John C. Barry

My reminiscences, thoughts, and travel experiences

Category: Observations

My Cape Town Conundrum.

In a moment of irrational exuberance, I thought of buying an apartment in Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa.  My sanity cautioned me, so I will not do it.  Why…

In a moment of irrational exuberance, I thought of buying an apartment in Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa.  My sanity cautioned me, so I will not do it.  Why not?

In and around Cape Town, with views of The University of Cape Town, Cape Point, Franschhoek, and Paternoster

I was born in Cape Town, or more accurately Claremont, a southern suburb of Cape Town 7 miles (12 kilometers) from the city on the peninsula.  After marriage, Linda and I stayed in an apartment in Claremont.  A year later moved to an apartment in Green Point, 10 minutes drive north of the city, next relocating to Johannesburg 870 miles (1,400 kilometers) northeast of Cape Town.  We returned to the Cape to live in a rented house in Rondebosch East and then in Tokai, 13 miles (21 kilometers) further south from the city on the peninsula.  Our final move within South Africa was relocating back to Johannesburg.  Our daughter was born in Johannesburg, our son in Cape Town.

The fire damage seen at The University of Cape Town, Mostert’s Mill, and Rhodes Memorial Restaurant

I compulsively follow South African online media reports daily, as I do to keep up with American news and have subscriptions to two U.S. newspapers, one local and one national.  My Facebook page shows numerous daily photographs and videos originating from Cape Town and its environs.  In addition, I get daily updates from family and friends overseas regarding current developments.  The recent fires on Table Mountain that destroyed the library at the University of Cape Town, my alma mater, and historic Moster’s Mill, along with the Rhodes Memorial restaurant and tea garden, are tragic examples.  For the record, I do not obsessively follow developments in Johannesburg, where we lived for several years, including building our own home and from where we emigrated.  Please understand me; I love the Cape and environs.  I love our regular trips “home.”

If you have never had the pleasure of traveling to Cape Town, then it may be hard for you to comprehend the stunning beauty of this city and surrounding areas in the Western Cape.  They have fantastic weather to amplify the splendor. 

In December 1986, we moved to Brookfield, Wisconsin, United States of America, a city 14 miles (22 kilometers) due west of Milwaukee located on the shores of Lake Michigan.  Milwaukee is a city two hours’ drive north of Chicago in the Midwest of the U.S. Over time; we owned two houses in Brookfield and 13-years ago moved to our current location, a condominium in adjacent New Berlin.  You can learn more about our condo here:

There is no doubt in my mind that emigrating to the U.S. was one of the wisest moves we made in our lifetime.  The education system for our daughter and son was the best available.  After excelling at junior and high school, they attended private universities graduating cum laude in four years.  They both hold executive positions within their respective companies.  Only 41% of students graduate college or universities in four years in the U.S.  Now retired, Linda and I go for 40-minute walks daily in all weather conditions.  It is essential to understand that we adapted to a four-season climate over our 35-years in Wisconsin, the Dairy State.  We transform from the extreme cold with below-freezing weather in the middle of winter with the need for our central heating to the heat and humidity of summer with central air conditioning.  Our home provides year-round comfort.

Consequently, we have clothing to dress appropriately in each stage of the varying climate.  At the change of each season, we rearrange our wardrobe to keep the required clothing front and center.  I must add that when you look at the weather patterns in the U.S., we are in the perfect location not to experience tornadoes and other extreme weather conditions that impact communities to the south and east of us.  Our weather is the motivation for us to drive a symmetrical all-wheel-drive Subaru Outback, the safest vehicle to handle all types of weather conditions. 

We have not forsaken South Africa and almost every year travel to visit family and friends.  2013 was a unique year for me.  We flew to Cape Town on vacation; I returned in March for the 50th anniversary of our high school reunion, returning in November to attend my dad’s funeral.  Strange as it may seem, sometimes people will quiz me in grocery stores in Cape Town to ask my country of origin?  I suspect my word usage and some pronunciations have changed over time.  It is a traffic light, not a robot!  It is a trunk, not a boot!  It is a schedule (sked-ule), not a schedule (shed-ule)!  After our children started grade school in Brookfield, we attended a parent-teacher conference, and the statement was made, “your children sound normal.”  We are too old to change our accents.  Add to our situation, Linda and I speak to each other “normally,” which inhibits accent change.  Charlize Theron did a better job of adapting to a U.S. accent.  She moved from South Africa with her mother to Europe and a year later, in 1993, at age 18, to Los Angeles.  As an actress, she was motivated to adapt to a local accent quickly.  Trevor Noah moved to the U.S. from South Africa in 2011 at age 27 and has not altogether lost his accent. 

As a result of the bitter cold in winter with snow and ice, principally from December through February in 1999, we purchased a one-week timeshare in Florida for use during our winter months.  Our week could be extended to a two-week stay using the lock-off unit for a week and the large unit for the second week.  The investment provides us with flexibility.  We could trade our home location to stay in other resort locations such as Hawaii, the Caribbean, South Carolina, and southern California, each locale that we enjoyed over the years. 

Our desire and attraction for a warmer climate in our winter had me thinking of a more permanent place in Cape Town to support our annual visits.  I have a school friend who lives in the U.S. with a holiday home in Cape Town.

As we venture into our neighborhood, we are completely secure, with absolutely no concern for our safety.  That said, The United States of America is no utopia. 

Racism and gun ownership are significant problems in the U.S.  Police; stopping blacks while driving has led to several killings.  Sadly, the trend of fatal police shootings in the United States is increasing, with a total of 292 civilians having got shot, 62 of whom were Black, in the first four months of 2021.  Our local and national TV news features the latest victims daily.  In 2020, there were 1,021 fatal police shootings, and in 2019 there were 999 fatal shootings.  Additionally, the rate of fatal police shootings among Black Americans was much higher than that for any other ethnicity, standing at 36 fatal shootings per million of the population as of April 2021.  There are 330 million people in the U.S. with 393 million firearms.  More guns than people!  According to data from the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive, there were 19,379-gun violence deaths in the U.S. in 2020, including 300 children who were shot and killed.  The statistic excludes suicides involving guns, which consistently account for an additional 20,000 to 25,000 each year.  A further 39,427 people received injuries from firearms in 2020. 

Of one thing that we can be sure of, Republicans will never address gun violence in America. 

U.S. Congress passed the Second Amendment on September 25, 1789.  It was ratified December 15, 1791, and states, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  More than 800,000 sworn law enforcement officers now serve in the United States in 17,985 U.S. police agencies, including City Police Departments, County Sheriff’s Offices, State Police/Highway Patrol, and Federal Law Enforcement Agencies.  Aside from law enforcement, the U.S. has a Department of Defense (DoD) comprising Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, and Coast Guard are the armed forces of the United States.  The Army National Guard and the Air National Guard are reserve components.  With over 1.4 million men and women on active duty, and 718,000 civilian personnel, the DoD is the nation’s largest employer.  Another 1.1 million serve in the National Guard and Reserve forces. 

Why do we need each home to a militia? 

The U.S. has moved on since 1789, but Republicans still hold the firm view and belief that we live in such danger that we need more guns than people in the country.  The resulting carnage be dammed.  Understand, too, that automatic and semi-automatic rifles with magazines that can hold more than one hundred rounds of ammunition have helped our communities’ mass shootings.  There have been 2,128 mass shootings since 2013, roughly one per day, where four or more people got killed in one incident.  Police killed 1,127 people in 2020, 121 shot dead after police stopped them for a traffic violation.  Our compassionate President Joe Biden wants to address the gun violence issue, but Republicans who control the U.S. Senate will never allow reform.  The Republicans are beholden to the bankrupt National Rifle Association (NRA), who help fund the elections of compliant Republicans, and a few Democrats and invest heavily in lobbying Congress to follow their will. 

When relocating to the U.S., we were forbidden from bringing guns or wine.  I was the owner of three handguns in South Africa.  I had participated in training and firearm sport and experienced limited hunting using both a shotgun and rifle.  I spent hours reloading bullets.  I will readily admit that with that experience, I am firmly against gun ownership in the U.S.  Why is it necessary?  Certainly not for protection in a safe country.

Growing up in South Africa, we were experts in biblically supported racism through apartheid (separate development) policies.  We learned that blacks could not go to heaven because they do not have a soul.  Frankly, it did not prepare me for what we discovered in the U.S.  Throughout this country’s history, the hallmarks of American democracy – opportunity, freedom, and prosperity – have been primarily reserved for white people through the intentional exclusion and oppression of people of color.  The deep racial and ethnic inequities that exist today are a direct result of structural racism: the historical and contemporary policies, practices, and norms that create and maintain white supremacy.  The U.S. has not won the fight against racial residential segregation.  The U.S. has scarcely begun a serious fight against the concentrated poverty that remains the most toxic legacy of American apartheid.  Racially exclusionary zoning practices persist.  Public housing authorities perpetuated segregation well into the 1990s; such methods have not ended just because they are illegal.  Illegal discrimination against black and Hispanic renters and owners go on.  And whites still seek out and are steered to predominantly white neighborhoods.

We purchased our home in the upscale neighborhood of Brookfield in October 1986, a few months before permanently relocating.  The house was two years old and had been repossessed by the bank because its owner, a builder, had declared bankruptcy.  After we arrived, we learned from neighbors that they had significant concern as the rumor mill spread the message that the home had been purchased by “Africans.” The neighbors knew that the value of their homes would collapse, and the neighborhood would go to hell due to our presence.  Once they realized that we were white Africans, they arranged a block party to be introduced to and meet our friendly neighbors. 

I am puzzled by the fact that, as whites, we need to keep our race pure.  If any person is the product of a mixed-race, they are no longer allowed to identify as white!  Famous mixed-race people in America include Barack Obama (white mother and black father), Kamala Harris (white father and Indian mother), Tiger Woods (black father and Asian mother), Malcolm Gladwell (white father and black mother), Trevor Noah (speaks seven languages with a white father, and black mother), and Megan Markle (white father and black mother).  Nationwide, approximately 2.4 percent of the population, over 6.8 million Americans, marked an identification with two or more races.  According to 23andme.com, my DNA shows 92.2% European, primarily French and German descent, 2.9% East Asian and Native American, 2.7% Sub-Saharan African, and 2.0 % Central and South Asian.  My father was of British and Dutch descent, and my mother French and Portuguese.  I am not too sure where the other ancestry originates.  Can I honestly classify myself as purely white?  In my South African days, under the white apartheid government, the pencil test was critical.  If they placed a pencil in your hair, did it fall out?  If yes, you were white; if not, you were black.  Very conclusive!

The United States is the wealthiest country globally, and it has the most significant wealth gap.  The United States leads the world in the growth of financial assets and booming stock markets.  Its wealth distribution is more disproportionate than any other country.  On average, Americans between 45 and 54 have a net worth of US$727,500, while the median is $124,200.  In 2020, about 580,466 homeless people were living in the United States.  On our recent trip to Florida, we witnessed people living under the bridge.  Florida is an attractive destination because of favorable weather conditions.  Locally in Milwaukee, we have approximately 970 homeless people where meals are provided, and homeless shelters can accommodate some of the needy.  As a wealthy country, Republicans will not support the poor because this is a free-market democracy where we all need to fend for ourselves.  Socialism to the Republicans is intolerable unless to help the top 1% wealthy and huge corporations.  In today’s paper I read that our state senator, Ron Johnson, reputedly worth $10 million, with a base salary of $174,000 (or $3,346/week) for doing nearly nothing in Congress due to COVID, wants to block the unemployed in Wisconsin from getting a weekly $300 boost to their benefit.  The benefit will stop them from looking for work!

The Department of Homeland Security has advised that the greatest threat the U.S. faces is white supremacists.  Having a xenophobic, narcissist, alleged rapist, past president Donald Trump recording 30,537 lies over his four years in office, who by his admission, “loves to grab women by their pussies.”  As President, Trump fueled hate groups that ultimately led to the insurrection of the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021.  Trump’s followers attempted to overthrow our Congress, with the wild notion of installing Trump as a lifelong dictator.  The action resulted in five deaths and significant damage to our Capitol Building.  Trump fueled division in the country, religiously expounding his “Big Lie” that the election was stolen from him because of all the illegal voting in the country, a situation not experienced previously with any other president.  Trump refused to attend the orderly handing over ceremony to Joe Biden, a first in U.S. history.  Republicans, by and large, hang onto his every word and deed to reform Republicans into Trump’s image.  My prediction is that Trump will successfully split the Republican Party in two, those racists pro-Trump, and the balance pro-America who honor the constitution.

