Niren Tolsi

Battered Fish and sand in the eye

Beach soccer spin doctors may credit former Manchester United striker Eric Cantona for helping spread the game around the globe, but the man doing that job in Durban last week during the African leg of the Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup qualifiers was, undoubtedly, Côte d'Ivoire's Frederic Aka -- without any pseudo-philosophical twaddle about seagulls, trawlers and sardines, thankfully.

Bead there, done that

Local craft production -- piggybacking on a national agenda obsessed with tourism and identified as a potential poverty alleviation sector -- has increased in recent years. As has consumption. From the pavements of Durban to Stockholm markets, Niren Tolsi traces the various lives (and prices) of a piece of beaded jewellery.

‘I was punched, beaten’

''There was something unfettered about the police rubber bullets fired at the Kennedy Road informal settlement in Durban on Tuesday night ... Apparently without warning shooting erupted. As an overhead light near us shattered, people scrambled into the shacks.'' Conflict between authorities and Durban shack-dweller organisation Abahlali baseMjondolo escalated this week, reports Niren Tolsi.

Workers’ involvement a ‘shoe-in’

Parking space outside the Eddels shoe factory in Pietermaritzburg is, like half-size-too-small pumps bought at an irresistible mark-down, inevitably tight. Which, for Richard Starmer, the company's men's merchandise director, is cause to grin: "At the time [of the 2001 management buy-out], one of our goals was that all the workers would one day have cars and we seem to be reaching that."

Govt says it will obey the court

The government has moved to limit the fallout from a warning by Kwazulu-Natal Judge Chris Nicholson that a ''grave constitutional crisis'' could occur if it defied court orders. ''Government wishes to reassure all South Africans in general, and the judiciary in particular, that court judgements are binding on the state and that all state institutions will abide by court decisions.

TAC turns the screws on Manto

What started weeks ago with Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) activists occupying the Human Rights Commission offices in Cape Town may end with the pressure group taking President Thabo Mbeki to court in an attempt to get Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang fired. The lobby group says there are several legal avenues that could be explored if the president were to be brought before the court.

State ignores Aids deadline

The government’s foot-dragging response to a Durban High Court order to provide anti-retroviral treatment to HIV-positive prisoners continued this week when it ignored a deadline to give the High Court proof of its treatment plan for inmates at Durban’s Westville Prison.

The butterfly effect

Photographer and activist Omar Badsha's new exhibition features the ordinary people who have changed the course of history over the past 30 years.

Reviving Rorke’s Drift

One of the few schools for black artists during apartheid, the Rorke's Drift Art and Craft Centre is reinventing itself two years after its reopening, writes Niren Tolsi.

Back in the day

Niren Tolsi speaks to veteran writers about life in Durban in the Fifties -- the subject of a new exhibition featuring photos from Drum magazine.

Intergalactic service with a smile

Rule one when going to a planned UFO sighting: don’t be too hopeful of being whisked away by giant, gently glowing, triple-breasted or amply hung aliens. Rule two: carry a handy tab of some hallucinogenic substance, in case of disappointment.

Water (not) on tap

Violet Mthembu, who cares for three people every day, says that many of the sick and aged she looks after are either physically or economically incapable of collecting water from one of the stand pipes dotting the township -- the only place where residents can access running water. "Some people have [prepaid] cards, but for others it's too expensive, so we use our own cards," she says.

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