28 November 2005

All For Love

Professor Dan Jacobson was born in 1929 in Johannesburg of a Lithuanian mother and a Latvian father. He attended Kimberley Boys' High School and the University of the Witwatersrand. He has worked on a kibbutz in Israel, as a teacher in London, as a journalist in Johannesburg and, after returning to Kimberley, in the family milling business. He moved to England in 1958 where he first taught in a Jewish school, and later became Professor of English literature at University College, a post he had held for 10 years.
After the publication of his first two novels, The Trap (1955) and A Dance in the Sun (1956), he was awarded a one-year Creative Writing Fellowship at Stanford University. A Long Way from London, a collection of short stories published in 1958, won the Mail on Sunday / John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and his collection Time of Arrival and Other Essays (1963) won a Somerset Maugham Award. His volume of autobiography, Time and Time Again: Autobiographies (1985), won the J. R. Ackerley Prize. His most recent book is All For Love made it to the Man Booker Prize long list. All for love is the story of the stormy relationship between Princess Louise, daughter of Leopold II of Belgium, and her extra-marital lover Lt. Géza Mattachich.

A shining star in Hollywood

Benoni-born Oscar winner Charlize Theron (30) is a strong contender for another Oscar, thanks to her lead role in North Country. The film is based on the true story of a 1989 class-action lawsuit in the USA. Charlize plays Josey Aimes who returns to Minnesota to rebuild her life after fleeing from an abusive husband.Josey takes a job at a local iron mine and then rallies female workers against the abuse they face from male staff.
Charlize recently received her own star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. She received star number 2291. She first appeared in the 1996 film Two Days in the Valley.

R25,000 tears

Sometimes crying helps. Robyn Jason, previously of East London, burst into tears as the South African national anthem played before the beginning of the Tri-Nations Test between the Springboks and Aussies in Perth. Robyn, her husband, Olivier, and their two young children moved to Perth in February. Across the globe, a South African doctor in Canada watching the match on TV, was so moved by her tears that he offered her R25 000 to return home for a visit. Dr Sieg Heydenrych likes to help people if it was for a "good cause". His gift will enable Robyn's parents, Dave and Liz Law, to travel overseas next year.

Young performers

Pianist Misha Meyer (15) took part in the annual Sanlam competition for young musicians from the age of 7 until she was 13. She recently performed as a soloist with the Randburg City Orchestra and also returned from a summer school in Bulgaria with a bursary for a month of master classes and private lessons in the USA next year. Prof. Tamas Unger, founder of the prestigious Van Cliburn Piano Institute in Fort Worth, Texas, gave her the bursary after seeing her perform in Bulgaria.
The Afrikaanse Hoër Meisieskool Grade 10 pupil is trained by Prof. Joseph Stanford at the University of Pretoria. After Matric, Misha hopes to study for a B.Mus. and then go to Italy for further studies.

Emile de Roubaix (24), from Stellenbosch, is a violinist. He recently started a 2-year post-graduate diploma in chamber music at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.

Liezel's Cause

Hurricane Katrina survivors have been getting some help from South African tennis player and Wimbledon doubles champion, Liezel Huber (29). Liezel has been living in Houston, Txas, since 1997 and is married to an American, Tony. The couple used their local church as a shelter for survivors and soon Liezel started a charity organisation, Liezel's Cause. Martina Navratilova has donated towards this fund-raising effort. Liezel, born in Durban, initially helped a family of 8, but after calling on friends for help, they soon had enough to look after 10 families. Liezel injured her knee after her Wimbledon win with Cara Black, and had to have surgery. She will only return to tennis in March 2006.

Discovering new markets

Discovery Holdings’ operating profit from South African businesses has gone through the R1-billion barrier, but their US operation, Destiny Health, is not in the same league yet. Destiny has grown from its base in Illinois into other states beyond Wisconsin, Massachusetts and the mid-Atlantic seaboard. Texas and California are the next targets.

Tsotsi at the Oscars

Gavin Hood's third feature film, Tsotsi, has been submitted for the Foreign Film Category of the 78th Academy Awards. Tsotsi has already received rave reviews from international media after being screened at the recent Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the People’s Choice Award. Based on Athol Fugard’s novel of the same name, it tells the story of a township gangster, Tsotsi, who learns to take care of an infant whose mother he shot during a car hijacking. Caring for the child gradually repairs Tsotsi's broken spirit.

South Africa's next space pioneer

Elon Musk (34) owns and pilots three jets, including a Russian fighter plane, and has produced a movie starring Katie Holmes. He sold two Internet companies made him a rand billionaire 10 times over. The former Pretoria Boys and Bryanston High School pupil has spent more than R600-million in making space travel cheaper. Still a South African citizen, Elon has lived in Canada and Bel Air, California for 17 years. He left South Africa in 1989, to avoid conscription, and landed in Canada. He later moved to the US where he studied economics and physics at the University of Pennsylvania.
He is set to become the first person in history to send his own rocket into orbit when he launches his brainchild Falcon rocket from the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands any day now. His Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX), based in El Segundo, Texas, was set up 3 years ago and has a staff of 150. The United States Defence Department was his first customer, with the US Air Force signing a $100-million contract until 2010. His company also beamed up the ashes of Star Trek’s legendary engineer Scotty, actor James Doohan, into space.
In 1999 Elon and his co-founders sold Zip2, a Web software business, for more than $300-million to Compaq. From there, he founded the online payment service company Paypal. Three years ago he sold it to eBay, keeping $1,5-billion in stocks.
Elon was the executive producer of the movie, Thank you for smoking, which recently premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and stars Robert Duvall, Rob Lowe and Katie Holmes. The married father of twin babies has a Porsche Turbo, a MacLaren F1, and an e-Type Jaguar. For his 30th birthday, he flew friends and family from South Africa to Ashby Castle in England, the medieval fortress where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned.
His uncle, Midrand medical doctor Michael Musk, said that Elon had a life-changing experience when he almost died from malaria after a holiday to Londolozi Game Reserve in 2000. His first-born child died soon afterwards.

Cot death device in tests

Hans Pietersen (46), a Pretoria IT engineer, has invented a device that targets Cot Death Syndrome. The Respisense Buzz was made to protect babies against cot death by triggering a cellphone vibrator motor inside their nappies when sensors detect that breathing has stopped for 15 seconds. Testing took place at the Newborn Intensive Care Unit at Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town. The device won a South African Bureau of Standards Prototype Award for design, but has yet to receive an SABS safety certificate. Currently breathing monitors available for home use make use of a sensor pad beneath the baby’s mattress to trigger an alarm, but do not feature a stimulation device. Hans thought of the device when his wife had triplets in 2002 and they felt the twins were vulnerable to cot death because they were 6 weeks premature.
The device uses the same tiny vibration motor found in cellphones, which, with the sensors and alarm system, is contained in a matchbox-sized device that attaches to a nappy waistband. If the baby’s breathing stops for 15 seconds, it is programmed to vibrate against the tummy. If no breathing movement is recorded for 5 seconds after that, a 90 decibel alarm is triggered.
Professor Gert Kirsten, head of the newborn unit at Tygerberg, said cot death was a failed respiration syndrome among infants not yet fully understood by medical science. It was responsible for the deaths of “perhaps one infant in every 500 to 1000 live births” in South Africa. He said apnoea was the cessation of breathing, often suffered by premature babies whose brains “forget to inhale”.

Condé Nast likes SA

The Condé Nast 2005 travel awards voted South Africa the 9th best country in the world, and South African Airways the 10th best international carrier. The winners are selected from a survey of the international magazine's readers, who are asked to score various categories on a set of criteria which include food, value for money, services and friendliness of staff. New Zealand was the overall favourite holiday destination. Several South African hotels and spas also made it into the top lists, including Singita Private Game Reserve, which was 2nd in the Middle East, Africa and Indian Ocean Islands leisure hotels category. In first place was the Ngorogoro Crater Lodge in Tanzania. Cape Town's Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa came in 6th, the Ngala Private Game Reserve in the Kruger Park took 7th place, Cape Town's Ellerman House 8th, the Cape Grace Hotel in Cape Town was 12th, the Table Bay Hotel 16th and Londolozi Lodge 13th. The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa also took 8th position in the world's best spas outside of the UK.

27 November 2005

For the Green, and winning Gold

A few years ago, Alistair Cragg was a rising star in South African athletics, but Athletics South Africa had no place for him in their developing group. He left the country and went to study at the University of Arkansas in the USA. Not too long ago, Alistair won the gold medal in the mens' 3,000 meters - for Ireland at the European Indoor Championships in Madrid. Alistair (24), a former Greenside High School student, was the only European athlete in the 5,000 m finals at the Athens Olympics.

The South African Dream?

One out of 12 people in the UK were born overseas - about 5 million out of the 60 million population. It is said that at least 1 million of the 5 million are South Africans. Wherever you go, in London especially, you hear South African accents.
London has 2 South African newspapers. Casper de Vries sold 2 298 seats for a show at the London Palladium, two years running. Pieter-Dirk Uys, Karen Zoid, Johnny Clegg, Arno Carstens and Dozi are regular visitors. The South African Business Club has a few hundred members. SABMiller, Old Mutual and Dimension Data have headquarters in London. When Richard Branson sold Virgin Records to EMI, one of the major shareholders was Simon Draper, his nephew from Pietermaritzburg. Ernie Els and Retief Goosen have homes in the UK, Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Strauss represent English cricket, and the former junior Springbok Matt Stevens and SA under-23 player Stuart Abbott play English rugby.

War photographer's latest book

War photographer Joao Silva's latest book, In The Company Of God, looks at the war in Iraq. The veteran photographer has spent 15 years in war zones and was a member of the Bang-Bang Club, along with Greg Marinovich, Kevin Carter and Ken Oosterbroek. Joao is the only one still dodging bullets, even though he is now married to Vivian and they have a baby girl, Isabel.
In The Company of God, a joint effort between STE Publishers and PictureNet Africa (the Johanneaburg photographic agency in which he is a partner), is a collection photographs taken in Iraq for the New York Times between July 2003 and March 2005. The hardcover book is divided into four sections. The first section, Blood of Pilgrims, starts with a broad history of Iraq.

Kepler's son going for England cap

Quietly, but determinedly, Riki Wessels (19) is well on his way to achieving his dream of earning an England cricket cap. The son of former South African cricket captain, Kepler Wessels, has emerged as Northamptonshire’s first-choice wicketkeeper. He is currently playing under the Kolpak agreement, which entitles citizens of European Union associate countries to employment rights.
Riki was born in Australia and is a South African citizen. He matriculated at Woodridge College, near Port Elizabeth, and played for Eastern Province in the 2002 and 2003 Khaya Majola Weeks. To qualify for England in 2008, he must spend a minimum of 210 days a year in England. When not playing cricket, Riki studies for a higher diploma in information technology.
He got his chance of a regular place in the team when fellow South African Gerard Brophy broke a finger at the start of the season. Almost like his father, who made a century on his Test debut for Australia while South Africa was excluded from international cricket, Riki hit a century with Somerset in his second first-class appearance. His maiden century was made off 116 balls with 17 fours and a six. His second century was against Worcestershire. As a wicketkeeper, he models himself on former England player Alec Stewart.
Other players who have taken the Kolpak option in recent years include Martin van Jaarsveld, Dale Benkenstein, HD Ackerman, Claude Henderson, Charl Pietersen and Johann Louw.