So, where are we culturally or politically in a very divided United States of America?  We live with far-right-wing extremist radio presenters, for example, Sean Hannity and Glen Beck.  Then we have T.V. channels such as Fox News, OAN (One America News, describing itself as one of Trump’s most significant supporters), and Newsmax.  More right-wing influence with Internet sites such as Drudge Report, and The Daily Stormer, to identify a few.  All these media channels are sources of unfounded conspiracy theories.  Many followers of these sites are less educated Americans who do not read or travel to broaden their perspectives.  Suppose we take the COVID-19 pandemic as an example.  In that case, the Trump following and Evangelical Christians believe in conspiracy theories spouted about how bad it is to wear masks or subject themselves to getting vaccinated.  The result impacts the U.S. from gaining herd immunity and moving closer to society to socialize, shop, travel, and return to previously everyday life.

Taxes: The wealthiest 400 Americans pay a lower income tax rate than working-class Americans.  The richest 1% are paying the lowest income tax rate since World War II.  The wealthiest 1% hold a larger share of the nation’s wealth than in more than a century.  Biden’s capital gains tax, if passed, would only affect the top 0.32% of Americans.  The 2017 Trump tax law cut the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent and shifts toward a territorial tax system, in which multinational corporations’ foreign profits largely no longer face U.S. tax.  Fifty-five of America’s largest corporations did not pay a cent in federal income tax.  These tax cuts overwhelmingly benefit wealthy shareholders and highly paid executives. 

Overall, it is hard to identify any inflection points around the TCJA (Tax Cuts and Jobs Act), which Congress passed in December 2017.  Despite the Trump Administration’s rosy promises that the post-TCJA economy would boom, it had instead grown on many dimensions at roughly the same steady, unspectacular pace as it did before the passage of the tax law, according to Mr. Burman.  He was a Treasury Department official during the Clinton administration.  However, he said, “If there are positive economic effects that I didn’t expect, I’m not aware of those.”  By cutting taxes, the law gave businesses and individuals more money to spend, expanding the economy.  But Mr. Burman says the long-run benefits the law’s authors promised—business investment and significant real wage growth—have not materialized.  Business investment rose in 2018 but has started shrinking in recent quarters amid uncertainty over trade policy.  And even that economic stimulus has not been particularly well-targeted, he said, because too much of the tax cut went to high-income taxpayers who are less likely to spend any additional money they get.  And the law’s hefty price tag has not been offset by more tax dollars flowing to government coffers.  Corporate tax receipts are down 23% since fiscal 2017.

The Congressional Budget Office projected the Republican tax cuts would widen the deficit by $1.9 trillion over a decade.  To be exact, Trump deemed his tax cuts “rocket fuel for our economy” that would kickstart a “rebirth of American industry.”  That rebirth did not arrive, as evidenced by various indicators of economic growth and labor-market health.  The tax cut linked to the record-low unemployment rate seen before the pandemic ignores several previous years of expansion.  The growth that ended in March 2020 predated Trump by several years and was the longest in U.S. history; job creation from 2012 to 2019 trended at about 2 million to 2.5 million nonfarm payrolls per year.  Trump also claimed his tax policy would supercharge business investment, but data details an increase that paled compared to prior expansions.  Domestic business investment climbed by roughly $251 billion from the first quarter of 2017 to its peak in the first quarter of 2019.  Yet gains were just as significant and more sustained during the dot-com boom of the 1990s and in the immediate wake of the financial crisis.

QAnon is spreading amongst evangelicals. QAnon is a virtual cult that began in late 2017. According to the conspiracy theory, former President Donald Trump is secretly working to stop a group of child sex traffickers. And an anonymous government insider called “Q” is believed to have shared secret information about that fight via cryptic online posts. Q allegedly last posted online on December 8.  Q’s messaging tactics draw from many themes in Christianity.  As Daniel Burke, CNN’s former religion editor, wrote, “According to the religious view of QAnon, Q is a postmodern prophet, “Q drops” (aka his messages) are sacred texts and Trump is a messianic figure who will conjure “The Storm,” an apocalyptic revelation exposing evildoers.”  Conspiracy theories find believers in many faiths. But the QAnon conspiracy theory is more popular today among evangelicals than people of other religions, according to a study by the conservative American Enterprise Institute.  “The Biblical worldview is that there’s a God who’s in control of the whole world. And one day Jesus is going to come back, he’s going to judge the wicked,” Kendall said. With QAnon, “there is a Q that knows everything, and Donald Trump is going to come back and judge the wicked, set up his rule, and his followers are going to live in their little Utopia.  But members of the flock aren’t the only ones susceptible in church communities. Some Christian pastors are also preaching them.

Who is Donald J. Trump that the Republicans revere and hold in such high esteem?

When Trump falsely asserted that Barack Obama was born in Africa and thus illegitimate as President, it was permission for racism to blossom and fester. When he claimed he saw Muslims in New Jersey celebrating on September 11, 2001 destruction of the World Trade Centers, it was a vicious lie to feed prejudice and never happened.

Trump followers worship him because he is proud to be white, dumb, a liar, uninformed, sexually obsessed, clueless about important critical societal issues, exhibits extreme right-wing political views, hatred and loathing for Obama, disdain for international and economic matters that he clearly does not understand, nor cares to learn, uncivil, inarticulate, self-centered, hateful, vindictive, racists, xenophobic, homophobic, Islamophobia, pseudo-religious, faux wealthy, contempt for the rule of law including the constitution, very loyal to his version of the Republican Party and their loyal supporters, and is always the maligned, harshly criticized, suffering victim.  His track record shows that he cruelly mocked the disabled; Trump is willing to tweet in ways that provide red meat to his base of deplorables, changing his views constantly to appeal to the seemingly disenfranchised.  Everything they see in Trump is what they see and pride in themselves.

The United States situation is puzzling where 40% of the population worship the ground that Trump walks on.  He got elected on the premise that as a businessman, he would perform better than any politician.  How could the Evangelical Christians fall for such a hoax?  There is so much speculation about the hold Trump had over the recent former leader of the Evangelical Church; Jerry Falwell, Jr.  Jerry proclaimed that all the faithful must vote for Trump.  We later learn that Jerry watched his wife repeatedly having sex with the pool boy.  Another athlete came forward from Liberty University with a similar accusation.  That got Jerry fired from Liberty University with a $10 million golden parachute, and worse yet, the loss of income for his immediate family, who was drinking from the same well.  When Christians prayed over him, Trump told Bob Woodward, “can you believe that insane stuff?”

Trump told more than 30,573 lies during his time in office.  The site lists lies by category showing the number of times lies were repeated.  Trump’s father gave him $1 million to start his business.  That should read $400 million; just another blatant Trump lie to make himself out to be a phenomenally successful businessman.  Mary Trump, who wrote about her uncle Donald is currently suing him for dramatically shortchanging her on her portion of Trump’s father Fred Trump’s estate when he died.  Donald said his father’s net worth was about $30 million.  It turns out Fred’s estate was at least $400 million.  Trump has said that he is worth more than $10 billion but is the only President to refuse to divulge his tax returns.  Then again, Trump has so many business failures: Trump Airlines, Trump beverages, Trump game, Trump Atlantic City Casino, Trump Taj Mahal Casino, Trump Marina Casino, Trump Plaza Casino, Trump Riverboat Casino, Trump Entertainment Resorts, Trump Magazines (Trump Style, Trump World), Trump Mortgage, Trump Steaks, Trump Travel (gotrump.com), TrumpNet, Trump Tower Tampa, Trump University, Trump Cologne, Trump Menswear, Trump Mattress, and Trump Vodka.  The tally of losses and the impact on suppliers and contractors is incalculable.  Many franchise products were dropped when Trump called Mexican’s rapists and criminals, and at the same time, the NBC TV network dropped his Apprentice program.

Trump repeatedly calls women names, including a phony, disrespectful, radical, extreme, and gold digger.  Trump’s name-calling of women black and white is not new.  He insulted Congresswoman Liz Cheney (for not supporting his “Big Lie”), Megan Markle (Duchess of Sussex), Elizabeth Warren (Senator), Hillary Clinton (former first lady), Nancy Pelosi (Speaker of the House of Representatives), Carly Fiorina (CEO HP), Omarosa Manigault Newman (former White House Aid), Megan Kelly (Fox TV host), Heidi Klum (supermodel), Alicia Machado (Miss Universe), Arianna Huffington (Huffington Post), Cher (musical artist), Anne Hathaway (actress), Maxine Waters (US Representative), Christine Blasey Ford (professor), Samantha Holvey (pageant contestant), Jessica Leeds (groped by Trump), Ivana Trump (first wife—raped), Kristin Anderson (photographer—groped), Jill Harth (businesswoman—groped), Lisa Boyne (entrepreneur—Trump looked up her skirt and commented on her underwear and genitals), Jessica Leeds (sexual conduct), Rachael Crooks (sexual conduct), Mariah Billado and Victoria Hughes (ogling at them in the nude in their dressing room while Miss Teen USA contestants), Temple Taggart (Miss Utah—Trump forced repeated kissing), Cathy Heller (mother with husband and children at Mar-a-Largo and forceful kissed her), Karena Virginia (yoga instructor—grabbed her breasts), Tasha Dixon and Bridget Sullivan (Miss USA contestants—ogled the girls while nude in the change rooms and hugged inappropriately), Melinda McGillivray (grabbed her buttocks during a concert at Mar-a-Largo), Natasha Stoynoff (People Magazine reporter, Trump sexually assaulted her and demanded an affair), Jennifer Murphy and Juliet Huddy (both kissed on the lips without consent), Ninni Laaksonen (Miss Finland groped backstage at Letterman show), Jessica Drake (adult film actress—grabbed and kissed her inviting her to his penthouse), Summer Zervos (The Apprentice contestant—grabbed her breast and kissed without consent), Cassandra Searies (USA Pageant—grabbed her buttocks and invited her to his hotel room), Alva Johnson (campaign staffer—kisses her without consent), Karen Johnson (kissed her, groped her, grabbed her genitals while at Mar-a-Largo), E. Jean Carrol (advice columnist—sexually assaulted her forcing his penis inside her in a dressing room).  What is very troubling is that former Attorney General Bill Barr used taxpayer money in his attempt to get Trump off these rape charges.  The incident took place before Trump was sworn into office.

In his years as a reality TV boss on “The Apprentice,” Donald Trump repeatedly demeaned women with sexist language, according to show insiders who said he rated female contestants by the size of their breasts and talked about which ones he’d like to have sex with.

In 1999 Trump wanted his father to change his will to cut his siblings out because Trump’s finances were in a dire strait, and his first wife was suing him for a fortune.  A legal case will proceed regarding this matter.

For Trump, the law has been a weapon, a tool, that he has used with abandon to advance his interests and attack those of others. “I know lots about litigation,” he once declared. On another occasion, he restated the point colorfully: “I’m like a Ph.D. in litigation.” By the time Trump became the presumptive 2016 Republican nominee for the presidency, he had been involved in, by one count, 4,096 lawsuits.  Trump has not been selective in the choice of targets or reluctant to pursue suits of dubious merit.  The range of his targets over time is exceptional: He has sued people over unpaid royalties in licensing deals.  He has sued Miss Pennsylvania.  He has sued Bill Maher.  He has sued the creator of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune.  He has sued Scotland.  He has sued New Jersey.  He has sued New York City, and he has sued New York state.  He has sued Palm Beach, Florida.  He has sued an architecture critic from Chicago.  He has sued the secretary of the Interior and the National Indian Gaming Commission.  He has sued people for using his surname in businesses even though it was also their surname.  He has sued and been sued by longtime business partners.  He has threatened to file countless lawsuits he then has not filed.

To repeat, how can American’s support this dotard?  Are we in lockstep to be like other countries living under a dictatorship?

As one commentator put it somewhat succinctly:

  • The “billionaire” who hides his tax returns.
  • The “genius” who hides his college grades.
  • The “businessman” who bankrupted three casinos and lost over $1 billion in 10 yrs.
  • The “playboy” who pays for sex.
  • The “virologist” who knew more than Dr. Fauci.
  • The “leader of the free world” who said he “fell in love” with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.
  • The “Christian” who does not go to church.
  • The “President” who committed treason by turning a blind eye to Russian bounties on our soldiers.
  • The “unifier” who calls white supremacists fine people.
  • The “philanthropist” who defrauds charity.
  • The “patriot” who dodged the draft five times.
  • The “innocent man” who refused to testify.
  • The “President” who took no responsibility against COVID-19.
  • The “tough, strong” man who wears makeup and hairspray.
  • The “deal maker” who never closed a deal.
  • The “ex-president” who calls for sedition against America’s legitimate elected government.

