Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Prayers for Christchurch

Some days I find it really hard to do my job and remained completely removed from the news events and stories I have to work with. Especially now that I am based on the news desk full time and don't get to run around on crime scenes and things like that.
But this morning when I arrived at work at 6am I was hit by what has been described as New Zealand's darkest day - the quake in Christchurch. It was four hours after it hit.
I recently reconnected with an old friend from primary school days who is now living in New Zealand. I remembered him telling me all about the shocks and after shocks of the quake that hit in September. So I quickly logged on to check his details again and felt sick when I saw his hometown was listed as Christchurch. I mailed him immediately and have heard nothing back.
Then the pictures started coming in.
And the stories. News updates. And then the personal accounts.
They were hard not to read. I went through one of a woman who described how she had said cuddled her little girl the night before and taken her to play school that morning. Then quake had hit at 1pm their time. She survived the wobbling of the building in which she worked. She listened to the news and almost passed out when she heard that the building in which her daughter's day care was based was among those that had fallen.
Hours later she still knew nothing.
I cannot imagine her agony...

May God be with them!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Gone in 60 seconds. For real. Apparently.

So it seems that Mpumalanga is once again proving my theory that it is a very strange province that seems to be the chosen spot for all manner of weirdo events that would make for a Tarantino-type movie or a Stephen King book.
Like today - a story from a little news agency down that end of the world was dubbed "Gone in 60 seconds". So in Joburg one could assume it was a non-creative heading for stylish car theft racket - you know, like the movie about a master car thief (Nicolas Cage, that creepy looking guy who looks like he'd be at home in Mpumalanga). But no - not in this case.
The thing that disappeared was a brick house. Apparently. Swallowed up by the ground. Seriously. They even sent a picture:

So this was a house built by a guy called Joseph, and which disappeared into the ground four months later. In the Mbongozi section of a place called Driekoppies.
Obviously not deterred by this incident, he and his wife simply went across the yard and built themselves another one-roomed house. As one does in Mpumalanga when the ground swallows up one's first home without so much as a burp or a "thank you very much, that was delicious" .
And now look what's happening to Joseph's second house. I submit:
Joseph's neighbour Dumisa is now afraid that his house will be next.
“I wake up during the night to check if my house is not moving downwards yet. What happened to our neighbour is a nightmare that thankfully happened without anyone getting hurt," he is quoted as having said.
His observation was that the soil in the area was turning upside down every five hours, with the top layer swallowed into the ground. Sticks and stones thrown onto it just disappear. Chomped up by the hungry ground.
The geology expert from the University of Pretoria who was consulted concluded that the area was "unsuitable for residential occupation".
You think??

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ama false teeth going cheap cheap!

Manic day.
Not only did I man the newsdesk this morning, but I also wrote a story.
Emma - the plucky 15-year-old left paralysed after hitting her head while diving into her pool at home - died this morning.
It was a story I covered when the accident happened, and now sadly - a day short of five months later - at the end of Emma's life.
Her tearful mom told me how Emma hadn't wanted to go to sleep last night and kept calling her mom and sister into her room for chats. She became increasingly distressed about pain in her shoulder, eventually stopped speaking at 1am and then 30 minutes later passed away in her mom's arms.
Sooooo sad.
Then just before I was ready to leave for home we received a tip-off.
Apparently some entrepreneurs in downtown Jozi have taken to ...erm ... recycling disused dentures. The teeth are collected from funeral undertakers al around and flogged off at R20 a pair.
I can just imagine buyers picking up a pair, trying them on, spitting them out and trying another before they find a near-perfect fit. Eeeew!
We were given an exact address where the vendor is punting the second hand munchers. But it turned out not to be so.
But somebody is definitely doing it somewhere.
Check out the picture of ama False Teeth: