Tag Archive | South Africa

Rugby club tackles white privilege

(This article was published in the Weekend Argus, a weekly newspaper in the Western Cape province, South Africa, on March 19 2016.)

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

By the end of this year, when newspapers set out routinely rounding up lists of all that was noteworthy, a term that could likely make the list would be ‘white privilege’.

Right now, as South Africans seem to be confronting more vigorously their apartheid past, the term white privilege pops up regularly on social media websites, in debates and newspaper column spaces.

It refers to structural racism that has benefited whites while excluding everybody else from its benefits. Unfortunately some white people take it as a personal attack instead of seeing it as a way of admitting that apartheid was real and wrong.

While white privilege is exposed and challenged, its impact is still evident and dissected at all levels of society, including at the Primrose Rugby Football Club, headquartered from its Kenilworth clubhouse.

Primrose celebrates its 120th anniversary this year and is one of the Western Cape’s oldest rugby clubs for people of colour.

Ideally, in post-apartheid South Africa there should be no reference to the racial composition of any sporting institution. Sporting clubs should ideally be open to anybody, regardless of their race.

But the reality is that sport, particularly rugby which is perceived as one of the cornerstones of what it means to be a white Afrikaner, is still dominated by race and questions of racial transformation.


Former Springbok player Eddie Andrews, left, with Yusuf Abrahams, lifetime president of the Primrose Rugby Football Club, which celebrates its 120th anniversary this year. Picture Yazeed Kamaldien

South Africans across racial lines may have embraced rugby but a recent video cemented the idea that white Afrikaners who do not want to be challenged still dominate this sport.

This video showed how black student protesters at a rugby match at the University of the Free State last month walked onto a rugby field and were beaten up by white spectators.

At the Primrose training ground, this is viewed as an example of how white privilege reacts to ‘outsiders’.

Primrose is one of the Western Cape’s top clubs, playing in the Super League A division which comprises the top 15 clubs of the provincial rugby union.

But here’s the catch: it remains a ‘community’ club which feeds former whites-only boys schools with players every year. This is the system of white privilege, says its executive committee, holding back their progress while they lose their top players.

The club’s president Faghier Gamieldien cites Springbok player Nizaam Carr as an example of the entrenched feeder system.

“Many of our players are recognised and then offered bursaries to study at private schools where they get professional training. Nizaam Carr is one of those players,” says Gamieldien.

“He was recognised by Bishops (The Diocesan College, an independent, all-boys school in Rondebosch).

“Would Nizaam have been where he is had he stayed with Primrose? He went to a private school where he was prepared for the national team.”

Club treasurer Yusuf Maged adds: “That is the model in rugby and cricket”.

“Old money is backing those schools. We can’t raise that money to train players. You can’t compete also with universities. It’s a pipeline you can’t compete with.”

Primrose life president Yusuf ‘Jowa’ Abrahams, who has served the club since 1963, says this indicates rugby remains untransformed from the ground up.


Primrose rugby club on a tour to Johannesburg in 1972. Picture Supplied

It is among challenges discussed last year when loud calls were made to send to the Rugby World Cup, held in the UK, a more racially inclusive rugby team as opposed to a largely white-faced squad.

“Transformation is a big challenge. There’s still a large discrepancy between advantaged and disadvantaged clubs in terms of sponsorship. We have been knocking on doors and people don’t see us,” says Abrahams.

The knock-on effect is that talented players in junior teams are lost to schools, where they can also get a better education, and senior players prefer to sign up with clubs that can pay them to win matches.

“Rugby in the Western Cape is under serious threat,” says Abrahams.

“We can’t afford top coaches and players with talent go and play elsewhere because they get incentives. Community-based clubs like Primrose are under threat.”

“Universities and clubs that have money can pay the best coaches. They pay ex-Springboks to coach their teams. There’s a direct impact between funding and the quality of players.”

Not all talented rugby players have progressed via the school or university pipeline though.

Former national team player Edwin Andrews, who started playing rugby at Primrose, made it through the ranks via trials where selectors took note.

Usually, selectors are seen at the sidelines of former whites-only schools and universities known for producing top rugby teams, to select their provincial and national team players.

Andrews says if Primrose and other clubs like it could receive financial assistance to develop talent, instead of losing it to privileged schools or clubs with money, “imagine what this club can achieve”. His 11-year-old son plays for Primrose.

“We have an apartheid legacy that we have inherited and we have to chip away at that. You also have to ask how often selectors visit Primrose and clubs like it,” says Andrews.

“It’s easier to go to established clubs with top coaches.”

Gamieldien says the detrimental cycle continues without being challenged, as parents who can’t afford to private school fees would bring their children to join Primrose with the hope they would be “snatched up”.