South African expertise everywhere

Dr. Ivor van Heerden's voice became familiar to hurricane waters during Hurricane Katrina. The geologist who grew up in Pietermaritzburg and studied geology at the University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg, is deputy director of the Louisiana State University’s Hurricane Centre. Using sophisticated computer software, he was able to pinpoint how bad the storm would be and warned authorities days before it struck New Orleans. He was also able to plot where the flood water would go. Dr. van Heerden first left South Africa to study in the US, as no South African university was carrying out coastal research at the time. He returned to South Africa in 1983 but left permanently in 1989, after being offered a job by Louisiana State University where along with engineer Marc Levitan, he set up the university’s hurricane centre.

South African fashions

Stoned Cherrie, Black Coffee, Sun Goddess - South African fashion labels aiming to make their mark on the world fashion stage. The distinctively African designs proved to be winners when they featured at a Spanish retailer's recent South African promotional month. Within an hour of the opening in Madrid's Paseo de la Castellana, only one skirt was left on the rails. T-shirts featuring the covers of Drum magazine also proved popular. Stoned Cherrie sold T-shirts displaying the image of activist Steve Biko. Nkhesani Nkosi, who started Stoned Cherrie, wants to build a global super-brand that is South African.

Honour for fisherman

Vereeniging’s Gerry Leach has become the first African in the International Game Fishing Association’s Hall of Fame. The keen fisherman was honoured for his conservation and administration of bass angling in Southern African countries. Bass angling is the world’s fastest growing fishing sport. It involves fishermen catching the big-mouth black bass, then releasing it once it has been recorded for size. Gerry's biggest catch is a fish weighing 3.86kg. He was presented with the award during the Bassmaster Classic World Championships in Pennsylvania.

Another East Rand star in the making

Nicole Pedro (15) from Primrose, Germiston, recently signed a 5-year modelling contract worth $1-million with New Model Today. One of Mark and Sylvia's daughter's first photographic shoots under the contract was shot in Italy for Chanel lip gloss. The former Hoërskool Vryburger student started modelling at 13 and was spotted by an agent while shopping at the East Rand Mall. Nicole was taken to Italy where she spent 3 months at a modelling school. She was offered the recent contract, despite being 1,6 m in height. The dark-haired beauty wants to be a supermodel and has Hollywood in her plans.

Award-winning classical guitarist

Classical guitarist Michal George moved from Johannesburg to the USA in 1997. He enrolled at the Cleveland Institute of Music in Ohio where he obtained his Masters in 1999. Michal also won the Rosilia Ablan memorial prize for guitar studies. He was the winner of the 2002 International Web Concert Hall Competition, where he performed exclusively South African music. His CD - He who walks freely, taking big steps - for Daminus Records in Germany followed his successful debut Umzwangedwa. The CD features mostly his own compositions, with a few from fellow South Africans Stanley Glasser, Abri Jordaan, Peter Klatzow and Timothy Walker. His African roots shine through. The CD's title comes from one of Michal's poems.
Michal's musical education started at the University of Cape Town's College of Music. This was followed by Wits Music School where he studied under David Hewitt, the most famous South African guitarist, teacher and guitar composer. David died in 2001 at the age of 54 from Alzheimer's. Another teacher at Wits was the father of South African classical guitar, Fritz Buss. Michal did not come from a musical family. He is married to Romy, a modern dancer. When not practisinmg or performing, he plays tennis, reads and teaches group exercise classes at health clubs in Cleveland.

South African world champion

A South African horse was recently crowned Reserve Five Gaited World's Grand Champion - ridden by a Free Stater, Lionell Ferreira, in Louisville, Kentucky. Prince's Domino was trained by Dirk Claassens of Buckridge in Bloemfontein. The horse won the South African Five Gait title in 2004. Lionell, from Virginia in the Free State, is a horse trainer for the horse's current owner, Lord John Buhlmer of Mornington Estate in Hereford, England. Prince's Domino was bred by T.J. Lochner of Pretoria and was originally owned by Dries du Preez of Jeffrey's Bay.

Memorial Web site becomes a gathering place

Aloshan Dookie (17), from Chatsworth, immigrated to Sydney, Australia two years ago. Last year, he set up a Web site in memory of a friend who died from an Ecstasy overdose. The site quickly became a gathering place for homesick South African Indians. Aloshan hope sto return to Chatsworth for good one day.

Mom goes to the West End

South African actress, dancer and singer Amra-Faye Wright (44) is the lead role in the hit musical Chicago at the Adelphi Theatre in London's West End. She was offered the role after the Broadway producers of Chicago, Barry and Fran Weissler, saw her in the lead role in the South African production of Chicago. Only three other South Africans have played starring roles on West End stages: Craig Urbani as Buddy in Buddy Holly, Edward Baker Duly as Riff in West Side Story and Kate Normington as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard.
The Eastern Cape-born actress plays the merry murderess Velma Kelly, the role played by Catherine Zeta-Jones in the movie version of Chicago. Amra-Faye, named for a ship, is the mother of two teenage daughters. In her late 20s, after her marriage to an East London tomato farmer collapsed, she became a dancer at Sun City, headlining the extravaganza Viva Sun City. This was followed by the female lead in the Starburst extravaganza in Korea and roles in South African hits such as the Elvis Las Vegas extravaganza and Grease.

Home-grown language CDs

Learning Setswana and isiZulu has benn made easier, thanks to CTexT (Centre for Text Technology) at the North-West University in Potchefstroom. The two programmes, Tsenang! and Ngenani!, are in Afrikaans. CDs for Setswana/English and isiZulu/English are also available. Each CD consists of 8 chapters, with each chapter containing 6 to 8 lessons. CTexT has also made 5 spellcheckers - Afrikaans, Setswana, Sesotho, isiZulu and isiXhosa, which work with Microsoft programmes.

26 November 2005

South African-born producer

Robbie Stamp was born in South Africa in 1960 and left when he was 9 months old. His parents had immigrated to South Africa after WW2. His father, Colin, set up American Express in South Africa but is better known for presenting Abroad on Sunday Morning, on Springbok Radio. Robbie was the executive producer on the film Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy. He started a multimedia company, The Digital Village, with the late Douglas Adams (author of Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy) in 1992.

Jody's gift to East London

East London's Jody Scheckter won the Formula 1 World Championship for Ferrari in 1979 and went on to build a high-tech business in Atlanta, USA, before starting an organic farm, Laverstoke Park, in Hampshire, England. Jody recently made the largest personal donation to date to the Berea Gardens Retirement Foundation in East London. He requested that most of this donation be used to contribute towards the construction costs of a new wing at the Lily Kirchmann Home - the frail care facility in Berea Gardens where his mother lives. Part of the donation will go towards the Xhasanani Project, a community-run organisation mentored by Berea Gardens that cares for elderly folk in the nearby squatter community. The funding will go towards establishing a community-based home care support group for AIDS sufferers.

Greenside's spaceman

Mike Melvill (64) became the first man to pilot a privately-financed craft into space on June 21, 2004. He was born in Greenside, Johannesburg, and attended Highbury School in Hillcrest before going to Hilton College from 1954 to 1958 but didn't get his Matric. He married Sally, a St Anne's girl, in Gretna Green, England, as her father didn't approve of Mike. A few years later the couple and their children moved to the US where Mike took flying lessons and got together with aviation engineer Burt Rutan. Over the years they have created several experimental planes including the Global Flyer that Steve Fossett flew in the first solo, non-stop round-the-world flight in 67 hours. Mike returned to his alma mater earlier this year to give them a $2 note which he took with him into space. It was signed by Mike and Paul Benny, who took the craft up a second time.

Former policeman is Mr World

André van der Mescht (36), a former policeman in the Brixton Murder and Robbery Unit, took the Mr World title for bodybuilding last year. The Meyersdal, Alberton, resident turned pro in 1999 when he won the Police bodybuilding competition. In 2003 he won Mr Universe. André is married to Vanessa and they have a son, Matthew.

Extreme swimmer

Lewis Gordon Pugh (35) has swam in the Arctic Ocean wearing nothing but a Speedo and swimming cap. In December 2005, he takes on the Antarctic.
The maritime lawyer is based in London, having studied law at the universities of Cape Town and Cambridge. Nicknamed Ice Bear, Lewis' father was a Royal Navy surgeon and historian. The family moved from Plymouth to South Africa when he was 10 years old. Cape Town was his introduction to the sea. At the age of 17, Lewis swam from Robben Island to Cape Town. Afterwards, he planned bigger and colder swims. Lewis was the first person to swim around Cape Agulhas. In 2003 he completed the first swim in the Barents Sea when he swam around North Cape, Europe's most northern point. Last year he swam the entire length of the 204km long Sognefjord, Norway's longest fjord, in an epic feat that took him 21 days to complete. National Geographic filmed the swim for a documentary entitled The Legend of the Fjord. Last year he swam around the Cape Peninsula, a distance of some 100km, to raise funds for HIV/AIDS orphans in South Africa.In August 2005 he broke his own world record for the most northern swim when he completed the first swim in the Artic Ocean. Lewis swam 1km at the most northern point of the island of Spitsbergen, just 1,100 kilometers from the North Pole. The swim, in water of 3C, took 20 minutes and 30 seconds. A team of armed Norwegians on an accompanying boat kept him safe from polar bears and walruses, while UCT Sports Science Institutes Professor Tim Noakes monitored his heart rate as part of a research project.  

23 October 2005

SA model's break-up leads to hit song

Cape Town supermodel, Roxy Ingram (23), must be one of the few women who have a chart-topping song about a relationship break-up. Roxy, voted one of South African FHM magazine's 100 most beautiful women, dated British R&B star Craig David for 8 months, until he cheated on her. They met at one of his concerts in Cape Town. She moved to London during the relationship but returned to Cape Town after the break-up and took a 6-month break from modelling. The break-up inspired the track Don’t Love You No More (I’m Sorry). He grew on the run-down Holyrood Estate in Southampton, and his parents split when he was eight. He now lives in a penthouse in Hampstead, North London.

More South African movie stars

The southern Cape is home to some of South Africa's international movie stars. Sam and Tsotsi are tame African elephants who live at the Botlierskop Nature Reserve outside Klein-Brakrivier. The two can be seen in Pride, which was filmed in South Africa.

