Skinnerbek’s week was dominated by the National Arts Festival (NAF), again a treat for lovers of the arts this year. Your gossip gal spent a few days at the festival in Grahamstown and, though I’ve been back a day or two, feeling is only now starting to return to my extremities!
The festival started slowly, shem, money is tight this year, but there was plenty of free entertainment like the levitating guru and the Sundowner shows at 5pm daily.
Some of the posters for the shows made me blush, with names like Tease, Mr Right Swipe, The Full Morty, Afriqueer, XX … Kiss, Kiss, Private Parts and Don’t Burn Your Sausage and I even heard about a gallery called Phallus, with lots of erotic art. But that’s the festival for you!
While grabbing an egg-and-bacon roll at the Fynbos Hub in the Guy Butler Theatre, while taking in the captivating view, I spotted Lee-Anne van Rooi, whom I’d watched every Friday night on Fishy Feshuns.
The Henrietta With Love actress walked in with a big smile on her face and sat down while waiting for her order. I did my best not to gawp.
I found the Village Green a little under-whelming at times. The food and drinks stalls, too, were not terribly thrilling. A “freshly squeezed” juice I ordered must have been hibernating on the counter for longer than I care to imagine.
While checking out the stalls I also met musical comedian Deep Fried Man (Daniel Friedman), who was handing out flyers for his show.
Also this week, I headed out to J’Bay for a bit of surfing action at the town’s annual Winterfest. Again the weather was wet and freezing cold, though the eye candy made it all worthwhile!
SA’s Jordy Smith is such a hottie and other surfers from around the globe also did not disappoint … though their outfits were a bizarre combination of shorts and blankets!
Festivals aside, I had a stunning cultural experience right here in the Bay when the GFI Gallery in Park Drive opened its new wing – and celebrated the start of the NAF – last Thursday.
Some of the bigwigs from Rand Merchant Bank were there – they always support the arts – as was Business and Arts South Africa’s chief executive, the lovely Michelle Constant, who was on her way to the NAF.
And how can I forget the hunky Myles Mossop from Tokara and Meridian Wine Merchants’ Nicholas Hafner, who grew up in PE (and whose mum, Olga, is the city’s biggest wine fundi!)
The event included classy canapes by Dessie Price, a private tasting of Tokara wines led by Myles and MC’ed by Nick, and a chance to see Tokara’s amazing “Wine Made Art” creations on the walls.
So enjoy the NAF’s last few shows this weekend, or pop in at GFI to see this fun exhibition.
With only a few weeks to go until the local government elections, the ANC appears to be lagging behind the DA in Tshwane, Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay.
According to the latest eNCA poll, compiled by Ipsos, the ANC increased its support in Tshwane by three percentage points to 26%, but was still behind the DA which declined by the same margin to 39% points.
The ANC also saw a decline in popularity in Nelson Mandela Bay, dropping six percentage points to 21% this week, giving the DA a more than 20 percentage points lead.
The EFF made nominal gains in both metros, increasing its support to 12% and 10% respectively.
Johannesburg was the only metro to rate the ANC better than the DA when it came to service delivery, with an increase in support to 31%. However, most of the respondents still said they’d throw their weight behind the DA, giving the party 36% of the vote. Johannesburg was also the only metro where support for the EFF dropped to 10%.
A Baghdad bombing claimed by the Islamic State group killed 292 people, according to a new toll issued Thursday, many of whom were trapped in blazing buildings and burned alive.
A suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden minibus in Baghdad’s Karrada neighbourhood early on Sunday, ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
The blast – which officials had previously said killed at least 250 people – was one of the deadliest single attacks in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion, which set the stage for more than 13 years of brutal violence in the country.
Health Minister Adila Hamoud said the bodies of 115 killed in the bombing had now been handed over to families, while the identities of 177 others have yet to be determined.
The blast also wounded 200 people, said the minister, who on Tuesday told AFP that the process of identifying the dead – which she put at 150 at the time – was expected to take 15 to 45 days.
People have been furious over delays in determining the fate of their loved ones, and with the number of unidentified bodies now bigger, it may take even longer.
Thousands have come to the site of the bombing to mourn the dead and express solidarity with those stricken by the blast.
