Residents threaten to destroy new road

1 day 4 hours ago
People who had homes demolished for road construction in 2013 have still not been compensated

By Nokulunga Majola

Photo of a wide road T-junction
Residents of Amaoti say they will destroy Angola Road if they are not compensated for the demolition of their homes in 2013. Photo: Nokulunga Majola

Residents of Amaoti, north of Durban, are threatening to destroy a new road if they are not compensated for being relocated. About 35 people had their homes, some of them with up to six rooms, demolished to make way for Angola Road in 2013.

Some of the people were relocated to RDP homes; others are now living in shacks. They were supposed to be compensated according to the value of their houses, but five years later nothing has happened.

The roadworks have also stopped as more demolitions will be necessary. Ward councillor Bongani Qantsi said, “Once we have established how many more people will be affected we will then work out how they will be compensated, together with the first people whose houses were destroyed in 2013. This issue is being handled.”

But resident Sibekezele Mthembu said, “How long should we wait for what belongs to us? [eThekwini Mayor Zandile] Gumede came to us and told us that a new road will be built in the area. She said, for that to happen our homes would have to be destroyed, but we will be compensated so that we can rebuild somewhere else.”

“These are our homes that we are talking about. Why is it taking them so long to pay us what is due?” asked Mthembu. “I don’t know how many meetings we have attended over the years, but nothing concrete has come of it.”

“If nothing is done soon to resolve this matter, we will resolve it ourselves by doing something the City will not approve of,” said Mthembu.

Resident are now threatening to destroy the road, anything built along it, and the mayor’s house. They blame her for the delay.

Resident Jabulani Sosibo said, “All we are getting are empty promises. We have been patient for far too long. All we want is our money. The meetings that we have been having with the councillor and other authorities are not helping us. It is all talk and no action.”

A community leader, who did not want to be named, said they had been pleading with the residents to be patient but people were now too angry.

Spokesperson for the mayor, Mthunzi Gumede, said the matter was being handled by ward councillor Qantsi and the Department of Human Settlement. On Monday, residents met Councillor Mondli Mthembu.

Correction: Originally it was stated that residents met with the mayor not Councillor Mthembu.

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Land occupiers in Mthatha won’t move until they get houses

1 day 4 hours ago
Municipality says the vacant land is earmarked for a “major development”

By Kwanele Mketeni

Photo of a house under construction
Brick mud houses are being built in a land occupation at KwaMpuku in Mthatha. Photo: Kwanele Mketeni

About a thousand residents of KwaMpuku in Mthatha are battling over land with King Sabata Dalindyebo Municipality. In August 2017, the municipality demolished their homes saying they were illegally on the land. But residents are rebuilding and demanding that the municipality first make proper housing arrangements for them before they are evicted.

Sibusiso Jekemani, his wife, 17-year-old child and a baby, had their home demolished by the municipality on 17 August 2017.

“Only my wife and our last born were home on the day,” said Jekemani, tearing up as he recalled the demolition. “Our last child was only a month old when our home was destroyed with everything in it. The machines I used to cut grass were also destroyed in the demolition and that was the only source of income in our home. It took me months to bounce back.”

But on Saturday, Jekemani was back on the land, building a new home with the help of three friends. “The municipality must acknowledge we’re also entitled to dignity. If they want this land so bad, they must build our homes elsewhere. We refuse to go anywhere if that has not been done.”

Sphosethu Kwedinana said the informal settlement has been in existence for more than 10 years. “They [the municipality] do not want us here so they treat us like we do not exist. It is wrong. We demand our basic rights be attended to. We want houses and we want proper sanitation.”

In July GroundUp reported how the occupiers were forced to relieve themselves in an open field.

Municipal spokesperson Sonwabo Mampoza said, “If people want to build on the unoccupied land, they must first consult the municipality to find out its intentions about that particular piece of land.”

Mampoza said the residents were challenging the municipality to return and demolish their structures – “something which is not in the best interest of the authority [the municipality]”.

He said the municipality could not provide basic services to the residents as they are illegal occupants.

He said the land was reserved for a “major development”.

