23 August 2008

Bid for kids fails in Constitutional Court

Andreas Coetsee of Nelspruit lost his Constitutional Court application for leave to appeal, in which he had asked that his ex-wife Karin be prevented from taking their two children to Abu Dhabi. Karin, from Middleburg, Mpumalanga, is an expert on cell division, and was offered a job in Abu Dhabi. She leaves soon with the children aged 10 and 12. Andreas argued in the Constitutional Court that his children are very attached to him, that they should not be estranged from their family, and that their English is not very good and that they would thus have difficulty in a foreign school. Nine Constitutional Court judges ruled unanimously that there was no possibility that Andreas's appeal would be successful.

Springbok fan

Bjorn Teunissen must be one of the most avid Springbok supporters around. He has a Springbok paraphernalia-laden 1976 VW Beetle, which he calls Smitty. The deputy principal and teacher at Crawford College Preparatory, transformed the once-ruined Beetle into a Springbok fan's dream. The car has the number 2 on the bonnet. The green-and-gold interior and exterior features the Springbok emblem. Fine laser cutting was used to create the emblem on the running boards.

Free POS software

South Africa-based Cubit Accounting has launched a new version of its Cubit POS (point of sale) application. The free and open source Cubit POS system can be run on any PC and operating platform. It also inter-operates with the majority of existing POS hardware. It can be customised to comply with different tax systems around the world. It can accommodate hundreds of tills, making it useful for large and small businesses.

Cool photographer

The Observer, a British Sunday paper, recently published a list of the 50 coolest people in the United Kingdom. At number 35 is South African photographer, Alistair Allen (29). Alistair works a digital director at arts magazine, Dazed and Confused. Originally from Durban, he studied electronic engineering at Technikon Natal. He moved to the UK eight years ago where he started working in TV and the music business. Two years ago, he started DirtyDancing.com, which features photos of people he sees when out clubbing. Alistair is considered a fashion photographer, but also does studio photography. His photos have featured in His pictures have been in Vogue. He bought his first camera at age 15 and taught himself to use it.

Raising funds for the SPCA

Ryan Riley (32), an events co-ordinator from East London, will be driving a 110cc Vuka scooter from East London to Johannesburg and back, to raise R100 000 for the SPCA. The SPCA does not get government support. The East London SPCA can‘t even afford a vet. The two-week long scooter trip, which he will do without back-up or support vehicles, will see Ryan driving for up to 10 hours a day. The trip starts in East London on 30 August and is due back on 13 September.

17 August 2008

SA invention in the USA

So many South African products, or their imitations, have found their way overseas though expats. Kevin is a former Capetonian who now lives in Fort Worth, Texas. He's taken a well-known South African sight, the Venter trailer, and turned it into a business. Kevin's business, Companion Trailers, manufactures trailers in Fort Worth.

French roots

Some South Africans are heading back to their French roots. There's already a South African touch in some villages such as Limousin, where Agnes van der Merwe lives. Marlene van der Westhuizen owns a gallery in Charroux, where she lives with her plastic surgeon husband, Deon. Louis Janse van Vuuren, a former Cape Town artist, and his partner Hardy Olivier live in Boussac, Creuse. Louis moved there 10 years ago, after resigning from the Michaelis School of Art at the University of Cape Town. Lanie van Reenen sold her guest house in Cape Town, and bought Chateau Sallandrouze in Aubusson which she's turned into a small hotel.

Kiwi teaches South Africans to dance

Helen Els, a New Zealander married to a South African, is teaching South Africans a new dance form. Helen started ceroc dancing in her youth. Ceroc is a modern jive that is a fusion of salsa, Latin and ballroom. It comes from the French words "c'est rock". Helen met her South African husband, Andries Els, in Dover, where he was a racing car gearbox designer. They settled in Pretoria in 2005. Helen started offering ceroc classes and today there are about 600 ceroc dancers in Pretoria. The first National Ceroc Dance Championship was held in 2007 at the Pretoria Country Club. There are ceroc clubs in Pretoria East and Centurion. There are plans for more clubs.