The street running between the charred remains of buildings burned in the attack has been packed with people, some carrying Iraqi flags.
Many wept and beat their chests in mourning for the dead.
Some of those gathered at the site on Thursday shouted slogans, while others left candles at the site, which is covered with banners bearing the names of the dead.
And some expressed anger at the government, blaming it for the attack.
“Citizens must remove this government by any means,” Ali al-Yasiri, one of those gathered at the site, said.
The attack has overshadowed what would normally be a joyful holiday for Iraqi Muslims, instead turning it into a time of mourning and sadness.
Investigators now believe they know what caused the attack to claim so many lives.
Police Major General Talib Khalil Rahi said the bomber’s minibus had been loaded with plastic explosives and ammonium nitrate.
The initial blast killed a limited number of people, but flames spread and trapped people inside shopping centres which lacked emergency exits, Rahi told a news conference in Baghdad.
The raging fires have made it difficult to identify the dead.
Interior Minister Mohammed Ghabban tendered his resignation following the bombing, and authorities also announced the execution of five convicts and the arrest of 40 jihadists in an apparent bid to limit the fallout from the attack.
Ghabban criticised the security system as fundamentally flawed, saying he could no longer accept responsibility for the consequences and calling for a series of changes that would ultimately increase the ministry’s power.
An official in Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s office told AFP on Wednesday that the premier had accepted the minister’s resignation, though there has been no official statement from him on the matter.
Sunday’s bombing was claimed by the Islamic State group, which has its roots in the insurgency that began after the overthrow of dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003.
The IS group overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi forces have since regained significant territory from the jihadists.
In response to the battlefield setbacks, the Sunni extremist group has hit back against civilians, and experts have warned there may be more bombings as the jihadists continue to lose ground.
DA member of parliament Yusuf Cassim is planning to report the ANC to the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) after he claims he was called a terrorist.
Cassim, who is also DASO leader, alleges ANC members and supporters in the audience at Livity Africa debate in Nelson Mandela Bay on Thursday afternoon not only called him a terrorist, but also said he was from the Nigerian Islamic extremist group Boko Haram because he is Muslim.
“This discrimination has no place in a democratic South Africa, where there should be religious tolerance and understanding of others religious beliefs. The ANC took no steps to stop their supporters insulting me in this way,” he said in a statement on Friday morning.
“I have therefore decided to report the ANC to the South African Human Rights Commission to investigate this matter and to ensure proper remedial action is taken. It is vital that we act on all instances of bigotry, racism, homophobia, religious intolerance and xenophobia.
“This discrimination tears apart the very fabric of our constitutional democracy, and undermines the vision of 1994; that of a prosperous South Africa, united in its diversity.”
This is President Jacob Zuma’s friend – Collen Chauke.
He is probably the only man Zuma openly calls friend in front of the public.
Collen has attended almost every African National Congress (ANC) election manifesto launch in the country. His love for the ANC and Zuma has earned him benefits that very few citizens enjoy. He is always able to push through presidential protection guards and get his hug from the president.
“I have told them before that this is my friend‚ they should allow him through‚” Zuma once remarked.
The president occasionally gives Collen a R100 note to note his appreciation and they have a cordial relationship when they meet‚ greeting each other warmly. The president gives him a beaming smile‚ a handshake and a hug.
Collen‚ 32‚ of Orange Farm‚ lives with his two brothers Gontse‚ 31‚ and Taelo‚ 43‚ on Kopano Street. ANC councillor Simon Motha introduced TMG Digital to his brothers. It was about 10am‚ and Collen was not around‚ but his brothers welcomed us into their home. They advised that he was likely to be at Orange Farm Mall‚ so we set off to look for him. As we walked through the mall‚ it was apparent that every cashier‚ security guard and other centre employees know him well.
“We love him. Everybody loves him. He is a lovely kid‚” said one of the cashiers at KFC.
His favourite place at the mall is the Thetha FM studios.
“We put him on air. Everybody in Orange Farm adores him. He normally greets the listeners and says what is on his mind. He can say anything. It’s Collen. He is allowed to do so‚” said administrators at the radio station.