“Parents to bring their youngsters here because we play against those (private) schools. If those schools see you as a talented player, there is a good chance they will offer you a bursary,” says Gamieldien.

“Every year we have youngsters from our club going to those schools. We won’t keep the youngsters from opportunities. But we can sustain our own players if we had infrastructure and financial support.”

Abrahams says in its 120-year history, Primrose has supported non-racialism in sport and actively lobbied against apartheid structures.

“We were politically very strong,” says Abrahams.

“One year, some of our top players participated in a friendly match at UCT (when sport was still racially segregated). The club said, ‘No, you broke the rules’. They were barred from playing for our club.”

Abrahams says rugby remains a sport that is “important for a diverse group of people” and not only whites.

“People of colour are passionate about rugby. The white establishment for years didn’t know us but we know them because of the coverage they have received in newspapers,” says Abrahams.

“We hardly feature in the media. If we do, newspapers publish small stories about us days later. We are still in a disadvantaged era.”


SIDE BOX – the club’s history

Primrose Rugby Football Club was founded in 1896 by a group of rugby playing workers at the Maitland municipal abbatoir.

It is not the oldest club in the Western Cape and not the only one which had members who were of colour.

Other clubs included Violets, which at some point had merged with Primrose and then started up on its own again.

When Primrose celebrated its 100th anniversary, it invited other top clubs to join it and that have been around for longer. This included Hamiltons (founded in 1875), Thistle (founded in 1891) and Temperance (founded 1895).

Primrose, under the patronage of the late anti-apartheid activist Imam Abdullah Haron, killed by apartheid police while in detention in 1969, was part of Haron’s vision in creating a society free from all forms of prejudice.

Haron’s funeral service was held at Primrose’s sports ground, City Park, on Monday, September 29 1969, with thousands in attendance.

Claremont became a base for the club with practices held at a park in Stegmann Road and at Rotary Park in Kenilworth.

Club meetings were held at the former Talfalah School in Draper Street and the Stegmann Road Mosque hall.

Political changes in South Africa and the dismantling of apartheid resulted in unity being brokered between the South African Rugby Union and the South African Rugby Board in 1992.

In 1993 the club acquired Rosmead Sports Ground in Kenilworth. By 2013 the club was promoted to the Super League A division of the Western Province Rugby Football Union.

The club’s youth teams have played against visiting clubs from Argentina, Chile, England, France, Ireland, New Zealand, Scotland and Zimbabwe. Its senior team has played on tour in Morocco.

Source: Primrose Rugby Football Club




Protest theatre alive at Cape Town Fringe festival

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Within a few days, theatre-makers from across South Africa will gather in the city for the Cape Town Fringe festival to stage stories of protest, provocation and pure entertainment.

Seventy-one productions over 11 days at venues across the city will reveal thoughts about contemporary society and its usual collective angst: sexuality, race and politics.

Xenophobia, as an ongoing conversation in the local and global context, makes an appearance too at the second edition of what intends to be an annual event.

Cape Town actress and director Natalia Da Rocha brings Afrikaans writer Adam Small’s thoughts about life under apartheid to the stage at the Cape Town Fringe Festival. In the show ‘Adam Small BeJazzed’, younger audiences especially are introduced to the writer who used his pen against apartheid. Picture Supplied

Cape Town actress and director Natalia Da Rocha brings Afrikaans writer Adam Small’s thoughts about life under apartheid to the stage at the Cape Town Fringe Festival. In the show ‘Adam Small BeJazzed’, younger audiences especially are introduced to the writer who used his pen against apartheid. Picture Supplied

The heartening part, for myself as one of the festival selection committee members, is that theatre-makers are vigorously interrogating realities. They are not aloof to voices around them. And they are talking back.

This is heartening because during my recent interview with legendary actor and director John Kani the question came up on whether protest theatre was alive.

Kani recently was in Cape Town to show his anti-apartheid masterpiece, Sizwe Banzi Is Dead, at the Baxter Theatre.

Kani acted in this play during apartheid and his son took up his role in the recent run.

During this interview, Kani shared the belief that protest theatre would always be alive as long as theatre-makers questioned and challenged the status quo.

So, yes, protest theatre lives on. And it will be on stage at the Fringe, even if not in the form of blatant anti-apartheid style sloganeering.

Ismail Mahomed, the Fringe’s artistic director, believes fringe theatre gatherings “give us the impetus to engage the arts to heal ourselves from our past, to unravel truths about our current challenges, to envision hope for the future and to sometimes just temporarily escape into oblivion”.

It is a noble intention as the city readies for summer with its onslaught of vulgar entertainment cashing in on festive season overspending.