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Land occupiers raise funds for fire victim, water installations, gravel roads

1 day 4 hours ago
City of Cape Town criticises illegal water connections at Khayelitsha land occupation

By Vincent Lali

Photo of a woman with fire debris and shacks being built
Kholeka Mgaguli lost everything in a shack fire in the early hours of Saturday. Photo: Vincent Lali

“A loud crack and choking smoke filled my shack and woke me up,” says Kholeka Mgaguli. “I pulled my [five] kids out and called my neighbours.”

Residents scooped stagnant water from a damaged storm water drain nearby to douse the flames. But Mgaguli lost everything in the fire that started in her shack in Msindweni informal settlement, Khayelitsha, around 3am on Saturday. Her fridge, microwave, beds, cupboards and television and the rest of her belongings were reduced to ashes.

Community leader Nonceba Ndlebe said they may have been able to stop the fire had the water pressure in the communal taps been higher. “It takes about 20 minutes to fill up a 20-litre container [from these taps],” she said.

In June, someone died in a shack fire because it could not be put out in time, according to community leader Andiswa Kolanisi.

Community leaders have used community funds to buy Mgagauli corrugated iron sheets, nails and poles to rebuild.

Kolanisi said each land occupier forks out R300 to contribute towards the purchase of water pipes, taps and the cost of plumbers. “We started off the community fund to hire taxis to transport us to court, when the city was still destroying our shacks. Each resident contributed only R2 then,” she said. “We later asked residents to increase their contributions so we could buy materials to install water taps here.”

The community also bought gravel to make the land more habitable and accessible.

“Are we going to live without water and toilets until our [court] case has been resolved?” Kolanisi asked rhetorically. “Residents are happy to make a once-off contribution towards the project because they no longer have to pay about R500 for rent on a monthly basis.”

According to Kolanisi, eight taps had been installed so far, but some people still live too far away and cross Japhta Masemola Road to collect water in Makhaza.

“Residents are out of work and they struggle to contribute financially towards the project. Currently we are short of cash to buy materials,” said Kolanasi.

Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Services Councillor Xanthea Limberg said, “The provision of services on this land was not planned and is therefore not included in the City’s current budget or resource allocation.”

“Tapping into the water supply system without relevant approvals is against the water by-law. These illegal actions also place the water supply of the wider community at risk,” said Limberg.

“As part of the City’s commitment to improving the lives of our most vulnerable residents, more than R850 million has been earmarked for the provision of services and upgrading of existing informal settlements across Cape Town,” said Limberg.

Community leader Nonceba Ndleba scooping stagnant water from the ground in Msindweni, Khayelitsha. Photo: Vincent Lali

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Impressive Exhibitors and Top Design Mark The 25th Decorex Joburg

1 day 8 hours ago
57 361 visitors passed through the doors of Gallagher Convention Centre for the landmark 25th edition of Decorex Joburg, Africa’s largest décor, design and lifestyle exhibition.

The colourful Plascon Concept Stand featuring the Mono Colour Café, where colour and product experts engaged with to Decorex Joburg 2018 visitors to discuss the latest interior and exterior colour trends.

The 25th edition of Decorex Joburg, presented by Plascon, proved exactly why it continues to be Africa’s largest décor, design and lifestyle exhibition. 57 361 visitors passed through the doors of Gallagher Convention Centre from 8 to 12 August where they got to witness some of the best #rhythmoflife features, products and trends regionally, and from across the globe.

“For the milestone Decorex Joburg, we really wanted visitors to be immersed in the latest design trends and products, while also catching a glimpse at the various influences over the past 25 years that have brought us to this phenomenal point in décor,” said Sian Cullingworth, Portfolio Director for Decorex SA. “We welcomed a really expansive features’ programme, a number of award-winning designers and industry influencers, top quality décor products and services, celebrity chefs, as well as 22 show competitions to ensure every taste and interest was met. We are already excited to begin planning the 2019 edition of Decorex Joburg.”

