Food insecurity a problem


Picture: Jeffrey Abrahams (IOL)

In many rural communities in Cape Town today, there is thousands if not millions of people who go without food or who struggle to survive and eat a proper meal on a daily basis.

This reality has led to many socio economic problems arising throughout the Mother City. There are many reasons for this, but the two which stood out the most for me is a lack in income and food wastage.

In 2011, according to a survey done by Queen’s University and AFSUN, the most common forms of labour in poor rural areas were domestic work, skilled manual labour and service sector work.

It has been proven time and time again that a lack of food or a certain type of food can highly affect the way any human being functions and lives, and furthermore, even their life span.

It was also found that most affordable, high in protein foods were among that which were least consumed. According to the survey, among the possible reasons for this is that making these foods is time consuming, which leads to high energy costs.

Another shocking statistic was that a whopping 88% of households stated that they had been without food in previous months due to unaffordability.

Even with these sad statistics, according to a news article written by the Cape Times, over 10 million tons goes to waste every year. In the article it goes further to say that WFF South Africa’s new Food and Waste said that fruits, vegetables and other foods high in protein make up 70% of the wastage and loss.

Those who tend to waste food because they simply don’t need it need to think twice before doing so, especially mainstream food outlets.

As a journalist, I believe that each and every citizen has an impeccable role to play when it comes to bettering and fostering a healthier and more conscious and just food system.

And many are already starting to play their part by handing out meals and even offering counselling to those in need.

The high unemployment rates needs to be addressed and everyone who is able to, can contribute to such an initiative. One fact that I think many people do not grasp is that it is very difficult to find strength and reason to live a better and ‘healthier’ life when your living conditions is unbearable.


Doing something as simple, yet as effective as motivating those who feel dismayed about the conditions they are living in is one of the best gifts any human being can offer another. It is important to understand that every word that one utters has the ability to either break or build someone up.


Cape school’s Olympic pool dream within reach


Cape Town – Spine Road High School in Rocklands, Mitchells Plain, has raised R1 million with the aim of building the school’s first Olympic size-swimming pool.Principal Riyaadh Najaar said they have been planning the pool for the past five years.

“We have since raised R1m to build it at the back of the school and with the assistance of willing organisations, this dream can become a reality sooner (than later).

“We had three Western Province swimmers who attended this school but they could not pursue their dreams due to a lack of a swimming pool. With the swimming pool I also want to expose our children to other water sports such as water polo.

“Why can’t our children play water polo? It does not mean because our children are from Mitchells Plain that they cannot play these sports. We need to bring the amenities to our communities.

“We want to expose kids from disadvantaged areas to the same kind of opportunities the rest of the children in the country is exposed to.

“It is of utmost importance that the school and the community have access to what will essentially lead them to having a better future.The playing fields are not level, and we want to change that. We have approached funders to support the initiative before, but they did not want to sponsor it, but we are not giving up. If we can gain more interest from the government and like-minded organisations, we can make this happen.”

Najaar also plans to start an alumni group for the school.

LEVELLING PLAYING FIELDS: Principal Riyaadh Najaar. Picture: Courtney Africa

“I am also planning to start an alumni group for the school in order for ex-students to plough back. The alumni will be there to motivate and encourage pupils to dream the impossible. People like Dale Santon (ex-Springbok rugby player), who was a learner at the school, is one of those people who has ploughed back, and has done enormous things for the school.”

Spine Road High School is known for its academic excellence and was the first (in the area) to build an education centre. They became the first school to obtain above 80% for a matric pass rate and, later, the first school to get a 100% pass rate on the Cape Flats.

Spine Road High School has become one of the Cape Flats most sought-after schools in Mitchells Plain.

Najaar said that the school managed to raise funds by hosting events in the school hall. “We have had market days, cake sales, talent shows and even cut down on unnecessary spending. All this has been happening since 2010,” he said.