Pride is the story of Suki, a lioness cub, growing up in the Serengeti. Suki later rebels against her mother and her pride to mate with an unsuitable lion from the other side of the river. But when the others will not accept her and her own new cubs because of her unwillingness to provide for the pride, she reluctantly tries to return home. Will her family accept her back after she defected to the enemy pride? The film used real lions to tell the tale of Suki using new animation techniques that allow the animals to talk. The voice cast includes Kate Winslet, Rupert Graves, Helen Mirren, Jim Broadbent, Sean Bean and Robbie Coltrane.

Sam and Tsotsi, as well as the lions in the film, belong to Zimbabwean Viv Bristow (60), who lives in Polokwane. He saved the two elephants when they were orphaned by a culling programme. Viv, a professional animal handler, has lost his farms in Zimbabwe to the land grab but was able to relocate most of his animals to South Africa. They are used in films and TV commercials. Sam also appeared in a film with Isabella Rosselini. The two elephants also appeared in Elephant Boy, in a French commercial for Peugeot and an American commercial for Jeep Cherokee.

Inspirational youngster

Chaeli Mycroft is only 10 years old but she has already been the youngest finalist in the Shoprite Checkers-SABC2 Woman of the Year awards. Chaeli started the Chaeli Campaign, with 3 friends and her sister, last year to buy herself a motorised wheelchair which cost R20 000. They managed to do this in 7 weeks and now they help others. Sisters Chelsea (7), Tarryn (13) and Justine Terry (10), joined with Chaeli's sister, Erin (12), to form their charity group which recently celebrated its first anniversary. Chaeli has cerebral palsy and a degenerative neuropathy.

Where art thou, South African doctor?

If you're looking for a South African doctor, head for Australia. A recent informal survey by a South African doctor in Australia, found 5 South African radiologists, 2 psychiatrists, 1 general surgeon, 1 gynaecologist and 2 specialists in Perth alone. In Goomalling there is an Afrikaans GP, as well as one in Wongon Hills. There is a female GP, formerly from Koppies, in Dalwallinu. Her former partner in Koppies now works in Corrigan. Geraldton has a few GPs as well as a South African pediatrician. Narrogin has 7 Afrikaans doctors. And this is only in Western Australia! Never mind the amount of South African doctors found all over Canada. To practise overseas, South African doctors have to obtain a Certificate of Status from the South African Council of Health Professions. In 2000 there were 878 such applications. In 2001, 3 707; in 2002, 4 299 and in 2003, 5 995 applications.

Record release in London

South Africa's biggest selling rock star, Arno Carstens, released his latest album - The Hello Goodbye Boys - in London in September, as part of a new initiative by record label SonyBMG SA to market South African music. The new album was pre-sold on the Internet through SonyBMG and HMV. To make it to the UK charts, 20 000 records must be sold. Arno was previously the lead singer of the popular group, The Springbok Nude Girls. His first album, Another Universe, has earned him the 2004 Sama Award for Best Rock Album and reached gold in South Africa.

Former Mr Universe helps Alex youth

Reg Park, a three-time Mr Universe winner and the man who once trained Arnold Schwarzenegger, has offered to train a group of Alexandra youths who have set up a gym in the township. He is also prepared to give a percentage of funds generated from his Web site, www.regpark.net, towards new equipment. The gym is the only one of its kind in Alexandra. It was started by Tumi Masite (20) who has been unemployed since completing Matric last year. Now the youngsters will be working out with Park at the Morningside Virgin Active, which will give them free use of its facilities. South African clinical psychologist Gerald Williamson was so inspired by the determination of Masite and his group that he donated equipment worth R30 000.

I have a tuisnywerheid in Kenya

Wherever you find South African expats, you're sure to find boerewors. On the outskirts of Nairobi, it's Gail's Kitchen and the restaurant Baraza Grill, run by South African Gail Unsworth, where you'll find boerewors, melktert and koeksusters. Gail started the business after meeting her husband John, a Kenyan businessman, on the Internet. Nairobi has a large South African community.

Africa Channel launches in the USA

Africa Channel was launched in the USA in September. James Makawa, founder and CEO, said the channel caters for people who already watch shows about Africa on cable channels such as National Geographic, Discovery and the History channel. Makawa, a 45-year-old Santa Monica resident, is a former broadcast journalist whose family left Rhodesia in the 1970s and went into exile in the US. He lived in South Africa for 9 years and began the African Barter Company, which distributed western programming across sub-Saharan Africa. Co-founders Jacob Arback, a former vice president of DirecTV International, and Richard Hammer, a former executive with Columbia Pictures Television, both lived in Africa as their company representatives. Investors include National Basketball Association stars Dikembe Mutombo and and Theo Ratliff.

The Africa Channel broadcasts via digital cable on the Bill Gates-owned Cox Cox Communications Inc. Executives are in talks with extra cable networks and satellite companies to gain broadcast rights in Europe.

The network, with offices in North Hollywood and Johannesburg , re-broadcasts shows written and produced by Africans, such as Carte Blanche Africa, Souh African soap operas Generations and Isidingo: The Need, and Big Brother Africa which features contestants from 12 African countries. News, travel, music and feature films will also be part of the programming on offer.

TV series filmed in Cape Town

Sam Neill, Catherine Bell, Lou Diamond Philips and Eric Stoltz are some of the international actors who finished filming a science fiction TV series in Cape Town recently. South African actor Marius Weyers also has a role in The Triangle, which deals with disappearances in the Bermuda triangle.

Straight up! Helicopters in action

Two South Africans, Dr. Douw Grobler of Silver Lakes Estate in Pretoria and J.J. van Altena of Thabazimbi, appear in the IMAX movie, Straight up! Helicopters in action. The movie focuses on the role that helicopters play in various situations. Grobler and van Altena were featured in scenes involving the relocation of black rhinos in the Eastern Cape. Grobler, a vet, shot the tranquiliser from the helicopter, while van Altena, a wildlife specialist, was the ground co-ordinator.

17 October 2005

Book of memories

Colin Donian, a resident of Centurion, has found a way to honour those who've died in road accidents. It is common to see white crosses and fowers left at the spot of accidents. Colin is collecting the stories behind these memorials, and will publish a book next September. He plans to have 2 pages per person, with information about the accident, the deceased's life, family and friends memories and a photo. To contribute to his effort, e-mail him at mindworx-7@mweb.co.za

Nurses meet with Minister

About 160 South African nurses in London recently met with the South African Minister of Health, Tshabala-Msimang, at South Africa House to air their grievances. The nurses want to return to South Africa but are not happy about the health sector conditions there, especially salaries. The meeting was at the invitation of the Association of South African Nurses in Britain. The Minister was told that between 1998 and 2001 about 3 800 South African nurses were registered with the British Medical Council. Mmapula Tladi-Small, the association's director, said that returning nurses battled to find work in the public health sector, although the private sector was more open to them.

Teachers studied

Guy Mulvaney, a student at IMM Graduate School of Marketing, recently completed a post-graduate dissertation that found that South African teachers were being lured to England by unscrupulous British recruitment agencies. Mulvaney, a former teacher in London for five years, the companies are mainly targeting newly qualified teachers with no teaching experience and that the majority are not fluent in English. British agencies were not using structured interviews or screening processes when recruiting South African teachers. SA teachers were not informed about the challenges waiting for them at typical inner-city London schools. Eighty-six percent indicated they were not informed that they would not receive qualified teacher status, and because overseas teacher qualifications were not recognised in Britain, they were unable to get permanent jobs. However, the consensus was that teaching in London is attractive, with 89% content with living conditions in the city and 98% indicating they had made the right move. The major grievance of SA teachers in London is the extremely poor discipline of children, 87% rated it as the number one problem. Mulvaney found that 57% of South African teachers were impressed with the teaching resources provided by agencies and 67% were satisfied with training courses provided. He said there were between 3 000 to 4 000 South African secondary school teachers in London.

16 October 2005

Over the moon as Hollywood comes calling

Since producing the winning film presentation for London's 2012 Olympic bid, Hollywood has been knocking on Caroline Rowland's door. The former Welkom resident, (37), won over the judges with her scene where a young Soweto child sits on a street corner in Johannesburg, throwing pebbles onto the street. Caroline's company, New Moon Productions, has been approcahed by Warner Bros., amongst others, and she went to Los Angeles to meet with agents and managers. She is now management by the company that also manages actors Tobey Maguire and Jeff Goldblum. She is currently working on a South African production. She studied journalism at Rhodes University and her parents live in Johannesburg.

South African in MTV Europe Music Awards

A former South Africa Pop Idol contestant, Zamajobe Sithole (20), will share the stage with stars such as Alicia Keys and Mariah Carey at the MTV Europe Music Awards which will be held in Portugal next month. She has been nominated in a new category, Best African Act.

She has been very busy since finishing in the top 10 of the talent show in 2003. Zama was nominated for 3 awards including Best Newcomer, Best Jazz Vocal Album and Best Joint Composition in the 2005 South African Music Awards. Last November she released her album, Ndawo yami (my place), a blend of jazz, blues, soul and gospel. Most of the songs were written by her. It has sold more than 25,000 copies and is heading for platinum status.

Born in Frankfort in February 1985 and raised in Vosloorus, Zama started singing professionally at the age of nine with Pastor Benjamin Dube and featured on several of his recordings. She started playing guitar at 17. She also spent a year doing Latin American dancing professionally. The active teenager also did modelling and won titles such as Miss Vosloorus and Top 10 finalist for Miss Gauteng and whilst in primary school she was named the first ever Miss Colin Mann Primary.

Attacks on South Africans in London

Stanton Ashton (27) was stabbed in his right eye with a broken beer glass at Charlie's Wine Bar near London Bridge on September 23. He received 20 stitches to his eyeball and 100 to his face, as well as emergency reconstructive surgery. He might lose vision in his right eye. He has an eye scan scheduled for November 28 to see the extent of injuries to his retina and lens before he flies back to Durban.

While recovering, he took part in Eye Awareness Week in London, along with fellow South African Grant Nock. Grant was blinded in one eye after being attacked on July 31, after he and three friends had visited a London bar to watch the rugby match between South Africa and Australia. After the match they were attacked by a group of youngsters who threw bricks and bottles at them. He was hit in the eye by a broken beer bottle and lost his eye.

Battling to stay in the UK

Candice Chesher (18) petitioned Prime Minister Tony Blair in a bid to stave off a deportation order. The South African teenager was refused permission to stay in the UK with her family, who moved to Britain from South Africa in 2003. The family live in Ripon, northern Yorkshire. Her mother, Karen (38), has an Irish passport, and her brother, Alex (15), and Nottingham-born step-father, Martin (43), have British passports. Hours after Candice visited Downing Street, the Home Office released a statement appearing to indicate she could stay because her mother holds an Irish passport. The statement further stated that European law states that descendents under the age of 21 have the right to live with an EU national who is employed in another member country. Martin rubbished the claims, saying the Home Office had already told them they had exhausted all rights of appeal to stay in the UK.