Décor and design

A popular feature on this year’s programme was the colourful Plascon Concept Stand featuring the Mono Colour Café where colour and product experts engaged with visitors in this beautiful space to discuss the latest interior and exterior colour trends.  Paint lovers could walk away purchasing a 250ml tester pot in Plascon Double Velvet or Plascon Cashmere to test their colour in their space. Visitors also got to discover their individual design personality by picking a room setting on an iPad as part of the ‘SoMe’ competition.

Brand Ambassador and Colour Specialist, Claire Bond was blown away at the high levels of interest visitors to the stand displayed: “People travelled from far and wide to get colour and product advice from our experts. Engaging with them indicated that grey’s and matt products are still hugely popular and that, while people are still loving the Plascon 2018 Colour Forecast, there is lots of interest in the Plascon 2019 edition which will be launched in November”. “Our visitors were intrigued by the beautiful cabinet, which blends African influences with modern design,” she said.

Internationally-renowned South African designers were given space at Decorex Joburg to interpret the current décor trends through their signature styles. Taking to the Decorex Designer Spotlight was Joburg designer, Dorothy Van’t Riet, and her team from Dorothy Van’t Riet Design and Décor Consultants, who curated an aspirational living space exuding retro glamour and style.

One of this year’s showstoppers was the interior space created by Decorex Joburg patron, Stephen Falcke. This award-winning designer has recently been making waves with the release of his book, ‘A World of Design’ that chronicles 40 of his best projects in London and South Africa. Drawing on this extensive design experience, and tapping into the event’s 25-year history, Falcke offered visitors a glimpse of 25 years of trends reflecting his personal tastes and preferences.

Dedicated to inspiring visitors with the most stylish décor settings, this year’s exhibition featured the ultimate, two-story @home Trend Home presented by Decorex. This masterpiece was curated by Creative Director of Decorex, Anita Bloom and her inspired team to give visitors a real-world taste of the latest #rhythmoflife trends and how they can be cleverly incorporated into the modern home. The team collaborated with lead suppliers, @home and @home living space, bringing in their latest range which displayed sophisticated touches of gold in the furniture, natural woods and opulent velvets.

The Room Furniture, Clever Little Monkey and Petit Love were then tasked with designing a Nursery, Toddler Room, Tween Room and Teen Room in Rooms to Grow. This inspired feature took visitors, step-by-step, on a journey from childhood and beyond, offering innovative furniture concepts, styles and colour combinations.

For in-demand bathroom settings and fittings, visitors entered the ISCA Bathroom Trends Project where fashion designers and winners of the SABC3 Win-a-Home competition, Abiah Mahlase and Bradley Muttitt, as well as renowned ‘Lovilee’ blogger, Kari Kelly created Urban Playground and Future Folk bathroom trends.

From the bathroom to The Bedroom Project where three Joburg designers – Anita’s Interiors, Décor Identity and Vox Furniture – infused local flavour into the 2018 #rhythmoflife trends in three enviable bedroom settings: a trendy apartment bedroom, serene bush lodge room space and an elegant hotel room.

Into the kitchen

The hot competition began with the popular Franke Kitchen Trend Project where leading kitchen designer, Eurofit Kitchens & Cupboards walked away with the top prize for their ‘Expression of Colour’ kitchen design incorporating the latest Franke SA range. Also competing in the event was Semble-It, Kitchen Spectrum and CHC Kitchens.

Audiences got to experience another on-trend kitchen design in the Gourmet Cooking Theatre, where leading Joburg chefs such as Donald Chipumha, Luyanda Mafanya, Tebello ‘Tibz’ Motsoane, Chef Coo and Deena Naidoo demonstrated their unique cooking talents in gorgeous kitchen installation curated by Riverwoods, with surfaces by Stonehenge and appliances by Hisense.

Leading kitchen design specialists, blu-line kitchens, took the ‘Best Overall Stand’ at the 25th Decorex Joburg Exhibitor Stands’ Awards. Featuring top-quality products, an expansive scale and sensory appeal, this dynamic stand impressed the expert panel of judges.

Art, craft and colour

The Ballroom was transformed into an Art Gallery featuring a choice selection of artwork by some of the country’s most renowned painters, among them, Derric van Rensburg who was chosen as the Artist Spotlight for his iconic impressionist landscapes. Also displaying his unique talent was street artist, r1, who transformed the Ballroom staircase into a colourful, vinyl art piece and performed a live art installation during the duration of the show.

