Transnet workers to continue mass action

A campaign of mass action by four trade unions within Transnet continues in KwaZulu-Natal today. The unions are protesting against the restructuring of the parastatal.

Yesterday, over 15 000 workers from the unions stayed away from work or picketed, causing disruptions to Metrorail services in Durban and at the Durban and Richards Bay harbours.

Only 42 out of Metrorail's 140 weekday trains were operational in Durban. In the Free State, almost 3 000 Transnet workers downed tools in support of the call by their unions for mass action.

While Free State workers went on strike for one day, their colleagues in KwaZulu-Natal will continue the campaign until tomorrow. The strike will culminate with a march in Durban.

The mass action comes just as government prepares to unveil plans to propel the economy onto an accelerated growth path. Transnet restructuring is key to this plan. Unions do not oppose the restructuring but say it is being done without their involvement.

Talks between unions and Transnet management ended in deadlock yesterday. Further talks are however scheduled for Thursday. Until then, the strike continues with the possibility of a national strike on March 6 if the dispute remains unresolved.


   South Africa dominate ISA Aloha Cup for easy victory

Zigzag Surfing Magazine

In a command performance South Africa's Under 23 surfing team thrashed the opposition in the ISA Aloha Cup at Witsands in the Cape Peninsula Sunday (January 29) scoring 81 points to Great Britain's 45 and Namibia's 36 points.

The South African team comprised Stacey Guy, who was the team captain, Nicole Annells, Laetitia Lee, Matthew Kruger, brothers Ryan and Shaun Payne, Granville West,Lungani Memani, Josh Salie,Dylan Stone and Raoul Erasmus and the team was coached by Ant Brodowicz and Mikhail Thompson with Pax Nydoo the team Manager.

Completed in perfect weather and In surf that ranged from 2 to 4 foot over the two days of competition, the event, which was sponsored by the National Lottery Board, was pronounced a success by contestants and event officials alike.

The ISA Aloha Cup is an initiative of the International Surfing Association and uses a unique team format which sees the results of the heats and the Tag team contest all contributing to the final team scores.

Each Aloha Cup can be completed in three to five hours depending on how many teams take part and the format is designed to provide international competition to ISA nations in the time between the Quiksilver ISA World Junior championships and the biennial Quiksilver ISA World Games.

In the Longboard International which was held at the same time and at the same venue as the Aloha Cup team honours went the way of the South African team who beat their counterparts from Great Britain.

Outstanding local longboarder Matthew Moir was a dominant Open Men's champion and a stoked Dylan Mc Cleod was his runner up. Michael Grendon came third and Thomas Kleynhans was fourth in the all South African final.
Justin Bing beat Ashwyn Roberts into second and Kwezi Quika outpointed British representative Jo Howell to take third in the Junior final while South Africa's top Women longboarder Simone Robb beat team mates Michelle Hill and Tara Hossack into third and fourth place respectively.
Candice O'Donnell of Great Britain, who was bumped off her surfboard by an inquisitive pod of dolphins during the Final, came fourth.

The Veterans division was a close affair and in the end only one point separated champion Andrew Lenton and his South African team mate Donald Paarman. Hans Kamhoot was third and Adrian Howell of Great Britain took fourth place.

The ISA ALoha Cup was hosted by Surfing South Africa which is recognized by the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) as the governing body for the sport in South Africa.
The International Surfing Association (ISA), the World's governing body for surfing sanctioned the event and teams from the host country, Great Britain and Namibia participated in the event which was sponsored by the National Lottery Board.
Western Province Surfing hosted the Aloha Cup and the SA Longboarding Association coordinated the Longboard International


   March 1 declared a public holiday

March 1, the day of the local government elections, has been declared a public holiday, the department of home affairs said today.

Nkosana Sibuyi, the department's spokesperson, says the declaration will enable voters to exercise their democratic right to vote as enshrined in the Constitution. - Sapa


   KZN rail commuters brace themselves for strike

Rail commuters in KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State will be affected tomorrow, with the announcement that about 85 000 Transnet workers go on strike. The parastatal wants to dispose of its non-core assets, including Metrorail and SA Airways.

Four trade unions accuse management of not consulting them about the process. Metrorail says train services in the Durban region will be reduced during morning and afternoon peak hours. Thandi Mlangeni, Metrorail's spokesperson, has confirmed that they will offer a bus service for season ticket holders.

John Dludlu, Transnet's spokesperson, said that SA Airways would not be affected by the strike. The Eastern, Northern and Western Cape workers are expected go on strike on February 13 and February 14.


   Bird watchers flock to annual birding weekend

Bird watching enthusiasts from all over South Africa flocked to the Kruger National Park (KNP) to take part in the Honorary Rangers' annual birding weekend. The event was spread all over the park.

The KNP boasts a wealth of animal and birdlife and this was an opportunity not to be missed. More than 500 bird fanatics flocked to various camps in the park, armed with their binoculars.

