The Cape Town eBulletin Newsletter

The Cape Town e-Bulletin newsletter brings you useful local information spiced up with News, Views, Opinions and more..

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Sept 20 2004 #issue 08



Holiday Time

The Public Servants strike

Local News

Missing Hippo

Whale Rescue

Hi <> from Cape Town and welcome to the latest edition of the Cape Town eBulletin.

And a special welcome to all new subscribers!

A bit slow off the mark this month but we're on the road at last! I've been busy adding pages containing Cape Town accommodation maps to my site and found myself running late on the newsletter. Cape Town Travel Adviser is expanding in leaps and bounds and so is the traffic.

My aim is to cater to all the needs of visitors to Cape Town and I welcome your feedback – Tell me what you'd like to see on the site – or what you wouldn't like to see. I'm open to praise or criticism. That being said – I hope you enjoy this month's issue!

The Cape Town eBulletin will put your finger on the pulse of this vibrant and fascinating city.

Find out what's happening in Cape Town from the street up.

You'll read about popular surrounding attractions - with a touch of Cape history thrown in..

Discover the people of Cape Town and what they do with their lives.

Your Cape Town eBulletin will provide useful information to prospective Cape Town visitors - but hopefully you will also become a part of it..


<> your feedback and participation will help this ezine grow. Feel free to comment or contribute. Use the link at end of this ezine.

I look forward to giving you a monthly insight into the Cape lifestyle.

Ed Berry

Cape Town Travel Adviser
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Holiday Time

To start on a positive note - it's the time of the year in the Cape when everyone is looking towards the summer season. Many of us who spend our days at work tend to feel more relaxed as the holiday season moves in. A good time to take leave - especially as the school term ends soon and the year end tourist rush has not yet begun.

The working atmosphere in Cape Town is known to be considerably more laid back than in a city such as Johannesburg for example and we Capetonians tend to make the most of our spare time. Along with our holiday visitors from upcountry we relax on the summer days by flocking to the beaches on weekends to take in the sun, or driving out of town to enjoy our magnificent Cape scenery. And there's so much to do, many activities to choose from. Check out the pages on my site for ideas.

It's no wonder that so many people want to live in the Cape. There's obviously more to life than money alone. It shows in the property prices which are keeping pace with the demand.

The various hotels and accommodation establishments are gearing up for for the usual influx of local and overseas visitors, and tour companies are getting ready for a busy time of the year. The days are becoming warmer and the evenings longer. Some of the popular beaches along the coast are already crowded on warm days - When summer is in full swing choose your beach selectively and get there early before the rush.

Now is the time of year of course when the Spring flowers bloom in the Cape West Coast and Namaqualand regions, and many people make a point of touring this seasonal wonderland of color. Depending on where you're heading there are a number of nature reserves worth visiting such as the West Coat National Park, the Cedarberg Wilderness Area and the Postberg Flower Reserve, and there are also many other attractions such as the Berg River estuary and Bird Island off Lambert's Bay.

If you're in Cape Town in the Spring, make a point of visiting these areas.

Western Cape Tourism Board or
Namaqualand Tourist Information Office:

Some recent pages on my site:

Western Cape Accommodation

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On a more sober note..

The Public Servants strike

Cape Town's public servants had a role to play in the nation wide strike held on 16/09 by the Congress of Trade Unions, which was aimed at attempting to get Government to raise their final wage increase offer by 1% and to improve working conditions. Various public servants including many teachers, nurses and other state employed officials left their posts and took to the streets to march on parliament. The turnout was less than had been anticipated but there was nevertheless a lot of support.

Elsewhere in other major centres such as Pretoria and Johannesburg large placard bearing crowds marched through the streets closely monitored by police.

One of the knock on effects of the strike action was that many government schools had to be closed for lack of teachers which meant that school children were given a day off and many parents had to miss work to care for younger children at home. The public hospitals were still open however and dedicated staff remained at their posts.

The government had apparently questioned the legality of the strike and public works minister Fraser-Moliketi had threatened a 'no work no pay' response to those who took part. A controversial position to take by a government whose habit it is to suspend questionable public officials on full pay indefinitely, pending an enquiry. It is also a fact that public officials in senior positions command enormous salaries and perks.

It appears so far that the government will not budge from its position regardless of endless negotiation and the mass action, and if planned follow up meetings do not sway their attitude the unions have threatened further strike action.

There was a mixed public reaction to the strike, going by calls to Cape Talk Radio station, but the majority seem to be in support of better wage packages and better working conditions for public servants. It is obvious that many qualified teachers and nurses are leaving the country to seek greener pastures overseas and this is becoming a huge problem for the government who seem to be dragging their feet nevertheless on the issue.

The timing of the strike was questioned by some. "Why not have had it just before the election?" they say. More wages likely means more votes.

