Durban affected by quakes

Following yesterday’s earthquake, Durban disaster management have confirmed they received call outs from three locations along the city's coastline, after last night's tremor that had it's epi-centre Southwest of Beira in Mozambique.

Melcome Canham, the spokesperson for disaster management, says they received calls from Umhlanga Rocks City Lodge, The Palace hotel on the Marine Parade and Ben Corrum complex towards the esplanade. Canham says fire and emergency services were dispatched while hotel guests and residents in the buildings were evacuated onto the streets. He says the department investigated the buildings' structural stability before allowing people back in.

Mozambican aftermath
The Mozambican government has since met in emergency session in the aftermath of the quake that struck the country last night. The epicenter of the 'quake, which measured 7.5 on the Richter Scale, was located in a sparsely populated part of Manica province, southwest of the coastal city of Beira.

Mozambique's Institute of Disaster Management has sent out teams to the remote areas of Mozambique's to determine the extent of the earthquake that struck the country last night.

At least two people have died and 13 were injured, a state official said.


   Huge entry for Billabong SA Junior Series at St Mikes

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 17 February, 2006 : - - A huge entry of more than 160 of the country’s best junior surfers have entered the first Billabong Junior Series event 2006 at St Michaels-on-Sea on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast next from Thursday to Sunday next week, 23-26 February.

Celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, the popularity of the five-event series of surf contests for boys and girls aged 20 and younger that has done so much to groom the current crop of world-beating SA surfers has forced organisers to increase the duration of each event to four days.

And as an additional bonus, the event will see the South African premiere of the inspirational Passion Pop surf movie. Starring the entire Billabong surf team performing cutting edge manoeuvres in exotic locations around the globe, Passion Pop opens with sequences of SA’s own superstar Jordy Smith. Details of the premiere to be announced shortly.

The premier U20 boys division will showcase SA’s next generation of international surf stars and has attracted a full-house of 64 competitors led by the reigning series and Pro Surf Tour (PST) Pro Junior champion Brandon Jackson (Durban North), namesake Brandon Roberts (Sun Valley, CT), Josch Schmeltzer (Westville, KZN) and Keegan Nel (East London), all of whom earned invitations to the Billabong ASP World Junior Champs in Australia in January.

While this quartet are the top seeds for St Mikes, they’ll be hard-pressed by the likes of Dave Richards (Kommetjie) and Rory Beach (Queensburgh, KZN), who fly back from campaigning on the Australian Pro Junior circuit next week, and Durbanites Josh Redman and Rudy Palmboom Jnr (Bluff) who fill out the top eight on the rankings going into the event.

The Pro Junior (U20) girls division, where the series champ is also invited to the world championship event, will see another epic tussle between SA’s foremost 16 year-olds in Tarryn Chudleigh (Scarborough, CT) and Nikita Robb (East London). National junior teammates, Chudleigh was the country’s highest placed female surfer at the ISA World Junior Surfing Champs in California last year while Robb placed third in the ASP version in Australia in January and also won two other international Pro Junior events in 2005.

They are seeded to meet 12 year-old rising star Heidi Palmboom (Bluff, KZN) and Telana Flanagan (East London) in the final at St Mikes with KZN South Coast locals Nicole Annells (Warner Beach) and Danielle le Roux (Umdloti) and SA U14 champ Tanika Hoffman (Tokai, CT) ready to take advantage of any lapses in concentration by the seeds.

Chad du Toit (Durban) heads a highly competitive U16 boy’s field that includes Daniel Mace (Kommetjie) and South Coast stars Shawn Dennis (Scottburgh) and Blake Freeguard (Umdloti). However, the top four U14’s from last year have also moved up to this division in 2006 and epic confrontations are expected between the seeds and superstar in the making Shaun Joubert (Mossel Bay), Kommetjie’s Matt Bromley, SA U14 champ Brendon Gibbens (Bishopscourt) and Dale Staples (St Francis Bay).

Likewise the U14 boys division hosts a hot crop of last year’s U12’s with top seeds Beyrick de Vries (Umhlanga), Ryan Klynsmith (Winkelspruit) and Peter van der Merwe (Claremont, CT) having to fend off the challenge of Michael February (Kommetjie) and Dane Staples (St Francis Bay).

The youngest category – the U12 boys – provides another fascinating look at the emerging stars of SA surfing when the South Coast’s Josh Smit (Athlone Park) and Michael Venter (Warner Beach) face off with Capetonians Jarred Veldhuis (Sun Valley), Dominic Notten (St James) and Max Armstrong (Kommetjie).

A total of more than R200 000 in prize-money is at stake during the five events with the U20 boys share rising from R52 000 to R68 000. Each event includes the R1 800 winner-takes-all Von Zipper Airshow for the best aerial manoeuvre, the R1 000 Zigzag Blowing Up award for the best performance during the event and the newly introduced Best Kustomised Manoeuvre that rewards the most innovative manoeuvre by a local boy and girl with R500 and a pair of Kustom shoes.

The series champions are crowned after the fifth and final event at Jeffreys Bay in August. Each competitor’s best four results are accumulated and there is a total of R35 000 in the series prize pool shared by the top three in each division, half of which is provided by First National Bank (FNB) in the form of fixed deposit accounts.

The Billabong Junior Series is sanctioned by Surfing South Africa (SSA), the national controlling body for the sport. The U20 boys’ and girls’ divisions are also sanctioned by ASP Africa and the ratings points earned in all five events in the series count towards the crowning of the annual Pro Surf Tour (PST) Pro Junior titles.

The series is proudly supported by FNB, who along with their prize pool contribution also cover the travel costs of the four Pro Junior boys and top girl who qualify for the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships in Australia each January; Red Bull whose Wigwam and Energy Centre are highly appreciated by the competitors; Mentos sweets; Mrs Palmers surf wax and Blackfoot Productions who record, produce and flight the 30 minute television show on SuperSport covering each of the five events.

The 2006 Billabong Junior Series starts in St Mikes on the KZN South Coast (February 23-26) before moving to Durban (March 30-April 2), Cape Town (May 18-21), Victoria Bay in the Southern Cape (June 15-18) and wraps up in Jeffreys Bay (August 5-8) where the 10th annual series champions will be crowned.


   “A Touch of Broadway.....”

Westville Theatre Club proudly presents

“A Touch of Broadway.....”

Devised & directed by Devin Moller, who is making his directorial debut and assistant director and choreography by Andrea Zorab-Kaminski with musical direction by Heather Dix. Let us entertain you with song and dance from all the well-known, popular musicals that have been performed around the world. Join this talented cast of dancers and singers for an evening of fun, music and more......Show numbers include Fame, Aquarius and the popular Time Warp to name but a few.

SHOW DATES: 14 – 18 March
Ladies night 14th March, tickets R 45 per person which includes a platter of finger foods per table of 8 and lots of lucky draw prizes. BYO drinks and glasses.

16-18 March tickets R 35 per person, BYO drinks, snacks, glasses and ice.

SHOW TIMES: 7-7:30pm, the show will start promptly at 8pm.

SHOW VENUE: Westville Theatre Clubhouse, Attercliff Road (Next to Westville swimming Pool)

SHOW BOOKINGS: contact Jo Mole (031) 266 7410 or on 083 456 0104



Jane and Paul of Inter-Alia are performing every Wednesday at Tapas on the Hill (Fainting Goat, Botha's Hill) between 7pm and 11pm.


