With electricity prices scheduled to skyrocket this year, a number of homeowners are in search of more financially and even environmentally sustainable solutions. According to energy experts such as Ted Blom, South Africa’s national power utility, Eskom is planning to increase its tariffs by as much as 30% by the end of the year in an effort to recover some of its recent financial losses. In the meantime, some municipalities have – through a process that concluded on Friday – even applied for tariff increases that would exceed the 6.84% increase suggested by Nersa earlier this year. Guy Hickinbotham – the manager of Bundu Power Generators and Solar, a KwaZulu-Natal based business that supplies equipment to locals looking to move off the grid – has noted that more people seem to be in search of independent power solutions in some way or another. This trend, according to Hickinbotham, is largely a result of the rising cost of electricity, as well as the unstable nature of South Africa’s electricity infrastructure.* While some may opt to go completely off-grid, a partial migration is often a more practical solution for those who are conscious of our limited national resources, but who may not have the financial means to invest in all the equipment needed to set them up for off-grid living. So, what are some practical and accessible options for South Africans who want to reduce their reliance on pricy power utilities such as Eskom and lower their impact on the environment? 1. Renewable energy South Africa is the world’s third-best location for generating solar power**, making it a great option for our household power needs. In the past the cost of installing alternative energy systems has been a major factor steering people away from even considering it an option. However, thanks to ongoing research and improved innovations, these systems are becoming more affordable and accessible. There have also been solar conversion rebate programmes available . . .
In 2013 husband and wife Bronson and Amy opened their home to abused, neglected and abandoned children and offer them a loving, safe, family/homely environment. They believe that each child deserves a happy loving childhood. They currently have 7 children in their care, however the numbers change all the time. Nehemiah Safe House is registered NPO. Nehemiah is a Safe House based in Monte Vista, Cape Town. They are a home to vulnerable children who come from various unfortunate circumstances. The motto of Nehemiah Safe House is "turning tears to laughter " as they strive to bring about positive change in the lives of every child they come into contact with, and prevent them from a bad future. Amy and Bronson work through social development who identify and investigate cases of child abandonment, abuse, and neglect. In the case where a child has been abandoned or they feel a child needs to be removed due to a certain criteria after their investigation, they are then contacted. They assist in emergency care, safety care and foster care through a court order. The children that come into their home who are orphaned they will adopt. Shockingly, to date all the children that have been through their home have been directly affected by drug abuse. An average daily overview; Average number of kids: 7 Average number of nappy changes: 36 Average number of bottles: 32 Average loads of washing: 3 Amy and Bronson A husband/wife duo with big hearts Amy and Bronson have dedicated their lives to helping those who cannot help themselves. Amy and Bronson are a young couple in their 30’s, soulmates for over 17 years who have ample love to give. With a 10 year old son of their own, they truly can sympathize with the abused and traumatized children that they see every day. They feel that it is a gift to be able to serve their community and help positively impact the stories of these kids, hoping to change the cycle of abuse and neglect. They were inspired to start their . . .
Newly appointed Amatola Water CEO, Vuyo Zitumane, says that the water utility is delighted with the outcome in the legal case of its chairperson Nokulunga Mnqeta. The case, which involved Mnqeta’s former role as CEO of the Amathole District Municipality’s Development Agency, Aspire, was concluded last week with all alleged fraud charges against her being dropped. “We welcome this outcome, particularly as it comes at a time when Amatola Water is doubling its efforts in rebuilding stakeholder trust and ensuring sound corporate governance is maintained,” explains Zitumane whose appointment at the water utility became effective on 1 April 2018. “While the allegations vilified the chairperson in her personal capacity, they also had an impact on the reputation of Amatola Water.” “It is a comfort for both the chairperson and Amatola Water to know that the matter has been concluded and will not have any further bearing while we pursue our turnaround plan,” says Zitumane. Mnqeta, was appointed by the Minister of Water and Sanitation as the chairperson of the Amatola Water Board in February 2016. CLICK HERE to submit your press release to MyPR.co.za. . . .
The last Urban Land Dialogue took place on 28 March 2018 in Cape Town. Informed by the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF), which promotes an all-of-society approach to transforming South Africa’s cities and towns, the dialogues are organised in partnership with organisations that carry out urban land work and research, so that all-of-society voices are represented. A general sentiment at the dialogue was that to have any hope of transforming the city will require new thinking and the embracing of unconventional ideas. The “owners of money” must join the discussion: Referring to the inner-city gentrification that is happening in Cape Town, participants asked why the private sector cannot consider people and profit together. Housing should be viewed as homes, not commodities, and a system that forces people out of their homes and onto the streets is broken. In response, the private sector indicated that the “owners of money” – the financial institutions – set the terms and determine project parameters. The shared sentiment was that financial institutions need to be “in the room” and part of discussions about community issues. Micro-developers are the future: Micro-developers collectively produce the most number of affordable housing units (for people earning between R2,000 and R10,000) in Cape Town. The UCT Urban Real Estate Research Unit found that in the Khayelitsha planning district alone, 6000 building applications were received, compared to just 4000 housing units being delivered in the conventional manner. The question was raised about how to support smaller developers operating in township areas. One idea was for the municipality to run “housing clinics” in these areas, thereby decentralising planning decision-making and making development applications easier for these enterprising developers. Let’s move the economy to marginalised areas: As one private developer pointed out, the reality is that “we are doing business like we have for the . . .