Visitors even got to try their own hand at the canvas in the innovative Paint Nite – an informal art class where blossoming painters created beautiful arbour-themed images while enjoying a glass of wine.

For high-end crafts, some 60 local craft entrepreneurs featured handmade home, gift and fashion accessories, reflecting the South African heritage, at the South African Craft Collective (SACC). The design-focused goods included unique products created from recycled material, ceramics, as well as traditional and contemporary craft products, all of which are Fair Trade and environmentally-friendly.

Charity drives

Kgomotso Malope of Motso Designed, and Tersia Labuschagne of Lighhouse Furniture, displayed their individual interpretation of this year’s She Shed feature. Incorporating a touch of pink, each designer was tasked with recreating a traditional shed into a women’s haven. Local celebrities Fiona Nay and Louise Wingerden lent their support to the initiative, which also aimed to raise funds and awareness for NGO, PinkDrive.

Reinvention continued into the newly-introduced Thru The Chair Project where students from Re-Create re-crafted everyday chairs into works of art. These re-purposed items will be sold to raise funds for sustainable projects which promote education in Africa.

Drawing on the elements

Elevating the mood was The Lighting Elements – brought to you by K. Light. This trendy new feature took guests on a journey through the spectrum of top lighting solutions. For unique ideas, the Design Elements’ feature invited high-end local decorators and interior designers – including Pearl Opulence, Design & Décor Lab, Katleho Interiors, and Redesign Interiors Jeebee Trading 101 – to put their signature style on interior spaces.

And proving that décor and design should awaken all the senses is the exciting new Textile Elements’ feature. Leading local designers, Home Fabrics, Giant Leap and Lou Harvey created a tactile environment that reflected the best fabrics and patterns across the design spectrum.

A range of décor products, including marble, cork, glass, brass, metallics, bamboo, wood and ceramics were incorporated into the Natural Elements – brought to you by Neolith.

Extending it outdoors

Interior décor connected with the exterior at Decorex Joburg in the innovative Design House brought to you by Builders installation with incorporated various build elements into a Virtual Reality simulation for a modern take on design. Adding to this unique Builder’s feature three of South Africa’s leading creatives – Tanya Visser, Elle Franco and Pilani Bubu – shared their unique landscaping and home improvement tips and tricks.

And when it comes to landscaping solutions, visitors were exposed to the latest in modern technology with the EGO Garden of the Future, brought to you by Smith Power Equipment. These environmentally-conscious products, launched for the first time in South Africa, require no petrol and expose users to a world of silent gardening.

Taking time for yourself

And, for some fine dining options, Decorex Joburg delivered. There was the warm Coffee Cup by Illy Caffé; Rhythm Eatery + Bar by Seatworks; The Terrazzo Diner & Bar furnished by Woodbender; The Tasting Room Wine Bar furnished by Yard Seventeen; and the stylised indoor Gin Garden.

To ensure the media could keep the broader community up-to-date on all the event happenings, Decorex Joburg curated a stunning Bloggers’ Lounge which infused a user-friendly workspace with the #rhythmoflife style.

Enhancing the visitor experience

Giving audiences context and insight into the talent behind the exhibition was the personalised #withlovefromDecorex feature, showcasing 18 individual furniture and décor pieces selected by each team member from the stylish @home homeware store and @home living space furniture and décor. And, because Decorex Joburg is a complete sensory experience, visitors got to see, feel, hear and even smell the exhibition through the unique Decorex Scent created by Brand Scents.

As Decorex Joburg has expanded, it’s welcomed a number of value-enhancing additions to the show, one of which is South Africa’s leading product design showcase, 100% Design South Africa, which collocated with Decorex Joburg for a fifth time. Audiences were inspired by an exquisite display of furniture design, textiles, lighting, wallpaper and product design from more than 130 local and international exhibitors.

