Roy G Biv: Radiohead’s latest is stellar and, literally, priceless

•October 18, 2007 • Leave a Comment

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By MATT MEDVED

October 1. With no advance warning other than a few cryptic updates to their “Dead Air Space” blog, the Radiohead Web site was replaced with a choppy Technicolor page. It informed the reader that the band, sans record label, had finished a double album called In Rainbows, and that the first disc would be exclusively available in ten days from their Web site.

The shocker? The “pay what you wish” download marketing model, which sent an electric charge through the hordes of Radiohead faithful starving for the band’s first album in four years – and a collective shiver down the spines of music industry bigwigs across the globe.

October 10. After generating an enormous amount of buzz in over a week – with rumors of Nine Inch Nails and Oasis following their DIY distribution example, causing some straining ears to swear they could hear the record industry’s funeral knell – the album finally dropped shortly before 12:30 am CST.

The message boards on the Green Plastic Radiohead fansite immediately crashed from the traffic as fans worldwide hit play. Gigwise.com reported that Radiohead had sold 1.2 million copies of In Rainbows by Oct. 11. An online market survey found that the estimated average price paid for In Rainbows was £4 ($9.10). I paid £2.50, but it’s certain there are plenty of heavyspenders and freeloaders to pad each extreme.

In any case, it all adds up to over $10 million going directly into Radiohead’s pockets within 34 hours of the launch, lending immediate legitimacy to their novel approach.

Whether In Rainbows has irreparably changed music remains to be seen, but it is evident from the onset that it is a departure from the conceptual classics of OK Computer, Kid A and Hail to the Thief. Radiohead albums take time to digest. They require repeated listens to carefully settle into cerebrums, and even after 17 listens I’m still hesitant to write anything in stone.

With the exception of the chugging “Bodysnatchers,” In Rainbows is a softer and more stripped down album than its predecessors with an emphasis on atmosphere, ethereal vocals and subtler guitars.

“15 Step” opens the album with a schizophrenic 5/4 dance beat while “Nude,” a haunting gem from the 1997 OK Computer sessions, is Radiohead’s most beautiful track since “Motion Picture Soundtrack” and “True Love Waits.” The brooding “All I Need” is another standout track with dissonant synthesizers over a stark bare bones drumbeat.

“Faust Arp” is a short stream-of-consciousness beat poem against sweeping strings in the vein of “A Wolf at the Door” that leads into the powerful “Reckoner.” But the highlight of the album may be the eclectic “Jigsaw Falling into Place” which builds to a crescendo before the post-mortem piano ballad “Videotape” closes out the album in brilliant fashion.

In Rainbows may lack the cohesive chemistry of previous Radiohead releases, but it is, rather simply, an assortment of very good songs that should satiate the fanbase until the discbox orders arrive in December. The songs discretely worm their way into the listener’s psyche – a Radiohead trademark – and should ensure that In Rainbows is regarded as approaching their lofty level and remains on international play lists in the foreseeable future.

Life is tough for the broken kids of Long Street

•September 16, 2007 • Leave a Comment

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By MATT MEDVEDpage_7967783

Weaving through the gaps in the constant stream of tourists that walk down Long Street, Lwando “Popeye” Nwalpo is on autopilot.

With 10 of his 17 years spent scrounging on the Cape Town streets, Nwalpo has the routine down to an art form. His frame, small for his age, is draped in a ragged beige coat from which his large smile protrudes. He flags down a passing couple with a thumbs-up gesture and a checkerboard grin. A brief chat rewards him with a R2 coin.

“When approaching people, I usually start with geography,” says Nwalpo.

“I ask, ‘where are you from?’ I try to be honest.”

Nwalpo says he learned the approach from other children and adults he met on the streets. He had to learn quickly after travelling cross-country from Soweto in 1997 with his mother, drawn by the promise of a job and a place to stay with a family friend.

But the promise fell through. Nwalpo’s mother began working as a parking guard on Kloof Street, the intersecting avenue with Long that has become both where the family works and sleeps. Nwalpo says they have been saving for bus fare back to Johannesburg since a cardboard box became their bed.

