KZN WINTER 2021
INVEST CONNECT COMMUNICATE COLLABORATE
DCCI consider free membership to boost small business
Business best get serious about saving the planet
Will the sugar industry weather the perfect storm?
The Durban house that happy elephants visited
Volatile,Vibrant, Valuable eThekwini’s Inner City Special
The city of Durban (eThekwini Municipality) is South Africa’s second most important economic region
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Extensive first-world road, rail, sea and air
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BUY LOCAL INVEST LOCAL Let’s come together and heal as a nation. Let’s focus on renewing, restoring and rebuilding successful partnerships and investment opportunities so we can get back to promoting our city as the ideal destination for business and pleasure to the rest of the world. Your support coupled with our world-class infrastructure, innovative business environment and ever evolving investment opportunities, means we can get back to ‘connecting continents’ in no time.
Tel: +27 31 311 4227 Email: email@example.com web: invest.durban
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Dube TradePort and King Shaka International Airport - 60year Master Plan - driving growth of aerotropolis, or airport city
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Rated in top 5 ‘Quality of Living’ cities in Africa and Middle East by Mercer Consulting in 2015
Named one of the New 7 Wonders Cities by the Swiss-based New 7 Wonders Foundation in 2014 1
W H AT ’ S I N S I D E
COVER IMAGE: Durban’s bustling inner city. Picture: Jon Ivins
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Working at scale
Dowtown Durban’s property market – ripe for the taking
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Major revamp underway ... again
City rejuvenations – more questions than answers
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Downtown Durban is looking up Work, life and play – Durban has it all
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Sugar industry faces a “perfect storm”
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Greenwashing the world
The opportunities arising from bagasse
How green is our world?
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Business snippets A round-up of local news and views
Fuelling a community
Desmond D’Sa: environmental campaigner
W H AT ’ S I N S I D E
EDITOR Greg ArdŽ PRODUCTION EDITOR Lorna King DESIGNER Kyle Griffin ADVERTISING Jenni McCallum 082 411 6401 GENERAL MANAGER Doody Adams CONTRIBUTORS Shirley le Guern Jon Ivins Christine Prescott Sole Tony Carnie Anne Schauffer Naretha Pretorius
Copyright: All material in this issue is subject to copyright and belongs to Famous Publishing unless otherwise indicated. No part of the material may be quoted, photocopied, reproduced or stored by an electronic system without prior written permission from Famous Publishing.
Disclaimer: While every effort is taken to ensure the accuracy of the contents of this publication, neither the authors nor the publisher will bear any responsibility for the consequences of any actions based on information contained herein. Neither do they endorse any products/services advertised herein. Material which appears under ‘Advertorial’ is paid for.
Published by Famous Publishing www.famouspublishing.co.za Printed by Novus In compliance with the Protection of Personal Information Act 4, if you do not want to receive KZN Invest magazine for free, please email sarah. firstname.lastname@example.org
- 40 It’s our mess to clean up
We messed up the world – now it’s up to us to clean up
- 44 Jumbo joy
The Elephant House – the oldest surviving house in Durban
For more information visit: www.famouspublishing.co.za
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uMhlanga’s classy new gig
Three young entrepreneurs take uMhlanga by storm
n o i t a t u p e r d o o g “A o re va lu a b le i s m n mo n ey ” th a Pub lili us S y rius
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he other day in a fit of pique at Eskom and general government ineptitude I splashed out on a fancy gizmo to give my laptop, cellphone and Wi-Fi uninterrupted power supply during load shedding. There wasn’t a moment’s remorse. In fact, I relished the R2 500 splurge. Up yours, I steamed. This is just another investment in self-provision, insulating myself from the state’s failure. Like many others in South Africa, I cough up for private security, private healthcare, private education and soon quite possibly for privately generated power. My purchase, however privileged, is paltry to the R250 000 a chap I know spent rigging his entire house up to
story telling. Attenborough’s inimitable voice comes through as he crisply chronicles how much the earth has been poisoned in his lifetime. The story is simply put. We moved from being a part of nature to being apart from nature …. We live our comfortable lives in the shadow of a disaster of our own making. That disaster is being brought about by the very things that allow us to live our comfortable lives. Attenborough says we have less than a decade to switch from fossil fuels to clean energy and if we don’t make the transition at the lightning speed, we’re doomed. So in this vein I asked Naretha to write a guest column for us. I spoke to my friend and colleague Tony Carnie and asked him to write a piece about the codswallop he has come across in
a super-duper battery bank to run everything from the toaster to the airconditioner when Eskom falters. And then to make the issue of comparisons complete, I interviewed a terminally-ill man who is eking out his last days in unbearable pain, absolutely alone but for the charity of Highway Hospice. In his prefabricated room he had a bed, a broken bucket, a change of clothes and a pot set precariously on an oven element resting on two bricks. It’s trite to say, I know, but life is relative. Some things are absolute though, whoever we are we consume and we have an impact on the earth, be it huddling around a fire or living it large and jet-setting around the world. Which is why I dedicated a chunk of this edition of our humble rag to issues of people, profit and planet. Or more specifically, industrial scale pollution and corporate responsibility towards greening. In doing so I am indebted to my delightful coffee chum, Naretha
the course of his career. It is around corporate doublespeak on greening. Greenwashing is a useful term. It is defined as the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company’s products are more environmentally sound. Bullshitting, basically. And we have to be ever vigilant about it if we are going to save the planet. If that sounds lofty, to hell with it. We are either accountable in respect of pollution or we aren’t. Which is why I also interviewed Desmond D’Sa, who has for decades held dirty industry to book. There’s a lot more to this edition of the mag, including what is, I hope, an illuminating update on inner-city investment so critical to the future of eThekwini and KwaZulu-Natal. A big feature of the story is Urban Lime, a company that is not everybody’s cup of tea, but has spearheaded renewal at scale. I trust the package will be worthy of your time.
People, profit & PLANET
firstname.lastname@example.org Pretorius, who heads up Vega. She introduced me to David Attenborough’s book A Life On Our Planet. It is an absolute must read simply because of the subject matter and the authoritative
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Working at SCALE
Downtown Durban’s property market is ripe with opportunity, but who will harness this best?
n March, former Deputy KZN INVEST spoke to Belinda Scott Mayor Belinda Scott and Jonny Friedman. announced she was leaving the eThekwini Municipality What prompted the move? to join Jonny Friedman’s Belinda Scott: Jonny and I inner-city property regeneration synced around issues of inner-city company Urban Lime. The regeneration, which is critical to partnership offers prospects. One is Durban. I have always loved the built a seasoned politician, the other an experienced businessman. The announcement comes at an interesting time. The commercial market has been pounded by the Covid pandemic and while the hustle and bustle has returned to the streets, there are swathes of vacant offices. Friedman developed a reputation for property revamps in London in the 1990s, and after investments in Cape Town, turned his sights to Durban. Amongst the successes has been a make-over of Florida Road and the creation of a legal quarter around the old Nedbank building on Anton Lembede Street down from the City Hall. Today the Urban Lime portfolio is 125 000m², with over 50% of the R2,5-billion investment in Durban. Friedman is as affable as he is astute, a property entrepreneur able to do projects at scale. LEFT: FORMER DEPUTY MAYOR BELINDA SCOTT HAS During Scott’s brief tenure as TEAMED UP WITH JONNY FRIEDMAN’S INNER-CITY PROPERTY REGENERATION COMPANY, URBAN LIME. deputy mayor she was roundly applauded for social projects, environment and I’d like to make the especially involving the homeless. inner city a place not just for business, A straight shooter, Scott is a career but for living too. It has beautiful politician known for grilling infrastructure and is the face of spendthrifts in government. Before eThekwini, but after-hours in the CBD is being deployed to the eThekwini dead quiet. It has so much promise and Municipality by the ANC she was KZN’s we need to realise this opportunity. no-nonsense MEC for Finance. Her When I served on both the National executive role ended a parliamentary and Provincial Housing Forum I tenure of almost three decades.
saw massive degradation in cities and how badly this impacted on the economy, ranging from problems around the uncontrolled spread of informal settlements to immoral and illegal landlords charging the indigent rental on invaded property. We have to address these challenges to raise investor confidence. More inclusive development means less crime and more tenants paying rates while raising the quality of life of all citizens, rich and poor. Jonny Friedman: Belinda has a set of skills and reach that complement Urban Lime. She is at the heart of the type of partnerships I see necessary to positively impact our cities. The sweet-spot in these public-private partnerships occurs when they are well thought out and leverage the experience and knowledge of each partner. No single company is going to turn Durban into a modern and smart city. It will take a change in investor perception and so we need partnerships that work powerfully and efficiently to do that.
What is the opportunity in Durban? Jonny Friedman: There is an enormous amount of work that needs to be done in Durban, but when I look out of my window I see a city with world-class views, a great climate and prices that are materially out of tune with cities elsewhere in the world. Walking on the streets I see a cosmopolitan mix of people in the high street, people shopping and doing brisk business. It is a myth that Durban’s CBD doesn’t have successes as I encounter them every day. It is buzzing with a sizeable and
vibrant formal and informal economy and masses of consumers. You will also find exciting entrepreneurs and many youngsters hustling as they do in New York, London or anywhere else. There are of course legacy issues and challenges such as the big distances people need to travel from home to the city but I’m excited about innovative ways in which we will respond. Belinda Scott: My involvement in the built environment goes back to when I first started in the KZN Provincial Legislature in 1994. I sat on the Cato Manor Development Board for 10 years which was responsible for the first inner-city housing project in South Africa. It is a concern that we are not providing facilities that are desperately needed
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by the disadvantaged masses, mindful that the backlog will never be eradicated in the short to medium term. And this is not a task the government can do alone. If you look at the problems of urban sprawl you can’t get away from the fact that one of the solutions is in-situ upgrades to informal settlements and fixing existing buildings in the CBD. One challenge is the damage and degradation to city infrastructure, which is appalling in places. The reality is that there aren’t enough places for people to live close to work. We have to provide alternatives in the CBD and in doing so we need to make the city a much more attractive place for a wider group of people. People often talk about grime in the
city, which is usually as a result of insufficient infrastructure to support the number of people living or trading in this space. But at the end of the day, there is more opportunity than challenge. We can be a successful city. Walk around the City Hall. You won’t feel threatened, you will feel the energy and the vibe.
How are you responding to Covid, how much is tenancy down and how do you turn things around? Jonny Friedman: We are responding to every facet of our business, real estate and how people will want to work and live in the future. Headquarters – and in particular the more modern and hi-tech buildings
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directly to inner-city regeneration. The city had a good policy but it benefitted only new builds in uMhlanga where development was happening anyway, rather than regeneration of the inner city. Belinda was very quick and well directed around a set of objectives and delivered efficiently by pulling together the public and private sectors. We need more of that. Belinda Scott: A vibrant city has to deal with social ills and you can’t fall over your feet doing that. Homelessness, for example, is an issue we’ve had first-hand experience with in the run up to the Covid pandemic and at the height of the lockdown. We responded together: the city, Urban Lime, key NGOs, DUT, private medical practitioners, FNB and many other private sector companies. We
The city has invested millions into key development nodes such as the beachfront, Moses Mabhida Stadium and the Point promenade. But there is a critical need to harness this investment to become an economic game changer
– will need to be reconfigured as it is too risky for an employer to house all its staff together for health reasons. Headquarters will need to become partially decentralised. Critically, post-Covid cities are going to see more connected neighbourhoods with a much stronger emphasis on mixed-use buildings. I think there is going to be a transport revolution and ultimately a lot less space for roads and parking which means a lot more space in Durban that can be reworked for other purposes. One of the things Belinda looked at when she was deputy mayor was the rates rebate incentive programme for investors and it brought some relief to innercity landlords. Her response talked
got the Strollers building in Mansell Road – a facility for 240 vulnerable women and children – up and running quickly with seed capital from FNB and the construction by Urban Lime. Covid provided us with a window of opportunity to set aside bureaucracy to protect the homeless and vulnerable. This is the sort of partnership we can use to deal with almost any urban problem. Any business that doesn’t recognise the value in trying to cure social problems is shortsighted. A vibrant city that wants to thrive must take all the dynamics – social and economic – into account.