Another welcome inclusion to the show was the International Sourcing Fair (ISF), a trade-focused exhibition space dedicated to sourcing and purchasing of retail and commercial products, exclusively focusing on the home, gift, office and hospitality sectors.

This milestone show marks the beginning of many more exciting décor, design and lifestyle exhibitions set to come.

The post IMPRESSIVE EXHIBITORS AND TOP DESIGN MARK THE 25th DECOREX JOBURG appeared first on Leading Architecture & Design.

Explainer: what's driving the demolition of 4000 buildings in Nairobi

2 days 8 hours ago
A major cause of flooding in Nairobi is inappropriate building on riparian land. Flickr/Ubadheer

Drastic action is being taken in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, with 4000 buildings set to be demolished. The reason: they were constructed on riparian land – land adjacent to the watercourses that traverse the city. In an interview with The Conversation Africa, Sean Avery discusses what is happening and why riparian areas are so vital.

What is a riparian area and why is it important?

The riparian area is the land next to rivers, inland lakes and ocean shores. It’s the zone within which water bodies naturally fluctuate. Near the coast it is the tidal zone and along inland water bodies it’s where seasonal water level fluctuations, including floods, are accommodated.

Riparian land is a vital part of a water body’s habitat and its functions. It is the buffer between water and the land. It can store water and reduce the force of floods. Its vegetation stabilises soils and slows down fast flowing water, controlling the transport of sediment and the destructive energy of the water.

The important functions of riparian areas are already fully recognised by Kenya’s laws. Unlicensed development, cultivation and the removal of vegetation within these areas is outlawed.

Unfortunately, the laws haven’t been effectively enforced.

Why is Kenya’s environmental authority knocking down structures built on riparian land?

Every year heavy rains overwhelm the city of Nairobi’s drainage system and roads are inundated in water. Factors that contribute towards this include urbanisation, inadequate drainage design and maintenance.

The city lies within the Nairobi river basin. The name “Nairobi” came from the Maasai phrase “Enkare Nyirobi”, which translates to “the place of cool waters”. The Nairobi river’s tributaries flow through the city and downstream into the Athi River basin. These tributaries are the collectors into which the city’s entire drainage empties during heavy rainfall. If their flow capacity is diminished in anyway the potential for flooding, and associated risks including loss of human life, increases.

Although Kenya’s water laws long ago forbade any unlicensed interference in riparian areas, the areas are not physically demarcated. And the city’s watercourses have become constricted by illegal encroachments which are exacerbating the city’s drainage problems.

In response, Kenya’s National Environment Management Authority, working with the recently created Nairobi Regeneration team, is taking drastic action. 4,000 buildings have been earmarked for demolition. All intruding structures from shopping centres to temples and homes are affected.

The irony is that the buildings could not have gone up without the approval from the authorities. Corruption is being blamed. And to prevent this from happening again, senior government officials have pledged to root out perpetrators from within NEMA and city planning authorities.

The demolitions have occurred at a critical time. Whereas disruption of city roads through flooding has been an annual feature facing city residents every rainy season, the volume of water during floods is escalating due to Nairobi’s fast-paced urbanisation within and beyond the city limits. Progressively more open land surfaces are being sealed with impermeable structures and paving. And the resultant floods are translated downstream, potentially creating problems beyond the city.

What impact is this likely to have on the environment?

Any measures to restore and protect the riparian zones will benefit the city’s environment. The immediate benefit will be that the passage of flood waters be less restricted and that they will be less damaging.

But the way in which the demolitions are being done is concerning. Restoring land in riparian zones needs to be done carefully and should be subject to water, environmental, health and safety legislation safeguards. For example, the demolitions are risky and create waste that pollutes rivers and possibly contains hazardous materials.

What type of laws should be enforced to avoid this from happening in the future?

Kenya has appropriate legislation in place already. But the intentions of the legislation have been negated by inappropriate development proposals and building licenses being wrongly given out. This needs to be addressed, and stopped.

Moving forward there are many things that have to be considered including:

  • Every river’s riparian needs have to be competently assessed. Every river is different which means that associated riparian zones vary and are determined by a host of considerations – including urbanisation. Whereas current laws do provide guidelines that set minimum and maximum limits, the riparian areas might need to be much greater, and they need to be demarcated.