   Durban needs 'local, reliable' phone service

Hellkom is well-named, with a reputation to match.

The only thing more shocking than the pathetic levels of service (what do you expect, when it seems that Telkom fires 30 000 people in their profit chase?) is the 100% lack of respect for their clients.

In our road, the telephones go down almost every week - this in the heart of suburbia!

A couple of weeks ago Telkom staff were (for the second time in three months) digging up lines in the pavement and, according to the person doing the work, this time replacing optic fibre cables with copper wire! Is this actually what they do?

Take progressive steps backward, and not bother to inform clients that their service may be disrupted. What happens in case of a medical or other emergency?

I strongly urge our eThekwini Municipality to work hard and fast setting up its own "local loop" for both internet and voice access for all, as Knysna (and possibly our city) has begun doing. Knysna's stated objective is free local calls for all residents, and as one system works off the electricity network, and the other is wireless, the city would be able to bypass Hellkom completely, while dramatically improving the quality of life for all.

Roll on the day when we can relegate Telkom to the same dustbin to which we relegated apartheid.

Muna Lakhani


   Thousands turn out for Durban's swim event

By Sharlene Packree
A record 16 500 swimmers of all ages, sizes and colours participated in the annual Halfway Telkom Midmar Mile at the weekend.

People began entering the dam's grounds from the early hours of the morning to set up gazebos and prepare for the big race.

The race, which is one of the biggest in the world, attracts international swimmers.

Sunday's programme consisted mainly of individual age group races with everyone from a five-year-old to a 82-year-old swimming for that sought after medal.

St Mary's Diocesan School for Girls in Kloof, which is celebrating its centenary this year, bussed in more than 200 girls who participated in the competition.

Other schools that participated were Our Lady of Fatima Covent and Durban Girls' High schools.

Boys schools included Treverton College, Kearsney College and Michaelhouse.

The Iron Woman/Man, disabled swimmers, company relay and family relay events took place on Saturday, with thousands of spectators turning out to lend support to the swimmers.

Sabrina Govender, from East London, won a sliver medal in the girls' 13 years and under division in her first attempt at taking on the mighty mile.

The 10-year-old said she would train harder for next years' race and will try to beat the time she set yesterday.

"The race was very exciting but I want to do better next year. I will definitely be back for more," she said.

A few spectators had to be treated for bee stings. None of the cases was serious.


   KZN authorities to crack down on taxis

By Fiona Gounden
There are now two specialised police task forces tracking down the most wanted traffic offenders after investigations revealed that minibus taxis account for almost two thirds of all outstanding traffic charges.

After an article in The Independent on Saturday regarding a task team clamping down on motorcycle offences, there were claims that police were targeting bikers and ignoring taxi offenders.

The offences committed by motorists are a drop in the ocean compared with taxi offences, said Durban Metro Police spokesperson, Alex Wright.

'These unroadworthy taxis are killing our people'
The two task forces comprise members of the Metro Police and the provincial Road Traffic Inspectorate.

Reports released by the Durban Metro police revealed there were 481 623 traffic charges outstanding on the database as of February 8. Of these, 310 649, or 64,5 percent, relate to taxis/minibuses. The remaining 170 974 are those issued to owners of all other motor vehicles.

KwaZulu-Natal Transport, Security and Community Liaison MEC Bheki Cele has joined in the condemnation of irresponsible drivers, saying that taxis were responsible for too many deaths.

"These unroadworthy taxis are killing our people... We cannot just watch as our innocent commuters are killed in the hands of irresponsible taxi drivers and owners," he said.

Cele said the department would monitor progress on a regular basis to check if taxi offenders were being caught.

'A daily ongoing exercise'
RTI spokesperson Rajen Chinaboo said taxis and minibuses were the most wanted on their list. Chinaboo added that taxis overloaded with school children had also become a serious problem.

"We found a taxi loaded with 30 pupils and another loaded with 25 pupils in Durban. These are just some of our findings."

Metro police spokesperson Wright said priorities have been set in regards to taxi offences.

According to Wright, the most serious taxis offences are those of speeding and mechanical faults.

The specialised task team focusing on these offences has set out specific targets, said Wright. "If it means that we will have to stop every taxi in Durban then we will do it. Enforcement involving minibus drivers will become a daily ongoing exercise," Wight said.

RTI chief, John Schnell, said his department would take a tough stance on taxi offences.

"We are very strict when minibuses are used for public transport," he said, adding that taxis would undergo stringent tests at their RTI centres.

"There is no fine payable for operating an unroadworthy taxi. If it is found to be unroadworthy it is immediately suspended, the licence disc removed and the owner required to take it to the testing grounds for inspection. The impounded taxi will undergo examination at our testing centres."

National Prosecutions Authority spokesperson Makhosini Nkosi said a high number of warrants and summons were issued in Durban for taxi offences and they are expecting many more to be sent out in the next few months.


   Church youth as promiscuous

Cape Town - Anglican teenagers in the Western Cape are almost as sexually active as their peers outside the church, according to a survey reported in the latest issue of the South African Medical Journal.

The survey, in which 1 306 youngsters were questioned, was carried out by researchers from the Cape Town-based Fiklela Aids project and the University of Stellenbosch's theology department.

They said their findings implied that church-based youth did not behave significantly differently from their larger peer group.

A total of 31% of the Anglicans - aged 12 to 19 - were sexually active, compared with a figure of 38% reported for Western Cape youth in general by the SA Youth Risk Behaviour Survey.

The sexually active church-based youngsters appeared to have a higher rate of multiple partners ? 66% - than the 48% reported in the SAYB survey.

65% of the Anglican youngsters had not used a contraceptive during their first sexual encounter.

Only 33% of them believed that oral sex was actually sex, and 50% that anal sex was indeed sex.

The researchers said one way of improving church interventions was to have peer educators who were closer in age to the youth than at present and who could act as role models for change.

The church should also emphasise building of healthy relationships as a goal and not focus only on marriage.

Loss of virginity or even becoming pregnant should not lead to a permanent sense of failure or religious stigmatisation, but should be "reframed" as a lapse in sexual behaviour from which the person could learn and regain a "secondary virginity".


   'No need to panic over H5N1'

Recent occurrences of bird flu in Nigeria, although concerning, were no reason to panic in South Africa, said Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang on Friday.

"Yes, we have been really concerned about the issue," she said.

"Therefore the department of health... has been monitoring constantly global health developments in this area, and as such takes note of the recent confirmation of H5N1 influenza in domestic birds in Nigeria.

"The department wishes to emphasise that the recent development in Nigeria, although on our continent, should not be a cause for panic, as it poses no health risk to the South African population," she said.

Government was paying particular attention to the issue, and South Africa's animal health surveillance and monitoring system was recently commended by the world organisation of animal health, which declared the country free of avian flu.

To date, no case of bird flu caused by the H5N1 strain had been reported in South Africa.

Preparedness plan

The last time the H5N2 strain was detected was at ostrich farms in the Eastern Cape in August 2004, and had since been successfully contained.

However, the department would continue to strengthen its measures to reduce the opportunities for human exposure to infection by the virus.