Karen and Martin Chesher applied for Candice to be allowed to stay in England soon after they arrived in 2003. The application was rejected because Candice has a South African passport - her natural father, who left her and her mother when she was 10 months old, is South African. The family won an appeal in February last year after adjudicators decided that it was wrong to split up the family. However, the Home Office launched a counter-appeal and won on the grounds of an "error in law". Officials argued that Candice had to go back to South Africa because she has a grandmother and an uncle there. The family had not spoken to the 60-year-old grandmother since falling out with her 5 years ago. The uncle, who looks after three children of his own and lives more than 120 miles from Pretoria, has said that he could not care for Candice.

Martin, a boat-builder, went to South Africa from Nottingham in 1983. He brought the family to England after he lost his job, along with a house and car, in Pretoria. He and Karen have been married for 12 years, both have jobs and recently bought a semi-detached house.

A long walk

South African Lance Dyer (38) was arrested recently for walking through the channel tunnel (Chunnel) between Britain and France. He appeared in the Folkstone magistrate's court on charges of endangering lives and causing a public disturbance, and was remanded in custody until October 18. A temporary problem with the CCTV system allowed him to enter the tunnel on the British side unnoticed. Dyer, who is apparently also a British citizen, walked in flip-flops and took 15 hours. The Eurostar train takes about three hours to go from Britain to France. Although the last commuter train arrives in Britain at about midnight, freight trains travel through the tunnel night and day.

Lisa Fugard's debut novel

Lisa Fugard's debut novel, Skinner's Drift, sees Eva van Rensburg (28) making a difficult return to South Africa in 1997 after 10 years in New York. There is a tie that runs deeper in Africa than it does anywhere else in the world - a connection to land, to roots, to home. Eva had vowed never to return to South Africa, a place of haunted memories and broken hearts, but her father is dying and she feels it is her duty. Her father is a violent man whose terrible secret Eva has kept since she was a child. After her rebellious and lonely English mother's death, unable to face life alone with her father on their debt-ravaged farm on the banks of the Limpopo River. Eva left. Now, she finds the new South Africa scarcely recognisable. As old wounds have barely begun to heal, she's given her mother's diaries and faces the secret that drove her far from home.

The inspiration for the book came from a 1995 article in the Weekly Mail and Guardian about a policeman at Pontdrif who was taking on the poachers in the Limpopo area, including his predecessor who was involved in the shooting of 23 hyena in the Limpopo riverbed. Lisa's research included a visit to Orania and a game reserve in the Limpopo area.

Lisa is the daughter of acclaimed South African playwright Athol Fugard and Sheila, also a writer. She was born in Port Elizabeth in 1961, where she attended a Catholic school. After one year at Rhodes University, she went to New York in 1980 with her parents and persuaded them to let her stay there, to study acting. She started writing seriously in her early 30s. Lisa has written travel and naturalist articles, with several pieces published in the New York Times. In 1997 she won the Robie Macauley Fellowship for short fiction. In addition to playing the lead role in the stage rendering of Lyssie, she has also acted in several of her father's plays. She lives in a small town in the Anza Borrego Desert in southern California with her husband and young son. Her parents live in Del Mar, near San Diego.

Gem Squash Tokoloshe

Rachel Zadok (33) sold almost 50 000 copies of her first novel in the UK. Within days of being published it was one of Amazon’s 500 top sellers. The South African author's book, Gem Squash Tokoloshe, has received rave reviews from The Daily Telegraph and The Independent, amongst others. A second print run was recently done to meet demand. Rachel has gone from being a waitress and working at a charity shop, to doing radio and TV interviews and appearing at bookshops and literary festivals.

Rachel was born in Johannesburg, where she attended Jeppe Girls’ High and lived close to Robert's Avenue in Kensington. After completing a fine arts diploma, she worked as a graphic designer for 7 years but ended up hating it. Her regular e-mails to friends overseas were looked foreward to and they told her to consider writing. In 2000, she and fiance, Julian te Riele, a doctor, moved to London in order to further his career. Rachel took a creative writing course. While waitressing part-time, she enrolled in the Certificate in Novel Writing, run as an evening course by the Department of Education and Lifelong Learning at City University. By the time the course ended, half of Gem Squash Tokoloshe was finished.

While taking a break from writing late one afternoon in September 2004, she switched on the TV and watched the Richard and Judy Show, London's answer to Oprah. Rachel never watched afternoon TV but that day, a new competition was announced. Like Oprah, Richard and Judy have a very popular book club which sends the sales of featured books soaring. The How To Get Published competition involved entrants submitting a synopsis and first chapter of a novel. Rachel decided to enter.

Several months later, while helping out at a friend’s charity shop, Rachel received a phone call from the show's producers. There were 46 000 entries and she’d made the final 26. Shortly afterwards she was told she was in the final 5. Rachel was eventually runner-up and Pan Macmillan, the publishing sponsor, was so impressed that they offered Rachel and the other runners-up a publishing contract with an advance of £20,000 each. Christine Aziz (46), a freelance journalist and homeopath, took first prize with her debut novel, The Olive Readers.

Gem Squash Tokoloshe is the story of the dissolution of a marriage as seen through the eyes of an innocent child. The inspiration for Gem Squash Tokoloshe came from a photo Rachel kept on her fridge door in her south London flat. It was of a friend and her child, Rachel's goddaughter. She called them Bella and Faith, and soon a story developed. Faith, the central character and narrator, is 7 years old when the story opens in 1985. Her Afrikaner father is a travelling salesman, returning only at weekends, and her mother, Bella, is into fairies and sprites, is left to look after their farm in the Northern Transvaal. Faith's dog, Boesman, is her only friend. One day Faith's father stops coming home and Bella’s health declines with the abusive relationship and loneliness driving her into madness. When Nomsa, the servant who looks after Faith, is shot, Bella is locked away. Fifteen years after Bella has died incarcerated in the Sterkfontein asylum for the criminally insane, Faith, not having spoken to her mother for 10 years, is on the brink of a breakdown of her own in the New South Africa. She has also inherited the farm.

Rachel, a fan of JM Coetzee and André Brink, took 3 years to pursue a career as a writer. She is now working on her second novel, also set in South Africa, dealing with HIV, rape, child abuse. She and her husband plan to return soon to South Africa.

Treatment Action Campaign charity in London

South Africa's Treatment Action Campaign, which fights against HIV and AIDS, has launched a fund-raising group in London. FoTAC (Friends of Treatment Action Campaign) was set up South Africans in London to support the work of the Nobel Peace Prize nominated TAC in South Africa. Former ANC MP Andrew Feinstein is chairman of the new charity. Feinstein resigned as an MP in 2001 in protest over the government's refusal to investigate allegations of high-level corruption in the multi-billion rand arms deal. He now lives in London.

TAC has been campaigning for greater access to HIV treatment for all South Africans since 1998. This has involved challenging the government in court.

A Story of an African Farm

The South African classic novel, A Story of an African Farm, by Olive Schreiner is finally made it to the big screen, after 10 years of hard work.

Schreiner's novel is one of South Africa's best loved stories and has been acclaimed as a landmark of modern feminist literature. It was written between 1874-75 published 8 years later in London, to rave reviews. It tells the story of Tant Sannie, her two young charges Em and Lyndall, farm manager Otto and his genius son Waldo, who live in the Karoo and whose lives are turned upside down by the arrival of Bonaparte Blenkins. Blenkins, thinking that Tant Sannie is a wealthy landowner, sets about wooing her but the children are wise to his tricks.

Bonnie Rodini, the South African writer / producer, wrote the script with the input from director James Dearden, with whom she was working on A Kiss Before Dying in New York. He also wrote the script for Fatal Attraction. Rodini read the book as part of her Matric setwork. She battled to find investors and eventually put the project aside as she embarked on an award-winning television career. She refined the script during this time and finally in 2002, she met with actor Richard E Grant in Cape Town. She thought he would be right person to play the part of Blenkins, and he accepted. Bodini set about raising the millions needed, cold calling wealthy businessmen. She got the Oscar winner Armin Meuller Stahl to play Otto, and acclaimed South African director David Lister to direct. Filming took place at Zoute Kloof Farm, halfway between Matjiesfontein and Laingsburg.

Wonder girl

Gemma-May Grotepass (9), from Pretoria, is a Grade 4 student at Cornwill Hill College. She is also the youngest person in South, and one of only two nine-year-olds in the world, to pass the International Computer Driver's License (ICDL) exam, attaiing 86%. Besides being a computer and maths whizz, she also enjoys golf, Shakespeare, and Barbie dolls. Gemma-May is fluent in Afrikaans, English and Zulu, and understands German, Dutch, French and Sepedi. She has played golf, tennis and piano since the age of 3, and recently stopped doing ballet. She gets professional golf lessons. Her father, Willem, is a prosthodontist, and her mother May is an advocate. They also have a 19-year-old daughter, Odette, who matriculated with 8 distinctions last year and is a professionel golf player.

15 October 2005

SA singer for Demi & Ashley wedding

South African singer / songwriter David Aldo performed at Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher's wedding, after he was booked by Demi to perform at Ashton's birthday party in February. Davis is a regular performer at the Beverly Hills Hotel's Polo Lounge. As well as playing his own original compositions, he performed covers of songs by Sting and other top names.
David has had four No.1 hits in South Africa. He has recorded with the National Symphony Orchestra and his song Madiba was featured on a Cape Town Tourism CD. David has also performed at shows such as Miss World, Miss South Africa and Supermodel. David has also worked in film and television projects in Los Angeles, where he moved to in 2000.

Five star waitress

Leah Fellstad (25), a waitress from Pinelands, Cape Town, was recently awarded with first place in the Young Chef, Young Waiter 2005 competition at a dinner in the House of Commons. She won the regional award in September and competed with seven other finalists for the title of Young Waiter 2005. Leah was third in the same competition last year. Along with the award, she won £2 000 and a trip to Barbados. She was wrking at Rhodes Twenty Four, but is taking a new position as restaurant manager in a recently opened five-star restaurant in London.

Millionaire lawyers contribution to community newspapers

In January 1965, five people got together in West London to launch a free newspaper in Orpington. The five founders were Richard Addison, an advertising salesman; Gerald McKnight, a former editor of the Sunday Dispatch; David English, later to become Sir David English, of the Daily Mail; and South African millionaire lawyers Rayne Kruger and Anthony Aaronson. During the first five years more editions were launched. In August 1969, Australian Rupert Murdoch bought the paper. Soon the News Shopper had a total weekly circulation of 590,000 and was the largest free paper in England befoe Murdoch sold it. In 1990, News Shopper moved from its offices in Orpington to its current home in Petts Wood. In 1998, the paper was acquired by Gannett - the owners of USA Today. Today News Shopper is delivered weekly to 346,530 homes in six Kent boroughs.