Rayaan Ismail, parent of Aqeelah Ismail, said he was happy the school wants to build a pool. “I fully support Mr Najaar because he has the children’s best interests at heart.”

Grade 9 pupil Anushqa Kandan said a pool was a great idea as “those who have a passion for swimming will then have the opportunity to pursue their dreams”.

Cape Argus

New school initiative driven by passion


File photo: Most of the pupils come from financially unstable homes. Picture: Henk Kruger
Cape Town – The South African Memory Institute (Sami), in Durbanville, helps boost the academic careers and life skills of children who are in Grade 4 up until 21 years old.Founders Jaco, Martin and Wynand van Vuuren started the initiative because of their passion for education and young people. Having assisted thousands of pupils to master the necessary skills over the past few years, they recently approached local enthusiast Sheldon Allies to help start the Sami initiative in Mitchells Plain.

The programme has already been kicked off in three schools: Beacon Hill High, Aloe Junior and Aloe High. With a lack of funding for the programme, Sheldon has taken the initiative to resign from the company where he is currently employed to become involved on a full-time basis. Growing up in a poor community, he said he wants to invest more in those who don’t have access to the opportunities he had when he was younger.

“Because of the limited number of people currently involved, and because I have a passion to see lives changed through education, I have decided to devote all my time to make that happen.”

Sheldon is hoping to find more sponsors and volunteers.

The programme costs R3 000. This is one of the major setbacks the programme is experiencing as most of the pupils come from financially unstable homes.

“The children come to school with no food and the programme starts directly after school. We need to feed them in order for them to be focused,” Sheldon said.

Financial assistance is also needed because those who need it the most are often the ones unable to pay. Sheldon challenges those who are as passionate and devoted to the community as he is to emerge from their comfort zones and join in on making a difference.

Cape Argus

* Those wanting to get involved may contact Sheldon via e-mail at

Cape baller sets sights on a pro US career


BALL SKILLS: Local basketball player Ameer Abrahams, far left, coaches Chesley Maritz, Shawna King, Shay-Lee King and Chedeno Jaftha. Abrahams is set to travel to Ohio, US for two training camps. Picture: David Ritchie
Cape Town – Ameer Abrahams, 19, from Heideveld is on target to reach his dream of becoming a professional basketball player.During a basketball clinic at Heideveld High last year, Abrahams was identified by PGC’s Chad Songy, and invited to a five-day training camp at McDaniel College in Baltimore, USA.

This year, Abrahams will attend two training camps in over a month. The first will be from August 1-5, and the second from August 7-11, in Ohio. He is set to leave on July 26.

“Last year, when I got to the camp I didn’t know what to expect. I was overjoyed and the experience was truly amazing. I expect nothing different this year, but I am really glad that I get to stay longer this time around,” Abrahams said.

He is the only African to have attended similar camps. He captained one of four teams last year and was recognised for his performances.

“This is a community thing and we are proud of him,” said John Goliath, director of Heideveld Basketball Club.

“It’s not just about basketball. The camp aims to help improve one’s leadership abilities and motivates you to become better at what you do,” Abrahams said.

He was selected for the national Under-20 training squad in December.

His brother, Tashreeq, is proud of him: “He is the first in our family to achieve something as great as this. I am honoured to call him my brother.”

Abrahams’s coach, Denwin Jones, added: “Ameer has grown and matured since he has been on the camp last year. If he can get a scholarship to study in the USA, then I think he will be able to play in the NBA. He is that good. He must just remember to come back and give us of the money he will make,” joked Goliath.

Abrahams has given back to his community. He coaches children from his neighbourhood on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He also motivates youngsters who may be disillusioned about their futures.

“Since I have started pursuing basketball as a sport, I haven’t had many role models around. This is an opportunity for me to expose other youngsters to what I have not been exposed to,” he said.

Abrahams is a referee for the Cape Town Basketball Association, in its league which runs from March until September. He has raised money for his flight to the US, but needs more for his visa and allowance for his stay.