A preparedness plan for managing any future pandemic was in place, said Tshabalala-Msimang.

Earlier on Friday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said: "The single most important public health priority at this stage is to warn people about the dangers of close contact with sick or dead birds infected with H5N1."

Spokesperson Maria Cheng said: "Experience in Asian countries and in Turkey underscores the fact that immediate, clear public information is critical to help protect human health. Slaughtering, de-feathering or butchering infected, sick or dead birds can put people at risk."

Cheng warned that the home slaughter and consumption of birds that appeared to be sick was dangerous. Those culling and disposing of birds should have protective equipment.

The WHO was ready to help all African countries take measures to reduce the risks of H5N1, Cheng added.


   Family caught in hijacking crossfire

By Miranda Andrew and Monica Laganparsad

'He said if I did not help him, they would come back and get me."

Nana Masuku, 34, did not know if he had a gun, and the blood from his gaping gunshot wound was on her balcony, her door and her arms.

Her four-year-old son was screaming at the sight of the blood and her 15-month-old baby girl was wide-eyed, trying to understand the scene being played out in front of her on Thursday afternoon.

'I just started screaming'
Less than five minutes later the man was dead, shot by police after he left her house. A police officer involved in the chase was critically injured.

The dead man and two accomplices had hijacked a Mitsubishi Pajero in Gale Street. Members of the police's search and rescue unit spotted the car on the N3 and gave chase.

Police spokesperson Rani John said: "During the pursuit on the highway, the suspects opened fire on the police who then returned fire."

The suspects stopped the vehicle along the highway near Bonella and two of them jumped out. The third suspect - believed to be the driver - remained in the hijacked vehicle and was immediately arrested.

The officers called for back-up and members of the National Intervention Unit and the Durban Central Motorcycle Unit responded.

'Deadly exchange took place between the two hijackers and police'
A chase on foot through numerous properties ensued with shots being fired in the neighbourhood adjacent the N3.

A housewife, who spoke on condition of anonymity, came out of her house to see what was happening.

Without realising it, she had opened her gate and one of the hijackers - who had been hiding on her property - ran out from behind her and fled up the road.

Tasnim Dada, 25, was at her Jubilee Road home with her 2-year-old son when she heard gunshots.

"I ran to my kitchen window to see what was happening. I saw two guys standing on top of my wall, one of whom was injured. The other had a gun. I just started screaming."

The two hijackers reached Bonella Road, with residents coming out of their houses telling police where the hijackers had headed. It was then that one of them entered Masuku's house.

"My door was open. We were sitting in the lounge when this bleeding man just ran in and closed the door behind him," said Masuka.

"He sat on the sofa and asked me to help him. He said he was shot and that the police were after him." Without thinking, she refused: "I don't know who you are and I will not help you," she recalled telling him.

She pushed him against the wall and told him to open the door. But he refused. It was then that he threatened her.

So she opened the back kitchen door for him. "He pulled out his cellphone and called someone and while talking, he ran out of the door and went to the front yard," said Masuku.

Moments later, she saw policemen walking at the top of the road and screamed at them. It was then that the deadly exchange took place between the two hijackers and police.

Constable Riaan Rust, 23, of the motorcycle unit was critically wounded when he was shot in the back of the head. The wounded hijacker, who had entered Masuku's house, was killed in the exchange of fire.

Rust was rushed to St Augustine's Hospital, where he was reported to be in a critical condition.

Dozens of police officers were waiting outside the hospital, hoping for the slightest bit of good news about their critically wounded colleague.

He was soon to be transferred to the special task force, Operation Greed - set up to counter the growing cash-in-transit heists - because of his exemplary record.

On Thursday evening, Captain Adele Sonnekus, his cousin who is based at the Durban North Detectives Unit, said Rust was a very sports oriented person who loved his job. She said the family was receiving a great deal of support from members of Rust's unit.

The Serious and Violent Crimes Unit are investigating attempted murder, hijacking. An inquest has been opened into the death of the hijacker.

The third hijacker remains on the loose.

  • And in another tragic hijacking on Thursday, a Durban man who had been delivering food parcels in a rural part of Hillcrest was mercilessly gunned down. Lyle Stevens, 27, was accosted by four armed suspects and thrown out of his vehicle.

    "They attempted to hijack him and during this time, Stevens was shot in the head," said Inspector Rani John, Durban South police spokesperson last night.

    Stevens was taken to a nearby hospital but later died.

    A case of murder and hijacking is being investigated by the Durban South Serious and Violent Crimes Unit.


       Chiefs brace for Sharks attack

    The threat of relegation from the Super 14 and possible financial ruin will spur the Sharks to beat the Chiefs tomorrow.

    The Chiefs are ready to meet a desperate Sharks team, playing for their professional futures, when they open their inaugural Super 14 rugby campaign in Durban tomorrow morning (NZ time).

    The Sharks finished last in the final Super 12 series last year, replacing their Waikato-born coach Kevin Putt with Dick Muir mid-season.

    But the Chiefs say that is irrelevant for tomorrow's match at Absa Stadium. The visitors' most capped starting forward in the match, 56-game veteran Marty Holah, points out all the South Africans have a lot to play for this season.

    "I think the Sharks are going to be desperate to get their season off to a good start, not only after what happened last year but also with the bottom South African team dropping out and being replaced by another next year," All Blacks open-side flanker Holah said from the Chiefs training base in Port Elizabeth yesterday just before they made a delayed flight to Durban.

    In a move that is being legally challenged by all five South African Super 14 franchises, the South African Rugby Union (Saru) has ruled that the lowest finisher of those franchises will automatically be relegated to make way for the "sixth" franchise –- the newly created Southern Spears –- whom Saru have guaranteed a two-year stay in the competition.

    The move is Saru's compromise solution to arguments over which South African team should be their new fifth entry in the expanded competition. The Central Cheetahs got the nod in the end, but the Spears were given the promotion promise.

    If the legal challenge fails then one of this year's sides will drop out and face potential financial ruin, leaving players' futures up in the air. Many South African pundits are picking the Sharks and the Cats to be the leading relegation contenders.

    "They are playing for their livelihoods," Holah said.

    Holah said the Sharks up front were typical of all the South African teams in terms of their size and physicality.

    "But where they do differ a little bit from the others is that they attack a bit more with their backs and they have more flair out wide generally."

    That puts the onus on the Chiefs' pack to be physical at scrum, lineout, kickoff and breakdown time to stop the big Sharks' pack providing a platform for their exciting young backline.

    Holah said the Chiefs had used the week in South Africa to settle in. They had acclimatised well to the time difference and hot conditions and trained particularly well in recent days.

    "I think everyone is really looking forward to (this first game) and there's a little bit of confidence among the guys that's not really been there in the past.

    "History has said we're not one of the better sides in the competition and that has always affected our confidence."

    However, the historic run to the semifinals two years ago and the fact they were not starting this season with the same horrific injury toll as last year – skipper Jono Gibbes and five-eighths David Hill excepted – meant they had plenty to feel good about.

    "We've probably come up with our strongest line-up on tour, except for Jono, for this match and that gives the guys a lot of confidence."

    Tomorrow's match kicks off at 6.10am NZ time.


       Durban tourism set for burst of growth

    Barbara Cole

    Tourism is on the brink of an explosion and it was now opening up to whoever was prepared to put in the hard work, said Durban tour and safari operator Rikus Badenhorst on Thursday.

