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 Hoƫrskool 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.