As Republicans tell the story, this was a few visitors touring the Capitol on January 6, 2021

The most egregious is the role Trump played in causing the insurrection of the Capitol on January 6, 2021.  Trump promotes the “Big Lie” that the election was stolen from him through fraud and illegal votes.  In Arizona, they are inspecting the paper to see if it contains bamboo, a sign that ballots were sent for Asia!  After numerous court cases, no fraud was identified.  Republicans have proposed 250 new laws in 43 states to limit mail, early in-person, and Election Day voting.  Essentially laws aimed at disadvantaging Black, Hispanic, and Asian voters who tend to vote Democrat.  To read more about the origins of the Big Lie, go here: The making of a myth.

Trump’s legacy will include the fact that he was impeached twice as President but saved by Republicans.  Trump dismissed the COVID-19 pandemic as a China virus, nothing more than flu, that could be treated by ingesting disinfectant.  The Chinese virus comment led to attacks on members of the Asian community in the U.S. and Canada.  Due to Trump’s contempt for the virus, more than 583,000 Americans died by mid-May 2021.

After I retired, I took a position at a Subaru dealer selling vehicles, a brand that we already owned.  It was not for the money, as the income was mainly commission-based, but more for the socialization.  I only stayed four months.  During my initial interview, I explained that we had plans to travel to South Africa for three weeks at year-end.  The manager said that he could accommodate my request.  Once I joined the privately held company, the manager who interviewed me had left to take a position with a competitor.  My new manager, the owner’s son, informed me that each employee only has a one-week vacation allowance twelve months after the anniversary date of joining.  He recommended that I resign and guaranteed that I will be rehired once I re-apply after my overseas trip.  Frankly, I was mortified to hear how this manager treated our team, including women, dropping F-bombs in every sentence, and that was sufficient for me to elect not to rejoin this company.  Working in the U.S. can be a shock.

Additional indignation, for the first time in my life, I was an hourly employee.  I had to clock in and out by logging into a computer terminal when I arrived at work and before I left after my shift.  Heaven help me if I forgot to log in or out—that would be an incident report on my personnel record!

I had quite a learning curve after our relocation to the U.S.  The company that hired me facilitated our immigration through local immigration lawyers and only provided one week of vacation after the first year of employment.  The company owner helped in many other ways, in that he spoke to a bank manager who facilitated financing, allowing us to purchase a home in October 1986 and provided a line of credit enabling us to purchase two new vehicles, a Pontiac 6000 for me, and Honda Accord for Linda.  A few years later, after I started my business, I provided company cars to personnel that required travel to clients for sales or consulting purposes using my South African experiences.  They could select any vehicle as long as they were not outrageously expensive.  We covered all running costs, including insurance and maintenance.  Only later I learned that it had negative tax consequences for the staff.  They certainly enjoyed their vehicles.  One wife commented that her husband did not require a salary as far as she was concerned, but she loved the car. 

Please do not misconstrue my words.  We have enjoyed our 34-years in the U.S.  There have been notable exceptions.  The night of “Shock and Awe” when George Bush decided to bomb Baghdad, Iraq on Friday, March 21, 2003—the day I ended my allegiance to the Republican party.  I am grateful that we now have a compassionate president in Joe Biden who has already overturned many of Trump’s insane executive orders.  Having laid out the case that the U.S. is not a total paradise, especially after four years of Trump, already rated as the worst President ever, how does South Africa stack up in general, and Cape Town in particular?

On April 6, 1652, Jan van Riebeeck arrived in Cape Town to create a supply station for the Dutch East India Company, suppling ships sailing between The Netherlands and the Far East.  They represented the first European settlement in what was later to become South Africa.  Portuguese explorer Bartholomeu Dias was the first European to reach these shores in 1488 and named it the Cape of Storms, later renamed Cape of Good Hope.  Vasco da Gama, also Portuguese, recorded his siting in 1497.  Human occupation dates to between 15,000 and 12,000 years ago.

The Dutch controlled this region until 1795, when the British took control.  It was returned to the Dutch in 1803 but occupied again by the British in 1806.  Cape Town was permanently ceded to the United Kingdom in 1814, now the capital of the Cape Colony.  The Cape got its parliament in 1854 and its local Prime Minister in 1872.  In 1910 Britain established the Union of South Africa, and Cape Town became the legislative capital of the union, one of three capitals.  Cape Town was the most racially integrated city when the Nationalist Party won elections in 1948 based on apartheid, racial segregation.  Cape Town has a population of 4,710,000 (in 2020).  Cape Town’s demographics feature 42.4% Colored, 38.6% Black, 15.7% White, 1.4% Asian or Indian.  Coloredwas a legally defined racial classification during apartheid.  Coloreds are a multiracial ethnic group native to Southern Africa who has ancestry from more than one of the various populations inhabiting the region, including Khoisan, Bantu, European, Austronesian, East Asian, or South Asian.  Because of ethnicities, different families and individuals within a family may have various physical features.

After establishing the Union of South Africa in 1910, it became a member of the British Empire in 1934.  The country became the Union of South Africa on May 31, 1961, now a republic ending its allegiance to the British Commonwealth.  In April 1994, the African National Congress (ANC), a black majority political party, took power after one-man, one-vote elections.  The presidents included Nelson Mandela (May 10, 1994, to June 16, 1999), Thabo Mbeki (June 16, 1999, to September 24, 2008), Kgalema Motlanthe (September 25, 2008, to May 9, 2009), Jacob Zuma (May 9, 2009, to February 14, 2018), and incumbent Cyril Ramaphosa (February 15, 2018).

On March 16, 2018, the director of public prosecutions confirmed that Jacob Zuma would face 18 charges of corruption, including more than 700 counts of fraud and money laundering.  Zuma’s political allies within the ANC and Tripartite Alliance protested the prospect of a corruption trial.  On February 3, 2020, a court issued an arrest warrant for former president Zuma on corruption charges.  For nearly three years, South African investigators have been unearthing a web of corruption around former President Jacob Zuma in a public inquiry that has captivated the country.  Zuma’s bribes were exchanged using top-shelf whiskey, luxury cars, and a cash-stuffed Louis Vuitton bag.  High-ranking officials distributed lucrative government contracts in exchange for monthly handouts.  That era of graft drained tens of billions of dollars from state coffers and has become one of the most infamous chapters of South Africa’s post-apartheid history.  Now, the country’s highest court will determine whether Mr. Zuma can be held accountable for contempt of court, and an era of consequence-free corruption, in a hearing that represents one of the most significant tests for South Africa’s democratic institutions in recent years.

Our South African homes. The home my parents built in Claremont, Cape Town with significant upgrades to security in recent years. The home we built in Edenglen, Edenvale, a secure gated community, outside Johannesburg with significant upgrades to the home after we left South Africa.

I liken South Africa to a Chinese water torcher.  Drip, drip, drip.  Over the years since we left, security is an evolving issue where people need to live in their homes as if they are in jail.  High walls surround each property, most topped with electric wiring as an added deterrent.  Homes are organized indoors with zoned safety areas, so you only move in certain parts of the house after the security alarms are set, once asleep but not in other portions of the home.  Within a residence, the first requirement is to ensure every window and external door has burglar proofing to guarantee no one can force entry.  Reinforced windows and door glass are essential.  Alert dogs sleeping outside on the premises are mandatory.  When I am in Cape Town have my taser and a very sharp pocketknife for protection.  I keep questioning, is this the way to live—in one of the most beautiful cities in the world?  Where are the police? 

The South African Police Service (SAPS) is the national police force of the Republic of South Africa.  The provincial borders share 1,138 police stations in South Africa, with a Provincial Commissioner appointed in each of the nine provinces.  SAPS employs 193,692 people.  I attempted to use their services when I was pick-pocked in March 2013.  The security offices in the shopping center had video footage of the theft and, naturally, the criminals.  Reporting the incident to the nearby police station was a waste of time.  For them to follow up would have entailed work.  With the SAPS being so inept, what are South Africans to do?  They have supported a booming security industry.  The Security Association of South Africa is a body representing private security companies.  At present, over 9,000 security companies render residential, commercial, and industrial security services, which comprises guarding, electronic monitoring, armed response, and asset in transit services. There are currently more than 500,000 security officers in the employ of these companies.  Security companies exist because of the high level of crime and South Africa and the total ineptitude of SAPS.

As a result of corruption endemic in South Africa, the State-Operated Enterprises (SOE) are primarily bankrupt.  These include:

  • Transnet (freight logistics),
  • SAA (the South Africa Airways),
  • South African Express (airline),
  • Eskom (world’s eleventh-largest power utility in terms of generating capacity, ranks ninth in terms of sales, and boasts the world’s largest dry-cooling power station),
  • Denel (armaments and military equipment manufacturer),
  • SAFCOL (forestry),
  • Alexcor (diamond mining). 

There are many reasons why these SOEs are in trouble.  One is reverse discrimination.  Whites in critical positions in these organizations were terminated or demoted.  I have friends and family impacted through this action.  Political appointments were made into executive positions, many or most without the skillset to manage their respective operations. 

I will use Eskom as an example, a company I provided software consulting services.  At the time, Eskom produced the most reliable electric power at one of the lowest rates globally.  Today I have an app on my iPhone, “EskomSePush.”  Eskom cannot provide uninterrupted 24X7 power countrywide to consumers consistently.  They operate what is known as “load shedding.”  Eskom has four stages where each stage will drop service for two-and-a-half hours.  The app allows the consumer to key in their location and discover when power will be cut.  If you were lucky, it could be late at night or early morning, but sometimes mid-morning or afternoon.  Planning around power cuts is near impossible because there is no logical repeat pattern.  If you operate a business and require power, then you are out of luck!  Generally, hospitals are spared this power outage.

A Powership deal locks South Africa into a 20-year contract to purchase expensive, dirty power when the cost of clean, renewable energy is falling every year.  South Africa has abundant sun and wind.  The CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) estimated this deal will cost South Africa R218 billion (US$15 billion).  A Powership is a ship on which a power plant is installed.  They anchor just offshore to provide ship-to-shore electricity to countries unable to generate enough of their own.  These are generally failed or failing states such as Ghana, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Gambia, Senegal, Sudan, Beirut, Iraq, and Pakistan, currently using Powerships on contracts of two to five years.  Under Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe’s deal, South Africa will be paying R2.30 (US$0.16) per kilowatt-hour.  At the same time, Saudi Arabia has just signed a power purchase agreement for solar power at a record-low of $0,0104 per kilowatt-hour, which is equivalent to US$0.15 per kilowatt-hour in South Africa.  The alleged involvement of the family members of Minister Mantashe and senior government officials in the bid process must now trigger an urgent and comprehensive investigation into the bid.  Minerals and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has revealed that the Turkish company supplying the country with floating power plants to address power shortages is supplying 1,220 MW.  The Powerships are located in three coastal areas stretching from the Eastern Cape to the town of Richards Bay in KwaZulu-Natal.  The total combined power output/capacity of the three floating Liquefied Natural Gas Turbine, or Powerships, projects appointed as Preferred Bidders under the Risk Mitigation Power Producer Procurement Programme (RMIPPP).  More potential corruption. 

On May 7, 2021, Eskom, the South African power utility, said it had suspended a senior manager in its coal procurement division after an investigation revealed corruption in its coal supply chain.  The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) found the senior manager was in control of a bank account with a balance of nearly R12m (US$ 830,000).  It followed a whistle-blower tip-off that prompted Eskom into a preliminary investigation.  The funds had been deposited by some of Eskom’s suppliers in the coal division, the utility said in an announcement on Friday.  To be clear, this is the tip of the iceberg.  The corruptions runs deep within the utility.