Coaching cricket in Nigeria

A South African, Sean Phillips (28), is working at reviving cricket in Nigeria. The Nigerian Cricket Federation employed Sean, a former Boland player and coach at Paul Roos Gimnasium in Stellenbosch. Sean started playing cricket at John Ross College in Richard's Bay. He later did a coaching course at the KwaZulu-Natal Cricket Academy. Sean is now based at Tafawa Balewa Square, in Lagos. It was at this square that Nigeria played its first international in 1904, against the Gold Coast (now Ghana). Nigeria joined the International Cricket Board in 2002 but is not ranked. A wealthy Nigerian businessman offered to pay Sean's salary and Sean left for Lagos in June 2007, with his wife Lindsay. He has already helped the Ibeju-Lekki Cricket Club to second place in the league. A cricket academy is planned for Nigeria.

South African protection for Canadian soldiers

A partnership between DaimlerChrysler and a South African defence firm, Land Mobility Technologies (LMT), in Pretoria has led to a R610-million contract to supply the Canadian Armed Forces with armoured trucks. Eighty-two trucks were ordered, with an option for an additional 26 trucks. LMT produces the protected cab, which is dispatched to Mercedes-Benz in Germany, where it is added to an Actros all-terrain truck chassis, producing an armoured truck capable of carrying 15 t of load. The Canadians use the trucks in Afghanistan, where they are deployed as logistics vehicles. LMT, a nine-year-old company, said the cab offers mine-blast resistance, and protection against improvised explosive devices and ballistic threats. This is their biggest contract to date. The new contract led to a R5-million capital layout and created 30 new jobs. Previous work includes creating armoured Humvees and Unimogs for a Middle Eastern country.

Sought-after photographs

Gordon Clark, world-renowned photographer, has returned to South Africa after 20 years in Los Angeles, bringing his American-born cat, Zulu, with him. Gordon lives in Hout Bay, and has already exhibited at Odes Gallery in the Old Biscuit Mill Complex in Woodstock. The exhibition of his rare and highly sought-after African photography was a success, bringing in sales of more than R800 000. His photos sell for between R25 000 and R120 000. He's been invited to exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Gordon grew up in Hillbrow and after finishing school, worked as a window dresser. He changed careers, becoming a hairdresser and met Johan Wessels, a top fashion photographer. Gordon became an assistant photographer, worked overseas and landed up in the advertising industry. In 1998 he went on a photo safari through Lesotho and Namibia, driving a Land Rover. A few months later he was in the same hotel as Oprah Winfrey's private pilot, and a chance meeting led to the pilot showing the photos to Oprah. Oprah was so impressed with his work that she bought a photo and wrote the foreword to Gordon's first photography book, Transitions. Gordon is a commercials director at Velocity Films.

Shark documentary

Ryan Johnson (31) of Mossel Bay filmed sharks for his doctoral thesis, and ended up on National Geographic TV with a documentary, Sharkville. He was also interviewed by Diane Sawyer of Good Morning America. National Geographic financed the filming, which was shot at night. Ryan is a New Zealander and studied at the University of Pretoria. After earning his Master's degree, he worked in Gansbaai. He is currently working on his second documentary, Sharkpit, in Mauritius.

Lily Pond Country House

South African expats, Brian and Felicity Sherratt, own Lily Pily Country House in New South Wales. They left South Africa in 1980. Brian, a banker, and Felicity, a teacher, have also worked in Melbourne, Sydney, Singapore and London. Their award-winning B&B has been praised for its eco-sensitivity. They have sheep, as well as wildlife such as bass, mullet, platypus, wood ducks, moorhens, water dragons, goannas, diamond pythons, swamp wallabies, phascogales, feathertails gliders and potoroos.

Van der merwe world champ

The junior hip-hop dancing world champion is Michelle van der Merwe (15), a grade at Hoërskool Eldoraigne. She won the championship, in the 13 to 15 year old category, in Los Angeles, beating competitors from more than 40 countries. Michelle also won a bronze medal for tap-dancing. This was her first international competition. She started dancing at age 4.

Winning horse's SA links

One of the world‘s top racehorses, Archipenko, is co-owned by several Eastern Cape breeders and a Dubai sheik. One of the owners is Port Elizabeth veterinarian and racehorse breeder Ashley Parker. His mother Rose, of Ascot Stud Farm in Lovemore Park, is also an owner, as are Nicky Bartlett, Rennie Price, and Ian and Nina Robertson. Archipenko is also partly owned by the ruler of Dubai, Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Archipenko is currently based at Newmarket in the UK. The four-year-old recently won the Plymouth Gin Summer Mile at Royal Ascot. The horse is trained by Mike de Kock.

