Archive | February 2014

Education bursaries for Mitchells Plain

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Thirty-seven Mitchells Plain students who could not afford the cost of tertiary education were last night awarded bursaries from a trust started by Minister Trevor Manuel.

Manuel is a minister in the presidency and is responsible for overseeing the National Planning Commission. He is also a founder member of the Mitchells Plain Bursary and Role Model Trust that has worked since 2009 to improve education levels in the area.

The trust awarded the bursaries after receiving donations from various companies, including an R800,000 donation from Liberty. The event was held at Mondale High School in Portlands, Mitchells Plain.

Manuel said he and Marius Fransman, the deputy minister for international relations, “figured the best route to strengthen the community would be education”.

“We were able to raise money from private individuals and wealthy families. We were able to support 16 students to study at university last year,” said Manuel.

“The other part of our work which is very important is a skills centre. It initially trained people in furniture and upholstery. It now includes admin and IT skills training.”

Manuel said he was working on the trust “in my spare time”.

“If I’m going to serve this community then I must do it to the best of my ability. There is great joy from it. If I had the strength, wherever the wind blows me, I would hope to still be involved in future,” he said.

Bursary recipient Stacey Leigh Charters, who studies events management at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, said it was “always a dream for me to study”.

“I was so stressed when my parents said they don’t have money for me to study. Two days after they told me that, I got a call from the trust that I got a bursary. I was excited. I feel that my life will be better with education. You can’t get anywhere without that,” said Charters.

“There are a lot of people in Mitchells Plain who don’t have money to study. They are sitting at home. They don’t know what to do or where to go. I wanted to make a better life for myself.”

False Bay College last night committed 15 bursaries to Mitchells Plain learners for 2015.

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Eskom fights to keep lights on

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Four of national electricity supplier Eskom’s generators in Mpumalanga shut down yesterday, creating an “emergency” that could lead to power cuts countrywide.

Eskom spokesman Andrew Etzinger said their “loss of additional generating units… are from the coal fire power stations in Mpumalanga”.

“Electricity is a very dynamic business. Electricity trips and it’s gone instantly. Between 11:30am to 12pm (yesterday) four of our generators developed technical problems and needed to be shut down for repairs. That is currently being repaired. The time taken to repair it depends on the severity of the fault,” said Etzinger.

“All four went off. This is extraordinary. It’s not the normal.”
He said power supply nationwide was also affected after imports from neighbouring Mozambique came to a halt this week.

“We import power from Mozambique and one of the mines that bring power into SA broke yesterday (Wednesday). It has exacerbated the problem,” said Etzinger.

“That’s normally a very reliable supply. A power line snatched. It’s a relatively minor fault to repair but the problem is that it is at a remote location. Our engineers are on the way.”

Eksom yesterday asked its industrial customers and household consumers to cut down electricity usage. It issued a statement stating it was “now following the protocol in terms of its emergency procedures in order to secure the power system”.

“We have alerted our key industrial customers and have required them to reduce their load by a minimum of 10% as from 2pm (yesterday). The emergency is in force until 9pm (yesterday). This will be reviewed thereafter to determine the way forward,” said Eskom.

Etzinger said this affected “138 large industrial customers”.

“In the main, those companies tend to be mines and smelters in northern parts of the country and KZN. They are cutting back on an agreed principle,” he said.

“It reduces the production output of our industrial customers. That has a negative economic effect. It is important that we provide them with an opportunity to return to normal as quick as possible.”

He added: “If we have the public also turning off appliances, we would have saved enough power to bring back our industrial customers.”

Etzinger said South Africa has had a power supply constraint that “has existed since 2007”. Eskom declared a power supply emergency last November 19. Its last load shedding was in January 2008. That meant countrywide power cuts.

“This is not business as usual. It is a serious situation. We will not allow it to deteriorate to a crisis,” said Etzinger.

“We can’t rule out the possibility of load shedding. It’s a method to keep the system in balance. We are determined to prevent load shedding but we need the support from the public. If each of us can reduce a little bit here and there, if we can all switch off our geyser when we go home, there is no reason for load shedding.”

Two leading political parties responded to Eskom’s emergency declaration yesterday. The Democratic Alliance asked: “Is SA on brink of rolling-blackouts?”

“This is of great concern. It seems as though South Africa is yet again on the brink of major black-outs which would be disastrous for our economy in general and job-creation in particular,” is said.

Natasha Michael, the party’s spokeswoman on public enterprises, said she would write to public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba to “urge him to immediately brief Parliament on the status of power supply at Eskom”

She said he should confirm “whether black-outs are going to continue, and what steps are being taken to prevent this from happening”.

“South Africa also needs to know what is happening with the Medupi power station and when exactly it will come online. Already the project has been delayed three times, and the costs have increased from R91.2 to over R100 billion,” she added.

Cobus Grobler, acting spokesman for the Western Cape ANC, said Eskom had standby facilities in the province and the power emergency would “not have much of an effect in the Western Cape”.