Mahomed believes the Fringe festival, as others of its kind, “give us the freedom to test the limits of our liberty”.

“It is an affirmation that our artists remain committed to investing their talents to raise debates that are relevant. They have the boldness to be creative and experimental even when arts funding can be challenging for them,” he says.

“Fringe artists can be seething. They can be rebellious. They may be young and have no money but they are the investors in how we envision and shape our future.

“This isn’t rocket science. It’s the historical nature of how the arts has always spurred society to move forward. In our society which is at a crossroads that is once again grappling with our past legacies, our current challenges and how we shape our future.”

The festival’s organisers say in a statement they want to be “encouraging the audience to re-think any biased views they may have as opposed to scolding them for having those opinions”.

Politics past and present on the line-up include ‘The Politics of Love & Femininity… Black Hair & All That Jazz’ as well as a theatre production about Afrikaans writer Adam Small.

‘Black Hair’ employs indigenous African instruments, such as the marimba and djembe drums, and aims to be a theatre piece that is “thought provoking and than socially aware”.

“Taking into account the topics of gender, race, class, identity politics and such, the script has been written to bring honesty to its surroundings without being offensive. Provoking without hurting.”

Cape Town actress and director Natalia Da Rocha brings Small’s writing to the stage with music.

In ‘Adam Small BeJazzed’, younger audiences especially are introduced to the writer who used his pen against apartheid.

‘Blood Orange’, a dance and physical theatre piece, meanwhile “tells the story of a young white boy, who grew into a young man during South Africa’s turbulent, exciting and sometimes confusing transition into a young democracy”.

Its synopsis informs the “character provides some interesting insights and observations of the various demographic characters which punctuate South Africa’s diverse landscape”.

With these and other voices, this year’s Fringe shows that theatre-makers are not only relevant to their society. As usual, they are an essential part of it.

For more information log on to the website http://www.capetownfringe.co.za.

Property markets lure South Africans to Europe, Australia

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

With London and Sydney remaining top spots where South Africans buy overseas properties, locals are missing out on investment opportunities in other fertile markets.

Property investment company IP Global revealed in its latest research report this week a number of property markets with growth and easy access to South Africans.

George Radford, the group’s director for Africa, pointed to European capitals including Berlin and Edinburg as investment prospects.

He said these markets worked for locals looking for “offshore investments that generate income in Sterling, Euros, Australian or US Dollars”.

IP Global’s Global Real Estate Outlook report – a quarterly analysis – pointed to Berlin for its large rental market.

“Just 14% to 16% of the city’s residents are home owners, making it very much a landlord’s market,” said Radford.

Berlin is Europe’s third-largest city with “key regeneration projects (that) have reinvigorated previously neglected parts”.

IP Global’s report indicates “apartment prices rose strongly across 2014, with the average increase hitting 10.1%, with rents up 6.6% year-on-year”.

Berlin is estimated to have at least 250,000 new residents by 2030, pushing up the demand for accommodation.

Elsewhere in Europe, the group pointed to Dublin in Ireland and Edinburgh in Scotland.

Real estate statistics indicate Dublin has a “shortage of large-scale developments on the horizon this lack of supply will remain a feature of the market for the foreseeable future”.

An “extreme lack of supply” of new housing developments in Edinburg meant it too would see growth in property value.

On average, Edinburg’s property prices have climbed 21.5% annually, said IP Global.

Australia has for a while been a country where South Africans have emigrated too, with many settling in Sydney. IP Global’s research indicates Brisbane, also in Australian, would be another city locals could consider.

It said property prices in Brisbane grew 5.4% annually, “among the highest seen in Australia”. This city was also seeing major corporations settling there, affecting property values positively.

Radford said South African property buyers favoured Australia as a “convenient and familiar destination for investment”.

IP Global said other reasons for South Africans investing in overseas properties included “retirement and succession planning, children studying abroad, as well as potentially creating the option for relocation in the future”.

In 2014, the company found 90% of its local clients “invested in the UK and the rest invested in Australia”.

“The UK, particularly London, remains a leading global property investment market,” it said.

“South Africans also have historic links with the UK, which makes it even more compelling for property investment.”

South African Muslim leaders stand against Islamic State

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

A national Muslim authority yesterday launched a countrywide campaign at mosques to warn locals to remain wary of Islamic State (IS) recruitment.

The United Ulema Council of South Africa (UUCSA) and its affiliated imams countrywide dismissed IS in a unified speech as carrying out “terrorist activity”.

UUCSA president Shaykh Ighsaan Taliep addressed congregants at yesterday’s weekly Friday prayers at the Albert Road mosque in Woodstock.

