13 June 2009


Sonia Doubell (31) was born and raised in Port Elizabeth. Today she's an actress, singer, model and certified yoga instructor. She lives in Chelsea, London. Her photo has featured on billboards across Europe in sexy lingerie advertisements. Now she's launched a fashion label, Shruggs. She previously had a T-shirt label, Sonia Maria. Sonia matriculated from Victoria Park High School, after attending 11 different schools, including Union High School in Graaff-Reinet to one in Valencia, Spain. In 2002 she appeared in the James Bond film, Die Another Day. In 2004 she was introduced to dance music outfit Dark Monk which led to her becoming their vocalist. She has performed live on the British television show, Top of the Pops. In 2007 she had a role alongside Gwyneth Paltrow in The Good Night. Sonia has also appeared alongside Kevin Spacey in the yet-to-be-released Telstar. She's holidayed on Richard Branson’s private island, counting him as a good friend, and taught yoga to Superman (Brandon Routh). Sonia is married to Johannesburg-born Nick Davies, a businessman. Her father, Clive, died in June 2005 in Port Elizabeth. Her sister, Marlisa, is a a Cape Town drama teacher.


South African model and actress Justine Gundelfinger was recently crowned International Beauty Queen of the Seas in Peru. The New York based daughter of South African high profile divorce lawyer, Billy Gundelfinger, is currently filming with Michael Douglas for the movie Solitary Man. Last year she represented the USA at the Exquisite Face of the Universe pageant in Ghana. For Queen of the Seas she represented South Africa. The pageant is in aid of children with Down’s Syndrome. Justine has been involved with a New York programme called iVolunteer that matches young volunteers with some of Manhattan’s Holocaust survivors to alleviate their loneliness. Through iVolunteer Justine has befriended eight Holocaust survivors in New York. Her paternal grandparents were Holocaust survivors. Justine was born in Johannesburg and attended King David High School. She moved to the USA five years ago to pursue a career in modelling and acting. She was a 2007 SA Sports Illustrated swimwear model.


Mary de Villiers (46) is the only South African in London with the prestigious Hackney Carriage badge on her Black Cab in London. Mary, from Somerset West, got the badge on 05 May and is now one of the 22 000 self-employed Black Cab drivers. She's been living in London for 25 years, where she previously worked as an interior designer. Mary was born in Beaufort West and moved to Somerset West with her parents, Ray and Eileen, when she was four years old. She attended Hoërskool Hottentots-Holland, matriculating in 1981. She studied for three years to get the Black Cab badge, while battling through the deaths of two sisters (cancer), three family members and a dear employee.


Giam Swiegers (52) is the eldest son of Prof. Daan Swiegers of Blue Bulls fame. Eleven years ago, Giam immigrated to Brisbane, Australia with his wife and three children. In 2000 they moved to Sydney. He began his career as an auditor with Deloitte in South Africa, and since then has worked for Deloitte on three continents and six cities. In June 2003 he took over as Chief Executive Officer at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, Australia. In 2005 Giam was named "Best CEO for the advancement of women in business" by the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency. In 2008 Deloitte Australia was named as the "Best firm for the advancement of women’". In September 2006 Giam was recognised by the Australian HR Awards, winning the "HR Champion – CEO" Award. Today he supports the Waratahs rugby team. His sons, Niel (23), Morne (22) and Jacques (21) support the Wallaby team. Giam is married to Adri (maiden name Van Vuuren) from Kroonstad. His brother, Allen (46), is an executive director at Deloitte South Africa.


Melanie Wallner (maiden name Van Der Merwe) was 31 years old when she was allegedly murdered three years ago. Her body was found in a dustbin outside a house in Hamilton Avenue, Cobham, Surrey, England, this week. Her husband, Peter Wallner (33), an unemployed chef, has been charged with her murder. He is married to Lilia Fenech. They lived at the house where the dustbin was found, before moving to Malta recently. Melanie has been missing since August 2006. She married Peter in 2001 in London.


Trinity Rising, by Fiona Snyckers, is a most welcome addition to the sparse world of South African chick lit. The main character, Trinity Luhabe, is a former Miss Sandton who lives in Sandton and is so not previously disadvantaged. She believes people should move on. She's sick and tired of hearing about the Struggle, even though her father Abel spent time on Robben Island. He's now he's a billionaire mining magnate getting on with his life - just the way she likes it. Her mother, Sunet, is from an Afrikaans farming family and met her father while visiting Robben Island. Trinity, fresh from an exclusive Johannesburg private school, heads off to Rhodes University to study Economics and English... economics because she reckons that it's the best place to get to know guys who are going to be eligible millionaires. Here the good-looking fashionista parties her way through life... until life bites back. Her best friend, Lael, goes to UCT so Trinity makes new friends - Steph, Kealiboga and Tyson, meeting every Saturday for brunch. She develops a crush on her poetry tutor, Farouk. Trinity even becomes a babysitter to earns shopping money!

