30 May 2008


Greg Sheppard's business is all handy. He developed and teaches the LAD.I.Y home-improvement course. The course is presented over three evenings and is designed to teach women how to be their own handywomen. Lessons include learning all about screwdrivers, making a braai and changing a tyre.

Stars on the Wild Coast

Richard Gere (58) and two-time Oscar-winning actress Hillary Swank will be filming parts of the film, Amelia, on the Wild Coast in July. Crew will be staying at Trennery‘s and Seagulls. Hillary (33) is also the executive producer of the drama based on the life of Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1932. Amelia and her plane vanished five years later over the Pacific during an attempt to fly around the world. Richard stars as the author and explorer George Putnam, who married Amelia in 1931 and wrote her biography after she disappeared.

From Kroonstad to the world stage

Samuel (Sam) Joseph Haskins was born in Kroonstad in 1926. His father, Ben, was a goods inspector for the South African Railways. After finishing school, Sam attended Johannesburg Technical College, where he studied art. In 1949 he left for London, studying at the London School of Printing and Graphic Arts. He returned to South Africa in 1951. The following year he married Alida Elzabe van Heerden. Sam started working as a photographer in Johannesburg, opening a studio that was the first in South Africa aimed at the advertising sector. He held his first solo exhibition in 1960, showing his black and white photographs at John Orr’s in Johannesburg. Next, he published four books - Five Girls (1962), Cowboy Kate (1964), November Girl (1966) and African Image (1967). In 1968 the couple left for London, with their children Ludwig and Konrad. Today Sam Haskins is one of the world's top photographers who is known for turning back and white photographs into an art form. His book, Cowboy Kate and Other Stories, has sold more than a million copies world-wide. He is the only photographer to have been asked more than once by Pentax to photograph their calendar. Of their 30 calendars, Sam has photographed 15. In 2000 Sam moved to Bowral, near Sydney, in Australia.

Beijing Olympic medals SA connection

BHP Billiton is the official sponsor of the Olympic medals to be dished out in Beijing. An unveiling ceremony was held at the Hotazel manganese mine. About 6 000 medals will be dished out at the Games.

Kids sing for funds

Kingswood College's concert band recently returned from a tour of Zambia. The Grahamstown pupils raised funds for three orphanages there. They performed seven concerts in six days in Kitwe, Ndola, Chisamba, Lusaka, Livingstone and the Victoria Falls. The tour also included a visit to Kondwa Orphanage in Lusaka, one of the recipients of the band‘s fund-raising efforts.

Landmine buster built in Hermanus

Paul Richards, a retired British Airways captain, lives in Hermanus. He's invented MineBurner, a system that destroys landmines safely and cheaply without explosives. His company also produces a number of his other inventions. The materials for MineBurner have mostly been sourced locally. MineBurner is a remote-controlled device that uses the same principle as a welding torch except that it combines oxygen with LPG (cooking gas) to produce a high temperature cutting flame that burns a hole through the side casing of a landmine and sets the explosive material inside alight without producing a high order explosion. The explosive material burns up, avoids detonation and no shrapnel is produced. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) tested MineBurner in 2005 and assisted Paul. In 2005, the United Nations estimated that the cost of removing each landmine was between $300 and $1000. A large proportion of the cost was taken up by the transportation of dangerous components, such as pyrotechnics, explosives and detonators. Using MineBurner, the cost to destroy each mine can be reduced to less than 1 Euro. After Paul demonstrated MineBurner to the US government, they also assisted with testing.

Living in Dubai

Val Burrell left La Lucia in Durban for the heat of Dubai, where she's been living for the past four months. Her husband, Dave, works for a multinational consulting / project management company. Along with their two boys, they are part of the 100 000+ South Africans who live in Dubai. The family lives in a gated complex with several lakes and swimming pools, as well as basketball facilities and play areas, 10 minutes from the beach. Val is wants to set up a networking group for South African mothers in Dubai. E-mail her at valburrell@mailme.ae

Shooting for Canada

Johan Sauer (40), son of Springbok marksman and world record holder Johan Sauer snr, will represent Canada in the Olympic Games in Beijing. Twenty years ago, Johan jnr was awarded Springbok colours. He is one of tw forer South Africans in the Canadian Olympic team. The other is Diane Cummins, an 800 m athlete who is orginally from Pietermaritzburg. Johan jnr moved to Canada in 1997 and lives in Vancouver. He started shooting again in 2001 and finished third in the Canadian championships. In 2003 he was selected for the national team. In 2005 he won the Canadian national title and set a new national record. He qualified for Beijing when he won the Americas championships. Johan jnr's uncle, Herman Sauer, won the world championships in 1974. Johan snr set a world record in 1980.

