10 June 2007

Swopping flags

The England rugby team that recently toured South Africa had two South African-born players. Fullback Nick Abendanon was born in Johannesburg in 1986. Prop Matt Stevens (24) was born in Durban and was visiting his mother who still lives there, when he received his England call-up. Nick and Matt both play club rugby for Bath.

Firefox in Afrikaans

The popular Firefox Web browser is now available in Afrikaans, thanks to Translate.org.za and its volunteers. Translate.org.za is a non-profit organisation focusing on delivering free software in local languages. Firefox is developed by an international community of contributors working together under the umbrella of the Mozilla Foundation, a non-profit organisation.

Seven Summits

Sibusiso Vilane (32), a game ranger with dual South African and Swazi nationality, is the first black African to successfully ascend Everest (in 2003). This helped him become the first black African to have summitted the seven highest peaks on seven continents.

Sibusiso met John Doble in 1996. John became a friend and benefactor. Sibusiso started climbing in 1996 in the Drakensberg. In 1999 he summitted Kilimanjaro and went on to the Himalayas in 2002, successfully climbing Pokalde, Lobujé and Island Peak. On the 26th May 2003, he summitted Everest. In 2005 he again summitted Everest, this time with Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Alex Harris. This made him the first black African to climb the world's highest peak twice and by two different routes. In January 2006 he summitted Aconcagua, in August 2006 he climbed to the top of Mt. Elbrus and in November he climbed Carstenz Pyramid in Oceania. In December 2006, Sibusiso summitted Mount Vinson in Antarctica. He recently summitted Mount McKinley/Denali in Alaska.

He has founded a running club called Born to Win and he intends to run the Comratdes in 2008. At the end of 2007, he will be walking to the North Pole with Alex Harris. Sibusiso has been married to Nomsa since 1995 and they have three daughters and a son.

Former Bok player's son explains American football

Naas Botha's firstborn son, Frans Jooste, is raising money for his US university studies by selling a self-made DVD about American football. Frans (19) is an IT student at the University of Pennsylvania. His father, a former Blue Bulls and Springbok rugby player, has not met Frans although he pays child maintenance. Frans plays football for his university. The DVD explains the rules of American football and shows what daily life is like as an American student.

Ferrero boss' Cape homes

Pietro Ferrero (44), the son of the Italian chocolate-maker Michele Ferrero, paid R10-million for a Bantry Bay home in 2005 and had it demolished. He plans to build a new house there but plans had to be changed recently after neighbours objected. They are concerned that the Bantry Steps, leading down the steep slope on which homes are built, would become a concrete jungle. Deeds office records show that in November 2002, Pietro bought a property in Baviaanskloof Road in Hout Bay for R6.5-million and a neighbouring erf three years later for R2.3-million. The Ferrero company was founded in Italy in 1946 by his grandfather and great-uncle. he company is famous for its Ferrero Rocher gold-wrapped chocolates, chocolate spread Nutella, Tic Tac mints and Kinder Eggs.

A loss for South African cricket

Allan "White Lightning" Donald (40), one of South Africa's cricket legends, recently returned to England where he is helping coach the English team's bowlers. Allan retired in 2003, after taking 330 Test and 272 One-Day wickets in his career. Sadly, and to the game's detriment, South Africa's current cricketing bosses do not value the experience and knowledge that past international players could give to current players.

Child in custody tug-of-war

Another South African mother and her child are involved in a legal tug-of-war. The five year-old boy must go back to the Netherlands, with or without his South African mother, until a Dutch court decides who gets custody. A Supreme Court of Appeal in South Africa upheld an appeal by the Family Advocate against a judgement by the Pretoria High Court concerning the boy, who was taken from the Netherlands by his mother in September 2003. The father in the Netherlands used the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which is incorporated into South African law. The boy was born in the Netherlands. His mother, Bridget Houwert of Pretoria, met his father, Nicolas Houwert, the Netherlands while working as an au pair there. They were married in Pretoria in 2000 and returned to the Netherlands. The marriage was in trouble by 2003 and Bridget returned to Pretoria with the little boy. After telling the father in 2004 that she wanted a divorce and was not returning to the Netherlands, various court hearings followed.

UK Visa applications

The British High Commission in South Africa has a new system for visa applications. Digital photos and electronic fingerprints are now required, and applicants must make their applications in person. Applications are handled by the new visa application centres in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

Gautrain brings expats home

The Gautrain project is bringing expats home. Thirty-nine South African expats have left the UK and returned home to work on the project. The group includes civil engineers, construction workers, foremen and quality inspectors. The Gautrain project has highlighted the shortage of civil engineers in South Africa. The first phase of the project is the completion of the network between O.R. Tambo Airport (formerly Johannesburg Airport), Sandton and Midrand. This phase is expected to be complete in time for the 2010 Soccer World Cup. Phase two will be the completion of the track between Sandton and Johannesburg, as well as the route from Midrand to Hatfield in Pretoria.