Has Urban Lime bought political influence in this move; is this an example of business and politics cozying up for mutual benefit? Jonny Friedman: Belinda is not for sale. Her career is proof of that. Are we working with someone with vision
and networks and the ability to draw it together and make it happen? Yes. Belinda Scott: There is always going to be criticism. I’m unapologetic about bringing business and city leadership together. Many companies are hard hit in this economy. If we are going to support business we must do that meaningfully. Urban Lime has put its money where its mouth is by investing well over R1-billion in a short period of time. I have been in the public sector for 27 years and have reached a point where I want to do more than exercise oversight over the public service. It’s not as if others in the ANC haven’t done the same and for the public good. Valli Moosa, one of the most successful ministers of local government, is an example. I remain committed to making our country a better place. I am doing what I have always done, but now in the private sector. Bridging the gap between the public and private sector is critical. There is a need to understand how political decisions and governance impact on the economy, and visa versa.
What do you predict Durban will look like in the future? Jonny Friedman: You have to have tremendous patience with property. I want to see a change in perceptions. I want to see confidence in this city as a place to do business and invest in. I want to lead projects that are exciting – where change becomes a tipping point. The beachfront is an example of that. It is a fantastic asset and the best of its kind on the continent. If we can activate it 24/7 and extend that connection down to Rivertown and the ICC and integrate the city and the beach, we’ll start seeing change on scale. We need a tactical urbanism movement around public spaces where we identify a host of small interventions, activations and spaces that can be changed without a lot of money and implemented rapidly that brings great public benefit. Belinda Scott: The city has invested millions into key development nodes such as the beachfront, Moses Mabhida Stadium and the Point promenade. But there is a critical need to harness this investment to become an economic game changer. This can only be done with the buy-in from the city and the province, planning together with the private sector.
Major revamp underway… AGAIN
could almost hear the brass band play when I read a press release from Durban City Hall the other day. It announced a major revamp of the Mahatma Gandhi Road Precinct. I groaned – not again. If I had a buck for every story I have written about politicians announcing upgrades I would be sipping cocktails on an exotic beach rather than writing my fingers to the bone. But it didn’t work out like that so here I am and I will attempt to be fair in this commentary. Here’s the gist of the city’s press release: The rejuvenation project tackles bad, abandoned or derelict buildings and millions to be spent on infrastructure upgrades to transform the precinct into a space for investment. The revamp is part of a publicprivate partnership, with both sectors investing to transform the area into a safe zone. The city has committed itself to working with various sectors to eradicate bad buildings. There are about 80 bad buildings within the inner city, of which 39 are in the Point Precinct. Of these, 21 have completed renovations following a mayoral engagement with business and property owners, the city said. A block of flats in Trafalgar Lane was demolished in 2019. After the demolition, the owners of another problematic building in the area
Rejuvenating the city for future investment is a good thing – but it sounds like a stuck record, and in my opinion there are too many unanswered questions, writes Greg Ardé approached the city for advice to turn around the building. The city said eThekwini Mayor Councillor Mxolisi Kaunda conducted a walkabout along the Mahatma Gandhi Road Precinct with investors and city officials in May to gauge progress. Kaunda said the area was a strategic location for catalytic development and the city was fast tracking this to stimulate economic growth, investments, job creation and tourism. Some of the work undertaken includes the extension of the promenade, the water mains reticulation project, the public realm upgrade, and the problem buildings programme. As part of the programme, some buildings have been converted into student accommodation and illegal bars and bottle stores closed. Ever keen to score a dazzling headline, the city said it had initiated a “R30-billion Point Waterfront Development project” – also public and private sector investment.
The city estimates the central business district will grow from 70 000 people to 450 000 people by 2040. Durban, the statement crowed, was improving sidewalks, replacing paving, fixing drains and a host of other good things. We’re delighted, but the cynic in me has heard it all before, including talk of iconic buildings and thousands of jobs. In this case the mayor mentioned a “55-storey building that will change the skyline of Durban”. I am a super supporter of the Point, the beachfront and the CBD. It is beautiful, gritty and energetic and I am not entirely jaundiced about Kaunda’s commitment to improve the area nor the city’s capacity to do so. But, I’d like to see details of this public private partnership (PPP). Who is the city partnering with and what is the end-game? I might have missed it, but I checked with a few experts in the field and they too have their reservations. One PPP that promises to be a success is the new passenger terminal, probably because the government let the experts get on with what they do best. You can’t always rely on that, but in this instance, I think it will work out. A lot more needs to be done. I recently spent two days driving around the city – once with a wizened beat policeman and then with a property expert. I saw the full spectrum of downtown Durban, the good, the bad and the ugly. At one
stage Julie Andrews was singing the soundtrack to The Sound of Music in my head, and the next a few lines of the Rodriquez song Hate Street Dialogue came to mind, the one that goes: The inner city birthed me, the local pusher nursed me … I wasn’t far from a building that has been beautifully upgraded, and where a pair of scrap metal dealers were later shot dead in a broad daylight hit linked to gangs
As part of the programme, some buildings have been converted into student accommodation and illegal bars and bottle stores closed
ABOVE: A DELEGATION ACCOMPANIES ETHEKWINI MAYOR MXOLISI KAUNDA ON A DOWNTOWN WALKABOUT.
and drugs. I reminded myself this happens everywhere, and that I was a five-minute walk from the promenade, the splendid City Hall, the yacht mole and a host of other spectacular places. In a later conversation with property specialists from First National Bank I learnt that office
vacancies in the CBD were at 22% in the fourth quarter of 2020 versus 10% in uMhlanga and 4% in Hillcrest. Some see this as catastrophic, others see it as a huge opportunity. Another property sector under strain in the CBD is hospitality. I spoke to one of the city’s most seasoned hoteliers who said there has been restructuring and temporary closures, but domestic tourists over Easter kept things ticking over. That was before fears of the Covid third wave. The Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry works hard liaising with the city, but I wonder if the city is embracing the talent that exists in business and civil society. I have had the misfortune of dealing with some unsavoury bureaucrats and political appointees in the city who are involved in this space and are a cause for grave concern. A property specialist I spoke to applauded the mayor’s announcements but asked if anyone had any idea what the details of the Point plan were and how they were seen in the context of a wider CBD plan?
Also, is there an inventory of city real estate that is publicly available? Some of the condemned buildings in Durban are owned by the municipality, others by the province. They are egregious examples of government failure. Then the property specialist asked if there was a record (and there should be) of all the city buildings and parcels of land sold in the last
We’re delighted, but the cynic in me has heard it all before, including talk of iconic buildings and thousands of jobs 10 years. Who were they sold to and at what prices? This should be done by public tender. My specialist wasn’t aware of any, and I suspect we’d find a lot of political cronies among the buyers. And then what incentives are given and to which property owners to upgrade their buildings? The Urban Development Zone tax relief was a great idea, but what
ABOVE: THE ETHEKWINI MAYOR SEES FIRST-HAND SOME OF THE PROBLEM AREAS IN DURBAN WHILE ON A RECENT WALKABOUT.
schemes are now at play and who benefits? Are the benefits aimed at a few rich elites who score buildings cheap and harness incentives to give them a quick lick of paint and flip them for a profit? This ought to be open to public scrutiny, and debate around it should be fostered by the city. There are great prospects to remodel many buildings in the city for alternate use. There is appetite and skill among young entrepreneurs in this space. It doesn’t always have to be done on a grand scale. I wonder how much the city is doing to nurture this and create opportunities? I fear too many officials want downtown Durban to resemble uMhlanga and want to deal with a few big players as part of their political hustle or perhaps to realise an unworkable vision. We don’t need to pin our hopes on dazzling high-rise developments so much as to encourage more long haul investors who are rooted in an inclusive, authentic and responsive approach to the city. *
ai162496185397_BBFS136 BBF SAFETY WAYNE KZN INVEST 2.pdf
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DOWNTOWN Durban is looking up
Work, life and play are becoming the buzzwords of property pundits predicting downtown Durban’s full potential will be realised
ershin Moodley, a former banker and now KZN regional manager at specialist property company, TUHF, has been heavily involved in the regeneration of Durban’s central business district. In 19 years, TUHF has played a key role in innercity regeneration. He says that when eThekwini provides a better work-life balance for innercity residents, the downtown property market will boom. TUHF has a R3-billion loan book through its funding to 598 buildings, providing 34 000 residential units across South Africa. More than 80 of those buildings are in Durban, where TUHF is working with great appetite. The bulk of TUHF’s funding goes to entrepreneurs who see merit in responsible developments that help turn run-down areas around. In addition, 10% of its funding goes to student accommodation. “We are impact funders. You can get finance from just about anyone to invest in property, but what we do is lend to people who want to change lives for the better, people who are passionate about making a difference and adding value to the community,” Moodley says. “When we find that culture fit, we work with investors to support the development of their project and help them turn a profit.” Moodley talks of “self-sustaining ecosystems” and the growing prospects for these in the neighbourhoods TUHF has invested in. The post Covid-19 era has created huge opportunities to repurpose commercial property into multi-use developments. A few trends could see a surge in property investment in the inner-city, he says. “Firstly, micro-units are becoming more popular because
people are downsizing as a direct result of the economic impact of the pandemic. Secondly, many are looking for more communal living areas with their families instead of commuting into the city. And finally, there is a short supply of quality student residential offerings in and around Durban. With the city becoming a hotspot for tertiary education, there will be a growing need to house the out-of-towners,” Moodley explains. Durban’s CBD offers the chance to cater for these three markets especially if people see the benefits in living, working and playing in a central area with great amenities. Moodley says confidence will trump caution and attract more money into the inner-city if the municipality and other role LEFT: “WE HELP ENTREPRENEURS WHO INVEST IN COMMUNITIES AND BUILDINGS,” SAYS SERSHIN MOODLEY, KZN REGIONAL MANAGER FOR TUHF.
players pull together to create an enabling environment for a breed of entrepreneurs who want to make money but also leave a legacy. “We help entrepreneurs who invest in communities and buildings. We have systems and mentoring programmes that help them understand and manage their investments,” he says. He also says the city would do well to ruthlessly root out corruption, cut red tape and increase service levels. It seems to do this admirably in the holiday season when tourists flock to Durban, but why not afford city residents the same standards all year round? “Good service should be the norm rather than seasonal. We need to take care of inner-city residents. The resources
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provided by the city need to be constantly improving, from lighting to water to roads to safety. And we need quality amenities like safe parks, and co-op areas,” he says. “This attracts paying customers and aspirant people. It also sustains entrepreneurs who provide everything from accommodation with Wi-Fi to indoor pools to gyms and laundries. This creates a selfsustaining ecosystem. “It is about applying the work, life, play concept and to be more inclusive to those who might traditionally have had difficulties in renting mixed-use properties with all-inclusive living. If the city wants to succeed it has to deal with bureaucracy and bottlenecks.” Moodley says where some see the commercial property market in the CBD as “subdued”, TUHF sees the long-term prospects. Many large, listed organisations that own properties in the CBD are either looking to sell or transform their building stock into residential or mixed-use developments. The conversion of old office buildings into residential or mixed-use units is significant. Moodley says big office buildings offer the prospects for scale. With regulation safety features and adequate plumbing, big office buildings can be easily converted into residential properties, which can offer the opportunity to cater for a broad range of customers. He also says Durban has an incredible offering, a package
of lifestyle and business opportunities. It is an important geographic hub for the country, especially in the postCovid-19 environment where people will increasingly migrate to the coast to benefit from a more balanced lifestyle. “In other coastal areas, the cost of living may not be as accessible while weather fluctuations are quite extreme. This compared to the affordability and year-long reliable climate of Durban. And when it comes to matching salary levels from other, traditionally wealthier parts of the country, Durban has grown in the past five years to come within 5% of what people earn in Johannesburg, for example,” he points out. Moodley says companies in KZN are no longer afraid to pay for talent. Durban has already become one of the largest call centre hubs in the southern hemisphere. Furthermore, many specialist physicians are moving to Durban with other professionals choosing to commute to Johannesburg. “It comes down to the quality of life and the opportunities provided through a more innovative mixed-use property environment. With the repo rate being the lowest since the system was introduced in 1998 and the ability to find the right project at the right price, KZN and Durban’s inner-city will start attracting significant investor interest in the coming months,” he says.
