermarket group in the country, Shoprite, is adopting an unlikely strategy: targeting upmarket shoppers.

Lower-income families who formed Shoprite’s core customer base were cutting back on spending, but the wealthy remained undented by the economic downturn.

In a bid to retain its leading industry position, the discount retailer’s new boss was driving business hard into the higher-margin niche dominated by rival Woolworths.

The stage was set for a turf war to win the hearts, minds and wallets of South Africa’s richest two million households — and ultimately, pre-eminence in the supermarket sector.

Shoprite CEO Pieter Engelbrecht told Reuters that growth lied in affluent areas and customers.

“A lot of those (wealthier) customers, two million of them, actually frequent our stores already, but not exclusively,” he said in an interview.

“Our job is to get a better share of their wallets when they are in our stores and then impress them so that they come back again.”

Shoprite was doubling its offering of the kind of high-end convenience foods that Woolworths built its reputation on – from gourmet lamb shanks and oxtail stew to teriyaki-and-ginger basted pork ribs.

Its range would reach around 500 products by the end of this year, Engelbrecht said.

These products typically cost about R200 for a meal for four — 10 times the minimum wage of R20 an hour as set by new labour laws making their way through Parliament.

As part of the drive to expand its range, Engelbrecht said Shoprite had upgraded its food technology and development facilities, and gone on a hiring spree for food developers and technologists.

The company planned to open 23 new outlets of its higher-end Checkers chain of stores, mostly in wealthy suburbs such as Waterfall City north of Johannesburg.

New Checkers stores and established ones that had been refurbished resembled Woolworths outlets with sparse lighting and wood-panelled sections boasting extensive wine and gourmet coffee selections, as well as counters selling quality selections of cheese and meat.

‘I love Woolies’

But how will Woolworths defend a market that delivered handsome profits for the company?

When asked about Shoprite’s push into upmarket convenience food, Woolworths said that it had an “incredibly valuable emotional connection” with its customers.

“Retail is a dynamic environment and the competition in the grocery and food market category means that we will always keep a watching brief on our competitors’ activities,” it added.

“We conduct weekly basket checks against the prices of competitors to ensure that our prices are comparable.”

It was a tall order for Shoprite to break Woolworths’ stranglehold.

“They (Woolworths) have been good at introducing new products and other innovations in line with consumer trends and feedback,” said Old Mutual Invest food retail analyst Kaya Nodada.

If Shoprite was to prevail, it would have to win over shoppers like JF Fourie.

“I love Woolies. The microwave meals are a bit overpriced, but they are tasty,” the 28-year-old who works in marketing said in the Woolworths branch in eastern Pretoria as she added shimeji mushrooms to the baby brinjals in her basket.

Fourie – a big fan of Gordon Ramsay – said she would need some convincing about the quality of Shoprite’s products, but would give it a go because Checkers adverts feature the British celebrity chef.

“I like the chef and he hates airplane food,” she adds.

“He’s fussy and I am too.”

 

http://www.supermarket.co.za

Prospects for the retail sector remain weak and are unlikely to improve in 2017, as confirmed by Massmart’s interim sales update released on Monday.

In the 26 weeks to June 25, Massmart recorded R42.5bn in sales, representing an increase of 0.5% compared with the year-earlier period. Comparable store sales fell 1.6%. Product inflation was estimated at 3.2%.

Massmart’s share price initially dipped more than 2% after the announcement, but bounced back into marginally positive territory. “I don’t know if there was anyone who was massively disappointed by the update,” said Old Mutual Investment Group consumer and industrial sector analyst Brian Pyle.

“Nobody really expected anything else other than what Massmart reported today. People are expecting tough times and the update shows it. That said, these numbers are weak.”

Comparable store sales fell at most of the company’s trading divisions. Like-for-like sales fell 3.5% at Massdiscounters, by 0.2% at Massbuild and 3.3% at Masscash. Masswarehouse grew comparable sales by 1.5% with inflation of 3.9%.

Mergence Investment Managers portfolio manager Peter Takaendesa said the food side of the business performed better than nonfood categories. Sales growth in food was 3%. In general merchandise it fell 2.9%.
“As we saw in the recently reported Woolworths numbers, the trend of better food sales relative to nonfood consumer goods is evident in Massmart’s numbers. Consumers are largely in survival mode and discretionary items have to take a back seat for now,” he said.

The biggest concern for all retailers was the downward trend in growth rates to levels much lower than cost inflation. This came at a cost to profit margins, said Takaendesa.

For Massmart, he expected a technical improvement in the sales rate for the rest of the year, but a stronger recovery was only likely later in 2018 “and could be better if we get an interest rate cut sooner to help consumer confidence recover”.