The event kicked off with night drives, in search of nocturnal birds. Apart from Dikkops, a Whitebacked Night Heron and a few owls, the Skukuza team saw mostly scrub hares and some of the big five. But their efforts paid off at dawn when the veld came to life. The park has over 500 bird species, and each team was well prepared.

Some identified up to a 180 birds. Teams further north were fortunate to have experts on board giving them priceless information. Gerhard Verdoorn, a co-organisor, says there are unique sightings, and encourages bird watching in towns and cities.

The eighth Kruger Birding Event proved to be a great success, thoroughly enjoyed by novice and regular bird watchers alike.


   Email romance turns into Russian virus

From IOL:

Kashiefa Ajam
January 28 2006

Durban attorney Michael Sellick has come to the rueful conclusion that there is no fool like an old fool after he lost his heart - and R20 000 - to a young Russian beauty on the Internet.

It all started when Sellick started playing around on the Internet last June. He visited dating websites frequently and on one of them he met Nadezhda and dozens of other stunning Russian girls.

"Nadezhda and I started chatting in October. She was young and attractive and seemed naively uncomplicated and appreciative of my sympathy and possible assistance to find a better lifestyle.

She showed compassion, homeliness and a love of a South African type of lifestyle. Our age gap didn't bother her either."

Well aware of the scams... but to him Nadezhda seemed different
Sellick admits he was well aware of the scams by Russian girls on the Internet who promise to visit men in their home countries and then scam them out of thousands of rands.

But to him, Nadezhda seemed different.

"She didn't ask for much and did not grab at baits dangled before her. Her story was a down-to-earth day-to-day lifestyle with no apparent embellishments added to seduce me into superseding my own set of rules and boundaries.

But this is exactly what I ended up doing; I was also influenced by the opinions of colleagues and associates who had followed the many email contacts with her."

He was so entranced by her that he not only sent her money for a plane ticket to SA, but also gave her extra money to spend two days in Paris before she landed here.

It was wishful thinking, he realises now, but if things had worked out and Nadezhda had arrived in the country on Thursday, Sellick would have done everything he could to make her as comfortable as possible.

"To turn what I call her drab lifestyle into a fairy-tale experience - giving me a great deal of pleasure - I would have given her the option of moving in with me or having her own cottage for as long as she wished.

"I would have provided her either with the most fabulous holiday of her life or with a home she could call her own to experience a different quality of life with me or with anyone else she might meet here."

Sellick realised something was amiss when Nadezhda failed to email him last week after he had sent her the money.

"I thought she would have been so excited I would have received an immediate email from her. But I received nothing and when I checked the flight schedules on Monday it was confirmed she was not booked on any of the flights she was supposed to have been on."

Just a few days ago, a weekend newspaper reported on how excited Sellick had been about the arrival of his Russian friend. He had told the newspaper he was confident Nadezhda was not a conwoman.

"Not all of them are criminals. Some of them live in really terrible circumstances. I know I am going to make one girl's fairy-tale come true," he told the paper.

Sellick received some unexpected responses from family and friends after the story was published.

"My family was quite embarrassed. But I received unbelievable reactions from male colleagues and associates - from High Court judges to fellow sportsmen who wanted to know more and some who offered to take my place in many forms and ways.

"Some of my other Internet girlfriends, however, are indignant and are giving me the cold shoulder," he said.

After being jilted and losing nearly R20 000, Sellick now plans to probe these types of scams further.

"I believe this is hurting many innocent people from here and elsewhere in the world.

"I would like to know what the government plans to do about it, to perhaps ask these foreign governments to investigate . . . I would also like to see if our police force has any plans to take some steps in this regard," he said.

Hook, line and sinker

Michael Sellick explains how easy it is for lonely men to be scammed by these Russians beauties. He said the girls do not work alone and are controlled by "pimps". This is how the syndicates operate:

The girls enter internet chatrooms and make friends with any man who is interested. Each girl has a profile, usually with a picture of herself attached.

She tells the man a story about her miserable life in Russia to make him feel sorry for her. And once she has him hooked, she maintains contact, taking a keen interest in his life.

These men ask the girls whether they would like to visit them in their home countries. The girl says she is over the moon, but could never afford the trip.

These people are obviously professionals, says Sellick, as they never come across as being too eager or greedy. They will decline many offers by the men until they feel that the men trust them - this is when the men get reeled in.

Sellick's Russian friend, Nadezhda, suggested a "reputable" travel agent to arrange the plane ticket to SA. This agency is where the pimps allegedly operate.

They booked the flight and told him to deposit the money in a New York bank account. He checked the account and it proved to be legitimate. They even sent him a confirmation slip.

But after the money had been moved, he never heard from her again. "It's very clever," he says.


   Green light for go

January 27 2006 at 07:24AM

Not even the wet weather predicted for this weekend is expected to put a damper on the A1 Grand Prix, which gets under way in Durban with testing on Friday. The race will result in a cash injection of R350-million into Durban and KwaZulu-Natal.