The second Urban Land Dialogue took place on 27 March 2018 in Port Elizabeth. Informed by the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF), which promotes an all-of-society approach to transforming South Africa’s cities and towns, the dialogues are organised in partnership with organisations that carry out urban land work and research, so that all-of-society voices are represented. The robust discussion allowed the airing of diverse and often conflicting views, which brought texture to many of the issues raised at the first dialogue. We also want to walk our dogs on the beachfront! The language used by policy-makers was highlighted, such as reducing spatial transformation to bringing poor black people closer to their places of work. One panellist questioned why black people are seen as mere labourers in the city – black people also want to walk their dogs on the beach or play some golf. The general view was that race and racism still play a major role in settlement decisions in Port Elizabeth. Why are we not learning from Mapangubwe? Prof. Mkhize urged us to move away from the notion that cities are a western construct – Africa has an ancient urban culture and is home to some of society’s earliest cities. Arguing that wherever concentrations of human beings occur, similar pressures and challenges emerge, and so decolonising the city in part means valuing lessons from our own African urban past. For instance, Mapangubwe disappeared when its ecosystem failed. Land and city issues go beyond our recent racial history; they are inherent in the dynamic of dense human settlements – failing to acknowledge this would be failing into the future. When the fire burns, municipalities are the ones that feel it: Municipalities are under immense pressure to deliver urban land transformation. From the first two dialogues, the view is that municipalities are currently failing. Yet, as one non-municipal participant asked, how can a municipality be expected to deal with . . .
2017 was basically a whole year to not remember regarding the economic wellness of a lot of South Africans, but nevertheless what is considered the forecast for the rest of 2018? Many will have constructed a listing of budgetary resolutions for the New Year, and with suffering GDP growth rates, stagnating career development, ever-increasing numbers of unemployment and also astonishingly increased levels of earnings and prosperity inequality all plaguing the country in the second portion of the calendar year, South African consumers may well want them. Unemployment Unemployment has grown steadily from 4.6 million in 2011 to 5.9 million in 2016 and unfortunately, although this increase has slowed, unemployment is expected to continue to grow to 7.2 million by the end of 2018. That means, if current economic and employment trends set to continue, there’ll be around 1.3 million more unemployed at the end of 2018 than there were in 2016. Official figures show that joblessness has risen in seven of the nine provinces, with the highest rate of unemployment in Free State province and the lowest in Western Cape. Economic growth According to the data, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rates have fallen from 3.3 percent in 2012 to just 0.3 percent in 2016. Although GDP growth is expected to be below 1 percent for 2017, the central bank forecasts it will rise to 1.5 percent in 2018. While this represents a slow recovery which is unlikely to prevent a further increase in unemployment, at least things are starting to move in the right direction. Financial wellness Given the constant downgrading of economic growth expectations for 2017 and 2018, household finances will fail to recover and the financial wellness index, which takes into account seven aspects of an individual’s financial situation, is also like to stagnate. Financial wellness measures everything from an individual’s household material deprivation and hardship to their financial confidence . . .
Plastics|SA, the umbrella body representing the local plastics industry and local coordinator of the annual International Coastal Clean-Up volunteer efforts, has released the audited results of the biggest pollutants found on our beaches during 2017. Thousands of volunteers around the country participated According to John Kieser, Sustainability Manager of Plastics|SA and coordinator of the clean-ups that took place in the Cape Provinces, the past few months were spent compiling and analysing the datasheets that were filled in by more than 30 000 volunteers. Throughout the year Plastics|SA distributed nearly 350 000 bags used for clean-ups nationwide. 16 298 volunteers helped to remove more than 5 tons of litter from beaches in the three Cape Provinces alone, whilst approximately 8 000 volunteers participated in KZN. Several thousands of volunteers also participated in clean-ups hosted inland to clean rivers and water sources. “The information we get from these clean-ups are relayed and used by international organisations such as Ocean Conservancy to provide an item-by-item, location-by-location snapshot of marine debris. As a signatory of the Declaration of the Global Plastics Associations for Solutions on Marine Litter, this information has become an integral part of Plastics|SA’s ongoing clean-ups and education campaigns,” Kieser explained. Single use packaging items continue to be biggest pollutants Broken down plastic pieces, food wrappers, containers, as well as bottle caps and lids continue to be the most commonly found, post-consumer waste items on our country’s beaches. This is clearly showing that we are dealing with human behaviour that needs to be addressed and corrected,” Kieser said. Communities getting their hands dirty The Plastics|SA results have also shown a year-on-year increase in the number of regular beach clean-ups which are being initiated and driven by communities and volunteers. This past year has seen more clean-ups . . .
