Maritzburg Dance-Makers honoured with 2019 JOMBA! Eric Shabalala Dance Champion Award

Media Release

Maritzburg Dance-Makers honoured with 2019 JOMBA! Eric Shabalala Dance Champion Award


The 2019 JOMBA! Eric Shabalala Dance Champion Award, in honour of the memory of Eric Mshengu Shabalala who tragically passed away in 2011, was given to two Pietermaritzburg dance-makers Bonwa Mbontsi and Tegan Peacock, at the 21st JOMBA!Contemporary Dance Experience on 5 September.


Speaking at the award hand-over, Artistc Director of JOMBA! Lliane Loots said, “ The award is given not only in recognitions of performance or choreographic excellence, but also more profoundly and more importantly, it is given in recognition of dance practitioners who have worked tirelessly to help grow a culture of dance and dance training in KwaZulu-Natal – who have supported the growth of dance as an art form at both community and regional level.”


“This year the award is being given to two incredible dance champions. These amazing individuals work have spent dedicated years of there still young lives being part of an incredible re-surgence and re-growth of dance in Maritzburg, being a powerful nexus for contemporary dance in KZN. Most significantly that have not done this only in their own work, but have found a way to create a bigger sense of community and of sharing spaces and resources to grow dance – this is what this award is honouring.”


Bonwa is a graduate of UKZN, Pietermaritzburg, where he obtained a BA degree in Psychology and Drama & Performance Studies, with a specific focus on dance performance and choreography. He has worked with choreographers and dancers, PJ Sabbagha, Fana Tshabalala, Shanell Winlock and Craig Morris, taught at Maritzburg College for four years and co-founded ReRouted Dance Theatre.


Specifically to the award, he runs an outreach youth development work in Pietermaritzburg and Melmoth in association with J.A.W. (Justice and Women). In 2018 he founded the Bonwa Dance Company, which has strong outreach and dance development programme called the Super Troupers that prides itself on its integrative approach to dance education, performance opportunities and youth empowerment.


Tegan started her dance training in Classical Ballet and a BMus (dance) degree at the UCT’s School of Dance. In 2013 she relocated to Pietermaritzburg where she helped to co-found contemporary dance company, ReRouted Dance Theatre. Both individually and with her collaborators, they have choreographed and performed on numerous arts platforms around the country, , and won a 2016 Standard Bank Ovation Award at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival for BIRD/FISH.


Tegan conceptualised and held the first ReRouting Arts Festival in Pietermaritzburg this year. The festival is a site-specific multi-disciplinary arts festival that uses alternate public spaces around the city. The festival aims to create unique audience experiences, build bridges and create dialogue between different socio-economic and cultural demographics while promoting a culture of art and dance within the city. “It is this phenomenal and courageous act of opening this PMB festival space for dance and dancers is what we honour,” said Loots.


In accepting the award Bonwa Mbontsi said, “It's a blessing and an honour to receive this prestigious award, I'm so proud to be standing on the shoulders of giants like brother Eric Tshabalala. In the (outreach) work (I do) I have found how powerful dance can be in creating personal change in these in these young individuals’ lives. Through time and through the ages, great thinkers have urged us to dance creatively through life…I appeal to everyone in this challenging time of change to dance together (to find solutions to these challenges and provide an antidote for some our social ills).”


Tegan said, “I would like to thank Jomba, the Centre for Creative Arts, Lliane (Loots) and the organising committee for the honour and recognition you bestow upon us this evening. Your unwavering support of dance and local artists is unprecedented and truly valued in KwaZulu-Natal.  I am in awe of the work that you do and grateful for the privilege of learning and growing under your watchful gaze. I believe that the evolution and sustainability of dance will come from the creation and growth of community more than that of individuals working in isolation. As such, Jomba and similar spaces, along with the varied dance work that is taking place, are critically important in developing a culture of art within the city and its people.”



Notes from Lliane Loots Speech:

In selecting recipients, the Jomba! committee look for those gifted individuals who have gone above and beyond – often without funding – to dedicate themselves to the cultural industry and to put KZN dancers and dance on the national and international map. We are also mindful of KZN dance practitioners who have supported the Centre for Creative Arts and the JOMBA! platforms by taking advantage of the free workshops and for tirelessly bringing work to the Youth Fringe and the JOMBA! Fringe platforms. This too is an indication to us of a desire to grow dance.


