Number of Waste Pickers Reduced

Stellenbosch- Waste pickers working on the Devon Valley landfill are upset that the number of waste pickers allowed on site has been reduced to 40 people.

The Devon Valley landfill has provided more than a hundred people, living in the communities around the landfill, with a form of income in the past. Waste pickers sort recyclable materials on the landfill and sell these goods to middlemen who in turn sell these materials to bigger recycling companies.

But since the 1st of September only forty waste pickers are allowed on site at a time.

Saliem Haider, from the Department of Solid Waste at the Municipality of Stellenbosch contends that “the waste pickers are technically not allowed on site.”

“It is important for us to exercise some level of control. In order to meet their needs and our needs we have tried to meet each other in the middle and have allowed 40 people on site.”

Dianna De Wee, who has been working on the Stellenbosch landfill as a waste picker for more than 13 years, says the move to reduce the number of people on site could lead to an increase in crime in the Devon Valley area. “People have debt to pay and families to support. People will be forced to go and steal on the farms in the night.”

“Allowing only forty people on the site is completely unreasonable. They must allow at least 80 people to work on the landfill. There is more than enough work for everyone,” says Lionel Plaatjies, who also works as a waste picker at the Stellenbosch landfill.

Thousands of South Africans are depended on picking waste from landfills as an informal means of income. But according to Douw Steyn, the Director of Sustainability at Plastics SA, it is very challenging to determine the exact number of waste pickers in South Africa.

“It is difficult to say how many people earn an income through picking waste because many waste pickers are illegal immigrants and in many cases the waste pickers are not legally allowed on the landfill site. Our current estimate stands at 50-70 thousand people.

“I do think it is important that when municipalities restrict the number of people on landfills that they provide people with an alternative. Many people make a living from working on these sites so you have to provide them with options when you take away their livelihood,” says Steyn.

The South African Waste Pickers Association is in the progress of being registered as a trade union. Douglas Maphumulo, the Deputy Chair of the Hlanganani ma-Africa Waste Picker Cooperative, says that the registration of SAWPA as a trade union will “enable South African waste pickers to lobby for better working conditions and improved landfill infrastructure.” 


“The EFF should not be underestimated”

Stellenbosch – Julius Malema, a name that sends shivers down the spines of white right-wingers and perhaps gives President Jacob Zuma a few sleepless nights, but surely not a name to be disregarded.

Richard Poplak, a writer and journalist for the Daily Maverick, is releasing his new book Until Julius Comes in Cape Town this week. Until Julius Comes is centred on the emergence of the Economic Freedom Fighters.

In a visit to the Department of Journalism at Stellenbosch University, Poplak says the first time he became aware of the “seismic shift” taking place in South African politics  and the rise of the EFF was when president Jacob Zuma was booed at the memorial service of Nelson Mandela in December 2013.

The EFF placed third in this year’s general election securing 6.35% of the vote. Poplak argues that one of the main reasons why the EFF has outperformed AGANG in this year’s general election is because the “EFF understands that votes are won on the ground and not through grand gestures”.

The EFF did not do a registration drive like the DA and the ANC, they did walk inns. “The election results of the EFF would have been more significant if they went through the proper campaigning structures,” says Poplak.

The idea of representation in South Africa is being transformed, “all of the sudden people realise they have a voice and that voice is Julius Malema”.

Poplak referred to Malema as “one of the greatest political minds in South African history. He eats, sleeps and breathes South African politics”.

On Thursday the 21st of August the EFF was thrown out of parliament after demanding questions from Zuma about when he will pay back some of the money spent on his Nkandla home. “We cannot underestimate how powerful that war performance was in parliament,” says Poplak.

The DA might be the party with the most seats in parliament next to the ANC but, the “EFF is the official opposition in parliament” as they bring the big issues to the big house.

Nicola De Jager, a lecturer at the department of Political Science at the University of Stellenbosch, asked if the “ANC and mainstream media are not playing directly into the hand of the EFF”.

