28 April 2008

Another SA Hollywood star shines

There is more to South Africa's exports to Hollywood than just Charlize Theron and Arnold Vosloo. Stelio Savante left his birth place of Cape Town in 1990 for the USA on a tennis scholarship to the University of West Alabama. A theatre major at UWA, he also represented the university in tennis and football, and received the Alpha Psi Omega acting honours award. In 1992 he moved to New York to pursue an acting career. In 2001 he acted in 110 Stories, alongside Susan Sarandon, James Gandolfini, Edie Falco and Mary Stuart Masterson. A role in the TV soapie, All My Children was followed by small roles in The Sopranos and A Beautiful Mind. In 2005 he acted in three films - Pulse, The Coldest Winter (main role in this war film) and My Super Ex-Girlfriend (as Leo). The Coldest Winter won as best film at the Hollywood Digital Film Festival, and at Fargo Film Festival. Guest roles in TV shows such as Law & Order Special Victims Unit (in 2005), and Ugly Betty (as Steve), helped build his profile further. His voice has been used in several radio, television and Internet spots. In 2006 he worked on the TV series, The Foreign Connection, along with fellow Hollywood-based South African actress, Christel Smith (Tarien in Egoli). They would like make a film based on the show, about organised crime, and shoot it on location in South Africa. Stelio has a supporting role in Starship Troopers Mauraunder, which was shot on location in Cape Town (Plumstead, Atlantis, Silwerstroom, Epping and Camps Bay) in 2007. He will also be seen in A Million Colours, the sequel to e’Lollipop, also shot in South Africa in 2007. Stelio has written a film script, White Gold, about the ivory trade and fellow USA-based South African actors, Embeth Davidtz and Arnold Vosloo were considering taking part. His latest role sees him alongside Tom Sizemore and several Sopranos cast members in the action crime thriller, Corrado. Amongst his off-screen accolades are being named #19 in Elle Magazine's Hot 40 List (2006/2007) and chosen as In Style Magazine's Man Of Style. In 2006 Stelio and his wife Carla Pina moved from New York to Los Angeles. They have a daughter, Ava Grace. Stelio's father is Greek and his mother South African. The former Camps Bay High School student, now 38, still misses Table Mountain!

27 April 2008

Re-charging while shopping

A flat cellphone battery while out shopping could soon be a thing of the past. A new service is being launched in South African shopping malls that takes 15 minutes to re-charge your cellphone battery. The H2M cellphone recharging station was launched at Clearwater Mall in Johannesburg. Users punch in a code to open a personal locker where they leave the phone charging while they do their shopping. Shukri Cornelius of H2M said that the majority of cellphones can be re-charged, as well as iPods, laptops and PDAs.

Cheap calls from South Africa

An instant messaging service is helping South Africans chat at cheaper rates. Download mig33 onto your cellphone, register for free, follow the authentication prompts and you're mig33-enabled. mig33 was released in December 2005 and offers not only free instant messaging, but also uses VoIP (voice over internet protocol) technology. Recently mig33 added a prepaid calling-card service that reduces the cost of international calls. In South Africa the cards are available in denominations of R10, R20, R50 and R100 from cellphone retail outlets.

Making a plan work

Cindy Purchase of Linden, Johannesburg, came up with a way to help make her suburb a better place. The stay-at-home mother and former national squash champion decided to form a block guard and introduced herself to her neighbours. That was the start of the Linden Community Blockwatch. The neighbours exchanged phone numbers and alerted each other when they were away. This later developed into a street watch. Last December the blockwatch used a security company's services and had a guard patrol their street. This was done on a trial basis as the company did not have foot patrols, but was willing to test the idea. It worked and the guards were used at Easter again. A bank account was opened and the fees were paid by the participating households. Cindy used an aerial photo of Linden to divide the suburb into sections and group leaders were nominated. She also uses e-mail to keep the neighbours informed. Everyone in the blockwatch was issued with whistles to use as a warning system. Cindy also works with the local police station to stay up to date.

Cindy's plan can easily be replicated by other concerned citizens - start with your own block. Look at which security company is most widely used in the block. Contact the company and ask about street foot patrols. Choose a team that can co-ordinate, and get to know your neighbours and the next block. Have a block get-together now and then. Attend your local community policing forum meetings. Cindy can be reached at cindy@solashayde.co.za

South African wine firsts

If you thought pinotage only comes in red, think again! South Africa's pinotage king, Beyers Truter of the Stellenbosch wine estate, Beyerskloof, has created the world's first white pinotage. Beyerskloof also has a Pinotage Rosé, Pinotage Brut, Pinotage Reserve, Pinotage Port, and a three-year-old Pinotage brandy which will be bottled next year.