Fiona Snyckers was born and raised in Johannesburg. She was educated at Rhodes University and the University of the Witwatersrand. After graduating from Wits with a Master's in English Literature, she got married and left for England with her husband. In 1997 they returned to South Africa, where she freelanced as a magazine writer until her first child was born. The mother of three has been writing fiction since childhood and is now busy writing more about Trinity.


Mercia Strieman (67), a former head girl at Collegiate Girls High School in Port Elizabeth, has written "On the Ball - ­ Getting to Know You Before 2010", a book about the World Cup, from its history to information about the countries taking part and the host cities. The useful book also includes South African slang words and information about local food, heritage sites and important people. Mercia completed Matric in 1959 and went to Barkly House Teachers‘ Training College in Cape Town. She married in 1965 and moved to Durban, where she was a pre-primary school principal and started Durban‘s first car-boot and second-hand clothing flea market in 1992. After retiring, she co-authored "Clued up on Culture" with Barbara Elion in 2003. The book gives information about what to do, say, and give as gifts when it comes to births, deaths and other ceremonies that mark the passage of life in different South African cultures. Although not a soccer fan, Mercia produced the book with help from her family. Her daughter Lorin, a computer textile and beadwork designer, did the photography.


The South African diaspora has brought new opportunities for those who keep their eyes on the ball. South African authors have cashed on on this by writing about the diaspora, be it fiction or non-fiction - in English and Afrikaans. The latest Afrikaans fiction offerings include two novels, "Alinda se lampie" by Helena Hugo and "Engel van my hart" by Kristel Loots.

"Alinda se lampie" has the main character, Alinda Norval, working as a nurse in Riyad, Saudi Arabia where she falls in love with a surgeon, Danie Hartog. Sadly, Danie is more interested Irmina, an Arabian princess.

"Engel van my hart" sees Breggie Bruwer disliking the name she inherited from her grandmother. Her life hits turbulence when the love of her life betrays her. Can she dare to open up her heart again? She goes off to London where she starts working for Graham Condor, an ophthalmologist.

13 April 2009


Richard Scott was born in Middlesbrough, England, and grew up in South Africa. He attended Birch Acres Primary School and Norkem Park High School in Kempton Park. He did not enjoy art while at school, but in his last year Mr. Fuel inspired him to paint more. In his Matric year, 1987, his submission for the final exam received the highest mark in the province. In 1991 he qualified as a technical illustrator. He was involved in various projects including an internet company. He spent several months in the USA and founded Shocked which became one of Cape Town's leading IT companies. In 2002 Richard became a full time artist. He has sold over 1000 paintings to collectors all over the world. He is represented in various galleries including the Bernhard Schoenenberger in Switzerland and APArt in Holland. He has exhibited in London and in Belgium. One of his early paintings was bought for R750 in 2004, and is now worth R8 000.


The former TV presenter, Rita van den Heever, and her film-maker husband, Andre, know what it's like to miss your children when they are living far away from South Africa. Their triplets left home to go and study in the USA. Ten years later, one of them, Elza, is an international soprano. Last year Elza won the Wagner Competition in Seattle. The other, Johann and Jaco, are also in the arts - Johann as photographer and Jaco as sculptor. The youngest sibling, Andre, is a chef. Elza has sung in the Frankfurt Opera, San Francisco Opera, Paris Opera and the Chicago Lyric Opera. Elza's road to the US was started off by her first music teacher in Johannesburg, Hantie Prins. Elza became a student at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.


Adhir Kalyan (23) was born and grew up in Durban and spent two years in London, England. In 2007 he got a role in the US comedy series, Aliens in America, as Raja Musharaff the Muslim exchange student. He was discovered after a search in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto and London. Adhir had played small roles in British series such as Holby City and Spooks. His mother, Santosh Vinita Kalyan, is an an Opposition MP Parliament, as well as a trained psychologist. Adhir studied psychology and international politics while in South Africa.


