Getting rid of aliens


In its bid to remain the greenest Province in South Africa, the Department of Environmental Affairs in the Eastern Cape together with the Ikwezi Municipality are taking strong action against Invasive Alien Plants (IAP) with their “Alien Busters” initiative in the area.

Invasive Alien Plants are plants that have been introduced to areas that are outside their natural habitats, and pose a threat to the indigenous plant species. Communities and natural ecosystems worldwide are under siege from the growing number of destructive invasive alien species such as agricultural weeds, insect pests and even disease organisms.

IAPs are one of the greatest causes of the extinction of plants worldwide. Some of the problems caused by these plants are that they use more water than the vegetation they are invading and cause a drastic reduction in the volume of water that reaches rivers, dams and can even stop streams to flow altogether.

The Ikwezi Municipality’s‘ Alien Buster 2012’ initiative is currently aimed at clearing 528 hectares of invasive plants in the Ikwezi Municipal area over an eight month period creating 150 jobs to assist with poverty alleviation in the area.  The 150 jobs are spread throughout the wards of the Ikwezi Municipality:

  • Jansenville – 101 jobs;
  • Klipplaat – 25 jobs;
  • Waterford – 12 jobs; and
  • Wolwefontein – 12 jobs

Road shows were hosted earlier this year throughout the Ikwezi Municipal area. The road shows were interactive and fun while at the same time educating communities about the importance of eradicating IAPs. Pertinent topics such as: What are IAPS? / Why do we have to remove these plants?/ the different categories of IAPS as well as the different types of IAPs that are found in the Ikwezi Municipality area were discussed with the members of the community. Community members were also informed about the different ways of controlling and managing IAPs.

“The cactus type plants such as the torch cactus that has been brought in from Mexico are the greatest plant invaders in the area,” says Sizwe Mngwevu, Mayor of the Ikwezi Local Municipality. “These plants threaten and deplete our water resources, which are already very limited.

“During Arbour Week 2012, the roadshow team will be revisiting selected areas within the Ikwezi Municipality area on 6 and 7 September 2012, where we will be planting indigenous trees including Spekboom succulents, which have been sequestrated for climate change, in the areas which have been cleared of IAPs. 

“Job creation forms an important element for us during this initiative. It is important for us to educate communities about the importance of eliminating these invasive plants, and why they should not be grown at home.” concludes Mngwevu.

Community members are encouraged to report anyone planting or selling IAPs within the Ikwezi Municipal area to the Municipality’s Community Services Directorate on 049-8360810

Macassar making a massive difference


Photo caption 1: 50 learners from Macassar High School are looking forward to lowering their carbon footprint with their Sunlust Solar Water Heating Unit. PenBev sponsored the Interchange Foundation initiative making the solar panel units available to the community, who will now enjoy warm water using the heat from the sun and at the same time lower their carbon footprint and save on electricity costs. 

Photo caption 2: The Basson family was the very first family to receive their Sunlust Solar Water Heating Unit earlier this week at Macassar High School. PenBev sponsored the Interchange Foundation initiative making the solar panel units available to the community, who will now enjoy warm water using the heat from the sun and at the same time lower their carbon footprint and save on electricity costs.  The Basson family receiving the first Sunlust Solar Water Heating unit from Greg Morse, PenBev (left), Dr Beatrice Wiid, Interchange Foundation (centre) and Denise Green, PenBev (right).

Photographer: Craig Wilson

Cape Town“If you wanna make the world a better place take a look at yourself, and then make a change,” truer words could not have been vocalised by a learner from Macassar High School, where 50 learners each received a Sunlust Solar Water Heating Unit for their home. 

The initiative which is run by the Interchange Foundation and sponsored by Peninsula Beverages Company (PenBev) – (local bottler of The Coca-Cola Company’s products in the Western and Northern Cape), is a pilot project that is being run in Macassar. Earlier this year, 50 Geography and Life Sciences learners from Macassar High School were asked to volunteer to participate in the Sunlust Solar Water Heating pilot project; the environmentally conscious learners eagerly took receipt of their units during a handover ceremony at the school on Tuesday, 21 August 2012, each determined to make the world a better place, by taking the first step to make a change.

