Category Archives: News

Get your free 2018 Kruger Lowveld Visitors’ Guide

Kruger Lowveld Tourism’s 2018 Official Visitors’ Guide to the region, which now features a pull-out map in the front of the guide, is now available!

The guide – an appetiser to the Kruger Lowveld region – not only offers sound travel advice and interesting travel tips, but this year also features an exciting seven-day itinerary including Kaapschehoop and Barberton; Mbombela, White River and Hazyview; the iconic Kruger National Park; Hoedspruit; the Panorama Route and Blyde River Canyon; Graskop, Pilgrim’s Rest and Sabie; and Lydenburg and Dullstroom.

“The itinerary provides visitors to the region with tips on various things to do and see in these areas, whilst our 10 scenic routes section showcases the absolute beauty and grandeur of the Kruger Lowveld,” says Lisa Sheard, KLT’s Executive Director and Marketing Consultant.

This year’s guide book also shares exciting information about the top adventure activities in the area, including the recently launched Graskop Gorge Viewing Lift; Skyway Trails; the Long Tom Toboggan; Avian Adventures Flying Club; and Gap Tours and Transfers.

And, of course, there’s everyone’s favourite section – 10 Little Gems – which showcases yet another ten tourism products that are unusual and exciting from the Mariepskop Hiking Trail and the CMDA Celebration of Music, to the Madilika Craft Centre, the Country Farm Stall and Orchid Nursery and the Kruger National Park’s Tshokwane Trading Post and Picnic Site.

“This year we have also included five extraordinary things to do in the Kruger Lowveld, from an exciting artists’ route and extraordinary places to sleep in the Kruger National Park to rock climbing in Waterval Boven,” says Sheard.

The back of the guide serves as a directory of many of the preferred products and services that you can book in the Kruger Lowveld region, from accommodation and restaurants, to various tours and adventures.

The 2018 Official Visitors’ Guide is available at Kruger Lowveld Tourism head office and information offices around the region. Come and get yours now! For more information, visit krugerlowveld.com or contact 013 755 1988.

Book the date for the Sappi Mankele MTB challenge

It’s time for riders to get out their bikes and start preparing for Mpumalanga’s not-to-be-missed annual Sappi Mankele MTB challenge, which takes place at Mankele on Saturday, 17 March 2018.

Mountain biking is one of the fastest growing sports in South Africa and the Sappi Mankele MTB Challenge is fast becoming a national event with riders participating from across the country. In addition, the challenge has also been incorporated into the Mpumalanga Marathon Series, which is open to all mountain bikers from all provinces.

“Sappi’s plantations not only provide a critical renewable resource to help grow South Africa’s economy, but together with our conservation areas our land provides a fantastic resource for planned recreational activities,” says Sappi’s General Manager Forestry in Mpumalanga, Dietmar Schroeder.

“We therefore support non-motorised activities, such as mountain biking and bird watching on Sappi land. This also forms part of our commitment to promoting a healthy lifestyle and nurturing an appreciation of nature and the sustainable use of renewable resources” he adds.

Over the years the Sappi Mankele MTB Challenge organising body has developed unique trails running through Sappi’s bush tunnels and endless single tracks, which enables riders to have the best possible mountain biking experience. In fact, Mankele trails are rated amongst the best mountain biking trails in South Africa by many professional riders. In addition to a thrilling ride, riders can look forward to race medals and cash prizes.

Riders and spectators can also look forward to a free spa, which is set up annually to ease tired and aching muscles and treat visitors to complimentary spa treatments.

Sappi is planning a fun day for the entire family, from food stalls to a jumping castle for the kids. So why not bring the family and camp out at Mankele for the weekend?

All proceeds from the Sappi Mankele MTB Challenge will be donated to local charitable organisations, for the betterment of the community.

To enter the Sappi Mankele MTB Challenge, visit www.entrytime.co.za. For more information, contact Mark at 082 338 9532. For more information about Mankele or to book accommodation, email ride@mankele.co.za or call 078 801 0453.

Sappi MTB schools’ challenge

This year Sappi is again challenging schools to enter their MTB teams into the race. The winning school – which is the one with the most entries – will win R5,500. There’s also R3,500 up for grabs for second place and R2,500 for third.

There were wide smiles at Uplands College last year when the school took first place in the schools’ challenge and was rewarded for its pedal power. Curro Nelspruit took second place and Penryn College came third.