“It’s going to be difficult for Massmart’s turnaround efforts to show the intended results given much weaker consumer spend and the mid-long term risks posed by independent e-commerce rivals such as Takealot, which need to be monitored closely,” he said.

Ashburton Investments said that it preferred Woolworths in this sector.
Woolworths said it expected its adjusted headline earnings per share for the year to June 25 to fall between 5% and 10%.

“Massmart’s update shows the really poor consumer environment in SA,” said Ashburton portfolio manager Wayne McCurrie. “This is not unique to Massmart. All consumer firms are suffering the same — a subdued consumer in recession.”

McCurrie said the performance of Massmart’s food division was reasonable and the performance of the nonfood goods was “terrible”, but that the market knew this after SA fell into recession.

Pyle said the next six months were not going to be any better for any retailer, but that the sector could see recovery in 2018.

By Colleen Goko for Business Day

South African consumers have hit hard times over the past few years as a creeping GDP growth, high unemployment and many political shocks continued to weigh on the economy.

In June, GDP data from Stats SA showed that South Africa has officially entered into a recession, with economists predicting tough times ahead for consumers, as more ratings downgrades are in the pipeline, which will ultimately put further pressure on the pocket.

One of the key components of South Africa’s slide into recession was a cut in consumer spending, in everything from recreation, clothing and transport, to even basic needs categories like food.

And South Africa’s biggest food retailers are feeling the pinch.

In April, Pick n Pay missed expectations for its full year earnings citing strained consumer spending as shoppers sought out cheaper options – which appeared to drive them to Shoprite’s doors, who reported a 14% growth in turnover in its latest financial year.

Woolworths, which has consistently positioned itself as a ‘premium’ food store, has seemed to weather the storm, with its latest results for FY2016 showing a 24% growth in profit from its food segment – which makes up 37% of the group’s total turnover.

A weakening economy and drought conditions hit South African food prices hard in 2016, with food inflation hitting close to 12% throughout the year. With a record yield from crops expected in 2017, some relief is on the cards – but the recession and other expected economic woes are likely to keep the pressure on consumers.

In the latest assessment of prices across South African retailers, we found that there has not been much a shift among South Africa’s food retailers.

When shopping for the BusinessTech basket of goods, Woolworths still checks out at the highest price – though it is apparent that, with the exception of Shoprite, competitors have struggled to keep prices low.

The BusinessTech Basket of Goods

For our basket, we look at some essential and non-essential food products. The basket contains 12 items, with store-brands priced for each item where available. The table below shows the pricing:


Prices were sourced in-store from stores around Centurion and cross-checked online, where applicable.Promotional prices, where marked, were not taken into account. Woolworths self-raising flour prices were determined on a per kg basis. In-store prices are subject to change depending on individual regions and promotions.

Prices have increased significantly in some cases, compared to the mid-2015 review. This is most notable in sugar and maize, which were impacted by drought conditions in the country during the interim period.

The most striking difference between the 2015 and 2017 reviews is that Pick n Pay, which was ranked as the cheapest basket in 2015, is now extremely close to being the second-most expensive, a few rands under Spar.

Checkers, which has positioned itself as the more affordable option, has lived up to that reputation, with many of its prices actually decreasing between 2015 and 2017.

Source: www.supermarket.co.za

Malls in crisis as Stuttafords shuts down

Stuttafords’ shutdown may be only the tip of the iceberg for mall owners, who are facing further tenant failures and store closures as consumer spending tightens. But it’s not necessarily all bad news.

The demise of Stuttafords and the looming closure of a number of Edcon stores will bite into the earnings of shopping mall owners, who increasingly face rising vacancies and falling rentals.

JSE-listed mall owner Hyprop Investments expects it will take six months to find new tenants for the 11,000m² of space left empty following last month’s closure of Stuttafords stores in three of its flagship shopping centres.

Hyprop CEO Pieter Prinsloo says it’s too early to say what the impact will be on the company’s bottom line.

“It will depend on how long the stores stand empty and what rental levels we can achieve on new leases.”’

However, he concedes that the Stuttafords store closures will negatively affect dividend payouts to shareholders for the year ending June 2018.

Hyprop is the JSE’s largest specialist retail-focused real estate investment trust (Reit), with a market cap of R30bn. It has in recent years consistently outperformed the sector, both in terms of income and capital growth.

In March, when the company reported results for the six months to December, Prinsloo said Hyprop was on track to achieve dividend growth of 12% for the full year ending June — well ahead of the 7% sector average. That level of growth appears unlikely to be repeated in the 2018 financial year.

Hyprop is already in talks with various retailers to fill the space vacated by Stuttafords. Prinsloo says international retailers, including Swedish fashion retailer H&M, and Zara, are still keen to expand their SA footprints. “Turkish fashion brand LC Waikiki is also interested in establishing a presence in SA.”’