He warned locals to be wary of the “recruitment practices by IS”.

“Muslim leaders throughout the world have condemned the establishment of the so-called caliphate of IS in parts of Iraq and Syria. It has come under severe condemnation by the scholars of Islam,” said Taliep.

“Allah (God) does not love those who spread mischief. The destroying of the lives of people… these are the common characteristics that have been brought to our attention and the modus operandi of IS. They violate the principles of Islam.”

Taliep said IS used its digital magazine Dabiq to recruit particularly young fighters to join their cause.

“In its magazine it proclaims that every Muslim should get out of his house, find a Crusader, in other words a Christian or Jew, and kill him,” said Taliep.

“It is important that killings be attributed to patrons of the IS who have obeyed its leadership.”

He added: “IS roadside killings and Youtube shenanigans and massacres proves it does not preserve life. The violation of human dignity and lives proves that IS does not promote Islam. IS kills Muslims.”

“They brand people disbelievers on the basis of a very basic ideological outlook. Once that person has been branded a kaafir (Arabic word for disbeliever) his blood becomes halaal (Arabic word for permissible).”

IS has for months posted videos online of executions of foreigners as well as locals in Iraq and Syria where it aims to establish its caliphate.

Taliep said Muslims should “live in peace and harmony”.

“The norm is not that people must have wars. The norm that Allah requires is that people live peacefully among one another,” he said.

“We can understand Muslim communities are being victimised and occupied. We need solutions for those problems and those solutions must conform with the Shariah (Islamic law).”

UUCSA this week issued a statement along with other Muslim groups countrywide warning locals from signing up with IS.

The statement said “various Muslim organisations and scholars from across South Africa met recently to discuss the problem posed by the attraction of the Islamic State group among some South African Muslims”.

“The representatives expressed concern about information gleaned from within the Muslim community about growing sympathy for IS among some South African Muslims,” it said.

“The meeting discussed a number of steps that Muslim community leadership are taking and will take in order to address this attraction and engage with the spurious discourse of IS which it claims is based on Islam.”

A spokesman for the group of organisations and scholars said there “was serious concern within the community, and that there are families whose lives have been made miserable, whose elders have become haggard and distressed because of the intention of family members to join IS”.

“Some South African Muslims that have gone to Iraq and Syria went to fight with IS, while others emigrated to live in territory controlled by the group,” said the spokesman.

The statement said the various organisations would “work with other institutions within South African society, such as government, the media and community organisations, to stem any attraction… for this group, or any similar group such as Boko Haram or Al-Shabab”.

“We must be uncompromising in our rejection of their ideologies and their actions,” it said.

A number of South Africans have reported traveled to the Middle East to join IS. State security officials reportedly stopped two teenage girls from joining IS earlier this year. A 15-year-old girl from Kenwyn was detained and returned to her parents before she could leave South Africa.

A second teenage girl from Grassy Park was reportedly stopped at Cape Town International Airport.

The Sunday Tribune newspaper reported earlier this year that a number of South Africans are already living in IS-controlled territories.

In March, Weekend Argus learned from the South African embassy in Turkey that a South African man had been detained in Turkey for allegedly trying to cross into Syria to join IS.

Mining, agriculture wastes most water in South Africa

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Mining and agricultural enterprises are South Africa’s biggest water-related crime offenders, with one mine fined R1-million and others under investigation.

Sputnik Ratau, spokesman for the national department of water and sanitation, told Weekend Argus this was the biggest fine issued for a water-related crime in the last financial year.

The Inkomati Anthracite Mine, which is partly owned by the Mpumalanga provincial government, was fined for the “using of water otherwise than permitted under the National Water Act”.

It had reportedly previously closed down for allegedly operating without a water licence.

The department has meanwhile opened 67 cases of water crimes with the police. Most of the cases are against persons or companies “engaging in water uses without authorisation”.

The fines were issued in different sectors, with the mining and agriculture industries contravening most water laws.

Most mining sector water crimes are being investigated in KwaZulu Natal, followed by Mpumalanga, which also tops the list for the most agricultural-related water offenses.

Mpumalanga has the water crimes currently under investigation, with the country’s only tourism crime also in this province.

Limpopo has the least water crimes nationally, followed by the Western Cape.

Ratau said the department aimed to “protect the resources of the state, both by means of deterrent from abuse and pollution”.

“The ultimate is to deter citizens from water wastage. South Africa is a water scarce country,” said Ratau.

“What we all need to understand is that in case we continue not to be careful of what we have, there is every chance of getting into a state of panic.

“Our rainfall in the rainy season just past was even lower than what we need, thus the drought that hit provinces like KwaZulu Natal, Eastern Cape, Limpopo and the Free State.