“Good service should be the norm rather than seasonal. We need to take care of inner-city residents. The resources provided by the city need to be constantly improving, from lighting to water to roads, to safety. And we need quality amenities like safe parks, and co-op areas
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or 82 years Ross Champion have been operating in Durban, offering clients top quality workmanship, exceptional service levels and competitive prices. Accredited with all major insurance companies and the majority of vehicle manufacturers, Ross Champion unites the best of the latest technology with the mastery of highly skilled journeymen to restore vehicles to the manufacturer’s speciﬁcations and get the customer back on the road in the quickest possible time. But there’s more to Ross Champion than giving your car the best possible care. Caring for the environment has also always been a priority at this accident repair specialist who pride themselves with having Green Industry Initiative. Included in Ross Champion’s eco-friendly practices is a full recycling
CARING for the best outcome As an auto body repair specialist with seven branches in KwaZulu-Natal, Ross Champion don’t only take the best care of your car – but also the environment can be achieved and an impeccable finish because all of the settled pigments are thoroughly mixed. State-of-the-art colour tools enhance a complete and VOC compliant solution, where colour, technology and leadership are the three key drivers. Trust Ross Champion and PPG with your car – and to care for the environment.
programme with state-of-the-art waste disposal systems for both chemical and packaging waste, our largely paperless offices, our community based damaged part recycling projects – and of particular interest to drivers who want to look good on the road – our use of water-based PPG paints.
PPG – powered by exceptional DNA PPG is widely regarded as the coating supplier of choice in the auto repair market, and Ross Champion stand by and trust their waterborne technology, Envirobase® High Performance. Envirobase® High Performance means state-of-the-art technology, providing a high opacity finish for an incomparable repair, as well as excellent colour capability and accuracy. More importantly, the
Envirobase® High Performance system removes the need for special additives or complex processes in any type of repair, including fade-out techniques. Formulated using PPG’s innovative micro-gel, which contains an antisettle technology, the Envirobase® High Performance paint system requires no stirring and is simply shaken before use. As a result, significant time savings
Ross Champion: 031 512 5007 www.rosschampiongroup.co.za PPG: Carol Lonsdale: 083 326 1404 https://me.ppgrefinish.com/en/
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CHANGING the world and your brand, one word at a time
It’s time to rethink, connect, be creative, shift perspectives, change behaviour and solve problems for a better tomorrow
he world is evolving every day. Brands and business are evolving. Our consumers are evolving. To get on top of this world, is no longer about survival of the fittest but survival of the most agile. We are in the process of a major shift that is challenging us to rethink our old ways and envision a future that is better than we had ever imagined. The people you invite into your tribe should fit the need for agility, and the answer often sits in appointing and developing people for their “superpowers”. A superpower that our business world (and the world in general) really needs is the ability to find creative solutions and to do that with empathy. It needs creative solution seekers – especially copywriters. We are all inherently creative beings who are APPLICATIONS designed to make, fix, ARE OPEN FOR originate and create. 2022 IN-TAKE While innovation makes what we do OPEN DAY timeless, compassion ABOVE: IIE-VEGA AUGUST 28, COPYWRITERS, CLASS OF and empathy make what 2021 2020: SOPHIE ARDÉ, ALEXA we do desirable. HAASBROEK, ZANELE BIYELA Good copywriters use AND SONAL PEMA WITH SIOBHAN GUNNING, COPYWRITING LECTURER. empathy to communicate in a way that resonates with others. It is FAR RIGHT : SONAL PEMA, IIE-VEGA COPYWRITER AND LOERIES AWARD WINNER. with this deep understanding of ourselves and the world around us that connections are made. English and impactful communication. These writer E.M. Forster says it best: Only hallmark attributes are a few of the Connect! When we connect words vital skills needed for the future of with emotion, we feel what it means work. But it is more than just the to be human. We learn to walk in words. Good copy sells ideas. Great someone else’s shoes and truly walk. copy changes perspectives and Sometimes even run. behaviour. Good copywriters can At its core, copywriting is about change the way the world thinks. A creativity, analytical thinking, skill that holds great power and value, understanding others, and effective not only for brands and business, but
for generations to come. Creativity, with a little bit of empathy, can solve any problem you are faced with. That is the agility every brand and business needs. It is what our world needs. Imagination and empathy are the superpowers that enable us to change the world. Producing another great concept in making a significant difference. Being a copywriter means connecting with the world, one word at a time. The World Economic Forum has predicted that by 2030, over one billion people need to be reskilled. While this may not be surprising, as professions and jobs appear and disappear with time, we should aim
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VEGA SCHOOL AWARDS AND ACHIEVEMENTS 2020 INTERNATIONAL: Grid worldwide: 10 finalists and two top entries, winning a six-month internship opportunity. Microsoft Design Expo: International collaboration with universities from Sweden, the US and Brazil with students presenting to over 100 Microsoft professionals. Design students received WorldStar Student Certificate of Recognition, a world packaging organisation. IIE-Vega achieved third place in the National Final of L’Oréal Paris Brandstorm. Creative Conscience award an association with universities in the UK, three student entries were shortlisted with IIE-Vega identified as one of the top companies in the world. D&AD New Blood Pencil Award with three IIE-Vega winners, the competition received over 3 000 entries from over 60 countries. LOCAL: Loeries Awards with 71 IIE-Vega finalists, winning six Loeries Awards including one Gold Award. IIE-Vega students participated in the Loeries Student Portfolio Week, a four-week mentorship programme. Three IIE-Vega students in the top 15 were selected to pitch to Woolworths. Pendoring Advertising Awards with 16 finalists, winning one Gold award and three Silver awards. Graphic Design IIE-Vega alumnus nominated as a 2020 Design Indaba Emerging Creative. Best digital student at the Interactive Advertising Bureau awards, for the fourth year in a row. The Wild Bean Café Design-ACup 2020 competition produced two finalists. The PG Bison Competition for Interior Design with two students in the top 10.
to make ourselves indispensable. Brands and organisations should be more people-focused, be more connected with their stakeholders to truly understand what makes them tick. If you do not, then the risk is that you can lose them. No business wants to lose a stakeholder. Copywriters produce impactful brand content and brand narratives that truly connect with your audience; speaking a language that touches them, that draws them closer. By using empathy copywriters know how to turn human truths into a language that engages in meaningful ways. Engaged stakeholders is the ultimate win for a brand. You cannot ask for better than that. Copywriters use the power of ideation and words to connect brands and people. They can work independently or with an art director
to capture the attention of the target market, provoke interest, harness desire and promote action. They do this creatively, simply and with clarity. As Thomas Jefferson once said, The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do. This article was co-written by IIEVega third year copywriting students: Alexa Haasbroek, Sophie Ardé, Sonal Pema and Zanele Biyela. Photographs by Tiffany Crawford, an IIE-Higher Certificate in photography alumnus and currently studying the IIE-BA in Strategic Brand Communication Degree at Vega. VEGA SCHOOL IS AN EDUCATIONAL BRAND OF THE INDEPENDENT INSTITUTE OF EDUCATION. Contact email@example.com or 031 569 1415. View the Virtual Showcase and to learn more about the IIE-BA in Creative Brand Communication | Copywriting, visit www.vegaschool.com.
The sugar industry has been in crisis for over 20 years. Beset by droughts, ambushed by cheap imports and stymied by ever rising costs, the R16-billion sector is now facing a “perfect storm”, writes Shirley le Guern
hat’s how the authors of a government driven masterplan to revive the industry describe it. Other insiders suggest it is close to breaking point. The masterplan says: Annual sugar production in South Africa has declined by nearly 25%, from 2,75 million to 2,1 million tons per annum over the past 20 years. The number of sugarcane farmers has declined by 60% during this period and sugar industry related jobs are estimated to have reduced by 45% .... The average sugarcane farmer and sugar milling company is incurring losses that are no longer sustainable and which now create a set of conditions where there is a real risk of unmanaged decline in the industry
to quantify the exact number of jobs which would be at risk if the industry were to continue to be in crisis.” The sugar industry currently comprises a complex value chain that includes an estimated 20 200 growers. Approximately 19 300 black growers produce 24% of the average 19 million tons of cane produced each year and 680 large-scale commercial farmers account for the remaining 69%. This is processed by 14 sugar mills of which three are independently owned. The rest are owned and operated by three large milling companies – Tongaat-Hulett, Illovo and RCL – who also operate the major sugar refineries. Cane growing and milling in South Africa is focused on the production of refined sugar and molasses for domestic consumption and raw sugar
with devastating consequences for rural unemployment and poverty. Trix Trikam, executive director of the South African Sugar Association (SASA), which is widely recognised as the governing body within this still highly regulated industry, was one of the signatories to the Sugarcane Value Chain Master Plan to 2030 in November last year. He believes the masterplan offers a glimmer of hope, and says failure to resurrect one of the province’s oldest industries is not an option. “We support 65 000 direct and 270 000 indirect jobs. And at least one million people, mostly in deep rural areas, are dependent on the cane growing and milling activities of the sugar industry which operates in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga. “At this stage, it would be impossible
for export, although some companies have invested in diversifying production for the co-generation of electricity and production of animal feed, alcohol and the organic compound furfural. FNB agricultural economist Paul Makube suggests that declining productivity and higher inefficiencies in downstream industries such as milling and refining have been a factor in the industry’s decline and have also accounted for the lack of investment in new technologies that would reduce costs. “Due to lack of profitability and sustainable policy support, the industry became unattractive for investments,” he says. But Makube warned that the contribution of the sugar sector should not be underestimated.
ABOVE: FNB AGRICULTURAL ECONOMIST PAUL MAKUBE REMAINS OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THE CREATION OF ALTERNATIVE MARKETS FOR SUGAR SUCH AS BIOETHANOL, BIOJET FUEL, ELECTRICITY GENERATION THROUGH BIOMASS, AND BIOGAS PRODUCTION.
