Archive | May 2015

Cape Town June 4th: INSIDE KOBANE – photo exhibition and documentary film screening

INSIDE KOBANE – photo exhibition and documentary film screening.

Massage therapy empowers township women to find jobs

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Eight women evicted from their shacks in Lwandle, Strand, this week graduated as massage therapists and already secured employment via a city-based spa.

In June 2014, the women were among shack occupants evicted from land owned by the South African National Roads Agency. The matter dragged on for months, resulting in political spats and a community still wondering where to next.

Some of the eight women are still living in the Nomzamo community hall in township next to Lwandle.

They were offered a free three-month training course that included transport from the community hall Strand to the Cape Town Medi-Spa in Kloof Street, Gardens, where the training was offered.

One of the women, Asanda Mfeketo, said she was “nervous because I didn’t know anything about massaging before”.

Asanda Mfeketo was evicted in Lwandle, Strand, in June 2014 and this week graduated after completing a course in massage therapy. She can now start earning an income despite still living in a community hall in Nomzamo, Strand. Picture Yazeed Kamaldien

Asanda Mfeketo was evicted in Lwandle, Strand, in June 2014 and this week graduated after completing a course in massage therapy. She can now start earning an income despite still living in a community hall in Nomzamo, Strand. Picture Yazeed Kamaldien

“I thought it meant that I should allow a man to touch my body while I am giving him a massage. I thought it was about sex. That’s what I heard about it,” she said.

“But when I did the training I learned more about it. A massage is about relieving stress and tension.”

Mfeketo and the other women are set to be part of a three-month University of Cape Town research project still being finalised.

Ian Macfarlane, the Medi-Spa director who runs the non-profit Ubuntu Touch Project that offered the training, said this research aimed to “demonstrate the medical effect of massage therapy”.

Ian Macfarlane is developing a project that literally places opportunity in the hands of poor women. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Ian Macfarlane is developing a project that literally places opportunity in the hands of poor women. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Macfarlane said this was the third group of women the Ubuntu project had trained. They had also secured employment for the women who will work as massage therapists when various corporates require their services.

Macfarlane said they still “need more corporates” but are already working with call centres and other companies.

“Our aim is to create jobs. But the women have skills now to set up their own businesses too. Some of our past students have already done that,” said Macfarlane.

“There are so many women sitting at home and who want to work. This training boosts their confidence. It is a step up to other opportunities.”

On a practical level, the course is officially recognised and trainees receive certificates they can use when seeking future employment. The training included practical massage sessions with employees at various businesses in Cape Town.

On a more personal note, the training helped the women to also address some of the trauma endured when they were forcibly removed from their shacks last June.

“The women were reconnected to their own energy. Some of them had hypertension. In our first group of trainees we also found nutrition needed to be adjusted to encourage healthy eating,” said Macfarlane.

“We encourage the women to be more aware of the body and mind connection.”

Nomonde Dyasi from Du Noon informal settlement in Milnerton completed a massage therapy course at Medi-Spa at the end of 2012. She has been assisting with the training of new recruits.

Nomondo Dyasi completed massage therapy training and is now assisting other women to do the same. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Nomondo Dyasi completed massage therapy training and is now assisting other women to do the same. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

She said: “I ended up doing counseling with the women who were on the course. They were crying because they were starting to talk about what they had been through. Their homes were destroyed.”

Dyasi is meanwhile working part-time as a massage therapist at a spa in Camp’s Bay where she “gets paid commission, not a salary”.

“I’m thinking now about starting my own business to earn an income. Even though I’m not good with technology, I need to get Facebook and advertise to get clients,” she said.

“People are asking me when will I start my own business and do massages for them. I need some equipment. I already bought a massage bed and some towels.”

Dyasi said her experience as a massage therapist in the “work environment can give people energy”.

“Massage improves productivity in the work place. It also means that people will have to take less medication. When we do the massage we encourage people to drink lots of water to wash out the toxins,” she said.

“A massage works directly on the tension in your body and relieves pain. This means you don’t need to take painkillers.”

Eskom uses game to inform public about electricity challenges

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

National electricity supplier Eskom has not made many friends due to load shedding but hopes a new online game could at least win it some sympathy with locals.

The Eskom Energy Planner game, that went online this week, is a virtual representation of what it takes to provide electricity to a city.

