Neighbourly Notes – 10 June 2021

JOB WELL DONE: Ant de Bruin gets a hug from Chantel Venter after his efforts at the Port Alfred River and Ski-boat Club potjiekos competition last Saturday. Picture: JON HOUZET

IT has now been 440 days since the initial Covid-19 lockdown. At level 5 we faced strict restrictions and initially we thought lockdown would be a brief affair, but how wrong we were. Now, a year and three months later, we have been moved back to level 2 (as amended), and the effects of the lockdowns are more apparent. Because Ndlambe relies on tourism to generate revenue, many jobs have been lost and, as a consequence, families are struggling to make ends meet. Added to this, there is an entire melee of school-leavers from 2019 and 2020 all seeking employment. This has led directly to a spike in crime in the area, especially housebreaking. A source who wishes to remain anonymous (for obvious reasons) told TotT that many of these criminals are young boys and girls who work for some Faganesque character who pays them and takes the loot. More disturbingly, the children apparently use the money they receive to purchase Whoonga (nyaope or wunga), a black-tar heroin derivative with other substances added. It has the property of keeping energy-levels high for more than a day, the sort of drug school children may be tempted into using in exam times. Coming down from the high is dramatic and can lead to depression and other mental problems. But worse, it is one of the most addictive drugs on the black market, and many become dependent after only one hit. The criminals who sell the drug are also the “Fagans ” who pay them for stolen items. It is a vicious cycle that needs to be broken. The source said there are several of these gangs around town, some in very obvious locations, each operating independently but communicating with each other, possibly coordinating theft and housebreaking. The source asked if so many people know of these gangs, how are they operating with impunity?

WHAT a noise on Saturday night when the loudspeakers of a charity car show blasted out over town. We have received photographs and videos of the event that appeared to have well over 250 people in attendance. We have nothing against car shows, charity events or people enjoying themselves but, if this event went on later than it should, and social distancing was not observed and more than the allowed numbers attended, then this was potentially a serious super-spreader event. Organisers of high-profile annual events such as the Bathurst Agricultural Show, the Amanzi Challenge and several others, that bring in revenue to our area, have had to compromise and either relocate, down-size or even cancel their events. Why then was this event allowed to take place and, ironically, opposite the police station with SAPS members who, just a few short months ago, spent an inordinate amount of time patrolling local beaches looking for the odd isolated surfer who might be breaking the rules?

OH DEAR, the saga of who runs the country continues after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of having put health minister Zweli Mkhize on special leave and appointing tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi- Ngubane in his stead. In just the last five years, Kubayi-Ngubane’s has tenured in Energy, Communications, and Science and Technology portfolios and has not put on a stellar performance in any of her previous postings. In fact, as tourism minister the industry took her to court over the controversial race criteria for payment of relief funding for those affected through layoffs in the industry. Mkhize should have placed himself on special leave immediately after the scandal broke and not hold on in anticipation of an SIU investigation. Now Mkhize is to stand before the ANC’s Integrity Committee, but only when it is convenient for him to do so. By waiting until public opinion was so loud until he had to intervene, President Cyril Ramaphosa appears weak at a time when he is about to address the G7 nations and plead a case for our country. That an under-qualified cadre has been deployed in a critical position at a time of national crisis will not sit well with investors already sceptical of SA’s economic recovery.

CONGRATULATIONS and every good wish to everyone having and hopefully enjoying a happy birthday in the week ahead, especially to Jonathan Hanstein, Di Thorp, Trish Solz, Erna Light, Penny Noel, Dawie van Wyk, Mel Bradfield, Dave Rodgerson, Peter Kilian, Bee Tarr, Gail Holforty, Kaelene Steyn, Denise Drew, Cheryl Coates, Anne Williams, Pat Whitfield, Terry Illingworth, Pat Holford, Valencia Jacobs, Benjemi Barnard, Liza Opperman, Betty Bremmer, Tanya Schenk, Fuzeka Runeli, Chris Carter, Norma Terry, Amanda Ludick, Cindy Katz.

BUSINESS anniversary wishes and congratulations with even more success in the year ahead to Guido’s, Port Alfred Country Club and Mike’s Driving School.

IT’S happened, Brent has topped the $70 per barrel mark this week. This is not a good sign and analysts are suggesting the increase in demand and the US oil producers are keeping the prices high. It is even speculated that Brent Crude might reach the $80 per barrel mark before the end of the year. The Q1 GDP figures were announced this week and were better than projections at 4.6% growth (3.2 was projected), but still more than 2% down on Q1 2020. There are a number of issues that need resolution including the Eskom debacle (and all other SEOs), the Spectrum roll-out (analogue to digital TV migration), tax revenue from the mines plus royalties. Until we have a better grip on these issues we will not attract the type of investment we require to successfully rebuild the country. At the time of going to press and with last year’s figures in brackets to compare against, the rand was trading at R13.59 to the dollar (R16.72), R19.22 to the pound (R21.19) and R16.55 to the euro (R18.92). Gold was trading at $1,890.5 per fine ounce ($1,713.83), platinum at R1,187.00 per ounce ($766.54) and Brent crude oil at $72.22 per barrel ($39.34).

WEDDING anniversary wishes and congratulations to all couples enjoying such an occasion, especially Ken and Catherine Reynolds, Kenny and Toezie Turner and Bradley and Kathryn Fick.

THOUGHT for the week: “Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.”

BEST regards as always,
The Team

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