    There was also a need to transfer skills from established operators to emerging black entrepreneurs.

    People in existing businesses had learned a lot of hard lessons over a long period, and if these tips could be passed on to those entering the industry, it would ultimately make the region's tourism product better and more rounded, he said.

    Badenhorst, who runs All-Ways-Africa Tours and Safaris in Durban, was speaking at the launch of the tourism mentorship programme, in which 10 established "giants" in the industry are taking 10 newcomers under their wings to teach them the ropes, passing on valuable know-how, so growing their emerging businesses.

    Getting involved in the project 'to give something back'
    The mentors and "mentees" had been perfectly matched, as "inappropriate mentees would reduce the programme to a spoon-feeding scenario", journalists were told.

    Badenhorst has partnered with Fundiswa Gecelo, who runs the Dolphin Sands B&B at Westbrook.

    The programme will cover such "milestones" as marketing and product development, financial management, networking and negotiation skills, operations and control system and strategic planning and budgeting.

    Narend Singh, the provincial minister of arts, culture and tourism, which, together with Tourism KZN, the national department of trade and industry, the Southern African Tourism Services Association and the Tourism Enterprise Programme, which are behind the project, said he hoped in five years' time, the mentees would own hotels and become shareholders in big hotel groups.

    One ambitious mentee, Niniza Shezi, owner of the Imvubu Guest House in Westville, who has teamed up with Mike Jackson of the Southern Sun Elangeni, which is getting involved in the project "to give something back", said her long-term aim was to own several hotels.

    Jackson said Shezi's business "had a lot of potential."


       South African jr surfers on fire in Billabong Teen-pro

    South Africa’s top junior (U20) surfers provided the country with some welcome good sporting news from Australia when they blew away their international counterparts in the first of five R50 000 Billabong Pro-Teen events on the Gold Coast.

    Competing in ideal 1.5 metre (4-5 foot) waves at Burleigh Heads, one of the world’s most famous point breaks, the first four South Africans to compete all won their third round heats, producing the headline ‘South Africans Fire Up at the Point’ in the official event media release.

    Dave Richards (Kommetjie) was first up, winning his heat convincingly to advance to last 96 in the event where he comes up against the top seeds in the event. Richards was joined in quick succession by Josch Schmeltzer (Westville), Josh Redman (Durban) and Keegan Nel (East London) with Redman’s performance so impressive he was quoted extensively.

    “The first round heats are way harder here than any opening round heat back home,” said Redman. “There is about 11 of us here this year, heaps of grommets as well, it’s because the Australian junior series attracts, Hawaiian guys, American guys, Japanese guys and other internationals who are pretty much the best junior surfers in the world.”

    “The South African guys have have been surfing pretty well. We try to help each other out in heats, there are eight of us staying in a little three bedroom place up at snapper, all squashed in, so we are all pretty close.”

    “There are some places that are pretty similar here to Durban but it is not often that you get waves like this for a competition, I’m stoked,” said Redman.

    The Billabong Pro-Teen Burleigh Heads is the first of the five event Pro-Teen Series which comprises the ASP Australasian Junior Circuit and offers the series winner a prestigious wildcard slot into the trials of the Billabong Pro World Championship Tour event in Tahiti. (May 4th-16th). The Pro-Teen series also offers 60,000 dollars in prize money and is effectively the back bone of the Australasian Junior Surfing Circuit.


       Save your cell

    By Roy Barford

    Cellphone thieves around the country are in for a surprise: a Durban company is about to introduce international technology that allows stolen cellphones to be made useless.

    In addition, the technology makes it possible to retrieve information such as contacts, messages, photographs and videos from your stolen or lost cellphone.

    Available at the end of this month, a subscription to "Easy Vault" can be obtained through SMS or on the internet.

    If you have a "class 1" or "smart phone" (newer generation phones) you can register for a security system that enables you to freeze your cellphone by simply sending it an SMS from another phone, with the word "FREEZE".

    To do this, you will need a five-digit pin number, which you enter into the phone from which you are sending the message.

    An alarm in your stolen cellphone will then sound, and the keypad will be frozen.

    You can programme a message into the stolen phone that will appear on the screen as soon as you send the SMS, saying, for example, that the phone has been stolen and providing a number at which you can be contacted.

    The alarm will continue until your secret pin number is entered into the stolen phone from another phone or until the stolen phone is switched off. Once the stolen or lost phone is switched on again, the alarm will again go off.

    Should someone insert another SIM card into the stolen phone, an SMS will immediately be sent to a number you have programmed into your phone (for example a friend or relative's number), with the number of the person in possession of your cellphone.

    You will then be able to report that number to authorities, who should now be able to track down the phone.

    While only "class 1" cellphones will have this security feature, any cellphone will be able to retrieve data stored on the stolen cellphone by SMSing "VACUUM" to the phone number, again requiring a secret pin code to do so.

    Such technology is already in use in other countries around the world, more prominently in Eastern nations such as Malaysia, Singapore and China.

    Easy Vault has been brought to South Africa by Electrowave Technologies, which is based in Gale Street.

    Managing director Scott Harvey said cellphone users around the country would be able to register at the end of February. The cost is R10 a month and there is no joining fee.

    "In terms of the security function, the basic idea is that if you suddenly notice that your phone has been lost or stolen, you can borrow another cellphone, enter your pin code and cancel your phone so it becomes useless to whoever is in possession of it," said Harvey.

    Electrowave is the South African partner of Singapore-based Purple Ace, which introduced "Ripple Vault" (performing exactly the same functions as Easy Vault) in January last year.

    The first to market Ripple Vault was international cellular network Celcom, based in Malaysia and operated in 90 countries around the world. Group CEO of Celcom, Dato' Ramil Abbas, said of the technology: "We believe the introduction of SIM card rescue added even more value to our customer base."

    More information on this technology can be found on the website

    Electrowave operations director Mark Boylis gave The Independent on Saturday a demonstration on Friday and the results were just as promised.

    Little is known about the new technology in South Africa at this stage, and although local cellular networks said they were excited about the idea, they felt they could not accurately comment until they knew more about it.

    "I have never heard of that, but it sounds interesting," said Simon Camera of Cell C.

    A spokesperson for Nokia said the idea was "very exciting", but was not in a position to make further comment.

    Attempts to contact other cellphone manufacturers and networks late on Friday were unsuccessful.


       Chiefs bypass muggy Durban for PE's cool

    Mike Greenaway
    February 06 2006

    The Sharks' opponents on Saturday, the Chiefs, have sold Durban a dummy by setting themselves up in Port Elizabeth for the week, preferring anonymity and cooler weather ahead of the big Super 14 kick-off at the Absa Stadium at 7.10pm.

    The Chiefs arrived in PE on Saturday and will travel to Durban on Thursday, and will return to the home of the Southern Spears on Sunday to prepare for their match the following week against the Cats in Johannesburg.

    The Hamilton-based team are known to be concerned about the expected humidity in Durban - temperatures in New Zealand are considerably lower than those of KwaZulu-Natal in February - and have elected to stay away from the sticky heat as long as possible.