In 2007 more than 36 000 young South Africans applied for a UK working holiday visa as a way to spend their gap year. Gap years can become valuable experience listed on a resume or CV. If handled correctly, it can show maturity, self-sufficiency, independence and the ability to interact with different cultures. The UK is nowadays more difficult to get into but there are still other options for young South Africans. Some of the options include summer camps and ski resorts in the USA, au pair work in the USA and Europe, Canadian working holidays, and cruise ship placements. Gap years became popular after World War II when young people were encouraged to travel the world to learn about other cultures and get a greater understanding and acceptance of others. Nowadays, it is done to earn foreign currency and have fun. STA Travel, one of the world's largest student and youth travel agencies, is a leader in gap year travel.


Dutch nationals living in Port Elizabeth still celebrate Queen‘s Day with traditional Dutch music, drinks, food and the colour orange. April 30 is the Dutch Queen's birthday, a national holiday in the Netherlands. For the last three years, Martijn van der Put has organised a party in Lorraine, Port Elizabeth, for Dutch nationals. Last year about 100 people attended.


Karen Kruger, a former marketing manager, got tired of changing handbags only to later discover that she'd left something she needed in yesterday's handbag. She came up with a solution - the Handbag Organiser - while shopping with a friend in Manila. She came up with a design with compartments for a wallet, sunglasses, lipstick, hand lotion, notebooks, pens, and mobile phone. Karen arranged to have the organiser made in China and patented it internationally. Her sister-in-law, who lives in Canada, started a branch in Canada. The organiser has been a success in South Africa, the UK, Australia, Israel, Germany and Canada.


The Louisville Rugby Club hit the news a while back when its coach, Eric Raney, criticised its foreign-born players in an article for a rugby magazine in the USA. Raney criticised the South African players for "shacking up with some lonely and a tad overweight American girls". Shortly afterwards, Emil Walton, born in Namibia and now a resident of Louisville, Kentucky, started coaching the team. Emil was born in Namibia and spent 23 years living in South Africa. He is married to an American, Nicole, and his mother lives in Boksburg. Emil left for the USA in 2004 with his friend, Brentley Combrinck. They wanted to earn dollars before going on to play club rugby in Wales. Emil works as a self-taught mixed media artist. One of the LRC's stars is South African Shaun Grobler from Potchefstroom.


Lindy Bruce (née Rushmere) launched her first book in Port Elizabeth last year. The book, Motherhood and Me, came into being when Lindy was living on Fogo Island, Newfoundland, Canada. Her husband Bruce was a doctor there. They have three children - Murray, Rosie and Alastair. The family now lives in Cape Town. Lindy's family lives in Port Elizabeth - parents Twinks and Colin, her brother Mark and his wife Lauren, as well as brother Graeme and his wife Belinda. Lindy has an Economics and Industrial Psychology degree from Stellenbosch University. She also has a post-graduate diploma in advertising. Lindy is a self-described optimist, but found it hard to adapt to life in Newfoundland. The tiny island had 3 000 inhabitants, and only a ferry in and out. Without the loving support and comfort of nearby family and close friends, Lindy started keeping a journal as an outlet for her feelings. This proved useful when the family returned to South Africa four years ago, and she started running workshops on being a new mother. From these workshops and her journal, she wrote the book.


International airports across the world could soon be using X-ray vision technology that was designed by staff and students at Stellenbosch University's department of electrical and electronic engineering. The Scryer Imaging Device last year won third prize at the annual Innovation Fund Competition. It was developed by Retief Gerber, a post-graduate student and lecturer, who was assisted by Dr Coenrad Fourie, and another post-graduate student, Dave Northeast. The concept works on the principle of reading frequencies emitted by different objects. The device detects hidden objects on a person such as metal, plastics or ceramics, and can is able to screen people as they stand in queues. Gerber, Fourie and the university will be the joint holders of the patent.


A Cape Town technology company, MigrationWare, was chosen to work on a project for Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) Nordic. The Denmark-based airline used the company for work on the upgrading of its mainframe data systems. MigrationWare shifted the airline’s data warehouse suite of applications off their mainframe system and onto a Windows platform, modifying the applications where necessary so that they could function in a Windows environment. The airline’s mainframe was experiencing conflicts between transactional systems and data analysis applications, which were slowing down the systems and issuing of reports. With the project completed, the airline is now able to process reports in two hours, with a reduction in mainframe operation costs.