“It remains a significant earner of agriculture revenue even though its contribution has decreased. Dairy production and processing has expanded a lot over the last 10 years as dairy farmers have moved down from inland toward the coast, but sugarcane still remains the largest (agricultural) industry in KZN.” Sugar farmers have also diversified into growing macadamia nuts, essential oils and avocados. Government’s masterplan supports this but also offers a long-term direction that reroutes the value chain away from raw and refined sugar and into a wide
range of globally competitive sugarcanebased products including biofuels, bioethanol (alcohol), bio-plastics, cogenerated power and a range of other base and specialty chemicals. But, first, some shorter term, band aids need to be applied. The first is an increase in tariffs on imported sugar from $566 per ton to $680 per ton. “The implementation of the masterplan has led to a substantial restoration of the local market for the industry. Relative to the previous season, sales to both the direct and industrial markets are ahead by more than 170 000 tons. Clearly, demand for sugar from local customers has increased substantially and commitments regarding price restraint by producers have been upheld,” says Trikam. But it does not detract from the ever-
present problem of cheap imports. Trikam says that South Africa has more than enough sugar for its needs. “Last season (2019/2020), we sold 1 249 476 tons of sugar on the
“Demand for sugar from local customers has increased substantially and commitments regarding price restraint by producers have been upheld” local market. To put matters into perspective, for the previous season, sugar production stood at 2 227 230 tons. There were 41 863 tons of duty
paid sugar imports.” Imported sugar, which is landed at prices well below those of local producers, comes from the likes of Brazil and India where the industries are subsidised by their governments. They can therefore sell their finished product at well below their actual production costs. “This gives them an unfair advantage over South Africa which has no subsidy. Hence, it is often referred to as ‘dumped sugar’ sold at a lower price compared to the locally produced sugar. The price paid by the household consumer, however, is seldom substantially lower than locally produced sugar. Much of the value is trapped by the importer.” Another problem during the 2019/2020 season was that a whopping 424 447 tons of sugar from eSwatini
found its way into the South African Customs Union market, most of it landed up in South Africa, translating into a 23% increase compared to the previous season. This was the result of the loss of eSwatini producers’ preferential European Union quotas in September 2017. Because they do not pay tariffs, Swati producers can price their sugar below local producers. As a result, South Africa had to sell its surplus sugar on to the loss-making export market. Another major problem for local producers was the Health Promotion Levy introduced by the government in April 2018. Makube says this was “the last straw” for local producers as it significantly reduced demand for sugar in the value chain. According to SASA and an independent study commissioned by Nedlac, the levy has cost R3,6-billion in lost revenue over the last three seasons. The industry has had to close two mills (Darnall and Umzimkhulu) with significant job losses due to the implementation of this sugar tax. Although unapologetic about the consequences, the government’s masterplan acknowledges that, left unchecked, the problems will see significant operators leave the industry within 24 months. According to the masterplan, these
exits will come disproportionately from small scale growers and independent millers – with the consequence of further accelerating increasing levels of rural poverty, undermining of industry transformation and inclusiveness, and increasing industry concentration. Unmanaged exits risk a situation where capacity mismatches will result in increased costs at all levels as mills struggle to access cane that is further away from mills, causing potentially destructive competition between mills
The levy (Health Promotion Levy) has cost R3,6-billion in lost revenue over the last three seasons for cane. It may well also have the effect of closures happening in the wrong places – a situation where the best cane fields and most efficient mills close, leaving behind an industry that is poorer in its performance overall, the authors warn. A far better option will be a restructuring of the sugar industry. “Optimisation of the local market and expansion of products from sugarcane through diversification
form part of the apex priorities of the masterplan. For this to happen, there must be a systematic approach which includes restructuring and diversifying for growth. The task teams of the masterplan are currently working on the finer details and implementation,” says Trikam. He acknowledges that, for years, the industry has pursued the possibility of producing ethanol/biofuels from sugarcane – but has had little buy in from policy makers. “This would obviously require a conducive policy and legislative environment. We are glad to be at the stage where we are progressing this discourse through the masterplan. We are determined to come up with clearly defined diversified solutions for the industry,” he adds. However, actual details are thin on the ground. Nevertheless, observers like Makube remain optimistic about the creation of alternative markets for sugar such as bioethanol, biojet fuel, electricity generation through biomass, and biogas production. There are also opportunities to accelerate use in pharmaceutical and other applications in manufacturing of packaging material. “The industry is still well placed on an international competitiveness scale. Our sugarcane farmers have proven to be some of the best in the world. As long as the industry and the government continue to work together, the industry can continue to thrive and maintain its position as a key crop in KZN. The industry worldwide is reliant on large infrastructure and capital investment. Milling, transport and harbour investment and infrastructure are imperative to the long-term competitiveness of the industry. South Africa has these in place and, with policy certainty, will come ongoing reinvestment in the industry. Makube says FNB is heavily invested in the sugarcane industry and works closely with all the industry players to support both established and new entrants into the cane industry. “An improvement to legislation and a more predictable and stable cane price will lead to investment being redirected back into the industry – one that has served the KZN farming industry very well for more than 100 years,” he says.
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Workplace Safety SOLUTIONS Championing local manufacturing to keep both the workforce and environments safe, BBF Safety Group have got your business covered
BF Safety Group, with its head offices located in Pinetown KwaZulu-Natal, is an integrated workplace safety solutions provider helping customers create safe working environments. BBF Safety was formed on the basis of championing local manufacturing, procurement and SMME development – an objective more relevant now to get the South African economy back on its feet than possibly any other time in this country’s history.
HOW IT BEGAN In 2014, four of South Africa’s largest safety footwear manufacturers joined forces to create BBF Safety Group (Pty) Ltd. The merger created the largest safety footwear manufacturer in Africa. Since then BBF has transitioned to being an integrated workplace safety solutions provider now offering a full portfolio of head-to-toe Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and SHEQ services including training. We are a proudly South African business, employing more than 1 200 people at
four ISO:9001 accredited manufacturing facilities across the country.
THE PORTFOLIO BBF’s safety footwear
portfolio incorporates renowned brands such as Lemaitre, Frams, Bronx Safety, Sisi and South Africa’s market-leading Bova range which is manufactured
from the Pinetown premises. Wayne gumboots as part of the portfolio has long been established as one of Africa’s leading gumboot manufacturers having serviced the South African market for 80 years and counting. We also manufacture workwear, Fall Arrest systems and specialised thermal protection wear, while the Nikki brand of hard hats and face masks is well-established in the head and respiratory protection categories. As an entity, BBF is able to supply solutions throughout the various PPE categories, actively working to industrialise and localise ranges as far as possible.
INDUSTRIALISATION, TRANSFORMATION AND DEVELOPMENT BBF Safety Group’s mission has been to ensure economic empowerment, transformation and development in South Africa, forging partnerships with local SMMEs both upstream and downstream of the supply chain to create a network of highly committed, professional and efficient local suppliers and distributors. We will continue to strive to service the safety needs of industries both domestically and abroad, while playing our part to drive the South African economy – through both our own manufacturing and services, as well as the suppliers and business partners with whom we work. Find out more about our workplace safety solutions: www.bbfsafety.com firstname.lastname@example.org 031 710 0400
outh Africa’s sugar industry has a long way to go before it benefits from utilising the waste products generated during the sugar milling process. But, this historically rigid and corporatised sector is, at last, responding positively to various opportunities presented by the idea. Chris Whyte is from the African Circular Economy Network, and is assisting the Mauritian sugar industry to improve technologies to increase the energy output from burning bagasse, the fibrous material remaining after raw sugar has been extracted from sugarcane. Whyte says local producers are open to both electricity generation and the
Bagasse bio-degrades in 30 to 80 days making it a perfect alternative to single-use plastics made from petroleum-based raw materials creation of products that can replace single-use plastics. Bagasse accounts for 35% of the energy in a sugarcane plant and tons of bagasse is left behind in the sugar refining process. A large portion of this is burnt to power the boilers which produce the steam needed to create electricity for production. As a result, the majority of South African sugar mills are already self-sufficient when it comes to generating electricity for their own use. However, experts say most sugar mills have significant spare capacity to generate additional power which could be sold to the floundering national grid. In addition, the technology currently used is outdated and, with the right incentives and a legislative
Shirley le Guern considers the opportunities arising from bagasse
framework that paves the way for independent power generation, could be upgraded to improve output. Like South Africa, Australia, Guatemala, Kenya, Uganda, Vietnam and Mauritius also burn bagasse to generate electricity. Market leaders like Brazil and India already operate commercial-scale bagasse cogeneration plants. Tongaat Hulett have said it is well placed to benefit from evolving renewable energy dynamics with the potential to replace its existing power stations with the latest technology, and higher efficiency electricity plants. But, without the enabling legislation in place and a suitable return from Eskom on electricity sales to provide an incentive
for investment in the co-generation of electricity at sugar mills, it has, up until now, focused on the use of bagasse and molasses in animal feeds. Illovo, too, uses bagasse as a biorenewable fuel source for its factory boilers. At its Sezela downstream plant, plant material is extracted from bagasse to produce furfural, a solvent used in a wide variety of industries including personal care, food and agriculture. However, it is not only the sugar industry that has seen the value of bagasse which is non-toxic and 100% compostable. Bagasse biodegrades in 30 to 80 days making it a perfect alternative to single-use plastics made from petroleum based raw materials.
Sappi’s Stanger Mill is unique in South Africa and one of only a few worldwide to use bagasse as its basic raw material in the manufacture of office paper and tissue wadding. The latter is used by the hospitality, corporate, home and medical industries. Products include two-ply toilet tissue, one-and two-ply kitchen towels, hand towels, serviettes, hygienic wipes, medical wipes and industrial wipes used in dispensers. Situated along the North Coast of KwaZulu-Natal, the mill taps into a ready supply of bagasse from neighbouring farmers. According to Sappi, many are previously disadvantaged growers which supports the development of entrepreneurship and contributes to KwaZulu-Natal’s socio-economic growth and stability. Buying locally also eliminates the need for long-distance road transport, reducing wear and tear on roads, fuel consumption and emissions from trucks. The mill’s paper machine has a production capacity of 80 000 tons, while the tissue machine produces around 30 000 tons per annum.
Containers, plates, knives and forks and even straws that are suitable for use by the fast food industry are also made from bagasse It also produces 60 000 tons of bleached bagasse pulp for its own consumption per annum. Tissue wadding is sold to converters who produce industrial and household
tissue products. Sappi says it produces a range of tissue papers using a chlorine-free process to ensure finished products are biodegradable, acid-free and recyclable. According to Whyte, while bagasse is not necessarily suitable for the production of high-grade office papers, it is suitable for use in packaging with at least five companies in South Africa making moulded fibre products for packaging. Containers, plates, knives and forks and even straws that are suitable for use by the fast food industry are also made from bagasse. There is a strong chance that bagasse might even be used to replace plastic in other products, including shopping bags. In 2017, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Polymer and Composite Research Group launched a 100% biodegradable plastic (bioplastic) bag made from agricultural byproducts including bagasse. At around the same time, the Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies at the UK’s University of Bath also developed a biodegradable plastic made from sugar and carbon dioxide. At the launch, the CSIR’s senior materials scientist, Dr Sudhakar Muniyasamy, said he expected this new technology to contribute to the reduction of environmental pollution and even boost local job creation in manufacturing. However, he said the bioplastic formulation and film production process needed to be upscaled to meet industrial manufacturing requirements. Whyte says these new technologies are “nice to have” but need to be economical and competitive enough to provide viable alternatives to the petroleum-based products that continue to destroy the environment.
