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Unique glimpse into Cape Town's shadow world

Congratulations to Caryn Dolley on The Enforcers. It feels like a uniquely authentic, detailed and subtle insight into Cape Town’s shadow world. Very brave too. What comes across most strongly is on how many levels the various battles for power and wealth are being fought and how fluid it all is. The interplay between gangsters […]Read More »

Jay McInerney: Darkness falls on South Africa

For a hip New Yorker, Jay McInerney has a surprisingly red-neck view of our  beloved country.  McInerney comes to South Africa next week to promote his latest book, Bright, Precious Days, in which we get a bit part. One of its characters, Luke McGavock, acquires a wine farm and a game farm in South Africa […]Read More »

Sex workers lead the way

Grace Bura (not her real name) came to South Africa three months ago from her home town of Dar es Salaam to set up a new business: sex work.  She is based in one of Durban’s biggest brothels and earns R70 per transaction. R240 of her earnings each day go to the brothel owner for rent. It’s hard […]Read More »

Give Allister and Stick a sporting chance

THE appointment of Allister Coetzee and Mzwandile Stick to the Springbok team represents an opportunity to align rugby with contemporary SA. Let’s not blow it. Both bring considerable social and political capital. Each has proved himself to be a game-changer. At Western Province, Coetzee showed that you could field a team with eight or nine […]Read More »

South Africa's poor are fishing for a bigger slice of the pie

A shadow looms over the admirable initiative launched this week to finally grant fishing rights to small-scale fishers. Unless the disproportionately large share of marine resources currently allocated to the commercial fishing sector is cut, there will be nothing left to hand out. The process will be a farce. Over 95% of all marine resources […]Read More »

How activists took on Big Pharma and won

  THE government funds antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for 3.1-million HIV-positive people at a cost of R40,000 per person a year in the largest and most ambitious ARV programme in the world. HIV, once the harbinger of death, is now just another chronic disease. The extraordinary tale of how this was achieved is told in the […]Read More »

Let's pick the right Bok coach this time

SHOULD Heyneke Meyer’s contract be extended? I think it should — but only for a year, as a holding operation. This would be just long enough to enable the South African Rugby Union (Saru) to give proper consideration to the question of who should coach the national team next and what his job description should […]Read More »

Boks v All Blacks: it's all in the margins

KEY to the Springboks’ chances of beating the All Blacks in the World Cup semifinal will be the message they are giving themselves. If they were to amass the evidence or listen to an objective third party, they wouldn’t be able to get out of bed on Saturday morning. The most recent reminder came a […]Read More »

Fiddling while the jersey burns

IN A speech in Durban a few days ago, South African Rugby Union (Saru) president Oregan Hoskins fingered schools as one of the stumbling blocks to transformation in the Springboks. Saru runs an annual budget of close on a billion rand. All they have to do is channel some of that into the cash-strapped schools […]Read More »

If transformation goes any slower, it will go backwards

I TAKE my hat off to the seven Springboks who went to the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) with their concerns about transformation. It takes a lot of courage to do that from within the ranks of rugby. Usually players speak out only after they have finished with the game because they know […]Read More »

'I weep for the black boys who were never given a chance'

IN A bizarre move, the South African Rugby Union (Saru) has decided to withdraw funding for its academy in Port Elizabeth. It is one of four academies set up with great fanfare in 2013 with Lotto money in areas with substantial black rugby talent. For the past two years, Saru has funded them. From next […]Read More »

It's time to tackle inequality

WHENEVER I write about race in rugby, I have to brace myself for some particularly nasty hate mail. Suitably braced, here goes. The recent commemoration of the 1995 Rugby World Cup pretty much summed up rugby’s transformation record in the intervening two decades — lots of glossy, feel-good stuff that tried but failed to smother […]Read More »

The first Muslim Springbok

RAMADAN starts on Thursday and that poses a challenge for one of the players on whom SA is relying this Saturday to salvage a bit of national pride from this year’s disappointing Super Rugby campaign. Nizaam Carr, the first Muslim to have captained a Super Rugby team — last week against the Sharks — will […]Read More »

Allister, jou lekker ding

IT SEEMS pretty certain now that Allister Coetzee will leave the Stormers on a high note, which is excellent news, both for him and for the team he will leave behind. A win against the Lions this weekend will secure the Stormers’ position at the head of the South African conference for the third time […]Read More »

The rebirth of a Bok legend

IT IS a career trajectory that would work in almost any profession. Start off with a full-time job where you can gain skills, experience and contacts. And, important, become familiar with the ecosystem in your particular field. Then, when you tire of having your prospects determined by the whims of a boss, you develop your […]Read More »

Outsiders and insiders

I HAVE just returned from London, where I looked in vain for some evidence of excitement building up for the Rugby World Cup. Understandably, I guess, it has been eclipsed by Thursday’s general election, which will be as closely fought as the play-offs between the world’s top rugby teams are likely to be in a […]Read More »

Soar of the Sea Hawks

JUSTIN Swart makes his living from the sea, as did his father and grandfather before him. It’s a tough life: he sets out most days in a small wooden boat before sunrise, sometimes returning only after dark. The boat is open, its crew exposed to the rain and the wind. Sometimes, he says, the waves […]Read More »

Play now, pay later

GLAMOROUS though it might appear, a career in rugby is not the wisest choice. Each year, about 200 boys sign on for the first time with one of the 14 unions. At any one time, there are about 1,000 professional players in the system. At the most, 5% of them will make it into the […]Read More »

Saru must modernise to level the playing field

THERE were eight black players in the Western Province team which played the Lions in the Currie Cup final in October last year: six in the starting line-up and another two on the bench. The Lions had three black players in their squad. Western Province beat the Lions 19-16. This fact is interesting in the […]Read More »

Sponsors could hold rugby to higher standards of governance

THE question of which lucky South African company gets to channel millions of rands into rugby from next year is an open one. Deals expire at the end of this year. Sponsors contribute almost half of the R800m that flows into the coffers of the South African Rugby Union (Saru) each year. This potentially puts […]Read More »

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