“Now moving into the dry season, we will have even less water to spare.”

Ratau said water cuts, if considered, “will be localised decisions within municipalities depending on availability”.

The City of Cape Town earlier this month said the city’s “dam levels are at slightly lower levels than previous years”.

It said: “Reserve storage and, if necessary, the imposing of relatively short-term water restrictions, will allow for continued water supply during severe droughts.

“In order to avoid this kind of action, over the past few years the city has intensified its focus on proactive measures to reduce water wastage.”

Business Day newspaper also reported earlier this month that South Africa was “already using 98% of its water supply”.

“A recent government report suggests the state should spend almost R300-billion over the next four years to avoid a full-scale water crisis, which is roughly more than 100 times the budget allocated by the Treasury to water management nationwide,” it reported.

Religious leaders warn of Islamic State recruitment in South Africa

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Muslim leaders across Cape Town have warned parents to monitor their children’s political views after a teenage girl was stopped from traveling to global terror group Islamic State (IS) this week.

State security department officials stopped a 15-year-old girl from the quiet Kenwyn suburb from boarding a flight from Cape Town last Sunday.

She was headed to Johannesburg, from where she was to fly either to Saudi Arabia or Turkey, and make her way to Syria where IS has a stronghold.

The Cape Town-based Muslim Judicial Council met on Thursday with various leaders to discuss the matter.

Imams at various mosques yesterday focused their sermons on IS, aiming to raise awareness of its recruitment of local teenagers.

The teenager and her family have meanwhile left Kenwyn “to get some privacy,” said local community leader Hanif Loonat.

MJC leader Maulana Ihsaan Hendricks said they “convened an urgent awareness meeting on the… (IS) recruitment methodology and its impact on South African society”.

“The meeting focused on the potential dangers facing our children, youth and community following an incident where a 15-year-old teenager was suspected of being lured to join IS via social media,” he said.

The MJC said it had “made attempts to contact the family of the young lady at the centre of this incident but our efforts have not yielded any results”.

Weekend Argus attempts to contact the family this week, via contact numbers on a missing person’s flyer with the young girl’s face, were also unsuccessful.

Hendricks said the MJC believed IS “does not represent Islam, a position that is held globally”.

“We are concerned that more than condemnation is needed to protect our community from IS very aggressive and sophisticated recruiting methodology and their extensive use of the social media to lure our youth to join the terror group,” said Hendricks.

“As the religious leaders we have a responsibility to guide, protect and support our community during the challenges that we are now faced with. The MJC has requested that this awareness and message be taken to those who were not amongst the 75 religious scholars present (at the meeting).”

Shaykh Ihsaan Taliep, president of United Ulama Council of SA (UUCSA) and also an MJC leader, said IS “principles have no connection to the tenets of Islam”.

“It is vital for religious leaders to take responsibility for guiding the community with the correct information in order to safe guard them from the dangers lurking in the cyber world, which enters the very bedrooms of our children,” said Taliep.

“This recent incident has drawn our attention and highlighted the dangers of irresponsible usage of the Internet, especially by innocent, vulnerable and impressionable teenagers who could access harmful information or even worse be in contact with recruiting agents who lure young people into their destructive networks.”

The MJC said parents should “be in touch with their children, know who they associate with, what their political views are and what their interests are”.

It said it “extends its concerns and prayers for the wellbeing of the young lady at the centre of this very disturbing incident”.

“We wish the family well and hope that they will be able to rise above the difficulties that they are facing,” it said.

Loonat, former chairperson of the Western Cape community policing board and Kenwyn resident, said he had been in contact with the family.

“The family is not in the area at the moment. They want to have privacy. They have switched their phones. They are cutting all links with everybody,” he said.

“They were traumatised and shocked. They are waiting for the outcome from the authorities. That’s about it.”

Loonat said they were aware of “many (South African) kids being enticed” to join IS.

“A lot of kids are being approached. There are kids from Johannesburg and Durban who have gone. It is now coming to Cape Town. Many parents are keeping quiet (about it),” said Loonat.

“It’s not anything new to us… They (IS) buy them the tickets. They have big money. The types of arms and ammunition they have show they have money.”

He added: “There are many people who are indoctrinated to think their cause is Islamic. It is not.”

Loonat said parents should monitor their children’s online activity.

“There are signs of radical behavior online. Some would use words like ‘I am prepared to kill’. They need to be approached and we need to tell them don’t get carried away,” said Loonat.

Imam Farouk Rylands, who leads the congregation at the Waterloo Road mosque in Kenwyn, said he held a meeting with locals at the mosque on Tuesday.