The Institute for Security Studies in South Africa stated, “In 2011 the former head of the Special Investigation Unit, Willie Hofmeyer, reported before parliament that between R25 billion (US$ 1.7 billion) and R30 billion (US$2 billion) was lost to the government procurement budget each year due to this type of fraud.  Moreover, there is evidence that incidents of corruption are increasing.  A report by Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs (Africa’s largest law firm) based on documented fraud and malfeasance cases presented to parliament and contained in Public Service Commission reports found that the amount involved increased from R130 million (US$9 million) in 2006/07 to over R1 billion (US$70 million) in 2011/12.  So there is evidence that the heart of the problem lies in the lack of accountability for maladministration and corruption.  Corruption Watch states that this problem starts with President Zuma – while there are various efforts by the government to tackle corruption, “these actions were countered by the continuing impunity on the part of those who were politically and financially powerful.”  In particular, it was explained that the “Gupta wedding saga and ongoing fiasco surrounding the President Zuma’s private Nkandla residence are indicators in the past year of impunity in operation.” Little symbolizes the nature of our public sector corruption challenge better than the scandal of R215 million (US$ 17 million) of public money being diverted away from the public good to upgrade President Jacob Zuma’s private homestead.  President Zuma is not solely responsible for all corruption in the public sector, but he certainly has impeded any progress that could have been made in this regard.  In addition to his shady dealings with people like convicted fraudster Shabir Shaik, he has repeatedly appointed people of low ethical standards to key positions in the cabinet and the criminal justice system.  As a result, citizens are less trusting of their national leaders.  It is reflected in the recently released 2013 South African Reconciliation Barometer survey undertaken by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR).  The survey revealed that since 2012 there had been a 10,8% decrease in citizens’ confidence in national government.  There has also been a 13% increase in the proportion of citizens who feel that government does not care about “people like them.” The sad reality can partly explain that some in the ruling elite have jettisoned principles for political power. 

The Washington Post reported “South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has intensified the country’s anti-corruption drive with the suspension of his African National Congress (ANC) party’s secretary-general, who is facing corruption charges in court.  The decision made this week to suspend Ace Magashule and implement a policy that forces leaders charged with corruption to resign is largely seen as a victory for Ramaphosa against his political rivals.  Magashule is facing corruption and fraud charges for allegedly benefitting from a R255 million (over $18 million) contract to eradicate asbestos houses in the Free State province when he was a premier of the province.” 

Pieter-Louis Myburgh wrote a book “Gangster State: Unravelling Ace Magashule’s Web of Capture.”  The book was written before Ace moved to an executive position within the ANC.  The corruption never stops–it is too lucrative for the chosen few.

The reality is that after many years, I can enumerate many policies that have impacted business in South Africa to favor the ANC.  I will use one to illustrate a situation.  South Africa has a BEE (Black Economic Empowerment) policy that encourages businesses to integrate black people into the workspace, upskill and mentor, and support black businesses.  A great principle in theory but abused in practice.  I had dealings with a successful family-run automotive dealership.  The ANC government insisted that the family donate for free a portion of their business to a black man.  Refusing to dilute the family’s decades of blood, sweat, and tears, they sold the business.  One result of the BEE policy in general, and treatment of whites by the ANC, is that since 1995 at least 800,000 have left the country.  We left in an earlier wave.  Can the nation afford this brain drain?

The nonprofit organization, Chandler Institute of Governance (CIG), has published its inaugural good government index, measuring the effectiveness of governments in 104 countries globally.  The index takes a non-ideological and non-partisan view of governance.  The index does not prioritize any form of government over another by focusing on state capabilities and performance.  South Africa was ranked 70th on the list, behind other Sub-Saharan countries such as Mauritius (30th), Rwanda (53rd), and Botswana (57th).  Some of the critical areas where South Africa is falling behind the rest of the world include the Ability to attract investments; International trade; Education; Health; Personal safety; Income equality; Social mobility; Non-discrimination; The macroeconomic environment.

Couriers must stop delivering packages under 1kg in South Africa – Post Office.  The S.A. Post Office (SAPO) and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) want to stop private courier companies from delivering packages under 1kg in South Africa.  It is one of the main talking points which emerged from a recent Gauteng High Court case between PostNet and ICASA.  SAPO employs over 16,480 people and operates more than 1,400 postal outlets throughout the country.  PostNet was founded in 1994 when there was an urgent need in South Africa for an operation that could deliver a range of efficient business solutions.  The South African Post Office is in the process of permanently closing 130 branches across the country.  The figure was confirmed by Post Office CEO Nomkhita Mona during a briefing to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Communications on May 26, 2021.  This comes after the Post Office was declared commercially insolvent, with its 2019/2020 financial results showing it had incurred losses of more than R1.7 billion (US$ 120 million), while its liabilities exceeded assets by R1.5 billion (US$107 million). Today, PostNet is S.A.’s largest privately owned counter network in the document and parcel industry, trading across 400 owner-managed retail stores.  PostNet serves more than 70,000 “walk-in” customers per day, countrywide. There are five product types within PostNet; Courier, Copy & Print, Digital, Stationery, and Mailboxes.  The reality is that PostNet offers a reliable service with a guarantee for mail and packages to arrive at their destination. 

Murders in South Africa remain high, with a 1.4% increase in 2019/20, to 21,325 reported cases.  It works out to 58 people murdered in the country every day, at a rate of 35.8 people per 100,000 population.  South Africa has one of the highest rates of rape in the world, with some 65,000 rapes and other sexual assaults reported for the year ending in March 2012, or 127.6 per 100,000 people in the country.  South Africa has a high record of carjacking when compared with other industrialized countries.  Cash-in-transit (CIT) heists have at times reached epidemic proportions in South Africa.  From 1994 to 2020, South Africa experienced 13,000 farm attacks, during which 2,000 commercial farmers were killed besides others who were injured or wounded. “AfriForum’s research reports 63 farm murders in 2020, as opposed to 45 farm murders in 2019,” said Andrea Muller, a researcher at AfriForum. 

The U.S. Department of State carries warnings on their travel website for South Africa.  Do not travel to South Africa due to COVID-19.  Exercise increased caution in South Africa due to crime and civil unrest.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for South Africa due to COVID-19, indicating a very high level of COVID-19 in the country.  Violent crime, such as armed robbery, rape, carjacking, mugging, and “smash-and-grab” attacks on vehicles, is common.  There is a higher risk of violent crime in the central business districts of major cities after dark.  Demonstrations, protests, and strikes occur frequently.  These can develop quickly without prior notification, often interrupting traffic, transportation, and other services; such events can turn violent.  Additional detailed information is published at this site.

My problem then is that I love the beauty of South Africa, the people with dear family members and friends, its lifestyle, and the weather.  On the other hand, I’m not fond of the country’s insecurity and that one must always be on your guard.  When I rent a vehicle, I pay all insurance options, including liability insurance, to ensure that if I get hijacked, the car broken into, or the vehicle gets stolen or damaged, I will not pay excess damage.  Despite all I have written, I will continue to visit, and possibly on an annual basis, especially when COVID-19 is history in South Africa.  That said, I am not prepared to risk an investment in an apartment in the Cape Town area, one that could accommodate our children and granddaughters.  I did not even mention the ANC goal of land expropriation without compensation—should that ultimately become law. 

There are no additional conditions for foreigners purchasing property in S.A.  The only pre-requisite is that the money must be brought into South Africa through the South African Reserve Bank.  The foreign national will receive a Deal Certificate as proof if he or she ever sells and wants to repatriate the money out of the country.  When purchasing property, the purchaser pays the legal fees and the government transfer duty (approximately 8% of purchase price).  The seller pays the agent’s commission.  There is a contract.  Once the seller accepts the buyer’s offer, it is a binding contract.  South Africans pay monthly rates and taxes to the local municipality, approximately 6% of the municipal valuation.  One may rent out a property, subject to income tax.  However, some gated estates do not allow short-term rentals for security reasons.  I have done my homework.  Should anyone convince me to make the investment and perceive that the security situation has improved, I might pull the trigger.  Quite frankly, the “snowbirds” in our part of the world escape our winters to Florida or Arizona.  If all things were equal, why not Cape Town?

If my son or daughter wishes to travel to South Africa with their daughters, I will encourage them to visit.  However, it would be my preference to accompany them to ensure their safety since I believe I have significantly more experience of risks involved.  I would never venture out driving at night on the R300 in Cape Town, a road that experiences several protests.

From within the United States of America, I see political developments as a pendulum swing.  After four horrible years with Trump doing all he could to destroy the U.S., I have complete faith in President Joe Biden, Vice-President Kamala Harris, the Democrats, and any reasonable non-racist non-bigoted Republicans who will put America first.  We will overcome.

Comments Off on My Cape Town Conundrum.

Cape Town COVID-19 Adventure

We left the US on March 5, 2020, for a 37-day vacation in South Africa to visit family and friends.

Update: February 4, 2021.  I pondered over the past year the reason we were not sufficiently intelligent to cancel our trip to South Africa due to the COVID-19 pandemic before departing in early March 2020.  On returning to the U.S., I did extensive research documenting pages of information from multiple newspaper and website sources.  I concluded that as regular citizens, we were not informed of the pending danger, mainly because President Donald J. Trump did not want to scare anyone, electing to ignore the threat to keep the stock market resilient and the economy thriving.  Some well informed in Congress were altered to the pending danger, sold some investments ahead of a market crash.  These are a few critical dates. 

  • In late November 2019, coronavirus broke out in Wuhan, China. 
  • On December 31, 2019, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) became aware of cases in China and reported to HHS (Department of Health and Human Services).
  • January 1, 2020.  CDC Director Robert Redfield got informed by a counterpart in China and alerted HHS Secretary Alex Azar, who shared this information with NSC (National Security Council). 
  • Donald Trump was alerted to the situation in his PDF (Presidential Daily Brief) in early January.
  • WHO (World Health Organization) issued a report on January 5, 2020, advising against travel.
  • During the week of January 6, 2020, HHS, CDC, and Dr. Anthony Fauchi, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, met to discuss the situation. 
  • January 18, 2020, Alex Azar addressed the coronavirus outbreak with Trump, who criticized him as an alarmist.
  • January 31, 2020, the White House banned entry for foreign nationals who had traveled to China within the last 14 days.
  • February 11, 2020, the WHO announced the official virus name as COVID-19.
  • February 24, 2020, the U.S. Stock market plummeted over coronavirus fears.
  • February 26, 2020, California announces the first COVID-19 case in the U.S.
  • February 29, 2020, Trump announces travel restrictions involving Iran, Italy, and South Korea.
  • February 29, 2020, reported the first U.S. COVID-19 death in Washington state.
  • March 6, 2020, Trump signs an $8.3 billion emergency spending package to combat coronavirus outbreak.

As you review the above dates, recall that we were somewhat ignorant of the danger of undertaking this trip on March 5, 2020.  Trump was more concerned about a potential market and economic collapse that he saw would impact his reelection bid in November 2020.

Reading Bob Woodward’s book Rage, released September 15, 2020, with 466 pages, covers hundreds of hours of interviews with Donald J. Trump.  He warned Trump in January 2020 that the COVID-19 pandemic could reach the scale of the 1918 Spanish Flu that killed 675,000 Americans.  “In 17 on-the-record interviews with Woodward over seven volatile months—an utterly vivid window into Trump’s mind.  The president provides a self-portrait that is part denial and part combative interchange mixed with surprising moments of doubt as he glimpses the perils in the presidency and what he calls the “dynamite behind every door.”  Below are a few excerpts from Woodward’s best-seller book. 