Do you have what it takes to beat them this year?

Choose your battle for 2018

The 65km and all of its rewards: The 65 km race takes the rider up the kicker at Mankele and through Mikon Chicken Farm. Whilst your legs may start to protest, there are some flat areas that offer a bit of recuperation. Then there’s ‘Gums’ single track, followed by a bit of climbing and the first massive reward… BEEES will make you feel as fresh as ever. Ride down past Mayo Estates to Barry’s bush tunnel, then into Simon’s bush tunnel before you head higher and higher up Mankele ridge. The climb’s a bit of a dog, but the reward is well worth it. Enjoy the fast jeep track all the way to River Wild, cross the river on a new bridge and head up and down before you’re hit by a climb you’ll never forget. When you recover, you’ll head into Sappi’s bush tunnel and down to the cattle trail. This is an awesome single track that leads you to a few bush tunnels andfun all the way home.

The 34km (900m ascent): This ride, a rude awakening up the Old Sabie Road, will have you soon doubting your fitness levels. But once at the top, you will be rewarded with a beautiful pine, single track. Follow jeep track, rocky climbs and stunning views while you ride down into Sudwala Valley. When you reach the 25km mark you’ll get your second wind at the water point. From here is the reason we ride… Steep descents, bushveld trails, bush tunnels, Pecan orchards and single track all the way home!

The 22km (380m ascent):This ride offers a gradual climb up the district road, past Sudwala Lodge and into pine forests. Just when you think you can’t climb any more, there’s a water point at 9.2km, followed by undulating recovery time. From here there’s a mind-blowing descent through African bushveld, with a rollercoaster-style bush tunnel. After the second water point, at 18km, enjoy a fast finish along district road, one more steep descent and a fun single track to the end.

The 15km (170m ascent): Enjoy a flat start on district road, while your legs warm up, and head for the slight climb up to Thulani Depot. Then its single track which takes you all the way to the mines. Veer off onto Msilezi Farm, with a lovely rolling jeep track. The single track next to the river leads you home.

Colour your Mother’s Day blue with Sappi

With an average of 133 live performances a year, three platinum albums and one gold album and a long list of top-10 hits to his credit, Elvis Blue is set to make this year’s Sappi Mother’s Concert memorable!

The concert will again be held at the Lowveld National Botanical Garden on Sunday, 13 May, with Elvis Blue – reckoned to be one of the most successful artists in South Africa – as the headline act.

Elvis remains a rare breed in his ability to straddle both English and Afrikaans music genres with ease and his unique blend of charisma and authenticity. His shows are known for not only the perfect blend of well-known original hits and new music, but also for his comical and often whimsical story-telling that sweeps audiences along in a personal and entertaining journey.

Performing the opening act of the Sappi Mother’s Day concert is 20-year-old Refentse Morake, a former busker turned star. He brings an African flavour of sorts to the event. His warm voice, strains of the harmonica, some pop-hooks and the guitar are just some of the sounds that make the wonderful sound of his music.

Refentse first caught our attention when he appeared in a string of viral music videos. Now he’s a fully-fledged Afrikaans/Zulu singer, with a real following, and he believes that music can heal the nation. “We have so many problems in South Africa and so many things that have the potential to divide us. I believe that the one thing that can unite us is music. It’s the one thing that can heal our wounds. No matter our race or gender, we can all unite behind music,” he says.

The concert, with Jacaranda FM as a media partner, starts at 12 noon and the gates open at 9am.

Gourmet food market

Apart from a stunning, soothing setting with music for the soul, a gourmet food market will be selling artisan food and drinks to ensure that not only moms, but the entire family have a delicious choice of items to nibble on whilst enjoying the show.

Remember to bring your picnic blanket and/or chairs!

Tickets will be on sale from 01 March from Computicket. Entry is free for pre-schoolers, while primary school learners and pensioners pay R45. All other tickets cost R85. The day’s proceeds will be donated to the Lowveld National Botanical Garden for conservation development projects.

Visitors to the concert will also be able to have a professional family portrait taken on the day – for free – at the Sappi photo booth.

Apart from the wonderful music line-up, there will be guided garden walks and a full programme of fun has been organised for the little ones at the kiddies’ entertainment area.