The problem, says Prinsloo, is that it is likely to take six months to negotiate lease agreements with new tenants and fit out new stores. And there is a chance that Hyprop may have to let the vacant space at lower rentals than Stuttafords was paying. Says Prinsloo: “The reality is that trading conditions are tough, with retail sales under pressure across the board. So everyone wants to pay lower rentals.”

Though Stuttafords has paid its rent until the end of May, Hyprop will claim damages equal to the amount owed for the unexpired portion of the three leases. The Rosebank Mall lease was the longest and has four years remaining. But Prinsloo doesn’t expect to recover much. “Creditors are unlikely to get back more than 3c in the rand.”

Other JSE-listed mall owners that will be affected by Stuttafords store closures are sector heavyweight Growthpoint Properties and Liberty Two Degrees. The latter owns stakes in Gauteng megamalls Sandton City and Eastgate. The Stuttafords store in Growthpoint’s Brooklyn Mall in Pretoria shut its doors last month.

It’s not clear if and when its Sandton City and Eastgate stores will close. Liberty Two Degrees declined to comment on the issue.

Stuttafords’ shutdown may turn out to be only the tip of the iceberg for mall owners, who are facing further possible tenant failures and store closures. International fashion brands Mango and Nine West, which were brought to SA by House of Busby, closed their stand-alone stores in March. British retailer River Island, which has a presence in Rosebank Mall, Sandton City and Mall of Africa in Gauteng, Canal Walk in Cape Town, and elsewhere, exits SA this month.

Of particular concern are the looming store closures by the struggling Edcon group, the largest occupier of retail space in SA through its Edgars, Jet, Jet Mart, CNA and Boardmans brands.

Edcon CEO Bernie Brookes said last month the group plans to shut a number of stores when leases come up for renewal, in a bid to stem losses from falling sales and cannibalisation (when a new store lures customers away from an existing one in the same “catchment area”).

Though vacancies in the retail portfolios of larger property stocks are still relatively low at less than 3% typically of gross lettable space, vacancies are bound to tick up over the next 12 months.

Trading densities (turnover/m²), another key measure of retail performance, are already under pressure. Trading density growth in the mall portfolios of both Growthpoint and Hyprop slowed to the low single digits in the six months to December, from 7%-8% achieved 18-24 months ago.

Growthpoint head of retail Stephan le Roux says Edcon store closures will affect all mall owners, given how difficult it is becoming to replace tenants. “Everyone’s growth is flat or falling, so very few retailers are looking to expand in the current weak economy.”

To the (business) rescue
More financially distressed companies that have gone into business rescue since 2011 have been saved than have failed.
Le Roux believes there is also an increased risk of tenant failures among smaller, independent “mom and pop stores” as they often don’t have the financial resources to keep afloat amid continued pressure on retail sales.

The perfect storm has been created by developers’ and retailers’ overzealous expansion in recent years, amid dwindling consumer spending, says Le Roux. “Over the past decade the amount of new retail space added to the market grew at a much faster pace than retail sales. Until a year ago, it was mostly lower-and middle-income shoppers who were under strain. Now upper-income consumers are also tightening their belts as higher taxes and overall living costs erode disposable income.”

Property analysts say store closures by underperfoming retailers is not necessarily all bad news. Meago Asset Managers director Jay Padayatchi says Stuttafords closures could be a blessing in disguise as vacant space may be taken up by international retailers who could trade better and bring in more feet.

Stanlib head of listed property Keillen Ndlovu says the upside of tougher trading conditions is that SA landlords will be forced to improve the shopping experience for consumers. He says this is already happening in the US and UK, where mall owners have had no choice but to adapt to changing shopping patterns and the advent of online shopping.

In the US, he says, department stores seem to be a thing of the past. Landlords are converting big spaces into smaller, specialised outlets.

Ndlovu says globally the focus is increasingly shifting away from fashion/apparel to food, beverage and entertainment offerings. This has already delivered rental upside for large US-listed Reits such as Simon Property Group and General Growth Properties.

Ndlovu notes that SA retail landlords will, similarly, also have to become more innovative to stay ahead of the game. “There’s huge room for SA property owners to improve the tenant mix in local malls as well as to embrace new technology through apps, free WiFi and use of data analytics to better understand shoppers’ changing needs and preferences.”

By Joan Muller for www.businesslive.co.za

Eskom to get R20bn boost from Chinese bank

Eskom will sign a $1.5bn (R19.78bn) loan agreement with China Development Bank on Thursday, as the state-owned utility powers ahead with its funding requirements for 2017.