He is so famous that taxi drivers allow him free rides when he wants to go to Soweto‚ Johannesburg‚ and Lenasia from Orange Farm‚ which is in the south‚ 45km from the Joburg city centre. He also does not buy a ticket to get onto the train. The reason: “Everybody loves him”.
Finally we meet Collen at the mall. He has a wide smile and projects positive energy.
“Are we going to meet President Zuma? Why‚ therefore‚ are you looking for me?” he asked with a firm handshake.
Taelo informed him that journalists are here to talk to him. He then asked if he was going to be on TV. His brothers only reply: “You are going to be famous”.
He then kept quiet but walked faster than all of us as we head back to the car.
Despite being such a well-known persona in his home town‚ Collen lives a life of destitution.
The four-roomed house he shares with his brothers appears to be well-maintained – until you get inside. The kitchen cupboards are worn out‚ allowing you to see the emptiness inside. The best item is the microwave. There is no fridge. The sitting room is in equally poor condition. An old cupboard stands where the television set should be and the sofas show the years.
Motha left us at the house with James Mofokeng to help with Setswana translation. Collen’s two brothers said they love him so much and have a sense of pride in his popularity.
“I don’t know why but people love Collen. Some people here in Orange Farm have a framed picture of him on their walls. We have allowed him to be himself‚” Taelo explained as he sat us down.
Collen does speak English but converses more freely in Setswana.
We gave him a chance to say something to his favourite person‚ Zuma‚ on camera:
“It’s me‚ Kwenza‚ you know me‚ I am your friend. I am pleading with you‚ President Zuma‚ to please fix my home and build me a double-storey house so that I be can like everyone else. I am with my young brothers‚ I want a TV and to make this house a double-storey so that it can be like other houses. I want you to buy me building bricks and fix here so that when you come here to Orange Farm‚ they will know that you are my friend. Please fix my room and my bathroom; I don’t even have a bathroom. You know me. I am your friend and a number one ANC member. Please come here and build me a double-storey.”
After the video‚ Taelo explained the family’s story.
Their parents moved from Soweto to Orange Farm in the late 1980s. Their mother died in 2004 and their father in 2006. This left the brothers with the responsibility of caring for Collen. Their two sisters are both living with their husbands. The closest one is in Soweto. Collen visits her quite often.
Taelo’s tone of voice changed when he spoke about the struggle for food in the house.
“We do eat‚” he said.
Gontse interjected‚ as if he wanted the truth to come out.
“It is a hustle for us to get food. We are really struggling. Nobody is working and we don’t have anything to eat tonight‚” Gontse said.
All this time‚ Collen was strangely silent. Then I asked the brothers‚ what is the one thing that I could buy for them at the mall.
“Fish oil‚” Taelo said‚ and Collen got really upset.
“No. No fish oil. We need a television set. Just a television set. Let us go now and buy it‚” Collen said in a high tone.
His brother calmed him down and started to explain.
The three brothers have not had a television set for years. One of the neighbours‚ who is a technician‚ has offered to sell them the set for just R150‚ but no one has that kind of money here.
In the house there isn’t even a radio and none of the guys have an ID. They just enjoy basic electricity and water.
Taelo travels to Malvern‚ in eastern Joburg‚ to work as a car guard but makes too little to meet every need in the house.
I offered to buy them a meal at the mall and Collen proposed his favourite restaurant: KFC.
As we left the house‚ the man who is selling the television set showed up. He was going about his own business but Collen ran to him and grabbed him by the arm‚ refusing to let him go.
“This is him. He has the TV. Give him the money now. Let’s go get the TV.”
The brothers calmed him down again.
In the midst of the drama‚ Councillor Motha passed by in his ML Mercedes-Benz SUV. He reduced his speed‚ greeted us and drove off.
Back at the mall‚ Collen ordered three pieces of chicken‚ chips and a coke. He then asked us to leave the restaurant to get the fish oil. We headed to the supermarket and when we came back‚ he was gone.
Taelo decided to go look for him while we had lunch with Gontse.
He opened up about the life at home.
“It is not easy taking care of my brother but I love him. He is just an exciting guy. He leaves in the morning at 7am. I make sure that he baths and eats before he leaves. He leaves and goes to the mall‚ talking to people and he has friends everywhere. He also spends a lot of time at Thetha FM. They love him at the studio and even put him live on air to say whatever comes to his mind.”