(Port Elizabeth) – AFTER three years of hard work, the R53-million revamp of Port Elizabeth’s Betheldorp Police Station has wrapped, heralding a new era in user-friendly, community-orientated crime control for residents. In a bid to provide a more compassionate, public-oriented service, the new facility now not only features a mandatory charge office and holding cells, but also offers a far greater element of privacy to victims of crime. “We feel the SAPS deserves credit for their visionary role in this project,” said Greta Teltschik, an architect with SVA International, the firm tasked with making the vision a reality. The firm officially handed over the station earlier this month. “It has certainly been a challenging transition, due the police station being operational while renovations were carried out. The project had to remain as fluid as possible, while still fulfilling its role as a servant to the community.” While working in an operational facility had thrown a number of challenges at architects, there were also a number of highlights, said Teltschik. “For me, the biggest achievement was the establishment of an autonomous centre which serves the sole purpose of helping victims of crime,” she said. “In the police station’s previous life, victims were forced to wait in a single room, regardless of the crime committed against them – or their age.” Part of this new wing is dedicated completely to children, who now have a colourful waiting room in which to play while waiting for assistance. Another highlight of the project is the fact the police station has completely changed the way it operates, she said. “It’s more of a community centre now,” said Teltschik. “The charge office is more user-friendly, with a dedicated area for the public to make statements, get documents certified and make general enquiries.” Bethelsdorp station commander Brigadier Zolani Xawuka said the revamp allowed the police station to operate far more effectively . . .
March 12, 2018 - Through the kind efforts and donations from past Shamwari Conservation Experience students, from various schools and colleges and volunteers at Shamwari Private Game Reserve, is sponsoring the Hendrik Kanise Combined School in Alicedale, in the Eastern Cape, with enough funds to employ a new English school teacher, Mrs Letitia Lulama Nesi to fill the vacant position. She will now teach Grade 4 and 5 (10-12 year olds). Mrs Nesi was brought out of retirement to take up the role as the English teacher for 2018. This is a reality for many rural schools in South Africa where the government has been unable to deliver the necessary resources for quality education, leaving students hampered in their development to go on to further education opportunities and create a successful adult life. Comments Quinton Gillson, Marketing & Product Development Manager, “It really is heart-warming to have been able to make this happen and to play a part in the education process of the next generation within our community. We hope that by assisting with the funds that year upon year the children will grow to their full potential and also see the importance of community spirit.” Presently, some of the grade classes are so large (one with 66 children and not enough tables and chairs that the workload is overwhelming and there is no time for special attention for individuals who fall behind. We are going to start helping with English and math extra classes soon (ages 6-10 years), with the help of our volunteers. We have already implemented computer literacy classes as some of the learners have never touched a computer and the idea is to give them basic classes to benefit them for when they leave school. Adding to this the Shamwari Conservation Team does a great deal of maintenance at the school, such as cleaning gutters, looking after the vegetable gardens, fixing windows, painting etc. The students at HKC School now have the opportunity to develop their . . .
More than R150,000 worth of damage has been done to the Hillbrow premises of upliftment and empowerment organisation, Outreach Foundation, over the past weekend, said Executive Director, Robert Michel. “We had, through generous donations, been able to purchase solar panels. These panels were to be the start of our self-sustainability project, and we were just about to channel much-needed funds usually used to pay for the running costs of the premises, such as electricity, back to our beneficiaries. “But with the theft of the panels this weekend and the damage to our gate, we are back to square one. This theft will severely hamper our ability to care for the communities of Hillbrow. So much time and money will now have to be spent fixing the damage done.” The thieves gained entry to the premises by breaking the gate in Edith Cavell street. They then tore apart the box containing the electrical connections between the solar panels and the premises and ripped off the solar panels from the roof. One of the panels was damaged during the theft and was left behind with the rest of the destroyed items. The Outreach Foundation works to provide skills to the unemployed people of Hillbrow and especially to the youth. It provides well-run programmes such as: - Outreach Foundation’s Boitumelo Craft, the Outreach Foundation’s Hillbrow Theatre and Outreach Foundation’s Music School, which through arts education, skills development and creative programmes, enables young people and adults to find economic opportunities and develop life skills; - The Outreach Foundation Computer Centre, which focuses on the technological side of creativity and trains learners in practical and essential computer skills; - The Outreach Foundation’s counselling centre which provides essential counselling, care and support interventions to the community of Hillbrow especially in areas such as drug and alcohol abuse; and - The Outreach Foundation Youth Centre which aims to educate . . .