The Sunlust Solar Water Heating Units are an affordable alternative to expensive, energy consuming units used to heat water for domestic use.

PenBev committed their support for the Interchange Foundation, in the quest to successfully introduce the Sunlust Solar Water Heating Units into communities where it could substitute rather scarce and expensive sources of energy and provide a source of energy to heat water effectively and at a very low cost.

The Sunlust solar panel has been tested by the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Stellenbosch. The 10 litre unit is extremely easy to use, very cost effective and can provide a family with warm water. Depending on the season, and the strength of the sun, the water can reach temperatures of up to 60 – 70oC.

Dr Beatrice Wiid, driving force behind the Interchange Foundation, whose creed is to build a Viable, Happy and Caring Community with Macassar as a model, quotes Dr Mamphela Ramphele’s message “‘Macassar is a metaphor of South Africa!  We need citizens to hold their leaders responsible at all levels of our society for development to work.’  The Sunlust panel is a practical example of community involvement which follows an IF/Eskom’s research project ‘An alternative energy mix for low-income households at Kayamandi and Macassar,’” says Wiid.

Proud headmaster, Yusuf Abrahams, who has been leading the 751 learners since 1998, was keen to adopt the project. Yusuf indicated, “Heating water drains the most electricity from households, with this project we will save homes money that can rather be used for something else and at the same time reduce their carbon footprint.”

Greg Morse, Manufacturing Director at PenBev said, “We are very proud to be part of the Sunlust Solar Power Heating project. The project forms part of our ‘Live for a Difference’ campaign where we strive to make a positive difference in communities. We believe that this ‘small’ unit will make a huge difference for the community members who will now be able to wash their clothes and utensils with warm water by using our natural resources to heat up the water. It is a privilege to partner with the community of Macassar, and we will look forward to finding ways to extend the project on a grander scale.”

It is envisaged that each unit will last approximately five years pending the elements.

Setting a New Standard in Waste Management Training

The Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA), in partnership with Interwaste, the Accredited Training Provider, recently concluded their first accredited training of 271 employees from Durban Solid Waste (DSW). 

The accredited training is headed by Gail Smit, the IWMSA Executive Officer. Smit says “The IWMSA hopes that by offering accredited training in Waste Management, there will be a much higher incentive for institutions and individuals alike to accelerate their understanding of Waste Management whilst at the same time acquiring recognised credits towards a potential qualification and engaging in essential skills development programmes.”

The IWMSA’s national training committee, which includes representatives from the various IWMSA branches, were trained and accredited as assessors, with some progressing on to the status of moderators. Through this model, the IWMSA is able to run accredited training nationally with the assistance of these accredited members.

Smit continues “Various facilitators from the IWMSA were utilized to run the DSW training in groups of approximately 30 to 35 candidates. The training venue was provided by DSW and candidates were soon enjoying the learning experience and eagerly participating in the group discussions. Candidates benefited through the interaction of learning both the theory and practical applications of the training. The use of workplace assignments was used as a learning tool and will be refined for even better results going forward. The completion of workplace assignments immediately after the facilitation of learning assisted to better equip the learners for the summative assessment which took the form of a one-on-one interview with assessors appointed for this purpose.”

The IWMSA has also run individual training sessions in Midrand on specific Unit Standards Definitions (USD)’s. In partnership with Interwaste, the IWMSA is able to provide accredited training which is tailored to meet clients’ specific requirements.  Comprehensive information regarding the IWMSA’s accredited training programmes is available on the IWMSA’s website,    For further details, please contact Gail Smit on 011-675-3462 or email

The IWMSA focuses on providing education and training for its members, as well as other interested parties, whether private individuals or government entities.

The IWMSA is a non-profit organisation comprising a body of dedicated professionals in their respective fields, who give freely and voluntarily of their time and expertise in order to effectively educate, promote and further the science and practice of waste management.  For more information, visit:

Blisters for Bread


Walkers across the Peninsula are busy stretching their quads, warming up their ankles and getting ready for this year’s Peninsula School Feeding Association (PSFA)’s Blisters for Bread charity walk. From humble beginnings 43 years ago the Blisters for Bread charity walk has become Cape Town’s favourite Charity Family Fun Walk. “Last year we had just over 16 000 walkers joining us, raising just over R800 000,” said PSFA’s Fundraiser, Janine Tilley. “All the funds that are raised go directly to our vital school feeding programme so that more learners can be fed, 3 out 4 children in the Western Cape come to school hungry and you can’t teach a hungry child” continued Tilley. “We are very grateful for Peninsula Beverages and the various Lions Clubs that have supported our initiative since its inception, their support is invaluable.”

