Thursday, July 31, 2008
A type of subsoil bacterium has been found in a platinum mine that can shed light on how subsurface organisms can survive without light, air and little nutrients.
Alright, so the aim is that it will help researchers understand how such mircobes will survive in subsurface of other planets but this is still groundbreaking news.
The authors showed that the biofilms contained a number of unique organisms associated with the deep subsurface, and therefore such films might be an excellent place to search for new and unusual species of microbes. In fact, in their study the team came across one particularly strange microbe shaped like a tiny, microscopic star.
On 2nd Aug 2008, at 11 am in CCA Large Hall, Masonic Road, Durban, the DA will have a meeting to discuss crime and encourage victims of crime to join in and talk about their experiences.
Helen Zille will also present the DA’s policy proposals to provide compensation and relief for victims of crime.
The Imbizo forms part of the DA’s Anti-crime Campaign designed to highlight the impact that crime has on communities all over the country and to send out the message that crime can be beaten.
Read the full details on Helen Zille's website. There is an email and phone number if you would like to find out more.
I know lots of people are fed up of crime so please take time out to join in the talks. If you plan on staying in South Africa and you want SA to change, at least be part of the change.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
She articulates the thoughts and fears of many South Africans ... wait, let me correct myself, she seems to voice the anxieties of the far-thinking, educated South African, irrespective of race and religion.
Well, she has a interesting piece on the crime situation in South Africa - basically covers how crime is affecting everyone, why it is so and how everyone can make a difference.
Extract from article:
If we cannot retain highly skilled South Africans, we cannot create jobs. If we cannot create jobs, people are more likely to turn to crime. This is a vicious cycle that we must break if we are to succeed as a nation.
And what of those South Africans who do not have the means, the skills or the inclination to emigrate? Minister Nqakula never explained what would happen to them.
Read full post here.
It's been nearly two decades since freedom and people still can't see beyond the color of a person's skin. Sigh!
There's an angry tiff going on between SA lawmakers and South African Sports Confederation and Sports Committee; the former says that the latter was "dominated by "whites and Indians'' at the expense of the black majority."
Cricket, rugby and now this?
While I agree that the faces on the teams should be a fair representation of the population, perhaps implementing the change should come from the ground level and not as within the major teams that have already picked the best?
Thus, why not fund more schools, train more previously disadvantaged communities and start recruiting for talented sports folk in all corners of the country?
Don't pick on those who worked hard to get to the topic because the current policies are not helping the previously lesser privileged!
Okay time for a side note: Whilst Firefox is my connection of choice to the 3 Ws, I agree that the world would be a better place if people were more aware of the various net surfing applications out there. It would certainly make a lot of web developers happier, you know, cut down on the rate of baldness and insanity caused by people pulling out their hair in anger & frustration.
So it begins.
According to the news on My Opera, their Opera Software will be dropping a lot of SA universities. I have taken the liberty of noting down a few times and locations. Read here for the full list.
- University of Cape Town: Wednesday 20 August, 12:30
- University of KwaZulu-Natal: Thursday 21 August, 12:15
- Durban University of Technology: Friday 22 August, 11:00
I am sure my husband is all the happier because I am promoting his favorite browser.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
According to the SABC, the court found that the isolation of patients with infectious diseases such as XDR-TB was universally recognised in democratic societies.
I must admit, that's good news. For the rest of public, obviously not for the patients.
But you also wonder the extent of XDR-TB infections in South Africa, particularly in Eastern Cape.
Does anyone recall the numerous times when patients with this contagious disease had fled the hospital and mingled with general public and family members? The overpowering of security guy incident? The holiday spreading of germs incident? That other incident, frantic movie style escape from hospital after announcement of Christmas party?
Did I mention the instance where a girl with MDR-TB was attending school in Cape Town? Share and share alike I suppose.
So just how bad is XDR-TB or even MDR-TB infections in South Africa. There's been enough stories of possible contamination (see fleeing hospital examples described above). What is the actual figure?
Well, I''m not sure but HealthMap has a rather scary update of XDR-Tb alerts in South Africa. From a link stating that staff being cleared of possible infections to a frightening note that hundreds dead from killer TB strains.
Makes you wonder.
I realize that a lot of folks, especially the news following groups, will have read these stories.
So why do I post them?
I link to stories of crime in South Africa because, if we don't pass around the stories of their trauma and suffering, who else is there to remember?
Too many people in the First World would happily turn a blind eye to the crime rate in SA whilst they are the same people who can call for a action against this chaos in a UN member state.
Enough of my ranting, here are the links.
Two men, Hans and Frik Coetzee were attacked in their home in Barberton by armed robbers. Hans was wounded and, sadly, Frik died from his injuries.
Sigh. This is another terrible tragedy. A young man was shot dead and his father critically injured when armed robbers broke into their home.
Think about all the victims whose stories don't even make it to the news. Sigh. And people say, "Crime? What crime?".
Nonetheless, it is worth a mention.
There was apparently a call, nay, a suggestion if you may, in South Africa, for Muslim couples to check their HIV status before marriage. I'd think that they would ask anyone, irrespective of whether they were gonna marry, to recommend getting tested regularly.
And not just the ones who does the hokey-pokey in the varsity library loo, but those who had a blood transfusion, etc. etc.
The problem with this 'testing call' was that the fella with the great idea wanted it to be compulsory.
Obviously, you cannot or should not force someone to do something.
Apparently, at conference on Monday, a considerable number of high-ups opposed the new Expropriation bill. By high-ups I don't mean everyday Joes and Siphos, much as the bill will affect them the most; rather, I refer to business folks and political bigwigs.
Let's face it, these are the guys who can jab the proverbial foot in the door and make a change right now.
Look at us, we are still 'blue in the face' from protesting about crime.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Photo Source: Banter@Flickr
Last week I talked a little bit about phase one of Moving Abroad series - Job Hunting: Baby Steps to Leaving South Africa. This week's topic is all about Visa Application Procedures. What to look out for, people to call, what to know and as always, some very helpful links.
Immigration: A little research never hurt anyone
As I mentioned in the previous post, moving to another country is going to involve tons of research. So brace yourself and prepare to get all net-savvy.