Major stakeholders include the South African National Biodiversity Institute, the Lowveld National Botanical Garden, Jacaranda FM, J&M Security, Lowveld Link and Total Signs.

For more information, go to www.sappimothersday.co.za or email Elsabe.Coetzee@sappi.com. Those who have a physical disability are welcome to apply for an access permit from Rejoice at the Lowveld Botanical Garden at 013 755 1494.

Wedge Gardens plans walking labyrinth

The Wedge Garden treatment centre’s occupational therapy (OT) department is expanding the mindfulness sessions it holds every morning with the recovering addicts in its care, by implementing more active-meditative, mindfulness practices.

Active-meditation can be more grounded and comfortable for people who are new to mindfulness as the process can feel a lot less daunting and demanding. Currently, the OT department engages in predominately still, silent meditation with the patients, with yoga once a week. The hope is to enrich the mindfulness programme with a walking labyrinth to introduce the patients to the multiple ways in which a person can practice new skills.

Mindfulness is the art of paying attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them. “Numerous research studies support the benefits of practicing mindfulness, with the most pertinent benefit being that of developing the ability to self-regulate: train attention and awareness in order to bring mental processes under greater voluntary control, thereby fostering general mental well-being,” says Kendra Neethling, who heads up the centre’s OT department.

“Researchers theorise that mindfulness lessens stress and enhances working memory. These cognitive gains, in turn, help people better control and regulate emotional responses to events.

“These skills are exceptionally useful for individuals facing today’s challenges, and within an addiction rehabilitation centre like Wedge Gardens, they can be the foundation to preventing relapse,” says Kendra.

The OT department was recently in touch with Pebbles for Africa and have been fortunate enough to receive a discounted rate on large rocks that will help form the border of the labyrinth.

“However, we need to secure the funds to complete the project and as such, I ask anyone interested in helping to please contact me. Any assistance will be greatly appreciated – and recognised – on completion of the project.

“Your help can change lives!”

* Wedge Gardens can be reached at 011 430 0320. You can also ‘like’ Wedge Gardens on Facebook (www.facebook.com/WedgeGardensTreatmentCentre) or follow them on Twitter (@WedgeGardens)

Kruger Lowveld Tourism’s priorities for 2018

Kruger Lowveld Tourism (KLT) has its sight set on various strategic priorities for 2018, following a brainstorming session with the regional tourism body’s president and executive management.

According to Lisa Sheard, Kruger Lowveld Tourism Executive Director, KLT’s priorities this year include engaging with government and other stakeholders responsible for the region’s road infrastructure, exerting pressure to find an urgent long-term solution to saving Pilgrim’s Rest, putting together a tourism think tank, and the urgent upgrading, revitalisation and innovation of the region’s public attractions.

“We believe these are all salient issues that need to be prioritised this year to ensure that we are able to grow tourism to the Kruger Lowveld region,” says Sheard.

“When it comes to the state of the region’s road infrastructure, good roads are essential if we are to see a growth in tourism numbers to the region, and tourism employment within the region,” says Oupa Pilane, the President of Kruger Lowveld Chamber of Business and Tourism.

“There’s a huge backlog and government budget urgently needs to be reallocated to improve the main access routes into the region, for example the R540 from Belfast to Dullstroom to Lydenburg/Mashishing and the R36 from Lydenburg/Mashishing to the N4 at Schoemanskloof. Our internal network of roads along and around the Panorama Route also need to be urgently improved,” he adds.

Sadly, no progress has been made in finding a solution to the dire Pilgrim’s Rest situation, despite the recent engagement of another set of consultants. The town’s future remains uncertain.

“We need to find an inclusive long-term solution that will not only benefit tourism but will also ensure that the previously disadvantaged are brought in as active participants and owners. An innovative approach will put the town on a sustainable road to prosperity, reinvention, vastly-improved numbers and quality tourism offerings that will ultimately result in increased tourist numbers. If no local solution is forthcoming, Kruger Lowveld Tourism will again have to elevate the matter to national level,” says Pilane.

According to Sheard, Mpumalanga is in desperate need of a ‘Tourism Think Tank’ – a group of experienced tourism practitioners from the public and private sectors – to elevate the tourism agenda and to bring meaningful benefits to our communities. In addition, the region’s public attractions need urgent upgrading, revitalisation and innovation. “For example, our lowest hanging fruit is the Panorama Route where existing tourism numbers are high, but facilities are outdated and crusty. One could follow the example of the new Graskop Gorge viewing lift, which is bound to increase the length of stays in the region,” says Sheard.