Several local and international motor sport experts have hailed the 3,2km Durban street circuit as better than the renowned Monaco circuit. The event has attracted the attention of VIPs including the founder of the series, Sheik Maktoum bin Hasher bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson and former Formula One champion Alan Jones.

eThekwini City Manager Mike Sutcliffe said there was probably about R100-million in direct spending, another R100-million to be spent by people on merchandising, flights and television crews, and about R150-million in marketing.

Durban was "certainly South Africa's major sporting city".

'We want to develop Durban into a sports destination'
"We want to develop Durban into a sports destination. A1 is part of our bigger eventing strategy to make sure we have a whole spectrum of sport, where you can also go on holiday while enjoying the sporting events," he said. eThekwini Mayor Obed Mlaba said the A1 would open up more opportunities for the city to benefit from sports tourism. "I must thank the people of Durban for being tolerant during this time. I know there have been inconveniences, but I believe the people know about seeing the bigger picture," he said.

Tourism KZN spokesperson Phindile Makwakwa said the race would result in a massive economic boost to Durban, in particular, and the province as a whole. The crowds pulled into Durban by the event would benefit tourism in the province.

"Our research has shown us that the economic boost of the A1 on the economy just over the three-day period from January 27 to January 29 is R110-million.

"This is based on the number of people who have arrived in Durban for this event. We are expecting 100 000 visitors as a result of this event - 55 percent local people, 40 percent from out of town and five percent representing international interests," she said. Experts have said that the Durban track would, under normal circumstances, have taken 12 months to build and they praised the city for accomplishing the task in three months. The 50 V8-powered Lola cars used in the A1 series arrived in Durban last week, increasing the hype around the event.

A1 GP General Manger Steven Watson said the organisers had hired three Boeing 747s to transport the vehicles around the world. All drivers competed on an equal footing, unlike other motor sport events, where a team's wealth can determine its success. Experts said the expected wet weather posed no safety concerns for the event. A1 Team Switzerland Principal Max Welti said a computer simulation done by his team had calculated that the cars would only lose about 30km/h in speed if it rained because of the reduced grip and slippery conditions.

Local motoring expert Wally Cracknell said he did not see the need for concern because the teams had the expertise. "They will ride on water slicks if it rains, and also their tyre technology is very advanced," he said. Despite a threat by firemen to not provide their services at the track because of a dispute over their allowances, three tenders - manned by about 21 firemen - were expected to be deployed at the track over the weekend.


   Drugs in SA: Know the facts

With drug use on the increase in South Africa, more and more teenagers are developing drug problems. There has been a 190% increase in the use of narcotics over the past three years. With South African high school students spending millions on drugs every year, parental ignorance could be the final nail in a childs' coffin.


• A stimulant, called chat, tschat and miraa.
• Chewed in moderation.

• Alleviates fatigue & reduces appetite.
• May cause manic behaviour & delusions of grandeur or paranoia, sometimes accompanied by hallucinations.


• Crystal Meth sold in drinking straws.
• Snorted, injected or swallowed, but most commonly placed in an ordinary lightbulb, heated and smoked.

• An immediate, extremely pleasurable rush or "flush" lasting a few seconds, followed by a high lasting several hours.
• Users stay awake for hours, even days. R40-R60 / straw


E, swallows, white doves, yellow callies, X, XTC, love doves.

Developed in 1914 in Germany by Merck as an appetite suppressant.

• A state of euphoria and exhilaration lasting two to four hours.

• Usually small,white pills, but brown and yellow varieties also exist.

Ecstacy has become widely used among young people in SA. It became part of the rave culture in the UK and spread to South Africa in the 1980s. R60 / tablet

Cocaine / Crack

Coke, crack, dust, snow.

Available over the counter at Harrods until 1916.

• A general sense of euphoria and excitement.
• A very intense "rush" reaching a climax after 15-20 minutes.
• Can increase confidence, give a feeling of strength and suppress appetite.

• A bitter white powder.
• Crack is a crystalized form of cocaine.

Cocaine and crack use in SA over the last decade has increased. Crack and cocaine have become drugs of choice amongst the high-income upper middle and upper classes. R250 - R350 / gram


• Enters blood stream via the stomach within 5 minutes of consumption.
• Feelings of relaxation and reduced social inhibitions after 3 drinks.
• Slurred speech and clumsiness after 8 drinks.
• Double vision, nausea, loss of balance and vomiting.
• Further drinking may cause unconsciousness and memory loss.

A nervous system depressant.

South Africans consume over 5 billion litres of alcoholic beverages per year.


Grass, boom, joint, zol, dope, skyf, weed, hash, majat, poison, peperskyf, ganja.