Once you have a rough idea where you want to go, or at least have played around the idea of running about in the Alps, it's time to make a beeline for the official Immigration website of that country. This will hopefully contain all information you need: whether you need a medical certificate; do you need an apostille stamp for your marriage certificate; would you require a police clearance document; and all sorts of other miscellaneous information.
So I dug around for the official Immigration sites for a few countries:
UK Border Agency
Dept of Immigration & Citizenship for Australia
Citizenship and Immigration Canada
Immigration New Zealand
These sites have a lot of useful information. Find out what you need for a work visa. You can check out if you are applicable for the highly skilled migrant programmes mentioned in most of these sites. Sometimes the procedures are less tedious in such instances since in these cases, your job will be in high demand in these countries.
Nothing Beats a Direct Inquiry
Something we learnt in the visa application proccess - the website was our constant and reliable source of reference but sometimes you came up with a few questions that were not answered on the site.
Trust me, there will be a lot of questions.
So what do you do?
Call up the friendly neighborhood embassy.
British High Commission
Australian High Commission
NZ High Commission
Canada High Commission
Migration Agents - Your New Best Friend
Of course you could always opt for a migration agent to help you through this tedious process.
Migrantion Agents can provide all the information you need, tell you exactly what documents you need and voila, provide valuable advice all along the way to getting through the red tape.
So the list goes:
Location: Address 4, Christian's Village (Pick 'n Pay) Centre,
Cnr Old Main Rd & Inanda Rds, Hillcrest, Durban
Phone: 031 765 6449
Migration Agents for Australia
We went through Passport centre for a few of our documents and we have rave reviews for them. Excellent work, efficient and well worth the money. I have gone back and forth enough times sorting out papers on my own; now I just opt for these guys.
As for First Contact, a friend of ours went through them and the hassles of visa application was minimal. Since he turned out alright - got his visa, went to UK and now has a job and his own cosy little apartment., I would say these guys are alright.
Okay, the third bunch I don't know anything about. The 3rd link is really a whole list of migration agents based all over South Africa. What is reassuring is that the site also has a list of agents whose license has expired or who have sanction against them. So I would recommend double checking in this manner.
With A Little Help From Your Friends
Some immigration sites might be brilliant; other are just too confusing. Some embassies /high commissions are super helpful; others are so apathetic that you might end up in a bad mood for th rest of the day. Some of the agents are excellent; others might be all that they are hyped out to be.
So what do you do?
Don't give up hope. Keep trying, keep finding out information. And broaden your resources for information gathering.
Read articles and queries on any of the sites mentioned below. Talk to old school scums or friends you run into on the social networking sites. Post your own questions on some of these and check out what others say.
Facebook (if you are a member, why not use it? What better way to network and find info?)
Hello Peter (a consumer watchdog of sorts; view the various complains and see if any migration agents you had in mind are listed here)
So that's it, in a nutshell. Was this post helpful? Are there any burning questions you had in mind that I have skipped altogether? Want to share your experiences with visa application? Am all ears here.
Next week we're going to talk a little bit about expenses; what are the big spending areas whilst moving.
Disclaimer: Please contact official embassies / government sites for information about individual emigration cases. Do not provide personal information to unofficial agents. If you are going through a middleman (rental agent, migration agent etc.), please find out through the official city/government websites for a directory of legal agencies. There are a lot of helpful agents out there but you must always be wary of frauds and scams. Please do extensive research about any agency that you contact for processing of documentation or housing needs.
Apparently Fifa had a nasty shock when they checked out the bandwidth costs in South Africa.
As a result, MATCH has been forced to re-evaluate and “dumb down” its technology solutions in order to stay within budget, Wiles told ITWeb yesterday during an exclusive interview.
“To be honest, it [the cost of bandwidth in SA] is not something we were first aware of,” he says.
Call me a cynic, but the words 'dumb down' is so flattering ... in that same way that you love being called special.
Friday, July 25, 2008
A proudly South African moment: Erika Obermeyer is this year’s South African woman winemaker of the year. Keep an eye out for that wine.
Isn't this a better way to talk about the excellent crimewatch programme by ECR? Oh yes, the good people are constantly updating the crimewatch alerts, one of the most essential tools to surviving SA. Something to keep an eye on; a hijack incident in Pavillion roof parking lot.
No matter what the naysayers like to believe, people of all races think about emigrating. That's right, according to this article, [t]he number of black and coloured South Africans seriously considering emigration has shot up by 20% and 30% respectively since 2000. Talk about a myth-breaker.
This one goes to out every South African, irrespective of race, who has been a victim of crime, or who knows someone hurt by crime, or to anyone who loves South African and is heartbroken by its current state.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
It first appeared in IOL on June 29th 2008, titled "Zille 'insulting' 70% of population".
I don't agree with the views at all; I'm just surprised that the writer feels so strongly about Cape Town Mayor and presidential hopeful Helen Zille.
The bone of contention seems to be her call to Jacob Zuma, asking him for a public debate: "Zille wants to know Zuma's stand on the supremacy of the constitution, HIV and Aids, the arms deal, tackling unemployment, the rule of law and the independence of the SABC.".
It sounds perfectly reasonable to me. You want to know the policies and ideologies of the next presidential candidate. I would commend Zille for wanting to know the real Zuma, show the man what he really thinks, as opposed to being taken in my mythical image portrayed tactfully in the media.
But the author does not seem to agree. In fact, his view on this topic is rather disdainful:
"Unless being on Mars has dulled her senses, she would have known that Polokwane ushered in a new leadership that seems determined to speak with one voice ... The ANC decides on policy and what its president can say."
Alright, so maybe that's the generally accepted opinion. And possibly how ANC would love to run things. As it is, they probably are running matters in this manner; ANCL and Coastu seems to be the backbone of ANC currently and even Jacob Zuma seems to be answerable to them.
But I can see where Helen Zille is coming from. If Jacob Zuma's voice is not his own, if his views will not be his own, why is ANC riding on his name? Why is his name thrown around as the one who will save the disillusioned South Africans? Why is he portrayed as someone akin to a Messiah? Why are so many ready to 'kill for him', 'go to jail with him' (if he is convicted)?