    The Chiefs arrived in South Africa on something of a roll, having recently beaten the Hurricanes and the Highlanders in warm-up matches. The Chiefs finished last season's Super 12 ahead of those teams and their early season form in 2006 would seem to confirm that they are a team on the up.

    One of the competition's most lethal attackers
    Coach Ian Foster, now in his third year with the team, has assembled a powerful squad containing 13 internationals.

    The attacking potential of the Chiefs' backline has been much hyped following the move to Hamilton of arguably the world's best fullback, Mils Muliaina, and one of New Zealand's most promising centres, Sam Tuitupou. Both of these All Blacks were at the Blues last season.

    The Chiefs already boast one of the competition's most lethal attackers in Fijian Sitiveni Sivivatu, the winger who ignited the Chiefs' comeback in the second half of last year's Super 12.

    The Chiefs had been struggling on the log after losing their first four games, but then Sivivatu started scoring, and scoring ... and the Chiefs climbed to a sixth-position finish.

    He got eight tries in five games in the end and this earned him selection to the All Black team to play the Lions. By the end of June he had helped himself to six tries for the All Blacks.

    Effervescent scrumhalf Byron Kelleher is no slouch either when it comes to scoring tries, and he will feature heavily in the Sharks' defensive planning.

    Chiefs and All Blacks flanker Sione Lauaki has travelled with the squad to PE following his appearance in court last week on charges of assault.

    He will be pleased to get away from the Kiwi newspaper headlines where he has involuntarily set up home since an incident involving him and a security guard in the early hours of a Hamilton morning a fortnight ago.

    Meanwhile, Sharks coach Dick Muir is contemplating selecting two of the four Samoans at his disposal for the Chiefs match. Daniel Farani is in contention for the No 8 spot and newly arrived winger Alex Tuilaga is in a tussle with Henno Mentz and Dusty Noble for the wing slots.

    Muir is anxiously awaiting fitness reports on his two fullbacks, J P Pietersen and Brent Russell. Both have niggling injuries and Muir is hoping that at least one will come through by mid-week, when he will finalise his side.

    Up front, the loss of Johan Ackermann following a freak training ground accident is proving to be a setback. The former Bok lock suffered a nasty cut above the eye when he collided with A J Venter in lineout practice and is in doubt for the match.

    He had been in good form in the friendly against the Bulls.


       Students protest halts UKZN registration day

    Students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Westville Campus brought the first day of registration to a grinding halt on Monday morning.

    UKZN spokesperson Prof Dasrath Chetty said that 25 students had staged a protest in the main hall at the campus bringing the proceedings to a halt.

    He said that management had decided to postpone the registration until later in the day.

    At the time of going to press the Central Students Representative Council were locked in negotiations with vice chancellor Professor Malegapuru Makgobo.

    Disruption to the university was minimal
    Staff were beginning to converge on the campus and were reported to begin staging a demonstration.

    Chetty said that initial indications were that disruption to the university was minimal, but management would have a better idea of how the university had been affected by the strike action.

    Registration fee increases, academic exclusions and the relocation of faculties are at the centre of the action by students.

    UKZN's four unions - the Combined Staff Association, the National Tertiary Education Staff Union, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union and the University of Natal Staff Union - are unhappy with the four percent salary increase they have been offered.

    They have complained that management are to get bonuses of up to 12 percent of their annual salary packages.

    The unions are asking for an eight percent increase as well as a R250 housing allowance increase and R100 increase in the medical allowance.

    The unions say they are also protesting against the lack of consultation by "authoritarian style of management". There was a heavy police presence at the Westville campus.


       KZN to expropriate farms

    By: Chris Khumalo

    Durban - Well over 60 farms in KwaZulu-Natal will soon be expropriated and handed to claimants as the Land Claims Commission moves to speed up the land restitution amid opposition from some farmers in the province.

    These will be first batch of farms to be expropriated in KwaZulu-Natal as owners had failed to reach an amicable settlement with the commission, the government's news agency BuaNews reports.

    The country's Chief Land Claims Commissioner, Tozi Gwanya, announced this during a media briefing in Durban yesterday.

    The expropriation involves two land claims, one in Gongolo and the second in Gujini both in Estcourt.

    Gwanya said the land to be expropriated involved 29 000 hectares.

    Deadlock in negotiations

    In the case of Gongolo claim, he said the current landowners wanted the state to buy the land as "game reserve in waiting" and not as agricultural land, which was being used for stock farming.

    "There is a deadlock in negotiations and dispute in a professional valuation report. The land in question has never been proclaimed as a game reserve and we cannot be asked to pay huge amount of money on the basis of hope," said Gwanya.

    In the case of Gujini claim, he said there was a dispute between the owners and the state over the value of the property.

    "The current market value of the claimed properties is over R8.9m by the landowners demand R12. 6m. There is, thus, a deadlock in negotiations," he said.

    Serious frustration

    Gwanya said the Minister of Land Affairs, Thoko Msani-Didiza, approved the settlement of these claims as early as 2002 but the commission hadn't been able to reach an amicable solution due to "unrealistic" expectations by parties involved.

    "This had led to serious frustration of land claimants. It is in this vein that the commission is recommending to the minister to consider expropriating the affected land as a deadlock breaking mechanism," he said.

    Gwanya was at pains to explain that the expropriation route did not equal to "land seizure".

    "Even in this case we are prepared to pay what is just and equitable compensation for a piece of land expropriated", he said.

    However, it's apparent the government would increasingly drop the route of what it considers as long and frustrating route of a "willing seller and a willing buyer" as it moves to step up the pace of land restitution.

    KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union on Thursday urged farmers not to panic over the issue of expropriation, saying such route was provided for in the constitution.

    "We don't see this as land grab. In terms of expropriation, the constitution further allows for fair compensation. However KwaNalu's view is that the expropriation should be the last resort, all avenues and channels of negotiations should be pursued first", KwaNalu CEO, Sandy La Marque said.

    The government is running against time to settle 3 311 outstanding urban land claims in KwaZulu-Natal by March 2006.

    However, this figure excludes 1 935 outstanding rural community land claims that should be finalised by March 2008.


       Mandela has spring back in his step


    Nelson Mandela, who in recent years has found it difficult to walk or climb stairs without assistance, has a new spring in his step, his staff reported yesterday.

    The 87-year-old former South African president is now able to walk unassisted thanks to a fitness programme that was offered to him during a recent holiday in Mauritius as a guest of Sol Kerzner, a South African hotel and casino owner.

    Mr Mandela, who has officially retired twice, has admitted to feeling frustration at having to be helped to walk even short distances and to climb stairs.

    He has even had to give up his famous "Mandela shuffle", a less than strenuous two-step dance with which he once delighted audiences around the world.

    Observers have noted that he has looked increasingly frail and stooped in recent public appearances.

    Zelda la Grange, his personal assistant, said: "The programme requires him to exercise daily without interruption at his Johannesburg home.

    "Travel farther afield is not advised."

    The daily regimen was given as the reason why Mr Mandela failed to put in his usual appearance at the state opening of parliament in Cape Town last week.

    Mrs la Grange said he had called President Thabo Mbeki and Baleka Mbete, the speaker of the National Assembly, to apologise for his absence.

    Despite his much-publicised retirement announcements, Mr Mandela is still in great demand to speak, or at least put in an appearance, at events throughout the world.