Aussie, Actually

Lois Nicholls was born in Pietermaritzburg and grew up in Howick. When her husband was offered a job in Australia, the couple left in 1997 with their toddler, while Lois was three months pregnant with their second child. She now lives in Brisbane with her husband and three children. In 2003 her husband resigned from a highly paid job to start his own business. Lois is the author of Aussie, Actually. The book is her emigration journey and deals with leaving her family behind and learning to live in Australia. It covers 11 years and is illustrated with cartoons drawn by her 10 year old daughter, Lara.

Moving to Canada

Prof. Neil Turok, a physicist and son of ANC MP Prof. Ben Turok, is leaving the UK for Canada. He believes that the UK government funding of science is poor. He was working at the University of Cambridge. The move will see him working as director of the Perimeter Institute in Ontario. Before moving to the UK, he was a professor at the Princeton University. Turok jnr is co-author of Endless Universe.

Top-notch restaurant

Myoga, a Cape Town restaurant located at the Vineyard Hotel and Spa in Newlands, made the Condé Nast Traveller's Hot List of 2008, making it one of only four restaurants in Africa and the Middle East to make the list. Since being named, Myoga has received booking reservations months in advance. The décor consists of orange sofas, metallic-grey walls, and black chandeliers with crystals. The menu is diverse and the wine list varied.

Insane insensitiveness

Ian Shearer's daughter, Elaine (24), is movong to New Zealand, as a result of a street name change. Kingsway Road in Amanzimtoti, is being renamed after the man who was responsible for her mother's death. Iai still lives in Kingsway Road, which will be renamed after Andrew Zondo, the man who planted a limpet mine at the Sanlam Centre in Kingsway Road two days before Christmas in 1985. The bomb claimed the lives of five people. Elaine's mother, Anna (43), who had been doing Christmas shopping with a friend, was killed in the explosion.

Kingsway Road was one of 99 streets in Durban, which was being renamed and was one of the five most controversial changes. Opposition parties are looking at taking possible legal action and were also considering protest campaigns against the name changes. Two of Anna's daughters were among those who had lodged complaints against the name changes.

17 May 2008

Legal eagle

After 10 years on radio and 1444 Breakfast Show broadcasts, the popular Kfm presenter, Nic Marais, has resigned and is heading to the USA. Nic leaves the radio station at the end of June and plans to study law at either Yale or Harvard. He's been accepted at both universities. During his time at Kfm he interviewed Nelson Mandela, Charlize Theron, Miriam Makeba and Abdullah Ibrahim. Three years ago, he was hijacked outside his apartment. He was 17 when he started working at Kfm on weekends. After matriculating at Diocesan College (Bishops), he worked at the station while doing BA degree in history and politics at the University of Cape Town. After graduating, he joined the station's Breakfast Show.

Playboy cover designer passes away

An East London journalist who designed the first South African cover for Playboy magazine recently died after a 10-year battle with cancer. Tracy Dossin (52) worked as the creative director for Times Media for eight years, designing covers for various magazines. As creative director for Playboy, she flew to Chicago, where she met the Hugh Hefner. Her mother, Pauline, said that Tracy designed a rabbit’s head with gold and diamonds on its ears for the first Playboy magazine cover in South Africa. Her sister, Mandi, said Tracy noticed Charlize Theron’s talent long before her fame, when she met her as a 16-year-old model. Tracy was born Therese Marie Pia in Cape Town, and matriculated from Belgravia Arts School in East London before studying art in Cape Town. She left for Paris where she worked as an au pair for four years. Returning to South Africa, Tracy won a Sappi award for the best magazine designer of the year in 1992, followed by the Mondi magazine award in 1993. After becoming ill, she returned to East London to her mother’s house, where she continued to paint commissioned art works.

Sentenced in the UK

Two South Africans who overstayed their British visas were jailed for life this month for the murders of two men strangled during a series of violent muggings. Gabriel Bhengu (27) and Jabu Mbowane (26) will be deported to South Africa after serving life sentences. They were sentenced at Wolverhampton Crown Court. They lived in Wolverhampton and admitted mugging Andrew Owen and Neil Williams, but denied they intended to cause either man serious harm. Bhengu and Mbowane had entered Britain legally, but their visas had expired by the time they carried out the killings and five other robberies in April last year. They were convicted of murder and robbery following a five-week trial. A life sentence normally lasts 15 years.