Past recipients of this prestigious award include Jarryd Watson for his work with the Wentworth Dance Movement, Sifiso Khumalo for his dedicated work in growing the Flatfoot Dance Company’s dance education and development programmes. In 2013, the award was given jointly to Byron ‘Bizzo’ Tifflin and Preston ‘Kayzo’ Kyd - two dancers who still continue to grow a community of dancers. In 2014 the award was jointly given to Jabu Siphika, Julia Wilson and Zinhle Nzama. They are especially honoured for the dance development work they are doing though FLATFOOT DANCE COMPANY with young girls and women in KZN and with using dance to address a society fraught with difficult gender politics that often makes the lives of young women so challenging. In 2015 the award was given to the inimitable Ntombi Gasa of Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre for a lifetime of growing dance in this province through her teaching, choreography and dance administrations. 2016, 17 and 18 saw three of KZN most amazing dance practitioners honoured; Musa Hlatshwayo, S’fiso Magesh Ngcobo and Mduduzi Mtshali.

Cape Town’s Yaseen Manuel wins Pick of the Fringe Award at JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience In Durban

Cape Town’s Yaseen Manuel wins Pick of the Fringe Award at JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience In Durban


Cape Town dance-maker Yaseen Manuel received the Pick of the Fringe award for his work “Maktub” at this year's JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience Fringe event at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre on Thursday, 4 September.

The prestigious award, providing him with support and a platform to present a new work at next year’s JOMBA!, was awarded by a committee comprising 2018 Standard Bank Young Artist for Dance and well-known South African dance-maker Musa Hlatshwayo, veteran dance writer and critic Adrienne Sichel and Prof Ketu Katrak (Department of Drama, University of California [Irvine] USA).


The work “Maktub” (meaning “our destiny” in Arabic ) was inspired by a line from an Islamic reading that one of the very first messages  was revealed through the “necklace of Yemen”.  “I took this idea and directed and choreographed it into a journey of man having no purpose on earth and trying to find what faith could bring us ,” explains Manuel. “Once the message through the necklace is revealed it helps find a pathway, a purpose for religion and understanding God’s intention for man.”

Manuel who only started dancing at 18 years, is a dancer and choreographer who aspires to tell his stories through movement drawing on this own spiritual and personal life’s journey. He currently works independently, but has worked extensively with the Cape Town-based Jazzart Dance Theatre and Unmute Dance Theatre, performing a variety of dance styles.


 “I am really grateful and honoured to have received the award, especially as it opens up the opportunity for me to dig further into my exploration of the work. It has also made me realize that if you do things with love and intention as you tell your story, you are able to find who you are as an artist – and great things can come from this,” he says.


Next up Manuel will perform at the Baxter Dance Festival opening on 26 September with a collaborative production "Unraveled” and will also perform “Maktub” at the fest with Sifiso Khumalo of the Flatfoot Dance Company on 1 and 2 October.



Last weekend of JOMBA!  Durban, SA

Last weekend of JOMBA! 

Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre


Durban’s much-loved Flatfoot Dance Company with celebrated dance-maker Fana Tshabalala, and legendary Vincent Mantsoe and Lulu Mlangeni feature this weekend (6-8 September) at the close out to the 21st JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience Festival at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre at UKZN.

Fana Tshabalala, is the featured UKZN Mellon Foundation Artist-in-residence who has collaborated with the Flatfoot Dance Company in “amaVendors”, as they explore the journey of women and men who wake up every day to sell in the streets to provide for themselves and the loved ones.

Tshabalala will present his solo “Man”  inspired by the ideal kind of “Man” within society and how the roles and responsibilities have changed throughout  the years -  a new type of “Man” is emerging - gentle, sensitive, caring - a “Man” not afraid of express his feelings. “In light of the current situation and conversation in the country focused on the complicit and explicit role men play in the scourge raged against women and girls, this should make for an interesting piece  to watch and for discussion afterwards,” says Artistic Director, Lliane Loots.

Considered to be one of the founding fathers of South African contemporary dance Vincent Mantsoe, returns with the world premiere of his new work “SoliiDad, an abstract journey to oblivion”. This is a deeply personal journey into the very nature of being. Taking its impulse from Lao Tzu’s comment that, “a good traveller has no fixed plan, and is not intent on arriving”, Mantsoe’s exquisite solo is a journey into, and survival of, loneliness.

