Pension fraud

14 05 2008


By Nomawethu Solwandle


It is no lie that our grandparents are still suffering the consequences of the apartheid era, with little or no ability to read or write because they could not get the necessary education those many years ago. However, this is not the time to deal or talk about those issues because that is another story in itself. Pension fraud is a problem that the whole country is experiencing at the moment and Grahamstown is no exception to this.


The issue at hand now is that the elderly are suffering because they can not read or write and are thus being robbed of their money. This is either an inside job by our bank officials or family members of these pensioners. And sometimes by strangers that steal their identity documents. This means that the elderly either have to have a family member go with them for assistance and for explanations on how things such as ATM’s work because they are illiterate. Their signatures are so easy to forge because the only way they can sign is by placing an “x” or having their thumb print. I mean everyone can just come in and make and “x” and take all the money without the knowledge of the pensioner, sometimes in the presence of the pensioner because they are not aware why these sort of things have to take place.


This means that we have a crisis on our hands because many of these pensioners rely on their social grant for survival and sometimes the whole family is dependent on it. What are we doing to help them? Banks, certainly can not help us in this instance because some of their officials have stolen from these very people that need their help. Their own families can not be trusted as well and so the best thing left to do is for us to find a way to make these pensioners less independent. Our government has taken steps to help us in this case because a program known as Ka ri Gude was initiated by our Minister of Education Naledi Pandor. It is important to note that this program is not the same is ABET. This program takes the education to the elderly. This means that if necessary the educator will teach the pensioner in their home, garage or the nearest crèche as long as it is tidy. This program will teach the pensioners how to read and write, how to work with money and even how to use ATM’s.

This means that the pensioners will maybe have to travel long distances to get an education and to be aware of what is going on around them. With Ka ri Gude the education is taken to the nearest venue accessible to the pensioner.


I think that this is such a good initiative in the sense that, the educators are former grade twelve learners that are not studying. This program will thus also give them something to do and at the same time help other people. In some way or another all the factors involved will benefit. It is a volunteering program so the educators do not necessarily get a salary but they do receive money for food and transport. I think that what these educators are doing is so good, working hard to make South Africa a better place for all. Hopefully this initiative will combat bank fraud and other related crimes.


Scorpions to be dissolved!

7 05 2008

by Nomawethu Solwandle

I have been following the news very closely lately with the ANC wanting to dissolve the Scorpions crime unit to place another unit in its place. Although I have been following this story closely I still do not know or understand their reasons in doing that.

I think that this crime unit has done this country alot of justice when it comes to crime and what I like most about them is the fact that they were not scared to expose even the high and mighty politicians of this country,  they just did what they had to do to make South Affrica a better place.

Is it not ironic that the ANC wants to dissolve the Scorpions while Zuma has not yet finished his trial? I mean we all know  the Scorpions are good and they get to the the bottom of a story. Ironically Zuma happens to be the president of this party that wants the Scorpions to be dissolved… mhmmm. I don’t know if it’s me or everyone else can see how politicians are getting away with things simply because they have the power to do so.

Then we talk about democracy and how the citizens of South Africa come first when decisions are being made, I’m not too sure about that because in this case the safety and rights of South Africans comes first but they are being denied these rights because those above them can call the shots according to thier needs and desires.

I don’t know but this is my opinion. I do not think that the Scorpions should be dissolved at all because they have done wonders for this country, but then again it doesn’t matter what I think… the rulling party has made its decision and we as South Africans simply have to abide and live  with those decisions.

someone please tell me why they are dissolving the Scorpions again?



The plight of donkeys and their owners

29 04 2008

By Bianca Silva,

Travelling through the Grahamstown townships one cannot help but notice two things, firstly the contrast in lifestyle between the suburbs and the township and then secondly the amount of donkeys and goats that wander freely through the streets. The reality for many of the township residents is that these donkeys provide a livelihood, transport and a means for people to support their families. This has been pointed out in both student newspapers at Rhodes University, Activate and the Oppidan Press. Travelling through town donkey carts are also a common spectacle. However maintaining the health of these animals as well as buying and maintaining the necessary equipment is expensive. A new harness costs up to R600 and the need for frequent farrier visits is not always a viable option as donkey owners are mostly live in poverty, however if the donkeys’ feet are not well maintained there is the possibility that the animal will become permanently lame. The lack of resources and lack of sufficient education available to the owners is what makes onlookers believe that these donkeys are mistreated. However unintentional the poor state of the donkey is, it is threatening the livelihood of donkey owners as well as causing suffering to the donkeys. According to Katherine Townshend, founder of the ROAR Donkey Deal, a society which is currently making a transition to become an NGO, “Donkeys provide people with a livelihood, so they do not want their donkey to get sick or die,” explains Townshend. (   The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) will confiscate donkeys which they believe are not being taken proper care of and charge a R400 release fee. According to Annerie Wolmaraans of the Makana Donkey association some donkey owners make up to R60 a day ( The R400 fee donkey owners will have to pay to have their donkeys released from the SPCA is almost as much as a donkey owner would make in a month, without this money both the donkey owners and their families would suffer.