It would be equally foolhardy to deny the fact that the name JZ has been thrown around as the new hope for SA. The feeling seems to be, ANC did not fail the liberation movement, 'people' in power just messed up. And here 'people' indvertently refers to President Thabo Mbeki.
Thus it seems to be more convenient for ANC to suggest that last few decades was hard for previously oppressed groups in South simply due to the faults of one man (was he not anwerable to ANC? Isn't it how ANC is supposed to work?). But, in the same note, ANC will be the savior of the same people because they have the backing of one man, a man loved by many.
That man is Jacob Zuma.
In support of Jacob Zuma, the author points out that "The ANC and South Africa's electoral processes successfully reflect the aspirations of ordinary South Africans."
How sad that Helen Zille who wants to uphold the rule of law in a democracy is being criticized while the somewhat questionable activities in favor of Jacob Zuma (disbanding Scorpions, scandal during corruption charges) is seen as a better idea of the power of the masses.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
I just wanted to link to a story about crime. There is honestly not enough coverage about crime, how bad it or just how violent it is.
The other day someone asked on an online forum if crime was really that bad in SA or was it all media hype.
Anyway, story today is an attempted hijacking in Pinetown, Durban.
"The daughter was walking down the driveway when two gunmen approached her mother's car and ordered her to get out."
The daughter screamed and ran back into the house, alerting her dad."
Apparently the father came out and shot one of the robbers as he approached the house. Incidentally, the robbers was in pursuit of the kid who had run off screaming.
Imagine how traumatizing it must be for the girl, let alone the whole family.
What am I talking about? The recent controversy about the HIV contaminated blood transfusions.
IOL featured articles about the scandal. One of them covers the basic - What started this story, who was the patient in question and of course, was there a possibility of any other contaminations?
It's fair to say that this expert in medical field sums up everyone's worries when he/she said,
"That is two cases in less than a year," a specialist who has links with both cases said. "And I am just one doctor. I am shocked, disgusted, and scared for my patients."
Now it comes to the nitty gritty. Close to the time when there was an uproar about possibility of infected blood, SA Good News has a rather innocent article about how safe transfusions are.
According to them,
Blood transfusions in South Africa are now safer from HIV infection than ever before, says the South African National Blood Service.
Wait there's more ...
According to Medical Director of SANBS Dr Sam Gulube, no HIV transmissions have been linked to blood transfusions since a more advanced HIV testing method was introduced into South Africa in October 2005.
Are they taking a chance on the last two incidents and highlighting the fact that, despite being given IV infected blood, the patients' later came up negative.
Seriously, how sick is that? I can understand if there was a damage control article about the proceedure of testing, pros and cons of whole process, how successful their attempts are, etc. etc.
Don't pretend an incident of possible contamination didn't happen at all!
Monday, July 21, 2008
During the weekend, where 400 colored folk (do note, this is the term used in South Africa and not a generic racial reference) met and decided that instead of changing Bruin Belange Inisiatief (BBI) into a political party, it would be made into a watchdog organisation. You know, the kind that makes sure all their rights and needs are seen to, etc. etc.
It's odd that they would prefer to not take control and make their voices heard in the form of a political party. Espeically, as the article suggsets, "(c)oloured people make up the majority in two provinces. In the Western Cape, coloured people are 55% of the population and in the Northern Cape, 52%".
That's a significant amount of people. Surely it was time they had a voice in the governing body, a voice in the political arena?
It's also disconcerting that a small group of people has just decided the future and fate of a larger section.
In other news, it was decided in this same weekend, that there will be a political party tending towards the rights and needs of black people.
On Saturday leaders of the Socialist Party of Azania (Sopa) and Black People’s Convention (BPC) announced they would merge to form a new BCM political party.
Sopa president Lybon Mabasa said the new party was committed to ensuring that “the black majority was in control of the country’s resources, including land and its mineral resources”.
So, despite the presence of ANC, rights of black people are not being represented? And if they aren't, why isn't it equally logical to create a party to represent colored people?
Monday's warnings include numerous hijacking and robbery attempts. Clairwood, Innes Road & Valley View Avenue (Morningside) are all highlighted. Please read about the incidents and keep vigilant.
Friday: Cato Manor near Sherwood, Kloof's Old Main Road and Columbine Road are just some of the places mentioned.
It's so scary; every time I read the notices, it includes areas where friends or old work colleagues live.
Waikato Times has an insightful article about South Africa; namely about emigration and land reform.
It's an interesting article and I highly recommend reading it.
In the 2006 census [of New Zealand] 41,676 people gave their birthplace as South Africa. In 2001 it was 26,061.The Expropriation Bill, which has recently been passed by the South African Parliament, will advance land reform and replace the so-called unconstitutional Expropriation Act of 1975. From July 2008 all South African private property can be expropriated from its owner for public use or benefit by the ANC regime when the new Expropriations Act came into effect.
I know a lot of South Africans are worried about the changing political face of South Africa, but I also feel that not enough people are fretting about it. Well, the ones who worry about the future are probably the ones making a new life in foreign lands.
It's a tough step but, in the end, you are thinking of a safer, more secure life for your family.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Do note that this goes hand in hand with Visa Applications. Nonetheless, let me talk a little bit about Job Searches.
When the Big Decision was made and we were ready, mentally, to move ship, of course one of the first things we did was look for a job.
Make your CV(resume) look Good
Well, basically open up that old CV you have stored away in your PC and get working. Update it to include your most recent work experiences. Make sure you have a few references included; good idea to asking old employers for reference letter. I just hope you didn't leave old work on bad terms ... or that old place has not shut down and tumbleweeds roll down that street.
Even so, you probably in contact with or have the number of old work colleagues; you'll get hold of ex-boss through the old network soon enough.
Word of advice - google your name and see what comes up. If sometime in your crazy teens you had maintained a website about how you wanna be a hippie and corporate jobs are so-not-you, I'd suggest burying that along with all other embarrassing relics. Leave such revelation for family parties.
I would recommend browsing online, checking out sites like this one, for help on writing a mind-blowing resume and eye-catching cover letter.
Wait a min ... What's a clip?