According to Poplak, Malema understand the Zeitgeist of South Africa very good and “understands how to plug himself into the media streams”. Poplak is of opinion that much of the interaction between the EFF and the media is a “light show of intentional misinformation.”

An artist, a goddess and a doormat

The Weeping Woman by Picasso

The Weeping Woman by Picasso

Pablo Picasso, considered the most influential artist of the twentieth century, was as well-known for his art as his sexual appetite. Picasso simply couldn’t resist women – according to Mark Hudson on The Telegraph he had at least seven ‘great loves’ and possibly hundreds of lovers throughout his lifetime. It is unclear and doubtful whether he was true to any one of them at any given time.

Picasso was an unashamed womaniser, adulterer and perhaps even a misogynist, alternately displaying great love and great cruelty towards the women in his life. Before the beginning of their relationship, he even warned one of his lovers that “For me there are only two kinds of women: goddesses and doormats”. In no uncertain terms, Picasso was telling her what kind of woman he expected her to be.

Picasso moved from Barcelona to Paris in 1902. He was at once taken by the Bohemian freedom of women in France. The women he knew in Spain were either nuns or prostitutes. Certainly the more relaxed aura he found in France would have been his first taste of his ‘goddesses’.

His first steady relationship in Paris was with a tall, beautiful, open-minded and promiscuous French model, Fernande Olivier, whose demeanour enchanted the Spaniard. If he was smitten it was however short-lived: Picasso’s love of all women led to countless affairs and eventually Olivier left him. This scenario seems to play out all throughout Picasso’s life: he meets one great love whom he considers a goddess, they share each other’s lives and beds, Picasso has various affairs and his great love either leaves him or he pushes her away. It would seem that the goddess often became the doormat.

To understand Picasso’s perspectives on women as highlighted in his quip about goddesses and doormats, it is important to study the advent of first wave feminism at the beginning of the twentieth century – the movement that fought for female education and voting rights, better working conditions for women and the abolition of double gender standards.

For the first time women’s rights became a household term and the emancipation of women became a popular concept, even if it was still confined to relatively small communities in North America and Europe. Paris was one such community.

In other words, Picasso lived and loved at a time when women’s liberation in political, economic, social and existential spheres was taking hold. The effect that this shift in European civilisation had on his lovers, himself and subsequently his art is reflected by the discovery of correspondence between Picasso and several feminist organisations situated in France. These records show the frequency with which he deposited money into their accounts and gave permission for them to use his work for fund-raisers. He appears sympathetic to the singular cause of all the organisations: the improvement of living standards for all women. The Telegraph’s Roya Nikkhah reports that these discoveries paint Picasso in a new light: no longer the narrow-minded male predator ravaging women, rather a great artist greatly concerned about the liberation of all women.

Picasso, Nude in a Black Armchair

Picasso, Nude in a Black Armchair

To suggest that Picasso’s particular reference to goddesses and doormats is a reflection of his general attitude towards women, considering his involvement with various feminist organisations, would be irresponsible. What then did he mean when he categorised women so famously, given the advent of feminism? And crucially, how can we reflect on it today, and what pieces still hold true?

Emma Goldman, a North American political anarchist at the beginning of the nineteenth century, warns in one of her essays written in 1911 that a female emancipation that disregards existential liberation in favour of political, social and economic equality would create a society in which women are, again divided into classes: those that have attained measurable equality, and those that have not.

Her warning seems very applicable to the entire movement for the emancipation of the woman, even today: emancipation has offered a small percentage of the world’s women true liberation, turning them into idols, millionaires and goddesses. The reality is however that the vast majority of women still experience oppression and discrimination daily – they still live a doormat existence compared to their enlightened sisters. Is it possible that Picasso, in directing his quip at a love interest forty years his junior to warn her of his personal disposition, was touching this issue? Does the world, whether Paris in 1910 or Cape Town in 2014 only see women as one of two kinds – either Beyoncé-like goddesses or nameless doormats?

