5 Things you need to know about BAT South Africa’s operations

British American Tobacco (BAT) has been receiving media scrutiny about a scandal linking the company to espionage since early 2014. Here is what you need to know:

  1. Recordings and docubritish_american_tobacco_logo2_376953707ments indicating that BAT may be committing “industrial espionage” by paying agents to spy on the inside workings of rival companies, was obtained and surfaced by Business Day in March 2014.
  2. Project Smoke, apparently established by officials from the State Security Agency, was set up to reveal whether BAT’s dealings have been shady. However, it appears as if the Forensic Security Services have been helping with BAT’s espionage that they were contracted by the tobacco company. Invoices obtained by Business Day proved BAT was billed R1.38m in December 2012 for surveillance/ spy equipment.

    British American Tobacco South Africa are the manufacturers of Marlboro cigarettes.
  3. Ewan Dunca, head of BAT’s international anti-illicit tobacco programme was linked to a South African Revenue Service (SARS) probe into payments made to the spies or informants. It was described as “al-Qaeda styled” payments by a government official.
  4. Kyle Phillips, director of tobacco producer, Carnilinx, claimed that an angry Belinda Walter (SARS spy investigator) divulged information to representatives of Carnilinx that she and her then boyfriend and SARS spy, Johannes Hendrikus van Loggerenberg were informers for the State Security Agency and BAT UK. The day after she retracted all allegations.

    British American Tobacco is one of the largest companies listed on the JSE
  5. On 7 April 2014 BAT South Africa responded to media reports linking the company to alleged espionage, where Managing Director, Brian Finch, stated that they committed “to using all legal means at their disposal to uncover information about illegal activities” within the industry.


Just crazy talk or something more sinister?

just crazy talk or something more sinister
FROM: Perdeby

Remember Amanda Bynes? That kid who had her own TV show on Nickelodeon and later went on to making popular teen movies such as She’s the Man and Hairspray? Yes, the same actress who recently started a fire in a random elderly woman’s driveway as well as accidentally soaking her dog in gasoline and setting her own pants on fire. 

At first glance, the media depicted the now 27-year-old as just another child star who fell off the wagon. However, after being arrested and placed under involuntary psychiatric care last month, several doctors who have been observing Bynes’s behaviour believe that she could be suffering from schizophrenia.

According to the non-profit resource website Helpguide.org, schizophrenia is “a brain disorder that affects the way a person acts, thinks and sees the world”. People who suffer from schizophrenia have an “altered perception of reality”. The most

 common misconception about schizophrenia is that its victims have “split personalities”. However, this is an entirely different disorder known as dissociative identity disorder. Schizophrenia, on the other hand, is when a person’s mental functions are “split” from reality. The cause of schizophrenia is complex and as of yet not fully understood. A connection between genetics and environmental factors has been found to be the most likely cause of the disorder.

Helpguide.org explains that when it comes to genetics, an individual has a 10% chance of developing schizophrenia if his or her parents have had the condition. In total, 40% of schizophrenics have had family members with the disorder.

According to Schizophrenia.com, genetics only make a person more prone to developing schizophrenia but environmental factors such as stress can trigger the disorder. Another cause that plays a role in the development of the disorder is the abnormality of an individual’s brain structure. Many diagnosed schizophrenics have enlarged brain ventricles where there is very little activity in the frontal lobe (part of the brain responsible for reasoning and decision-making).

Janssen Pharmaceutica Inc. in New Jersey found that schizophrenia is more severe in men than it is in women because men develop schizophrenic behaviour at an earlier age. It is argued that men are more likely to hit their head and cause brain damage during sports at a young age, increasing the risk for schizophrenia. The fact that men have more violent and threatening breakouts than women also adds to the equation. Men are more likely to develop schizophrenia between their teens and their 20s, whereas women are more likely to develop it in their 20s or 30s. The younger a person is when he or she develops the disorder, the worse it is.

Although schizophrenia is a rare condition, it can still be found among students. According to Kobus du Plooy, a clinical psychologist at UP Student Support, there have been cases of schizophrenia at UP, “albeit very few,” he says.

Du Plooy says that it only affects about 1% to 1.5% of the total population. Because it is such a rare condition and because every patient tends to show different kinds of signs and symptoms, it is difficult to diagnose a person as schizophrenic.

Schizophrenia can be a devastating disorder for the victims and also for their friends and family. If the condition is not treated properly or if it is ignored, the effects can include disruptions in relationships, drug and alcohol abuse and a high risk of attempted suicide.

Although schizophrenia is a chronic mental illness, there is still hope of a good balanced life. If schizophrenia is properly diagnosed and effectively treated, those suffering from it may improve and carry on living functional lives, according to Du Plooy, whereas the wrong diagnosis and treatment can worsen the condition.

The responsibility to help a person with schizophrenia lies with his or her family and friends. Anyone who has this mental disorder will not even realise that their problems are fueled by an illness. If they are unwilling to seek help from a psychiatrist or psychologist, it is best to inform the police or any other emergency services who can legally detain your loved one for medical analysis. Registered students at UP who suffer from this condition can receive free medical services along with psychotherapy from Student Support.