Dan Davis, Special Services Manager at PenBev said, “Blisters for Bread is an important initiative for PenBev to be involved with and forms part of our Live for a Difference initiative of promoting active healthy lifestyles. Walking is an important and healthy way of exercising and we will ensure that the walkers during Blisters for Bread, (approximately 18000 this year) will be sufficiently hydrated throughout the walk, with approximately 10 000 litres of Coca-Cola and 20 tons of ice on hand.”

Blisters for Bread will be taking place on Sunday, 26 August at the Green Point Cricket Club.

For more information or to register visit:  

For more information on the projects that PenBev are involved with visit

Use the media to build your reputation; if you control the interview you control your reputation!

Successful business people know the power and importance of the media. However, very few know how to conduct interviews that have an impact. Often during interviews the focus can get side tracked, and before you know it, the interview is over and you’ve not had a chance to get your message across.

Reputation Matters understands the media environment and what makes it tick. With this knowledge, we are able to provide insight into what journalists are looking for and provide tips and tricks of the trade for spokespeople to conduct confident media interviews.

What does the session include?

The two hour introductory session provides an overview of:

  • What is reputation management?
  • An overview of print, radio and television media
  • Media etiquette, e.g. how to interact with journalists

Please join us…

Date: Thursday, 13 September 2012

Time: 08:30 for 09:00

Venue: Fire & Ice, Protea Hotel, Melrose Arch

Cost: R285 (incl. Vat) per person.

RSVP: Friday, 07 September 2012 – / 011 317 3861


Our youth: future champions for a cleaner earth

With the United Nations’ International Youth Day due to be celebrated on 12 August 2012, the Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA) reminds us all how essential it is, for the future wellbeing of our planet, that our youth should be well educated in sound waste and environmental management practices.

The newly appointed President of the IWMSA, Deidre Nxumalo-Freeman says, “The undisputed fact is that future generations, and particularly their leaders, will simply have to continue to address environmental challenges effectively in order to sustain quality of life on this planet. 

“In addition to traditional learning subjects, the youth of today need to be familiar with subjects such as sustainable agriculture, water conservation, litter and waste management, energy efficiency, and climate change, or they may face a world that is drowning under piles of refuse, not to mention unable to sustain life as we now know it.  Our youth, our descendants, the inheritors of the legacy we leave, will continuously need to find innovative and creative solutions to the questions of garbage disposal as the earth’s population escalates.

“Familiarity with the subjects mentioned above may seem a tall order,” Nxumalo-Freeman continues, “However, there is no question that education, especially in waste management, begins in the home and that it’s never too early to start learning.  The principles governing sustainable agriculture, for example, could be translated on a smaller scale to growing vegetables, or even herbs, at home and making use of composting methods to dispose of organic waste and to bolster crops.  Then there is water conservation: a hugely important issue and one which we are all guilty of abusing.  We have to take responsibility for teaching our children to be more respectful of the facilities that are available to them, to turn off that tap and not to just let it run when brushing teeth, for example.  We can all become waste management experts in our own homes if we pay attention, and if we consciously make even minor adjustments to our lifestyles. 

“Recycling is critical; something that is becoming easier to achieve all the time and with less effort.  The best possible outcome would be that recycling becomes second nature to our youth, something that it would be strange NOT to do.  One of our on-going legacies to the next and subsequent generations of youth must be to instil the importance of correctly managing both our resources and our subsequent waste.”

The IWMSA focuses on providing education and training for its members, as well as other interested parties, whether private individuals or government entities. 