Mantsoe is set in a double bill with Johannesburg based Lulu Mlangeni –a young up and coming dance maker that is taking the country by storm. She will present her duet called “The Encounter” and it is a brave and unflinching contemporary journey into African spirituality and belonging. “The Encounter” is a dance duet that explores the timelessness of human spiritual ambivalence. 

Flatfoot and Fana Tshabalala perform on Friday, 6 September at 7.30pm and Mantsoe and Mlangeni on Saturday, 7 September at 7.30pm and Sunday, 8 September at 2.30pm at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre, UKZN.

A free workshop will be conducted by Mantsoe, (who spends his time between France and South Arica teaching, choreographing and doing masterclasses) on Friday 6 September at 4.30pm at the UKZN Dance Studio. Booking is essential via 

The JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience is presented by the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts with support from the eThekwini Municipality.

Tickets: R80 (Student/scholar/pensioner/group booking of more than x10): R60

Tickets available on Computicket.


Creston College wins Southern Regional of SPAR KZN Schoolgirls’ Fast 5s Netball


SPAR KZN Schoolgirls’ Fast 5s Netball

Southcity Christian College: Saturday 24 August


Creston College claimed the first Southern Regional title in the SPAR KZN Schoolgirls’ Fast 5s Netball that took place at Southcity Christian College on Saturday 24 August.


Creston stormed into the final where they met Suid Natal for the second time, having both played in the opening game of the tournament, the score went 6 to 4 in favour of the local team. The two teams then closed the tournament after two feisty semi-finals, where they took each other on in two 8 minute action packed halves.


Goal Shooter for the winning team, Joanelle Herman had fantastic stats in the crowning game with a higher success rate than her counter part on the opposite side, netting 6 of her team’s 7 goals. Majority of Suid Natal’s attempts agonisingly skirted along or bounced off the rim with only 3 finding the centre.


At half time, Creston completely dominated the scoreline with the scoreboard showing 5 – 1 to Creston. For the first 4 minutes and 19 seconds of the second half, the hard working scorer on the sidelines didn’t have any work to do as the game flowed between the two goals with no one able to float the ball into the net.


Creston broke the goal drought with two quick fire goals, taking the scoreline up to 7 - 1. As the clock wound down, Suidies finally managed to penetrate the strong defence and net two goals with the final whistle blowing at 7 - 3 to Creston.


Leading up to the finals, explosive and impressive Ixopo met their match in the first semi final where they took on Creston. In their first run on the court, Ixopo managed a fantastic win against Creston earlier in the day, with the score favouring the travelling team 6 – 5. In the semi, the towering frame of Raine van Tichelen in the Goal Keeper’s spot would have none of the sneaky low passes and bulls-eye perfect goal attempts as she swiftly moved in the circle blocking most of Ixopo’s attempts. Creston’s Herman again did her job, netting 4 of the 6 goals scored for her team. The pocket rockets from Ixopo were only able to sneak 1 shot in with the goal line ending on 6 – 1 in favour of Creston.


In the second semi-final, Suid Natal came up against host school, Southcity. From the first whistle the game ping-ponged between the two posts, with both teams moving the ball rapidly up to their attacking players, and then quickly finding themselves in defense mode. At half time there was nothing in it with Suid Natal slightly ahead on 8 – 6.


After their half time pep talk, the visiting team put their head down and determinedly defended like queens, not allowing the hosts to have any constructive time in the circle. Suid Natal earned themselves another 3 points, while Southcity were unable to shoot any points. The final score was 11 – 6 for Suid Natal, giving them a ticket through to the final.


Umpire for the day was awarded to Bronwin Day-Garden from Southcity.


This is the second of four regionals in the inaugural SPAR KZN Schoolgirl’s Fast 5s challenge. Creston College join Hillcrest High School as the first school to have their name engraved on the brand new glistening regional trophy.


This coming weekend, (Saturday 31 August) the tournament heads up to the north coast where teams from around the Empangeni and Richard’s Bay area take part in the Northern Regional at Empangeni High School.


For more info like the tournament’s Facebook page or follow on Instagram.