• Mild euphoria, occasional hallucinations, increased perception, short-term memory loss, giggling, possible anxiety and occasionally paranoia.
• A high lasts from 15 minutes to several hours.
• Physical effects include thirst and hunger, increased heart and pulse rate, a dry mouth and red eyes.

• Similar to tobacco.
• Consists of dry cannabis sativa plant leaves.
• Either smoked or ingested.

In SA, dagga gets sold in small plastic bank bags, generally known as "bankies". Around R2 / joint


Smack, junk, Thai White

The Bayer Company started the production of heroin in 1898 on a commercial scale.

• Depresses the central nervous system.
• Makes people feel intensely relaxed, warm and contented.

• Pure heroin is a white powder with a bitter taste.
• May vary from white to dark brown because of impurities.

Mostly sold in clubs and on the streets in SA. Heroin can be injected under the skin or directly into the vein called "mainlining". R180 / gram


Buttons, whites, mandies

Mandrax was initially marketed as a sedative by pharmaceutical giant Roussell Laboratories.

• Depresses the central nervous system and classed as a sedative-hypnotic drug.
• Users feel relaxed, calm and peaceful.

• Grey or yellow, slightly freckled with soft crumbly texture.
• Swallowed or injected, but usually smoked.

Cape Town is reportedly seen as the Mandrax capital of the world. R20 - R45 / tablet

A parent's watch list

• Increase in borrowing money.
• Negative changes in schoolwork
• Declining school marks.
• Changes in friends.
• Missing prescription drugs.
• New use of incense or room deodorants.
• Possession of eye drops.
• New use of mouthwash or breath-mints.


• Narcotics Anonymous: 088 1300 327

• Childline/Lifeline: Toll free: 0800 55 555

• Nar-Anon: Helpline: 088 1296791

• South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence: 021 945 4080


   Circus Circus was simply a joke ...

January 19, 2006

By Sally Scott

Circus Circus at Musgrave is a popular and busy eatery, the service is generally fast and friendly and the food is also usually up to par.

But not so last Saturday - sometimes I think restaurants get to the point where everything seems to run like clockwork and staff start relaxing too much - that's when wheels come off. Just small points, but worth mentioning.

We ordered calamari and rice and the rice was of the "made yesterday and stored overnight" variety. Hard, tepid and tasteless.

The butternut soup was also tepid and the Portuguese roll stale.

There was a time when a manager would tour the tables and ask if everything was "Okay" - no-one seemed interested, even when I wrote our complaints on the till slip!

And we were seated right next to three men in Circus Circus shirts chatting away at another table.

As they say you are only as good your last satisfied diner.

A spokesperson for the restaurant said he was appalled at what had happened as Circus Circus always strives for excellence.


   African blitz on 'flying coffins' - BBC NEWS

Africa accounts for more than a quarter of the world's air crashes African countries and airlines running unsafe planes face a crackdown from the African Civil Aviation Commission.

AFCAC president Tshepo Pheege said it would name and shame airlines operating what he called 'flying coffins'.

Nearly 400 people died last year in air accidents in Africa, which has a crash rate six times the world average.

At the same time, Nigeria has grounded a third domestic airline. Nigeria's president launched a task force on air safety after two major crashes in 2005.

'One of the most important things in choosing an airline is how safe it is,' said Mr Pheege. 'You don't want to fly out as a passenger and come back as cargo.'

Africa accounts for only 4% of global air traffic but 27% of all air crashes.

The wing of a plane that crashed near Lagos, Nigeria.
More than 200 died in two accidents in Nigeria last year.

Last year, 15 air accidents were recorded in Africa.

AFCAC, a specialised agency of the African Union, will be following up on whether its recommendations are being adhered to.

Mr Pheege said lack of transparency among many African states had resulted in safety concerns being ignored.

Nigeria acts

On Monday, the Nigerian presidential task force created to improve aircraft safety grounded Executive Airline Services, the third Nigerian carrier to be targeted under new safety rules.

A spokesman for the company said the order related to administrative, rather than technical irregularities, and flights would soon resume.

More than 200 people were killed in two air disasters in Nigeria within a month last year.

Two airlines which had been ordered to stop flying have since had the restriction lifted.

These include Sosoliso, the owner of a plane which crashed in Port Harcourt in December, killing 117 people.

Aside from the Nigerian accidents, the biggest culprits in 2005 were Russian-built planes, Mr Pheege said.


   eThekwini decides it's time to recycle graves

Mbulelo Baloyi
January 14 2006

The eThekwini municipality's cemeteries and crematoria department will soon be actively implementing a grave-site recycling policy in an attempt to overcome the problem of a critical shortage of burial space.

However, the department concedes it could face fierce resistance to the idea, as recycling may not be readily acceptable to all communities.

The relatively short grave site lease period of 10 years, and the policy of multiple burials on top of each other, is also sure to create controversy.

A surge in HIV and Aids-related deaths, a scarcity of land and of suitable soil types for burials, had exacerbated the problem.