Fruits of the vine

Holy Innocents Roman Catholic Church in Orpington, London, is supporting Partnership Vineyards in South Africa. The empowerment project helps 150 farm labourers. It was founded in October 2002 by parishioner Andrew Jones his wife Branwen, both wine journalists. The owners of Riebeek Cellars, near Cape Town, helped develop their idea further. About 150 acres were purchased and the first 15 acres planted with Sauvignon Blanc vines. The labourers have become landowners and shareholders, with their holdings paid for by their farmer employers over 10 years. Holy Innocents parishioners, including South Africans Derryn and Helen Coetzee, have donated more than £3,600. The target is to raise £50,000 over the next 3 years, which will enable the entire vineyard to be planted. This will result in a 50% rise in income for the farm labourers over a 4 year period. They will also receive professional wine education from Riebeek Cellars.

Gerda Theron weds again

Charlize Theron's mother, Gerda, was married at an open-air wedding ceremony hosted by Charlize (30) and her boyfriend Stuart Townsend at the Bel-Air Bay Club in Pacific Palisades, California, on 9th October. Charlize was bridesmaid. Helicopters buzzed above, trying to get a picture. Gerda wore an elegant off-the-shoulder white gown while Charlize was dressed in a simple black gown. Gerda was first married at 19, to Charlize's father, who died when when she was 15. Gerda re-married but separated from her second husband, following the 1997 death of Charlize's stepbrother, Denver, in a car accident.

11 October 2005

Reviving downtown Joburg

Alfonso Botha (37) is a property developer and owner of South Africa's most famous apartment. The luxurious rooftop apartment in the old Nasionale Bank building in Market Street, Johannesburg, was used as the setting for the South African version of The Apprentice. Botha and his business partner, Duan Coetzee (41), formed the UrbanOcean development group. Their plans include developing the downtown area into a work and living space for yuppies. They are currently developing Corner House and The Franklin (in Diagonal Street) into boutique hotels. Other buildings in their sights are Stuttafords House, Standard Bank on Library Gardens, the Commissioner Street parkade, No.1 Rissik Street, the CNA building and Shakespeare House.

Little SA in LA

The South African residents of Los Angeles are doing well. Earlier this year, Christel Smith (Tarien of Egoli fame), put on a stage production in Hollywood - African Gothic, the English translation of Diepe Grond. She bought the film rights to Diepe Grond and wants to make it an Afrikaans film. Christel moved to LA six years ago and works as an actress as well as a personal trainer. She met Quentin Tarantino when she was Uma Thurman's personal trainer during the making of the Kill Bill movies. She became his trainer too. He attended her stage play.

Esta Terblanche, 27, (Bienkie in Egoli) left her successful run in the US soapie All My Children, and moved from New York after 4 years to LA with her husband André Kock. She's working on breaking into film work. Esta often visits with her South African friends in LA, Elna van Wyk and Natania van Heerden.

Natania acted in the South African TV series Glaskastele (1994), Cul de Sac and Vleuels. She and husband Dawid van Aswegan, a computer consultant, have been in the US for 11 years. They have two children, Steffan (14) and Grethe (10). The family will be returning to SA later this year. Natania is looking forward to acting in Afrikaans again. She believes that the longer you stay away from South Africa, the more bits of you die. Natania staged a one-woman show, Boerewors and Beyond, in the US and Canada, that drew rave reviews from South African audiences.

Sunu Gonera (30) grew up in Mpopoma township, Bulawayo. He was good at rugby and won a scholarship to the elite private school Falcon College, and another scholarship to the University of Cape Town. Gonera worked as a banker at Investec and at BOE. He resigned at the age of 28 and started as a runner at a production house. He went on to direct a commercial for the Sports Trust, which won three Vuka and two Loerie awards. He took the role of a journalist in In My Country alongside Juliette Binoche and Samuel L Jackson, founded his own Cape Town production house (Faith Creations) and signed on with Hollywood agents IMG. Now the filmmaker has been signed on as a director at Lions Gate. His film, based on the life of US swim coach Jim Ellis, will star Jada Pinkett Smith. Gonera and his wife Rene, a house renovator, and their two children, have moved to LA. Six years ago he took out South African citizenship.

Tertius Meintjes spent a few months in LA, where he has an agent representing him as a photographer. The actor lives in Germany with his model girlfriend, Alexandra. He has made a name for himself there as a top photographer, photographing Helena Christensen and Geraldine Chaplin.

Margaret Gardiner, former Miss South Africa and Miss Universe, is an entertainment journalist in LA for South African TV channels and magazines. Her husband André Nel is a doctor in LA.

10 October 2005

The Promise of Happiness

Justin Cartwright’s latest novel, The Promise of Happiness, is the story of a middle-class English family trying to cope with crisis and strained relationships. Charles Judd, a 68 year old accountant and his wife Daphne have retired from London to the seaside town of Cornwall. Two years earlier, their beloved daughter Ju-Ju was imprisoned for her part in an art theft in New York. Charles becomes obnoxious and passively aggressive towards Daphne. He takes walks along the coastline with his dog, avoiding the pubs and old acquaintances because he is ashamed of his daughter’s imprisonment. As the novel opens the couple await Ju-Ju's release. Their son Charlie is bringing her home and helping her settle back in. Sophie, the youngest daughter, is a drug addict who decides to get her chaotic life under control. She is seeing a man 20 years her senior, something that repulses Charles who had extra-marital affairs with women 20 years his junior. His son Charlie is the dependable son, but he is doubtful about marrying the glamourous Ana, who is pregnant. The whole family is reunited at Charlie's wedding.

Most of Cartwright's previous novels have been set in Africa, with the 1998 Whitbread Award-winning Leading the Cheers set in the USA where he lived for a year. In Every Face I Meet won the Commonwealth Writers Prize after being short-listed for the Booker prize in 1996. In South Africa, he has won the M-Net and CNA awards.

He was born in Johannesburg and educated at Bishops in Cape Town. His father, A.P. Cartwright, was the editor of the Rand Daily Mail. His mother was half-Afrikaans and a grandfather was Australian. Ater studying for an arts degree at Wits, Cartwright left South Africa in the 1960s to read politics at Trinity College, Oxford. After university he worked in the advertising industry as a copywriter and commercials director before becoming a full-time writer. He often writes his books in longhand in the British Library, and contributes articles on cultural and literary topics to various British newspapers. A documentary on D-Day which he co-directed, was nominated for an Oscar in 1994. He lives in North London with his wife and has two sons, one is a doctor.

Too cute!

A travelling circus accidently abandons a baby zebra in the middle of Kentucky on a stormy night. The zebra is found by a horse trainer who's given up his calling after a riding accident that killed his wife. His daughter names the zebra Stripes. Stripes dreams of becoming a racehorse. So begins the film Racing Stripes, featuring the voices Whoopi Goldberg, Dustin Hoffman, Frankie Muniz and Snoop Dogg, amongst others. But the real star is the tame zebra, all the way from the farm Kruispad near Morreesburg. Her real name is Kolletjie and she belongs to Koos Bester. The film makers hired Kolletjie for a year, during filming in KwaZulu-Natal.

Money, money, money

Eight thousand South Africans became dollar millionaires in 12 months. They are among the 12 000 dollar millionaires created in South Africa over the past 3 years. The Lotto created 34 dollar millionaires. The 2005 World Wealth Report, which monitors super-rich individuals in 68 countries, also shows that South Africa boasts Africa’s largest population of ultra-rich individuals (personal financial wealth ranging between $5-million and $30-million). More than half of Africa’s 75 000 dollar millionaires, who hold a combined fortune of $700-billion, are based in South Africa. The increase in the number of South Africa’s super-rich over a one-year period is matched only by Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. Capgemini compiled the report with Merrill Lynch. In 2002 you would have required R9.5-million to become a dollar millionaire. Without having earned another penny, in 2004 you only needed R6.1-million. The World Wealth Report includes private investments and shares, but excludes artworks and private homes in its calculation of personal wealth. Private banking group, BoE Private Bank, has more than 250 dollar millionaires as clients.

The sale of expensive cars and luxury homes is another indicator of South Africa’s affluence. ReMax SA has at least 40 R10-million properties on its books. In Johannesburg alone, Investment Cars has sold more than 39 vehicles with price tags of at least R2-million over a two-year period, this excluded sales at its Pretoria and Cape Town branches for cars such as the Bentley GT, Aston Martin and the R3.8-million Lamborghini Murciélago Roadster.

The latest Forbes list shows the Oppenheimers are worth R30-billion in estimated total assets, with the Ruperts at R11.5-billion. In 1997, the Financial Mail’s list of South Africa’s 25 richest families was dominated by white businessmen, with a combined wealth of R23.6-billion. Now you'll find soccer boss as Kaizer Motaung, who was a major shareholder in black-led oil company Exel, which was bought by Sasol last year. Patrice Motsepe has shares valued at around R3.5-billion and Tokyo Sexwale has a share value of around R1.5-billion.

Another World champion

South Africa's latest world champion is the blonde Surina Lambrechts of Moreletta Park. She is the current South African, African and World female archery champion. She took up the sport two years ago, after watching her husband, Pieter, an avid archer.

London Tube bomber's SA connection

South African-born Farida Patel (58) was shocked when police and TV crews pitched up at her London home after the first London Tube bombings in July. Her son-in-law, Mohammad Sidique Khan (30), was the Edgware Road suicide bomber. He was married to her daughter, Hasina (27). Patel, originally from Germiston, is the daughter of Ismail Patel, an anti-apartheid campaigner who spent 10 years under house arrest. She was a languages teacher in London and was married to Abdul-Salaam Patel, who died last year. She also was on Queen Elizabeth's honours list for her community work. Patel lived with her son, Arshad (28), his wife, Khadia, and their baby son.

A little Sunshine

South Africa's top modelling couple, Brett Shuttleworth and Samantha Pegg are ready for the impending birth of their first child, a daughter to be named Noa Sunshine. Samantha also has a 4 year old son, Jagger. The couple have settled in Cape Town where they are working on Brett's business, Courage Lifestyles and his Super Model skin care range.

Aunty Sari hits NYC

Sitha Singh (53) of Chatsworth, better known as the Sari Aunty or the Queen of the Road, aims to power-walk the 36th New York City Marathon on November 6. Last year's marathon was won by South African Hendrik Ramaala. Sitha competes in road races in a white sari. A member of the Chatsworth Athletics Club and mother of two boys, Sitha started power walking more than 10 years ago. She has taken part in the Two Oceans Marathon, Chatsworth Marathon and City-to-City walk from Johannesburg to Pretoria. In August she completed the 10km Women's Day Marathon in 90 mins. Her husband, Pithamberdas Chaithoo, is her most ardent fan.

Happy 25th

Talk Radio 702 recently celebrated 25 years on air. Known as Channel 702, it first transmitted from Bophuthatswana in 1985. The independent radio station was founded by Izzy Kirsch. One of the station's first talk-show hosts was Stan Katz. The station's social contributions include building houses, planting trees in Soweto and raising millions for charities.