When their mother was alive‚ she made sure that Collen took his psychiatric medication and he had a close relationship with her.
“My mother loved him more than anything in the world and Collen knew it. When she passed on‚ he struggled to live without her. He then refused to take his medication. But I can’t talk much about that part of our life‚” Gontse said‚ holding back the tears in his eyes.
Collen is also a big friend of Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau and has met former president Thabo Mbeki too.
But there are other problems on Collen’s doorstep. At 1pm‚ wheelie bins were still lined up on the streets and refuse had not been collected. Some portions of the area have not had water for more than a week.
Most of the people living in Orange Farm work elsewhere‚ as there are little to no local job opportunities. Those who cannot find employment like Gontse and Taelo are left on the streets.
“Things are getting bad now. We are seeing more boys in our street smoking nyaope. They don’t have jobs so they steal anything they can get‚” Gontse said.
Nineteen percent of households have no income at all in Orange Farm‚ according to Statistics SA. The data shows the area has a total population of 76 767 and a dependency ratio of nearly 50%. Residents do have basic services like electricity‚ which have been rolled out by government‚ but poor education levels affect economic prospects.
Collen and his brothers are amongst many in the City of Johannesburg who are hoping that things will improve for them after the August 3 local government elections.
“We hope that somebody will see our story and help us with something. We are really battling‚” Taelo said as he waved goodbye.
– TMG Digital
The fight between the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has escalated‚ with the head of the party’s communications subcommittee‚ Jackson Mthembu‚ accusing the broadcaster’s chairman‚ Mbulaheni Maguvhe‚ of “insulting” the governing party.
The skirmish began earlier in the week‚ with Mthembu calling on the SABC to reverse its decision to ban footage of violent protests.
Maguvhe took exception‚ saying that the comments by the ANC were “misleading”‚ and denying that the ban was a policy position‚ calling it an “editorial decision”.
Mthembu on Thursday said the chairman’s comments were unfortunate‚ and insisted that the ANC was not changing its stance on the questionable editorial decisions‚ calling it censorship‚ Business Day reported on Friday.
Read the full story here: www.bdlive.co.za
Seasoned festival goers know that you need more than tickets and a thick jacket to survive the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown. Gillian McAinsh gives an insider’s advice on how to make the most of the weekend ahead
Start off the day with a fresh pineapple juice from the Sunshine J stall at the entrance to the Village Green
Be tech-savvy : pay for your purchases via Snapscan and use your TicketHut card to skip the ticket queue and print out your own tickets
Enjoy the t-shirt humour from Laugh It Off and T-Shirt Terrorist
Visit the Half-Price Hut to see what shows you can see on a budget
Take small change for the kids who mime in white-face and the pop-up car guards
Try the hot gluwein at DSG Hall alongside the cool jazz going down in the Standard Bank Jazz Festival
Catch the free Sundowner Concert at the Monument at 5pm each day
Enjoy the free art, which includes the creative and clever posters plastered all over town
Soak up the street performers
Take an open mind
It was December 14 last year when we converged on the boardroom of the EPRU offices at the invitation of MEC Pemmy Majodina and Khusta Magada to try to intervene in what she described as a crisis situation.
Yes, it was a crisis then, but now it has escalated to a disaster of massive proportions and doesn’t look like coming to an end any time soon.
Then we were dealing with an executive that refused to account to its constituency or hold meetings, unpaid staff, unpaid service providers, escalating debts and a R200-million sponsorship lie from Cheeky Watson.
Six months later, on June 16, a forced annual meeting that presented questionable financial statements ended up being moved to another date.
There were unapproved union financial statements (a first for EPRU post-professionalism), the franchise taken away by Saru, being put under Saru administration, facing liquidation for close to R60-million in debt, unpaid staff, three attempted votes of no confidence motions in Watson’s executive, no support for our professional teams and a massive damage to our reputation. Yet Watson is still standing. We are now facing new challenges: dying club rugby, questions over equity partners’ financial viability, losing players in droves and I am worried that by end of this season we will end up with nothing (no players, staff franchise or union) but Watson!