'Lately the average is 30 funerals on Saturdays alone'
So severe is the lack of space that the Redhill Cemetery, in Durban North, has reached saturation point and will have its last conventional burial today.

'Although it (the effect of HIV and Aids deaths) appears to be underestimated, it is really decimating our population. A mere six years ago we used to have four funerals on a Saturday at Redhill, but lately the average is 30 funerals on Saturdays alone,' said Thembinkosi Ngcobo, head of Parks, Leisure and Cemeteries in the eThekwini Municipality.

Recycling was started at Mobeni Heights and Stellawood cemeteries, but has stopped because of legal complications.

Last year someone saw council employees recycling a grave at Mobeni Heights and alerted police, who thought a criminal act was in progress.

"They thought the council employees were in cahoots with unscrupulous funeral undertakers, but when it was explained that the council was recycling the grave, the matter was resolved," said Ngcobo.

He said the council's legal services department had advised the cemeteries department to put a moratorium on grave recycling pending public notification of the affected graves.

"We will be advertising in the local press, inviting the relatives of people who could have been buried at either cemetery between certain years to come forward to re-apply for a 10-year lease, as the graves of their loved ones will be due for recycling.

"We had projected that the cemetery would reach saturation round about June this year, and honestly, we have been caught unawares that there is no more space at Redhill," said Ngcobo.

Established in 1910, the Redhill Cemetery has 35 000 graves and more than 50 000 people have been interred there.

Ngcobo said the only burials to take place at Redhill from now on would be in recycled graves or on the empty sites which had already been leased.

He said the department's 10-year single occupancy policy meant that a grave site could be leased for a period of 10 years at a cost of R460. After the lease period elapsed, the grave site was recycled if the lease had not been renewed.

During the recycling procedure the body is removed from the grave, a deeper hole is dug, and the body then replaced in the ground and covered.

"Another body is then buried on top. This practice is already favourable to a number of families who prefer to use one family grave for burial of more than one family member," said Ngcobo.

Of the 22 cemeteries administered by the municipality, only two have a projected lifespan of 10 years, while two others can be used only for the next six months to a year.

He said the new 40ha regional Etafuleni Cemetery near Inanda had started operating.

"Based on 1999/2000 statistics, to provide burial services, 12.1ha of land will be consumed in the eThekwini municipal area every year.

"This figure will definitely increase as the death rate increases with HIV/Aids."

Expert on Zulu culture Reggie Khumalo said recycling graves remained taboo among Zulus and Africans in general, simply because people attached respect to a grave as "a final resting in peace" for loved ones.

"It's also important to mention that among Zulus we tend to believe that our loved ones who have departed are still with us - hence the practice of speaking to the graves when important cultural rituals have to be performed," said Khumalo.

He said that people would find it difficult to speak to their departed loved ones if someone else completely unrelated to the family were in the same grave.


   King calls for Zulu history to be rewritten

Noloyiso Mchunu
January 17 2006

Zulu monarch King Goodwill Zwelithini has urged African academics not to withhold information gathered from research, but to rather use it to rewrite history books for the benefit of future generations.

The king was speaking at an event organised to commemorate the Battle of Isandlwana, between the British and the Zulu in 1879. Zulu historians and academics had gathered to discuss the history of Zulu kings and their role in past battles. He said the history now learnt at school was distorted and needed to be rewritten to highlight Zulu contributions.

Zwelithini urged the event organisers to take the day's discussions further by compiling a book to be launched in time to celebrate his birthday in July. 'I would be very pleased if all these presentations and other researched work on Zulu history could be collated and published by July,' he said.

Also at the event was ANC Deputy President Jacob Zuma, who said the role of kings and other traditional leaders in the liberation struggle should not be taken for granted.

'Our liberation struggle was just a continuation of the role played by our kings before us,' he said.

Zuma said colonialism had stripped South Africans of their pride and dignity, adding that the education acquired in schools should be complemented with indigenous knowledge passed on from generation to generation.


   Seeking a new heart

Desperately sick teenager John Garavarian gets a lump in his throat every time the telephone rings.

'I think that perhaps that's the call I'm waiting for. Perhaps someone's ringing to tell me doctors have found a new heart for me,' said 18-year-old Garavarian, of Umbilo, Durban.

Born with congenital heart disease, he had to have his first life-saving operation at just four months old - and has now been waiting for a heart transplant for three years.

He is getting worse as time goes on and his kidneys are now 'packing up', he said on Monday.

He can only walk six paces at once
He also has an enlarged liver and has to use oxygen for two hours a day to prevent his fingers and toes turning blue.

And he can only manage to walk six paces at any one time.

His father, Anthony, was also in urgent need of a transplant, but sadly, after an eight-year wait, he died before getting a call that would save his life.

Garavarian senior, would have been 53 today, and despite his condition, which was never far from his family's minds, his death came as such a blow to the family that his son had to be admitted to Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital with shock.