The ROAR Donkey Deal facilitates clinics once every two weeks, a space where donkey owners can bring their donkeys free of charge. The Donkey Deal employs farriers to take care of the donkeys’ feet and the members of the NGO disinfect cuts as well as helping owners to learn how to effectively look after their donkeys. The Donkey Deal is in the process of raising funds, although once they have successfully made their transition from society to NGO they can seek national funding. According to Townshend these funds can be spent on harnesses for the donkeys as well as on creating a tagging system. As it stands many donkey owners use scissors to cut markings on the donkeys’ ears as a means of showing possession. These cuts have the opportunity of becoming infected as well as causing complications in the instance of donkey theft. A person wanting to steal a donkey will often cut off the part of the ear which bears a marking. Townshend says she often sees donkeys walking around with bleeding ears.

On a national scale, as shown by a specific case in Polokwane, donkeys are a potentially untapped resource, which could aid public transport in rural areas and enable poorer people not to feel the effects of rising petrol prices as heavily. In Mogalakweng, Polokwane a R2.5m donkey cart pilot project was launched in 2004 in the Waterberg district (,,2-7-1442_1552993,00.html). The donkey carts are apparently popular with tourists, according to the provincial transport minister, Phuti Mabelebele. The donkey owners in the province were being provided with aid from the municipality as well as being taught how to effectively care for their donkeys.

According to Paul Starkey’s study on donkey misconception there is room for the expansion of use for donkeys. ( Starkey says donkeys have a potential to make a valuable contribution towards development strategies because of their ability to provide transport at low costs and provide a livelihood for people in poorer areas. According to him there are over 40 million donkeys world wide with a quarter of those residing in Africa. Starkey states that over one million people benefit from donkeys in Southern Africa, a number which he believes will continue to grow in time as “donkeys prove invaluable in rural areas as cheap, affordable and sustainable power sources for agriculture and transport that complement both engine power and human power.” According to Dirk Hanekom in his piece “The use of donkeys for transport in South Africa,” ( the average South African donkey can carry up to 76kg, although in a double drawn carriage donkeys could pull up to 700kg on a flat road, including the cart and 400kg on a slope. This shows that donkeys can be used as a cheap means of transporting goods, however slow it may be.

However even if people can use donkey power more effectively it will not eradicate the amount of poverty in South Africa, however it may help to soften the effects of it for those able to use donkeys, a small grace. A question however remains, is it the job of NGO’s to fulfil the service of providing resources and education to donkey owners or should that be the job of the municipality? How can the plight of donkeys and donkey owners be successfully decreased?

Raging Bull

29 04 2008

By Nqobile Shoba

On the issue of David Bullard. One would be easily swayed into believing that his dismissal was more than justifiable. The white man who disowned and patronized his fellow African brothers and sisters has been punished for his racist lies. Yet one forgets the very logistics that lie behind the practice of journalism, that supported David. What I’m trying to say is , where were the sub-editors and the very editor who let his article go to print? The are just as guilty when it comes to the ethics and principles that come with printing such an article. David was let down in this instance as the support structures that hold him as a journalist became the very attackers that would bring him down, labelling him a racist.

It saddens me to think that we have not moved on from such petty illustrations of post apartheid squabble. Let’s be honest if this article had been written by a black journalist, no one would have batted an eye-lid. I may be over simplifying the matter, yet I think we also have to acknowledge that what David is proposing is nothing new, there are thousands of anthropological articles written by black academics ,on similar lines, that cause little if not no impact at all. That aside the idea that this article was anything new or not is besides the point. I guess what I’m trying to say is that let’s move beyond whether the article was right or wrong and examine how the situation was handled.

Out to lunch is supposed to be a controversial column, even if one believes that David over stepped the mark, the discrepancies in his dismissal are undeniable and for me seem to hold a double standard in terms of the very values that journalism is to up hold. One should forget race and look at ethics as the determent of such decisions, but then again this is just an opinio

Play with fire

23 04 2008

by Leila Dougan

Fire dancers are not synonymous to pyromaniacs. Pyromaniacs play with fire to feel control over the element. Fire dancers play with fire to make it look beautiful.

Fire poi, one of the many forms of poi, originated in New Zealand and has since spread to areas all over the world, including Grahamstown.

A group of Rhodes University students have continued the art and are teaching others to dance with the otherwise dangerous element. They have organized fire poi workshops alongside African drumming sessions on a weekly basis. This is where I learnt how to fire poi and what follows is a brief fire poi guide. 

For me, the most difficult aspects of fire dancing were the co-ordination of the poi and learning how to dance with objects (on fire) in my hands. I overcame this by starting with practice poi, because it allows you to find the movement of the poi while experimenting with the movement of your body.

I suggest anyone wanting to learn fire poi start with practice poi. 