From Kuruman to Washington

Leonard McCarthy was the head of South Africa's Scorpions crime fighting unit. Born in Wrenchville, Kuruman, he will soon be moving to Washington, to join the World Bank's anti-corruption unit. His mother, Grace McCarthy, still lives in Wrenchville, with her son Anton. Her husband, Joseph, did not live to see Leonard's successes. After leaving primary school in Wrenchville, Leonard went to Kimberley. He intended studying to become a teacher, but changed to law instead and studied through Unisa while living at home. During his studies, he met a local lawyer, Wouter Jordaan, who gave him access to his private law library. After earning his degree, Leonard went to work in Cape Town, eventually becoming a lawyer. He married Margaret and they have a son.

Rugby in France

Not all our rugby players have left France. The former Griquas player, Hedley Wessels, is happily settled there. He plays for Biarritz Olympique Pays Basque. Hedley and his wife, Elmarie, are expecting their first child in July. They live in Anglet and this is Hedley's third season in France.

'n Boer maak 'n plan

In 1998 Carse O'Gowrie, a farm near Reddersburg was totally destroyed in a fire. The owner, Dawie Coetzee, was left without an income. But true to the South African tradition of "'n boer maak 'n plan", to help the family get back on its feet, he started making rusk baking trays after listening to a friend's wife who baked a lot of rusks. The first ones were flat and included a rusk cutter which made it easy to cut the rusks evenly. As the business slowly grew, other tray sizes and shapes were added. Today Dawie (55) also produces pancake pans, mini bread pans, pizza pans, triangular pans, and dough cutters in various shapes. Some of his products feature in the kitchens of expat South Africans who cannot do without their daily rusks! For orders, call 052122 and ask for Reddersburg 1802.

Local plant heads to court

A South African rural community in Alice has lodged a patent challenge against a multi-national drug company that uses a local medicinal plant’s powerful chemicals. Together with a team of South African lawyers and environmentalists, they have lodged the challenge at the European Union Patent Office in Munich, Germany. The community considers the plant to be to be their traditional knowledge. Schwabe Pharmaceuticals has patented the extraction method used to dilute the active ingredient of Umckaloabo, also known as Pelargonium, used as a traditional medicine in the Eastern Cape and parts of Lesotho. The company has also patented using the plant to treat HIV/Aids-related illnesses. The Alice community has been using the plant for generations. Environmentalists believe the challenge, if successful, would be a major victory for indigenous communities world-wide.

Life lessons from a child

Milla Peerutin is only eight years old, but she's already an entrepreneur with a caring heart. Her eldest sister, Alex, is sickly and spends a lot of time in hospital. In 2001 Zachary Bloch was very ill with kidney problems when he was six months old. Zachary's parents are friends of the Peerutins. Within six months of Zacharay's recovery, his parents, Jonathan and Amanda, raised more than R1-million for the hospital. Milla, a Grade 2 student at Herzlia Primary High in Vredehoek, was inspired by them to help sick children. One day she saw someone selling muffins on the street, and she decided to do the same and donate the money to the Red Cross Children's Hospital in Cape Town. Together with her family's housekeeper, Jenny Mouers, she starting baking muffins in their kitchen. Her little brother, Max (6), joined in as the official dough beater. They bake between 60 to 120 muffins at a time, in three flavours - carrot and vanilla, oats and raisins, and carrot and pecan nut. Milla sells the muffins at her parents' work place - small muffins for R5 each and the big ones for R10 each. Within three months she'd made R2242 for the hospital. You can order Milla's muffins in Cape Town by e-mailing azraa@assocmags.co.za

Helping Zimbabwe's forgotten elderly

Every month, Hannes Botha (55), from Malelane in Limpop province, drives to Zimbabwe to deliver food parcels to about 650 pensioners in 15 retirement homes. The bare essentials food parcels are the highlight of these elderly people's month. Hannes has done this since 2002, taking a 4 ton truck and trailer on the 3500 km trip to deliver 6 tons of food parcels. The locals refer to him as "God's lorry driver". The oldest pensioner is 102 years old, with the majority in their 70s and older. Hannes was born in Zimbabwe and left in 1980, but he feels for the pensioners, who cannot survive on their hard-earned pensions and retirement policies. Some of their families have either left Zimbabwe or have died. They are too old or too poor to leave themselves. Initially, Hannes made the food parcels up himself, using his own money. He delivers everyday things such as toilet paper, cooking oil, flour, rice, coffee, candles, fresh vegetables, batteries and toothpaste - yet these necessities that you and I take for granted, bring tears to the pensioners' eyes. Eventually Hannes recruited volunteers to help him, and churches and welfare groups helped out too. He started the Zimbabwe Pensioners Support Fund, a non-profit organisation. The parcels cot R300 each. Hannes recently left full-time employment at TSB sugar factory in Malelane, to work on this project. Two supporters have underatken to pay him a salary so that he can concentrate on helping the pensioners. Should you wish to support Hannes, banking details are: Zimbabwe Pensioners Support Fund, First National Bank, Malelane (branch code 270952), account no. 62058668230. Or call Hannes at (013) 900 934 or 084 589 3221. E-Mail: pensupzim@telkomsa.net