The IWMSA is a non-profit organisation comprising a body of dedicated professionals in their respective fields, who give freely and voluntarily of their time and expertise in order to effectively educate, promote and further the science and practice of waste management.  For more information, visit:

Ready for School – Ready for Life


A person’s ability to cope in the adult world, have a career and take charge of their financial affairs depends largely on their mastery of reading, writing and arithmetic during childhood. Unfortunately many people fail to develop these skills adequately and grow up battling dyslexia (a severe reading difficulty), dysgraphia (a serious writing problem), or dyscalculia (a widely used term for disabilities in arithmetic and mathematics). According to international tests, almost 80 percent of South African learners have not developed basic reading skills by the time they reach Grade 5 and South Africa’s maths education levels are ranked last in virtually every “Trends in International Math and Science Study” (TIMSS) that South Africa has participated in. This is a travesty if you consider that these difficulties could be corrected or even avoided by implementing the correct developmental techniques with children from pre-school age.

It is important to note that learning is a step-by-step process in which one skill has to be acquired first before you can acquire the next. It is like climbing a ladder; if you miss one of the rungs you could fall off. With this in mind, children need to be guided through the steps of learning in order to correctly develop the skills they need to be successful.

Reading is one of the main building blocks of learning at school. A child who struggles to read, will struggle to learn; and a child who struggles to learn will battle to cope at school and later on, at life. However, there are certain foundational skills upon which reading is based that a child must master before he can learn to read. “Language (verbal) skills comprise the first rung of the learning ladder,” says Susan du Plessis of the Edublox reading and learning clinic. “A child needs to have developed good language skills before learning to read; if language skills are developed correctly, a large proportion of reading difficulties can be prevented.”

Reading difficulties are also associated with under-developed non-verbal skills. “Non-verbal skills comprise the second rung of the learning ladder,” du Plessis continues. “These include concentration, visual discrimination, accurate observation and memorisation, skills of association and auditory memory. These are functions that should be taught at pre-school level to form the foundation of good reading, writing and arithmetic. If your child’s verbal and non-verbal skills are strong, then they will cope well with reading and other school activities,” she explains.

So what can be done to ensure that your child is developing the correct verbal and non-verbal skills required to excel? Research has proven the vital role that parents play in their child’s educational achievement. Parents need to provide as many enriching experiences during their child’s first years of life as possible. “They should start talking to their baby from the day that they are born,” says du Plessis. “Babies learn language in one way only, and that is through listening to their parents speaking to them. Research has shown that a child who is just beginning to speak must hear a word around 500 times before it will become part of his active vocabulary. The more a parent talks to a child, often repeating the same words, phrases, or sentence structures, the sooner the child will learn language,” du Plessis continues.

“Parents should also read to their children as often as possible and start teaching them nursery rhymes once they are a little older. Research has shown that knowledge of nursery rhymes among three-year-olds was a significant predictor of pre-reading skills later on, even after the child’s IQ and their mothers’ educational levels were factored out.”

“Additionally, teaching children to discriminate between left and right is a visual discriminatory skill that plays a very important role in reading and needs to be taught, from infancy, through extensive repetition, until it becomes automatic,” du Plessis says.

“Improve your child’s memory by playing simple but fun memory games. Once children start school they need to memorise everything from the alphabet to multiplication facts. Playing memory games during the pre-school years will help improve their memories in a fun manner.”

“Sending children on a structured school readiness programme can help to prepare them for the challenges of primary school,” du Plessis continues. “Such a programme will ensure that they have mastered the learning steps that they will need prior to beginning their primary school syllabus. Edublox offers school readiness assessments as well as multi-sensory cognitive enhancement classes aimed at developing foundational learning skills. Our classes prepare pre-schoolers and school beginners for learning to read, write and do arithmetic.”

For more information on Edublox contact Susan du Plessis on (012) 345-1480 / or visit


The Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA) is pulling out all the stops this year in preparation for what is anticipated to be their biggest and most comprehensive waste conference to date; WasteCon2012, which is set to take place from 09 to 12 October 2012.

The theme of this year’s WasteCon2012 is ‘Wrestling with Waste’ with the focus on Employment, Environment and Engineering.  The venue, East London’s International Convention Centre (ELICC), offers both indoor, as well as a large outdoor exhibition area and this year marks the largest outdoor exhibition for the waste conference yet. 