“Too old,” says Nwalpo when asked his mother’s age. “She relies on me now.”

On an average day, Nwalpo wakes up between 10am and noon and roams the street begging until midnight, though he stays out later on weekends.

He says the nights are the most lucrative because of the active nightlife, and on a good night he will take in as much as R80. But nights vary, and on this particular night he claims he has only been able to wangle the R2 from the couple earlier.

He usually confines his activities to Long Street and its immediate area because other areas are governed by unwritten turf rules.

“Long Street is anyone’s game,” he says.

“But in other areas I have been threatened by street kid gangs. I don’t want any trouble, I don’t fight.”

Besides rival factions, Long Street children must also brave freeloading security guards. Nwalpo says many demand “taxes” of R2 or R4 and threaten to kick them off the streets if they do not comply.

“I don’t pay the security guards, though a lot of the other kids do,” says Nwalpo, glaring at the guard by the door of the Long Street Superette.

“I work hard for my money.”

The Long Street security guards have a different take on their interactions with the street children.

“We are supposed to chase them away but it’s hard to do it every day,” says a security guard who has been assigned to Long Street for two months.

“We usually just let them do what they do.”

He says sometimes preventing street children from pestering pedestrians for “small change” is in their best interests.

“Sometimes they hassle the passers-by and people don’t like it,” he says.

“They are going to get hurt if they keep doing it. By chasing them off, we’re protecting them.”

He also denies ever taking money from the children and glares at Nwalpo, who remains silent.

As we leave the superette, a snaggletooth man with a scarred face approaches us and tries to hustle me for money.

When I refuse, he kicks at my feet and curses at Nwalpo, who tries to duck behind me.

Nwalpo is shaking as the man turns back up the street.

“That man tried to fight me once, but I refused and he bit me,” says Nwalpo, showing me a scar on his left index finger.

“He does tik and he is always trying to get money from the kids on the street, though he hasn’t been here long.”

Nwalpo says he has never engaged in drug use, but that “many kids” do. He points towards the crumpled figure of a boy lying on a corner clutching a plastic bag. “He is doing glue,” Nwalpo says.

“It is common on the streets. I see others doing drugs but I’ve never tried.”

Patric Solomons, the director of child rights organisation Molo Songololo, says “a large percentage” of street children are substance abusers.

“On some level they create the illusion they are providing protection for the children, but they are usually manipulating them. Gangs will also often try and recruit them to push or courier drugs or to carry out thefts and break-ins for them.”

Solomons confirmed that street children often organise themselves in their own gangs and compete with other street children for panhandling turf.

“Street children also experience quite severe levels of violence – both by police officers and security companies who are trying to the keep the city clean.”

Solomons says when street children begin to outgrow their cuteness and handouts decline, they often turn to crime. Lacking education and vocational skills, crime becomes their only means of income. Prostitution is a common business for homeless females, while males frequently find themselves in gangs and drug rings.

Dylan Okkers, a 25-year-old parking guard, found this doomsday forecast to be all too true.

Okkers fled his Elsies River home at age 15 after getting sucked into a gang war raging between the Dixie Boys and Americans.

“I had become a small gangster for the Dixie Boys, stabbing and shooting at Americans,” Okkers says.

“It was much better on the streets; I no longer had to carry a gun.”

Fending for himself on the CBD streets, Okkers began sniffing glue and performing services for members of the notorious 28s prison gang.

“They were using us to beg and rob for them, we’d meet them on the street corner and they would tell us what to do,” Okkers says.

“They didn’t give us anything in return. They would beat us up if we refused.”

Okkers was arrested for stealing a woman’s bag and sentenced to three-and-a-half years, which he served in Pollsmoor, Victor Verster and Helderstroom prisons. While inside, Okkers became heavily involved in gang activity and rose through the ranks of the 28s.

Since his release, Okkers has tried to put his gangster past behind him

“I don’t ever want to go back to prison, so I’m using my brain to get by now by parking cars,” Okkers says, fingering the XXVIII tattoo on his wrist.