“A meeting was scheduled with Trump for the morning of March 11, 2020. …. But now the word came from [Jared Kushner that] his father-in-law that he needed immediate help on the mounting Covid-19 crisis. In the Oval Office that morning, there was a consensus among the national security and health officials that they needed to act immediately to close down travel from Europe. Treasury Secretary [Steven] Mnuchin was opposed. Travel from Europe was about five times that from China. “This is going to bankrupt everyone,” he said dramatically. “It’s going to destroy the economy.” “What data are you relying on for that?” asked [Dr. Deborah Leah] Birx [Whitehouse Coronavirus Task Force] “You’ve been asking me for my data. What data do you have?” Mnuchin said that was how the economy and markets worked. Trump eventually approved the travel restrictions. They would be consistent with his decision on China. Kushner assisted with drafting the prime-time television address that Trump had decided to give that night from the Oval Office. It was only the second of his presidency. A nationally televised evening address gave the speech the stamp of important business. That afternoon, the World Health Organization officially declared Covid-19 a pandemic. “This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history,” Trump said at 9:00 that evening. “From the beginning of time, nations and people have faced unforeseen challenges, including large-scale and very dangerous health threats,” Trump read. “This is the way it always was and always will be. It only matters how you respond.” The president announced he was halting travelers from most European countries for the next 30 days. “Last week, I signed into law an $ 8.3 billion funding bill,” he said. Several hundred times that would soon be required. “The vast majority of Americans: The risk is very, very low,” Trump said. “Wash your hands, clean often-used surfaces, cover your face and mouth if you sneeze or cough, and most of all, if you are sick or not feeling well, stay home.” He made no mention of social distancing—staying six feet apart from others—and urged only those who were sick or not feeling well to stay at home. “This is not a financial crisis, this is just a temporary moment of time,” he said reaching to calm the markets. “The virus will not have a chance against us.… Our future remains brighter than anyone can imagine.” The speech received poor reviews. Trump seemed depleted on air, not in command of the material. He displayed none of the verve of the spontaneous, engaged true believer of his political rallies. Peggy Noonan wrote the next day in The Wall Street Journal, “The president gave a major Oval Office address Wednesday night aimed at quelling fears; it was generally labeled ‘unsettling.’ ” That day, March 11, marked the beginning of a new consciousness in the country. There were over 1,000 cases and 37 deaths in the country. Trump acknowledged he would likely have to cancel his upcoming rallies. Testifying before Congress, Fauci said that testing for the virus was “failing. I mean, let’s admit it.” The distribution of faulty test kits had prevented officials and scientists from getting a clear picture of the number of infections in the crucial early days of the virus’s spread across the U.S. By the beginning of March, fewer than 500 tests had been conducted. The Dow Jones fell 10 percent on March 12, prompting The New York Times banner headline: “WORST ROUT FOR WALL STREET SINCE 1987 CRASH.” A giant chart on the front page of The Wall Street Journal showed the surging growth in the Dow from the early days of Obama’s eight-year presidency and the first three years of Trump’s. Then it fell off the cliff, down 20 percent since 2009.”

“I wanted to always play it down,” Trump told Woodward, as I reported earlier in this book.  “I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic.”

Back in Wisconsin, our children, Robyn, and Sean did hit the panic button.  They sent their first text on March 19, 2020.  “State Department travel warning.  Come back to the U.S. or be prepared to stay where you are for an indeterminate amount of time.” 

Currently, (February 3, 2021), we have 26,535,848 COVID-19 cases in the U.S., with 450,435 deaths.  The U.S. accounts for 25% of worldwide cases and deaths, with only 4% of the global population.  When all the election counts were in after November 3, 2020, Joe Biden became the 46th U.S. President with 81,283,098 popular votes against Trump’s 74,222,958 voters.  More critical was Biden’s 306 Electoral Votes versus Trump’s 232.  Tony Fabrizio, Trump’s chief strategist, reported that Trump lost the election because he mishandled the COVID-19 pandemic, based on exit polling.

Trump’s legacy will go down in history as the only president to have been impeached twice.  Without the shield of his presidency, Trump faces several lawsuits, including a charge of rape.  Trump will be recognized for encouraging the Capitol’s insurrection on January 6, 2021, where five people died.  Between November 3, 2020, and January 6, 2021, Trump and his allies filed 62 lawsuits in state and federal courts seeking to overturn election results in states Trump lost.  All but one failed, and it was inconclusive, providing election workers three days to correct a few ballots.  Trump told more than 30,573 lies during his four years in office.  Here you can view lies listed by category. Trump will be remembered for his racist, bigoted, xenophobic leadership, supporting white supremacists, and promoting fake news with his constant Twitter feed totaling 56,571 during his four years in office.

Now you can listen to the original blog or read on to see some of the photographs and video clips.

Click to hear a 50-minute audio of the blog text below, or read and enjoy.
See photographs below

Monday, March 23, 2020.  I woke at 6:00 am to a rude awakening!  Checking my iPhone messages, I discovered United Airlines canceled our flights to the United States from Cape Town, South Africa, scheduled to fly March 26, 2020.  I receive a follow-up message to say they are flying again.  What I did not know then is that this pattern that would repeat several times over.  Let me back up and tell the account coherently.

We left the US on March 5, 2020, for a 37-day vacation in South Africa to visit family and friends.  We planned to return home on Easter Monday, April 13, 2020.  For our trip, we flew Delta Airlines from Milwaukee, Wisconsin; to Detroit, Michigan; on to Amsterdam, the Netherlands; to Cape Town.  In hindsight, had the Trump administration told the American people the truth of the COVID-19 pandemic, we would never have traveled in the first place.  We witnessed our investments plummet.  A select few Republican Congresspeople were informed of the imminent catastrophe, sold their investments, some in the millions of dollars before the public learned of the pending danger.

United Airlines started a seasonal service between Newark, New Jersey, and Cape Town on December 15, 2019, through March 25, 2020.  Travel to South Africa is on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.  Return flights to the US are on Monday, Thursday, Saturday.  The distance of 7,817 miles (12,580 kilometers) is the longest route flown by United.  Flying time to Cape Town is 14 hours, and back to the US, 16 hours.  United operates this route using a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with 48 business class seats, 88 Economy Plus, and 116 economy seats.  Frankly, I had no idea that we caught the last flight for the season back to the US until I did my research from home in Wisconsin.  Then too, South Africa went on lockdown at midnight on March 26, 4 hours after our scheduled departure.  Consequently, no other flights could have taken off on the following days.

After Trump stopped flights from Europe, and other countries from flying into the US, the rumors started flying, and fake news prevailed.  Our daughter and son in the US were in a panic after the US State Department issued a proclamation, return to the US immediately, or remain overseas indefinitely.  We sprang into action.  We did not want to be stranded forever in South Africa, lovely as the country is.  We purchased new and additional tickets on United Airlines flying from Cape Town directly to the Newark, New Jersey, in the New York area, with a connecting flight to Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  For the record, our one-way tickets on United Airlines was more expensive than our return tickets on Delta.  We canceled our return ticket on Delta and should get a credit toward our next flight, but there is no cash refund.

When I woke March 23 at 6:00 am South African time on Monday morning, it is 11:00 pm Sunday night US Central Time.  The first text from United was sent at 10:43 pm SA time when I am already asleep (3:43 pm Central).  It states that our flights “are canceled due to the unprecedented circumstances.”  At 11:53 pm SA Time (4:53 pm Central), I receive a follow-up text stating the flights are not canceled!!  The follow on text states that non-US citizens who have visited certain countries will be denied entry to the US.  We may be subjected to 14-days of self-quarantine.  We had planned to follow an isolation recommendation in any event.  We quarantined ourselves in South Africa for the two weeks, ending March 21, and beyond that date until we departed.

When I booked the United flight on March 20, 2020, there were only two seats available in the economy class, and they were not situated next to each other.  I had a decision to make and paid for an upgrade to Economy Plus.  In hindsight, it was a wise decision because there is much more legroom.  If the passenger in front decides to recline their seat, there is sufficient space available to enjoy the trip without a seat backrest in your face.  Our problem is that with this experience, we will never fly the regular economy class again.  I have been a frequent flyer for many years, regularly flying for business and occasionally for pleasure with our family.  I am knowledgeable enough to know that to get an early boarding allocation; I need to obtain our boarding passes 24-hours before take off.  At 8:00 pm, South African time, on Wednesday, March 25, I logged on to the United Airlines website to secure our boarding passes.  It was the start of a 90-minute ordeal.  Let me hasten to add that I retired after 50 years in the computer industry as a developer, designer, educator, trainer, consultant, and salesperson, so technology should not be a challenge for me.  Little did I know.

I keyed in my confirmation number to be informed that the flight had been canceled!  My wife was three hours away in Cape Town, so I made contact with her immediately to alert Linda of our challenge.  Linda contacted my daughter and son, who were both working from home in the US with their respective companies requiring employees to work from home due to COVID-19.  The four of us now worked to figure out if and why the flight was canceled.  I started the process off by attempting to secure my boarding pass.  At some point, I was required to scan my passport with a warning that it will take some time for the system to register the document.  I again received the message that the flight was canceled.  We had to verify that we had not traveled to a list of countries where we could not get access back to the USA.  My wife scanned her passport into the system, and again we were informed that the flight had been canceled.  Our children in the interim were on the United Airlines website and showed that the plane was flying.  After an hour and a half, the boarding process was complete, and we could print our passes.  My conclusion is that the programming was substandard, and rather than report there were problems with the information we entered, the program reported an erroneous flight cancelation.  To verify that we were not unduly stupid, where we were seated on our flight home, a few passengers near us complained that they, too, got these flight canceled messages.

In the US, we are recommended to arrive at the airport three hours before takeoff for all international flights.  Our flight out of Cape Town was at 8:00 pm.  We arrived at the airport at 3:00 pm, 5 hours before the scheduled departure.  We were surprised by the number of people in line, but the gates had not yet opened to allow us to check our luggage.  Maintaining our social distance, we had interesting conversations with other passengers waiting in line.  The airport itself was a madhouse, especially with passengers flying to the UK.  To pass through the multitude of people to get to our check-in position in itself was a challenge with a large number of people, each in very close proximity to one another.  The check-in agents arrived about 4 hours before boarding, giving us sufficient time to go through security and passport control.  At 7:15 pm, the boarding process started.  While seated on the plane, at 8:00 pm, the captain advised us that 28 passengers were stuck trying to check their luggage and get through security.  He kept us informed as to how many people were waiting to board the flight.  He was wise enough to hold takeoff until all passengers could board.  The captain did tell us that part of the holdup was some of the check-in agents had not shown up for work, and that helped slow the process dramatically.  The captain walked through the plane before takeoff to answer questions that the passengers may have.  Once in the air, and hour and fifteen minutes after our scheduled departure time, the captain made up time to arrive in Newark close to the stated arrival time.  He announced the flight crew was volunteers due to COVID-19.  The captain informed us that we would not be processed by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) for temperature checks after deplaning.

Arriving at a near-deserted airport in Newark was another experience.  We arrive at Terminal B.  We proceed through passport control, then had to relocate by train to Terminal C to collect our luggage, pass through customs, and check-in our bags for transport to Milwaukee.  Next, take a bus to Terminal A, catch a small regional jet for the two-hour flight to Milwaukee.  We knew we had 90 minutes to complete this process, and we were fortunate to make our flight without delay.  The jet was less than half-filled with passengers.  Probably the most challenging situation was the toilets in the terminal buildings were locked, and I have a weak bladder.

The surprises did not stop yet.  We arrived in Milwaukee at General Mitchell International airport at 10:00 am at a deserted airport.  The shops were closed, and there are no people around.  We make our way to baggage claim, and our three bags are the first on the conveyor.  My son and his girlfriend (Sean and Erica married November 13, 2020–a Friday the 13th) were outside the baggage claim area.  Sean tosses the keys to my wife, making sure there was no close contact, and headed off home with his girlfriend.  My next surprise was my drive home.  In thirty-four years we have lived here, I have never seen the roads so quiet.  Once back home, we started the sterilization process, cleaning all our luggage, taking a shower, and doing six loads of laundry washing everything we took to South Africa, including the clean clothing we brought home in our bags.

Friday, March 27, 2020, was the start of our 14-day isolation.  I cannot deny, now, into a few days of this experience, that we have experienced a significant adjustment.  We have arranged to have groceries delivered, and seriously miss our daily 40-minute walk around the neighborhood.  I feel starved of exercise.  Naturally, we miss seeing our children and granddaughters.  Facetiming is not the same.  We are not able to socialize with any of our neighbors in our condominium complex. 

Now that I have reached the end of my account of getting home, I will start at the beginning.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

A friend kindly drove us to the airport in Milwaukee. Our flight to Detroit was only 75-minutes on a regional jet. Delta requested us to be at the airport 3 hours ahead of departure. With Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee being a small airport, this seems an excessive request. The bad news when we finally got to Cape Town we found the Transport Security Agency had searched my large suitcase, one of three checked bags. They found nothing worth confiscating.  The flight was uneventful. We had a three-hour layover in Detroit and had a meal at PF Chang’s.

I filed a complaint with Delta for not issuing boarding passes with TSA Precheck.  They said it would take a week or more to respond.  TSA (Transport Security Administration) is a government organization responsible for security at the US ports of entry.  Precheck is a program that one can apply for at a cost, where your background is vetted, and when going through security at the airports, they are more lenient in what passengers are asked to do.  We do not have to remove shoes or belts, for example.  More than that, I hold a TSA Global Entry that speeds up the process when returning to the US from overseas travel.  Delta advised that the TSA Precheck is a privilege and not always provided to passengers.  Strange, when I paid $85 for the convenience.