“We would like people to reduce the use of electricity where possible,” he said.

Olympic swimmer: I’d rather lose than take drugs

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Olympic gold medalist Chad le Clos “would rather lose” than use banned substances to beat competition in the swimming pool.

Doping scandals are common in the sporting world where athletes at the top of their game are rewarded richly at global competitions. Often coupled to a winning streak are a host of sponsors lining up to endorse sports stars.

Le Clos is no different. He has a few sponsors already and this month became the brand ambassador for GNC, an American producer of health supplements.

The 21-year-old swimmer said his deal with the company includes using their “vitamin pack to keep healthy and fresh”.

Chad le Clos jokes with his father Bert le Clos. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

Chad le Clos jokes with his father Bert le Clos. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

“I just need stuff to help me recover. I don’t need much else,” said Le Clos.

“With swimming, you train all the time. I train everyday. You take supplements to build muscle so you can recover for the next day.”

His father Bert le Clos said they consulted the young athlete’s coach about GNC’s products. Le Clos also asked his doctor about using supplements and he “tells me what I can take and what I can’t”.

Bert le Clos said his son needed more than three meals a day to recover from all the training he puts his body through.

“If you’re training five to seven hours a day, you have to put something back into your body. If you’re eating steak, that’s not enough. These are super athletes and they are taking out so much from their bodies,” he said.

“You have to take some kind of vitamin. You take two or three tablets that are safe. I cook all his meals three times a day. I come from Mauritius so I cook steaks and curries.”

He added: “Chad has bigger goals than cash rewards. He wants to win rather than end up with money.”

The swimmer said he would steer clear of banned substances because “swimming is one of the cleanest sports in the world”.

“I get drug tested at least two or three times a month. And it’s random,” he said.

“Three weeks ago, on a Friday afternoon, I got drug tested. I was on my way out to dinner and I was tested in my driveway. The next morning I got tested again. You’ll get caught,” he said.

He added: “I don’t know how people can live with themselves by using banned substances. I don’t know how they can call themselves a champion. I’d rather lose.”

“I believe to be a champion, you have to train. You have to be dedicated and focused on yourself. You can’t allow other things to change you.”

Le Clos has a busy sporting year ahead. He aims to take home a number of gold medals from the Commonwealth Games to be held in Scotland in July.

“I want to be more than just the guy who beat (American Olympian swimmer) Michael Phelps (at the Olympic Games in 2012)… You have to have a place in history. I want to keep taking it to new heights. I want to make history,” said le Clos.

Sean Kristafor, general manager for GNC in South Africa, said their products are “approved by the World Anti-Doping Agency and an organisation called Informed Choice”.

The Durban-based Le Clos also plans to this year release his co-written autobiography Unbelievable!

“South African rock music needs help”

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

South African rock music is in a slump and needs more black bands, said front man of the defunct Springbok Nude Girls at a music conference in the city this weekend.

Rock musician Arno Carstens, who plans to release his new solo album next month, was one of four speakers on a panel at the Breathe Sunshine African Music Conference held at Cape Town’s City Hall.

They discussed the “future of rock music in SA”. Panelists said local rock music was currently taking a backseat as other genres, such as electronic dance music, were centre stage.

Arno Carstens (left) and Jon Savage at the Breathe Sunshine African Music Conference. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

Arno Carstens (left) and Jon Savage at the Breathe Sunshine African Music Conference. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

Carstens said this meant rock musicians “need to constantly up our game”.
“The white thing (bands) has been doing it for a long time now. It would be so cool if we could have more black rock things (bands) happening. There’s a lot of anger in the country to make really good metal music,” said Carstens.

“There are so many African rhythms. If we add some rock to it, we will have something so unique that we can share with the world. Let’s make African beats and see what comes out of it. The rest of the world will listen. It will be amazing.”

His co-panelists were musician Jeremy de Tolly of the Dirty Skirts band; local Rolling Stone magazine editor Miles Keylock; and 5FM radio presenter Jon Savage.

Miles Keylock (left) and Jeremy de Tolly (right). Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

Miles Keylock (left) and Jeremy de Tolly (right). Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

De Tolly said: “Rock music had its peak but it’s still a good time to be making rock music”.

He called for more original music though: “stop copying”.

“People have to make music that pleases them, that is difficult, that challenges and hurts a little because they take so many risks,” said De Tolly.

The media industry has meanwhile played a role in the demise of local rock music, said the panel’s two media players.

Keylock said: “Everything is becoming an advertising blurb”.

“Mainstream media has just become a service industry for record labels to shift their product. Reviews are tragic. Nobody’s writing proper reviews anymore,” he said.

“Arts coverage as a whole has been shredded in newspapers. Advertising comes up a lot of the time (as an excuse for this). It’s easier for newspapers and publications to syndicate content from other publications, rather than generating home grown stories.