UPDATE: 06 Sept 2008 - Local media is reporting concerns from various people that there may be financial irregularities about Hannes Botha's Zimbabwe Pensioners Support Fund. Donations were asked, at various times, for the purchase of a new truck. The Christian magazine, Joy, in conjunction with Anne Bishop, a well-known charity volunteer from Fish Hoek, raised R600 000. The editor, Erin Georgiou, is also questioning Hannes' integrity. He has stated that anyone donating to the Zimbabwe Pensioners Support Fund is welcome to check the bank statements. There are now four full time staff members at the fund.

Biltong feast in UK

The Brits have cottoned on to our culinary delights! Packets of biltong are now found in many corner cafes and petrol station cafes all over the UK. Even the Royal Marines packed biltong packets for a gruelling expedition to the South and the North Poles last year. Some of the UK's biggest biltong makers aren't even South African and haven't set foot in this lovely land!

Colin Parker, as British as fish and chips, and with no South African family history, is amongst the top biltong producers in the UK, along with his partner, Andy Parry, who is also sans any South African genes. Their business, Coan Biltong, produces 5 tons of biltong each month. Colin was introduced to biltong 10 years ago by a South African girl, Paula, that he met on holiday. His business used to sell chips and nuts, before he introduced biltong. Three years later, he opened a biltong factory.

Probably the oldest biltong maker in the UK (business-wise), is Larry Susman, who's been making biltong for more than 30 years in Newhaven, south of London. Nowadays, he's the sole provider of biltong to Harrods and Selfridges. Amongst his other regular clients are a few English rugby players and Premier League soccer players. Larry moved to the UK from South Africa in the 1970s.

From F1 racing to biltong king

Jody Sheckter, South Africa's F1 world champion in 1979, farms in Hampshire, England. He's also a top-notch biltong maker. While living in Atlanta, USA, for 12 years, he started experimenting with biltong recipes. After moving to England, he finally found a recipe that worked well. He persuaded an East London (SA) butcher to work for him, and soon afterwards they bought a biltong making machine. At first, the results were for the family's own consumption, but soon Jody started selling some at his farm stall. He employed a second butcher as business started booming. Jody's biltong is made the old-fashoned way - with vinegar and coriander.

Sol's back

Sol Kerzner's latest South African project comes 15 years after he left the local hotel business. The new project, Tower Marina, will be developed on two man-made islands at the V&A Waterfront. This is the first hotel development he's been involved in South Africa since he opened the Palace of the Lost City in December 1992. The international hotel magnate, now aged 72, is spending R1-billion on the hotel complex to be opened in October 2009. Three rooftop penthouses, with with a 360° views of Table Mountain and Robben Island across the bay, will sell for at least R100-million each. The first penthouse was sold for R110-million in early June, making it the most expensive apartment in Africa. It was bought by a London businessman. The four-bedroom penthouses feature private lifts, terraces with swimming pools, a gazebo lounge, a wine cellar, his and hers bathrooms, a study and music room. The agent for the sale, Ian Slot, Seeff's managing director for the Atlantic Seaboard, said the previous record price for a penthouse at the Waterfront was R30m.

The super-luxurious 90-suite hotel complex will overlook a canal with two man-made islands — one with a state of-the-art spa. The islands will also have 40 villa-style suites. The hotel will have conference facilities, two international restaurants, including the Tapas restaurant with an estimated 12m-high glass wine cellar — the biggest display of local wine in the world — leading into the restaurant, with a private wine tasting room. Other restaurants include a pool-side diner and the world-renowned Nobu, owned by the Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa. The complex will include Kerzner International's seventh One&Only hotel. The others are in the Bahamas, Mexico, the Maldives, Mauritius and Dubai.