1 Creston College, 2 Suid Natal High School, 3 Southcity Christian College, 4 Ixopo High School, 5 Marburg High School


Buddha in Africa - Award-winning documentary for Cape Town

Media Release

Award-winning documentary for Cape Town


The award-winning documentary, Buddha in Africa, directed by KwaZulu-Natal filmmaker Nicole Schafer, which scooped the Best SA Documentary at the Durban International Film Festival in July, and won an Audience Choice Award at Encounters in June this year, is coming to Cape Town in August. It will be screened at the Silwerskermfees, the Labia Theatre, Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education in Mowbray and Isivivana Centre in Khayelitsha.


Buddha in Africa follows Enock Alu, a Malawian teenager growing up in a Chinese Buddhist orphanage, who feels torn between his African roots and Chinese upbringing. Set against China's expanding influence on the continent, Buddha in Africa provides a unique insight into the forces of cultural soft power on the identity and imagination of an African boy and his school friends growing up between two cultures.


Buddha in Africa is an international co-production with Momento Films in Sweden, has the Paris based sales company CAT and Docs representing the film internationally and AfriDocs as its African broadcast partner.


The film’s latest Best SA Documentary Award automatically qualifies it for a consideration for an Oscar nomination, as the DIFF is one of the qualifying festivals for the Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences.


The Silwerskerm screening takes place at the Theatre on the Bay on Friday 23 August at 12:15.   Full day pass: R175.00


The Labia Theatre screening takes place on Sunday 25 August at 2:30 pm. The filmmaker will be in attendance for a Q&A after the event.  Tickets R60.00. Limited Seats. Book online:  


The Documentary Filmmakers Association will screen the film at its docLOVE event at the Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education, in Mowbray on Thursday 29 August at 6pm. Those interested in documentaries as well as learning more about the DFA are encouraged attend. Free entrance. Tshisimani Centre for Activist Education, 67-69 Main Road, Mowbray. Free entrance. Contact: or


The Documentary Filmmakers Association will present another DocLOVE event at the Bertha Movie House at Isivivana Centre on Wednesday 4 September at 6pm. Free entrance. 8 Mzala Street, Khayelitsha  Website: Facebook: Bertha Movie House

 NOTE: The film will also screen at the HILTON ARTS FESTIVAL (13 - 15 September 2019) in KwaZulu-Natal.

Trailer Link Facebook:

For more information like and follow the film on Facebook: buddhainafrica      



Gearing up for Maritzburg’s Most Beautiful Road Race – 18 August 2019

Gearing up for Maritzburg’s Most Beautiful Road Race – 18 August 2019

There are just a few days to go before the Maritzburg SPAR Women’s 10km/5km Challenge (Sunday, 18 August) and organisers are gearing up for another capacity-packed and fun-filled day at the Oval Cricket Grounds in Alexandra Park, where R2 from every entry will go towards CHOC (Childhood Cancer Foundation) House based in the Pietermaritzburg.

While online entries for the race closed on Monday 12 August at midnight there is still time to get entries in at Race Registration on Friday 16 August from 10:00 to 17:00 and Saturday 17 August from 10:00 to 15:00 at The Oval, cricket stadium in Alexandra Park.

Participants and members of the public are reminded about road closures in order to avoid traffic congestion on the day. Organisers advise that participants leave home early and plan where they want to park to avoid being late for the start, as the event attracts 4500 participants who will converge for both the 5km and 10km Start in Princess Margaret Drive, opposite Maritzburg College at 8am.

The road closures and times are as follows:

Sunday, August 18
Balmoral – closed from 03:00 – 11:00
Princess Margaret – closed from 03:00 – 11: 00
Park Drive between Princess Margaret and Princess Elizabeth – closed from 03:00 – 11:00
Princess Elizabeth – closed from 03:00 – 11:00
Park Drive from College Rd to Princess Elizabeth – closed from 07:00 – 11:00
Alexandra Road from Cross Rd to Alan Paton Ave – closed (inbound only) from 07:00 – 10:00
Alan Paton Ave from Alexandra Rd to Burger St – closed (inbound only) from 07:00 – 08:30
Alexandra Road – closed in both directions from 07:30 until approximately 08:45 (to accommodate the large field)

Once again this year, the new water supply procedures will be implemented to help minimise waste that cannot be recycled. The race Goodie Bags with race T-shirts given out at race registration, and the breakfast packs given out after the race, are in recyclable SPAR paper bags.