Imam Farouk Rylands in front of the Waterloo Road mosque in Kenwyn believes Islamic State recruitment in the neighborhood was an isolated case. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Imam Farouk Rylands in front of the Waterloo Road mosque in Kenwyn believes Islamic State recruitment in the neighborhood was an isolated case. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

“We told them this was a wake up call for our parents. Parents need to know more about their children. It was a shock to the community that a young girl made this decision,” said Rylands.

He added: “Some people have tried to make a link between what happened and the mosque. There’s no link.”

Brian Dube, spokesman for the state security department, said after the teenager was stopped from boarding her flight in Cape Town “she was spoken to by the officials and handed over to the care of her family”.

“This was the first case of its nature. However there have been reports of people who have left the country to take up part in wars as militias,” said Dube.

“Recruitment and radicalisation of particularly young people is a global security concern.

“We appeal to parents in particular to exercise caution on their children with use of social media platforms as these are proving as the most used means for recruitment given their reach.”

State security minister David Mahlobo said earlier this week they were alerted about the girl’s disappearance and then alerted all airports.

“An investigation is underway to determine further issues pertaining to recruitment and funding methods,” said Mahlobo.

He said South African would “not allow itself to be used as a recruitment platform” for IS.

The South African embassy in Turkey to find out how many locals have been caught in that country for trying to join IS.

The embassy’s response was that the ambassador was not in the country to respond to queries.

Pollsmoor prison warder goes to jail for drug smuggling

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

A Pollsmoor prison guard has been sent to jail for smuggling drugs and phones to inmates, angering state prosecutors who said this undermined their hard work.

Prison warder Thabo Gxowa, 33, was sentenced to five years imprisonment last week for drug dealing after police officers arrested him in October 2012.

Police officers arrested Gxowa at the prison with six dagga parcels, 17 balls of dagga weighing 3,839kg, a cell phone charger, two cell phones, five SIM cards and two small plastic bags of Tik.

Gxowa worked at the prison’s admission centre and investigators said they received information about his drug operation.

The trial was heard at the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court where advocate Renee Prinsloo-Uys, acting on behalf of the state, led evidence against the accused.

Prinsloo-Uys said investigations started when “police received information that a vehicle was transporting drugs to the prison”.

The court heard that police officer Mathebus Jantjies, called in as a state witness, waited outside Pollsmoor for three hours for Gxowa to exit the prison in his black Toyota Run X.

Jantjies and a colleague followed Gxowa, who was in full uniform, to the Steenberg Village shopping mall.

Gxowa went inside the mall and came out after two minutes. By then, a total six police officers were on the scene and followed Gxowa back to Pollsmoor.

Magistrate Welile Rixana recalled the incident while handing down her judgement last Friday at the court.

“The accused drove out of the mall towards Pollsmoor and they (police officers) were behind him. He noticed them. Upon entering Pollsmoor he sped… they put on the blue lights and went after him. He drove recklessly,” said Rixana.

“Crime intelligence assisted in giving chase and cornered him. He tried to use his vehicle to run them over.”

Gxowa eventually drove across the prison’s sportsfield “where he tried to throw something over the wall… a big bag with parcels of dagga”.

Police officers found in his car his warder’s winter jacket and “its pockets were cut and once opened (they) found compressed dagga balls, Tik, two cell phones and a charger”.

Inside the bag he tried to discard “was a roll of compressed dagga wrapped in brown sellotape and square parcels of dagga wrapped in brown paper”. Gxowa also had R800 in cash in his possession.

Rixana recalled that Gxowa told the court “he was not sure who brought the drugs into his car or whether it was a set-up”.

He had said: “The community had a bad tendency of thinking prison warders are bad people”.

Rixana’s judgement concluded: “His evidence is rigged with inherent improbabilities that it can never be said to be reasonably possibly true, to the extent that the court rejects it as false… The accused is accordingly convicted of dealing in drugs.”

Prinsloo-Uys told the court corrupt prison warders “make a mockery of what we do here”.

“He was in a position of trust. We send people to jail to rehabilitate and he makes a mockery of everything we do,” she said.

Palestinian activist Leila Khaled’s namesake recalls a life of politics

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

Growing up with anti-apartheid activist parents and being named after the first woman to hijack an airplane left Leila Issel with alternative perceptions of the word ‘terrorist’.

Issel’s parents Shahida and John ‘Johnny’ Issel were prominent public voices against apartheid during the founding days of the United Democratic Front (UDF) and also the ANC.

Leila Issel, the daughter of anti-apartheid activists, was named after Palestinian activist Leila Khaled. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Leila Issel, the daughter of anti-apartheid activists, was named after Palestinian activist Leila Khaled. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Her mother named her after Palestinian activist Leila Khaled, who in 1969 hijacked an airplane on its way from Rome to Athens.