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Employment At GUD Holdings For Learnership Beneficiaries
chser South a D A
GUD Holdings, known for leading automotive brands, GUD Filters, FRAM Filters, Safeline Brake Pads, Indy Oil and Holts, recently announced that it had offered permanent employment to 23 students at its Durban manufacturing site, following the conclusion of two in-house learnerships. The first learnership focused on training eight candidates with disabilities, while the second provided an opportunity for 27 students from disadvantaged backgrounds to participate in a project management learnership under the GUD Holdings Training Programme for unemployed Youth. On completion, GUD Holdings provided the students with recognised qualifications in NQF levels 2 and 4 respectively. GUD absorbed 23 students in total. The remaining learners were either placed at other manufacturing companies or are in the process of completing the course. Commenting on the success of the learnerships and subsequent employment opportunities, Mboneni Magada, Director of Transformation at GUD Holdings said the company’s job creation approach was an example of how the private sector could make a contribution towards creating meaningful employment opportunities for local youth.
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EXPECT MORE RESTRUCTURING SAYS DELOITTE Increased business restructuring and demand for distressed funding can be expected over the next 12 months, according to The Deloitte South Africa Restructuring Industry Survey 2021. This year’s survey into the South African restructuring industry not only looked at the rocky economy pre-pandemic, but also at the impact of Covid-19 trading restrictions. Online interviews with a broad mix of restructuring professionals between January 12, 2021 and February 8, 2021 revealed that sectors hardest hit by the pandemic and lockdown were the hotel and leisure, retail, real estate, and construction sectors. Telco, media and technology, agriculture, and financial services were the least affected. Survey participants did offer a glimmer of hope, though, citing the growth of online businesses. The survey also identified a number of trends that respondents believe will have a major role in shaping the future of the industry – the growing importance of chief restructuring officers and advances in technology such as customer relationship management tools, big data, cloud, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.
Dachser South Africa recently expanded its Durban operations to a new 3 600m² warehouse in Pinetown. The company specialises in crossdocking. Inbound cargo is unloaded from an incoming container, sorted and then loaded directly to outbound carriers, keeping supply chains operating smoothly through consolidating shipments or even breaking down larger shipments into smaller loads for easier delivery. The upgrade includes new bays to increase capacity and improve turnaround times and creates a central site for products to be sorted for delivery to multiple destinations.
LOGISTICS COMPANY FLOURISHES AT DUBE TRADEPORT HRMP Logistics – based at Dube TradePort Special Economic Zone – has managed to keep graphite electrodes, which are essential to steelmaking, on the road during the most difficult times over the past year. Very few operators are licensed by the Department of Energy to warehouse and distribute graphite electrodes which provide high levels of electrical conductivity and sustain extremely high levels of generated heat. Weighing just over a ton, each of these large and brittle pieces of equipment are trucked across the country by HRMP Logistics. Deliveries cannot stop and must be on time all the time with no room for breakdowns or delays, even during Covid-19, said Musa Makhunga, owner of HRMP Logistics. Makhunga puts the continued availability of this essential product down to the company’s strategic location at Dube and a collaboration with neighbouring logistics company, AiRoad, which handles its product with great care. “We are on speed dial with them,” he says. Dube TradePort’s proximity to the Durban Port – the point of entry of the graphite electrodes – was a key consideration for Makhunga’s client when it came to both signing up HRMP 10 years ago and recently renewing this contract.
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TH IN E VE M S ID T -S ME OU N TH T F COOR AS T
Renishaw Coastal Precinct is set to attract significant investment to the KZN mid-South Coast. The 2,5-million square metre mixed-use coastal development – including commercial, retail, light industrial, medical and educational components – will be undertaken by Renishaw Property Developments, alongside its shareholders Crookes Brothers Limited, and its property development partner, Crocker Properties. Renishaw Property Developments recently received municipal town planning approval for the land which is situated around the N2 interchange, adjacent to Renishaw Hills, an established mature lifestyle estate. “The start of the next phase of the development couldn’t come at a better time for the KZN South Coast,” said Kennett Sinclair, CEO of Crookes Brothers. “Following a particularly challenging year for businesses and the community at large, the significant investment the Renishaw Coastal Precinct is set to contribute towards the growth of this area, positioning the KZN South Coast as a sought-after region in terms of residential property, commerce and tourism.” Richard Crocker, shareholder and director of Renishaw Property Developments, described the project which has been 12 years in the making: “Renishaw Coastal Precinct will effectively build on the massive success of the nature-based Renishaw Hills estate which was established in 2016. The ongoing interest and investment in the development, from across the country, has shown that people are prioritising a relaxed, comfortable lifestyle and quality construction within natural surrounds. The Renishaw development project now moves to the next exciting stage, focusing on the release of largescale land development opportunities.”
FNB URGES SMALL BUSINESS TO CONSIDER SOLAR A 15,62% increase in electricity tariffs and frequent power interruptions was negatively impacting on small business continuity, Preggie Pillay, CEO of FNB Commercial Property Finance, has warned. He said that SMEs that are still pondering the viability of investing in solar, should act sooner rather than later.
“When you have power disruptions attributable to ageing grid infrastructure and load shedding, there are available various alternative energy sources of which solar energy is the most generally acceptable. As a technology, solar is tried and tested, and in recent years it has become highly affordable.” The greatest threat is to small retail shops in shopping malls which lose revenue when the power is down or intermittent. That revenue is lost forever.
DCCI Considers New Approach The Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Africa’s oldest and largest metropolitan business chamber, is considering the introduction of future sustainable business models which could include free membership for small, medium and macro enterprises. Commenting on eThekwini Municipality’s financial support for 2021 and the foreseeable future, Chamber President, Nigel Ward, said this new approach would help smooth the recovery process for chambers and quicker economic revival for SMMEs. The Covid-19 pandemic had translated to an immense downturn for most businesses as well as public entities like the Durban Chamber. To continue the chamber’s mandate of advocating for business, several strategies were implemented to save as many livelihoods as possible. These strategies included moving to new offices at the Durban Country Club which cut rental costs by 45%, reducing staff capacity, and reviewing supplier contracts. “Membership organisations around the world are facing similar challenges as the Durban Chamber. It is very heartening for the Durban Chamber to receive this support from our municipality as it underscores the value of partnership between the public and private sector,” Ward noted.
Although businesses are fully aware of this, he said they were not aware that banks offered a viable funding solution that would protect the cash flow of a business. According to Pillay, most shopping malls today have a large roof surface tailored to solar energy generation. “The centre manager typically on-sells/offtakes this to individual tenants within the centre, with excess capacity returned to the grid. Often this charge is less than what the
national energy provider bills clients. It is consequently both a business continuity plan and an asset which increases the value of the property by reducing operating costs. Furthermore, consumers are becoming ever savvier on sustainability and climate change and are demanding that retailers use cleaner energy to reduce their carbon footprint. Increasingly in the future, it is such factors which will determine how and where people shop,” he said.
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Pay it FORWARD Celebrating two years in her own law firm in uMhlanga, attorney Shamla Pather is not leaving her legacy to chance, but rather crafting one which aligns perfectly with her life values. Her mantra? Pay it forward!
hamla Pather is a highly respected law practitioner specialising in commercial litigation, with a niche commercial client base. In addition to this, she has created a sterling reputation as being one of the leading family lawyers. She has an unusual, even unexpected approach to what she does and, skilled as she is, her primary driving force is her backstory. It’s that which has driven her actions, business ethics and keeps her focused. Shamla was the only daughter – youngest of four – and grew up in a
humble home with little money: “Still,” she smiles, “I was spoilt, because as lacking in formal education and impoverished as my parents were, they did
I broke from all relationships which were bad for me, and I’ve risen like the Phoenix” everything to make our world better. They valued education, and the ability to stand on your own feet.” Shamla considered
herself an average scholar, but a brilliant university student: “For me to attend university required enormous sacrifices by my family. That alone was fiercely motivating. For a young Indian girl who, realistically, should have been getting married not studying law, the option of failing did not exist. For me to study, my brother had to give up his studies, which he did without question.” Shamla worked extremely hard, supported wholeheartedly by her family: “For those four years, my sole job was to study, my mum’s was to take care of me, ensure I
was mentally and physically equipped to succeed. The memory of my mum’s caring ways during those years will never leave me; that, together with my dad’s ‘I’ll always make a plan’ attitude, shaped who I am, and how I approach every aspect of life. My then boyfriend, now husband, taught me I could be anything I wanted, and motivated me to work hard and achieve my goals. He still does this today.” Stepping out into the world – particularly that of law – Shamla found herself unprepared: “This profession is a real character build, and if you are not resilient enough, career breaking. From the very outset, it was tough. I was considered nothing and nobody, and my selfconfidence was entirely eroded. I was repeatedly told I wasn’t good enough, until I believed it. It was a form of abuse.” Shamla
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all relationships which were bad for me, and I’ve risen like the Phoenix. I understood it doesn’t matter what people think of you, it only matters what you think of yourself. I have learnt so many lessons along the way, identified abusive business and legal practices, and made sure I’m not that person.” She opened Shamla Pather Attorneys to cries of ‘What took you so long? You should have done it years ago. We knew you could do it’. The person shouting the loudest was husband and medical doctor, Dan Govender, who had always believed in her ability to open her own practice. She smiles, “He’s always seen something in me that I didn’t see. He made personal and financial sacrifices for me to grow and has been in the industry for 24 years now, and she’s determined a large part of her legacy will be to assist young, hard-working professionals to believe in themselves and their ability to climb the ladder, despite personal and professional impediments. She realised the manipulation and sacrifices she had had to endure, made her stronger. Shamla is quick to add that the journey wasn’t all negative. She worked for a number of stellar legal firms like Garlicke & Bousfield Inc, and Shepstone & Wylie, companies which not only valued her, but showed it: “These are big, well-oiled machines with good business practices and ethics, and they taught me an enormous amount. Not only did I build solid, respectful, and sincere relationships with them, but lasting ones. I defy anyone who says the big companies haven’t transformed – they
have, and gender equality is firmly on their radar. I am proud to say I can call on both these firms for personal and professional assistance with ease and without any reciprocation required.” Along the way, Shamla found a mentor in an unusual quarter – Jacky Julyan, then a Durban advocate: “She was a formidable woman who allowed me to see my faults, but constantly pointed out my strengths. She took me under her wing, built me up, showed me how to escape toxic business relationships, and told me what an amazing lawyer I was. She was unselfish in her teaching and often stood up for me without hesitation. When you have a strong female role model like that, you know you can fly!” And she did. Today, two years into her own practice, Shamla smiles, “I broke from
This profession is a real character build, and if you are not resilient enough, career breaking” create my working space. Throughout our 24-year marriage, he has been, and remains, my best friend. “I may be a small firm in the scheme of things, but I’m a brand that’s recognised both locally and abroad. I’ve made sure I work super hard, inspire and encourage others, and never take unfair advantage of my staff. I’m not an activist for feminism, I’m an activist for treating everyone as human beings. I will not help you because you’re a woman in need – I do it because you’re a human being in need.” Shamla always asks her staff to read Robin Sharma’s
book, Leading Without A Title. “He urges everyone that no matter what you do in life, master it. Street sweeper, cleaner, sister, brother, friend, you name it, be the best you possibly can, and one day, someone will identify you, and you’ll grow.” One of Shamla’s great joys is identifying that person, and helping them on their way up. She says, “I’ve never forgotten where I came from, or the people who held me up and put me on this path. I can’t give back to my parents, so I give back in their name.” Shamla does pro bono work and contributes to innumerable charities, not just financially, but by rolling up her sleeves and providing meals for 80 elderly people every month. She also gives talks to probono.com on topics such as gender issues, empowerment, abuse, raising your children, the scourge of badly handled social media, labour issues. “My greatest compliment was paid to me by my 19-year-old daughter Jayde who said, ‘Mummy, I want my children raised the way you raised me, as I will know that they will be OK’,” says Shamla. “I believe strongly in fairness and justice, about integrity, being true to myself, about looking in the mirror and liking the person I am. I want to help and inspire young professionals to be masters of their destiny, to know it’s about what’s inside you, not what you wear. I want to help uplift them.” That’s why, for Shamla, it’s vital to Pay It Forward. uMhlanga: 202, 2 Richefond Circle, Ridgeside Office Park, uMhlanga Rocks; 031 003 8971; 082 777 4650 New Zimbali Office: Suite F04B, Zimbali Wedge Retail Centre, Ballito; 032 007 0580; email@example.com; www.lawspa.co.za
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he African proverb: “Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable” best sums up Sappi’s approach to its support for the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in particular SDG17, Partnership for the Goals. Sappi have made the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) an integral part of our business and have partnered with several other collaborative efforts to lend our support to the global groundswell for greater sustainability by all responsible companies. With climate change continuing to impact businesses and reshape societies, we believe that as a company we are ideally placed to use the full potential of each tree we harvest by building a biobased circular economy in South Africa. Our bioproducts are sustainable alternatives extracted from woodfibre
Partnership for the GOALS Sappi focuses on partnerships for greater sustainability
to reduce the need for fossil-based materials used in everyday products for the customers we serve, the communities where we operate, and the planet we all call home. It’s an opportunity we’re embracing with a spirit of eco-effective ingenuity that’s unique to Sappi. To do this sustainably, Sappi has identified nine priority SDGs where we believe we can make the biggest impact. In 2020 we committed to setting science-based decarbonisation targets through the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), a collaboration between the CDP, the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), World Resources Institute (WRI) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Our five-year target for Sappi SA is a 20% reduction from our FY19 baseline.