In the writing field, it refers to sample work. That depends on the type of job you are looking for. A lot of graphic design jobs, writing gigs and work in certain sections of the IT industry require you to send in samples of your work. It might be sample code if you are a programmer; it might be sample writing clips; if you are a graphic designer, a few published material as well as an online portfolio on sites like deviantart counts.
Something we found out very quickly; you need to submit samples to showcase your skills. Some companies want just that extra bit. Good news is, once you start sending out resume with samples, you tend to get more responses.
Aha. We hit an artery here, didn't we? This is what a lot of people want to know.
Well, there are plenty of sites to look for jobs.
Approach companies directly
That's worth a shot. Find the names of companies in your field - use Wiki, Yahoo Answers, Chamber of Commerce web sites, About.com or browse for official pages of cities of interest. For the latter, Munisource seems like a useful source (note: I just came across it whilst recapping my research)
Google Directory is also an excellent choice.
Didn't say this was gonna be easy.
Send them a cover letter expressing interest in their company, how you will be an asset etc. and of course, be sure to attach your resume. Ask them to please keep your resume on file just in case something pops up in the future.
Online Job Hunts
This can be a tiring process. Going through so many (or so little depending on the job field of that site) job adverts, it can make you disheartened.
Always, always remember - there will be rejections or even no answer at all from prospective employers. Don't let that get you down, persistence will pay. Be realistic and expect to send out quite a applications.
Now for the list ...
Eures (yep, job sites that focus on Europe)
Jobs (jobs in UK in the academic field)
Seek (Jobs in Australia)
There's many more out there. Ask around in Yahoo Answers, read About or just do a simple google search.
Find a list of online newspapers for the country you are aiming for. A lot of them have a classified section that advertise jobs as well.
Of course, you could always submit your resume to a recruiting agency and get help finding some excellent jobs. Who said you had to do this all by yourself?
Here is a list of recruitment agencies. Remember you can always do an online search for the company name to find out any complaints about their dealings.
Multilingual Vacancies (mostly UK based but has other countries)
First Contact (UK based but has a branch in South Africa to help recruitment)
Planet Recruit (again UK based but seems to be focused on the technology fields)
Adecco (Australian recruitment site)
Collins McNicholas (Irish recruiting agency)
Recruitment & Employment - (UK based) - Thanks to NF for link!
And there you have it - a brief look at looking for a job outside South Africa.
I'm also curious about the process followed by other people. How did you go about finding a job? What method resulted in the most feedback? Any agencies that were immensely helpful and thus would be highly recommended by you?
Next week, a look at applying for work permits - the good, the bad and the forewarned.
Disclaimer: Please contact official embassies / government sites for information about individual emigration cases. Do not provide personal information to unofficial agents. If you are going through a middleman (rental agent, migration agent etc.), please find out through the official city/government websites for a directory of legal agencies. There are a lot of helpful agents out there but you must always be wary of frauds and scams. Please do extensive research about any agency that you contact for processing of documentation or housing needs.
I noticed that quite a few searches that landed in this blog were looking for one or more of these keywords - How to Leave South Africa or Leaving South Africa. I can understand that taking such a huge step can be frightening, not to mention negative peer pressure from those around you who want you to stay behind.
Stay or leave; choice is yours. If you feel strongly about staying in South Africa, that is your choice my friend and it's right about the time when you should close this window and enjoy the sunny sunrise.
For those of you who feel the urge to move / want to move but have no motivation / have no clue how to go about it, check out the first of this series. I hope it helps in your little life quest.
The posts will consist of these topics:
Visa & Other Immigration Details
Miscellaneous little Details
My first post will be on Job hunting. Click on the link and it will take you to that page. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: Please contact official embassies / government sites for information about individual emigration cases. Do not provide personal information to unofficial agents. If you are going through a middleman (rental agent, migration agent etc.), please find out through the official city/governement websites for a directory of legal agencies. There are a lot of helpful agents out there but you must always be wary of frauds and scams. Please do extensive research about any agency that you contact for processing of documentation or housing needs.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
First Durban authorities wanted to name Kingsway after Andrew Zondo. Now they want to name a school after him.
To those who just joined us, Andrew Zondo is a teenager who was responsible for the bombing of an Amanzimtoti resort in 1985. According to news articles, " killed 2 women and 3 children and wounded 48 people. "
This was during the apartheid regime and it was one of those acts of violence against the gov't which resulted in the death of civilians. The bombing is still a sensitive topic by many South Africans (although I do wonder if the majority of the indignant fall into one particular race).
Call it the fine line between freedom fighter vs. terrorism. At some point, it depends on whether it's my rights or your rights that is one the line.
What's truly sad is that the fight for freedom for all races has become politicized; the lessons to be learnt are brushed aside for glorification of your own deeds.
For instance, Andrew Zondo's own farther, Aieken Zondo, opposed glorifying his son's name.
"It doesn't sound right (to rename Kingsway). It's as if we are being spiteful and that is not right." Aiken Zondo told the Sunday Tribune.
If you read the TRC account of one of the injured, Andrew Zondo himself showed remorse for hurting others. There is even account of one victim's famuly forgiving Zondo, because fighting for the universal rights of all was the issue in question then. At least, that seemed to be the dream.
I also believe that violence is not the best way to achieve results. And I guess I would be feeling differently if one of my family members was hurt in an attack.
So condemn acts of terrorism; decry violence against civilians. I'm in line for the flag for that one.
But please, do admit that apartheid was a brutal and unfair regime. And the world is a better place after getting rid of it. What bothers me is the unsaid almost implied feeling of many protestors - the old system was not bad and we are not sorry to be associated with it. Because it makes all the people of the past generations feel better because they may be the ones with privileged passes but they sure as hell didn't invent the concept.
It was horrible to read the account of the worker injured in attack. I hope everyone else thought of her boss a a bit of a heartless pig. What was horrible for me is a sense of de ja vu when reading that. We've all seen someone being horrid to the cleaner, nanny or maid. Fact is that a lot of white South Africans still treat other races as second class citizens.
Look, before a range of hate mail comes pouring in, I condemn Zondo for bombing civilians, for killing innocent people, the fact that violence was the path choosen. But I think his cause, fighting for dignity as a human and equal rights is a worthy one; you just wish violence had not been the choosen path for it.