Another wine estate, Diemersfontein in Wellington, has created a deep red pinotage with a strong coffee and dark chocolate flavour - pure bliss! It goes well with beef or lamb, but the most divine is with dark chocolate truffles.

Military honour for SA Navy Captain

Capt. Jacobus Jordaan (49) of Port Elizabeth and a South African Navay officer, was recently honoured by the German Defence Force when he received the Honour Cross (silver) for his work as project officer in Kiel. Capt. Jordaan and his family have been based in Germany since May 2004, where for the last two years he has been in charge of the submarine export project. The last of the three U209 submarines built by a German consortium for the SAN was the SAS Queen Modjadji. Capt. Jordaan also helped with the training of the South African sailors who will man the submarines. Capt. Jordaan returns to his base in Pretoria at the end of April, joining his wife Henriëtte and children, Melissa and Ben. He grew up in Port Elizabeth and attended Hoërskool Framesby. In 1977 he joined the Navy.

Rotarians helping across the waters

Thousands of used wheelchairs are sent from the UK to South Africa where they are recycled and given to Sesego Cares, a non-profit organisation that helps physically handicapped people. The Northcliff Rotary Club receives the wheelchairs from the Rushmoor Rotary Club in England. This partnership goes back to the 1990s and more than 16 000 wheelchairs have been donated so far. John Turner of the Northcliff Rotarians and owner of Afgo in Selby, has one of his technicians, Nelson Motha, himself in a wheelchair, help with the repair work. Some of the wheelchairs have gone to neighbouring countries. Sesego Care is a volunteer group started by the wives of Absa employees in 2005, after a visit to a Cape Town township.

Think Twice - Don't Buy Wildlife Souvenirs

Elephant hair bracelets, shark tooth earrings and porcupine quill lampshades are popular with tourists to South Africa, but they are deadly for our wildlife. The International Fund for Animal Welfare (Ifaw) has launched a "Think Twice - Don't Buy Wildlife Souvenirs" campaign to encourage tourists to help stop the killing of wildlife for curios. South Africa's airports will show infomercials that begin with an image of dead wildlife circulating on a luggage carousel. Porcupine lampshades need 140 quills, which means that eight porcupines were killed to make it. Quills sell from about R2 each in a retail outlet to about R6 for a bundle of 12 through a dealer.

Van der Merwe's everywhere!

A little piece of South Africa is found in a busy shopping street in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong. If the South African flag doesn't catch the eye at the SA Camera and Video Shop, the slogan "The One and Only Van der Merwe Shop" will! The shop is owned by James Ng and PC Ching (better known as Koos), two Chinese Bhuddists. They opened the camera and video retail business in 1978 and soon became popular with South African Airways crew. Encouraged by a South African friend, Larry, in 1980 they decided to give their shop a South African name. Since then, hundreds of South Africans have bought a camera, video or other electronic equipment from them. The pair have never been to South Africa, but Koos has picked up some Afrikaans - "Baie lekker", "Dis mooi", "Geen probleem", and "Een, twee, drie. Lekker." The walls of the shop are covered with photos of the pair posing with South African customers, including Eon de Vos, Sandy McCormick, Diana Tilden-Davis, Michael Mol, Suzette van der Merwe, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Francois Pienaar and other South African rugby players. The shop walls also have some Sharks memorabilia.

25 April 2008

Southern Africa Direct TV

Pierre van der Hoven, from Plettenberg Bay, shows South Africa off to the 9.1 million Britons who subscribe to Sky TV channel. About 400 000 Irish residents and three million European households also watch the channel. Southern Africa Direct on on channel 283 shows videos about the lifestyle and culture of Southern African communities.The show was launched in November 2007.

19 April 2008

Royals at home in the Eastern Cape

A Spanish royal, Prince Juan de Bagration, of Marbella, Spain, has bought a property at Chintsa Bay near East London. The purchase price is said to have been between R1,9 to R2,7 million. It is on an exclusive estae with sea views. The Prince is a a direct descendant of William the Conqueror.

Country roads

Dürr Bezuidenhout and Claire Bennette, of Paarl, started an online job advertising site that specialises in the platteland! Country Roads started last year in the Cape winelands. Today they have clients such as the University of Stellenbosch, Cape Agri, Pioneer Foods and Medi-Clinic. Claire, originally from Namibia, has been running a recruitment agency in Paarl for four years. She met Dürr, an accountant originally from Pretoria, at a business meeting. The platteland (country-side / rural) is drawing stressed-out city slickers looking for a better balance between work and home.