    His office sends out many hundreds of notes of regret every week although he makes a special effort to attend South African fund-raising events for causes he supports such as child welfare and the fight against HIV/Aids.


       a squirt of fresh lemon juice

    By Wendy Knowler - Consumerwatch, ECR

    Nothing cleans our homes better than the super duper triple action chemical concoctions sold in supermarkets, right? Well, believe it or not, in some cases a squirt of fresh lemon juice does the job better, or at least as well, as branded products, for less money. I touched on this topic in the July 2005 issue of Fairlady and piqued the interest of a number of consumers who wanted to know more.

    Ok, so lemons, bicarb and vinegar aren't exactly user friendly... they don't come ergonomically designed bottles with handy squirty nozzles, but if you've watched Aggie and Kim on BBC Prime's 'How Clean is Your House?' you'll know that they do pack quite a punch. And as an added bonus, they're a lot kinder to people and the environment.

    Environmental groups worldwide are expressing concern about the harmful chemicals found in many household cleaning products, claiming that some of them have been shown to accumulate in our bodies and in the natural environment, potentially causing problems for generations to come.

    In 'How Clean is Your House?', whenever the two biddies go in to clean up homes of people who are sensitive to chemicals or have allergies, they hold back on the chemical products, and zap those taps and sinks with old fashioned cleaning agents instead.

    After all, 50 years ago homes were kept perfectly clean without the help of chemical products. Our grannies used lemons, vinegar, soda crystals and bicarb instead.

    So respected UK consumer magazine Which? decided to find out how these gentler, kinder cleaners shape up to the chemical potency of modern cleaning products. Tests were carried out at an independent lab with three scientists scrubbing or polishing taps, toilets, mirrors and carpets with a range of products.

    The verdict? In general, the old fashioned alternatives did the job as well as or sometimes better than shop-bought cleaners. They were especially amazed at how well lemons and soda water zapped carpet stains - far better than products sold as carpet cleaners.

    But they did admit that the traditional cleaners weren't always easy to use and vinegar's strong smell isn't terribly appealing.

    OK, so here's breakdown.

    On windows, a mixture of one party white vinegar and nine parts water, applied to windows and mirrors and then buffed with scrunched up newspaper, worked as well as Windolene spray, but didn't smell as nice. Testers suggested making up the vinegar mixture and pouring it into a spray bottle for ease of use.

    As for getting stains out of carpets, the testers found that commercial carpet cleaning products didn't lift the stain nearly as effectively as lemon juice or soda water. They were astonished at how brilliantly freshly squeezed lemon juice removed red wine. It was also pretty good on blood and grass stains, whereas the branded product wasn't. Soda water proved very good at removing coffee stains - again, better than the expensive carpet cleaning product.

    Nothing gets your chrome taps shinier than rubbing a half lemon on them, and to get your microwave clean and smelling wonderful, place a bowl of water and lemon slices inside and heat on high for three minutes until the water boils, then wipe away the dirt inside.

    When it came to descaling the inside of kettles, the testers found that vinegar did the best job. Pour a mixture of half water, half white vinegar into the kettle and boil. You'll have to boil a couple of batches of fresh water in it afterwards to get rid of the smell.

    And finally, toilet cleaners... The Which? testers found that bicarb and vinegar did as good a job at getting the old bowl sparkling as a hydrogen peroxide product such as Domestos. Sprinkle bicarb into a just flushed loo so that sticks to the wet sides, then add some white vinegar (a spray bottle works best) and clean with paper towels or cloths.

    I know that for most people, old habits die hard, and they'll keep on reaching for the products which, as my young son puts it, the TV says we must buy. But I loved this Which? consumer exercise, because it challenges us to question whether modern, chemical concoctions are always the best for the job. The lemon lurking in our fruit bowls can sort out that red wine spilt on the carpet better than the new improved, expensive carpet cleaner in our kitchen cupboards - but how many of us would have thought to reach for the lemon?


       Fuel for thought

    Gone are the days when diesel was mostly guzzled by rugged bakkies - these days diesel vehicles range from 4x4s to luxury sedans to even teeny little run-arounds as motorists from Tokyo to 'Toti cotton on to the fact that they offer excellent performance and great fuel economy. But what many new diesel converts don't realise, is that unlike the petrol price, the price of diesel is not regulated. This means that while dealers have no say over the price of petrol, they can discount the price of diesel in much the same way as a supermarket can discount a can a beans. So in essence, it pays to shop around if you drive a diesel vehicle. Relatively few service stations are charging less than R5,20 a litre for diesel, but you should be able to find one in your area that's chosen to sell it at less than R5,30.


       Palmiet Nature Reserve

    Open daily from 6am - 6pm. Free admission. Old New Germany Road, Westville. Scenic reserve with 11 km hiking trail, excellent birdlife, braai facilities (need to book) and perfect for school outings. On the 1st Sunday of every month there is a 2 hour guided trail which starts at 7.30am. For more information contact Steve Butler - (031) 203 7065 - during business hours.



    The Centre for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) is a non-profit organisation that prides itself in taking care of South Africa's indigenous wildlife, both injured and orphaned. CROW receives no financial aid from the government or any large concern, and are therefore solely reliant on the generosity and goodwill of the public and our fundraising initiatives. CROW has on average 600 animals under our care at any given time. As we are not open to the public (except for animal admissions) we have a two-hour guided tour on the last Sunday of every month. The gates open at 10:30 and the tour starts at 11:00. . A donation of R10 per person is asked upon entry. Refreshments are sold before and after the tour. The centre is situated at the end of Coedmore Ave, Yellowwood Park. For further information, please contact CROW on (031) 462 1127 or or visit .


       'Massive growth' in drug addiction among teenagers

    Mail & Guardian Online

    Michel Muller | Johannesburg, South Africa

    Nine out of 10 South African teenagers in drug rehabilitation will revert to their addictions within a year, an expert working with young people said on Friday.

    "The drug rehabilitation system is not geared towards teenagers," Quintin van Kerken, spokesperson for Bokatie, a teenage rehabilitation centre in Douglasdale, Johannesburg, said. "And this is where the massive growth in addiction is evident."

    He estimated that there are at least 1 000 teenagers, from all walks of life, in rehabilitation in the Johannesburg area on any given day.

    They are usually referred to rehabilitation after a crisis: a legal one, where they land up in court, or over-dosing or family referral.

    Van Kerken said cross-addiction -- where teenagers use a number of drugs simultaneously -- is the most common form of addiction.

    "It is not like the old days where your child was addicted just to dagga."

    He said children, even primary-school pupils, are experimenting with, and becoming addicted to drugs such as heroin, cat, Ecstasy, dagga and tik. Sometimes they are using, and addicted to, more than one at a time.

    "They use cocaine, yes, to a certain degree, but it has become almost unfashionable."

    Van Kerken said drug counsellors and rehabilitation centres are seeing "a major increase in addicted middle-class kids".

    "Yes, we do see the very wealthy -- I mean multi-multi-millionaire kids -- to the very, very dirt poor, but addiction is becoming more prevalent in ordinary families."

    He said children are using money their parents give them to buy drugs, or prostituting themselves for the cash.

    "Children are losing very vital, integral parts of their growing up to drugs."

    Van Kerken said drug dealers have found "a new cash cow" in children.