“It’s imperative that we get the so-called ‘flagship projects’ like the Skywalk and Cable Car near God’s Window and the Cable Car in Blyde River Canyon beyond the drawing board and into the development phase. These projects have been ‘in the pipeline’ for far too long now. Enhancing commercial tourism offerings areas around the Barberton Makonjwa Geotrail, so that investment brings jobs and tourism numbers to that area, should also be prioritised and the Swazi authorities should be pushed to tar the road from Josefsdal to Piggs Peak,” she adds.

Kruger Lowveld Tourism says that the development of small, medium and micro enterprises needs to be escalated to bring rural communities into the mainstream tourism net. “Projects need to be conceptualised and researched for implementation as soon as possible,” says Pilane.

“Tourism safety and security remains an important element of any tourism agenda and we will also continue to pressurise law enforcement authorities to improve their efforts in this regard,” he adds.

Kruger Lowveld Tourism will meet with mayors and municipal managers from all local municipalities across and surrounding the region in 2018, in a bid to escalate tourism up the IDP agenda. It will also request meetings with the MEC for Tourism and the MEC for Roads to further engage on all of these matters.

For more information about Kruger Lowveld Tourism, visit www.krugerlowveld.com.

 

Thembalami residents savour dining hall make-over

Sandton-based Infinitude Design has once again worked a little magic at Rand Aid’s Thembalami Care Centre.

The company has done make-overs of various parts of the care centre over the past few years. Situated in Lombardy East, Thembalami looks after vulnerable senior citizens and aged deaf and deafblind people.

This time around, it was the dining room that was given a new look. The large room was transformed into a vibrant space. Wallpaper was put on three walls, splashes of colour added through paint and artwork, new curtains puts up and tiles laid. In addition, the steel windows and doors were replaced with aluminium ones.

“In the one corner of the hall they created a cosy lounge area with a TV set against the wall. They took a three-and two seater couch and two wingback chairs and re-upholster them with fabric that was donated by one of their suppliers. This is a beautiful space where the residents can sit and enjoy drinking coffee or tea whilst watching the morning news,” says Elize Raath, the head of Thembalami.

She adds that Infinitude Design had 110 cushions made for the chairs in the dining hall.  “One of their suppliers made the cushions at cost price. They are covered in navy blue and brown fake leather, which is easy to wash but has made the chairs nice and soft,” says Elize.

Each table now sports a steel condiment holder with a small succulent plant in it, and laminated place mats were designed for each resident.

“The transformation is amazing. The dining hall looks warm, homely and creates an atmosphere of serenity,” says Elize.

 

Thami unleashes wood’s inner magic

The winner of last year’s inaugural National Craft Awards, Thami Kitty, says that winning the competition generated much interest in his work.

His range of intricately carved walking sticks impressed the judges enough for him to take first prize from among a host of world-class crafters who had entered what is the country’s only national craft competition.

The resident of Khayelitsha in the Western Cape travelled to Mpumalanga’s capital city of Mbombela for the awards evening in mid-2017, where he not only pocketed R50 000 in prize money but was given the chance to network with the who’s in the South African craft sector.

Proudly Xhosa, Thami says his work is ‘all about my culture’. Most of his carvings depict animals – either so realistically rendered that you almost expect to see them breathe, or created with whimsy and humour.

He started carving in 1992 when he was in his early 20s but as a child growing up in rural Transkei without commercially bought toys, he would go to the river to collect clay to make animals. This early dabbling in clay led to drawing and eventually, after school, to wood carving.

Today, Thami’s work has been included in a number of exhibitions.

National Premier Craft Competition 2018

If you think you are another Thami, then submit a photo of your work for consideration.

Crafters have until April 20, 2018, to enter. They need simply take a photo of their entry – next to a matchbox for size of scale, and either email it to crafts@innibos.co.za or send it to 071 621 3597 via MMS or WhatsApp. There is no entry fee.

Remember to include your name, the town in which you live and your contact details.

Entrants who have not heard from the organisers within 30 days of the closing date must take it as given that they did not make the shortlist for final judging. Sixty entries will be shortlisted and these will form part of an exhibition to be held in Mbombela during the Innibos National Arts Festival from June 24 to 30, 2018.