And my reason for bringing up TRC account of the nanny was to point out that so little has changed. Well, there are still many hungry, poor black people out there. SA has been free with a brilliant constitution for nearly 2 decades now. And so little has changed. BEE means preferentical treaatment for black folk and other races find it harder to get jobs. One race above others. And so has anything changed?
So what's the point of changing street names etc. to freedom fighters/terrorists like Zondo? He fought against a regime that elevated racial differences; why bother with a token gesture when nothing has changed?
Otherwise it's the age old children's tree-house with limited entrance passes.
Well, a bunch of young folk are going to launch a political party, an alternate one to ANC. Bad news? It seems a bit one-sided where race is concerned.
The Black Consciousness Movement (BCM) will launch a political party, the Black Consciousness Movement Broad-based Political Party (BCMBPP), at the weekend.
Your spidey-senses should be tingling now.
Look, in all fairness SA does need new political parties - one that represents everyone, especially the youth; one that is sensitive to current matters and do not go by old affiliations. A fresh start to a new Africa sort of thing.
BCMPP seems a bit frightening in this modern day. Sure, I should wait until thy release their mandate and charter before making an judgments but the name itself is worrying. In the same way, if a strictly white party was going to represent folk at elections, there would be an angry outry about lack of proper representation. Race-based parties seem like a receipe for disaster.
Durban wants to legalize prostitution for the 2010 World Cup.
They've been playing around with this idea for a while; remember the outrage earlier this year when someone promoted prostitution with the worst reasoning imaginable?
... legalising prostitution would help make the tournament a success, "because we hear of many rapes, because people don't have access to them [women]"...What a misguided attitude to rape and aggravated assault on women. So, SA is the murder capital of the world, outside a war-zone, shall we introduce private arenas where super aggressive folk can take part in simulated murder and robbery?
No, wait, if that was the case video games should squash those urges. After all, alarmists seem to liken latest GTA game as a devil endorsed gateway to drugs, sex and mayhem, but so far, despite access to the game, the trigger happy killings in SA have not stopped. Not the last time I checked.
So, coming back to original topic, prostitution in SA - not a good idea. Keep in mind that this is a nation famous for out-of-control violent crime (murder, rape, hijackings) as well as a country famous for introducing a ban on kissing amidst underage kiddies. Not to forget the recent moral highroad taken by many folk in demonizing alcohol as the root of all our problems.
So let's call it what this is - an attempt by those in power to milk the cash cow whilst ignoring the adverse side effects on the general public.
In a National Geographic special, Manuel suggests that South African poor can greatly benefit from planting which can cut down on the amount of food you have to buy.
It's not a bad suggestion; if a lot of us grew a few fruits, veggies or chillies, it can go a long way in cutting down expenses. Manuel aims this concept at SA poor because a) they are mostly based in rural areas with comparatively expansive land and b) because they are the worst hit by rising food prices.
Well, makes you wonder why people haven't done it already, yea? 14 years of freedom, government grants are in place, a renewed land expropriation coming into force ... maybe what's lacking is the big 'I' for Initiative.
Once, again someone loses their life to violent crime.
An 82 year old man was shot several times while trying to defend his wife from armed robbers.
He died valiantly; he came at the robbers with an axe when they attacked his wife.
This story once again reveals the dire circumstances under which people live in South Africa. Walking in fear, being watched by criminals. It is the proverbial dystopian world depicted in futuristic movies - except that it is happening now, today in South Africa.
Why do I say this?
How bad is it going to get in SA?
Lubbe [godchild of the victims] said that Andries and Deborah's dog had been poisoned a month ago and that Deborah apparently saw a green car hovering in front of the house three days before the attack.
"It's as if they've been planning it for months," she said.
And why is that only Beeld will talk about incidents of violent crime?
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
The chaos that is Africa has not hit CT yet.
And that explains the kudos that comes through for CT. First the granting of Blue Flag status and now this?
Yep, Cape Town airport has been listed as the 10th best airport in the world, according to Skytrax Airport Awards!
Well, time to check ECR Crimewatch. They do such an excellent job to create awareness and inform people. Kudos to the Crimewatch team.
Now to the nitty gritty. Read the site for full details but here's what I noted.
Hijacking in Oakleigh Drive off Ridge Road, Cato Road off Kloof Falls Road, Manning Road near Girl's School, South Ridge Road. There are a few more mentioned, do take time to browse their site.
There are quite a few robbery alerts as well.
It's scary. I know people who live in these areas. Or at least frequent these areas. It's frightening to think that someone you know might be next.
At least being aware can give you some advantage.
The world seems blissfully oblivious of this type of genocide.
21 year old Jan-Daniel Venter was shot and killed in an armed robbery on his farm. He was trying to protect his father from the burglars who had broke into their home.
Apparently the young man's dog was also injured by the robbers, all because it was trying to protect its owner.
Tell me one farm attack that was not racially motivated and I will point out a big white lie.
Have you read the News24 article about a Zanu-PF bigwig called Joshua Teke Malinga.
Apparently, he is big on torture (the way they make it sound, seems like he did the ribbon cutting for a torture centre in Zim), has done his bit for oppressive tactics (don't look at me, it's in the article) plus, well there should be a 'plus' here since the article ominiously implies much in the way of hating the fashion sense of MDC t-shirt wearers, typing angry letters and such other activities.
Don't get me wrong; the chaos and upheavel in Zimbabwe is sad. You feel for the locals and want justice, order and peace for them. Right now, a lot of them probably just want basic neessities like food and medicine.
As for the article, here's another pie in the face fact for SA. Turns out Malinga owns property in South Africa. This, after there is worldwide call for sanctions and actions to freeze the assests of Mugabe head honchos?
The wheelchair-bound Malinga, who owns three sectional-title units in Hillbrow, was until recently a director of the Secretariat of the African Decade of Persons with Disabilities (SADPD), a Cape town-based organisation that champions the rights of the disabled in Africa.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
When I was young
A dream of sweet illusion
A glimpse of hope and unity
And visions of one sweet union
But a cold wind blows
And a dark rain falls
And in my heart it shows
Look what they've done to my dreeeeaaam...yeah!
Some segments of South Africa are riled up about the inclusion of SA Chinese into BEE.