Khaled has been viewed as an activist for using the hijacking to raise awareness of the Palestinian struggle against Israel. Others have labeled her a terrorist for her stance against Israel.

Khaled is meant to visit Cape Town next month as part of a national speaking tour. This has raised debate among local pro-Israel and pro-Palestine groups. The visit is meant to raise funds for a local group that promotes boycotts against Israel.

Issel has not yet met Khaled, but feels that she has a personal connection with her as “she was frequently spoken about in my upbringing”.

“Many people told me who I’m named after her (Khaled). People gave me DVDs about her. People spoke about her strength. She was young and strong in her ideas,” said Issel.

“Leila and other Palestinians inspired our freedom fighters in South Africa. My mom was inspired by her. She was a strong woman who stood up for what she believed.

“She felt something was wrong and she decided to do something. That gives strength where there is no hope. That’s a good thing, because when we see someone else standing up for something it makes us feel stronger.”

Issel said having Khaled and her parents – persons that she loved – named terrorists made her view this word differently.

“My reaction to the word terrorist is saviour, strength, someone who stands up for equality and human rights. My father always used to tell me, ‘I’m doing this because there are kids who don’t have fathers who can fight’. So that’s what a terrorist is,” she said.

“A terrorist is someone who stands up for poor people, for people who don’t understand the red tape. Because red tape can kill you. Someone who fights for equality. Someone who fights against occupation.

“A terrorist is an awesome person who is standing up for someone.”

Issel is not the only sibling named after so-called terrorists, in the eyes of western leaders. One of her brothers is named after deceased Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Another is named after former Cuban president Fidel Castro.

As an adult, Issel did not follow her parent’s political footsteps, but since birth politics was all she had known.

“Just before I was a year old I was arrested. The police knew how to get to our parents. They would take the children to get them to come out of hiding. I was taken to prison to get my father to come out of hiding and he did,” said Issel.

“I went to a protest when I was nine. I was arrested and put into an adult prison. I didn’t understand what was happening.”

She added: “I blocked out a lot of things. I have verbal memory, but no visual memory. It was too psychotic for my space.

“My space was never age appropriate. My parents didn’t realise the damage it had done to us.

“I only know politics. Most people have religion in their house twenty-four-seven. We had police, meetings, torture, breaking down the house, banning orders, imprisonment, being on the run and moving from house to house twenty-four-seven.

“I didn’t learn how to pray. I had to learn that later in life. I learned politics. That was our code.”

Issel said her grandparents also introduced them to political life.

“My grandfather would hire movies for us like Battle of Algiers. Those were the types of movies we watched. It was insane. I have two daughters and I would never let them watch those things,” she said.

“We were at my grandparent’s place one evening and we were watching the news. My brother ran in and said, ‘They running on the TV after dada with big AK47s’. That was our life. It was normal. We didn’t cry about it.”

When Issel was nine she had to represent her father at the founding of the UDF, a gathering of civil society movements united against apartheid, in Mitchell’s Plain.

“My father could express with words what people felt in their hearts. That made people feel that he understood them. He had a huge following and that would strike fear with the apartheid government.

“He was vocal and that’s when he became an enemy of the State. He was called a terrorist. He was under a banning order and he said I should represent him at the UDF meeting. There were 10,000 people.

“I was asked to speak and share a stage with Helen Joseph, Allan Boesk and Trevor Manuel at the launch of the UDF. It was intimidating. I used to stutter as a child, because of the nervousness of everything.

“Later we found out he was inside the hall. Had he spoken, he would have been arrested.”

While John Issel died in January 2011 his wife Shahida is still alive.

Issel said she and her mother “are involved in social issues”.

“We are political. It’s in our DNA. It’s all we know,” she said.

Khaled will arrive in Cape Town on February 12, the same day as President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address. She is due to address locals at an event in Surrey Estate that evening.

‘Rampies sny’ a Cape Town Muslim celebration of Prophet Muhammad’s birthday

Written by Yazeed Kamaldien

The scent of rose water and lemon oil fill the Heideveld mosque, where women gathered this month (JANUARY) for an annual tradition to mark the birth of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

This gathering is called Moulood an-Nabi and Muslims in various countries remember in different ways their prophet. Muhammad was reportedly born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, in the year 571 on the 12th day of the Islamic month, Rabi ul-Awal.

At the Heideveld mosque and across Cape Town, women have gathered for hundreds of years to cut and scent lemon tree leaves, fold it in wrapping paper or small pieces of material, and gift it to men as part of the tradition known as ‘rampies sny’.