The finalists must be available to attend the awards evening on Sunday, June 24, at which the winners will be announced.

The winner of the Platinum Award will receive R50 000, the Gold Award winner will pocket R20 000 and the Silver R15 000. There will also be merit awards for the Best Emerging Craftsmen, along with sound financial advice to grow their business. In addition, a Craft Retail Apprenticeship with Tourvest Destination Retail will be bestowed on one of the winners.

Entries in the disciplines of Ceramics, Beadwork, Wirework, Wood, Jewellery, Paper, Fabric Painting and Printing, Quilting, Leatherwork, Pewter, Glasswork, Embroidery and Mixed Media are invited.

The judges

A panel of judges with a passion for developing South Africa’s creative talent has been convened, including: Harrie Siertsema (Delagoa Trading, collector and art patron), Wendy Goldblatt (internationally-known ceramist), Maureen Waldeck (Brand Manager for Tourvest Destination Retail’s stores and retail brands and a seasoned retailer with an exceptional eye for merchandise), Joseph Mathe (National Department of Arts and Culture: Responsible for the development of crafts), Thabo Manetsi (Director: Western and Northern Cape provinces – Leading in Heritage Development) and Fran Stewart (Craft + Design Institute’s Market Support Programme Manager).

For information, please contact Jan Bhuda on 083 719 1731 or e-mail John Anthony Boerma at artaid@lantic.net.  Also, please LIKE the craft competition Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Innibosnationalcraftawards/ and follow them on Twitter: https://twitter.com/InnibosCA

* Photos courtesy of the Africa South Art Initiative

South Africa’s queen of literacy

A lifetime dedicated to fighting one of the greatest societal ills – illiteracy – was recently rewarded when Edna Freinkel received a Continental Lifetime Achiever award as one of CEO Global’s ‘most influential women in business and government’.

Other recipients included Graca Machel, Wendy Ackerman, Carol Brown and Professor Glenda Gray.

The resident of Rand Aid’s Elphin Lodge is now in her 80s and remains not only a vocal literacy advocate, but still teaches reading to as many people as she can through Readucate, a Trust registered in 1991 to ‘make a difference between dreams and destitution’.

Readucate – a marriage between ‘read’ and ‘educate’ – works mainly in schools and prisons, thus changing the lives of both children and adults. In prisons, literate inmates are trained as instructors so that they can teach illiterate offenders, which means the project has a greater reach and is more sustainable. Both groups become rehabilitated, which is why the Department of Correctional Services would like Readucate to operate in all prisons.

The methods used impart self confidence. They teach people not just to read, but to write, spell, comprehend and memorise. People are taught to study successfully and to think courageously.

“Learning must be a joy,” says Edna, who gives life to a phrase she once heard from a former Unisa lecturer: ‘Reading is living’. This encapsulates precisely Readucate’s vision.

Even though South Africa is ranked as one of the most illiterate countries in the world, Readuate’s biggest challenge remains a desperate need for funding. Despite limited funding, Edna and her team have managed to train around 1 500 teachers and prisoners. It has been roughly estimated that about a million children and adults have become fully literate through being trained by these Readucate Instructors.  With adequate resources, Readucate could raise national literacy levels dramatically, thus helping South Africa develop its undoubted potential.

When Edna’s husband, Dr Lionel Freinkel, was alive, it was his wallet that was often opened to ensure Readucate’s doors stayed open. “If only I was as good at fundraising as I was at teaching,” laments Edna.

In 2004, Edna received the South African Presidential Award of the Order of Baobab for her lifelong dedication to the development of specialised learning methods for the learning impaired and in 2010, she was awarded the UNISA Outstanding Educator Award.

“Really, my late mother should have been the one to receive the Order of the Baobab,” says Edna.

Rebecca Ostrowiak was a literacy pioneer who developed a multi-sensory approach to learning to read and memorise. “My Mom was a teacher in the early 1920s with a special interest in the ‘lame dog’ struggling at the bottom of the class. She was light years ahead of her time in recognising the relationship between home and school performance.”

Rebecca’s successes drew attention and calls grew for her to share more widely her methods for transforming non-achievers into fluent readers. Edna, then a young adult doing secretarial work for the Israeli Consulate, was persuaded to dedicate six months of her time to helping Rebecca capture her methods into a manual. She agreed to do so because ‘my mother was such a wonderful mother’. In 1965, the ‘Teach any Child or Adult to Read’ series was published and remains highly relevant today.