Watch out whilst reading this article in M&G; it's dripping with indignant feelings of entitlement, not to mention the politically incorrect statements.
Firstly, the interviewees (who incidentally seem to be angry poor folk needing someone to blame - xenophobic fear, anyone?) argue that these guys didn't suffer enough/at all/like us (just what did they mean by vaguely dangling the word suffer?!!).
So, to quote the article, "no matter what apartheid did to them or how long they have lived in South Africa", no BEE status for them.
Logically, under this same train of thought, black youth born in the post apartheid period is not applicable because they didn't directly suffer under apartheid?
Or what about Indian community? They fought alongside, they also suffered hardships and humiliation?
Apparently this very thought was running through the mind of one of the quick thinking interviewees - "I don't think the majority of Asians living in South Africa suffered as much as Africans did."
This brings me to my second point. What about Mahatma Gandhi? Didn't he burn his pass with a group of defiant folk in 1908? Wasn't he arrested and beaten for his work in equal rights for all?
Oh do note that the term 'African' is probably used liberally by this person; I am simply assuming this but surely the xenophobic attacks in May against black non-South-Africans, whose countries had struggled to overthrow apartheid, are proof of convenient forgetfulness. In just a matter of months, history was rewritten; we don't owe anyone anything; we are free because it was meant to be so; we are angry with current life and it's someone else's fault. And since May, African apparently can only be used in reference to black South African.
This leads to my third point. How can anyone claim apartheid (the afrikaans word for separateness) is over if only white-on-black-racism is wrong but black-on-other-race-discrimination is alright. Or as they say in Nepotizm Town, this is how WE do things around here.
Need proof from just this article?
"For me it is difficult to differentiate between the Chinese, Japanese and Koreans any way. It's even harder to tell which one was born in South Africa and which one was not...."
I hope everyone else who read that bit cringed. That is so, so politically incorrect that you wonder if SAHRC died from shock; explains the lack of action from their side after that comment?
Sadly, what does this prove? That South African blacks have forgotten the lessons of the past. The Rainbow Nation is no longer so vibrant; there is a conscious effort to drown its diverse colors and shout out, with just one color.
Someone made a good point once - One World, One Race, One Religion; it can be an earthly of unity where everyone is happy and love each other ... or it can be best defined as Hitler's idea of utopia.
People in the fuel biz want to shut down petrol stations at night!
Soaring fuel costs and low gross income margins for service station owners are behind association chief executive officer Peter Morgan's efforts to garner unanimous support for closing garages at night.Not a good sign, especially not when you wanna convince the world that everything is ship-shape for 2010.
And you can understand their worries. With rising fuel prices, petrol stations operating into the wee hours of morn will be a prime target for gun toting urban bandits.
Goal.com mentions Sep Blatter's shocking statement - in case of emergency, there are 3 countries that can be ready for 2010 hosting duties in the snap of a finger ... if the snapping takes one year, that is.
Monday, July 14, 2008
University of KwaZulu-Natal vice-chancellor Malegapuru Makgoba had been laying it thick for ANC and specifically Jacob Zuma when everything went down the proverbial horribly wrong path.
Sure, he was going just so well; he defended the trademark Machine Gun song; dismissed 'Kill for Zuma' as ooh so over-rated; even dminished the importance of tertiary education for the sake of certain members of the audience by likening tea makers and cleaners to potentially be "the best advisers to the state president”.
Given that this was real life and not 'Maid from Manhattan', it was only a matter of time before he fumbled and fell.
How you say? Read the full details here but let's just say the examples of dictators he provided included King Shaka! Ooooh ....
Cops confront a group of men driving by in a suspicious manner. What is dodgy can be weighed against life-and-death situations in South Africa - everyday is an adrenaline rush to survive in a culture of fear.
Well, after shoot outs & what not, the cops nab one of the criminals. And guess what? Why, it was the rather young and agile constable from Newark Station.
And he couldn't really come up with too many lies - there was a terrified hijack victim in the boot of the car, alive but surely traumatized.
After 20 years of pressing for a change, a British woman will finally see her daughter get UK citizenship.
Thea Johnson married a South African in the post-war period and had a daughter in 1949. Her kid was not granted citizenship because at the time citizenship was granted from the daddy's side.
And although the law changed over the years, kids born pre-1960s were still left out.
Read her story of how she fought against this archaic law, in her own way, until the day finally arrived when the gov't decided to 'get with the times'.
Friday, July 11, 2008
There was a bit of trouble at City Hall; a protest march involving victims of xenophobia turned ugly and apparently a pregnant Congolese woman was beaten by a guard.
A most inopportune time to capture comments by Mike Sutcliffe, which ran along the lines of "xenophobia victims = not city's problem".
To be fair, it is probably under the jurisdiction of the Foreign Ministry or Home Affairs. Isn't it? Good luck getting a response from any of these authorities.
Wonder if it would solve matters if the victims were compensated for their losses. Problem is, the economic issues faced by South Africa hardly makes it the ideal time to splash out moolah.
There are quite a number of warnings; it's always good to be aware of latest crime tactics.
It was worrying to note that an increasing number of hijackings have been reported in Hillcrest area. Please read the full report for full details.
Given the number and frequency of violent crimes in South Africa, it is never a good idea to assume that you'll be safe just because you will in what is perceived to be a 'safe suburb'.
I've said this once, will say it again. There is no such thing as a completely 'safe' area in South Africa. Sadly, everything is fair game.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
An article in the Jerusalem Post talks about the negative effects of the whole Eskom crisis. The writer sums up how and why the power company went wrong. This follows the cringe-worthy bit - the moral of the story is to learn from the mistakes made in South Africa and prevent a debilitating situation in Israel.
It is a good article and the writer puts a strong case for forward planning for energy solutions.
It is safe to say that the outages have ruined any quality of life that South Africans might have had. The economy is also suffering, with industries crumbling and foreign investors taking flight, despite the commodity boom.
It's just sad to see South Africa sized up, in a concise and yet, painfully accurate light through the eyes of an outsider. Sadly, a lot of South Africans shy away from warning signs and simply convince themselves that 'life just ain't so bad, it could be worse'.
That's just one of the ways to describe the recent road-collapse fiasco for the Gautrain project.