With the right support and treatment, schizophrenia is a disease that can be kept under control.


 Early warning signs and symptoms of schizophrenia:


• Withdrawal from social life
• Depression
• No concern for personal hygiene
• Irrational statements
• Inability to show true emotions


• Delusions: schizophrenics have a strong belief (despite rational evidence) that reality is fake. They may feel like someone is out to get them and/or to control them or they may believe that they are somebody else.
• Hallucinations: schizophrenics hear voices or sounds that seem real to them (these voices are commonly cruel and vulgar). It tends to be worse when they are alone.
• Disorganised speech: they can start a sentence saying one thing and then trail off to another topic entirely. They often repeat themselves and make up words.
• Disorganised behaviour: their daily activities and functions take a toll for the worse, which makes them unable to take care of themselves. This is because they have no impulse or inhibition.

Published: Perdeby

Mixed reaction to Zulu Bible translation

Local churches have mixed reactions to President Zuma’s donation for a new translation of the Bible.

THE Jacob Zuma Foundation’s R500 000 donation to the Roman Catholic Church to improve the existing translation of the Bible in isiZulu, has received mixed reactions from local churches.

Father Sibusiso Mhlango of St. Patrick Catholic Church said a new translation will help ‘enrich Christianity in the Zulu community since the 1953 version contains considerable isiXhosa references which many Zulu speakers struggle to understand.’


Not so sure that a new translation is necessary was Pastor Nompithielo Sidiela from the Methodist Church in Empangeni.

She believes that the current version is good enough as is has been updated continuously since the first translation.

‘The money could rather have been given to charity or to the Bible Society of South Africa who are more experienced in Bible translations. This way more churches would be involved in the project, not just the Roman Catholic Church’, said Pastor Sidiela.

The Bible Society has been working on their own isiZulu translation of the Bible since 2008 and it is expected to be complete by 2019.

Empangeni Dutch Reformed Church minister Hennie van den Heever said it takes between 12 to 15 years to thoroughly translate the Bible from the biblical languages (Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic).

‘It is an enormous task and even though a translation of the Bible in a South African language is seen as more legitimate if done by the Bible Society as many churches work together, the Roman Catholic Church’s isiZulu translation will still be widely accepted. More translations of the Bible provides a better understanding today of what

happened up to four thousand years ago’, Van den Heever said.

The Bible Society’s Head of Communications, Mims Turley, said the society will have no problem with the Roman Catholic Church undertaking the translation,

‘The more translations, the better the Word of God will spread.’

Published: Zululand Observer 12 January 2015

Bumper festive season in the malls

Despite the gloomy 2014 economic outlook, holidaymakers stuck to their Christmas shopping habits and kept retailers busy.

AFTER crunching the numbers, managers of shopping centres in Zululand are sporting big smiles as festive shoppers showed strong support during the December festive season.

Despite the gloomy 2014 economic outlook, holidaymakers stuck to their Christmas shopping habits and kept retailers busy.

The Boardwalk Inkwazi Shopping Centre’s General Manager, Riana Mathee, confirmed the shopping centre has experienced a considerable amount of growth this December.

‘We were incredibly busy this holiday, especially between 20 and 24 December’, said Mathee.

She said the foot count for 2014 hit the 1.5 million mark, 50 000 more than in 2013.

After opening its doors in May last year, Mtuba Mall experienced its first Christmas run last month.

‘Even though we were prepared for the December rush we were surprised at how busy the mall was. We are very pleased with the turnout,’ said mall Manager Maria Rankin.

The Managing Director of Meerensee Mall, Freddy Schoonhoven, says that even though the mall was full during the holidays, it was quieter than 2013.

‘I presume the main reason for this is that people finalised their Christmas shopping earlier than other years. The only shops that were extremely busy from beginning to end were the supermarkets and liquor stores,’ said Schoonhoven.

The tenants of Sanlam Centre Empangeni indicated a positive growth during the festive season.

‘The number of feet remained just about the same as the previous year, but for most tenants December was much better than 2013,’ said Portfolio Manager, Marina Roets.

With the festive season over, shopping centres are now preparing for the stationery rush as schools open their doors next week.

Published: Zululand Observer 14 January 2015

ZCCI tackles water and power crisis

ZCCI intends to put more pressure on government to implement a plan to address the water and power crises, said chairman, Dave Whittaker.

This was the main topic of discussion at the ZCCI Empangeni division’s meeting on Thursday.

‘The water situation is critical and we are currently working with the different role players to resolve this problem.

‘The municipalities must also come to the party,’ said Chairman Dave Whittaker.

With Ilembe reportedly having less than 10% of their water reserves left and water cuts starting on 1 February, Zululand is definitely in the danger zone.

Frans van der Walt cautioned the ZCCI, saying that even though the government said they are taking the crisis seriously, it doesn’t mean that the problem will be resolved.

‘We must take it upon ourselves to take action and create solutions.’

Concerning the power situation, Whittaker urged businesses to resort to alternative energy sources to keep the Zululand economy afloat.