Water sachets have once again been replaced.  Before the race, participants should collect their 750ml aQuelle Still water, made from fully recyclable PET plastic. Participants must carry the bottle during the event and dispose of the bottles at either the finish of the 5km or at the Time Freight half-way table of the 10km event. 10km participants will be able to collect another bottle of aQuelle water for the second half of the route. At the end of the race each entrant will receive a bottle of water on completion and are encouraged to dispose of these in the recycling bins provided.

Manual Registration can still be done at Race Registration on Friday 16 August from 10am to 5pm and on Saturday 17 August from 10am to 3pm at The Oval Cricket Ground, Alexandra Park, subject to a maximum of 4500 entries.

For more info contact the organisers on or visit the official race on or like the Facebook page.


SPAR KZN Schoolgirl’s Fast 5s Netball  Kuswag High School: Saturday 3 August

SPAR KZN Schoolgirl’s Fast 5s Netball 

Kuswag High School: Saturday 3 August


The very first name to be engraved on the trophy at the inaugural SPAR KZN Schoolgirl’s Fast 5s Netball Tournament on Saturday 3 August at Kuswag High School is Hillcrest High School.


The first SPAR Fast 5s tournament, hosted by Amanzimtoti High School had ten out of the eleven registered teams take to the two courts, with a total of 55 games of high energy action taking place. The tournament played in a round robin format had two 6 minute halves and a generous 2 minute breather midway.


The on-song team on the day, the victorious Hillcrest High racked up ten out of their ten wins, netting 99 baskets and only allowing 28 points go in against them, including 10 points in the big game against Gelofte High School. Hillcrest were in stealth mode against their fellow Highway team. 


In a game where the action bounced from end to end in lightning quick pace, Gelofte were the first team to score, with Hillcrest levelling shortly thereafter. The dynamic northern team were unphased by the towering frame of Goal Shooter, Nadine Hefer from Gelofte who had a near perfect scoring ration throughout the day. Camping under the net, Hefer calmly floated shot after shot in against Hillcrest, but the wily team hustled the ball up, never letting Gelofte get ahead of them. At the blast of the final whistle after a feisty 14 minutes of play, Hillcrest were up 13 to Gelofte’s 10, earning an impressive victory.


Gelofte met yet another challenge in the team from Durban Girls’ High School. The two schools both finished the day with 8 points, 8 wins and 2 losses. In the game against each other, only 1 point separated the two with the scoreline favouring Gelofte 10-9. DGHS only other loss was to the winning team, Hillcrest while Gelofte’s kryptonite was Durban North College, with College taking that game 12-7. 


Mid-fleet, a tightly bunched pack battled it out for sixth place between Ridge Park College, KwaMakhutha High School, Northlands Girls’ High School and host team Toti. Four round robin points sepearted the four schools as the day concluded. Northlands Girls’ High finished their day in sixth, scooping the place from Toti with a better goal scoring difference. Both teams finished on 12 points, but Northlands netted 43 points to Toti’s 30. They were followed by Ridge Park College on 10 points and the hard working team from KwaMakhutha who earned 9 points. 


A tradition in the SPAR Schoolgirls’ tournaments, the hard working whistle blowers are acknowledged for efforts making the tough decisions throughout the day. Being recognised for her time on the court, Dumo Mthiyane from host school, Toti was awarded the Umpire of the Day at the first tournament.


The next tournament travels to Southcity Christian School in Margate for the southern schools’ regions, before heading to Empangeni High School and Voortrekker High School in Pietermaritzburg.


For more info like the tournament’s Facebook page or follow on Instagram.


Round Robin Results

1 Hillcrest High School 30pts, 2 Gelofte High School 24pts, 3 Durban Girls’ High School 24pts, 4 Durban North College 21pts, 5 Kingsway High School 19pts, 6 Northlands Girls’ High School 12pts, 7 Amanzimtoti High School 12pts, 8 Ridge Park College, 3pts 10 KwaMakhutha High School 9pts, 10 Rossburgh High School 3pts




21st JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience 27 August - 8 September 2019

Media Release

21st JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience

27 August - 8 September 2019

The Centre for Creative Arts (UKZN) and eThekwini Municipality host the 21st JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience at various venues around the City of Durban from 27 August to 8 September 2019.

This year's 21st birthday edition offers a hearty buffet packed full of the world’s best contemporary dance that will titillate, challenge, and entertain audiences of all ages and art inclinations. 