Garavarian senior, had been working part-time as a driver, and his wife, Roberta, had spoken to him on his cellphone just minutes before getting the message from his boss that her husband had dropped dead.

His dream may soon become a reality
"We were shocked because John is far worse than his dad was. John's heart is only pumping at nine percent, while his dad's was at 38 percent."

Because the family have no medical aid, Garavarian will have to travel to Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town for a transplant.

Now, however, his dream of a new lease on life may soon become a reality.

Although there is no definite date yet, he is finally going to travel to Cape Town.

While the initial trip will not be to get a heart transplant, he will be making the journey so that doctors can carry out essential tests ahead of a transplant. A transplant will depend on getting the right donor heart.

"The tests should take about two weeks," said Garavarian's mother, who now has the support of her fiancé, Victor Dwyer, who helps care for the patient.

"John will visit the specialist late next week to get more details about Cape Town," she explained.

How did Garavarian feel about going to Cape Town and the possibility of being in line for a transplant?

"In a way, a little bit scared," said the teenager, who is still grieving for his father.

"I think about my dad every day," he confided.

Two years ago, when the family faced their dreadful double predicament with both father and son in need of a transplant, they launched a fund-raising drive to foot the bill for their various costs should they ever get to Cape Town.

The family's pastor, Rev Lawrence Smith of Umbilo Methodist Church, opened an account for the appeal, with one donor even offering to pay the family's return air fares to Cape Town.

"However, we had to ask for some of the money to pay for my husband's funeral," said his widow.

  • The "John's Heart Fund" account (No 62070740959) is at the First National Bank in Davenport (code No 220226) and is open for donations.


       Happy days for parents as kids go to school

    By Sharlene Packree and Rivonia Naidu

    With the new school term just around the corner, parents can rest assured that they will not have to fork out huge amounts for new school uniforms.

    For those parents who are cash-strapped, retailers have assured them that prices had not increased significantly from previous years.

    Durban area manager for Pep stores Keith Baxter said that because of the exchange rate, prices of school uniforms had not risen.

    'We have managed to lower some of our prices'
    'As a result of the rand's stability, manufacturers have managed to keep their prices the same and, like in the case of Pep, we have managed to lower some of our prices,' said Baxter.

    He said prices also remained relatively similar because of huge competition between major retail stores. So where can parents go shopping for affordable quality schoolwear?

    The Daily News visited various retail stores and compared prices of standard school uniforms.

    The lowest cost for a basic uniform for a boy entering Grade One will cost around R172, while a girl's uniform will set you back R156.

    The starting price for a plain white school shirt is R14,95, while a white dress will cost R34,95.

    Of the four stores surveyed, Pep proved to be the most reasonable, followed closely by Ackermans, Edgars and then Woolworths.

    However, Woolworths and Edgars have special teflon coating on their garments.

    Teflon is a coating on fabric which prevents stains and prevents the garment from creasing easily. For a grade one pupil, a plain V-neck pullover jersey from Pep Stores will cost R29,95.

    It is important to note that all prices increase with size. Parents are spoilt for choice when it comes to socks, with anklets, knee-highs and bobby socks to choose from. These range from R6,99 to R35.

    If you have a son, be prepared to fork out R14,95 for shorts.

    Idris Pandor, manager of Gem Schoolwear, a leading school uniform retailer, said that uniform prices had not gone up "drastically".

    "When you compare the prices of uniforms from a few years back to today, you'll find that prices were relatively the same," he said.


       KZN varsity's announce new fees

    Parents will have to dig deeper into their pockets to further their children's education because KwaZulu-Natal's tertiary institutions have increased their tuition fees by between 4,7 percent and 6,5 percent for the upcoming academic year.

    The percentage increase for the Durban Institute of Technology tuition fee is 4,7 percent for 2006, followed by the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), which has a 6,5 percent increase for new students and 5,5 percent for senior students.

    The University of Zululand (Unizul) has increased its fees five percent.

    Durban Institute of Technology (DIT) Vice-Chancellor Professor Bonganjalo Goba said the institution was expecting a bumper number of applicants in 2006.

    'In keeping with our vision and mission statement of serving the needs of developing societies within a global context, we have not increased residence fees.

    'DIT has increased tuition fees 4,7 percent; this is based on a rounded CPIX figure.'

    However, Goba said the registration payment would remain at R2 000. The registration process will begin on January 16.

    'Our registration team has been gearing up for this very busy season. We expect to enroll 20 000 students on all campuses, with a new intake of approximately 7 500 students,' he said.

    He said students could apply for loans, bursaries or national financial aid if they were unable to afford fees.

    "Students who have achieved excellent passes in matric (70 percent - 80 percent) receive a remission of fees of between 75 percent and 100 percent".

    "Returning students who have performed well in the previous year of study also receive a fee remission of between 50 percent and 100 percent, subject to certain conditions," Goba said.