Malcolm Thomson was a tracker with the South African Defence Force in 1978. Three decades later, the 48-year-old resident of Edmonton, Canada, became a patrol commander (Sgt.) on convoys with the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan. He was born in Sierra Leone and lived in South Africa with his parents. After two years of national service in the SADF, he moved to Canada where he spent 21 years in the Armed Forces on peacekeeping tours in Cyprus, Bosnia and Croatia. He later became a reservist.


Dr. Amanda Laubscher lives in Seattle, USA. The South African dentist also volunteers her services in the Ndlovu township clinic in Elandsdoorn near Groblersdal. She used to have her own dental practice in Pretoria, before she and her husband left South Africa for Singapore, then Chicago and Seattle. The Ndlovu clinic was started by the Netherlands and is funded by Dutch and US donations.


Last year, South African-born Nesta Rovina published her book about her years as an occupational therapist in California. Tree Barking: A Memoir is about her work as a home care therapist, and deals with the patients she treated. Nesta was born and raised in Johannesburg. She graduated from Rhodes University and spent 11 years in Israel where she lived on Kibbutz Ein Dor and received a degree in occupational therapy in Jerusalem. At the age of 26 her South African husband was killed in the Yom Kippur War. She moved to the USA in 1992 and completed her master’s degree at John F. Kennedy University. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area. Her book is about patients, many in low-income and often dangerous neighborhoods. Many of them had debilitating illnesses or were drug addicts or geriatric patients without caregivers to help them with their day-to-day needs. Her job was to help make their homes livable despite their physical limitations and reduce the risk of injuries at home.


Karina Andersen, a Dane, is leading a rehabilitation programme for hardened criminals at Brandvlei Prison in Worcester. The programme aims to teach them skills to cope with life after prison, and is known as SmilingOne. Karina came to South Africa in 2006 and got involved in community work at the prison. The weekly programme lasts six months. After completing the first phase, the prisoners go on to the second phase which involves passing on their new-found skills to other prisoners. SmilingOne's goal is to reach across prisons all over South Africa. Karina has written a book about the programme, The Responsible Individual.


Greg Minnaar was born in Pietermaritzburg in 1981 and went on to became the world downhill mountain bike champion. His parents owned a cycle shop in Pietermaritzburg, but his initial sport was motocross but he eventually changed to mountain biking around the forests in World's View. In 1997, he took part in the World Cup in Switzerland - he was 16 years old and qualified in 12th place. In the final race, he fell and ended in 51st place. Afterwards he decided to became a fulltime downhill racer. His headmaster at Alexander High School supported his decision to leave school immediately. In the World Cup that took place in Stellenbosch he finished 28th. During his first year overseas he questioned his decision to turn professional. He missed his family and friends, and found it tough to cope. Greg perservered and eventually he settled into the lifestyle. In 2001 he won his first World Cup event in Kaprun, Austria. In 2003 he won only one race but finished in the top five often - often enough that at the ed of the season he was world champion. He was named the South African Mountain Bike Cyclist of the Year for 2003. Following this, Greg was offered a spot on the Team G Cross Honda, where he stayed for four years. He won his second World Cup points series overall victory in 2005. He ended the 2007 season with a dislocated and fractured shoulder in his winning World Championship final run. He now races for the Santa Cruz Syndicate team.


Grant Elliott was selected for the New Zealand cricket team last year. He was born in Johannesburg and attended St Stithians College. He played one match for South Africa A against India A. He left South Africa in 2001 to pursue a cricket career in New Zealand. A year later he had a contract with Wellington. He made his national debut in the Test against England at Napier, and his inclusion in the ODI series in England helped the team to victory. The middle-order batsman can also swing the ball when he bowls. He was recently signed by Surrey as their overseas player for the first part of the 2009 season. He is dating Marlise Nieuwstralen.


Margot Katz, author of Tarzan and Jane: How to thrive in the new corporate jungle, is considered as one of the UK's most successful international business consultants and personal branding expert. She has worked with clients such as Coca-Cola, Chevron, Royal Bank of Scotland, CISCO, Emirates, Deloittes, Reuters and Toyota. Margot was born in South Africa and grew up in Johannesburg with her South African father and British mother. In 1967 the family immigrated to England. Her book includes interview with people thriving in the corporate jungle, and her the key steps to success based on these interviews and her research.


Tony Schiena is a former South African karate champion who grew up in Springs. Nowadays the 36-year-old is surrounded by Hollywood bigwigs. He has dated American Idols judge Paula Abdul and British ex-topless model Emma Noble (ex-wife of James Major, son of former British Prime Minister John Major). Tony's father, Franco, worked in a tap-making factory and his mother, Magriet, was a housewife. He graduated from Springs Boys High. He represented the South African national karate team and coached policemen in unarmed combat. While doing security work he was discovered by Julius R Nasso, the man behind Steven Seagal’s movies. Today Tony owns a production company and was executive producer of an adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s Salome in which Al Pacino starred in.