    "I will go on record and say that I can walk into any school -- you name any school you like, primary or high -- and within 15 minutes I will have bought some drug."

    He said the lack of teenage-focused rehabilitation is of dire concern.

    "In all my research, there is no special programme specifically designed for teenagers."

    The rehabilitation system has to be redesigned to accommodate the needs of teenagers who, because of their age, go back into exactly the same environments they left. -- Sapa


       Mbeki highlights skills, land, efficiency

    Harnessing scarce skills, raising government efficiency, and speeding up land reform were singled out for urgent attention in President Thabo Mbeki's state-of-the nation address on Friday.

    The country's current skills shortage threatened the ability of the public and private sectors to meet the goal of halving poverty and unemployment by 2014, he told a joint sitting of parliament.

    Mbeki thanked all those South Africans who responded to a government appeal to make available their expertise in project management and other specialist areas.

    The first group of the 90 already identified and assessed would be deployed in their new posts in May.

    Mbeki said the machinery of state, especially that of local government, had to function effectively for the success of the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for SA (Asgisa).

    In recent audits of national departments, "critical areas" needing attention were identified as skills shortages, vacancies, delegated responsibility, and the relationship between national and provincial departments.

    Government would address the issues raised, bearing in mind its critical role as one of the country's most important development agencies.

    "We cannot allow that government departments become an obstacle to the achievement of the goal of a better life for all because of insufficient attention to the critical issue of effective and speedy delivery of services," Mbeki said.

    Work would continue towards "the creation of one public service covering all spheres of government", realising this was a complex task that needed the agreement of all concerned. He gave no further details.

    Mbeki also committed government to reviewing its willing-buyer, willing-seller policy this year, in an attempt to accelerate land restitution and help empower the poor.

    The conditions under which foreigners bought land would also be regulated, "in line with international norms and practices".

    The state would play a more central role in the land reform programme, Mbeki said - including a review of land acquisition models and the possible manipulation of land prices.

    "Land reform and land restitution are critical to the transformation of our society."


       High-flying couple held for R13m fraud

    Kuben Chetty
    February 03 2006 at 04:31PM

    A Durban couple who travelled the world, spent thousands of rands at casinos and lived lavishly, have been arrested by police for alleged fraud running into millions.

    The couple are alleged to have used R13-million, which had been given to them by a business partner, to fuel their luxurious lifestyle which included buying a mansion and several luxury vehicles.

    Police director Bala Naidoo confirmed the couple had been arrested this week and charged for fraud.

    Julian Kasaval, a private investigator with Forensic Audit Analysis and Investigations, said they had been approached by their client late last year after promises made by the suspects were not being fulfilled.

    He said his client and the husband entered into a joint venture in 2004. Kasaval's client belongs to a wealthy Durban family.

    "My client was led to believe that this man was a car dealer who needed a partner to set up a business importing secondhand vehicles from Japan.

    "He entered into a joint venture with the suspect in the middle of 2004 and, over a period of a year, he invested R13-million."

    The suspect had run a successful car sales business that netted him R2-million profit in 2003 and his client was convinced they would both profit from doing business together.

    However, said Kasaval, it was later established that his client's money had not been used to set up any business and that the couple was living a lavish lifestyle.

    The couple will appear in court soon.


       Life-saving treatment for Krabbe's sufferer

    By Irene Kuppan

    For Daphne Munishvaran, a nine-year-old Krabbe's sufferer, a normal life is no longer just a dream. Daphne, of Queensburgh, Durban, needs a costly live-saving operation that can only be performed in the United States.

    A few months ago the cost of the operation and living expenses in the US for a year was holding Daphne back from having a normal life - that was until she got a major sponsorship from the Ray Tye Foundation - a US-based group that helps sick children that have no medical aid.

    Due to her illness, Daphne has difficulty walking, her eyesight and motor-skills have deteriorated.

    Daphne has difficulty walking, her eyesight and motor-skills have deteriorated.
    Krabbe's disease is a degenerative condition that worsens over time. The disease is a disorder of the brain termed a leucodystrophy, in which there is a lack of enzyme which makes myelin - the protective sheath that covers the nerve.

    Daphne's mother, Jenny, said the family is scheduled to leave for the US on February 19.

    The only life-saving treatment available for Daphne is transplantation of blood harvested from the umbilical cord of newborn babies.

    The umbilical cord blood has stem cells which can transform and make the enzyme needed to make myelin sheaths.

    Once in the US, Daphne will undergo the transplant during which time she will spend at least two months in hospital. She will then have to go to the hospital every day for two months after the transplant has been completed and continue going for several more months.

    They are 'hopeful' that their trip to the US will not be in vain.
    Jenny said that it was going be very difficult being away from home for so long.

    "Daphne will miss her grandparents and the rest of her family. We are also a bit disappointed because Daphne's brother, Thesen, will not be coming to the US. He started high school this year and will be staying back in South Africa with my sister," she said.

    Jenny added that they hoped that Daphne would be able to go to school while in the US but this depended on how the transplant went.

    "For while Daphne will not be able to go out or be in contact with other people, but we hope that eventually, with the help of a social worker she will be able to go to school."

    And when the family gets back to South Africa, they will be starting from scratch.

    "We've cashed out our insurance policy, pension and we are even selling our house so that we have enough for our stay in the US. We will have to come back home and start afresh," said Jenny.

    And while it will take more than a year before the Munishvarans' know if operation was a success or not, they are "hopeful" that their trip to the US will not be in vain.


       Student debt at KZN institutions hits R130m

    As KwaZulu-Natal universities and technikons prepare for the start of the 2006 academic year, they are faced with the dilemma of recovering more than R130-million in outstanding student fees.

    Certain tertiary institutions have vowed not to allow students with fee debts to register this year, while others are withholding examination results and will prevent defaulting payers from graduating until a settlement agreement has been reached.

    Students at some institutions could also find themselves facing hefty fines as their debts are likely to be handed over to attorneys for collection.

    Thousands of students are in debt to the University of Zululand (Unizulu), the Durban Institute of Technology (DIT) and the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). Unizulu has the highest student debt of R60-million, followed by DIT with R52-million and UKZN with R18,6-million.

    'Statutory obligation in line with government policy'
    A Mangosuthu Technikon spokesperson told the Daily News that management had "refused to give out the figures".

    Unizulu's Public Affairs manager Carl de Villiers said economic realities dictated that the university takes a tough stance to eliminate the current outstanding debt of more than R60-million.

    "The university has a statutory obligation in line with government policy to collect student fees. Clearly the current debt figure lies outside acceptable norms and needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency", said De Villiers .

    Unizulu said they would not register students who had not settled their outstanding debts or made acceptable payment arrangement, for the 2006 academic year.

    The Mangosuthu Technikon spokesperson said their fee policy was similar to that of other institutions, but would not elaborate.

    'Have refused to give out the figures'
    DIT's Vice-Chancellor Prof Bonganjalo Goba, expressed concern over the arrears fees owed by students at the technikon. The outstanding fees for 2005 are in the region of R52-million, which accounts for 19 percent of the 2005 fees.

    "Our goal is to create opportunities for as many students as possible, but there is also great pressure on us to balance the finances.

    "Many of our students have great academic potential, but they struggle to meet their fee obligations," he said.