  • Planning should allow added buffers to the riparian zones.

  • There is overlapping legislation within various acts and byelaws which is adding to confusion that should be clarified.

Setting down and enforcing these standards is crucial because Kenya’s “riparian question” is not restricted to the city of Nairobi. It applies to all cities and towns as well as rural areas.

For example, laws that forbid cultivation within riparian zones are being widely flouted in rural areas. Cultivation can be seen right up to riverbanks and the shores of inland lakes and reservoirs. Wetlands within river valleys are being drained to create livestock grazing areas or are being converted to vegetable gardens.

On top of this, infrastructure for numerous activities have been built along riverbanks, lakes, wetlands, and the ocean, and sometimes within protected areas. Many facilities were devastated by the floods earlier this year. And the frequency of flood inundations will increase with the ongoing land degradation that is occurring.

An adequate riparian and buffer zone is thus vital to help mitigate these flood risks. The National Environment Management Authority’s actions have a long way to go. But they have at least taken the plunge.

The Conversation

Sean Avery is affiliated with; University of Leicester, Water Resource Associates, GIBB Africa Ltd, Kenya Wetlands Biodiversity Research Team and National Museums of Kenya

Mandela home in ruins

4 days 5 hours ago
The house where Nelson Mandela’s first wife lived out her days is part of the Liberation Heritage Route

By Wendy Matshaya

Photo of a dilapidated house
The house of Nelson Mandela’s first wife, Evelyn Mase Mandela, in Cofimvaba is falling into ruin. Photo: Wendy Matshaya

The former home of Nelson Mandela’s first wife, Evelyn Mase Mandela has fallen into ruin. The house on the main street of Cofimvaba in Intsika Yethu Local Municipality of the Eastern Cape has been vandalised. People move freely in and out of the property.

Nceba Ntlebe, a neighbour, says, “It is sad to see MaMqwati’s [Evelyn’s] house look like this. She loved her garden and was a very neat person. Now it is full of rubbish and filthy.”

The windows and doors are broken. So is the ceiling, and rubbish is scattered all over the rooms and yard.

Evelyn lived in the modest L-shaped house from 1972 to 2004, when she died. The house is owned by the Mandela family. The original plot was given to Evelyn by Daliwonga Matanzima, former president of Transkei homeland according to grandson Mandla Mandela.

Evelyn Mase Mandela, born in 1922, was a nurse from Engcobo and a cousin to Walter Sisulu. She married Nelson Mandela in 1944. They divorced in 1958. The couple had four children: Thembekile, Makgatho, Makaziwe (who died at nine months) and the youngest also named Makaziwe.

A devout Jehovah’s Witness, Evelyn moved to Cofimvaba where she opened a grocery shop and raised her children.

Mandla Mandela said, “It pains us that our grandmother’s house looks like this, but we are in the process of revamping the property to restore the dignity and significance of our heritage. The role my grandmother played is of pivotal importance and it is important for future generations to understand the history of this country”.

“The restoration of the house will begin soon and funds will be sourced privately and we hope government will play their part,” said Mandela.

The property has two plots. One was the household and the other was a grocery store which Evelyn ran for decades.

Granddaughter Ndileka Mandela, who is busy penning her memoirs, said, “I have many fond memories of this house where she brought me up from the age of two until adulthood.”

Intsika Yethu local Municipality Mayor Jongumzi Cengani said, “statThis house is a reflection of the history of this country. It is part of the [Liberation] heritage route where tourism development is envisaged … As the municipality we will play a significant role to make sure our history is not lost.”

Published originally on GroundUp .

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Shack dwellers too scared to shit

4 days 5 hours ago
Access to safe toilets is a daily struggle for Island informal settlement residents

By Vincent Lali

Photo of shacks and filthy water
Resident Anele Dekeda and his neighbours in Island informal settlement put up a notice that says: “Don’t dump shit here.” Photo: Vincent Lali

“When residents knock on my door at night and beg me to borrow the keys to the toilet, I refuse to open the door because I’m scared of being robbed,” says Nkosinathi Xekethwane. When he is available, he lets people know by leaving his door open. Over 15 residents regularly borrow his keys.