Just Now, Now Now

Brigadier Jim W. Parker CBE, the first post-apartheid British military attaché at the British embassy in Pretoria in 1993, decided to stay on in South Africa, making a new life as B&B owner on a farm near Mooi River. Somewhere along the way, he wrote two fictional novels - The Corrupt Affair, based on the South African arms deal gone wrong, and his latest one, Just Now, Now Now. This latest book covers the eight years on the farm where Jim and his wife Jeannie developed a successful Bed and Breakfast, and tourism broking businesses (Parker Tours). The tensions that persist in South Africa, incompetence and corruption, culture clashes, and more are all dealt with in this memoir of an ex-pat Englishman. He has left the B&B behind, and remains in South Africa, pursuing other projects - if one chooses to live in Africa, one might as well enjoy its heat.

Million Man March Against Crime

René Burger (20 years old) was one of at least 145 South African women who was raped on May 5, if last year's crime statistics are to be believed. The number is likely to be much higher, since it is estimated that only one in nine rapes is reported to the police. The sister of Springbok rugby star Schalk Burger is making headlines around the world. The Burger family's ordeal has once again highlighted the scourge of crime in South Africa. It is one of several prominent families who have been affected by the on-going crime wave.

Denise Goldin, mother of murdered actor Brett Goldin', has commended René on her bravery. "Complacency is the worst thing and has become this country's mantra. Crime in this country is unacceptable. We are being held hostage by a small number of criminals. We must do what we can to fight crime. It affects us all, no one has gone untouched whether it's a family member or a friend, or the fact that we all have to look over our shoulders all the time." She said she supported the up-coming Million Man March Against Crime campaign.

So far 610 000 South Africans have signed up for the event that is to take place on June 10 in Pretoria. Actor-comedian Desmond Dube asks the nation to join him in tackling crime through the Million Man March Against Crime. Initiated by Desmond, The Million Man March Against Crime is an effort to find a solution to South Africa’s biggest social malady. All South Africans, men and women, across all races and from all walks of life are urged to participate in the campaign that will demonstrate the power of unity. The campaign aims to raise the profile of crime as a matter of national priority. The march will culminate with the handover of a petition to top government officials at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

16 May 2008

International awards

Colin Stephenson and Raquel de Castro Maia own the creative agency, Create Design™ in George. They produce award-winning brand development plans, print work, Web site designs and photography. The agency recently won a silver and a bronze award at the Horizon Interactive awards held in Indianapolis, USA. They competed against 20 countries. At another awards ceremony - the Summit Creative awards in Portland, Oregon, they won a gold and a silver award, beating 25 other countries.

Hope goes all red

A town named Hope. Really! This pretty town in British Columbia, Canada, was the film location for Rambo's First Blood. And now it is also the town where you can buy a rooibos special at the Blue Moose Cafe. Try the Red Cappucino (rooibos espresso) or the Red Americano (double strength rooibos) or the divine Red Symphony (rooibos with white chocolate and honey cream). These are keepers!

4Claws Animal Welfare

4Claws Animal Welfare was started in 2000 by a small group of concerned pet lovers who volunteered their time and skills. The group focuses on providing basic health care to pets in poor communities in Bloemfontein. A monthly pet care clinic is held at Freedom Square, Bloemfontein. About 100 to 150 cats and dogs are dipped, dewormed and treated at these free monthly clinics. 4Claws found a sponsor last year for a bakkie, to help them reach more people. The Nissan bakkie needs a good overhaul and donations towards this are most welcome. 4Claws is also looking for donations of dry pet food, pet collars, blankets and kennels. Volunteers are welcome to help at the clinics. If you can help thi worthy group, donate to CLAW, Nedbank, Branch code: 117134, Account no. 1171049781. Contact 072-704-4604 or 084-580-4489

Loud and proud in Afrikaans, in China nogal!

Can you believe it? An Afrikaans song on Chinese radio playlists!!! And sung by 'n Kroonstad boytjie, nogal! Jan Blohm's hit, Groentrui, made the playlists and led to a recent visit to Beijing. Jan was invited by a large Chinese company to put on a show for their employees. The Chinese media heard him sing and Groentrui was soon blaring over the Chinese airwaves. The Groentrui DVD was recently awarded a Sama award for best Afrikaans music DVD. His music is a blend of jazz, blues, folk and rock.

From Rock to Kraut

From Rock to Kraut is the humorous but difficult journey of a South African journalist from urban Johannesburg to small-town Trier, the oldest town in Germany and birthplace of Karl Marx. Her tale is spiced with accounts of meeting the last surviving officer with Hitler in the bunker, and being at home with right-wing, populist Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn days before his murder. Ten years in the making, this book started off as a collection of intermittent writing, describing the author's personal experiences and difficulties of settling in Germany. From Rock to Kraut is recommended for South African expats and anyone thinking of moving to Germany. Available via the book's Web site.