South Africa

South Africa’s migrant crisis

Johannesburg It’s called the ‘Reverse Jive’, retracing your steps to where your journey began, and you’ll hear it talked about all over Johannesburg, especially now, with an election next Wednesday and immigration such a hot-button issue. South Africa has a huge informal sector where the poor can at least scratch a living In Pretoria, the government estimates there are more than three million Zimbabweans, or ‘Zimbos’, living in South Africa. Decades of oppression and mismanagement at home have collapsed the economy and Zimbos form a visible presence in Jo’burg, Durban and Cape Town. And thousands of them have done the Reverse Jive. Enelise comes from Bulawayo and works the till

The disruptive comeback of Jacob Zuma

Johannesburg For a decade to 1973, Jacob Zuma – or JZ as he is known – was an inmate of Robben Island, the infamous prison built on a 1,300-acre slab of rock four miles off the South African coast. A fellow inmate was Nelson Mandela, also inside for treason. Both went on to become presidents of South Africa; but whereas Mandela had the Robben Island prison shut down and turned into a national monument, JZ, who has once again set his sights on high office, now wants it re-opened. In 2018 Zuma was removed from office by the ruling African National Congress (ANC), accused of theft and embezzlement. It’s bizarre

Why do South Africans still support the ANC?

Support for South Africa’s ruling party, the African National Congress, has just fallen below 40 per cent, which makes it very likely that, come the May election, there’ll be a coalition government. I’m surprised that support for the ANC is as high as it is. Across South Africa, states run by the ANC are failing. Infrastructure has collapsed and unrepaired sewage systems mean the water is polluted and poisonous. Electrical systems are down and the railways and ports are often closed. Property prices in Cape Town soar as South Africans flee here from all across the rest of the country. Because South Africa’s rand has collapsed against the euro (and

Oscar Pistorius should still be in prison

The murderer Oscar Pistorius was released from prison on parole today, more than a decade after shooting his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. He killed her in an horrific act of femicide: the murder of females by males because they are female. Because such crimes are so normalised and common, criminal justice systems around the world tend to excuse these particular men for committing the most serious crimes against women. In the UK, for example, one woman dies every three days at the hands of a current or former male partner. Some men even come in for preferential treatment: those that are famous, wealthy and conventionally attractive are often treated less harshly than

What’s the truth about South Africa’s ‘genocide’ of white farmers?

Is a crime against humanity at risk of unfolding in South Africa? Elon Musk, the Pretoria-born billionaire who owns X (Twitter) and Tesla, fears that there might be. Earlier this year, he wrote that he’d heard of calls for ‘a genocide of white people’ in his former homeland. Musk isn’t alone in his concerns. Steve Hofmeyr, a South African singer with a cult following, thinks that the ‘g-word’ is an appropriate way to describe what is unfolding: ‘If you think that the slaughter of South African farmers is not genocide enough, ask them about their land, language, religion, education, universities, heritage, monuments, safety, dignity and the race-based regulations imposed upon them and their

The joy of rescuing snakes

Snake rescuers like me always get asked the same question: have you ever been bitten? I’ve dealt with mambas, giant pythons, cobras – some of the world’s deadliest snakes – and, thankfully, the answer is no. But why do people always assume the worst about these wonderful creatures? People love to hate snakes. They are the Biblical baddy, the reptile that represents evil. Having nursed a sick cobra back to health, gently holding his head up during a daily bath, I know this depiction is deeply unfair. I’ve long been fascinated by these animals. My father’s family landed at the Cape in 1795 but I was the first to develop

A trophy hunting ban won’t save Africa’s wildlife

British rule over South Africa ended in 1910, but now parliament is busy with legislation that could have a devastating effect on its old colony. A landmark law to ban trophy hunting imports is making its way through the Lords. The Hunting Trophies Bill would prevent tourists importing animal skins, severed heads and carcasses of certain animals to the UK after shoots abroad. But the planned law has holes wide enough for a hippo to walk through. The crackdown may be well intended but it also betrays a lack of understanding about South Africa – and the trade many people, not least farmers, rely upon to survive. In South Africa, many farmers