The town of Matlock in Derbyshire's Peak District, is a mini-South African community with a South African doctor Johan, vet, church minister Andre, eight dentists, IT fundi, engineer, managers, teachers and musicians. Boerewors, biltong, sousboontjies, mielepap and bobotie are part of their weekly menus. A local South African shop, run by a former Port Elizabeth resident, keeps them all in good supply. An Afrikaans church service keeps the spirits high. The Matlock Cricket Club recently added to the community by recruiting South African all-rounder Christoph Visser, where he has another South African team-mate, Mandla Mashimbyi.


Model Candice Swanepoel was the first South African to be chosen as a Victoria's Secret Angel to showcase their lingerie line at the annual Victoria's Secret fashion show in Los Angeles. Candice was born in Mooi River, and lives in New York. She started modelling at the age of 15 when she was spotted at a Durban fleamarket. Since then she has appeared on the cover of Vogue (Greek issue), in advertisements for Nike and Diesel, and on the catwalk for Tommy Hilfiger and Diane von Fürstenberg. She is dating Joshua David Jones, a soldier serving in Iraq.


Cape Town offers free Internet access to those who do not own computers or who cannot afford Internet fees. This is through the City of Cape Town's Smart Cape Access Project, launched in July 2002 in six public libraries across the city. A year later, te project was awarded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Access to Learning 2003 Award. Anyone can use the computers for up to forty-five minutes per day, Monday to Friday from 09:00 to 16:00. From its launch until November 2007, over 100 000 people had made use of the access. Since the pilot project in six libraries, the project now has almost 135 000 registered users in 97 public libraries.


Marianne du Toit undertook an amazing solo adventure and turned it into a book, Crying with Cockroaches — Argentina to New York with Two Horses. Marianne travelled through South and North America with two horses, a journey that took more than 21 months, finishing in March 2004. While in New York she also rode one of her horses in the St. Patrick’s Day parade. The daughter of a concert pianist, she graduated from Stellenbosch University in 1992 with a BA degree in political science and psychology. Marianne worked and travelled throughout Europe for three years, including a 1995 three-month solo cycling tour that took her through six European countries. Afterwards, she settled in Dingle, County Kerry, where she first worked as a waitress at Danno's Bar. After discovering the nearby Blasket islands, she took a live-in job at the Blaskets Café, baking. A year later she moved to Dublin, working at the Royal College of Physicians for several years before joining IBEC as Human Resource Officer. Since completing her horseback journey, she has been doing wedding and portrait photography. She also campaigns for animal rights and is involved with the Pegasus Project in Sligo, and equestrian therapeutic riding.


South Africans are heavily involved in field hockey in the USA. The Ohio University's team, the Bobcats, has three Free State girls in the team - identical twins Rachelle and Estienne Coetzee from Bloemfontein (daughters of Etienne and Annerine Coetzee), and Louzeth Schutte from Senekal (daughter of Faan and Ezeth Schutte). It is quite common to hear the team shout out Afrikaans instructions, even the American girls have picked up the language. Central Michigan University has four South Africans in their team - Kim Erasmus from Port Elizabeth (daughter of Noel and Loretta Erasmus), sisters Louise and Lizl Gericke who lived in Windhoek and South Africa, Samantha Sandham from Cape Town (daughter of Rob and Ronel Sandham), and their coach Earl Marais, from Paterson. Louise and Lizl are the daughters of Ben and Christine Gericke. Ben played rugby for Stellenbosch University, and Christine played field hockey for the SA Universities Team and SA National B Team. Earl Marais began his coaching career in 1990 in South Africa, where he was a teacher from 1990-2001 before becoming a teacher at East Union Middle School in Marshville, North Carolina. He played field hockey for four years at Paterson High, from where he graduated in 1984. He played club field hockey from 1985-2000, winning two national championships and eight conference titles as a player with Alpha Men’s Hockey Club. Earl is married to Debbie and they have two children, Robyn and Dean. The University of North Carolina has two South Africans, Ilse Davids from Wynberg and Danielle Forword from East London. Rodney Fisher is also involved in field hockey in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, as well as being a match official across the country. Rodney also coaches the Hilton Head Preparatory School volleyball team.