Edna never went back to her former career and the years that followed were all about spreading the magic of reading and helping people deemed ‘unteachable’ to reach their potential.

“I was involved in dyslexia before it was recognised as a legitimate disability,” she says. She was the only South African to speak at the first World Congress on Dyslexia at the Mayo Clinic in 1974.  There she met Marion Welchman, a co-founder of the British Dyslexia Association (BDA). It was Marion, on a lecture tour of South Africa that Edna organised, who suggested the formation of the Readucate Trust. Edna subsequently served for many years on the Editorial Board of the BDA journal ‘Dyslexia:  An International Journal of Research and Practice’.

In 1969, Rebecca and Edna established the Rebecca Ostrowiak School of Reading in Germiston, which they ran together. After her mother’s death in 1981, Edna trained qualified teachers for the Rebecca Ostrowiak Reading Teacher Diploma Course, with the help of Professor Jackie Jordaan of the Psychology Department at UNISA.

As principal of the school, Edna not only personally taught hundreds of children and adults to read, but also gave lectures and ran workshops for teachers in South Africa and abroad. She addressed numerous national and international reading and education conferences.

Although financial pressure and time constraints saw Edna eventually selling the school, Readucate continues Rebecca’s legacy and the methods she forged all those years ago, still work their magic.

The principal of Ohlange High School in the Eastern Cape, which recently initiated a Readucate programme, acknowledges its impact: “We have undoubtedly seen a great improvement in terms of learner results. For the past three years, learners were performing badly. A 10% increase in the pass rate has now been secured, especially in the past preparatory examinations.

 

“This indicates the excellent role played by the introduction of such a magnificent programme of reading in our school. Surely if it weren’t there, none of the enhanced reading skills would have been achieved by our learners.”

 

Rebecca and Edna’s passion has been passed down to Edna’s daughter, Corinne Ossendryver. A qualified Rebecca Ostrowiak Reading Teacher, Corinne has her Masters Degree in Communication and Education through Computers and is a specialist in the use of multimedia in education. And just as Edna once helped Rebecca, in 2013, Corinne helped her mom update the ‘Teach any Child or Adult to Read’ series.

Edna lived in Germiston for four decades. At her family’s insistence that she find a safe and secure environment in which to live, Edna moved to Elphin Lodge around five years ago – initially kicking and screaming. “But I love it here,” she says. “Everyone is so friendly always with smiling greetings from the gardeners up to the  fantastic management and the upkeep is amazing.” Efficiency, beautiful surroundings and warmth are the key words to describe Elphin Lodge, says Edna.

Despite many of Elphin Lodge’s residents leisurely enjoying their golden years, Edna says she cannot retire ‘while there is still one child or one adult who cannot read’.

For further information on Readucate, email freinkel.e@gmail.com

White River processing solution to growing macadamia industry

Khuvuka Max, a grower-owned non-contractual macadamia nut factory, is doing its bit to help sustain the sector’s current growth trajectory.

On February 15, 2018 – in time for the next harvest – it will host an open day at its factory in White River, Mpumalanga, to share with the industry its expanded processing capabilities and innovative cracking technology.

Barry Christie, the Operations Manager: Macadamias at the South African Subtropical Growers’ Association, confirms that the South African macadamia industry is growing at an exponential rate. “It is currently growing by approximately 4 000 ha per annum, with more than 30 000 ha already planted.

“Production has increased to such an extent over the past decade that South Africa is now the largest exporter of macadamias and also the largest producer,” he says, explaining, however, that the country’s production took a temporary dip in 2016 and 2017 because of the drought conditions.

The increased number of orchards has created a demand for more processing plants to be able to handle the increased volumes, says Christie. “Most processing facilities recognise this and are expanding. The initial 2018 crop forecast is set at 56 000 tonnes of nuts in-shell (NIS) at 1.5% kernel moisture content.”

It may be a relatively small operation but Khuvuka is considered an industry pioneer. Louis Kok was a successful businessman when he bought Loerieskloof farm in Peebles Valley, near the Kruger Park, as a retirement property in 1970.