The celebrated Cape Town-based Jazzart opens the festival with their JOMBA! debut. In their programme Sifiso Kweyama's Cape of Ghosts digs deep to find the core of what constitutes the ownership of land in a beautiful and politically evocative work. 

Durban's own Boyzie Cekwana collaborates with Lebanese dance maker Danya Hammoud in an intimate dance theatre experience that offers these two extraordinary dancers in a duet called Bootlegged, that speaks to the interior politics of relationships. 

Fana Tshabalala, joins JOMBA! as the UKZN Mellon Foundation Artist-in-residence collaborating with the Flatfoot Dance Company in an explosive premiere. Called amaVendors, Tshabalala and Flatfoot explore the journey of women and men who wake up every day to sell in the streets to provide for themselves and their loved ones. Fusing ritual and performance, Tshabalala takes audiences on a transformative journey. Tshabala also presents his solo MAN inspired by the ideal kind of a "Man" within society and how the roles and responsibilities have changed over the years - as new type of "Man" is emerging.. 

One of the leading dance companies in Washington, the Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company, which is funded for this season by the US Consulate, presents work that sees the confluence of the ancient Indian style of Bharatha Natyam with the ethos and flow of contemporary modern dance. 

From Durban’s twin city of New Orleans comes Leslie Scott's company Body Art in an intriguing site-responsive work for the Durban Art Gallery, which will take audiences on a journey into the very heart of contemporary popular identity. Scott's dance work, hymn + them is about the joys of going away, of leaving the greyness and entering the colour. “Over the Rainbow” is, or ought to be, the anthem of all the world's migrants, all those who go in search of the place where the dreams really do come true.

The DAG event will also see a unique collection of short films guest curated by Brazilian filmmaker Sofía Castro who has been living and working in Argentina, and has collected five short dance films by Argentinian filmmakers/choreographers that explore the interior and exterior life of contemporary South American life. 

South Africa's icon of African contemporary dancer, Vincent Sekwati Mantsoe, offers the world premiere of his new work SoliiDad, an abstract journey to oblivion. Mantsoe is considered to be one of the founding fathers of South African contemporary dance and now spends his time between France and South Arica teaching, choreographing and doing masterclasses.

Mantsoe is set in a double bill with Johannesburg-based Lulu Mlangeni – a young dance maker that is taking the country by storm who will present her duet called The Encounter a brave and unflinching contemporary journey into African spirituality and belonging. 

 ‘JOMBA! On The Edge' grants have been awarded to Sizwe Hlophe and Thulisile Binda. to premier new creations and are given mentorship and the full support of the JOMBA! technical team to realise their work for the stage. 

The 2019 JOMBA! FRINGE offers the premier of nine new dance works by JC Zondi (Pietermaritzburg), Carla Mostert (Durban), David April with students of the University of Pretoria, Lethiwe Mzimela (Durban), Nkanyiso Mazibuko (Durban), Vuyo Ndawonde (Pietermaritzburg), Sbonelo Mchunu (Durban), Yaseen Manuel (Cape Town) and Jabu Siphika (Durban).

The festival’s ever-popular JOMBA! Youth Fringe will feature over 18 youth dance groups from  eThekwini and KwaZulu Natal.

A series of workshops and masterclasses (all free) are offered in various venues in the eThekwini area and they are open to all – booking is essential.

Tickets are R80 and R60 for Student/scholar/pensioner/group booking of more than x10, and available through Computicket.

For more information go to


Kingsley  Holgate expedition team off on a ‘Vision Mission’ to the Zambezi Delta

Media Release

 Holgate expedition team off on a ‘Vision Mission’ to the Zambezi Delta

The Kingsley Holgate Foundation, in partnership with Doctors for Life and in celebration of the Land Rover Discovery’s 30-year anniversary, has  launched their biggest humanitarian expedition ever. Taking their Mashozi’s Rite to Sight programme to a different level, the team has set off for the wildly remote and malaria-infested Zambezi Delta to perform over 200 life-changing cataract operations, in a campaign called ‘Vision Mission’.


Just imagine hundreds of elderly people travelling long distances on foot, donkey and by dugout canoe; they have heard about the Foundation’s Rite to Sight work and the possible opportunity for better eye sight; a simple pair of spectacles could mean instant gratification and the gift of sight.  An old woman waits in the scorching African sun and finally it is her turn.  However, her hope turns to utter despair when she is turned away; her eyes are glazed over with cataracts and there is nothing the team can do to help – until now!