A young girl with cut and scented lemon tree leaves, known as rampies, which forms part of the traditional way in which Cape Town Muslims celebrate the birth of Prophet Muhammad. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

A young girl with cut and scented lemon tree leaves, known as rampies, which forms part of the traditional way in which Cape Town Muslims celebrate the birth of Prophet Muhammad. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

The word ‘rampies’ originates from the Malay word ‘rampai’. ‘Sny’ is the Afrikaans word for cut. This is indicative of the cross-cultural Cape heritage where language, race and cultures have intermingled.

Malaysians more specifically refer to ‘rampies sny’ as ‘bunga rampai’. The latter involves the fine slicing of flowers and leaves and mixing it together to create a fragrant potpourri.

A woman folds rampies, which is cut and scented lemon tree leaves, into a piece of material. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

A woman folds rampies, which is cut and scented lemon tree leaves, into a piece of material. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

While cutting the leaves, women recite Arabic praises for Prophet Muhammad and remember Allah, or God. After the leaves are cut, it is placed in a basket where it undergoes the ‘oeker’, which means that it is being prayed over, in Arabic, asking for God’s blessings.

This tradition stems from the Indonesian and Malaysian community that arrived in the Cape with Dutch colonisers from the mid-1600s. It is a cultural expression linked to Islam, and not a religious obligation or global practise.

Somaya Abdurahman, from Heideveld, said they use lemon tree leaves “because of the way it smells”. Scents enhance the fresh-smelling leaves.

The Heideveld Mosque has been home to congregants celebrating the birth of Prophet Muhammad for many years. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

The Heideveld Mosque has been home to congregants celebrating the birth of Prophet Muhammad for many years. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Abdurahman remembers growing up in District Six, Cape Town, where families gathered for the annual event.

“During my childhood, we were excited to cut rampies. We dressed up in our best clothes. It brought our families and friends together,” said Abdurahman.

“We moved to Heideveld when I was ten years old. It’s still very exciting to get together for this. There are some people that we see only at this time of the year.”

Moulood an-Nabi is celebrated with ‘rampies sny’ across Cape Town throughout Rabi ul-Awal. It does not involve only ‘rampies sny’ though.

A group of women wrapping rampies at the Heideveld Mosque included (from left to right) Yusurah Prinsloo, Layla Nasterdien and Amiena Mathierson. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

A group of women wrapping rampies at the Heideveld Mosque included (from left to right) Yusurah Prinsloo, Layla Nasterdien and Amiena Mathierson. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

This celebration also sees men gathering at the mosque, after women have cut the rampies, to recite ‘riwaayat’, which is Arabic poetry honouring Prophet Muhammad. Women also gather in groups to recite ‘riwaayat’, although women and men do not gather at the same time.

Melodic tunes turn the poetry into songs that travelled to Cape Town across oceans centuries ago.

Communities have over the years formalised the tradition, with men and women creating teams that would recite the ‘riwaayat’ collectively. The teams would have tailors make unique dresses or suits for them for the days when they gather to recite ‘riwaayat’.

Abdurahman said it was “traditional that we all buy material and make dresses so that we all wear the same colour”.

She also said women would spend days “preparing the hall and baking cakes” for the get together of different teams who recite ‘riwaayat’.

Mymona Latief, who has for years been a religious teacher at the Heideveld mosque, said Moulood an-Nabi is an event that not all Muslims celebrate “because the prophet did not celebrate his birthday”.

Islamic teacher Mymona Latief, in green dress, leads women in devotional prayers at the Heideveld Mosque as part of Moulood an-Nabi celebrations. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

Islamic teacher Mymona Latief, in green dress, leads women in devotional prayers at the Heideveld Mosque as part of Moulood an-Nabi celebrations. Picture by Yazeed Kamaldien

“But cutting rampies brings people together,” she said.

Her late husband Ebrahiem Latief was the imam, or religious leader, at the mosque during the 1980s. She said he encouraged Moulood an-Nabi as it “gets the community together for a good purpose”.

“He was very into the community. He was doing a lot of things that brought the community together. Everything was done beautifully and collectively,” said Latief.

“This event makes the community feel very welcome at the mosque.”

A host of local Muslim organisations have organised the second annual mass Moulood an-Nabi for the Athlone Stadium on January 18, starting at 4pm. The event is open to the public.

VIDEO: Pet Shop Boys in Cape Town

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UK electronic pop music duo Pet Shop Boys performed in Cape Town on 15 December 2014. This video contains snippets from their live performance in the city. Read more about them at this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pet_Shop_Boys

Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilVOrzRHXSo&feature=youtu.be