    He said that as a public institution, DIT tried to keep its fees as low as possible, while providing a high quality of education.

    "Costs increase every year and we have to do a delicate balancing act. The state subsidy is nowhere near adequate enough to meet all our obligations," he said.

    UKZN's executive director for public affairs and corporate communication Professor Dasarath Chetty said that if its students failed to pay their outstanding tuition fees, then the university would be forced to withhold their examination results, they would not be allowed to register for the new academic year, nor would they be allowed to graduate.

    However, Chetty stressed that those students who experienced financial difficulties could submit appeals.

    Goba said their institution had student financial assistance programmes. Needy students could apply for assistance from the National Student's Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

    "Students who do not have access to NSFAS are internally assessed for financial assistance. To qualify, they must have passed at least 80 percent of the registered subjects in the previous academic year.

    Additionally, students must pay 50 percent of their tuition arrears fees along with the initial registration fee of R1 700. The balance is to be paid according to a specially designed instalment plan.

    Goba said students could also apply for the Throughput Bursary Fund which was established to assist high achievers with financial difficulties to pay their tuition fees.

    "The funds are generated from staff donations, departmental special funds and industry contributions," he said.


       Transnet march in Durban ends

    A march by thousands of Transnet workers in Durban ended on Wednesday, bringing to an end the first in a threatened series of strikes at the parastatal, a trade union spokesperson said.

    "The march and the call to members (to strike) was very successful. We handed a memorandum to the chief executive of the SA Port Operations," said United Transport and Allied Trade Union (Utatu) general secretary Steve Harris.

    "We don't believe that the (talks with Transnet) have been constructive up to now. We want management to start respecting labour for our rights and to come down from their podiums.

    "These things (strikes) are not in the interests of either party," he said.

    'Employee benefits will be protected and are protected by the Labour Relations Act'
    Durban Metro police spokesperson Superintendent Alex Wright said marchers were well behaved. He estimated between 2 000 and 3 000 people took part. Unions put the figure at close to 10 000.

    The march brought to an end a three-day strike in KwaZulu-Natal and a one-day strike in the Free State. It was the first in a series unions have threatened in protest over the manner of Transnet's getting rid of some of its business units.

    Durban's container terminal bore the brunt of the strike while the city's commuter trains and Richard's Bay harbour were also affected.

    The two parties would meet for talks in Johannesburg on Thursday afternoon. This after the parastatal had considered a list of the union's concerns, and possible solutions.

    "If there is no change in management's attitude then we will continue (with the strikes)," Harris said.

    Chris de Vos, also of Utatu, said earlier: "Let's hope that something will come from this meeting. I'm not overexcited. I don't think they're going to change their attitude."

    Transnet, with about 85 000 employees, was cutting away those of its businesses not associated with freight and rail transport. This after the government, its sole shareholder, had instructed it to reduce the cost of doing business.

    No jobs would be lost during the process, Transnet's executive manager for strategy Pradeep Maharaj said on Tuesday.

    "In exiting Transnet, those employee benefits will be protected and are protected by the Labour Relations Act."

    Strikes were to recommence in the Eastern Cape on February 13. Their colleagues in the Northern and Western Cape would follow suit on February 14. Those in Gauteng, North West, Mpumalanga and Limpopo would join the protests on February 20.

    Should the dispute still not be resolved, unions have threatened a national strike on March 6.

    Policy research officer at trade union Satawu, Jane Barrett said earlier: "They are just steamrolling without proper regard to negotiation. It's an ignoring of proper procedures that are in place or should be in place."

    The four unions involved are the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu), Utatu, the South African Railway and Harbour Workers Union (Sarhwu) and the United Association of South Africa (Uasa).

    A Transnet spokesperson was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday. - Sapa


       Crash claims seven lives, including babies

    By Sharlene Packree and Irene Kuppan

    Two babies were among seven people killed in Durban’s Warwick Triangle on Tuesday morning when a truck driver lost control of his vehicle which then crashed into two taxis.

    The bodies of the victims, including the two infants, lay strewn across the street as emergency services attempted to save the lives of the injured.

    Of the 10 seriously injured taxi passengers and pedestrians, a baby is in critical condition.

    Police arrested a bystander for trying to steal from the injured
    Another 21 people suffered less serious injuries.

    Hundreds of onlookers were horrified when they saw body parts of the dead lying scattered on the road.

    Police arrested a bystander for trying to steal from the injured.

    A baby was one of those flung out of one of the taxis when an 18-wheeler truck travelling down Old Dutch Road lost control and crashed into the two taxis.

    The truck then overturned and skidded across the road, causing traffic going into the city to come to a standstill.

    Another baby, believed to be just a few months old
    The taxis were dropping passengers at a nearby garage when the truck hit them.

    ER24 and Netcare 911 paramedics had their hands full as they attended to the injured.

    Andre Botha, an ER24 paramedic, said the people were killed instantly when the truck slammed into the taxis.

    “One child had to be treated for serious head injuries while the other passengers were treated for fractures and minor abrasions,” he said.

    Botha said passengers and onlookers had to be treated for shock.

    Another baby, believed to be just a few months old, lay on the side of the road.

    It is believed the baby’s mother also died in the accident.

    A woman who witnessed the accident from her flat window, said that on impact, several victims were flung into the air and then hit by the other vehicles which had been coming down the road.

    “The passengers were thrown into the air and then landed on the road. Some cars even went over the bodies.” she said.

    Michael Langa, whose vehicle was also damaged by the truck, said he had been driving down Old Dutch Road when his bakkie was hit by the truck.

    “It seemed that the truck’s brakes failed and the driver lost control, crashing into the taxis and cars. All I heard was a huge crash and then saw the truck skidding across the road,” he said.

    Langa’s bakkie had to be towed away from the scene.

    Police spokesperson Inspector Michael Read said that the driver of the truck had been arrested and was not injured in the accident.

    “He will be charged with various counts, including culpable homicide and reckless and negligent driving,” he said. Read added that the injured had been taken to various hospitals and that the SAPS Collision Unit was busy at the scene on the crash.

    Crash: The 18-wheeler truck that slammed into two taxis lies on its side after it overturned and skidded across Old Dutch Road in Durban.


       Transnet strike enters its second day

    A three-day strike by Transnet in KwaZulu-Natal, the first phase of a national strike, is due to continue today. Unions are protesting about Transnet's restructuring plans.

    Talks between the parastatal and unions yesterday reportedly made no progress.

    The strike affected the major ports of Durban and Richards Bay yesterday, as well as Metrorail train services in the province.

    Analysts say the strike at the two ports will affect exports and could cost the country about R100 million a day. Bonke Dumisa, of the Durban Chamber of Commerce, said: "Because of the strike, many people are going to find that things which were supposed to leave Durban or Richard's Bay, may be delayed. Hence, that may result in some penalties."


       Eight dead in Durban crash

    Eight people have been killed in Durban in a horrific accident involving a heavy duty truck and eight other cars. Several people were also injured after the truck collided with six cars and two taxis.

    Bheki Cele, the provincial transport MEC, was at the scene of the accident within minutes. He described the accident as a disaster.

    According to police and eye-witnesses the truck lost control and smashed into cars and minibus taxis. The brakes of the truck had apparently failed.

    The dead and the more than 50 injured were taken to several hospitals in and around the city.


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