The Eskom Energy Planner is a new game that informs the public about electricity supply challenges in South Africa. Picture Supplied

The Eskom Energy Planner is a new game that informs the public about electricity supply challenges in South Africa. Picture Supplied

Cape Town-based company Formula D interactive (CORRECT WITH LOWER CASE ON interactive) designed the game and its managing director Marco Rosa said the “goal is to build a happy city”.

“A happy city has a good balance between a healthy environment, the cost of electricity and safety,” he said.

The game user is tasked with producing power for a city, considering coal, gas, hydro, nuclear, solar and wind energy sources. The actual cost of creating electricity with these energy sources is reflected in the game.

Rosa said Eskom waned to “use the game as an educational tool”.

“This game shows how complex it is to manage the power of a city, never mind a country,” he said.

Game users have to also ensure public safety by removing kites from power lines or reporting cable theft when they see it in the game. When this happens, an information box pops up with the actual number to call to report cable theft.

Game users are taken through different settings – a home, hospital, hotel, office and school – to solve electricity challenges in each place.

One can change light bulbs, for example, and find out about the real time energy and financial savings this has on a household.

The city scene also changes from day to night and different seasons to show the game user the energy needs at these different times.

The game also informs about how alternative energy sources work and compares how much energy each source can produce.

Rosa said Eskom would aim to also use the game as a recruitment tool and a training mechanism for staff.

“Eskom would potentially engage people who are good at the game to become engineers or to use the skills in the game in the Eskom environment,” he said.

“The next step would be to use the game as a training tool for staff, looking at scenarios relevant to the particular roles in the business.”

He added: “This game is a microcosm of the task that Eskom has. If I had to make a game of the actual task Eskom has to provide electricity for the country it would be complex. Eskom has a tough job.

“The game gives the public insight into the challenges and frustrations that Eskom has. Hopefully by playing this game the public can go to Eskom with some ideas.”

The game can be accessed on the Internet at this link

Cape Town university protest leader gets lawyer to fight back

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

The University of Cape Town (UCT) student accused of racially abusing a staff member is receiving legal assistance to have his suspension from classes overturned.

Chumani Maxwele, a political science student and social activist, was among students who led the recent Rhodes Must Fall campaign at UCT.

Maxwele was also the student who flung human faeces at the statue of Cecil John Rhodes. The statue was removed from the university campus last month after students protested that it represented a lack of transformation at the institution.

His lawyer Barnabas Xulu told Weekend Argus that UCT was “irrational” as it allowed Maxwele access to the campus but not classes.

“We are appealing these conditions. We believe this is victimisation and he is not allowed his right to education. It is irrational,” said Xulu.

Maxwele was suspended earlier this month and UCT said in a statement he “intimidated, harassed, threatened and racially abused a member of staff” on May 1.

“The suspension will be discharged upon either the acquittal of the student or the implementation of any sentence imposed on him by a tribunal in respect of charges arising out of the allegations upon which the suspension order is based,” it said.

The suspension would be upheld until from May 7 until July 19 when the current university semester ended.

Maxwele would sit through a tribunal held at UCT. Xulu would represent him during hearings.

The suspension prohibits Maxwele from “attending lectures or classes, participating in any other activities of the university, including those arranged by students or student groupings, and entering the precincts of the university”.

However, he would be allowed to “attend to write exams in the courses for which he is eligible to write” and “use the library to prepare for the exams in the courses he is eligible to write”.

Last week UCT granted all Rhodes Must Fall campaigners amnesty for any protest activities that contravened university rules during their campaign.

It said Maxwele’s incident was an “unrelated, isolated incident and this occurrence is unrelated to any protest action on campus”.

Maxwele first made news headlines in 2010, according to his Wikipedia page, “after his wrongful arrest and interrogation for allegedly giving the finger to the presidential motorcade convoy (of Jacob Zuma) in Cape Town city traffic”.

An independent commission found his “rights had been violated during his wrongful arrest”.

Family of Athlone man allege cops tampered with evidence

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

The family of deceased Michael Volkwyn this weekend accused the police of deleting video footage detailing the events that led to their brother’s death earlier this month.

Michael Volkwyn. Picture from the Volkwyn family archive

Michael Volkwyn. Picture from the Volkwyn family archive

Police have previously claimed Volkwyn shot himself when police officers entered his house during a two-day siege that ended on May 13.

Volkwyn was also accused of shooting a police officer in the face during the siege on his property, during which police wanted to remove 13 dogs from his house.

The siege had been the culmination of ongoing confrontations between the police and Volkwyn whose dog had attacked a tenant on his property. The tenant laid a charge against him with the police in April.