This is why the Kingsley Holgate crew has loaded up their expedition Land Rovers and have headed for Mozambique with their sturdy ‘Ma Robert’ inflatable pontoon boat in tow, to assist the non-profit Doctors For Life International (DFL) team conduct free-of-charge cataract operations in the Zambezi Delta, as part of DFL’s Aid to Africa programme.


According to the World Health Organisation, 246 million people are estimated to have low vision worldwide and about 90% of the world’s visually impaired live in developing countries.  Globally, uncorrected refractive errors are the main cause of visual impairment and just a simple pair of spectacles can help. 


In keeping with using adventure to improve lives, the Kingsley Holgate Foundation’s focus on poor eyesight was started more than a decade ago by Mashozi (Gill) Holgate.  “I remember the day clearly,” said Kingsley.  “We were on our 23° 27 Capricorn round-the-world-by-Land-Rover Expedition, in South America close to the Piranha River, in the company of a team of rangers.  They told us that they were about to evict an old man who had lived all his life in a local village because he was becoming a danger to himself and others – he’d nearly burned down his hut several times whilst trying to light his stove.  We went with them to the old man’s hut and sure enough, there he was, fumbling with a box of matches.  The problem was – he couldn’t see properly. 


“I don’t know what made Mashozi think of it, but she suddenly rummaged in her big expedition bag, brought out a pair of her own basic readers and popped them on the old man’s nose.  Miraculously, they were the perfect strength.  A look of complete surprise came over his face, followed by a big, toothy grin as for the first time in years, he could see clearly again.  There were claps and cheers from the rangers as the old man confidently struck the match, lit his stove and made us each a cup of coffee.  The rangers allowed him to stay in his home and that was the start of our Mashozi’s Rite to Sight programme, named in her honour.  Since then, it’s gone from strength to strength; after careful eye tests, we’ve distributed over 200,000 pairs of reading glasses to poor-sighted, mostly elderly people in remote areas all over Africa and beyond.  The instant gratitude from the recipients and the immediate difference it makes in their lives is heart-warming.”


DFL has performed 2500 eye surgeries over the past decade throughout Africa, helping to reverse blindness and dramatically change lives.  This Zambezi Delta Vision outreach is in response to a call for help to assist blind people in the Marromeu, Luabo and Chinde areas.  DFL and the Kingsley Holgate Foundation are transporting two mobile operating theatres to Marromeu on the banks of the Zambezi River, along with a team of volunteer doctors and nurses from South Africa and eSwatini, with the aim of conducting at least 200 cataract surgeries during August.


“We are incredibly honoured to be a part of this humanitarian mission,” said expedition leader Ross Holgate.  “We know the Zambezi River well and our role will be to provide ground support.  Using our three Land Rovers and the ‘Ma Robert’ boat, we’ll be criss-crossing the Zambezi Delta, conducting our normal malaria prevention and Mashozi Rite to Sight spectacle-distribution work, and at the same time, assessing patients that need more stringent, corrective eye surgery.  The DFL doctors will train our expedition team on what cataract symptoms to look for and we will transport patients and their family members by water and road to the operating theatres, and then return them home after their eye surgery. It’s going to be a lot of hard work in difficult conditions with tricky logistics; just the amount of expedition kit, including the bolt-together ‘Ma Robert’ boat and medical equipment that’s being transported 2,000 kilometres to the Delta is quite unbelievable.”


Also supporting this humanitarian effort is the non-profit Mercy Air group, which recently played a vital role in providing emergency air support after Cyclone Idai devastated central Mozambique, rescuing hundreds of victims and transporting tonnes of food, drinking water, medical supplies and personnel to flood-stricken communities.  For this Zambezi Delta mission, Mercy Air is providing a helicopter and aeroplane to transport cataract patients living in inaccessible villages to the operating theatres by air.


“The capabilities of our tried-and-tested Land Rover Discoverys and faithful old Defender 130 are really going to be needed,” continued Ross.  “These are the same vehicles that took us safely to Africa’s extreme easterly point in dangerous Somalia in 2017 and completed the 17,000-kilometre transcontinental Cape Town to Kathmandu expedition last year, making short work of below-freezing, high-altitude and snow-filled mountain passes.  Then in April this year, they delivered tonnes of malaria prevention supplies and clean drinking water to flooded communities near Gorongosa National Park that were badly affected by Cyclone Idai. 