Yea, the road above one of the roads above the Gautrain tunnels sank in, leaving a gaping 12 metre wide hole. Alrighty, it was not the whole road but a bit of the road. A considerable bit of the road. I take it the shocked crew is probably making sure there are additional surprises along the same lines.
The Times has excellent photo coverage of the incident. Check out the vastness of the hole. And now it's filled with murky water. Ergh!
It's too soon to guess what went wrong. Well, in South Africa's case, the public will never know will they? Nonetheless, it is a bit worrying that the road happened to be, just happened to be, over one of the tunnels where people were during drilling and all sorts of soil destabilizing work?
Could have been something else. Am sure there will soon be a committee to inquire into this matter.
Chances are, plenty people with news allergies didn't hear a peep about it. That is all the more scary, considering the implications of such a comment for the future of South Africa.
In this news article, South African Human Rights Commission is annoyed at the lack of apology from Cosatu’s general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. You know, the man who uttered the kill statement.
Well, apparently his speech seemed to be inspired from the 'kill kill' words of ANC Youth League president Julius Malema. No worries there; turns out, Malema has promised not to use the word 'kill'. Maybe he is eyeing useful synonyms that boil the blood just as efficiently.
Officials say a dead hijacker found in a tree in Kempton Park has been linked to hijackings in northern Johannesburg, reports Talk Radio 702.
My first image was a man in stealth-outfit draped over a fork in the tree, his ski-mask clad head lolling over a branch. And a teeny bird from a nest eying him with a quizzical expression.
Evil, evil. This is not a moment for quips.
But how did these folks know it was the hijacker? Perhaps the dead body was found in the general direction where a runaway hijacker hid. Probably what happened.
But you wish they would elaborate a bit on these news.
I was browsing News24 and came across the same story but, thankfully, they had helped fill in the gaps.
Now I feel bad, not for jokes about hijacker, but for making light of the situation. Of course the poor victims probably went through hell when faced with an attempted hijacking.
Four armed men tried to hijack two women by shooting at them in their driveway. Ouch.
The fact that one of the women's boyfriend was waiting inside, with a firearm for their protection, is testimony to the ind of fear South Africans live with daily. Of course, you are scared that someone close to you will be hijacked; it's a no longer a matter of 'if' and 'how', just an impending 'when'.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
It's called a Health Map; a global disease alert map.
Quite a handy tool, especially if you wanna know specifics about germ attack in any particular area.
I checked South Africa and it sure don't look pretty.
For instance, that XDR-TB related deaths was a bit of doom and gloom with the early morning coffee.
I found coverage about the incident on IOL; 33 of 82 infected with the infectious disease has died and apparently the number of cured is a meager 4! Ouch!
The scariest bit was this piece of info:
Meanwhile, a study of MDR TB patients in Uitsig in the Tygerberg sub-district found that patients with MDR TB were far more likely to die if there were others with MDR TB in their household.
Arrgh! Correct me if I am wrong, but don't people infected with MDR TB keep running away from the hospital? How many times in past few months have we heard of a great escapade?
I want to say that there should be more awareness programs, teaching social responsibility etc. etc. But this is SA we are talking about; people don't seem to see past their nose.
A lot of these complainers will do most their whining around the cooler during the office break. You won't recognize any of these folks; they won't grace any worthwhile event like an anti-crime march with their presence. As for voting, oh pfft!!
Well, this article is for those who don't want to leave but won't stop moaning about how bad it is in SA. Listen up, get off your behinds and do something.
But most importantly, this article is for the other folks, the people who still believe in a better South Africa, those who will walk a mile to do their bit for society.
The article in question is a thought-provoking work by Cape Town Mayor Helen Zille. She explores the possibility of the Rainbow Nation warping into the chaos that is now Zimbabwe. And tells us why South Africa still has endless possibilities for change and how it can be the beacon of hope everyone purports it to be.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Residents in Umlazi are outraged and protesting a street name in KZN.
No, they are not miffed about a name change per say - apparently they just realised that there's been a street named after Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe in their area since 1997!!
Doih! How can you not know this for 10 years? Look, Mugabe might have been a media darling back in the late 90's but surely the residents muttered and threw a few tomatoes at the sign when Mugabe went whoopsie-doodle-die with his policies as the years went by? And dumped human rights charter into the shredder?
Perhaps burnt a few stuff, SA style, when the post election violence came to a head in March?
No one stops to smell the flowers anymore do they? Or read road signs either.
This article in The Times details the fears of everyday South Africans; the emotionally and psychologically debilitating fear that crime will hurt you or our loved ones.
Those of my friends who are based outside SA think I jest about the violent nature of crime there. One or two people tell me I worry too much, whilst in Netherlands, I fret about catching a tram after 8pm. In SA,yYou freak out if your house doesn't have a burglar guard. You don't tell anyone the time on a train in the rainbow nation, in case it is a scam to eye the kind of watch or cellphone you have.
Such is the way of life in South Africa.
No wonder, this article states that the number of people who felt 'unsafe' had doubled in a decade.
Somethings need to be said; South Africa maybe alive with possibility, but it's people are dying from crime-related tragedies.
Ahh the street name changes.
It's coming to Durban and it's happening as we speak.
According to IOL,
Since last Wednesday new street name signs have been erected in Old Fort Place (Archie Gumede Place), Marine Parade (O R Tambo Parade) and Smith Street (Anton Lembede Street). New signs for Pine Street (Monty Naicker Street) and West Street (Pixley kaSeme Street) were to go up this week.
I'm not into street name changes; what's in a name? As Eeyore once said You might not be Tigga on the outside, but you're still Tigga on the inside.
Not saying that authorities now are exactly the same as the previous regime. No, no, no. I just mean that changes only mean something if you make a shift on the inside; a superficial alteration on the surface matter diddly-squat.
I'm sure for a lot of people, the name of a schmuck as a street name is a bit of a heartache. And they might not want to walk down a lane symbolic of a down right tyrant.
In that sense, you might argue for the case of pulling down the old street labels.
But ... wouldn't you rather the power figures splashed out these expenses on schools? Fixing potholes on the street? Building a new power plant?