Pablo Picasso. Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. 1907.

Pablo Picasso. Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. 1907.

Reference List

Hudson, M. Pablo Picasso’s love affair with women. February 2009

Nikkhah, R. Picasso revealed as a feminist in new exhibition. March 2010

Goldman, E. The tragedy of women’s emancipation. 1911

“Science is my Drug”

For some, science is something foreign and perhaps even intimidating. But for Barbara Picone scientific knowledge is not only the building blocks of life, but the cornerstone of her life.

Picone currently works as a research assistant at the Department of Genetics at Stellenbosch University. She obtained her degree in Natural Science at the University of Palermo in Italy in 2005. Palermo is located in the south of Italy and is one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations.

“I enjoy living in South Africa but more than anything, I miss my family, my friends, and how we would get together and spend hours and hours sitting at the table talking loudly, drinking wine and eating food. I also miss the beauty of my city, Palermo.

As part of her PhD in Animal and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Palermo she came to Stellenbosch University on exchange in June 2007.

“While I was doing my PhD I had the choice of going on exchange to South Africa or to Russia. But I would never have survived Russia’s cold winters. I mean, you will have to drink Vodka the whole day to keep warm. I am also very interested and passionate about primates so coming to South Africa seemed like the better option for me.”

Although she misses her family in Italy, she says that moving to South Africa has been one of the greatest adventures that she has ever embarked on. “South Africa is a place of spirit, a land that swings you from joy to despair. Living in South Africa has made me feel more alive than I have ever felt in any other country I have been to. I am just completely overwhelmed by South Africa’s beauty.” She smiles and says, “And of course I met my husband here.”

Picone’s husband, Stephen Rautenbach, is an artist. His gallery in Church Street, Stellenbosch, is filled with majestic bronze and wood animal sculptures. His work is playful and dramatic with a slight hint of madness. The titles of his sculptures such as The Tale of the Brave Brave Mice and Crazy Sprinting Hare are testament to that.

“I absolutely love being married to an artist! It is the most wonderful and refreshing thing. I would never be able to be married to a scientist; it would be so boring! Sometimes scientists can be so serious about life. I just love watching my husband create things. I am also very fortunate that he is interested in the work that I do.”

Picone’s research is focused in the fields of evolutionary genetics and aspects of chromosome biology. This includes; molecular cytogenetic, systematics and phylogenomics of primates. Picone has been studying cytogenetics, evolution and ecological diversity of mammalian species since 2000 and has become an expert in the phylogeny and molecular cytogentics of primates.

Phylogenomics is a combination of evolution and genomics. The field of Phylogenomics is focused on looking at the evolutionary relationships between animals and also assists scientists in the prediction of gene functions. Cytogenetics deals with the function and structures of cells and more specifically that of chromosomes.

“I always enjoyed a little bit of mathematics and physics but it was biology that completely captured my heart and my mind.  In my third year at Palermo University I took Anthropology as a subject and I just fell in love with it.”

Picone’s current position as a research assistant at the Department of Genetics at Stellenbosch University requires her to develop a bioinformatics pipeline that can transcribe the data of the South African abalone. This includes generating outputs to define the genetic profile of wild and cultured populations of South African abalone.

Bioinformatics is an interdisciplinary field that makes use of computer programs to better understand biological data. The software used in the field of bioinformatics extract information from genetic data that researchers can use to better understand how animals are related to each other in the evolutionary process. Bioinformatics also assist scientists to study diseases and find cures for them.

Picone’s work centres around the the generic approaches to biology, evolution and comparative genomics. She aims to combine computational approaches, and molecular biology to enhance our understanding and ability to modify the disease state.

“So, I’m not the type of scientist that spends the whole day in the laboratory, I sit in front of the computer most of the day and look at data.”