The IWMSA’s newly appointed President, Deidre Nxumalo-Freeman says “Wrestling brings about feelings of the difficulty and the challenges experienced when managing waste and related issues, especially in situations or municipalities and communities who have limited resources.  WasteCon2012 intends to examine these issues very closely in order to collectively find some resolution through engaging all stakeholders who attend the conference.”

Steve Kalule, WasteCon2012 Chairman says “The WasteCon organising committee is hard at work to ensure that WasteCon2012 meets and exceeds all expectations.  The conference aims to address difficulties faced by the poorer regions in South Africa, especially in developing partnerships to create jobs and to use waste as a resource: in other words to view waste other than as a problem, but rather as a potential resource.”

Regarding the program, Kalule elaborates, “A crucial topic to be debated is the need to establish a quality assurance program which will regulate the waste sector in South Africa.  The IWMSA commissioned the Centre for Environmental Management (CEM) at the North-West University (NWU) to research feasibility and possible approaches to quality assurance in the waste sector or parts thereof.  The CEM generated and submitted three reports which will be discussed at one of the workshops in order to ensure a transparent, representative and participative process.” 

Other workshops which will be presented by experts in their particular fields are; ‘Turning Agricultural Wastes into Resource’, ‘Wrestling with the Waste Act’, and ‘Beyond landfills: A new age of maximising the value of waste as an energy and job creation resource in South Africa’.   In addition, four sites have been selected for technical tours that will take place each day from 10 – 12 October during the WasteCon2012 Conference and Exhibition.

Another highlight of WasteCon2012 is the presentation of the bi-annual Top Green Organisation awards which are run by the Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism in conjunction with the IWMSA.  The aim of the Awards Programme is to promote and recognize responsible Environmental Management Practices in the Eastern Cape while fostering better relationships between government, industry, business and other organisations.

Information regarding WasteCon2012, sponsorship opportunities, registration and booking, the availability of exhibition stands, the full conference programme and the Top Green Organisation awards may be found at

The IWMSA focuses on providing education and training for its members, as well as other interested parties, whether private individuals or government entities. 

The IWMSA is a non-profit organisation comprising a body of dedicated professionals in their respective fields, who give freely and voluntarily of their time and expertise in order to effectively educate, promote and further the science and practice of waste management.  For more information, visit:


International PR network ECCO signs up South African consultancy Reputation Matters

South Africa and London, August 2012 – Reputation Matters, a specialised consultancy with seven years’ experience in the South African corporate communications market, has joined ECCO International Public Relations Ltd, a leading global public relations and marketing services network.

ECCO is headquartered in London and has independent, owner-managed agencies spread over 40 countries worldwide. With representatives in major global markets, the network has strengthened its reach in the emerging economy of South Africa.

Reputation Matters has excelled in the South African Public Relations industry by delivering communication and marketing solutions that enhance organisations’ corporate reputation. The company was recently rated the number one Reputation Management Company in South Africa in June 2012 by TopSEO and took a bronze award at the 2011 Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa (PRISA) PRISM Awards in the category Corporate Communication. Reputation Matters boasts a diverse team that believes in quality service, the value of clients and making an impact.

For Regine le Roux, Managing Director of Reputation Matters, membership of the ECCO network brings with it valuable global reach for the agency. “Being part of the ECCO network will allow us to provide our clients with global expertise and communication support whilst still providing the specialised services we are renowned for. We believe that the synergy with the ECCO network will give us an even greater edge when it comes to setting the pace in the local market.”

Reputation Matters has a national footprint in South Africa, with representation in most of the provinces, and particular expertise in green issues, retail and technology. As a strategic corporate reputation management consultancy, they understand the value of strategy and have years of experience in creating clear, adaptable and results-oriented strategies whilst providing guidance and hands-on innovative communication solutions to help build and grow their clients’ reputation. The partnership with ECCO offers Reputation Matters access to more than 40 markets worldwide and a large portfolio of multinational clients.

Sara Render, Chairman of ECCO, comments that, “ECCO is pleased to receive Reputation Matters into the network as it facilitates ECCO’s presence in Southern Africa. All our members are independent owner-managed businesses with a strong track record of good client retention and excellent work. Reputation Matters meets the criteria as well as, importantly, having principals with an international mindset. South Africa is an important addition for ECCO clients as a strong emerging market. We are thrilled to have them on board.”