    UKZN's Executive Dean of Students Trevor Wills said the institution's fees would be increased, but that there was no set figure for all the students as they would be enrolling for different courses.

    "There will be a 5,5 percent rise in senior students' fees and a 6,5 percent increase for new students," he said. He said fees for modules would also increase.

    Wills said the registration fee would be R4 000. He said UKZN was ready for the start of the new academic year.

    "We are very confident about this year, but we are also expecting it to be difficult, with the merger having just taken place and with funding in short supply," he said.

    Unizulu's Public Affairs manager Carl de Villiers said registration at the university was expected to start this week.

    "Students who owe money from last year will not be allowed to register until they had settled their debts," said De Villiers.


       Beware forged matric certificates

    More matriculants are altering or forging matric certificates to gain jobs or university entrance, qualifications verification company Kroll MIE said on Monday.

    Around 14 percent of all queries that were submitted proved to be 'problematic', said Kroll MIE chief executive Ina van der Merwe.

    'The fact that the matric pass rate has declined for the second year in succession - to 68,3 percent - may be a contributing factor.'

    She said of the nearly 350 000 who passed matric, only 17 percent qualified for university entrance, which may explain the increasing number of forged certificates submitted to academic institutions.

    Kroll MIE's records showed that some students tampered with their certificates - by giving themselves passing grades in subjects they failed, adding fictitious subjects such as science and mathematics to their certificates, or by forging their matric certificates altogether.

    Also noted were candidates who upped their symbols to qualify for a specific university programme.

    Low matric pass rates, increased unemployment in the formal job sector and under-qualification for specific university programmes were some of the reasons that certificates were tampered with, Van der Merwe said.

    'It is common knowledge that subjects such as science, mathematics and accounting are in high demand and it is these subjects that are most often added or changed by job seekers."

    Several academic institutions verified matric certificates and had adopted a "zero tolerance" stance on those found with tampered certificates, she said. - Sapa


       SA 'mercenary' case in High Court

    Eight men appeared briefly in the Pretoria High Court in South Africa on Monday, in connection with an alleged coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea.

    They face charges of breaking South African anti-mercenary laws. The court set 31 July as the date for their trial to begin.

    The men were among 61 South Africans who were arrested when their aircraft landed in Zimbabwe in 2004.

    They served a year in jail for breaking Zimbabwe's aviation and firearms laws.

    No charges are being laid against the other 53 men.

    Also last year, Sir Mark Thatcher - son of former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher - fell foul of South Africa's anti-mercenary laws in relation to the alleged coup plot and was given a suspended jail term and fined after agreeing a plea bargain to help investigators.

    The alleged ringleader of the plot, Briton Simon Mann, and the two pilots of the plane, remain in prison in Zimbabwe on longer sentences.

    In Equatorial Guinea, 14 other people were found guilty of charges linked to the alleged coup attempt, including plot leader Nick du Toit who received a 34-year jail sentence.


       African first for Liberian leader

    Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has been sworn in as Liberia's president, making her Africa's first elected female leader.

    Loud cheers greeted her inauguration, with US First Lady Laura Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice among those at the ceremony.

    Mrs Johnson-Sirleaf says her top challenge is to maintain peace, law and order after 14 years of civil war.

    UN peacekeepers and Liberian police have maintained tight security around the capital, Monrovia.

    About 500 UN troops have been redeployed to the area, with more police officers on the capital's streets.

    Public vehicles have been banned from Monrovia's streets for the day.

    Two US Navy warships are stationed off Liberia's coast, in a show of support for Mrs Johnson-Sirleaf's presidency.

    "I am excited by the potential of what I represent - the aspirations and expectations of women in Liberia, African women and women all over the world"
    Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

    The BBC's Elizabeth Blunt in Monrovia says that after all the years of war, there was no public building in a good enough state to host the ceremony.

    The guests gathered in the grounds of the Capital Building and sat on white plastic chairs with coconut matting to protect them from the sun and the rain. They will then walk over the road to the stained and gloomy Executive Mansion for a reception, our correspondent says.

    She says Ms Rice got an especially warm welcome in a country founded in 1847 by freed American slaves.

    Other guests include Presidents Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, John Kufuor of Ghana, Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast and the Chinese foreign minister.

    Thousands of volunteers have been repainting buildings, bridges and road signs and clearing rubbish from Monrovia's streets in readiness.

    Huge challenges

    Mrs Johnson-Sirleaf Liberia becomes Liberia's first elected head of state since the end of the war in 2003.

    The 67-year-old grandmother won 59% of the vote in November's run-off election, beating Liberian football star George Weah.

    Speaking at the ceremony, she called for a moment of silent prayer to remember the thousands of people who died during the war.

    "I pledge to live up to your expectations," she said.

    A former World Bank economist and veteran politician, Mrs Johnson-Sirleaf is nicknamed the Iron Lady but has promised to show a new, softer side as president.