Through all these problems we still have the person that brought us to this point at the helm of the union. Why is that? Are we happy to lose everything we once had, our players, assets, staff, reputation and heritage (EPRU) rather than asking Watson and his executive to step down?
At this stage they are not adding any value to the union, so it is not in the interest of EP Rugby that they remain in office, but that of saving their own reputations and egos. The question is why are we putting interests of individuals ahead of the institution then?
Unfortunately, this is the only thing that can take us forward. We will win back the trust and support of the public, business confidence, players and staff trust, and renewed hope for the future of EP rugby!
We have a choice: it’s either we deal with this painful but necessary exercise or we risk losing everything we once owned in two months’ time.
Proudly listing his feebly crafted figures of speech councillor Rory Riordan refers to one of them as a “Whitfield” in his letter (“Expected better from the DA”, July 5).
The “Whitfield” to which he refers, that Jacob Zuma appointed Danny Jordaan, has clearly struck a nerve. I guess that’s because it’s true.
Riordan has penned yet another predictably dull and convoluted critique of a campaign that has sent his precious ANC into a tailspin. Reading his latest desperate diatribe reminded me of the mad King Lear, who said: “When we are born, we cry that we are come To this great stage of fools.” (Act IV, Scene VI)
This quote illustrates how the residents of Nelson Mandela Bay felt in 2011 when the ANC narrowly won the election. No amount of letter writing can undo the mess that Riordan’s ANC has caused since then.
This latest letter is a laughable collage of personal insults against individuals, the very point he bemoans in his letter. The ANC has gone out of its way to attack Athol Trollip and others personally throughout this campaign.
Riordan’s incoherent letter exposes him as a “Learesque” misanthrope who has either lost the plot completely or is simply shameless in his defence of his political masters, Jordaan and Zuma.
The front page of The Herald on July 5 pictured Riordan grinning as the ANC appointed 43 new political cadres to do the ANC’s bidding at the taxpayers’ expense (“ANC creates 43 new political jobs”). Oh, the tragic irony.
It is sad to see the long arm of ANC patronage pulling the strings of the public purse and public representatives like Riordan. To coin a Riordanism: “I expected better from you, Rory”.
Millions watch last moments of black man shot dead in car on Facebook
The final moments of a black man shot by US police after being pulled over while driving were captured in a video viewed by about two million people yesterday, as civil rights investigators probed a similar incident in Louisiana.
Philando Castile’s girlfriend live-streamed the bloody aftermath in the Minnesota town of Falcon Heights, just outside Minneapolis.
“Oh my God, please don’t tell me he’s dead, please don’t tell me my boyfriend just went like that. You shot four bullets into him, sir,” the woman, identified on her Facebook page as Lavish Reynolds, is heard saying in the Facebook Live video.
At times, a very composed Reynolds narrates Wednesday evening’s incident calmly, before wailing and growing increasingly anguished as it becomes clear that Castile will not make it out alive.
Castile, 32, can be seen in the driver’s seat, large blood stains spreading through his white shirt. He was later taken to hospital and pronounced dead.
Castile’s mother, Valerie, said Reynolds had not been located since the incident, adding that police would not let them talk to her at the scene.
The latest video of a controversial police killing followed on the heels of another piece of shock footage in which an officer in Louisiana shot dead at point-blank range a father of five early on Tuesday.
In both cases, the victims had a gun with them, though there is no indication they pointed their weapon at police at any time during the incidents.
A peaceful crowd of 100 people kept vigil through the night outside the Baton Rouge convenience store where Alton Sterling, 37, was shot by an officer while already pinned to the ground.
Sterling’s killing led to protests in the city and outrage nationwide over the latest case of alleged police brutality against black suspects.
The killing in Minnesota compounded an already widespread sense of anger and disbelief.
In the 10-minute video, Reynolds says her boyfriend, a school cafeteria worker, was pulled over for a broken taillight.
She says Castile was reaching for his licence and vehicle registration when police shot him.
Police said they were investigating and a handgun had been recovered at the scene.
In the Louisiana case, police said they had intervened after an anonymous caller told police they had been threatened by a man with a gun.
Sterling’s family lawyer said he had merely been selling CDs outside a convenience store, with the permission of the shop’s owner, when the shooting took place.
Have you tried: Travelling to South Africa?