We boarded a flight to Amsterdam. With the flight time of eight and a half hours, I watched the movie Bombshell. It is the story of Fox News and the sexual advances made by Rodger Ailes on female anchors. South African actress Charlize Theron played the part of Megyn Kelly, who sued Rodger. If any of the faithful Trump followers watch this movie, I cannot see how they will vote for Trump again, unless he convinces his base that this movie is all lies and fake news. I watched Judy about the life of Judy Garland. What a short sad life she had, getting manipulated by men wanting to profit off her voice at any cost. Finally, I watched a single episode of the TV series The Neighborhood with a Chinese family living in white suburbia and the racism they faced. And yes, it was a comedy.

The flight to Amsterdam was not full, Linda and I had a spare seat to ourselves.

Friday, March 6, 2020

By the time we crossed the Atlantic, it was early morning In Amsterdam. We did not have much of a layover and boarded a massive Boeing 777 300 for the 12-hour flight to Cape Town. When you arrive at Cape Town International Airport, the passengers are split into locals and foreigners to go through customers and immigration. There were a handful of South Africans, with the majority of us being international passengers. Frankly, with all the bad press South Africa is getting, I am surprised to see any visitors. I read before our departure that tourism is down.  A few days after our arrival back in the US, Moody’s Investors Service cut South Africa’s credit rating below investment grade, delivering the country a full house of junk assessments as it grapples with a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The currency, the Rand, devalued dramatically against the US$, and other global currencies.  South Africa has been in a recession for the past six months.

The Hotel Verdi, which is a stone throw from the airport, listed 11:30 pm and midnight as shuttle pickup times. A taxi driver told us that the 11:30 shuttle had left at 11:20. I called the hotel to complain, and they responded immediately with another shuttle.  I have stayed at this hotel previously and recommend it highly.  Everything from the rooms to the dining facilities is of the best available.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

After a short night’s sleep and a great breakfast, we took the shuttle to the airport to collect our Hertz rental car. Hertz provided us with a Renault Stepwise, a compact small vehicle. We drove to the hotel, loaded our luggage, and I tried to connect my dashcam to one of the two cigarette lighters. Neither worked on this low mileage car, and I was disgusted. The more significant issue was that on two occasions, I tried to close the rear door and ended up cutting myself in two different spots on my face. The rear doors are an above-average height with a sharp edge. From an engineering design point of view, the vehicle is a disaster. Linda bumped her nose on the silly door but did not break her skin.

Hertz exchanged the car for a Volkswagen Polo. I had to change the feed to the dashcam from a cigar lighter to a USB port. So far, it appears that the dashcam did not get the needed electric connection. The Rexing dashcam shows that it is activated when you switch the car on.  When I looked at the camera display, after several day’s driving, it was blank.  I discovered that the SanDisk micro SD card was my problem in that it will not permit multiple over-recordings with the overwrite feature.  I replaced the SIM card with a Kingston product.  The biggest disappointment for me is that I was not able to save videos of drives we went on to add to YouTube and my blog.

On leaving the airport, we drove to nearby friend’s home to borrow a Taser for our short duration in the Cape. Wally drove me to a nearby shopping center for me to draw rands from the ATM. At a minimum, I needed cash for the tolls on the way to my sister in Montagu. After tea and cookies, we made our way to my other sister, living in the northern suburbs of Cape Town. Linda had never seen their home, and I had not seen the renovations. After another round of tea and snacks, we followed through driving three hours to my sister and brother-in-law’s farm in Montagu. That night we stayed in Cottage 3 on the farm.  Please appreciate that driving in South Africa required me to drive on the left-hand side of the road with a stick shift rental car.

I am the proud owner of three pairs of eyeglasses; one for general use, one for computer use, and sunglasses.  When we arrived in Montagu, unpacked, and set everything in its place, I realized that my “regular” eyeglasses were missing.  A quick call to Hertz verified that I had left it in Renault’s glove compartment/cubbyhole and that they would keep it in a secure place until we retrieved it on our return to Cape Town on Tuesday.

A dozen of us met for a tapas dinner at the BluVines restaurant, including Simon, and wife Yvette (more about them later), Jonathan and Sharon (additional detail to follow), Linda and me. I wrote about Richard Weilers and his restaurant in a blog, and with the delicious food and waiters who entertain with singing.  You may imagine what a wonderful evening we had.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Eating is essential, so we started the day at Sergio and Cay Fernandes’ Rambling Rose restaurant. Sergio always does an excellent job of making all his patrons feel like royalty, but we are regulars, so we got an even better treatment. Cay’s kitchen skills are unparalleled.  Having Linda and me back in Montagu added to the excitement.  You can read about The Rambling Rose Restaurant in my blog about Montagu. 

Linda, my sister Gail, and I headed off to Gecko Private Reserve in the Little Karoo, owned by Jonathan and Sharon Deal. Driving time is 45 minutes to an hour from Montagu, depending on speed traveled. Gail was driving a 4X4 vehicle. I have been to Gecko Rock on several occasions, and knowing the corrugated gravel roads; I would never drive a regular car there. Gecko is 4,000 hectares in size.  (10,000 acres, or 15 square miles). New Berlin, Wisconsin, is 37 square miles (95 square kilometers). New Berlin has a population of 40,000. Imagine half of the New Berlin population living on Gecko Rock.

With a few bungalows or cottages on the premises, Gecko can accommodate 50 people.  You should be able to imagine how each unit is positioned so as not to see another soul. The concept is to fully enjoy the mountains, flowers, some wild animals, and nature in general.  In the cabin we stayed in, it is self-contained with a lounge, kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom.  The quiet is so peaceful and almost deafening in its silence.  I asked Sharon where the water for the cottage is supplied?  It is piped and pumped from the main house, and this is how each cabin gets its water supply.  Please understand this is not a straight line.  It is a mountainous environment.  They live entirely off the grid.  Electricity is supplied from solar panels on the cottage roof, with a battery pack in the kitchen.  The bedroom has large panoramic windows so that you can lie in bed and enjoy the view of the mountains.  Imagine a life without internet access.

Jonathan provides handgun training for certification to own a firearm, a South African legal requirement. Gecko offers hiking, off-road riding, and facilities for conferences for up to 70 people, including a camping site where you can erect your tents.  Meetings focus on self-improvement.  The attendees are required to provide meals.

Sharon provided a late lunch before heading to our cabin, so we did not have to fuss with food. The friendship with Jonathan and Sharon was enjoyable, and we even played a trick on Gail’s husband when he joined us later in the day.  As he arrived at Sharon’s home, we pretended to all be drunk.  It is what friendship is all about.

Jonathan wrote a book entitled Timeless Karoo.  I was so impressed that I wrote a blog about the book. 

Monday, March 9, 2020

Sharon met us early morning at our cabin for 3.5 miles (6 kilometers) walk on the estate, including heading back to their home.  After another meal, Gail drove us to the cabin to collect our belongings, and we headed back to Montagu.

Today’s game plan was to enjoy the Montagu Country Hotel, the only Art Deco hotel in South Africa, and furnished with original period furniture.  The original hotel was built in 1875.  The Art Deco hotel was erected behind the original structure in 1922.  The old structure was demolished, and the hotel renamed in 1941.  Gert Lubbe purchased the hotel out of bankruptcy in 1966.  Gert passed away a few months ago.  See a separate blog discussing this hotel.

Before heading to the hotel, we spent time watching Simon train horses on Gail and her husband’s farm.  When Linda was growing up, she spent her 6-years during her schooling, riding horses daily.  During that time, she was the proud owner of four horses, one at a time.  One horse was bought from the renowned golfer, Gary Player.  Linda and two close friends would go to the stables after school, groom, feed, and ride their horses.  All of Linda’s horses were older and unlikely to be too energetic for young girls.  However, how do you go about training a horse to be able to be ridden for any age group?  Gail and her husband have numerous Arabian horses on their farm.  Simon contracted to teach their son and the team of six-horse handlers how to break in a young horse without using any violent methods.  I will not get into more detail now, but there is much information I could share.  I will likely produce a blog about this exciting learning experience.  Simon and his wife Yvette have a horse training business in Johannesburg and spent time with the “horse whisper” guru, Monty Roberts, on several occasions in Salinas, California.

The connection to the Montagu Country Hotel is interesting to understand.  Colene Basson is a charted accountant.  Colene previously worked with Gail and her husband as their accountant.  P-J Basson is the CEO of the hotel.  Colene joined P-J in his business, helping to run the hotel.  After I wrote the blog about Montagu, Gail asked me to write a blog about the Montagu Country Hotel.  I said that it would not be ethical if I had not stayed there, so I made a reservation from the US before going on this trip.  P-J got to hear about our visit and gave us a complimentary upgrade.  I requested P-J to allow me to interview William, the pianist who played beautifully during our dinner.  You name it, and he played it, including music from Les Misérables, West Side Story, and other well-known favorites.  I was so intrigued by the extensive repertoire that I went to chat with him.  I wanted to see what sheet music he was using.  William told me that he couldn’t read sheet music.  He hears a tune and can play it almost instantly—what a talent.  I want to interview him to learn more about his background and skill.

We enjoyed an excellent sleep in this stylish hotel after dinner in an elegant lounge.  In truth, we did not need to eat again.  The hotel had secure parking for our rental car alongside the hotel. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Yes, we are at it again, with another meal, this time breakfast.  Gail had organized a tea so that Linda and I could meet people we had contact with while writing my Montagu blogs.  Richard Weilers from BluVines Restaurant joined us along with other dignitaries.  I had not met Helen Gooderson, the CEO of the RAD Foundation. Helen explained they take at-risk kids off the street and mentor them with music and arts.  She shared a story about one youngster who had never been out of the Montagu community.  She arranged for this kid to spend time in Boston, Massachusetts.  Helen explained to this boy what he would experience during this travels and venture.  He could not understand the concept of flying.  He arrived at the airport in Cape Town with his grandmother.  He was concerned when they took his suitcase and saw it disappear on a conveyor belt.  He wanted to know what if on the two 11-hour flights he needed to use the bathroom.  Helen explained the process, and he wanted to know, looking up, where the excrement goes after he flushed.  Since I have crossed the Atlantic at least 100 times, I cannot relate! (Helen subsequently moved to Alford, UK).

After saying goodbye to Gail, we detoured to Hertz in Cape Town to retrieve my glasses.  It is a process that should have taken two minutes.  30-minutes later, we left, eyeglasses in hand.  The agent had to look in many locked cupboards.  With not being able to locate them, he sent a broadcast text to all off duty personnel to request information as to where it was stored.  The process did not provide the information requested.  In desperation, the agent emptied the locker that he first looked in, and after unpacking everything, he found them in the back underneath all the other lost items that were stored there.  Sadly, this did not create an excellent impression of their efficiency.

Linda was anxious to get to her sister and renew her acquaintance with her sister’s daughter and grandson, Alex.  We arrived at her house at lunchtime. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Linda was up very early to take her sister to the hospital.  They left at 5:45 am.  The procedure was a success.  I took 17-month old Alex for a 30-minute walk to give her mother, who was working from home, time to make business calls.

One challenge faced by residents of South Africa is the unreliability of electricity.  The power utility company, ESKOM, cuts power, known as load shedding, done in stages.  Today was a day when the power got cut twice, each for two and a half hour periods—one in the late afternoon, the other during the midnight hours.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

With Linda’s sister in hospital, recovering from her knee replacement surgery, Linda spent the entire day at the hospital.  I spent some time playing with 17-month-old Alex.  As part of my caring for him, I took him for a long walk: me walking, Alex in his pushchair. 

A great curse in sunny South Africa is a corrupt and incompetent government.  Electricity production and distribution are through the bankrupt Eskom, the electrical power utility.  Due to a lack of maintenance, they need to shut the power.  It is complicated; they have various stages; each stage has additional shutdowns in 2.5-hour increments.  Stage 1 and 2 have one shut down for the southern suburb of Tokai in Cape Town, where Linda’s sister lives.  Each suburb or region throughout the country is on a different schedule!  Where my sister lives in Montagu, stage one has no shutdown, and stage 2 a single shut down.  Stages go all the way to Stage 8, in Montagu power is cut three times in the day, and the same for Tokai.  How does anyone keep track?  I have an app EskomSePush on my iPhone that tells you by day and location the status of load shedding, as it is named.  The only silver lining is that we do not live in Zimbabwe where electricity is cut for 16-hours a day.  It only comes on in the very early morning when families need to rise and cook for the day if groceries are available in the shops.