Victoria Falls’ misery reflects Zimbabwe’s fall

•August 31, 2007 • Leave a Comment

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Tobias / MATT MEDVED

"Tobias" works as an elephant trainer in Victoria Falls and has to cross the border into Zambia regularly to purchase food for his family. / MATT MEDVED

Street traders battle for survival in the tourist town holidaymakers no longer visit, writes Matt Medved
August 31, 2007 Edition 1

For decades, Beit Bridge, over the Limpopo, was the gateway into Zimbabwe and Africa. Today, desperate Zimbabweans cross it, daily, heading south in search of food and work. A similar situation now exists at Zimbabwe’s border with Zambia.

“The next time I catch you taking pictures here …”

The Zimbabwean border guard did not need to finish his sentence; the glare he fixed on me as he fingered his AK-47 spoke volumes.

As he left the side of my bus, I scrolled past the pictures of my face that I had taken to reveal the border photographs I had hidden from the guard.

Anticipating that I would raise the ire of some authority while snapping shots of the Livingstone-Victoria Falls border, I had turned the lens on myself to create a buffer between the series of pictures.

As expected, the gruff guard halted my bus before the border station and approached me, shaking his head and pointing at my camera.

“You have to delete those photos,” he barked.

“All of them.”

I cheerfully complied and deleted the five pictures I had taken since my self-portraits.

When my smiling face graced the LCD camera screen, I grinned at the guard.

“The rest are just of me,” I said. “I’m a bit of a narcissist.”

With a humourless grunt, the guard delivered his warning and waved us through. My fellow passengers seemed to heave a collective sigh and I felt numerous stares and glares boring into my back. Troublemakers were not taken lightly here.

The border between Zambia and Zimbabwe was a vast outdoor waiting room in the sweltering heat. Bags of food were used as impromptu chairs by the sea of residents waiting to be processed.

Inside the border station, a framed portrait of President Robert Mugabe loomed over the long queues of people at the Immigration and Customs desks.

The last time I had crossed the border was on foot, in June, exposing me to the hustling of the street vendors who patrolled the road into Victoria Falls.

Although their dogged persistence was similar to their counterparts I had encountered in South Africa and Mozambique, their asking prices differed dramatically.

“I like your shoes man,” a trader in a ragged T-shirt told me, hoisting an ornate carving of a giraffe that would have fetched at least R300 in a gift shop.

“How about we trade? Sculpture for shoes?”

I laughed, but when I looked down at my filthy sneakers I saw that the trader was barefoot. It was no joke.

Another trader tried to convince me to give him the T-shirt off my back in exchange for a set of painted bowls. Their eyes harboured a desperate look I had only seen before on beggars’ faces.

The town of Victoria Falls was reminiscent of an amusement park in the winter. It contained all the trappings of tourism, despite being practically devoid of tourists.

The vast Kingdom Hotel sprawled by the town’s entrance, a garish facility complete with a casino, shopping centre and sculptures of Ndebele-Zulu warriors guarding the fountain in the front. A plaque outside read that The Kingdom was opened by “His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe” on August 6, 1999.

Almost exactly eight years later, the grounds were completely deserted. The bright array of slot machines inside stood unoccupied below an electronic display screaming of a possible jackpot.

Despite being elegantly set, the tables at the hotel restaurant were empty.

The town streets were sandy and dotted with warthogs, beggars and children. In June, a tiny boy covered in dust followed one of my companions for no less than 10 minutes begging for a handout. By the end of the encounter, he was not even asking for change anymore.

“Some jacket,” he said, gesturing towards the windbreaker my companion was holding, as if it could be broken into pieces and distributed.

“Please, just some jacket.”

The bus chugged on, passing a supermarket I had entered in June. At that time, the supermarket was fairly empty and the customers were mainly white.

The prices were self-explanatory. A box of cornflakes was priced at Z$198 000, while a one-litre Coke bottle was marked at Z$55 000.

According to a Victoria Falls resident whom I will call “Tobias” for his protection, that supermarket is now practically barren.

He said many other stores have followed suit since Mugabe ordered the prices of all basic goods to be cut in half in late June to battle inflation. The price cuts have made it impossible for store owners to make a profit on affected goods, including bread, salt and milk so many have stopped stocking their shelves altogether.