2010 London Book Fair

The 2010 London Book Fair will have South Africa as it's market focus. It aims to give UK publishers the opportunity to network with their SA equivalents and to create new partnerships.

Port Elizabeth achiever

Dr. Colleen Crangle grew up and went to university in Port Elizabeth. She left for the USA to further her career, got married, had two children, and in-between become a women‘s rights activist. She had a ground-breaking law suit against Stanford University eight years ago. In 1996, a year after being hired as a medical informatics expert, Colleen was fired after she complained about gender discrimination. She sued the university and won in 2000. She still works in medical informatics. Colleen studied at the Universities of Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, and Unisa. She later got a PhD from Stanford University. She lives in Palo Alto, California. Her sister Maureen lives in Port Elizabeth, and her brother Kevin in Australia. She is also a member of an animal advocacy group, the Humane Education Network, in California.

Ballet scholarship

Andile Ndlovu (20), of Soweto, has won a scholarship to the prestigious Washington Ballet, after winning a competition in South Africa. He'd previously tried ballroom dancing. He has already been invited back to join the studio company, the next step in becoming a full-fledged professional ballet star.

BBC TCV presenter helps SA kids

The BBC TV presenter, Paul O’Grady, recently visited Qwaqwa for the second time in a year. On his first visit he visited schools and underprivileged families in Qwaqwa, as well as Makholokweng Village in Harrismith. Back in the UK, he received donations. He aims to donate computers to ZR Mahabane and Mangaung Intermediate schools, through the Save the Child South Africa Programme.

Not beamed up far enough

South African billionaire Elon Musk is not popular with Trekkies around the world. One of Musk’s rockets, carrying the ashes of James Doohan, the actor who played Star Trek’s Scotty, exploded, scattering his remains and those of more than 200 other people 217km above the Pacific. Musk attended Bryanston and Pretoria Boys’ High School. He became a wealthy Internet entrepreneur in the USA.

02 August 2008

De Beers gets bigger

Johannesburg-based De Beers, the world's biggest diamond company, has opened its first two diamond times outside Africa. The two mines, Snap Lake and Victor, are in Canada. Snap Lake, Canada's first underground diamond mine, is expected to reach full production of 1.6 million carats this year. Victor may produce 600,000 carats annually. Victor will employ about 560 people. Lake Snap will employ about 400 people.

Rand Airport stars

When the film about aviatrix Amelia Earhart is released next year, Germiston's Rand Airport will flash across screens world-wide. Richard Gere and Oscar winner Hillary Swank are the lead roles in the film. The two stars spent a few days at Rand Airport this week, shooting scenes in a hangar and on the apron. The airport's architecture fits in with the 1930s era. Filming will also take place in Cape Town.

Perfect face

The female lead in South Africa's Oscar-winning film Tsotsi, Terry Pheto (27), has been made the face of L’Oréal's Even Perfect skincare range. Terry grew up in a squatter camp in Evaton and is the first South African to be chosen as a representative for L’Oréal.

Our loss, their gain

Last month the captain of the South African netball team, Dr. Bronwyn Bock-Jonathan, left for Australia. She was recruited to coach the AIS Canberra Darters and the Netball ACT Academy. Bronwyn has a Masters and PhD in sports science, having researched how sport can improve the lives of teenage girls on the impoverished Cape Flats. She lectured sport science at Stellenbosch University. While at school, Bronwyn took part in athletics (200m and high jump), as well as netball and softball. She captained South Africa at senior and under-21 level, and played at the 1998 and 2002 Commonwealth Games. After her four-year contract in Canberra expires, she may head back to South Africa. Her husband, Marvin Jonathan, plays for the South African baseball team. He hopes to keep playing in Canberra. His goal is to play in the World Baseball Series next January. The couple have a two-year-old son, Jordan.

Royal visit to Stellenbosch

Prince Harry visited Stellenbosch's Nu Bar this week, with a group of friends and his bodyguards. The Prince was friendly with the locals who approached him.