While at Linda’s sister’s house, we do not watch TV.  The only entertainment is to read the news on our iPads if there is available electricity, and therefore Wi-Fi.  One other issue is that when power is cut, it is critically important to unplug all electronic devices.  If left plugged in, when the power comes back on, there is a power surge that burns out electronic device printed circuit boards.  Then too, we read lots of books.

Friday, March 13, 2020

The highlight of the day was my opportunity to attend a dinner with Rondebosch Old Boys.  Several hundred attend this event with 12 from our 1963 graduating year.  It is held at an exclusive Kelvin Grove club in Newlands, a southern suburb of Cape Town, close to where we attended junior and high school.  The fee of R475 ($30) covers the 3-course meal and drinks, wine and beer only.  If you want hard liquor, you pay for it separately.  As a side note, for many years, Rondebosch would not hold the event at this club because, in the early days, Jewish people were not allowed to join this club, or attend functions at this club!  That bigoted policy got rescinded many years ago.

Growing up in racist South Africa with its apartheid policies creates interesting but sad stories.  The newly appointed principal of Rondebosch Preparatory School is a non-white gentleman.  Ian Ryan told of being raised at previously disadvantaged schools, and the struggle to get a good education.  He did say that the most challenging position as a principal that he held was at the previous girl’s junior school.  He said that if you thought teaching boys was a challenge, try teaching girls who tend to be more intense about their studies.

It was the 111th anniversary of our Old Boys’ Union.  Dinner comprised a salad, braised lamb shank for the main course, and Crème Brulee for dessert.  When I returned home, I told Linda that I did not think the lamb was particularly tasty.  She reminded me that I made the same comment after last year’s dinner.  I guess catering for a few hundred patrons is not easy.

Returning to my sister-in-law’s house was challenging.  I only arrived at 11:00 pm.  Linda had stayed up to help me with the garage doors, and to then set all the complicated security alarms.  It is no exaggeration when I say that it is like living in prison, where everyone is extremely fearful of criminals entering your home.  After I parked my low mileage rental car, we went to sleep.  The next morning the domestic informed me that I had left the car lights on overnight.  I had visions of a dead battery, but I dodged a bullet.  The car started and started repeatedly.  After a three-hour drive to Montagu, the battery problem was a distant memory.

The other big news of the day is that Linda brought her sister home from the hospital. 

Saturday, March 14, 2020, and Sunday, March 15, 2020

Nothing much exciting to report—with one exception.  While at the Rondebosch function, a school friend told me that a millionaire was living close to the home where I originally grew up.  Linda and I drove to the neighborhood on Sunday to see what my youthful home looks like 65 years later.  I must stress that we grew up dirt poor, the house we had back then was tiny, a semi-detached house, not something to be proud of, especially while attending a prestigious boys school.  It was a rental that my parents moved to at the time I was born.  The change in the neighborhood was alarming.  Every house now looked like a fortress.  Where we initially lived, there was a large sports field across the road, and that location currently consists of multiple homes, all fortified as protection from criminals.  South Africans live with a siege mentality.  I chatted with one neighbor who told me that there is one elderly lady who has lived in the area all her life.  I could not recall her from my early days.  We drove around the corner to the home my parents built-in 1961.  That home has also been fortified by the current owners so that nothing is visible from the street.  As Linda reminded me, the large outer wall is the one my parents had erected.  The entry gate is remote-controlled, and also massively high and new since we lived there.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Today I woke up and carefully packed the small rental car, a Volkswagen Polo, about the size of a Golf.  I needed to detour to my sister Monica and her husband, staying with their son in the northern suburbs of Cape Town.  I had to find space for Monica’s sizeable cool box, three suitcases, and what looked like a 6-months supply of groceries in plastic bags.  Somehow we found space in the small car and set off for Montagu.  Driving in the late morning had its advantages, as there were relatively few large trucks and other traffic on the road.

When you drive through the Huguenot tunnel on the road to the north you pay a toll.  A few months ago, it was R38.25, and now it had been increased to R41.50.  Most people pay cash, while credit cards are accepted, but why don’t they charge a nice round number like R40 or R45.  Why mess with coins?  Several motorists drop the coins on the ground when handed back from the toll operator, and then hop out their car to retrieve the small change.  It causes chaos with irritated motorists also trying to get through the tolls.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

I filled the VW Polo today with petrol/gas at the cost of US$50.  Outrageously expensive for a small car.  My sister Gail fetched, our sister Monica and her husband, and then picked me up from the farm, as we headed to a restaurant midway between Montagu and Barrydale along Route 62.  This restaurant is literally in the middle of nowhere on a farm where they produce wine.  Leon, who runs the restaurant, told me the business has been slow since the municipality made him remove all the road signs advertising his place.  We met a British gentleman who is spending a month in Montagu on vacation.  I am guessing he must be in his late 50s.  He started cycling at 5:00 am from Ladismith along Route 62 to Montagu, a distance of 63 kilometers or 40 miles.  Leon, the restaurant owner, told me that a couple stopped at his restaurant while cycling from Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, to South Africa, a distance of 5,240 kilometers or 3,256 miles.  (New York to LA is 2,800 miles).

Wednesday, March 18, 2020, through Wednesday, March 25, 2020

It may not be apparent in what I have written about so far, but for all intents and purposes, Linda and I were in quarantine due to the COVID-19 virus.  After my school function on Friday 13th, we began a process of isolation.  Linda in her sister’s home, and me in the cottage on my sister’s farm.  We made significant efforts to stay away from people, and in both cases, only interacted with our immediate families.  We clearly understood that being back home, we would need to begin a fourteen-day isolation process all over again.

Before setting off on this vacation, we had several family and friends that we wanted to meet, and in some situations, stay over and visit for a day or two.  None of that happened.  After I wrote my blog about Montagu, I discovered additional sites that I should visit and expand the blog.  That, too, did not occur.  The sad reality is that after our long trip on three aircraft and four large airports teaming with people, we had no assurance that we had not contracted the virus or were carriers that could affect other people.  The responsible action was to practice social distancing.  I am fortunate that I have visited South Africa on numerous occasions, and escaping the cold of Wisconsin for the warmth and sunshine of South Africa, could have been an even more enjoyable experience.

COVID-19

Arriving back home after three weeks in South Africa was a shock to be in a different world in terms of the reality of the Coronavirus, COVID-19. We received email, text, and telephone discussions from local families, friends, and neighbors about the prevailing practice. In one situation, we even had a face-to-face conversation with a friend, three meters/ten feet apart. 

Locally in Wisconsin, people still shop.  Let me use grocery stores as an example.  Seniors typically buy early morning, return home, shower, and launder all the clothing worn to the store.  Some purchase groceries and have goods delivered to your door.  If it is more urgent, people will order and pick up at the supermarkets with purchases brought to your vehicle.  In all cases, the bags or boxes are left at the entrance door on returning home, groceries are removed and sterilized, and packaging trashed.  Naturally, the next step is washing and disinfecting your hands, finally packing the groceries away.  

To put it mildly, when we arrived at the Milwaukee airport, it was like a ghost town.  There was virtually no one there; all the shops were closed.  Our state governor, Tony Evers, has declared all non-essential workers to stay home.  On the drive from the airport to our condo, I could not believe how light the traffic was.  One nearby church had 80 attend a service, afterward, ten tested positive for COVID-19, and 43 are sick.

It is very important for Donald J. Trump that America is the biggest and the best.  We are.  We have more COVID-19 cases than any other country in the world.

In our condo complex, we have a community room and a fitness room.  Both are locked until the virus passes.  

Our strategy to stem the virus was to launder everything that we journeyed with, including all clean clothing.  All suitcases got wiped down and sterilized.  We even washed our shoes. Our children stocked our home with food that should see us through for the next four weeks at a minimum. 

Social distancing is a reality.  People are staying at home and avoiding contact with others.  If you go for a walk and someone is on the pavement on your side of the road, you cross the street so as not to make close contact.  When we went through the security at the airport in Newark, they had an officer continually crying out, “stay at least six feet apart.”  

Our son, Sean, and his wife Erica drove in two cars to the airport.  Sean tossed my car keys to Linda, waved from a distance, and headed home.  If you have not yet got the message, we are taking this pandemic seriously.

The bottom line, if you meet someone today, who has met someone else in the last few days, you may have got yourself infected with a virus that can live for three weeks.  

We had a few unusual financial situations after we returned home.  We needed to cancel our Delta return ticket.  They did not offer us a refund, but we could use a credit on a future flight.  Hertz charged us an additional amount of $48, even if we returned the rental 18 days early.  I queried the charge, and they did not respond but did issue a credit of $47.  The difference was due to the fluctuation and devaluing of the South African Rand.  If you go to the grocery store and purchase several items, and charge it to your credit card, you do not expect to see an itemized list on your card for bread, milk, apples, tomatoes, etc.  United Airlines listed 12 separate charges, including South Africa Passenger Security Charge $1.30, South Africa Passenger Safety Charge $1.50, US APHIS User Fee $3.96, US Passenger Facility Charge $4.50, September 11th Security Fee $5.60, etc.  I guess if you wish to dispute any of these charges through your credit card company, this may be helpful.  I have never seen this detail on my Delta Airline bill.

As I reflect on our trip, my only disappointment was in not visiting family and friends that I wanted to meet.  Then too, I am sorry that we could not have additional sightseeing opportunities that we planned before our trip.  However, the seriousness of the COVID-19 virus cannot be underestimated, and being responsible and practice social distancing was and is the sensible option.

Stay safe, one and all.

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Movie Experience

A Uniquely Different Movie Experience. How did it come about that I watched an exceptional movie twice on the same day? A first in a life time experience. On Wednesday,…

A Uniquely Different Movie Experience.

How did it come about that I watched an exceptional movie twice on the same day? A first in a life time experience.

On Wednesday, January 30, 2018 was my mother-in-law’s 91st birthday.  I completed my daily tasks by lunchtime.  What was I going to achieve in the afternoon?  Going for a walk outside was out of the question with subzero temperatures.  Watching TV was plain boring with the selection of soap operas available.  Driving around was a waste of fuel, and quite mindless.  Occasionally I might visit the local mall to walk for exercise and to pass the time.  In reality this is an excuse to see people, and take me away from my solitary confinement of working alone at home.

We have an account with Amazon that entitles us to stream movies to our TV or iPad.  Most movies are included with our account.  Additional movies are available for a nominal fee.  Linda and I have very different tastes in movies.  I am a sucker for romantic movies, a genre that is not at the top of Linda’s viewing list.  Linda normally selects the movies we watch.  Using my iPad, which has far better search capabilities than available on the TV, I found a movie at Amazon running for 1 hour 44 minutes that I thought might be ideal.  I watched it with a broad smile of satisfaction in the afternoon, at home, on our television set.  Just what the doctor ordered on a cold afternoon sitting next to the fireplace.

Linda leaves for work at 7:00 am and normally arrives home after 5:00 pm.  On this day Linda was late because Robyn was stuck at a meeting at work and Linda had to collect the twins from school and take them to Robyn’s home awaiting Robyn or Darin’s return.  Linda arrived home prior to 7:00 pm.

Our regular ritual is to eat dinner followed by watching recorded TV shows including the news, and Ellen.  This allows us to skip through the advertisements.  On this occasion I pleaded my case with Linda to please watch this movie assuring her that there are no bare bosoms, no simulated or actual sex, and no vulgar language.  Linda agreed with my persuasion, and we kicked off the movie.

A couple of moments into the movie I heard Linda groan one of those groans saying in not so many words; “what I have got myself into?”  On the other hand I was smiling like a Cheshire cat fully enjoying watching it all over again.  You really get so much more perspective with a second viewing.  The movie was in Afrikaans and Linda was not too sure that she would accurately follow the storyline.  What surprised Linda is that this movie was not listed as a foreign film on Amazon.  One comment from a viewer at Amazon said she thought this was a Scandinavian movie until she got to the end and saw that it was Afrikaans.  She did complain that the subtitles were in yellow and very difficult to read.  We watch without subtitles.

“Forever”, released in South Africa as “Vir Altyd,” “Childhood friends, Nina and Hugo chose different paths in life.  Years later, Hugo returns to his hometown unbeknownst to him, the day before Nina’s wedding.  Events on the wedding day throw them back together and they embark on a new adventure.”

In reality this movie revolves around the lives of 5 couples of differing ages.  It highlights situations and circumstances of marriage.  I do not plan to be a movie spoiler.  Trust me that this is a feel good, happy ending story.  The scenery in Cape Town (Paarl) and Mauritius is a very big plus.