From Pariah to Legend

A book on the life of South African golfer Papwa Sewsanker Sewgolum was recently launched at the Durban Country Club but his family did not attend. His son, Rajen, said the family was not happy about parts of the book that they believe defame the family. The book, Papwa Sewgolum: From Pariah to Legend, was written by Chris Nicholson, a founder member of Aurora Cricket Club, a human rights lawyer and a Durban judge, who is also a keen golfer. Nicholson suspects that references in the book to Papwa's alleged excessive drinking, after his golfing career, and to an alleged illegitimate child have angered the family. Rajen is working with film-makers from Cape Town on a documentary of his father's life.

Papwa was the first Indian South African golfer to win an international tournament when he won the Dutch Open in 1959 on his debut. He went on to win the tournament three times. He was also the first Indian golfer to win the Natal Open when he beat Harold Henning at the Durban Country Club in 1963, and received his award outside the clubhouse, in the rain, because the clubhouse was only for whites. In 1965 he beat Gary Player in the Natal Open by one stroke.

He couldn't read or write. His grandfather was a cane cutter and his father a gardener for the Durban Municipality. He grew up near the Beachwood Country Club where he watched the players and eventually became a highly-regarded caddy. He used lost golf balls and an abandoned five-iron to practice as a youngster. An industrial chemist, Graham Wulff, the inventor of Oil of Olay, flew him in his light plane to Britain for his first tour. Papwa later lost his home in Riverside to the Group Areas Act during the forcible relocations to Chatsworth. He died in 1978, age 49, of a heart attack.

09 October 2005

Mama Jack

Leon Schuster, South Africa's king of slapstick comedy, is back with another big screen release, Mama Jack. It was filmed in and around Cape Town. The film is produced by Anant Singh and Helena Spring, and directed by Gray Hofmeyr. Schuster's previous film, Mr Bones, is the highest grossing South African film to date. In Mama Jack, Schuster plays Jack Theron who works on a film set. The producer can't stand him and in a bid to get rid of Jack, he spikes his drink at a function. Soon Jack unwittingly offends the dignitaries, ruins the function and gets into trouble with the law. On the run, Jack turns to his friend Shorty, a make-up artist, for help. He emerges disguised as a black woman, Mama Jack, who soon finds herself employed by the producer's fiancee and falls in love with her. Deceptions and misunderstandings lead to mayhem. Mary-Anne Barlow, Egoli's Coreen Edwards, plays love interest Angela, while Alfred Nthombela plays Shorty. Sharleen Surtie-Richards also features as the mayor of Cape Town.

Bo-Kaap property prices climbing up

Cape Town's picturesque Bo-Kaap is a city landmark whose colourful houses, mosques and architecture attracts tourists. Now buyers are paying millions to buy out locals, many of whose families have lived for generations on the slopes of Signal Hill. Some residents say this is leading to the loss of identity of communities and their sense of tradition. Recent property prices include a one-bedroom, one-bathroom at R1,175-million; a four-bedroom, four-bathroom townhouse for R1,85-million, and a two-bedroom, two-bathrooms house for R1,495-million. The Bo-Kaap Civic Association would like to keep its historical character and doesn't want families to sell but they are are not listening. The local tradition is for young people to inherit houses from their parents.

5 cents a meal

The Service Dining Rooms in Cape Town recently served their 7th million meal to the city's homeless and jobless. They celebrate their 70th anniversary this year and still charge 5 cents a meal, serving up to 500 people from Monday to Friday from 11.30am at 82 Canterbury Street. The 5 cents meal includes a cup of soup, hot meal, fruit and a cup of tea daily.The Dining Hall also supplies outlying areas such as Delft and Manenberg with 1 000 litres of soup every week. It was founded by the late Doris Syfret and it has little volunteer or government support, relying on charity efforts such as donations, subscriptions and trust grants from the public. To help this cause, contact the chairperson, Mr. Angus McGregor, on 082 410 5531 or (021) 465 2390. You can also make a deposit to The Service Dinning Rooms, Standard Bank, Adderley Street, Account No: 070608849, Branch No: 020009.

Little star

Johannesburg-born Sasha Embeth Pieterse (9) lives in Los Angeles. Her middle name is in honour of actress, Embeth Jean Davidtz, who was born in Lafayette, Indiana, but grew up in South Africa. She was raised in Las Vegas before moving to Los Angeles. Her parents were professional dance partners. Sasha started in television as a 6 year old, co-starring as Buffy in the comedy series Family Affair, opposite Gary Cole. In March 2003 she won the Best Actress under 10 in a TV drama or comedy series at the Young Artists Awards. Past winners include Leonardo DiCaprio, Cuba Gooding Jr. and the late River Phoenix. Her TV commercials include Nesquick and Firestone Tires. Sasha was the Ice Princess in the film The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl. When she is not acting or singing, she likes horseback riding, dancing, playing the piano and golfing with her dad. She is also one of ChildhelpUSA's celebrity ambassadors, along with Kathleen Turner, Jane Seymour and Ricky Schroder.

You're hired!

Durban-born model Nicola Breytenbach (27) wasn't fired by Donald Trump, she was hired when he picked her to appear in the 2nd and 3rd seasons of The Apprentice. Trump owns the New York modelling agency, Trump Modelling Management, that Nicola is with and one of the challenges in The Apprentice was to put on a fashion show. He also invited her to be a judge at the recent Miss USA pageant. Nicola left South Africa when she was 13 when her step-father took up a posting with the United Nations in Switzerland. A few years later she was on the Paris catwalk. In 2001 she got a Revlon contract and lives in New York and London. She is currently working on launching her own swimwear label.

Political thriller

Shawn Slovo and Robyn, the daughters of Joe Slovo and Ruth First, are making one of their father's wishes a reality. Before his death, he asked them to make a film about saboteur Patrick Chamusso. Filming started in South Africa recently. The film is directed by Australian Philip Noyce, whose credits include The Quiet American and Rabbit-Proof Fence. The lead role is played by Derek Luke, of Antwone Fisher fame. Oscar-winner Tim Robbins plays a police officer who investigates Chamusso. Hot Stuff, a political thriller, includes filming in Secunda, where Chamusso worked at Secunda Oil Refinery. He did not want to take part in the anti-apartheid movement, but one the day that he was absent from work, terrorists attempted to blow up the refinery. Chamusso had gone to watch his football team play in a final and to secretly visit the son he fathered with his ex-girlfriend. Niv Vos, a policeman, arrested him and two co-workers. During the interrogation, Chamusso does not disclose the alibi that could save him, until his wife is also arrested. He breaks down and confesses a lie, that he helped the terrorists. Vos sees through his confession and releases him. He returns home a changed man and joins the ANC, volunteering to destroy the refinery, earning him the code name Hotstuff. Vos learns of the plan and a manhunt begins. Chamusso manages to strike the plant and Vos captures him. Chamusso was sentenced to 24 years on Robben Island. He was released in 1991. Hotstuff is written by Shawn Slovo. Robyn Slovo is a co-producer. Shawn and Robyn were born in Johannesburg in the 1950s and moved to the UK in 1964 when the family went into exile. Shawn's adaptation of Captain Corelli's Mandolin was directed by John Madden in 2000. Robyn has worked for the BBC and was Head of Film at Company Pictures, an independent film and TV company in the UK.

Stander: from police officer to bank robber

Stander, the film about bank robber André Charles Stander, was filmed in Johannesburg and Durban in 2002 and released in 2003. Stander was a South African Police Captain turned bank robber. The 37 year old Captain was the son of Major-General Frans Stander and at first he robbed banks on the South Coast on his own. While in Zonderwater prison he met Allan George Heyl and Patrick Lee McCall. They were known as the Stander Gang and between October 1983 and January 1984, embarked on a 20-bank robbery spree in and around Johannesburg. During this time they stole about R700 000.

The politically correct film was a joint South African, British, Canadian and German venture. It was nominated for a Genie award in 2005, Canada's version of the Oscar, for Best Achievement in Direction. Canadian Bronwen Hughes directed the film, which was scripted by South African Bima Stagg. Stander is played by the American actor, Thomas Jane, and Stander's wife, Bekkie, is played by the Vancouver-born actress, Deborah Kara Unger. South African actress Fiona Ramsey was their voice coach. The film makers spoke to Heyl, who was still in prison; Corrie van Deventer, Stander's police partner; and the warden of the prison where he was held. The film suggests that Stander's turn-about comes after a riot in Tembisa in 1976 in which he shoots an unarmed black man. It goes on to suggest that Stander was not stealing for himself, but to pay back the black people. The scene in which Stander apologises for having been part of the police in 1976, did not take place in real life.

Stander was killed in Fort Lauderdale, US, in February 1984 while McCall committed suicide at the gang's hideout in Sixth Ave, Lower Houghton on 27 January 1984 during a police raid. Heyl escaped to Greece shortly afterwards, posing as a German. In 1985 he was jailed for a bank robbery in Britain, and in 1992 he was deported to South Africa where he was found guilty of 41 charges that included armed robbery, car theft, the unlawful possession of firearms and escaping from jail. He was released on parole in May 2005.

Stander's only child, Ernie Amos, was born after a brief liaison that Stander had with student teacher Pat Amos during a 1972 break in his two marriages to his wife, Leoni (Bekkie). Amos was 21 when he found out who his father was. Today he is a gospel guitarist and a professional golfer. He recently finished a gospel rock CD entitled Run To You. Marlene Henn was the arms dealer who was shot several times by the gang when they robbed her shop in Randburg in November 1983. She doesn't believe that Stander was killed and claims that she was not asked to testify against Heyl. According to Heyl, it was McCall who shot Henn, and not him. Henn claims that Stander never went to the US and that the first set of fingerprints sent back to South Africa went missing. The second set was his. Only his ashes were sent back to South Africa. Michael von Stetina was the American policeman who shot Stander in Fort Lauderdale. He received death threats from South Africa and received police protection for some time.

Trix Style was one of the Trust Bank cashiers who was held up by Stander. She has said that she was not afraid of Stander, even though he pointed a weapon at her, but that she afraid of McCall.

Heyl said that it was the prostitutes who visited the Houghton house that tipped off the police. He left the house after the domestic servant warned him, but McCall did not take heed of the warning. According to Heyl, Stander despised his police colleagues and believed they were all corrupt. Heyl matriculated from Hoërskool Hentie Cilliers in Virginia and enrolled for a teaching degree in Bloemfontein. He dropped out in his last year. He was 21 when he served his first jail sentence. Dr Irma Labuschagne, the respected criminologist, prepared his evaluation report for his parole application last year. She believes he won't commit a crime again. Heyl (53) was released from the Krugersdorp prison in May 2005. One of his parole conditions prevents him from speaking to the media, without police permission.