Residents who have keys to the few usable toilets in Island informal settlement, beside a bridge on Mew Way, Khayelitsha, say they have to deal with dozens of residents who come to them to use the facilities. Island was established 25 years ago and now has about 300 households.

Xolani Rumbu says that when residents who have the keys are not available, he relieves himself under the bridge. “You must check if there are no criminals under the bridge … otherwise they will rob you.”

Rumbu says that as Island has no electricity or streetlights criminals were active at night. “After 7pm you don’t go to the bridge or the loo even if you have a toilet key,” says Rumbu. Shack-dwellers use a bucket at night and dump the excrement in a filthy “lake” nearby.

“I feel very ashamed to go past residents at the communal tap, carrying the bucket with shit, so I wait until they clear away before I dump my shit in the lake,” says Rumbu.

Anele Dekeda lives near the “lake”. He and his neighbours put up a notice that says: “Sanulalwa ukunya apha [Don’t dump shit here]” (see photo). It hasn’t worked.

Dekeda says he relieves himself under the bridge, but “when commuters riding a crowded train travelling past me shout … I feel humiliated”.

Dekana says thugs robbed him just the other day. “The criminals wait until you pull up your trousers, jump on you from nowhere and relieve you of your belongings.”

Xekethwane says some toilets have been blocked since November last year. “I ask toilet users to personally collect and return the key so that I can see who has used the toilet last and who has messed it up.”

He buys disinfectant and soap and cleans the toilet which he uses. “When it is blocked, I open the pipe at the back and use wires … We have resigned ourselves to breathing the bad smell from the loos because the City of Cape Town is not cleaning and maintaining them,” he says.

Mzingisi Nakanini has the key to a toilet with a broken cistern which he shares with a dozen other shack dwellers. “I bring along a five-litre bucket to flush … I struggle to get water because it comes out slowly and in small amounts from the [communal] water tap,” he says.

Mayoral Committee Member for Informal Settlements, Water and Waste Services, Councillor Xanthea Limberg, says the toilets were last cleaned on 4 January. “The City can confirm that a team from the Meltonrose depot has been sent to the site.”

Limberg says the toilets became blocked because Island residents didn’t report them on time.

Asked about instalment of more toilets, she says that the settlement is very dense and needs to “de-densification” in order to install additional services.”

Published originally on GroundUp .

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How Virtual Reality is giving the world's roller coasters a new twist

6 days 5 hours ago
Some of the roller coasters on offer at Seaworld in Orlando, Florida. Candice Louw

Roller coasters have been a popular attraction at theme and amusement parks around the world for more than a century. Whether it’s at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida, in the US or the now-defunct Ratanga Junction in Cape Town, South Africa, these behemoths have a way of drawing the crowds.

The now-defunct Cobra, in Cape Town, South Africa. Candice Louw

Research conducted in 2016 suggests that this trend won’t change any time soon: the most desired attraction, for the majority of amusement and theme parks across the globe, was a steel roller coaster. This indicates that roller coasters are a large contributor to the success of the amusement industry as a global tourism export.

Now the digital era has introduced a new spin on roller coasters: incorporating Virtual Reality (VR) into the experience. This marries the real and the virtual. While guests are fastened to their seats and ride the actual roller coaster, they are provided with a VR headset that introduces an alternate reality: you’re underwater, or even in outer space.

The world’s first VR enhanced roller coaster was introduced in Europe at Europa-Park in Germany in 2015. It was overlaid on an existing steel roller coaster.

World’s first VR enhanced roller coaster at Europa-Park.

But does this new technology pose a threat to the future demand and existence of steel roller coasters? That’s the question my colleague and I posed – and answered – in our research.

We analysed the effect that VR enhanced roller coasters have had on the pioneers of the movement, the European steel roller coaster industry. Since the introduction of the first VR enhanced roller coaster in 2015, more than 30% of European manufacturers have made VR additions to one or more of their operational roller coasters.