    The challenges which lie ahead as she begins her six-year term are great.

    After a quarter of a century of war and misrule, Liberia's road network is in ruins, there is no national telephone network, no national electricity grid and no piped water.

    Mrs Johnson-Sirleaf also pledged to fight widespread corruption.

    She said that leading civil servants and ministers would have to declare their assests.

    "I will lead by example - I will be the first to comply."

    A further challenge is to reintegrate the 100,000 ex-combatants, including many former child soldiers, into civilian life.


       Mental health link to diet change

    Changes to diets over the last 50 years may be playing a key role in the rise of mental illness, a study says.

    Food campaigners Sustain and the Mental Health Foundation say the way food is now produced has altered the balance of key nutrients people consume.

    The period has also seen the UK population eating less fresh food and more saturated fats and sugars.

    They say this is leading to depression and memory problems, but food experts say the research is not conclusive.

    Dr Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, said: "We are well aware of the effect of diet upon our physical health.

    "But we are only just beginning to understand how the brain as an organ is influenced by the nutrients it derives from the foods we eat and how diets have an impact on our mental health."

    And he added that addressing mental health problems with changes in diet was showing better results in some cases than using drugs or counselling.

    The report, Feeding Minds, pointed out the delicate balance of minerals, vitamins and essential fats consumed had changed in the past five decades.

    • Depression - Linked to low intakes of fish - high in omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for good brain health
    • Schizophrenia - Epidemiological evidence has shown sufferers have lower levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, unclear though what changes need to address this
    • Alzheimer's disease - Some studies have suggested high vegetable consumption can protect against the brain disorderADHD - Research shown children with disorder are low in iron and fatty acids
    Researchers said the proliferation of industrialised farming had introduced pesticides and altered the body fat composition of animals due to the diet they are now fed.

    For example, the report said chickens reach their slaughter weight twice as fast as they did 30 years ago, increasing the fat content from 2% to 22%.

    The diet has also altered the balance of vital fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 in chickens which the brain needs to ensure it functions properly.


    In contrast, saturated fats, consumption of which has been increasing with the boom in ready meals, act to slow down the brain's working process.

    The report said people were eating 34% less vegetables and two-thirds less fish - the main source of omega-3 fatty acids - than they were 50 years ago.

    Such changes, the study said, could be linked to depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Alzheimer's disease.

    The two groups urged people to adopt healthier diets, with more fresh vegetables, fruit and fish, and called on the government to raise awareness about the issue.

    Report researcher Courtney Van de Weyer said: "The good news is that the diet for a healthy mind is the same as the diet for a healthy body.

    "The bad news is that, unless there is a radical overhaul of food and farming policies there won't be healthy and nutritious foods available in the future for people to eat."

    Rebecca Foster, a nutrition scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation, said: "The evidence associating mental health and nutrient intake is in its infancy, this is a very difficult association to research and in many cases results are subjective.

    "Therefore, it is difficult to draw conclusions about the association between mental illness and dietary intake at this point.

    "However, the nutrient recommendations outlined in this report are in line with recommendations for good health, which should continue to be advocated by all health professionals."



    Welcome to the new look Westville Online. We decided to do away with the blue and yellow as it was quite hectic on the eyes. Please be patient while we update all the pages. This could take a couple of days.

    We at Westville Online will try to bring you all the breaking news and happenings in the Westville area. In our directory listings you will find all of the businesses that operate in or offer services to Westville residents. If you offer a service or are a business in Westville and you are not listed on Westville Online, please follow this link so that we can include your information.

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    The team at Westville Online support the enviroment in our area and encourage Westville citizens to visit our own reserve, Palmeit Nature Reserve. Please visit the Reserve page for more information about the Palmiet Nature Reserve and visit their web site for up to date information. The Westville Conservancy are trying to make us aware of alian plants in our area and how they are destroying our natural flora and founa.

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    Our emergency number page will give you a list of numbers you may need in an emergency. We have a printable version so you can put it up somewhere near your phone. Westville online also offers a section on schools, where they are and how to get in contact with them, as well as a dedicated page for Westville libraries.

    Have something to sell, or looking for a bargain, then visit our free classifieds section. You'll be amazed at what you can find there.

    Westville Online supports crime prevention, and we have linked to WESTBEAT of Westville and Crimewatch from East Coast Radio. Crime prevention is in our hands, don't let it slip through our fingers.

    Supporting businesses in Westville is our number one priority. But then, service is very important and we feel that it should be commented on. If you have good service, let Westville know by telling them on Westville Online, and if you have bad service, let us know. We will contact the offending bussiness for comment and then will publish both the complaint and the reply on our Service page. In the trend of encouriging foriegn tourists to our community, we need to look after our own first, before we can think of looking after the visitors. Let us set a trend in South Africa, and the world, to have the most service orientated community. It is up to us to ensure that not only the local, but also the visitor, comes back bringing their freinds and family too.

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