On an end note, this titbit from the same article is so South African. If she doesn't float, we gotta burn her, right?
Seriously, who's gonna pay to rebuild it?
Last month, residents of T-section in Umlazi threatened to blow up Mangosuthu Highway if the municipality changed its name to Griffiths Mxenge Highway. Mngadi said at this stage problems were not expexted (sic) ...
Monday, July 7, 2008
On that note, CrimeWatch has warnings for Glenwood and Crestholme/Waterfall region. The former was a case of armed robbery whilst the latter is an attempted hijacking.
Some of my friends who work or live around the more popular suburbs tend to ignore crime reports. Call it the ever convenient 'safe suburb' hyphothesis.
Well, in South Africa there is no such as a 'secure suburb' or a false sense of denial in the form of 'it won't happen to me'.
So, do keep an eye on crime reports and keep you loved ones safe.
Well, apparently there was a nasty rumor that Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa had died. And somehow it reached the ears of South African president who indirectly announced it to the world by paying his respects during a speech.
Turns out it was all lies - no death, nothing. Zambian leader is not dead and so please stop spreading the word.
Ouch! That's going to make SA look bad. Especially when there are claims that rumor was started inside SA.
According to this site, the Zambia authorities might have traced the man responsible for the malicious bit of gossip.
Going to a lot of length to punish rumor-lovers, are we? Touchy.
On the bright side, so many South Africans are blissfully ignorant about, well almost everything, that this juicy little titbit must have screeched past them at the traffic light.
Friday, July 4, 2008
One warning that caught my eye was a crime instance in Umhlanga, Durban. Two guys were robbed at gunpoint. This was in the afternoon, not like it was at the dead of night either. Just goes to show that there are no such thing as racial profiling and 'safe' areas.
Ouch. There is also a hijack alert for Berea, close to the Cato Road area. I know lots of people who use that route to commute to work. There's also a warning for Moore Road. Another commuting hotspot.
Durban is still trying to get the Blue Flag status. Maybe they will, maybe they won't, we don't know yet.
Or, if we recall the puffed up reaction of Municipal Manager Mike Sutcliffe, Blue Flag is just too over-rated and who cares about it anyway?
Well, Cape Town will.
Story goes that not one, not two but five beaches of bustling Cape Town might be granted the prestigious Blue Flag status.
That's something to be proudly South African about, for nationalists out there.
I recall an angry remark about this status, muttering about varying standards all over world, South Africa getting their own standard, one that is more fitting to the conditions and way of life in SA ... etc.etc.
Perhaps this person was trying to say that Durban and Cape Town are worlds apart?
Nothing paints a clearer picture than a real life example.
Read this article about a police helicopter that was shot down by robbers. You heard me.
How absurd is that? The cops were pursuing the criminals and they just took a shot at them.
I'm trying to wrap my mind around this idea. I keep imagining an enemy in camouflage clothes, holding up a bazooka and firing away at the chopper.
Chances are these were just your everyday Joes, buzzing around in a car full of guns and stolen goods with rather good aim.
Do they practice hitting beer cans in the woods for fun? What is this, the Evil A-Team?
It was mentioned in one or more of the international news channels; could have been BBC or CNN.
So I searched around for that particular news, wanting to know the long and short of it.
Sadly, if you read the MG article about his speech, it looks as if the Big M is denying xenophobia exists in South Africa.
Well, he blatantly states that the violence of May was not feelings of hatred towards non-South Africans. Then comes the telling statement:
"What happened during those days was not inspired by possessed nationalism, or extreme chauvinism, resulting in our communities violently expressing the hitherto unknown sentiments of mass and mindless hatred of foreigners -- xenophobia.." [Note: I added red higlights]
Not exactly fair to call it previously lacking feeling; think of the number of times non-South African folks have been attacked in the past year itself.
I remember reading a couple of times, about a group of South Africans who attacked a shop owned by an African. One was that rather ironic moment of regret when the angry mob later discovered that grocery shopping was a tad tedious minus that African shop keeper. The other was that mind numbing incident where some poor African shop owner was blamed for rising oil prices.
What about the incidents of xenophobia in March, months before the anti-foreigner violence came to a head in May? Or horrible organized attacks in February?
What about that feature article by a Nigerian scholar in Feb 2008? He describes cold whispers behind his back, suspicious glances and a feeling of being an outcast during his recent stay in South Africa.
How about the fact that in April this year Nigeria issued a travel warning to its citizens against visiting South Africa, such was the extent of crime directed against foreigners?
On the other hand, it is or should be frightening notion for locals that the president readily acknowledges that criminal activity can easily spiral out of control in SA.
Alrighty, so he apologized. Fair enough. But what is lurking in the silence? Is it the hidden resolve to refuse compensation for the victims?
By labeling these attacks as criminal activity, is South Africa accepting exorbitant crime statistics? Is it finally admitting that crime can go out of hand here and rampant violence "just took a new form" in May?
That would be a first.
Ignoring the problem does not make it go away. Just gets bigger and uglier until it blows up again.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
It's not really a culture shock as such; just another paradigm shift from the scary life we had become accustomed to in South Africa.
We were invited to a friend's house for supper the other night.
And there we were, enjoying a fantastic meal and good company.
Being mindful of the time, we decided to head off home close to 10pm. That's when it starts to get dark in summer here.
So, there we were at the tram and then at the underground metro station waiting for the relevant vehicle to show up.
And you know what? It was surprisingly calm and peaceful. No one follows you as you walk along a deserted grassy path. You don't have to drive a car fitted with anti-hijacking equipment and swivel your head nervously at the traffic lights. You don't have to hid your watch, cellphone or latch onto your handbag as you are walking around in the darkening road.
I mean, there was this young fella playing music on his cellphone on the train.
Did I mention that we walked home from the metro? The sun had set and yet, there were loads of people around. Sitting outside in the pub chairs, walking your dog, strolling around with the kiddies ... It was bustling and safe.
How sad that something so simple as feeling secure is a strange and unusual feeling.
You know, the one that is used to death, the one that signifies important breakthroughs?
Yea, imagine that.
I finally have internet!!
OK, that will be a bit of a anti-climax for whoever ends up reading this.
It's still great news for us.
Back to blogging - wonder what's been going on.