I have not had the extreme pleasure to see the very attractive leading lady Donnalee Roberts, in any other movies yet, and for women, I guess lead actor Ivan Botha is a handsome guy.  They wrote and co-produced the movie, as well as “Pat Na You Hart (Road to Your Heart).” Read details here.  This is a worthwhile read if you are interested in love and marriage.

Researching is exciting.  Here is what I just learned, Road to Your Heart, a 2014 movie with these two actors is also available at Amazon.  Might this be tonight’s viewing?

Being a consummate romantic, I was curious to see if Donnalee Roberts and Ivan Botha were married in real life.  I did learn that Donnalee married Gerber in 2010, and divorced him in 2013 as a result of his infidelity.  Donnalee and Ivan got engaged in May 2017.

Bottom line: what a fun movie day.  What a unique experience of seeing the same movie twice in one day.  I thought that my mom was crazy to see The Quiet Man 7 times.  Mom loves the Irish.

January 31, 2018

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Homeless

I had an interesting encounter yesterday.  The sequel was unpredictable. We live in a condominium complex consisting of three buildings.  Ours is the largest, an L-shaped three story with 52…

I had an interesting encounter yesterday.  The sequel was unpredictable.

We live in a condominium complex consisting of three buildings.  Ours is the largest, an L-shaped three story with 52 units, named Cornerstone at New Berlin’s Residences at City Center.  The heated parking garage is below our building.  We bought our unit ten years ago.  We were of the first owners to move into our building.  I have a home office in the second bedroom adjoining the main bedroom.  I spend time in my office when not working on site at clients.  The workload has been quite quiet during the last few months as I move into my retirement phase.  Consequently I am spending more time than usual in my office.  My daily ritual includes tea at 10:00 am, collecting mail at the mailboxes in our lobby at 11:00 am.  I almost never see other owners walking the corridors.  This place is like a morgue, very quiet.  I am up at 5:30 am and have breakfast after 6:00 am.  I watch the local TV news at noon at which time I eat lunch.  Dinner time is around 6:00 pm with Linda.  I appreciate the routine.

In the spring, summer, and autumn months I go for daily walks.  I have a regular 40 minute route.  Very occasionally for a variation I walk a different path that takes an hour.  Yesterday with the global warming causing extreme weather conditions, we had regular temperatures of 12 below zero, and wind chills 30 below.  I am indifferent if your metric is Fahrenheit or Celsius.  Just understand it was bitterly cold.  Our condo heating unit never seemed to stop running.

Linda leaves for the office at 7:00 am, and returns home at 5:30 pm.  At around 1:30 pm yesterday I started to experience cabin fever.  This occurs when you feel claustrophobia is setting in and you urgently need to get out to see people.  I packed up my reading material and drove the 10 minutes to Brookfield Square Mall.  I park at the back close to the one of the many entrances.  This entry is at the food court, laid out in a large circular arrangement with about 15 food vendors.  Your hunger can be satiated with any of steaks, stir fries, sandwiches, Italian, Chinese, or Mexican cuisine, and salads to name a few.

The food court features about a hundred tables, each with its allocation of chairs.  I sat at a table where I could observe passing foot traffic.  Piped music provides entertainment.  With the bitter cold on this Wednesday afternoon, the mall was not busy.  I ordered a chocolate drink and small tasty cinnamon bun.  Two years ago I had a large kidney stone.  Now removed, I require regular restroom visits.  An hour later I had to take action.

As I approached the men’s room, I noticed a white man ahead of me heading in that direction as well.  I guess he was in his 60s.  He was shuffling his feet.  I slowed my walk so as to not run ahead of him.  I noticed that his shoes where several sizes too big for him.  Had he walked normally he would have fallen out of his shoes.  On closer inspection I saw that his trousers were far too large.  He did not have a belt, and was hanging on to his pants for dear life so that they would not fall down.  His coat was tattered and worn.  After we completed our call of nature, we returned to the food court.  By this time I saw that he had a very full scraggly beard, and an abundance of wild hair, all snow white.  Neither had been cut in several years.  I realized he was a homeless man.

I watched as this man approached the tables where people were eating.  It was apparent that he was begging for money.  The response was the same.  A violent shaking of the head, and I could see each patron mouthing the word “no”.  He circled the court until he approached me.  I asked him what he needed.  He requested money to get a bus ride back to Milwaukee, a 20 minute drive in light traffic, and cash for food.  While we were in the men’s room I noticed another gentleman with a uniform and insignia telling us that he was a bus driver.  In talking to the homeless man, it occurred to me that he may be mentally challenged.  His speech was slow and slurred, but certainly not drunk.  He had not seen a dentist in many years.  I do not normally carry much money.  My wallet contained $53.  I took the two 20’s and one 10, folded it so that the homeless man could not see what I handed him.  He ambled off slowly.  When he thought he was out of my eyesight, he looked at the cash, and headed off to buy food.  I was curious to see if he would return to thank me, but that did not happen.

At 4:15 pm I decided to head home to miss most of the afternoon traffic.  Our bank is a very short walk from our condo, and here I got another surprise.  I went to the drive through ATM.  I discovered that they had new software installed for 2018.  In prior years when I requested cash, it offered to key in any amount, or a quick draw for $20, $40, $50, $70, or $100.  This year it offered $50, $100, $150, $250, and $300.  Last year it issued cash in ten and twenty denominations.  This time in fifty’s.  I took my $100 and went home to face the music.

I waited for Linda to get home, pour some wine, and look relaxed, prior to recounting my experience of the day.  I knew that I would face a barrage of criticism for wasting our hard earned money.  Linda responded: Why did you not take this homeless man to a store, buy him shoes, trousers that fit, and while I was at it, a warm coat?  I never seem to do the right thing.

January 18, 2018

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Road Construction

We all understand that Governor Scott Walker of the State of Wisconsin is running for reelection in 2018.  We also understand that to get re-elected he needs to follow the…

We all understand that Governor Scott Walker of the State of Wisconsin is running for reelection in 2018.  We also understand that to get re-elected he needs to follow the Republican playbook of cutting taxes for the very wealthiest mega donors and large corporations.  We also understand that to pay for those incentives to the very wealthy he needs to slash social programs and cut expenditures for infrastructure programs.

It just boggles my mind that a country like South Africa that is suffering from an economic downturn, with excessive government corruption stealing from the country’s revenue coffers, and experiencing high inflation, can find the funds to attend to necessary improvements to roads, bridges, and rail.  Maybe Scott should visit South Africa to learn what could and should be done to fix our State.  This example for two small towns and national road links from Ashton to Montagu in the Western Cape, South Africa.

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Jacques Pauw

Jacques Pauw, South Africa’s most celebrated investigative author.  The President’s Keepers: Those Keeping Zuma in power and out of prison.  Jacques’ book released Friday, November 3, 2017, and sold out…

Jacques Pauw, South Africa’s most celebrated investigative author.  The President’s Keepers: Those Keeping Zuma in power and out of prison.  Jacques’ book released Friday, November 3, 2017, and sold out the first print run of 20,000 copies in hours.  The African National Congress (ANC), the ruling government party in South Africa are fighting to have the book banned.  Additional copies are being printed, and bootleg copies are available in PDF format on the internet.  Needless to say, Jacques has had death threats made on his life as he features in numerous TV, radio, and print media interviews.  The ANC is a cANCer to the South African economy.  The book sets out the degree of corruption taking place in the country while destroying the economy to the detriment of the poor masses who blindly and ignorantly supports the corrupt government.

Linda, Wally, and Vicky Emslie and I were fortunate to meet Jacques Pauw briefly at his restaurant the Red Tin Roof in Riebeeck Kasteel in the Western Cape, South Africa on Saturday, November 11, 2017.  Jacques only had a few moments to talk to us as he was on his way to meet his wife Sam Rodgers at the airport.

Investigative journalist Jacques Pauw exposes the darkest secret at the heart of Jacob Zuma’s compromised government: a cancerous cabal that eliminates the president’s enemies and purges the law-enforcement agencies of good men and women. As Zuma fights for his political life following the 2017 Gupta emails leak, this cabal – the president’s keepers – ensures that after years of ruinous rule, he remains in power and out of prison. But is Zuma the puppet master, or their puppet? Journey with Pauw as he explores the shadow mafia state. From KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape to the corridors of power in Pretoria and Johannesburg – and even to clandestine meetings in Russia. It’s a trail of lies and spies, cronies, cash and kingmakers as Pauw prises open the web of deceit that surrounds the fourth president of the democratic era.

Jacques Pauw is a South African investigative journalist who was an executive producer of the Special Assignment current affairs programme on SABC. Pauw was a founder member and assistant editor of the anti-apartheid Afrikaans newspaper Vrye Weekblad. He began his television career in 1994, specializing in documentaries around the African continent.

Throughout his journalistic career, Pauw has investigated lethal criminal activities in the underworld of southern Africa and exposed atrocities committed by governments around the African continent. Affairs covered by Pauw’s documentaries include the Rwandan Genocide, the War in Darfur, and the police death squads in South Africa under apartheid.

The book details the creation and functioning of a “shadow mafia state” created by and surrounding President Zuma. It makes a number of serious allegations concerning the South African president such as that he did not pay taxes during his presidency, that he was illegally paid R1 million (US$70,000) a month by a private company whilst president, that he failed to pay back loans and that he has poor financial acumen.

The book also makes a number of accusations concerning associates of the president, such as: that the Gupta family groomed the children of African National Congress (ANC) politicians to gain political influence; that Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s 2017 campaign for ANC president is funded by a cigarette company engaged in corruption; and that a significant proportion of people appointed to power by the Zuma administration have been convicted, or have allegations against them, of engaging in criminal activity. It also contains details of the state capture of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and the wasteful creation of a one billion rand (around US$ 70,000,000) spy agency within the State Security Agency that engaged in widespread corruption.

Within four days of the book’s publication, it was cited in Parliamentary questions directed at the president by the opposition Democratic Alliance. On the 3 November 2017, the State Security Agency issued a cease and desist order to prevent more books being sold, arguing that the book contravened the Intelligence Service Act. SARS also stated that they would investigate initiating criminal charges against the author for publicizing confidential tax records. The actions by the State Security Agency and SARS were criticized as censorship by the civil society organizations the Right2Know Campaign and Corruption Watch as well as by the South African Communist Party. Book stores and publishers refused to obey the cease and desist order arguing that the book was factual and its information was in the public interest.

The threat of censorship caused a spike in sales of the book causing it to sell out of its first print run of 20,000 books within 24 hours of State Security Agency’s cease and desist order as readers sought to get a copy before it possibly being banned, making the book an international bestseller. The resulting shortage of books combined with the public fear of censorship resulted in a digitally pirated version of the book being widely shared in the few days following the cease and desist order. Launch of the book on the evening of Wednesday 8 November 2017 was canceled after a power outage. During the launch, Pauw told attendees that he expected to spend years fighting legal battles.

Following its publication, the author, Jacques Pauw, stated that he had received death threats from anonymous sources.

It was during a wet and wintery morning in Riebeek Kasteel that two middle-aged journalists decided to forego their steady incomes, a Cape Town flat on the ocean and an 1837 country house in the charming village of Riebeek Kasteel to pursue a life-long dream: running their own guest house, restaurant, and bar.

Jacques Pauw and Sam Rogers were amongst the most prominent journalists in South Africa. They have between them won the CNN African Journalist of the Year award four times. Sam has worked for some of the most prolific television networks in places such as Hong Kong and Japan and was the head of E-TV’s crime and investigations documentary unit when she resigned.

Jacques has been a journalist for 30 years and has, amongst others, exposed police death squad commander Eugene de Kock and crisscrossed the African continent in search of child soldiers and warlords. He has received some of the most coveted journalism awards in the world and is the author of five books.

Have these ventures equipped them in any way for the hospitality industry? Not nearly enough, they admit. That’s why Sam scampered off to UCT to do a diploma in the hospitality industry and Jacques lured chef Sonia Cabano to Riebeek Kasteel to help him to set up the kitchen. They have employed some of the best local talents to help them launch Red Tin Roof. For both, this is the ultimate challenge; the greatest adventure of them all.

Jacques home was raided by the Hawks in February 2018, a move seen to attempt to intimidate Jacques.  The Hawks are South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), which targets organized crime, economic crime, corruption, and other serious crime referred to it by the President or the South African Police Service (SAPS).

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