* If anyone would like to assist him, call 063 505 6266 or email

Cape Argus

Hayden hangs tough on way to top


GOING PLACES: Hayden van der Horst, 12, from Bridgetown in Athlone has been chosen by the South African Schools Football Association to represent his country at an international tournament in Thailand. Picture: Henk Kruger
Cape Town – Hayden van der Horst, 12, from Athlone has been chosen to represent South Africa at an international football tournament in Thailand.
He participated in several trials held by the South African Schools Football Association this year. Hayden is one of four pupils chosen from Cyprus Primary in Athlone.

His parents Basil and Carlin are excited for him to showcase his talent.

“I am very overwhelmed and proud of my son. He is a natural-born star, and now is his chance to prove it!” said Carlin.

Basil said Hayden has the ability to go far in football.


“He has worked very hard for this opportunity and the exposure at the tournament will help him in a big way,” he said.

“Here in Bridgetown, children aren’t motivated to pursue their goals.

“We live in a drug-infested area with gangsterism being the epicentre.

“Hayden has beaten all the odds that were against him.”

Hayden has withstood the negative influences he faces every day.

“I am very excited, especially because I will be going overseas. I hope to make new friends during my stay,” he said.

“I also hope to improve my skills.”

The Van der Horsts need R25 000 for Hayden’s trip to Thailand in November. They plan to raise funds with raffles and by selling food.

* Anyone who wants to assist may contact them on 081 805 936 or 072 037 7510.

Cape Argus

Leaders a no-show at crimes against children discussion


FIGHT VIOLENCE: Romano Louw, 18, from Mitchells Plain, speaks at the Nelson Mandela Youth Dialogue about violence in his community. Picture: Rusana Philander

Cape Town – Provincial government leaders snubbed a conference of 100 children who shared their experiences of crime and gang violence on the Cape Flats.

The conference was held in the city and was attended by young people from Mitchells Plain, Dunoon, Elsies River, Philippi, Manenberg, Khayelitsha, Hanover Park, Khayelitsha and Hout Bay.

Cassandry Charles, 17, from Mitchells Plain said: “We would like Parliament to come into our communities, see our problems and stay there for a week. They will not survive it.”

Another child, Arthur Schuller from Hanover Park, said something had to be done before it was too late.

“We should have done something about what is happening to our children when it started. The killings, murders, rapes – we always wait until these issues escalate to an uncontrollable state before we do something about it.”

Valdi Van Reenen-Le Roux, executive director of the Trauma Centre, said it invited Western Cape premier Helen Zille to the conference and although she accepted she later sent an apology and said she was sick.

MEC for Community Safety Dan Plato sent an apology and MEC for Social Development Albert Fritz sent a representative.

“We really wanted the premier to attend the conference so she could listen to the children and understand why a commission of inquiry into child murders are so important. Young boys are also killed in gang violence. They said some people use drugs as a way of coping with circumstances in their communities. The kids also complained about the overcrowding in their homes,” Van Reenen-le Roux said.

“And they told us how there is no food when they get home in the afternoons and then they have to go to look for something to eat. Every day they live in fear. Even traditional places of safety are no longer safe for them.

“We emphasise that violence prevention interventions such as a commission of inquiry is crucial to eliminating it in our communities. Nelson Mandela would have supported such a call. In his honour, we press on, lobbying the premier to establish a commission of inquiry into the safety of our children in the Western Cape,” Van Reenen-Le Roux said.

Zille’s spokesperson Michael Mpofu urged everyone to get involved to create a safer environment for children.

Cape Argus

Religion report causes a stir


Constitutional Court File picture: Tiro Ramatlhatse/ANA Picture

Cape Town – Religious organisations are spoiling for a fight all the way to the Constitutional Court if legislation is passed to regulate religion.

One such organisation is Freedom of Religion South Africa, which said it would be take the matter of licensing religion to the Constitutional Court, if an amendment of the Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities Act (CRL) is signed into law.