Born in Harare, Tobias left for Victoria Falls three years ago to work as an elephant trainer, ferrying tourists on elephant through the depleted wildlife of Victoria Falls that has suffered rampant poaching.

Tobias works from 6.30am to 6pm before making a daily trek into Livingstone, Zambia to purchase food for himself and his family.

“The trip is very difficult because of the $20 US it costs to cross the border and the time,” said Tobias.

“But in the supermarkets in Zimbabwe there is nothing. There are just shelves.”

A passport is required in addition to the fee, and Tobias said it takes between six and eight months to be issued one, assuming the passport office is not closed due to a lack of funds.

Tobias shook his head grimly and said he was the only member of his family that owned a passport, which makes him the only one keeping them from going hungry.

“We are suffering here,” Tobias said.

“No one will take our currency in Zambia and it is so expensive. But how else can we eat?”

SABC investigates Ncube smear report

•August 17, 2007 • Leave a Comment

ncube1

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By MATT MEDVED

The SABC is investigating a report that alleges a relative of Robert Mugabe, who works as a correspondent for the broadcaster, used his SABC credentials to set up a sting interview with prominent Mugabe critic Archbishop Pius Ncube, which was made to look as if he had acknowledged having an affair.

The report, printed on Thursday in the independent newspaper The Zimbabwean, claimed the SABC was implicated in the sting when its correspondent Supa Mandiwanzira conducted an interview with Ncube.

A Cape Argus source on Thursday confirmed that Mandiwanzira is the nephew of Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace.

It is alleged Mandiwanzira later misrepresented one of his statements to implicate the archbishop in an adulterous affair with Rosemary Sibanda, a married woman who used to work as a secretary in the Archbishop’s office.

According to The Zimbabwean, sources alleged Mandiwanzira was privy to the plot and was instructed by upper level officials in Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) to arrange the interview using his status as an SABC correspondent.

It also reported Mandiwanzira was at the centre of a row in 2003 when he was hired to cover Zimbabwe by the SABC.

At the time, the Democratic Alliance said: “Our information on Mandiwanzira is that he is the nephew of Grace Mugabe and that he was given the farm Lang Glen in Mashonaland as part of the land grabs.”

SABC news and current affairs managing director Snuki Zikalala said on Thursday he was unaware of the allegations and would investigate the matter immediately.

“We are hearing this for the first time,” said Zikalala. “If there is any truth in what has been said then we will take the appropriate action.”

The Zimbabwean reported that Ncube, who has refused to grant interviews to the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) in the past, citing a bias against those who criticise Mugabe’s regime, only agreed to the interview after he was told Mandiwanzira was the SABC correspondent for Zimbabwe.

Mandiwanzira, who previously worked for the ZBC, allegedly then provided SABC jackets to cameramen from Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH).

Mandiwanzira allegedly set up the operation with ZBH editor-in-chief Tazzen Mandizvidza and Twenty Four Seven station head Happirson Muchechetere.

According to the newspaper, the Harare-based broadcast journalists then allegedly approached and interviewed Ncube, under the guise of being from the SABC.

A journalist who was present at the interview said one of the initial questions put to Ncube was what he thought about Catholic bishops in the US who had broken their vows of celibacy, to which Ncube replied: “Everybody is a sinner, there is nobody who does not sin.”

The statement was allegedly later broadcast to appear as if Ncube had been responding to a question on whether he had engaged in an adulterous relationship with Sibanda.

Zikalala said Mandiwanzira was not a fulltime SABC employee, but owned an agency from which the SABC commissioned stories on a daily basis.

Zikalala also said he was not aware of the report that Mandiwanzira was a relative of Mugabe and that the SABC had plans to open its own agency in Zimbabwe.

According to The Zimbabwean, the country’s state radio reported that Ncube is currently facing a Z$20 billion (about R1,12-million) lawsuit filed by Sibanda’s husband Onesimus.