Michael’s brother Roy Volkwyn yesterday told Weekend Argus his brother had 32 video cameras around his house as a security measure.

“Every (house) window was covered, by one or more cameras. So a person outside any window would have been captured,” he said.

“Also movement in the courtyard would have been picked up… (including) the (police) sniper, if he was in the courtyard.

“He would have recorded what was happening. The police removed all the footage. They tampered with evidence. They deleted the video files leading up to his death.”

He added: “We suspect he had a vision he would die at his house at the hands of the police.”

The family believes their brother would not have committed suicide and appealed to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) to confirm how Volkwyn died.

Volkwyn said the family also wanted to know if the police officer shot in the face “was hit by a direct shot or by a ricochet”.

“While SAPS (police) implies a direct shot, it could have been a ricochet that injured him. I can accept Michael firing a warning shot. He would have known that a direct shot at a policeman would result in massive retaliation,” he said.

Constable Noloyiso Rwexana, spokesman for the Western Cape police, said all queries about the police activity during the siege should be directed to IPID.

IPID confirmed that it has “opened a preliminary investigation into the death”.

It told the Volkwyn family in a letter last week this “means that we will investigate the allegations made against the SAPS (police) to establish if there was any police action involved in the death”.

Soccer boss Jordaan hits back at political critics

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

National soccer boss Danny Jordaan yesterday dismissed opposition parties as “desperate” with their calls for him to step down once officially appointed Port Elizabeth mayor.

Danny Jordaan

Danny Jordaan

The ANC last week said Jordaan would replace 83-year-old Benson Fihla as mayor for the Nelson Mandela Bay metro in Port Elizabeth.

Safa spokesman Dominic Chimhavi confirmed shortly after the ANC’s announcement that Jordaan would continue as association president.

The Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters called on Jordaan to resign as Safa president to avoid a possible conflict of interest.

The DA’s sports spokesman and parliamentarian Solly Malatsi said the DA was “concerned that this will compromise the principle of independence that is required for fulfilling his role as an office bearer of Safa”.

He said Safa’s constitution “expressly stipulates ‘Safa is neutral in matters of politics and religion’”.

“The reality is that by occupying both roles in the lead up to the 2016 local government elections, Jordaan will become the most politically partisan sport administrator in the country,” said Malatsi.

“This will, no doubt, be to the detriment of fair and dedicated football administration and should have been considered before Jordaan accepted the mayoralty.”

He added: “It will be curious to see how Dr. Jordaan will deal with this situation which clearly rises to the level of a conflict of interest when his party’s policies clash with those of Safa.”

“Given that he has taken the decision to become a full time politician, Jordaan must do the honourable thing and recuse himself from the presidency of Safa to salvage the political independence of the body.

“Safa cannot be seen to be neutral when its president is a political deployee of the ANC.”

Jordaan yesterday told Weekend Argus that opposition parties needed to “differentiate the association from the individual”.

“Safa’s constitution says that Safa must be neutral in religion and politics. It refers to the organization,” he said.

“Safa can never say you must be Christian or Muslim to play football. It must remain neutral. The individuals in football can belong to any religion.

“Safa’s members can vote for anyone. Its members can be MPs. Safa can never dictate who its members can vote for.”

Jordaan said he had been an ANC MP and member of the ruling party while in sporting leadership roles.

“I was acting president of Safa and its vice-president and also part of the ANC,” he said.

“Let’s be realistic, I was the chief executive of the (Fifa Soccer) World Cup organising committee in South Africa and part of the ANC. Fifa knew that I was part of the ANC.”

Malatsi said they had also written to global soccer body Fifa’s secretary-general Jerome Valcke to “provide clarity on Jordaan’s suitability to retain his presidency of Safa given his deployment to the mayoralty of Port Elizabeth by the ANC”.

He said: “Fifa, as the global controlling body of football, is best placed to determine whether or not he should continue with both roles.”

Jordaan responded: “It’s rubbish. There’s no conflict.”

“This has nothing to do with soccer and Safa. This is politics,” he added.

“They don’t want me to be the mayor because of my profile and influence. It’s got nothing to do with Safa. There are people in the DA who hold office in sports organisations and politics.

“It sounds to me like desperation. Why are they raising this after 25 years of Safa’s existence? Safa has had political leaders as its president before.”

Jordaan pointed out that leading figures in Fifa also held political positions in their countries, saying the “minister of sports in Russia is on the Fifa executive”.

He added: “I’m not the mayor of the metro yet and they are already fighting and breaking the house down.”