This comes after the CRL Rights Commission released a report on how it proposes to regulate religion. The CRL is a Chapter 9 organisation, which protects the rights of communities to practise their religion, culture and language.

Michael Swain, executive director of the organisation, said: “If the CRL Amendment is passed, the commission will be able to regulate religion in South Africa.”

During the CRL Rights Commission’s hearings on commercialisation of religion it found that people were expected to pay substantial amounts of money before they are prayed for and get blessings.

“People can swipe their bank cards at speed points during ceremonies.

“Some churches are not registered either with the Department of Social Development or with Sars. We recommend that religious communities regulate themselves more diligently to be in line with the constitution and the law,” the report reads.

It further states that it recommends that there is a Peer Review Council, “which will consist of peers from each religion that will give permission to operate, to individual religious leaders. There must also be committees of each religion. Each religion would then have accredited umbrella organisations that are associations, which will recommend the licensing of individual institutions and individual practitioners.”

Swain said: “Our organisation also made recommendations to the CRL Rights Commission, but it was not included in the report. We represent six million people and all different denominations and we are very concerned about it. This proposal is also unconstitutional because there is freedom of religion. We are against people eating grass, but there are other laws for that. Their proposals are not supported by a sound and convincing scientific investigation. Only a random sampling of 85 religious practitioners and institutions. It is unnecessary and unconstitutional.”

The CRL Commission set up and ad-hoc commission after reports of pastors feeding congregants grass and snakes, spraying them with insecticide and making them drink petrol.

Isgaak Taliep, secretary-general of the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) said, “The MJC welcomes regulation as long as it is done by religious authorities themselves to ensure that we condone legitimate religious practices and outlaw illegitimate practices done in the name of religion.”

Joshua Hovsha, director of the Jewish Board of Deputies in Cape Town, said: “Today it is our task to respect and defend our hard-won constitutional order. We understand no one is above the law. All religious institutions must abide by South African law and respect our constitutional principles.”

The Council for the Protection and Promotion of Religious Rights and Freedoms (CRRF) has distanced itself from the main proposals in the CRL Rights Commission report. Chairperson Pieter Coertzen said it deplored incidents of abuse in the name of religion, but state regulation and control of religion was not the appropriate way to combat such abuses.

Dr Mathole Motshekga, chairperson of the National Interfaith Council of South Africa, said: “South Africa is a spiritually and religiously diverse society.”

Cape Argus

Foul smell driving tourists away from historic Cape square


SULLIED: Broken toilets and litter are ruining Greenmarket Square.Picture: Tamryn Christians
Cape Town – Traders on Greenmarket Square, a tourist hot spot, are upset about the state of the toilets on the square and the rubbish that’s piling up. Trader Trevor Eden said the public toilets have been in a state of disrepair for the past six months. Only one was working and open until 4pm.“Thereafter, those in need of the toilets are forced to do their business on the outside. This has caused traders an excessive amount of problems as potential customers race away because of the stench,” he said.

“Here is some fine art which is hand made, but the smell just makes it unbearable to even want to have a look,” said a customer.

The person in charge of cleaning the toilets, who didn’t want to give his name, said: “The taps and other essential things are often stolen This is why we need to close the toilets early.”

George Muruta said the state of the area was affecting his nearby business.

“When we get here in the morning, it looks like a river of urine. We have to clean the mess ourselves,” he said .

The city said the matter would be investigated.

Councillor for the area, Suzette Little, said: “Unfortunately the terms of tender do not allow for the facility to be operational until 4pm over the weekends, but we are in talks with vendors to extend the working hours of staff. Ongoing repairs have been effected over the past six months.

“However, we are faced with daily breakages and vandalism ongoing maintenance and additional refurbishment projects are planned for the new financial year.”

SELFLESS: Residents, with Tzu Chi volunteers, pick up rubbish in Block F, Blikkiesdorp. Picture: Think Yellow Projects

Cape Argus

Children watch as robbers shoot mom dead


File picture: ANA pictures
Cape Town – A mother was shot dead in front of her two children after robbers threatened them with a gun and demanded money.Bulelwa Lobi, 35, from Lwandle in Strand, was at home with her two children aged 2 and 11 about 7pm on Monday when the men entered her house.