“If we’re not writing about our own music, nothing will change at all.”
Keylock focused also on rock musicians, saying they were not angry enough.
“There’s a distinct lack of irritation and passion about the status quo in rock music. What are you angry about? The fact that you couldn’t afford a new pair of skinny jeans? Seriously?” asked Keylock.

Savage said: “On the radio side, it’s fucked”.

“I’m on 5FM and it’s a struggle engaging with people at the top. There are bands that will never see the light of day on radio. Radio stations like 5FM just won’t play some bands,” he said.

“Radio stations are not sure what they’re doing right now. It’s doing a disservice to the whole music industry and that has to change. This current state cannot survive.”

Savage also told the gathering of mostly hopeful musicians and industry insiders to “forget about record labels”.

“Focus on doing things for yourself. Record labels don’t know what’s going to work and what won’t,” he said.

Breathe Sunshine is an annual local music conference launched last year. It started on Friday and closed with a Unity Jam music concert in Langa yesterday. Its focus is on “building and unifying the (music) industry”.

It featured live demonstrations on how to build a home studio, use technology and equipment to make music, workshops and panels on how to build a career in the music business.

Breathe Sunshine African Music Conference logo. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

Breathe Sunshine African Music Conference logo. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

Dino Moran (left) and DJ Fosta (right). Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

Dino Moran (left) and DJ Fosta (right). Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

Sean Ou Tim. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

Sean Ou Tim. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

Talking about social entrepreneurship and musicians. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

Talking about social entrepreneurship and musicians. Pic by Yazeed Kamaldien

Influential Muslim radio presenter succumbs to cancer

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

An influential Muslim community radio presenter’s life was cut short yesterday following her tumultuous battle with cancer.

Munadia Karaan, known for tackling controversial issues in the Muslim community via the airwaves of Voice of the Cape (VOC) radio station, was 47 when she died on Saturday (February 1, 2014). She was buried the same day, according to Islamic rites.

Munadia Karaan (Pic courtesy of Voice of the Cape radio station)

Munadia Karaan (Pic courtesy of Voice of the Cape radio station)

Karaan started working with VOC in 1995 and served as its news editor, programme manager and web editor. She also presented a number of programmes over the years, including weekly debates on her Open Lines talk show.

Karaan’s struggle with cancer started in 2006 and she blogged about it on her website. Karaan also edited a Muslim women’s magazine, Al Wardah, and won awards for her radio journalism.

Her work in the community sector was an extension of her father’s efforts. Moulana Yusuf Karaan was a religious leader in the Strand area where the family lived.

Karaan revealed the highs and lows of chemotherapy, talked frankly about cancer on the radio station and gained prayers and support from among VOC’s estimated 220,000 listeners.

Karaan also offered support to other cancer patients through her radio shows and online writing.

“A young lady who was diagnosed two months ago with cancer wrote to me to say that after two chemo sessions, she was ready to give up,” she wrote in October last year.

“And here I can speak honesty from the heart. Chemo is no joke. If cancer alone does not make you paranoid, then chemo makes you miserable. I don’t wish it on my worst enemy.

“But giving up is not an option. As long as Allah (the Arabic name for God) gives us breath with which to operate this magnificent machine that you and I take for granted as our bodies, we must strive. It does not mean we will always win. It is ultimately not the victory that is important but the fact that we strive and move forward.”

Karaan also wrote that “cancer is a great equaliser”.

“It doesn’t ask about religion or culture and it brings people together in their suffering, much as music and sport can bring others together. There is a special solidarity among people who have walked this path and those who have stood alongside them to provide support,” she said.

“That is one of the great things I appreciate about this disease. Where previously, I would have thought twice to speak to someone who has cancer, now your own brush with the disease is a passport that opens doors. Most cancer survivors will talk easily to others who have this disease, sharing experiences and especially their fears.”

VOC said on its website that the station had “lost one of its most loved and iconic voices”.

“It was Karaan’s passion and determination as a community worker that will be most remembered; a quality that drove her to become an outstanding journalist and radio broadcaster,” it said.

“Karaan became involved with VOC in the first five days of its broadcast in January 1995 and then full-time in the year 2000. When VOC went on air permanently, she recalled listening to the station and quietly making a dua (praying) that some day she would be able to play a role there.”

“During her 11-year tenure as programme manager, Karaan conceptualised innovative shows, which took the radio station to new heights. In keeping VOC up to date with technology, Karaan initiated the radio station’s website.”

VOC news editor Tasneem Adams said Karaan “revolutionised community radio”. “From tackling the most thorny topics on air, exposing new on-air talent, to launching VOC’s website, Munadia did everything with passion and enthusiasm,” said Adams.

“Her energy was felt as soon as she stepped into the newsroom. Munadia pushed everyone she took under her wing to excel. She never settled for mediocrity. She had a fiery spirit and resolve and always stayed true to herself.”

At the time of her death, Karaan was single and did not have any children.