He said since the municipalities were not yet taking decisive action to calm the power crisis, alternative energy was the next best option.

Vice Chairman Mike Patterson said the lack of water and electricity will slow down development in local communities.’

He said rainfall after March is expected to be slim according to forecasts and that everyone had to be prepared for conditions to get worse.

Published: Zululand Observer, 26 January 2015 

Stress management with the aid of Internet?


Photo by: Hendro van der Merwe

Published: Perdeby


Students are no strangers to stress. We’re used to having to write two tests on one day with an assignment due the next day. This kind of life that consists of deadlines and sleepless nights can allow stress to eat at us and our personal and social lives. But fear not, for our friend the Internet has done it again. Programmers have found a way to connect the Internet with stress management and, therefore, lessening the load.

A study done in April by Cleveland Clinic researchers has found that online platforms called Internet-based stress management (ISM) programs can effectively reduce stress levels for a sustainable period. Dr Rick Nauert, a senior news editor for PsychCentral.com, says that “improving access, enhancing quality and lowering the costs of health care services is a central tenet to health care reform” and that these programs can finally allow the medical field to achieve these goals. Chronic stress has been classified as a major social concern that increases health risks and chronic diseases. Compared to smoking, stress affects your health more negatively when it comes to blood pressure problems, diabetes and obesity.

As reported in Annals of Behavioral Medicine, ISM programs are so effective in stress reduction that it is “comparable to face-to-face stress management”. In this study, researchers used what is known as the Stress Free Now program to evaluate 300 participants (from a chosen company) before, during and after completing an eight-week ISM program. ISM participants received relaxation and meditation exercises including guided imagery via the internet. Participants underwent stress assessments at the beginning and end of the program and received online relaxation practice materials, coping strategies for stressors and daily inspirational topics to help participants continue their meditation and relaxation techniques.

While some participated in the ISM method, others were placed in a controlled group and were also under constant evaluation. In these control groups, the participants received face-to-face stress management programs, which include exercise, massage therapy, acupuncture and diet modifications.

Before the start of the study, all participants’ stress levels were measured using the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), which was on average a staggering 23.05 (normal stress levels for men are 12.1 and for women 13.7). The results of both the control groups demonstrated that each participant’s stress score had decreased by at least 4.04 if they meditated once per week, but those who meditated five times per week decreased their stress score by 6.12.

Another study done by the Department of Psychology at Uppsala University in Sweden used the same method as the Cleveland Clinic, but they also used the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale along with the PSS. Although this study found improvements in both groups, the self-help ISM program’s improvement was greater. Another difference that was picked up by the researchers of this study was that people are not particularly motivated to continue with the ISM programs.

The 300 participants in the Cleveland Clinic study were ordered by their companies to take part in the study, whereas Uppsala University had voluntary participants. Out of 85 Uppsala volunteers, 26% dropped out of the study. Their report concluded that the “differential dropout rates and compliance need to be monitored in future studies”, but still found a positive result that “the Internet can be used to provide stress management techniques and result in stress relief”.

Dr Madeleine Nolte, head of Tuks Student Support told Perdeby that ISM programs are a “good step forward” for stress management. Nolte believes that Tuks will develop its own ISM program in the near future, but the matter requires a lot of funding and collaboration with the IT Department.

The Wellness Institute of Cleveland Clinic assured ISM programs have been updated according to the results of these studies. Both studies reported they had great success with ISM programs, but that other methods should not be ruled out. Nolte agrees that other methods should still be used because “One size doesn’t fit all. All students have different needs and different levels of stress and should be individually assessed.”

Although this program costs less than traditional methods, it is inaccessible to those without access to the Internet.

For Tuks students, psychological consultation is freely available at Student Support. Knowing that there are more options to control and lessen stress may leave us with one less thing to stress about.

Wits journalism bootcamp brain drain

Having my beer (finally) after bootcamp ends
Having my beer (finally) after bootcamp ended

Its boot camp baby! Your ass hurts from sitting, your wrists feel like you are developing autheritus and you realize you actually have a brain… because its thumps and hurts from over use.With my notebook and pen at the ready I walked into the Wits Journalism department expecting that my honours year would start off as easy as my first year did. Nope. Where did I get that stupid idea?

In the last two weeks I have experienced a little taste of what real life is like for journalists and I’m telling you, sleeping is no longer a common occurence. And where I use to be a social drinker, I now crave an ice-cold beer like an alcoholic at the end of EVERY day.

This course is no joke! Although the people in my class seem to share my sense of being hangry and lost now and again, there is still that sense of competition. Who has the best story pitches Monday morning? Who writes the best articles? Who flourishes in assignments? Those are all questions we all want the answer to be ‘ME’.

As dreadful as it is to get up at 06:30 every morning and commute 4km (commute because it takes 50 minutes in traffic) to get to campus parking and I still have to walk 1km to get to class, I wouldn’t change these last two weeks for the best cheesecake ever! The intelligence of my mentors, the quirkyness of my class mates and the shear adventure of witnessing and reporting news keeps me coming back the next morning.