According to ward councillor Jongidumo Maxheke, the men then asked Lobi for her cellphone and wallet.

“They said the money was not enough, and in fear of getting killed, Lobi offered the suspects R2 000, which she sent her 11-year-old child to collect.”

“After the two suspects received the money, they shot Bulelwa. One of her children rushed off to neighbours for help, but it was too late. It was said by the neighbours that they were unable to hear the gunshots because of the rain.”

Police spokersperson Noloyiso Rwexana confirmed the incident.

“The suspect shot the victim in her head and face, and she died of her injuries. No one has been arrested at this stage. Anyone with information that can assist with the investigation is requested to contact the investigating officer, Detective Warrant Officer Randall van Skalkwyk on 021 845 2060 or 082 522 1208.”

Lobi’s sister Thabisa said she could not believe what had happened.

She also said that the family were fearing for their lives.

Thabisa said her sister’s eldest child, 17, was not coping as he has not eaten since the incident. “My sister was a lovely person, who would always bring joy with her as she entered a room.”

“It feels like she is about to walk through the door right now, as usual.”

Maxheke expressed outrage, condemning the murder. “This is a very serious incident. The abuse of women and children happens far too often in this area.”

“It is time for the community to come together and fight against what is happening”, he said.

Cape Argus

From drug dealer to art teacher


GIVING BACK: Former drug dealer Mark Jeneker is now a dedicated art teacher. Picture: Supplied
Cape Town – He sold drugs to young kids and spent time in prison because of it. Now Mark Jeneker from Mitchell’s Plain is teaching young kids art.
Jeneker, 51, has been teaching young children how to paint at the Town Centre Library in Mitchell’s Plain. 
He is also a volunteer art teacher at Yellowwood Primary School. 
“I was a drug merchant for 20 years and after the murder of my two sons, I told myself that I needed to change,” he told the Cape Argus.
Not being able to pay for the funeral of one of his sons, he decided to approach Oval North Secondary School and Littlewood Primary School in Beacon Valley. There he sold art to raise funds for the funeral and managed to make over R5 000.
“That’s where it all started, I thought to myself ‘if I can ruin these children’s lives by selling drugs to them, I can make a difference by doing something positive’.” 
This year it will be the fifth year that Jeneker is actively involved in serving his community. He specialises in abstract art and creating 3D sculptures from recyclable material. In 2015, Jeneker won R25 000 for his school in a competition. 
He has also won numerous awards for the selfless commitment he has made to the community, including being LeadSA hero in August 2016. Yellowwood Primary principal Donovan Senosi said: “Jeneker has come in as a saviour.
“Since Jeneker’s arrival, all the kids talk about is art. They have no time to bother with negativity.” 
Jeneker has also gone on to sell some of his students’ art at the Cape Town Central Library, with one piece going for R750. 
Last February, Jeneker’s class was set alight by two pupils, but he persisted by having classes outside. The classroom has since been revamped. 
Jeneker started his initiative with the help of Bright Studios and currently sustains it through the sponsorship of Baze Art and also from his own pocket. The classes he offers at Yellowwood Primary costs a mere R5 per child. 
“I am not doing this for the money and some children can’t even afford to pay R5. I owe this to them.” 
Senosi approached Jeneker about two years ago to teach art at his school. 
“I am a firm believer in second chances and as you can see today, Jeneker is an example of what second chances can do. We want to do justice to his talent.”
The arts teacher can do so much more with help from the community. He isn’t asking for money, nor is he asking for recognition. All he wants to do is give back. 
“I have wasted most of my life doing the wrong things. My heart yearns for that never to happen to another child.”
Jeneker is appealing to potential sponsors to join and share his vision in creating a better life for the youth through art.
Cape Argus