“Now, with over 70,000 kilometres of rough expedition work already on the clock, they’re again going to be tackling some tough off-road conditions – sand, mud and many river crossings – to safely transport patients to DFL’s operating theatres.  It’s a great way to continue to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Land Rover Discovery and we’re looking forward to improving the quality of life for many people.”


Zambezi Vision Mission at a glance:

3 Expedition Land Rovers

2 Mercy Air aircraft

2 Doctors For Life mobile operating theatres

1 large, inflatable pontoon-type ‘Ma Robert’ boat and tender

22 personnel

10 tonnes of equipment

2,000Km of rough roads

230Km of coastline and 18,000Km² of swamps, floodplains and savannah in the Zambezi Delta.

200+ cataract operations

1,000 recipients of Mashozi’s Rite to Sight eye-testing and spectacle distribution

 For more information follow the expedition on Facebook Kingsley Holgate Foundation.


Maritzburg SPAR Women’s Challenge 10km/5km Sunday 18 August 2019

Media Release

Maritzburg SPAR Women’s Challenge 10km/5km

Sunday 18 August 2019


Entries are now open for the Maritzburg SPAR Women’s Challenge 10km/5km, the City’s “most beautiful road race”, which takes place in and around Alexandra Park in the Capital, on Sunday 18 August.


The popular running event is the fifth in the national Grand Prix series, which attracts both elite athletes as well as experienced and novice participants, with cash prizes for the top runners.


Last year, Nedbank CG runner Irvette van Zyl made a spectacular comeback after having given birth to her second child in June, winning the race in a time of 34.26, followed by KZN runner Jenet Mbhele of Umzimkulu Striders in a time of 34.47.  She currently sits in fourth place and Mbhele in a tie fifth place on the leaderboard of SPAR Grand Prix.  


All eyes will be on Namibian athlete, Helalia Johannes (Nedbank) who broke the SPAR South Africa series record in the Durban Challenge in June this year, winning in an astounding time of 30 minutes 59 seconds. Helalia also won the Port Elizabeth and Cape Town races earlier this year. 


While the elite athletes battle it out for their leaderboard positions, a host of women (and their supporters) will be there for many other reasons, whether it be to record their personal best times, have fun with friends and family, or to set themselves some healthy new goals, the race offers something for everyone.


Once again both the 10km and 5km events start at 8am outside Maritzburg College in Princess Margaret Drive, winding through the City’s picturesque Alexandra Park, and the boundaries of the CBD ending at The Oval Cricket Stadium in Alexandra Park, where the prize-giving and lucky draw will take place. 


In an effort to keep the intimacy of the race, a limit of 4,500 entries will be accepted with 1,750 for the 10km and 2,750 for the 5km.  Entries to the 10km distance are open to participants from age 14 and to the 5km from age 9, with the age restrictions being applicable on the day of the competition. Entry fees are R120 for 10km licensed athletes and for 5km runners, and R145 for 10km unlicensed athletes (which includes the R25 temporary licence fee).


Entries can be done online at by using the EFT or credit/debit card payment options. EFT entries close on Monday 5 August at midnight, and credit/debit card entries on Monday 12 August at midnight. Manual entries (subject to the limit of 4,500 entries) can also be done at the race registration, which takes place on Friday 16 August (10 am to 5 pm) and Saturday 17 August (10 am to 3 pm) at The Oval Cricket Stadium in Alexandra Park.


Groups entering more than 10 people using the “Multi-Entry” online option on the website can have their race packs and promo bags delivered directly to the team co-ordinator. For these group-entries to be delivered, they must be processed, paid for and confirmed by Friday 2 August 2019.


At race registration, all participants receive their race number, a “one-size fits most” race T-shirt and a promo bag (the contents of which may vary from bag to bag). All participants also receive a breakfast pack at the finish line.


To entertain children, SPAR provides a Kids’ Zone at the Oval, which is not a child-care facility - adults still need to mind their children, and they cannot be left there unsupervised.

Pietermaritzburg’s Choc (Childhood Cancer Foundation) is once again the official race charity, with R2 from each entry donated to them. Last year R9,000 was raised for this worthwhile cause that supports children battling with cancer, and their families.


For more information visit the official race website on /Maritzburg or like the Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram or email the race organisers on