Ncube’s attorney Nick Matonzi reportedly said it was “some kind of orchestrated attempt to embarrass the archbishop”, who he said would deny the allegations in court.

The Cape Argus was unable to contact Mandiwanzira at the time of going to press.

The Zimbabwean also reported that, in 2002, Mandiwanzira produced a documentary on the sting operation launched by the CIO and Canadian-based Ari-Ben Menashe in which they attempted to implicate MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai on treason charges. After a lengthy trial, Tsvangirai was cleared of the charges.

Check-ups ‘will keep mortuary drains flowing’

•August 2, 2007 • Leave a Comment

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By MATT MEDVEDpage_7482554

The Western Cape Health Department said it was budgeting for renovations to the “old and dilapidated” Salt River Mortuary, where bloody water seeped into the street last week.

But, said spokeswoman Faiza Steyn, “it is obvious this cannot happen overnight as upgrades and revamps will only occur as funding becomes available”.

Steyn said a City of Cape Town environmental health inspector had investigated the complaints of blood running into the storm water drains and the road.

“Mortuary staff immediately stopped work in the area, turned off the water to reduce seepage and unblocked the storm-water drain,” said Steyn.

“The area that was contaminated was immediately cleaned and disinfected.”

Steyn said every drain in the facility had been cleaned by a plumber and would be checked by a contractor every two weeks.

Mortuary staff would regularly check the drains and stop working when drainage was slowing.

She said it was the first time that drain had been blocked although other drains had been blocked before and sorted out accordingly.

However a neighbour said similar incidents had occurred “eight or nine times” in the three years he had lived there.

“They’re not too fussed about this,” he said. “I can guarantee it will happen again.”

Needy flood victims scramble for food

•July 31, 2007 • Leave a Comment

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By MATT MEDVED

Mietjie Peterson lifted her hands out of an empty vat of potatoes and gravy and sat back against a counter as a plastic sheet lowered and separated her from the scrabbling hands of the frenzied crowd outside.

Peterson is one of several displaced Philippi residents who volunteered to give out food to the estimated 800 people who turned the Brown’s Farm Community Hall into a make-shift refugee camp after heavy rainfall at the weekend flooded their homes.

The ward councillor for the area, Bongani Mini, said the displaced residents were being urged to go back to their homes last night because there was no rainfall expected today.

“Although their houses are still wet, many of them are anxious to return home,” he said.

“Many of them are afraid that they may lose their belongings to looters.”

Mini said the community was grateful for the food and blankets that the City’s Disaster Management department had brought for them, but he wished it had come sooner.

“It was raining on Thursday, but they didn’t respond until Saturday,” he said

Although Mini said that everything at the community hall was in order, the chaos that raged seemed to suggest otherwise. As one of the volunteers left the enclosed kitchen area holding loaves of bread, she was immediately swarmed by children attempting to snatch the loaves out of her arms as she pushed towards the exit.

When she finally emerged, her arms were empty and the children around her were squabbling over the pieces they had pilfered.

Peterson said many of the older residents were working together to help look after the younger ones.

By the end of the night she was anxious to get home, despite her home still being flooded.

“The rain came in from the top and bottom and everything is wet,” she said. “But I have two children and one of them has got a lung infection now. They need me.”

Informal residents want houses and toilets – and to be moved out of ‘unfit’places

•July 31, 2007 • Leave a Comment

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By MATT MEDVED

The SA Communist Party held a mass meeting for disgruntled Gugulethu residents at the Lucas Mbembe Community Creche last night to air their grievances with disaster response and service deliveries.

More than 120 residents showed up at the discussion, chaired by Cape Town SACP secretary Luthando Nogcinisa and SACP street organiser Lindile Sonyoka.

“This morning we went door to door to visit people affected by this disaster and they said the City of Cape Town had not sent anyone to help,” said Sonyoka.

Disaster Management logistical officer Aboubaker Kippie said he had personally delivered food parcels to the Lotus informal settlements and was shocked by the allegations of neglect. Several residents confirmed he had brought food and blankets to them last week.

But Lotus area ward councillor Mandisa Matshoba said that while Disaster Management had not responded quickly enough to the flooding, the real issue was about housing rather than food and blankets.