Retired Brig. Manie van der Linde, a former Brixton murder and robbery unit commander, was involved in the Stander Gang investigation, interviewing Stander during his incarceration in Brixton. He said it was Stander's desire for a life of luxury that led him to crime.

Stander won the Best Recruit award after completing his training at the Police College in 1964. At the age of 31, he was an officer and commander of the Kempton Park criminal investigation unit. In 1977 he started robbing banks. On his days off, he'd leave a stolen car at Jan Smuts airport and fly to Durban, rob a bank or two and fly back the same day. He was a master of disguise and always picked out the prettiest cashier to rob. While working alone he stole about R100 000.

He was living in a luxurious house in Pomona, Kempton Park, when noe retired Gen. Basie Smit led the investigation team and arrested Stander at the airport in January 1980. Corrie van Deventer, Stander's police partner and best friend, had opened a souvenir shop in Durban with Stander. Van Deventer didn't know it then, but the shop was used to launder Stander's money. It was at a jovial party that Stander slipped up and bragged to van Deventer about his exploits. Van Deventer was working for Smit and this led to Stander's arrest.

Stander was found guilty on 28 charges of armed robbery and sentenced to 75 years in jail, of which he had to serve 17. He was sent to Zonderwater, but escaped on 11 August 1983 with McCall, having claimed to be hurt and escaping during a visit to a physiotherapist near Cullinan. Two months later they helped Heyl escape from the Olifantsfontein prison workshop. In January 1984, Stander bought the yacht, Lily Rose at the Royal Yacht Club in Cape Town. Using a disguise and a false passport, he flew to Fort Lauderdale on 27 January. The yacht was to be delivered to him in the US. On the 10 February, Stander was arrested in Fort Lauderdale for driving his second-hand Ford Mustang without a license. He was released after claiming to be an Australian writer named Peter Harris. That night, he broke into the police pound and took his car back. The police surrounded his apartment, where he arrived late at night on a bicycle. A tussle with Michael von Stetina followed and Stander was shot dead. Shortly before his death, his police uniform was sold at an auction for R15.

In October 1992, Stander's former wife, Leoni (42), then a well-known businesswoman in Pretoria, shot herself at her home office in Kilner Park. She was married to Victor Venter, who rushed her to the H.F. Verwoerd Hospital where she died. She had been depressed for a few years. Leoni had divorced Stander but the couple later re-married.

Paul Moorcraft and Mike Cohen, journalists, wrote a book, Stander - Bank Robber, which was published in 1984. The Afrikaans singer, Piet Botha, son of former Foreign Affairs Minister Pik Botha, wrote a song shortly after Stander's death entitled Fort Lauderdale.

31 July 2005

Welkom's help with London's Olympic bid

A blonde who grew up in Welkom is making a name for herself in the British film industry. Caroline Rowland (37), a former Free State provincial swimmer, worked on the short film about London which was used in London's Olympic Games bid for 2012. Steven Spielberg produced a similar short film for New York's bid team. Caroline was 7 years old when her Swiss mother and her English father moved to South Africa. They lived in Welkom where he father worked for one of the mining companies. After school, Caroline went to Rhodes University and studied journalism. This was followed by advertising agency work in London. Her parents still live in Johannesburg. Her next project is a romantic comedy to be shot in South Africa. It is centred around cricket and is called Not Out.

Dr Lucas

International soccer star, Lucas Radebe, was recently awarded an honorary doctoratal degree in social sciences from the University of Cape Town. He was recognised for his contributions to educational and welfare projects in South Africa. Lucas' contributions to the Starfish Charity and the Reach for A Dream Foundation are especially valued. Lucas was born in Diepkloof, Soweto, and was one of 11 children. He started his soccer career with Kaizer Chiefs. In 1994 he joined the English club Leeds, where he was later made captain. He was also captain of South Africa's national team, Bafana Bafana. Lucas was the inspiration behind the name of the Leeds-based post punk/art rock band, Kaiser Chiefs, whose members were fans of his.

Helping the poorest

Since 1998 Becky Young, of North Carolina, USA, has been helping the community of Winterveld. She registered a charity organisation in the US and the Mabopane Foundation was born. Regular garage sales are held in the US and the money is sent to Winterveld. Becky recently made her 6th visit to the community, with her husband and 2 daughters. The Mabopane Foundation has 10 American members and recently collected R100 000 from a concert they organised. Next year, the foundation hopes to build a community hall in Winterveld.

30 July 2005

Tiny star arising

One of America's top child actors was born in Johannesburg. Sasha Pieterse (9) lives in Los Angeles. Her latest role is the Ice Princess Sharkboy, a newly released Hollywood movie about child superstars. She made her TV debut when she was 6 years old, in the TV sitcom Family Affair alongside Gary Cole and Tim Curry of Rocky Horror fame. Sasha won an award for her role as best actress younger than 10 in a TV drama or comedy series at the 24th Young Artists Awards in 2003. Previous Young Artists Award winners include Leonardo DiCaprio, Cuba Gooding jnr, the late River Phoenix and Elizabeth Shue. The only child of a professional dancing couple lived in Las Vegas before moving to Los Angeles. Sasha is one of ChildhelpUSA's celebrity ambassadors who help prevent child abuse in the US by doing free shows and TV promotions.

New heights for Annabelle

Annabelle Bond (36), the fastest woman to conquer the highest peaks on the world's seven continents, is dating South African advertising tycoon Gregor Benatal (32) of Johannesburg. They met while climbing Mount Elbrus in Russia. Annabelle climbed the Seven Summits in 360 days - the fourth-best time ever and twice the speed of the previous fastest woman. She is the daughter of Sir John Bond, the executive chairman of banking giant HSBC.

Producing star

The film Batman Begins has a South African touch. Hal Couzens was the film's visual effects producer. He has also worked on Bridget Jone's Diary and Shaun of the Dead. Hal is the son of the writer Tim Couzens and has lived in London for the past few years, working in the film and TV commercial fields. He has his own production company, The Secret Laboratory. Last year he produce the Nike adverts for Euro 2004.

Reaching for the top

This year saw South African Sibusiso Vilane reach the summit of Mount Everest - for the second time in 2 years. He became the first Black man to climb the world's highest peak twice and by two different routes. Sibusiso first reached the peak of Mount Everest in May 2003. The Birth to Twenty Research Programme is one of the organisations that stand to benefit from his 2nd climb. Based at the University of the Witwatersrand, Birth to Twenty is a grant-funded study that explores and documents socio-economic, socio-political, demographic and nutrition transition in South Africa and its impact on children and their families.

Another South African who reached the peak this year, was Cape Town businessman Tony van Marken (40). The father of Matthew (10) and Joshua (7) climbed Everest to raise awareness for The Children's Hospital Trust, the fundraising arm of The Red Cross Children's Hospital. Tony is an experienced climber who climbed Everest from the traditional south side, and has now completed his personal quest to climb the world's seven continental summits. He personally donated R1 for each metre of the maximum altitude he reached on the climb. The height of Everest is 8.850m.

Other successful South African climbers this year included Richmond MacIntyre (51) and Alex Harris. Richmond is a civil engineer from Hermanus and has climbed Kilimandjaro, the Ruwenzori mountains in Uganda, the Aconcagua in the Argentinian Andes, the Denali in Alaska and Cho Oyo in Tibet.

Alex Harris made it his 3rd Everest climb, with Sibusiso.

Sainsburys supporting SA ballet

A South African up and coming ballet star, Monwabisi Bangiwe (21), is being sponsored by Lady Sainsbury, wife of the president of the British supermarket chain Sainsburys. In the 1990s she met Nelson Mandela who asked her to do something for South African dance. Lady Sainsbury, the former Anya Linden, was a ballerina with the Royal Ballet. Through the family’s charitable Linbury Trust, Sainsbury has since 1994 sponsored about 20 young South African dancers to study at London’s Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance. Several now have successful careers. Other projects the trust has supported include Cape Town’s Dance for All, which teaches children in Gugulethu, Nyanga, Athlone and Khayelitsha.
Monwabisi is studying at the Tshwane University of Technology. He had his first ballet class 3 years ago. His mother is a domestic worker and his father a retired railway worker from Kimberley. Monwabisi is also a member of the De Beers Superstone Field Band, excelling at marimba playing and dancing.

Another world champ from SA

South Africa's latest world champion is Elsa de Jager of Pretoria. She took first prize at the recent World Flower Arranging Show in Japan. Sixteen South African florists took part and 9 walked off with prizes.

British property firm invests in SA

Fine & Country, the British property firm, has 150 agencies across the UK dealing with luxury properties only. Now they have established themselves in South Africa - the 4th overseas property firm to invest in South Africa, after Re-Max, Sotheby's and Engel & Völckers. Fine & Country's license holder for South Africa is Linda Erasmus, well-known in Gauteng property circles.

SA scriptwriter's success

Charles Dicken's Oliver Twist is set for release as a film in September, directed by Roman Polanski. South African-born Oscar winner, Ronald Harwood, was the script writer. Ben Kinsley plays the role of Fagin. Ronald left South Africa for London as a young man. His recent scripts include The Pianist and Being Julia. He won the Oscar in 2003 for The Piano.

SA tenor

South African tenor Michael Renier lives in England. He made his debut in the role of Rodolfo in La Boheme at Sadlers Wells in London. Michael studied medicine for a few years in Pretoria before music became a fulltime occupation. Since then he has sung in Germany, Japan, the Netherlands and Switzerland. He has 4 CDs and the fifth one is set for release soon.

Charlize's home project

South Africa's Oscar winning actress Charlize Theron is to co-produce a movie about the life of one of the world's most famous child AIDS victims Nkosi Johnson. Charlize might also play the role of Gail Johnson, the woman who adopted and cared for Nkosi. The young boy was an outspoken AIDS activist and role model in the late 1990s before dying of the disease at the age of 12 in 2001. In 2000 Nkosi made international headlines when he addressed an International Aids Conference, appealing to world leaders to ensure that people living with HIV/AIDS are given potentially life-prolonging drugs. More than 5 million South Africans are infected with the AIDS virus. Gail runs a haven for children infected with the disease. She has signed a film deal with Los Angeles-based Adelstein-Parouse Productions. One of the few South African feature films to deal with AIDS, Yesterday, was nominated for an Oscar last year.

Traditional root vegetable helps villagers prosper

A traditional African root vegetable, amadumbe, has brought economic uplifment to the rural Umbumbulu district on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast. Some of the village farmers now supply the traditional root vegetable to leading retailers like Woolworths. The farmers are members of the Ezemvelo Farmers Organisation, which was started in 1999 by Dr. Thembinkosi Modi of the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s school of Agricultural Science. He taught the villagers new methods of growing the crops organically and now they also supply shops with up to 5 tons of sweet potatoes, baby potatoes and amadumbe. The farmers started off by selling their products to Pick ’n Pay before getting a deal with Woolworths in 2003.