As a signatory of the UN Global Compact (UNGC) since 2008, we have joined the call to step up for this Decade of Action and will, using our global impact, work together with governments, civil society, businesses and society to achieve ambitious action for sustainable development. More recently, Sappi joined the CBA (Circular Bioeconomy Alliance), a movement which places nature at the heart of the global circular bioeconomy, established by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales under his Sustainable Markets Initiative in 2020. The Alliance aims to accelerate the transition to a circular bioeconomy that is climate neutral, inclusive and prospers in harmony with nature, by providing knowledge-informed support and a learning and networking
ABOVE: SAPPI IS A GLOBAL DIVERSIFIED WOODFIBRE COMPANY FOCUSED ON UNLOCKING THE POWER OF RENEWABLE RESOURCES TO BUILD A THRIVING WORLD WITH A BIOBASED, CIRCULAR ECONOMY.
platform. It connects the dots between investors, companies, local communities, governmental and nongovernmental organisations to advance the circular bioeconomy – while also restoring biodiversity. While Sappi is already engaged in, and has been contributing to many partnerships and collaborations, we continue to work actively with others to scale our ambition in pursuit of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Read more about Sappi’s Sustainability journey in our Corporate Citizenship Report.
GREENWASHING the world In a time of crisis, Tony Carnie looks at how green the world really is LEFT: A 50S-ERA NEWSPAPER ADVERT IN WHICH DOCTORS IN WHITE COATS WERE USED TO PROMOTE CIGARETTE BRANDS LIKE MARLBORO OR CAMEL.
bucketloads of green paint were splashed about liberally, not just to camouflage dirty or dubious processes, but also to boost consumer sales. In 2009, McDonald’s outlets in several parts of Europe changed the colour of their logos from
ou have to be quite nimble to avoid tripping over the mountains of green bottles, green straws, green plastic bags and all manner of “green” hogwash mushrooming from the fertile minds of corporate spin doctors. But it is no longer quite as crass as the 50s-era newspaper adverts in which cute babies, smiling nurses or doctors in white coats were used to promote cigarette brands like Lucky Strike, Marlboro or Camel. Instead, we now have
terms like “clean gas”, “clean coal” or “100% recyclable” to sanitise the many projects and products which heat up the world or add to the piles of trash clogging up the land, sea and rivers. Greenwashing is a term coined in the United States in the mid-1980s to describe the proliferation of feel-good propaganda campaigns designed to counter mounting public concern around the fossil fuel industry, global heating, junk food, packaging and what not. In simple terms,
yellow and red to yellow and green “to clarify McDonald’s responsibility for the preservation of natural resources”. New names were invented, or modified. The Chemical Manufacturers’ Association – mouthpiece for America’s chemical and plastic corporations – changed its name in 2000 to the American Chemistry Council. “Council” has quite a
nice ring to it, suggestive of a credible and impartial government agency, rather an industry lobby group hawking its wares and influence. A year later, the pesticides and plant poisons industry group (known originally as the International Group of National Associations of Manufacturers of Agrochemical Products) transmogrified into “Croplife”, partly to shed some of the baggage associated with unfortunate events such as the Bhopal pesticide gas disaster and controversies around toxic formulations like DDT, 2.4D or lindane. The new title and tagline – Representing The Plant Science Industry – also reflected the industry’s growing diversification and emerging monopoly
in the arena of geneticallymodified crops. British Petroleum also commissioned a nice new green and gold sunflower logo and sought to reinvent itself as the “Beyond Petroleum” energy group. Closer to home, Eskom and government energy mandarins now speak of “clean coal” and “carbon sequestration” (burying carbon emissions under the sea or in a remote spot of rural land near the Mozambique borderline). Several companies and investors exploring for new deposits of “clean gas” in some of South Africa’s richest water catchment areas have been very careful to avoid the new F-word, lest this should alert vigilant farmers and public busy-bodies. That’s why you seldom
Redesigning industries to reduce waste, energy and water is crucial – but there are now too many people and too many companies depleting and destroying the resources of a finite planet see the word “fracking” spelt out in black and white in exploration proposals. Instead, the threat of underground rocks being fractured apart with high pressure jets of water, sand and chemicals is likely
to be described as “well stimulation” or “horizontal drilling”. Tracey Davies, an attorney and executive director of the shareholder activism group Just Share, notes that “natural gas” is made up of 95% methane, a more potent greenhouse gas than CO². Davies, who prefers to use the term “fossil gas” says it is remarkable how seldom we see even the most superficial interrogation of the truth or accuracy of gasrelated pronouncements. “This is particularly concerning because almost everyone who touts gas as a ‘game-changer’ has a vested interest in gas-focused policy developments.” She argues that there is no space left in the global carbon budget for new fossil fuel projects, especially for a country with existing high carbon emissions. But surely industry and corporations alone cannot be blamed for the mess we are in – are we not all to blame as consumers? Danielle Laity of the Aurora Sustainability network in Cape Town suggests that consumers have more power than they think. “It’s people who have purchasing power, people who impact regulation and people who drive organisations and cities. As consumers, we can set the pace for change. “When each individual changes their consumption patterns, we are collectively able to influence companies to change their production patterns to more sustainable methods and outputs. But this requires more individuals realising that the collective ‘we’ have a lot of power in keeping these industries in check.” As an example, she quotes a recent Unilever group
which showed that its “most sustainable brands” grew 46% faster than the rest of the business and delivered 70% of its turnover growth. By the end of 2017, 56% of Unilever’s agricultural raw materials were reported to have been sustainably sourced, while the PG Tips brand recently introduced fully biodegradable tea bags. This all sounds very nice of course. But it simplifies the bigger picture and the mammoth ecological crisis of the Anthropocene era. Redesigning tea bags may go some way to reducing the volume of microscopic plastic fibres in the air and in seafood. Redesigning industries to reduce waste, energy and water is also crucial – but ultimately there are now too many people and too many companies depleting and destroying the resources of a finite planet. There is no easy 10-step
guide to saving the world. It’s fantastic to “do our little bit”, but quick, cosmetic solutions won’t make any measurable difference to reversing the current scale of rampant destruction.
It’s people who have purchasing power, people who impact regulation and people who drive organisations and cities. As consumers, we can set the pace for change” If you type the search term “World Population Clock” into your Google browser you will get some idea of just how fast humanity is multiplying. Last time I looked, the
clock had whizzed past the 7 871 000 000 mark (that’s nearly eight billion people compared to one billion people just 200 years ago). Now imagine the cost of feeding eight children instead of one. The idea of curbing the growth of the world’s human population (and rampant consumption) remains a hugely taboo subject, with some critics suggesting it is founded on racism, or an attempt by rich consumer nations to shift the blame to the poor. Sadly, we are all in the same boat. The inconvenient truth is that we have to find ways to fly less, drive less, buy less and breed less while we navigate a very difficult path back to the future. In his courageous papal encyclical Laudato Si’ published in 2015, Catholic Pope Francis put it this way: Men and women have constantly intervened in
nature, but for a long time this meant being in tune with and respecting the possibilities offered by the things themselves. It was a matter of receiving what nature itself allowed, as if from its own hand. Now, by contrast, we are the ones to lay our hands on things, attempting to extract everything possible from them while frequently ignoring or forgetting the reality in front of us. Human beings and material objects no longer extend a friendly hand to one another; the relationship has become confrontational. This has made it easy to accept the idea of infinite or unlimited growth, which proves so attractive to economists, financiers and experts in technology. It is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth’s goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry beyond every limit.
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LEFT : GREEN CORRIDORS TOURISM ACTIVITIES UNLOCK ECONOMIC VALUE IN SOME OF ETHEKWINI’S MOST REMOTE AREAS WITH A RANGE OF COMMUNITY BASED TOURISM EXPERIENCES AND ACCOMMODATION, SUCH AS THIS GUIDED CYCLING TRAIL IN ISITHUMBA IN THE VALLEY OF 1 000 HILLS.
GREEN Corridors Connecting people and planet through collaboration
nvironmental sustainability is not a new concept. It is bandied about in so many facets of our daily lives – from retail packaging to advertising and branding. Private sector boardrooms and government offices worldwide make a lot of noise about it. At some level we know it’s important, but do we really know what it means? How is environmental sustainability achieved on a practical level? The eThekwini Municipality falls within an important global biodiversity hotspot that has a variety of important plant and animal species that have been impacted by climate change, alien invasive species, and urbanisation. If it is not looked after there will be a massive impact on future species. Back in 1982, the City mapped out more than 94 000 hectares of green spaces in the Durban Metropolitan Open Space System – D’MOSS – to protect this biodiversity and its associated ecosystems, while at the same time offering social and economic benefits for its citizens. Having identified these areas, the City now has the opportunity to conserve many of South Africa’s threatened ecosystems and species and help the province and the country in meeting biodiversity conservation targets.