She said she had spoken to Housing MEC Nomvula Mokonyane about the issue and she was coming to visit the Lotus community today.

She also conceded Disaster Management was likely understaffed because of the other flooding and that the tangled electricity lines made it very difficult for trucks to enter informal settlements to help.

And while Gugulethu residents were generally appreciative of the relief, they were also more seriously concerned with the housing problems and lack of service delivery.

“The food and blankets, they aren’t helping. We already have food,” said Z Mbarane, a woman from the Lotus informal settlement. “What we need is work. We need houses, we want toilets.”

One woman asked that Disaster Management assist the community to get rid of excess water because it was exposing their children to diseases.

Lotus resident Jackson Mkhizwane said he did not think they should have to stay in the area as it was unfit to live in.

“Why should we just sit on top of a pile of rubbish where water is easily absorbed and will rise again as soon as it rains?” he said. “This is a cheap place where people cannot live, we need to be relocated. It has been 13 years since the democratic elections. People like Chris Hani gave their lives for freedom but most people are still not really free.”

Protest about services flares up

•July 31, 2007 • Leave a Comment

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By MATT MEDVED

It began with a single cardboard box set alight in front of traffic on Mew Way.

The protest flared up last night as Khayelitsha residents heaped trash upon the growing fire and danced around the flames, demanding access to housing and service delivery.

“We need houses and we need them now,” said Aniso Achmat, running past a second trash pile that had just been torched by a gang of fleeing boys.

Police officers holding shotguns had to patrol the street to keep order while the flames were extinguished.

“My baby has asthma and she cannot breathe when she sleeps because of the smells coming from here,” said Kanyisa Barumame, opening a metal box on the roadside to reveal the filthy public outhouse within. “We need proper toilets before more of our children become sick.”

Virginia Glosson nodded and tightened her grip on the shoulder of one of the myriad children crowded around the road.

“We have no house and no toilets,” she said. “My children have to go out and do their business next to the cars passing by. It is not right.”

Through the tight trash-ridden corridors leading away from the chaos of the street, Elvis Monwuapisi huddled with his family next to a bonfire for warmth. He gave a doleful look at a massive puddle in the middle of the road and said his house was located on the other side.

“My house is still completely flooded, there is so much water in the room,” he said. “But I can’t even reach it to bail it out because the water is blocking the road. No one can pass through.”

Monwuapisi said he had waited for assistance from the Department of Disaster Management that never came.

“No one has come to help us,” he said. “We are on our own out here.”

Barumame pointed towards a deep pond lying in between sprawling piles of rubbish and scattered grassy patches, shaking her head.

“Ever since the rains, that water has been overflowing,” she said. “It is very dangerous and the children keep going there to play.

“Recently, people who want to rob and rape have been hanging out there too.”

Barumame also motioned to a scrap metal shack perched at the base of a rotting mountain of garbage.

“The family that stays there has a child who is only one or two months old,” she said. “The baby is sick because they live in the trash, it is not right.”

She sighed and slammed a nearby door, causing the muddy water at the base of the shack to splash up against her leg.

“Our homes are flooded, no one will help us and we do not have a council here to represent us,” she said.

“This is how we must make our voices heard.”

Storms bog down commuters across city

•July 27, 2007 • Leave a Comment

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By MATT MEDVED, MZOLISI WITBOOI & SANDISO PHALISOpage_7419179

Motorists have been forced to use alternative routes and hundreds of train commuters had to wade knee-deep through water today and yesterday after heavy storms flooded roads around the peninsula.

More than 200 residents of KwaKhikhi in Gugulethu, whose houses were also heavily waterlogged, said last night that they had been forgotten by the authorities, including their councillors.

Andile Nkwenkwana, 17, who lives on the corner of NY1 and NY65 in KwaKhikhi, said he watched hopelessly as water filled their two-roomed shack while his two older brothers were at work yesterday.

“There was nothing we could do because it was pouring hard outside. Before we knew it our shoes were soaked and the suitcases under the beds were all wet.