Being scientists has profoundly impacted the way in which Picone views life. “The most meaningful learning experience for me as a scientist was learning that I could accomplish anything. I learnt that things can change in a person and life changes and that it is okay. You grow up and see things differently. I learnt that being humble in the academic field, which is very competitive, is vitally important and that you should never give up on your dream.”

Picone’s work has been published in more than 7 peer reviewed journals such as the Journal of Mamilian Evolution and the Journal of Zoolological Systematics and Evolutionary Research but she says having her work published in Nature has been one of the highlights of her career.

“Seeing your work published in Nature is one of the most rewarding and amazing feelings! All those early morning and late nights suddenly make sense when you can see the fruit of your labour and when your peers also acknowledge your work.”

Her work that was published in Nature was part of collaboration with scientists from the University of Cape Town and dealt with the comparative analysis of the genome of the African coelacanth to better understand the tetrapod evolution.

“I am not afraid of any project. I can work on anything, from the abalone to the human. I am not intimidated to start something from scratch or to work hard.”

Picone’s sincere passion for science is evident while she explains that when she closes her eyes and thinks about science all she sees is the double helix of the DNA structure. “Science is all around us and in us. You cannot escape or deny it.”

– To read more on Picone’s research you can follow this link

Wat jy moet weet oor aanlyn veiligheid

Stellenbosch- Vir meeste mense is die kuberruim ʼn plek om te ontspan, inligting te deel met geliefdes of om vinnige, maklike besigheid te doen. Maar, die kuberruim hou ook potensiële slaggate in vir dié wat nie die nodige voorsorg tref nie.

Gys Malan, ʼn IT spesialis is van mening dat aanlyn spioenasie en die steel van aanlyn inligting wel plaas vind. “Ek sou sê dat dit baie meer algemeen is as wat die gewone ou op die straat dink. Dit word al hoe meer algemeen dat organisasies en regerings aanlyn aangeval word. Dit is ook belangrik om te onthou dat “baie van hierdie ‘hackers’ werk ook vir regerings”.

“Baie persoonlike inligting word elke dag gesteel sonder dat jy ooit regtig daarvan bewus is. Gewone webtuistes kan ‘gehack’ word en so kan jou epos en ander persoonlike inligting gesteel word. As daar ʼn virus soos ʼn Trojan op jou foon of rekenaar gelaai word kan dit ook beteken dat iemand anders die inligting op jou rekenaar kan gebruik.”

“Mens moet ook bewus wees dat ‘servers’ van Apple of Sony en ander maatskappye ook blootgestel is aan ‘hacking’ en dan kan persoonlike inligting sowel as rekening inligting gesteel word.”

Onlangs het bekendes in Amerika soos Jenifer Lawrance lelik deurgeloop toe hul iCloud rekenings ‘gehack’ is en persoonlike boodskappe en foto’s gesteel is en met die wêreld gedeel is.

Sony het ook al deurgeloop onder ‘hackers’ toe hul kliente se persoonlike rekening inligting op beslag gelê is en verbruikers se kredietkaart besonderhede gesteel is.

“’Hacking’ is definitief ʼn realiteit vir almal oor die hele wêreld. Ons moet bewus wees van hierdie goed maar mens hoef ook nie paranoïes te wees nie. Daar is darem voorsorgmaatreëls wat ʼn mens kan tref om jou persoonlike risiko vir ‘hackers’ laag te hou.”

Malan sê die maklikste manier om jouself te beskerm is om net ʼn antivirus te laai op jou persoonlike rekenaar asook op jou foon.

“Wat ook baie belangrik is, is om gereeld jou antivirus op te gradeer. Virusse verander elke dag en wanneer ʼn antivirus opgradeer word gee dit die antivirus kans om nuwe virusse te kan herken en dan ook reg te verwyder.”

“Moet ook nie net sommer op advertensies wat op pop sommer klik nie. As jy ʼn webtuiste oopmaak en dit begin iets outomaties af te laai moet jy dadelik dit toe maak!