Practice poi can be made with two tennis balls and a pair of long socks. Push each tennis ball into the foot of each sock and tie a knot at the top end of the sock. A handful of sugar beans (which can be purchased at your local supermarket) is an alternative to the tennis balls. Anything soft that will not detract from the momentum of the poi will do.

Practice poi are really helpful because fire poi hurt (a lot) when they hit you. I gave myself a concussion when I started practicing with fire poi straight away.

After you have learnt a few movements and tricks comfortably with practice poi you can move onto fire poi. Fire poi are made from chain and wick. The wick part of the poi is soaked in kerosene or paraffin for 3-5 minutes; the excess paraffin is spun off the poi and then lit.

Be sure to get used to the weight of your fire poi before lighting up by practicing with unlit fire poi. Before using your unlit fire poi, wrap the wick area of the fire poi with cling-wrap to prevent the wick from fraying. Just don’t forget to take off the cling wrap before soaking and lighting the poi.


Here is a list of do’s and don’ts when playing with your fire poi:


DON’T do it alone. Always have someone around incase something goes wrong.

DON’T use gasoline. Kerosene or Paraffin is best to use.

DO learn some basic movements using practice poi before moving on to fire.

DO wear tight-fitting, non-flammable clothing that covers your arms and legs. Fire poi does not burn the skin because the flame generally bounces off, but the hair on your skin does burn, and it smells!

DO tie back long hair.

DO fire poi sober. After half a bottle of wine I set my (flammable) jersey and hair on fire.

DO practice fire poi outside.

DO spin off excess paraffin/kerosene before spinning your fire poi.

DO take breaks in between fire dancing and do not fire poi too often in one night because the fumes are unhealthy.


So now that you know how to start mastering the art of fire poi grab some socks, two tennis balls and start spinning.

The ANC culture and its affects

20 04 2008

By Syanda Ngcobo

I thought I was going to write about the crises facing African leaders, but something else came to mind after I went to South African Students Congress Organisation’s (SASCO) branch general meeting at Rhodes University. What I found there was similar to what I’ve seen at the ANC 52, Conference in Polokwane and what recently happened in the ANC Youth League in Bloemfontein. What I’ve seen is a disaster which needs special attention.

Members show no discipline and are uncontrollabe. There was no order at all. I was shocked and surprised when I arrived at meeting. One of the “comrades” asked me at door “who I came to vote for”. But I said I don’t know, because had no idea that there will be elections for Branch Executive Committee (BEC). Inside the house was chaos and I started to see different camps among the organisation.

But what came into my attention is that, there’s a problem within the culture of the ANC. In Polokwane we have saw division among members. There was a Zuma and an Mbeki camp. All these groups are found in one organisation and have similar goals, but differ in terms of how they are going to pursue these goals. In Bloemfontein we have seen separation among the members. There was a Julius Malemela and a Saki Mafokeng camp. This does show that these organisations are democratic, but the problem arrises when these camps continue to exist even after the conference. This culture  is not a new phenomenon, but started long time ago. I can argue that it is embedded in the organisations. For example one can trace it back from the Mandela generation. Mandela and his camp also did a similar thing in a conference, they disrupt the conference.

When time goes on you start to realise that these camps are not healthy for the organisation. You will find some people criticising so and so, not just because he/she is not doing his work, but just because he/she is from a rival camp. I think comrades must learn to understand that if you have been defeated in a democratic vote, you have to accept the winner as the leader. And the person who wins is going to be governed by the organisation policies. You find some individuals or groups who came into these meetings with their own agendas, opposing everything. Like SASCO, here at Rhodes you will find some people who push their agenda. They don’t want to admit the fact that their agenda or views have been turned down by the house.

The last thing which disturbs SASCO at Rhodes is that they allow more interference of the regional branch committee. I’m saying this because these people always come here and tell the Rhodes Branch what to do and what not to do. These people don’t even understand the problems that are facing this organisation. I think their duty is to check whether SASCO at Rhodes is aligning with the constitution of SASCO or not. These people are irritating sometimes. They make up their own constitutions. I think SASCO at Rhodes should start to define their problems; “hhayi” not allowing the outsiders to play such a large role because they are the ones who bring confusion to the organisation. 

Street Kids

19 04 2008

By Lubabalo Dada

I used to feel sorry for street kids, thinking that they have no other option but to beg. And after having interviews with some street kids I thought that these guys are really suffering. Most of them said they use money to buy food and contribute to their families.

They are telling us lies. They are not hungry as one may think. These guys have food and a warm place to sleep. They are just pretending to be helpless. I used to volunteer at Eluxolweni Shelter, and would recognise some faces from the street. These guys eat and at a particular point in time they are allowed to get out of the shelter and come back later. Some go to town to beg and use the money to buy cigarettes.

Those who leave the shelter do so because they do not want to be controlled. So they stay in streets looking helpless. The stories that they tell about them being helpless are exaggerated, they want people to feel sorry for them.