“We climbed on the bed waiting for the rain to stop and when it did, we realised |that the house has been surrounded with water. To our surprise our neighbours were in a similar situation,” said Nkwenkwana.

When his older brother, Sibuyiselwe Maholwana, arrived home from work, he “did not know what to do”.

“All my clothes are wet and I guess I will have to wear the same clothes tomorrow even though they are a little damp right now,” said Maholwana.

Neighbour Miriam Maliwa, who is a domestic worker in Hout Bay, said the bottoms of her cupboards were submerged in water.

“Our councillors did not even bother to visit us. All we want now is blankets and food, even though we don’t even know where we’re are going to sleep,” Maliwa said last night.

City traffic spokesman Searle Johannes said several roads were flooded during the yesterday afternoon’s peak period – with the M5 towards Ottery forced to close for |about an hour.

“There are lots of roads that were flooded but the water has subsided already. The only road that had to be closed for some time was the M5 towards Ottery. Traffic officers had to clean up drains that were clogged before the road could be used again,” said Johannes.

He said one outbound lane on De Waal Drive had been closed since Tuesday because of a mudslide.

Traffic was also backed up on De Waal, which was wet from the heavy downpours.

Duinefontein Road on the Cape Flats was overflowing with water, throwing traffic into chaos.

Sewer drains were overflowing on Paradise Road in Newlands, with water bubbling out of manholes like fountains and flooding the street. At least five waterfalls were cascading down the side of Table Mountain.

In Khayelitsha, some taxi drivers who got stuck had to use buckets to bale water from their vehicles after roads around the Nolungile train |station were in flood.

At least three taxis broke down and were abandoned by their drivers until the storms abated.

Bystanders said police arrived on the scene an hour after the roads were flooded and directed motorists away from the busy junction at Nolungile train station.

School children and people coming home from work on the trains had to cross the road carrying their shoes.

Resident Mziwakhe Makhonco, who lives near the train station, said the same thing happened last winter

“I have been standing here for the last 30 minutes and the situation does not promise to stop. I have to fetch my child from school and I am getting late. This shows that something needs to be done at this |road,” he said.

Taxi driver Monwabisi Khuntshulwa said: “I noticed the floods when I was coming to drop off some commuters at the Nolungile taxi rank.”

Capetonians opened their hearts and their wallets on CapeTalk radio today, and by noon, had raised money for around 10 500 blankets.

The provincial Department of Social Services also made a public appeal for blankets and other relief supplies.

Blood flows from Salt River mortuary

•July 26, 2007 • Leave a Comment

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By MATT MEDVED

Neighbours of the Salt River mortuary were yesterday horrified to discover bloodied water seeping out of the facility’s gate and flowing down the street.

An environmental health official confirmed the incident and said it was being taken up with the manager of the city mortuary.

“I’m not sanctioned by my department to discuss the incident,” he said.

“We must wait for the response from the manager of the facility.

“He was at the scene as well and is aware of the incident.”

Wayne Mitten, the manager of the mortuary, did not return several calls to his cellphone when attempts were made to contact him for comment.

A neighbour, who refused to be named, said he had lived next door to the morgue for three years and similar incidents had happened “eight or nine times” during that period.

“Today it was just shocking,” he said.

“It’s normally just a murky red colour with a horrendous stench, but today it was extremely red with a strong, pungent smell.

“It went on for ages. It was hideous and revolting.”

He said he had called the environmental health department numerous times regarding similar incidents and officials had spoken to the manager on more than one occasion.

“I overheard them talking and the manager said it happened often,” he said.

“He said their drains were blocked.

“They didn’t seem too fussed and I guarantee it will happen again.”

He said the worst incidents usually occurred during the summer months when there was a spill and the heat made the smell of the contaminated water unbearable.

“During the summer, it gets into the building and you just can’t get rid of the smell,” he said.

“I just wish it would stop, especially when I’m sitting at work all day.

“When the windows are open in the summer, it is just horrific.”

He said he hoped that |yesterday’s incident would be |the last.

“I have customers and suppliers who come to the office and they have to step over that to get to my front door,” he said.

“It’s simply barbaric.”