Last week, new acting Eskom CEO Johnny Dladla revealed that Eskom had secured 77% of its funding requirements for the 2017/18 financial year.

He said that for the 2016/17 financial year, Eskom increased its borrowings by over R60bn.

“We remain resolute that we will fully execute the required funding for the year, albeit under challenging market conditions,” Dladla said in a statement last week.

“Our liquidity levels remain healthy and Eskom’s financial profile continues to improve and stabilise.

“Backed by the availability of the government guarantees and the stable financial profile, we do not foresee significant impediments in the execution of the remainder of the FY17/18 funding requirement,” said Dladla.

Eskom is expected to use R43.6bn of its guarantee in 2016/17 and R22bn annually over the medium term, Treasury said in its 2017 Budget Review. Eskom has a R350bn guarantee for the 2016/17 year, with an exposure of R218.2bn.

“Gross foreign borrowings are expected to account for the majority of total funding over the medium term, largely as a result of Eskom’s efforts to obtain more developmental funding from multilateral lenders,” Treasury said in the Budget Review.

The borrowings come despite the power utility being downgraded by rating agencies this year, after Moody’s, S&P and Fitch cut South Africa’s sovereign credit ratings.

By Matthew le Cordeur for News24

ID theft booms in SA

Statistics from the South African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS) show that identity theft has increased by 200% over the past six years.

Manie van Schalkwyk, the executive director of the SAFPS, says you should avoid “investment” schemes that promise unrealistic returns.

“Consumers also regularly fall victim to several types of advance-fee fraud and often divulge their personal details in the hope of winning a prize in a competition that they never entered,” Van Schalkwyk says.

He says you should do the following to prevent your identity from being stolen:
• Treat your identity document, driver’s licence and personal documents as you would cash. Do not leave them lying around the house or in your car.
• Shred documents before throwing them away.
• Clear your letterbox regularly, particularly if you live in a complex where letterboxes are accessible to a number of people.
• Do not click on URLs (links to websites) in SMSes or emails unless you have initiated the transaction and are certain they are from an authentic source.
• Be cautious about sharing your personal information, particularly when applying for services online.
If you lose your identity document or credit card, Van Schalkwyk says you should contact the SAFPS to apply for protective registration on its database.

“The benefit of protective registration is that all member organisations, including banks, clothing and furniture retailers, and some insurance companies, have access to the SAFPS database, and any identity theft or fraud will be flagged and can be prevented. This is a free service.”

To apply for protective registration, SMS the word “Protectid” to 43366, phone 011 867 2234 or 0860 101 248, or email safps@safps.org.za

Source: Fin24

Top tips for spotting fake news

Recent events in both South Africa and abroad have highlighted the problem of the spreading of false information disguised as news.

These fake news stories can cause a lot of damage to the reputations of people and companies alike, whilst diverting attention from more relevant news items.

University of KwaZulu-Natal media expert Professor Jean-Phillipe Wade said the inventing and sharing of such stories is merely “an ego boost”.

Wade called for a massive increase in media and literary studies to be taught at schools as “often people are genuinely taken with these stories and share them without consultation”. “With social media there is no requirement for editorial gate-keeping. Rumours spread far and wide and there’s no way of stopping it but we need to educate people on how to identify what is verified news,” Wade said.

He drew attention to politicians using fake news to boost their image and their political agenda.

Wade said internationally and nationally, politicians often spread fake news to “cover up their tracks”. He mentioned President Donald Trump and President Jacob Zuma as both using false information to justify their decisions or bolster their campaigns.

Reports that South African football star Benni McCarthy committed suicide in London also surfaced this week and journalists from legitimate newsrooms scrambled to track McCarthy down, who squashed the fake reports.

A social media post claiming that 250 cats, dogs, birds, hamsters and horses in the Germiston and Bedfordview SPCA kennels would be euthanised was also circulated this week.

Chairperson of the Gauteng-based SPCA Elroy Parkinson said that as a result of the false information, their phone lines, e-mail and social media channels were flooded by concerned supporters, making it difficult for staff to respond to everyone.

A NUMBER of media experts around the world have published lists and tips on how to spot fake news. Here are some that relate to South Africa:

• Look to see if reputable news sites are also reporting on the story;

• Check for odd-looking domain names;

• Check the “About Us” tab on websites or look up the website on snopes.com for more information about the source;

• Watch out for common news websites that end in “.com.co” as they are often fake versions of real news sources;

• Bad web design and use of all caps can also be a sign that the source you’re looking at should be verified;

• If the story makes you really angry it’s probably a good idea to keep reading about the topic via other sources to make sure the story you read wasn’t purposefully trying to make you angry in order to generate shares and advertising revenue.

By Kailene Pillay and Alet Janse van Rensburg for News24

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