In unfortunate contrast to the aspirations of our public servants, was the lavish Pan African Parliament opening celebrations presided over by our own president Thabo Mbeki, held at its new home at Mid Rand near Pretoria, on the same day, at an apparent cost of R7 million to the tax payer.

Where are their priorities? the people are saying. This is certainly a questionable issue country wide. Surely the needs of South Africans at home must be addressed first by the elected government - in fact local general opinion should be canvassed before spending such a huge amount on celebrations to mark an occasion designed in the long term to economically unite African countries.

It is obvious that there are many issues of health, security and housing which desperately need to be adequately addressed by our government. They are becoming major problems for the population of South Africa, and they reflect on potential overseas investment.

Our government was voted into power by a population expecting commitment to creating a peaceful environment for its citizens and providing sufficient money to be spent on public health, education of future generations, and job creation. It appears that too much money and resources are being channeled into other African countries. Come the next election, the voters will have the final say.

Some Local News

Chapman's Peak reopened?

Having been closed for several weeks for clearing up operations after rock slides following heavy rain, Cape Town's popular Chapman's Peak toll drive, which has long been one of the major tourist attractions in the Cape, has been reopened to traffic. For how long of course, depends on the stability of the mountainside above the road. The outlook however appears positive. The longer the drive is closed the more revenue is lost, so the quicker it can be restored, the better.

A major fire in the area in 2000 has been blamed for causing subsequent rain water to accumulate by sealing vegatable matter below ground level, thus loosening rocks and soil which resulted in rock falls and slides onto the drive. Massive engineering work at a cost of millions was undertaken to clear the debris off the road, stabilise the mountain side and install catch fencing and protective overhangs.

A vehicle toll system was introduced on the drive to attempt to recover costs. Unfortunately the latest problems seemed to be a slap in the face for the engineers. Despite all the stabilising operations, the first heavy rains arrive and the result? More rock slides. Now the question being asked is, Is it safe up there or not? Have they sorted it out or merely made the situation worse? Lets see what happens after the next major rain. My view is - Nature always wins in the end.

Missing Hippo still at large

The young hippo that went AWOL recently from the Rondvlei Bird Sanctuary on the Cape Flats has not yet been captured. Apparently the calf was driven from its herd by a dominant male. A gap in the boundary fence became a convenient escape route and the hippo took full advantage of it.

No need to worry about a hippopotamus in your back yard however, according to the experts, and you're unlikely to find him in the middle of the road either. A hippo prefers water and mud, and lots of it. Ours was sighted in the bordering Zeekoevlei wetlands and sewerage treatment works - paradise if you're a hippo - and he seems to have made a temporary home there for himself.

Unfortunately, recapturing the hippo in this type of terrain is no easy task. Most of his time is spent submerged so you have to know exactly where he is, and then wait at the right place for him to emerge and amble on to dry land - often after dark- before attempting to dart and restrain him. This has not yet been possible, so the happy fellow continues to wallow in his new found freedom.

A hippo however is a dangerous animal especially when cornered. Ours may injure himself in time, and he would likely become a danger to curious onlookers, as well as target for possible attackers, so it is necessary to put him back in a controlled environment.

A specialist has been called in to assist in the capture of the hippo but apart from painting the undergrowth to try and track his footprints, and opening access points in the fence back into Rondvlei, not much progress has been made and he remains at liberty.

The media have generated some light hearted publicity out of this unusual saga - there was even a hippo naming competition on Cape Talk radio. But as was pointed out on radio by someone in the know, there's no cuteness attached - our errant hippo is simply following his instincts. All the publicity is lost on him. He's just a survivor, so on the off chance that you do come across him, make sure you don't get in his way.

Whale Rescue

A group of SA Navy divers deserve all the accolades they can get after managing to free an exhausted Southern Right whale which was entangled in a mesh of crayfish netting and ropes.

Southern Right whales are a common sight along our Cape coastline and can often be seen frolicking and blowing in the surf not far off the False Bay beaches watched by crowds of fascinated onlookers.

A young whale in apparent distress was sighted off Cape Point by a Navy lookout taking part in an annual combat exercise. An inflatable was then launched containing a team of divers who managed to approach the animal. It was then discovered that the whale was ensnared.

Some of the divers entered the water with knives and proceeded to cut the ropes which were snagged around the tail. The whale lay still in the water during the 20 minutes operation apparently too exhausted to move, although at one stage the tail struck a diver. What happened after that is not clear but I assume that the whale is on its way to recovery.

The fact that the divers had managed to approach the whale close enough to cut the ropes was a miracle on its own. Luckily the team returned to their boat, after a successful exercise, without injury. You can view video clips of the rescue Here

That's all from me for now <>. Speak to you next month.

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