ABOVE: PROJECT MANAGER OF THE GREEN CORRIDORS KWAMASHU MATERIALS BENEFICIATION CENTRE, JONATHAN WELCH AND CENTRE MANAGER MUZI MASUKU, SHOW WARD 44 COUNCILLOR LINDIWE NCAYIYANA HOW THE PAVERS ARE MADE FROM GLASS AND PLASTIC WASTE COLLECTED FROM CLEAN-UPS IN DURBAN’S GREEN SPACES. PICTURE: VAL ADAMSON
It is all very well having green spaces, but these need to be managed within complex urban ecosystems. This is where the small but impactful NPO, Green Corridors, steps in. Funded through several investors, including the eThekwini Municipality’s
own Economic Development Unit, the organisation works towards the sustainability of these green spaces in collaboration with communities in and around them. “One of the most important premises from which work is understanding that planetary health is interconnected and that people are a vital part of the ecosystem,” says Susan Dlamini, Project Manager at Green Corridors. “Everything we do is motivated by how the natural environment can be protected or rehabilitated and used in a way that it can thrive and help people thrive. “Our team has collaborated on programmes that look for economic, educational or social opportunities, ways to help communities thrive in balance with the habitats around them.” Programmes include improving green spaces through the removal of alien plants and litter and clearing of these areas for multiple uses such as education and recreation and tourism. In 2019, 45km of trails were maintained for both biking and walking; over 6 000 people made use of Green Corridors facilities which are community-managed with the support of the NPO and over 50 small tourism businesses. High on the Green Corridors agenda is the waste management in these spaces, and how to change the narrative from waste being something that has little or no value, to it being a resource to be reused and repurposed as part of a bigger circular economy. For example, Green Corridors’ community-managed litterbooms, set up on tributaries, close to informal settlements, that feed the Umgeni River and trap bulk plastics. This is removed from the waterway, sorted, and transported to a beneficiation centre where research is done on how to best use the waste “resource” so it can circle back into the economy to benefit the people and the environment. Green Corridors is always on the lookout for local and international private sector partners to collaborate with. Visit durbangreencorridor.co.za or email firstname.lastname@example.org
FUELLING a community Desmond D’Sa started environmental campaigning in the Durban industrial basin before it became sexy to hold business to account. Today he shares his views with KZN INVEST PICTURES BY JON IVINS
or more than 25 years, Wentworth local Desmond D’Sa (left) championed the health of his community. It cost him his job and resulted in his home being petrol bombed, but D’Sa persisted and in the process formalised resistance to irresponsible corporate behaviour. It wasn’t the life he imagined, but it has been a massively empowering journey for the son of a carpenter and a nurse. D’Sa was one of 13 children. He was born in Cato Manor but at age 10 his family was forcibly relocated by the apartheid government to Wentworth. The wider area, including Jacobs, Merebank and Clairwood, is home to about 70% of Durban’s industry (much of it dirty) and 120 000 people. People live cheek by jowl with factories, many of which are unashamedly dirty, and the level of noxious gases and the incidence of cancer there has been flagged internationally. When D’Sa started rattling the corporate cage, many businesses shrugged it off. The dormitory suburbs were designed
to supply cheap labour to industry and the advent of democracy did not coincide with a flush of environmental conscience. D’Sa started his working life in construction and moved to textile factories. When he was sacked for his activism, D’Sa’s four children were still at school. His opposition to the fuel refineries put him on a collision course with siblings who argued his agitation threatened local jobs dependent on the industry.
Exploration (for oil and gas) harms the environment, yet thousands of people depend on the coast for an income “They were angry. They said I was going to suffer for taking on the giants. I said you choose between right and wrong, even if it means personal hardship.” D’Sa plays down the crusading aspect of his job. In 2014 he was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Award, a global accolade sometimes described as the environmental equivalent of the Nobel Prize.
He used the prize money to buy an office for South Durban Community Environmental Alliance. Where he was once a one-man band, now there is a staff of eight. It is a modest outfit, but is now networked with similar non-governmental agencies in 38 countries, all sharing information. D’Sa shared his thoughts and experiences with KZN INVEST. You have garnered a wealth of information about industry and pollution, all largely self-taught. If you reflect back, what have been your three golden rules? Violence begets violence. I live in a community where gunshots are an everyday occurrence. You can use power to fight for your space, to demand accountability, but never resort to violence. The second thing is to build trust by sharing. I live in the same flat my parents raised my family in. Every day I walk the streets where I played as a boy. At night I pray with my neighbours in the same street. I talk to my neighbours. There is community surveillance of the air quality. You would think it is complicated, but knowledge in the hands of the community is powerful. The third thing is to remember how my parents
raised us, to be well mannered. It taught me respect and the values I carry through today. I see many people with no cause to carry them through the tough times. You have never been successfully courted by any political party for any position. Why? We need to change the political system so that people get service. Why aren’t officials held to account? Why are they there if they can’t help? We need direct representation that encourages active citizenship. That is the only way to change behaviour. We align ourselves with shack dwellers and hostel dwellers and people who need help. It is about getting back to basics and owning our own processes. You have engaged with big business and held corporate leaders to account. Do you experience
much empathy for the plight of the community? Some businesses do the right thing. They want to put back into the community. But others, I don’t think they realise their privilege. If many of the CEOs of businesses in our areas lived here, the pollution would be nothing like it is. Their children have parks to play in and good schools to go to. It is easy to talk about good intentions, but it is another thing to behave with humility and to genuinely help where there is a need. You have held the refineries and others to account. They are huge enterprises worth billions that employ thousands of people down the value chain. What is their future? Much of the refineries are rusty buckets. Toxic pollution kills. You can save money for your shareholders at the expense
of safety. There are areas of improvement. The longterm future of the refineries has to be discussed. You can’t just shut them down, there has to be a transition to something else. The shareholders can’t just up and leave. We need independent facilitation of
Knowledge in the hands of the community is powerful a community engagement. Fossil fuels have a limited life. What is your view of the commitment of the eThekwini Municipality and organised business to greener business? The Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry does not respond to our requests for engagement, nor does the Growth
Coalition. The municipality is not a good monitor of air quality. They don’t seem genuinely interested in the community or anything but bare minimum observance to the law. You are rallying around issues of tourism and the protection of the coast from oil and gas exploration. What are your concerns and what does the future hold? The coast is a precious resource, the entire stretch of it. We want to engage the hospitality industry around the longterm future. Exploration (for oil and gas) harms the environment, yet thousands of people depend on the coast for an income. You don’t have to depend on big industries alone. There are prospects for small businesses with conscience.
BELOW: JOANNE GROOM – MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER AT THE SOUTH DURBAN COMMUNITY ENVIRONMENTAL ALLIANCE.
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e need to clean up the mess. But, unfortunately it’s not as simple as cleaning your room. The year 2020 ended with a blessing (and a wake-up call) – the gift and impact of a profound book, A Life On Our Planet, My Witness Statement And A Vision For The Future, by David Attenborough. With each word I read, I could hear his calm yet assertive voice. He delivers an inspiring career journey; he also shares how he has witnessed our world changing over 60 years. The earth’s population is rising at a ridiculous rate. The carbon in our
The recipe for a sustainable life is simple. We should not be taking more from the earth, than what we can give back experience a hard life; in just 90 years my grandchildren may not even have a world to live in. There will be no earth left unless we action the change now. We are fast heading towards the sixth mass extinction of humanity. What are we to do about this dismal reality?
It’s our mess to CLEAN UP As a child, if you made a mess of your bedroom, you were told to clean it up. If we made a mess of our earth, then the same principle would apply, writes Naretha Pretorius
atmosphere is reaching alarming levels. We now only have a third of our remaining wilderness left. Half-way through the book, Sir Attenborough managed to make this mother sob. A painful penny dropped with these words: I fear for those who will bear witness to the next 90 years, if we continue living as we are doing at present. That is the future of my children, and their children. I envisioned a fulfilling life ahead for them. But at that moment, I feared for their future. At the rate we are going, they will LEFT: NARETHA PRETORIUS WITH A LIFE ON OUR PLANET.
The earth does not need humans, humans need the earth. The earth will thrive without us. If we don’t create the needed change, then there will be no earth for us to live on. No earth. No humans. This means we need to rethink our understanding of sustainability. Sustainability is more than an annual report, it is a way of living. Sustainability, by definition, is: the ability for something to continue forever. As Attenborough states: The capacity of humankind and the biosphere to coexist permanently. To be sustainable, humankind must establish a life on our planet that exists within the planetary boundaries.
We often talk about the fourth industrial revolution, but what about the sustainability revolution? As a design thinking facilitator, our approach to complex challenges are human-centric. Maybe we need to shift that, and add to that question, how can we be more earth-centric in our ways of working, thinking and doing? What are the needs of our earth, so that we can answer to the future of humankind? What value do our solutions add to the lives of people, as well as the sustainability of our earth? The recipe for a sustainable life is simple. We should not be taking more from the earth, than what we can give back. We are a highly creative and intelligent species. We have the resources, the knowledge, and the ability to implement the required change. The question is whether we understand the urgency. Attenborough says we need wisdom. He paints the picture of our inevitable doomsday, but he also provides existing solutions we can mimic. He is passing the baton on to us. We need our decision makers to become change agents. Our leaders, politicians, policymakers, city planners, designers, educators, parents, and citizens, whatever your role or capacity, must seriously rethink how you can contribute to the solutions. In every industry, and within every role we play, at home or within our businesses, we can contribute to the change. And we need to act now. We can no longer wait. Attenborough ends the book with an encouraging message: We must not give up hope. We have all the tools we need, the thoughts and ideas of billions of remarkable minds and the immeasurable energies of nature to help us in our work. And we have one more thing – an ability, perhaps unique among the living creatures on the planet – to imagine a future and work towards achieving it. Read the book, and ask yourself: how can I contribute, so that we as a collective, can look forward to the future of humanity? It is time to clean up our mess.
Naretha Pretorius is a Thinking Facilitator and the Campus Head at IIE-Vega Durban; Instagram: @facilitator_naretha_pretorius // www.vegaschool.com
DURBAN IS READY, WILLING AND ABLE TO MAKE YOUR HOLIDAY BREAK A MEMORABLE ONE, WITH NUMEROUS APPEALING TOURISM AND LEISURE OPTIONS IN AND AROUND THE CITY.
Here’s how to make the most of your Durban holiday experience: Just add water. A visit to this coastal city would be incomplete without an aquatic adventure of some kind. Take
in Durban’s spectacular beaches and southern Africa’s longest beachfront promenade. Enjoy a day out at the dam with your loved ones, either relaxing with a picnic or trying out some of the watersports on offer. Visit an array of water parks for wet and wonderful fun or go on an ocean adventure that brings you face to snout with the creatures of the deep – from dolphin shows and whale watching, to snorkelling, deep sea diving and more.