Animal stars

Elephant Tales, a film by Australian filmmaker Mario Andreacchio, is a movie with talking animals. The story is about the journey of two young elephants across Africa after they are orphaned by poachers. South Africa's contribution, apart from the filming in Pietermaritzburg and surrounds, is in the form of elephants, cheetahs, warthogs, eagles, giraffes, chimpanzees, crocodiles, a crowned crane and a ground hornbill. The animals were provided by Pietermaritzburg animal trainer Jim Stockley. Jim also supplied lions and cheetahs for the US rapper Ludacris' music video for his hit single, Pimpin’ All Over The World. The film is scheduled for release next April.

Hollywood producer Wes Craven, famous for the horror hit Scream, is using some South African baddies in his latest film, The Breed. The film stars Michelle Rodriguez, Taryn Manning, Oliver Hudson (Goldie Hawn’s son) and Hill Harper (CSI:NY star). It also stars 20 South African dogs. The film is a bout the nightmare holiday of 5 friends on a remote island inhabited by a pack of dogs. The film was filmed in George and Cape Town. South African model Lisa Marie Schneider and actor Nick Boraine are the first to encounter the dogs. The 20 dogs come from the Cape animal training company Union Pictures. Six dogs were imported by the USA company Gentle Jungle and were used for the attack scenes. Two of the SA dogs are the German shepherds Ammo and Trigger, who appeared as police dogs in Country of My Skull and have done TV commercials as well.

SA church growing fast in London

The multi-denominational SA Gemeente (South African Congregation) serves mostly Afrikaans-speaking South Africans in London. It is housed at City Temple, an historic church building. Pastor Dawie van Vuuren (41) heads the church, which is one of the fastest-growing Christian groups in London. The church became a rally point for South Africans during the recent bomb blasts in London, tracking down South Africans in London on behalf of worried relatives back home, working closely with the SA High Commission. Pastor Dawie, born in Bela-Bela (Warmbaths) was posted with his wife and 3 children to London in 2000. The SA Congregation was started about 10 years ago and took off once young South Africans became eligible for the working holiday visa.

Mega smart man

Garth Zietsman (46) of Johannesburg, is the second smartest man in the world. The statistics analyst at Standard Bank scored 185 on the Mega Test - an exclusive club for the cleverest around. Mega Test was designed by Ron Hoeflin who wanted a club in which only one in a million were accepted. Garth's score of 185 is second only to Marilyn von Savant, the woman whose high IQ earned her a place in Guinness World Records. During his national service he got together with a group of philosophy master's students. Next, he joined Mensa, a club for the smartest two percent of the population, and then joined the exclusive International Society for Philosophical Inquiry. Garth listens to rap music and opera, and his favourite books are about religion, maths, science, diets and psychology.

South African in Canadian national team

Gourville Bezuidenhout jnr, of Oakville, Ontario, has been selected for the Canadian National Team to go to the 4th Goju Kai Karate World Championships to be held in Holland in November. If you can help him with sponsorship, e-mail gourville@295.ca

Joburg photos take top award

Guy Tillim, a Cape Town photographer, has won the highly prestigious Leica Oskar Barnack award at the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie in Arles, France. His photo essay, Johannesburg Story, looked at the changing life in Johannesburg's city centre. The French art publisher, Filigranes Editions, has released Guy's work under the title Joburg Downtown 2004. Guy's previous photography prizes include the Mondi prize for photojournalism and the Higashikawa prize in Japan.

Banana Republic wins

Greig Coetzee's comedy drama Banana Republic won a Sony Radio prize in London, taking 3rd place in the best radiop drama 2004 category. Banana Republic was broadcast on BBC's Radio 4 last year. The BBC commissioned Greig to write the drama aftter seeing his play, Happy Natives, in the West End in 2002. Greig's award-winning play, White Men with Weapons, is soon to go on tour in Australia.
A familiar voice in Banana Republic was Don McCorkindale, who took the title role in Springbok Radio's My Name's Adam Caine in the 1970s.

Mrs United Nations International

Kari Smith (34) of Welgemoed, Bellville, won the Mrs United Nations International beauty pageant in Las Vegas on 26 July 2005. Kari manages a hotel school in Bellville and is mother to Kristin (4) and Cara (2). She also won 4 categories at the pageant - best community work project, best interview with the judges, best outfit (designed by Peter Bondisio in Pretoria) and contestants' favourite contestant. Kari won the Mrs United Nations South Africa pageant in May. South African gospel singer, Raymond Cilliers, sang his song "Women Can Change Your World", written for the pageant, in Las Vegas.

Weddings become niche market

The Western Cape has found a new niche market - wedding tourism. About 8 000 weddings take place in the Western Cape each year, and up to half of them are from abroad. Cape Town's Pam Black will display her wedding planning services at the National Wedding Show in London in September. Tourism surveys show that foreign weddings attract 30 to 50 guests, most of whom stay for about two weeks. Foreign holidaymakers spend an average of R900 a day.

12 June 2005

Marita does it again

Afrikaans author Marita van der Vyver lives in Provence, France, with her son Daniel (13), husband Alain and their daughter Mia (5) and Alain's two sons. The author of Griet Skryf 'n Sprokie (translated into English as Entertaining Angels) has a new book out called Travelling Light (first published in Afrikaans as Griet Kom Weer). In Travelling Light, Griet meets an Italian puppeteer, Luca, during a sabbatical in the US and now, back in South Africa, is trying to conduct a long-distance relationship via e-mails and the phone. Marita first went to France to live in a French village for a year but while there she met Alain, a teacher and newly divorced Frenchman. At the end of the year she and Daniel returned to South Africa and carried on the relationship with Alain long-distance. Eventually Marita moved to France. She wrote a book about her experiences of settling into France in a mostly non-fiction book in Afrikaans called Die Hart van ons Huis. In France she misses friends and family, and Marmite, jelly and wholemeal rusks. After writing Griet Kom Weer, she took Alain and the children on a trip through South Africa, ending up in Namibia. Marita is now working on a new novel about a South African couple in France on a sabbatical.

Big bucks

Thousands of South Africans, with police and military experience, are seeking fortunes as guns for hire in global hot spots. Iraq is the most lucrative for them. Klaus Weber, a former West German spy turned risk consultant, gets paid by recruitment agencies to do background checks on South Africans recruited as security guards in the Middle East. He claims that between 1 500 and 2 500 South Africans are doing military-related work in Iraq. The highest-earning South Africans in Iraq included intelligence officers, counter-insurgency specialists, helicopter pilots and combat surgeons who earned up to $25 000 per month. Afrikaans is frequently heard on the streets of Baghdad, Fallujah, Kirkuk and Tikrit, yet most of the South Africans are not the elite ex-soldiers from such units as the 44 Parachute Regiment and 32 Battalion, but regulars often with a Koevoet or police background. Such South Africans are sought after by the civilian companies contracted by the coalition forces in Iraq because they are far cheaper than their British or US counterparts, and have experience in counter-insurgency. South African daily newspapers often carry adverts for these jobs. Most recruits are first screened and if they pass, are asked to attend an interview in cities such as London, Windhoek and Harare. If selected, they fly to Dubai first.

English optional in schools

English will no longer be a compulsory language in South African schools. Pupils will be able choose any two of the 11 official languages when the Further Education and Training (FET) system comes into force possibly as early as next year. The new system will replace the senior certificate matric exams. The new system makes English and Afrikaans optional and offers pupils the chance to study any two of the official languages. Life orientation will be a compulsory subject and the curriculum will only offer 31 subjects. Maths or maths literacy will be compulsory. It will also see the current grading of A to F symbols changed to a new system of 1 to 6.

Another US visa refusal

Fina Mabiza (73), a domestic worker from Alexandra, was invited by her former employers to a family reunion in California but the United States consulate refused her visa application. Fina worked for the Sacks family for many years before the family emigrated to San Diego. Brenda Sacks (52) was 4 years old when Fina started working for her family. Brenda invited Fina to the family reunion in May and arranged an airline ticket for a two-week visit. After the US consulate in Johannesburg turned down the visa application, Brenda called the embassy in Los Angeles but no luck. Brenda's mother, now 85, had relied on Fina to take care of her and of the house while she was working, and wanted to see Fina again.

Back to school

Former TV news presenter Khanyi Dhlomo resigned as South African Tourism manager in France to return to studies. Khanyi will be a full-time student in the MBA programme at Harvard Business School in the US from August.

Sharia law in SA man's murder

Nadine Bolton (29) lost her husband Paul (33) in a Saudi shooting. His killer, Mahommed Badel (27) was to be executed unless Nadine accepted what is known in Saudi Arabia as blood money. During a sharia court hearing she chose the latter, leaving the killer's fate to King Fahd Bin Abdul Aziz. She decided to spare his life, but did not forgive him. Murderers are beheaded in public in Saudi Arabia, in accordance with sharia law. Paul was gunned down in his office at the Al Safi-Danone dairy farm, owned by Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal, in March. The couple have two boys aged six and two. Al Safi-Danone, the largest dairy farm in the world, where Paul worked as the supervising lab technician, also paid Nadine an unknown amount of money. Badel was a trainee lab technician and worked under Paul. He was already involved in quite a few disputes at work and thought Paul was behind the plot to have him fired and therefore he killed him. Nadine lived with Paul for four years in Saudi Arabia.

Star Wars helps AIDS orphans

South African AIDS orphans benefited from the Los Angeles premiere of Revenge of the Sith when more than $1-million was collected for Artists for a New South Africa (Ansa) and nine other AIDS charities. Ansa will use the money for their Takes a Village programme. Samuel L. Jackson serves on the board of directors at Ansa. He plays Mace Windu in the last three Star Wars movies. Desmond Tutu also serves on the board as does the actor Blair Underwood, who is vice-president.

Brad Pitt's visits to SA

Heart-throb Brad Pitt (41) has been a regular visitor to South Africa where he has been drawing attention to the plight of people living in poverty and with HIV/AIDS, on behalf of Data, an organisation founded by U2’s Bono. Brad's recent visit was to Durban’s St Mary’s Catholic Mission Hospital and the Centre for Aids Programme of Research in South Africa, near Howick.

Jani Allan in the USA

South African journalist Jani Allan (52) moved to the USA in 2001 and six months later she married an American. The marriage fell apart and Jani now lives in Pennsylvania. As a journalist with the Sunday Times in Johannesburg, she used to drive a red Ferrari. An encounter with the AWB leader, Eugéne Terre'Blance, led to a court case in London, where she had moved t, in 1992. Jani took the Channel 4 to court over their programme The Leader, the Driver and the Driver's Wife, in which they alledged he had an affair with Terre'Blanche. She lost the case and had to pay Channel 4 R1,5 million in legal costs. Jani returned to South Africa and worked at Cape Talk Radio for three years before being fired in October 2000. She was a model before journalism and was married to Gordon Schachat. She has written a book, White Sunset, about the break-up of white society in South Africa.