Our findings suggest that if this trend continues, it’ll soon become the norm to enjoy a new VR spin on an old roller coaster favourite. And theme parks will still be drawing in the crowds.

Rethinking roller coasters

We conducted our research at the 2017 edition of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions’ annual conference and trade show in Orlando, Florida. It draws professionals from the leisure and attractions industry, like operators, investors and developers, from all over the world.

IAAPA 2017 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, USA. Candice Louw

There were 104 European exhibitors across all areas of amusement; we focused on the 23 who specialised in manufacturing steel roller coasters. Using the conference’s exhibitor information booklet and cross-referencing entries with the online Roller Coaster Data Base, we found that at the end of 2017, 8 European manufacturers have already had VR additions made to at least one of their operational roller coasters.

VR impact on the European steel roller coaster industry in 2017. Research by Candice Louw & Brenda Lotriet Louw (2017) published in African Journal of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure

Most of these VR overlays have been designed by external companies. Manufacturers are arguably missing out on an opportunity to expand their own product offerings. But this may soon change. One roller coaster manufacturer, Zamperla, launched its own internal technology division “Z+” at the conference and will generate its own VR overlays and experiences.

Zamperla’s Z+ VR Box at IAAPA 2017. Candice Louw

This may prove to be a viable alternative strategy for European manufacturers that would like to incorporate VR offerings with their own roller coasters. It’s also a good way to expand companies’ existing product ranges without the extra cost of external providers.

What the future holds

It’s clear from our research that steel roller coasters remain hugely popular. But VR is becoming an increasingly important addition to the industry.

It could also help to revitalise traditional steel roller coasters that are getting older or generating less interest and revenue. For instance, Ratanga Junction’s inverted steel roller coaster the Cobra might have been given new life by a VR experience overlay. Instead, it has been dismantled and the park closed down because it was an “unprofitable facility”.

Meanwhile, roller coasters that have been enhanced with VR, like Kraken Unleashed at SeaWorld and Galactica at Alton Towers, stand to benefit from the attention their new features generate.

SeaWorld’s traditional (left) and VR enhanced (right) roller coaster advertisements at Orlando International airport. Candice Louw

Our research suggests that VR should be viewed as a complementary asset to steel roller coaster infrastructure and product offerings, rather than a threat.

The Conversation

Candice Louw does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Hout Bay protests receiving urgent attention

6 days 18 hours ago

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) says it is urgently addressing the unstable situation at Hout Bay harbour following violent protests and looting, which took place on Sunday.

During the protests, State properties were damaged, including the coastal offices of the department which were set alight, threatening the lives of officials on site.

According to the department, the cause of the protest is unknown at this stage, but there are allegations that the community was unhappy with enforcement efforts that took place on Friday, resulting in the arrest of two suspects and the suspected drowning of a third suspect.

“The department wishes to place it on record that neither its vessels nor personnel were involved in the anti-poaching operation on Friday. The South African Police Service (SAPS), DAFF security, together with the Department of Public Works are investigating the matter that has hampered operations in the harbour. Engagements with the community will take place,” the department said in a statement on Monday.

Four suspects have been arrested and will be charged with public violence and arson, the department said.

SAPS is maintaining a strong presence in the Hout Bay area.

AgriSA position on land expropriation commended

Meanwhile, Minister Senzeni Zokwana has commended AgriSA for publicly condemning the Afriforum statement about the so-called list of farms that government plans to expropriate.

“Afriforum is so intent on stigmatising the current parliamentary process around land expropriation without compensation such that the peddling of lies, such as these claims of an existing list of farms to be expropriated by government, is done without shame.

“This latest confusion by Afriforum following their overseas drive to mobilise negative sentiments against South Africa is an act of sabotage. It is an act against the national interest of the country,” Zokwana said.

The Minister called on all farmer organizations to work with government throughout the parliamentary process.

“We must isolate Afriforum as any organisation of added value on this question. As government, we want to emphasize that the process of amendment of section 25 and the reform process in that nuanced context will not undermine food security and agricultural sector as a critical economic contributor to our country.

“We reassure that government will undertake a careful process mindful of all the factors,” Zokwana said.


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