Get outdoors. Be an explorer and venture out to Durban’s many outdoor destinations. Sample the city’s fresh air, wide open spaces, great weather and stunning nature and wildlife areas – from Phezulu Safari Park and Giba Gorge Mountain Bike Park in the west to Sugar Rush Park on the North Coast. Max out on adventure. Durban has activities to suit just about every taste – from adrenaline pumping thrills like shark diving and skydiving, to more
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tranquil options like hot air balloon trips and horse rides. Get your retail fix. As a shopper’s paradise, Durban boasts a large variety of world-class malls, boutique retail outlets, outdoor strip malls and markets with stringent measures in place to keep you safe while you shop till you drop. Walk away with a creative masterpiece. For a rich tapestry of creations from the city’s talented creatives and makers, be sure to visit www.visitdurban.travel
Durban’s wide variety of museums and art galleries. Here, you can acquire the stunning handiwork of some of Durban’s talented emerging or established local artists. Enjoy an unforgettable coastal culinary experience. Durban offers an array of mouth-watering cuisine that sets it apart from any other city in South Africa. Wherever you are – North Coast, South Coast, central or west of the city, there are restaurants with the
space and comfort you need to enjoy a meal with peace of mind. So, if you’re keen for some safe and enjoyable days out in Durban, then don your masks, sanitise and respect the curfew. Let’s all Rediscover Durban safely while observing all Covid-19 protocols. For more info visit: www.visitdurban.travel or follow @DBNTourism across all social media platforms
uilt in 1849, the Elephant House has been threatened on several occasions during its lengthy history – whether by elephants or potential developers. Although it had been proclaimed a national monument in 1978, when this old colonial home came up for sale during the lockdown last year, it was not guaranteed that the house would survive. Despite heritage house protection laws, many historic homes on the Berea have fallen prey to urban densification. The then owners, Brian and Elaine Agar, who were downsizing and moving to live closer to family, were determined they would only sell to a buyer who would “treasure, maintain and share it”. But there was still a quiver of concern among long-standing residents, local walkers and those familiar with the social history of Durban, that there would not be a happy ending to this sale scenario. When the Agars had bought the property in 1975, it was touch and go at the time that the Elephant House would survive. Brian, an attorney, had initially intended to demolish the building. However, convinced by friends of its architectural and historical importance, and intrigued by the legend of the elephants, he decided to devote time to restoring and preserving the rundown dwelling. So, what’s with the name? Well, thereby hangs a tale of elephants and tracks and animal lore, interwoven with the city’s history, once a nascent,
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Jumbo JOY The Elephant House, situated at the highest natural point of the Berea overlooking the sweep of land down towards the Indian Ocean, is the oldest surviving house in Durban, writes Christine Prescott Sole
ABOVE: A VIEW OF THE ELEPHANT HOUSE FROM THE BACK GARDEN. THIS HISTORIC HOME HAS SURVIVED ELEPHANTS, DEVELOPERS AND WARS – BETWEEN THE BRITISH AND ZULU NATIONS, THE TWO GREAT SOUTH AFRICAN WARS AND TWO WORLD WARS.
bay-side port, growing into the metropolis it is today. When construction of the Elephant House began in 1849 (the same year the Durban Botanic Gardens
ABOVE: THE EARLIEST KNOWN PHOTOGRAPH OF THE ELEPHANT HOUSE. RIGHT : A HANDSOME, EARLY 18TH CENTURY THREE POUNDER THAT NOW OVERLOOKS THE GARDEN.
was founded), the town consisted mostly of wattle and daub-type dwellings made with black mangrove poles from the dense forests which surrounded the bay. (Their high tannin content made them less susceptible to termites and wood rot.) Durban had only one brick house at the time. Living in “town”, the Milner brothers – Henry, Philip and Thomas –
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None too pleased with an obstruction in their way, the elephants made their feelings known; the wooden veranda posts were smashed on numerous occasions and other damage was done to the infrastructure. Hence, the dwelling came to be known as “the house that withstood the elephants”. Very soon came the inevitable clash between wildlife and a growing population. As the migration of settlers from the steamy, low-lying town to the attractive, cool slopes of the Berea grew, the huge herds of elephants were decimated. By the early 1850s they had been completely eradicated. In 1854 the last lion on the Berea was shot, as noted in The Natal Mercury of the day. When Edward Snell bought the Elephant House in 1857 he installed a cannon which was fired TOP LEFT: THE ELEPHANT HOUSE IS A CLASSIC EXAMPLE OF COLONIAL DWELLING WITH ITS DEEP, WRAP-AROUND VERANDAS FOR DAYTIME SHADE. LEFT: THE INTERIORS OF THE ELEPHANT HOUSE, DESIGNED FOR COOL BREEZY COMFORT, ARE AN HARMONIOUS BLEND OF OLD AND MODERN FURNISHINGS.
wanted to build a weekend hunting lodge and chose the most prominent part of the Berea, from where the coastal forests rolling down to the sea provided spectacular views. The spot they selected was at the crest of a sandy track that led eastwards, down what is now Florida Road, to the marshes in the Greyville area. Construction began – the central and the oldest part of the house being built with sun-baked bricks and seashell mortar, resting on a foundation of sandstone boulders. However, Durban at that time still had herds of
elephant and resident lions roaming the ridge and the house was on the route the elephants used on their daily trek to the Greyville marshes for water.
every New Year’s Eve. The handsome three pounder that now overlooks the garden came from the ship Ariosto that was wrecked in 1854 on Back Beach (now
the Addington foreshore). The Elephant House passed through several hands until 1883 when it was purchased by Mr Alexander Murchie. It remained in the family for nearly 100 years until bought by Agar in 1975. During their 45 years in residence, the Agars raised three children and spent decades restoring the old home into an elephantthemed haven in the city. Their fervent wish for their legacy to be continued has been fulfilled by the new owners, the Aboud family, who are dedicated to preserving this legendary Berea home, for themselves and for posterity. The Elephant House has been saved from the hammer – once again. Husband and wife team, Rosie and Matthew, together with their youngsters, Gabriel and Lilly, are thrilled to be a part of the more than century-and-ahalf of history that is the Elephant House. It’s almost as if the Elephant House and the Aboud clan were destined for each other – Matthew has fulfilled a childhood dream, while the old house has found its “forever family”. Says Rosie, “Matthew used to live diagonally opposite the Elephant House in his younger days. He remembers riding his bike past the house on the way to the local tearoom to buy sweets. Being an old Durban boy, he was aware of the story behind the house. Besides, there were his parents who, among other things, bought, restored and sold houses – it seemed that buying the Elephant House was meant to be. “We both love the bush and together ran a game farm for several years. It was there that I had numerous
close encounters with Rambo, the rogue elephant. I learnt a great deal about how curious and territorial these creatures are, and can quite understand that they’d be very displeased with anything in their pathway, like a house.” Until last year, Rosie thought her elephant days were long gone. “We had sold our home in Mount Edgecombe and were renting in Lambert Road, not quite sure where we were headed,” says Rosie, “when Matthew spotted the advertisement for the sale of the Elephant House. He was really enthusiastic. I
Many of the historical treasures that belonged to the Agars have been left behind, and have found homes on the shady verandas or in the cool interiors was like, ‘What on earth is the Elephant House?’ “Anyway, we went off to visit the property and met the owners, Brian and Elaine, who were sad to leave and concerned about the future of the property. “Needless to say, although we had fallen in love with the Elephant House, buying it was quite a daunting prospect as there was much restoration work that needed to be done before we could move in. “We would sit until late in the night, wondering RIGHT: MATTHEW, LILLY, ROSIE AND GABRIEL ABOUD ARE DETERMINED TO CONTINUE THE CUSTODIANSHIP OF THEIR NEW HOME, A UNIQUE AND SIGNIFICANT FEATURE IN THE CITY’S PAST.
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about what we were doing? I phoned Matt’s mother and she said, ‘Just do it. You are buying a piece of history’.” The Aboud family lived in the guest house during renovations, and finally took up residence earlier this year. Notwithstanding a few modern touches, much is still the same in the Elephant House; the integrity of the old dwelling has been meticulously maintained, even returning the outside to its original white. Many of the historical treasures that belonged to the Agars have been left behind – a large old iron mangle for wringing out washing, a coal stove and a boot scraper for mud, among others – and have found homes on the shady verandas or in the cool interiors. The guest house, which for now is a home for visiting family and friends, may in time be a B&B. “We have both had extensive experience in hospitality,” says Rosie. “Then, there’s a plan for the future to hold English High Teas at the Elephant House. “That way we’ll be able to share our special home with small groups of visitors who will book for the event, either during the mornings or afternoons, fulfilling the
TOP: THIS HANDSOME COPPER BOWL WITH ONE BRASS HANDLE MISSING THAT WAS USED FOR MAKING PRESERVES, WAS ONE OF THE MANY TREASURES UNEARTHED IN THE GARDEN. ABOVE: ROSIE RESTORED THE WASH STAND AND BASIN WHICH COMPLETE THE OLD-WORLD FAMILY BATHROOM. ABOVE RIGHT : WIDE, WRAPAROUND COLONIAL-STYLE VERANDAS CREATE A SPACE FOR INTERESTING ARTEFACTS LIKE THESE HANDSOMELY RESTORED WAGON WHEELS.
Agars’ wishes to give people access to the story of the Elephant House. “But for now, we are just enjoying our old-world home in the city. Ten-yearold Lilly loves our new home and the peacefulness of the place; she says it’s like being in the bush. Our son Gabriel is convinced he’s going to still be here when he grows up. We are really happy – and we’re here to stay.”
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uMhlanga’s classy NEW GIG A
Entrepreneurship is at the heart of a business run by three young men on a mission to bring a touch of class to a party
yanda and Andile Ngidi are quintessential entrepreneurs, looking to service a niche in a city in dire need of another upmarket entertainment venue. In November last year the twins and their partner Trent Varejes opened a swish new club, Danté, in uMhlanga. They took over the site of the old Ile Maurice restaurant and gave it a massive facelift, modernising the facility and adding five new, separate entertainment areas including a covered rooftop bar. They now occupy a plum position in uMhlanga’s popular recreational zone and have created a plush spot amid similarly classy neighbours – the Beverly Hills Hotel, The Oyster Box and The Pearls. The brothers are dyedin-the-wool Durban men who matriculated from Glenwood Boys High School. Their mom was a teacher and their dad a taxi operator. He died when the boys were in Grade 10, and his passing forged a resilience in the brothers that is evident in their business dealings today. After school the twins each took a circuitous route to university where they both graduated with business administration degrees. Mostly raised by their mother as a single parent on a set salary, the twins
realised the value of improvisation. They were popular socialites at school, often organising parties and cutting and selling CDs of their dance mixes. It brought in pocket money and gave them a taste for eventing. They came up with a pop-up co-ordination company that hosted parties in interesting, underutilised spaces. During this time, they met and befriended Johannesburger Trent Varejes, who frequently attended their gigs. Varejes is the son of entrepreneur Gavin Varejes who encouraged the youngsters to explore business opportunities. When the iconic multi-
ABOVE: PROUD OWNERS OF THE NEW UPMARKET DANTÉ CLUB IN UMHLANGA – AYANDA AND ANDILE NGIDI AND TRENT VAREJES.
storey, multi-function venue in uMhlanga became available, they secured the lease and invested a whack in the sea-facing venue, wanting to create a sophisticated, testosterone free vibe that appeals to people their age. Danté won’t be a dishdish boom joint, rather a “classy, refined” place that hosts corporates and private parties in separate rooms. They don’t want to be cast as nightclub owners, rather businessmen eager to make their hospitality venue
work. Trent Varejes says he and the twins all muck in at Danté, be it behind the bar or taking care of guests. The venue seems well poised to attract a genteel crowd in a highly aspirant market. Danté’s various offerings span different levels and boasts a basement restaurant, Gin Garden, Cigar Bar, Oyster & Champagne Bar, Signature Bar, and Rooftop Bar with hypnotic ocean views. A key force behind the expensive makeover of the venue was interior designer Alice Colle. “We didn’t hold back in any way – this place has brought dining pleasure to many generations over the years, so we have added some life, love and colour to the venue for the next generation to enjoy.” Colle retained hints of the legacy and footprint of lle Maurice. All the existing restaurant tiles, balustrades, basins and a few mosaics were retained to create the base of the story. “I added moulded pressed ceilings for character, and layered with bold wallpapers, art, velvets, linens, chandeliers, chunky bamboo blinds, elegant light fittings and furniture. I think every colour under the sun has been used in this project.” Christina Martin-trained head chef Kyle Govender offers a contemporary Mediterranean/Italian menu with a South African twist.
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KZN INVEST is a business and lifestyle publication that critically unpacks accomplishment and critical challenges in KwaZulu-Natal. The maga...