Floral works of art

Hartbeespoort has a world-class flower arranger in its midsts - the only woman in the world who has won a prize at every Flower Olympics. Elsa de Jager has been arranging flowers and other materials into works of art for more than 45 years. In 1979 she took 10 crates of material to Montreal to create a 7 m high arrangement, weighing 400 kg, at the Flower Olympics of the World. The arrangement was used in the daily TV advert for the show. Protests led to Elsa not being allowed to take part once the show started. Elsa prefers arranging with calabashes, seashells, seeds and pods, and twigs.

Donate a book

GreaterGood South Africa's Donate-a-Book campaign kicks off on World Book Day on 23 April. It's an opportunity for book lovers to fund new mother tongue story books for a local pre-school or early childhood development centre at The campaign aims to promote literacy and a love of reading in communities without easy access to books. Books liberate the mind and boost educational achievement, giving children choices in life. South Africa performed the worst out of 40 other countries in the recent Progress in International Reading Literacy Study. The same study found that almost 80% of South African pupils do not develop basic reading skills by the time they reach grade five. It is easy to support this cause - log onto the site and fund illustrated mother tongue books, quickly and securely, for an early learning centre. Each book costs R80.

Opportunities in power crisis

Some South Africans are finding opportunities in the daily power crisis. Marriette Hopely and Cindy Thornhill of Cape Town have developed the Power Cut Emergency Kit. The kit is proving popular with underprivileged communities in Cape and as far afield as Ghana, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the Philippines. The kit consists of two oil lamps, a cooker, a litre of lamp oil and a litre of cooking gel. The cooker takes about 8 minutes to boil a litre of water. The products are environmentally friendly. The women have recruited unemployed street people to manufacture the products. The idea is to stimulate entrepreneurship among the communities and traine them how to use stoves and lamps.

Rising star

Nina Milner (20) is one of South Africa's most promising acting talents and is already being compared with Oscar winner Charlize Theron. She did drama at school but has no formal acting training. Nina landed three roles in three South African TV dramas. She plays the role of Leila Blue in the six-part M-Net drama series Ella Blue, which tells the story of how a remote fishing village community on the Cape coast is torn apart by the Group Areas Act when a census is conducted in order to classify people according to their skin colour. Nina also plays the lead in Innocent Times, an M-Net mini-series due to begin at the end of April, and she is currently working on Jacob's Cross. Besides acting, she has featured in many magazine fashion shoots. Her first one was for Huisegenoot in 2003. She has modelled in Milan, Germany and France. She matriculated from Reddam House, a private school, with academic excellence. Nina is the only child of Wilma Coetsee, an artist, and Bernard Milner, who owns New York Bagels in Sea Point. She is the grand-daughter of Wicus and Annetjie Coetsee, former Hermanus mayoral couple. Wicus and his family had a glass making business for 15 years known as AW Glass where Annetjie and Wilma were also involved. Annetjie and Wicus live in the Hemel-en-Aarde Estate in Hermanus. Her paternal grandparents, Dot and Leslie Milner, also live in Hermanus.

Pacemaker Staffie

South Africans love their pets and will go to great lengths, and expense, to look after them! A Staffordshire Bull Terrier belonging to Rob and Bev McKenzie of KwaZulu-Natal, is especially loved. Rupert was recently rushed to Dr. Martin de Scalley at the Midlands Veterinary Clinic in Howick, where a Swiss pacemaker made for humans and valued at R40 000 was implanted into the 12-year-old dog to correct a heart condition that would have proved fatal if left untreated. Rupert had collapsed suddenly. His heartbeat slowed from its normal 120 beats per minute to 40. After blood tests and an ultrasound, Dr. de Scalley diagnosed a heart block. The Johannesburg-based Medtronic company heard of Rupert's plight and stepped in with a pacemaker. Wendy Watton, an ICU nurse from Medtronic, flew from Johannesburg to Durban, taking the pacemaker and instructions on how to implant it. The two-hour operation was a success. Rupert is a watermelon-loving Staffie who also loves avocados and bananas.

03 April 2008

Rocky the Staffordshire Bull Terrier hero

Rocky the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a real hero in the tradition of Jock of the Bushveld, the orignal Staffie hero. He's an adventure book hero, and one in real life too. He escaped from a dognapper, and has saved his owner from a snake. Last week Rocky was on a walk with his owner, Shaun Chapman, in Orange Grove. They saw a man assualting his girlfriend. Shaun called the local police office. When the police arrived, Rocky gripped the man's leg while a policeman handcuffed him! When he's not saving damsels in distress, Rocky visits schools with Shaun to make students aware of recycling and helping save the environment. Shaun writes novels featuring Rocky. The first one was Rocky in the Wilderness, which has sold 3000 copies already. The next book, Rocky and the San Bushmen, is at the printers, and another two books have been completed.