A former director in the Barloworld group, Louis could not sit idle, however, and within a short space of time, he had planted macadamia orchards in the fertile valley. At that stage of the Lowveld’s agricultural development, Louis was one of the first farmers to plant macadamia trees.

Not a man to do things by half, he immersed himself in learning as much about the crop and industry as possible. His interest in the sector led to his involvement in the Southern African Macadamia Growers’ Association (SAMAC) in its early days.

Louis’s industry research took him to a number of nut processing facilities and it gradually dawned on him that the method used to crack the nuts was imperfect. Instead of cracking the shell inwards, why not force the shell outwards, which would put less pressure on the kernel? he wondered.

After much experimentation with processing efficiencies, Louis established a small processing plant in 1996 that pioneered his new cracking method.

What started out as a pilot production line to test Louis’s new technology has over the years grown into a processing business that is now poised to help the industry meet its growing needs.

Sadly, Louis passed away in 2009 but son Cobus is determined to carry on his dad’s legacy.

“Experts in the macadamia industry acknowledge that the technology invented by my dad has improved the whole kernel crack-out recovery rate. There is also less shell dust adherence and dirt contamination, and less oil cell damage to the product.”

Over the years, the pilot plant has undergone improvements and expansions to supply Khuvuka Max’s increasing kernel production but a few years ago, Cobus decided that with the macadamia industry booming, the time had come to develop the infrastructure necessary to harness his dad’s technology in a large, fully developed factory.

Manie Coetzer of WMC Sheet Metal Works, which specialises in the complete mechanical design and engineering of production lines, was contracted in 2012 to assist with improvements to Louis’s design. The most significant change was switching from pistons to rotors and introducing an automatic single file feeder system. Louis’s big idea of forcing the shell to crack outwards, away from the kernel, remains central to the advanced technology employed in the 2 250m² factory.

Processes undertaken in the factory include the drying of the nuts in-shell, cracking, sorting, grading, sizing, styling, the drying of the kernels, packing and quality control. In addition, the factory has been designed to increase capacity modularly, when the need arises.

“Our facilities make provision for the streamlining of NIS exports. If a suitable quality of NIS is delivered, we would be able to export them as quickly as they are delivered and dried. This would probably place us in a position to export more NIS than we would be capable of cracking, which would more than double the total capacity of our factory, to around 5 000 to 6 000 tonnes initially,” says Cobus.

Khuvuka Max complies with the stringent quality standards that international food trade bodies and authorities demand, with specific reference to the macadamia industry.

“As a macadamia producer ourselves, we understand farmers; their risks, their ambitions, their challenges, their vulnerabilities and their fears,” says Cobus.

Khuvuka Max – which has 72 ha of macadamias and is in the process of achieving its Global Good Agricultural Practices certification – has 15 years of experience in the export of macadamia nuts.

“We export kernel mainly to Europe and America, and qualifying NIS product to China. We pride ourselves on supplying high quality macadamias to the local market, through reputable outlets, predominantly as roasted, salted product but with a fair amount of raw kernel also distributed,” says Cobus, explaining that top grade macadamias are a scarce commodity in South Africa.

“SAMAC is hard at work to clamp down on the many suppliers who supply factory rejects to the local market as ‘choice grade’ product at a discounted – but still expensive – price. This practice makes entry very hard for producers of true premium product. Largely we have succeeded and people now know where to shop for excellent quality product.”

“We have put tremendous time and effort into research and development. This has ensured that we have industry-unique equipment and processes in place, enabling us to add significant value to the macadamia industry through efficient processing and the delivery of a premium product,” says Cobus.

“Macs is a household abbreviation for macadamias and we chose to attach to our brand the homophone abbreviation ‘Max’ to emphasise that we are pushing the limits in bringing about something new and exciting.”

For more information, visit www.khuvuka.co.za

If you would like to see Khuvuka’s innovative technology for yourself at the open day on February 15, 2018, please contact Janine at 073 217 9679 or email her at janine@macasa.co.za

Heart-warming Christmas celebrations at care centre

On December 19, there was a flurry of activity at the Ron Smith Care Centre as final preparations were made for the Christmas party to be held the following day. The decorations were up, the cutlery was polished, the tables were laid, the pretty Christmas tree centre-pieces with angels, garland and tinsel were placed, and a final staff practice of the Christmas entertainment was held.

The care centre staff, all dressed in red and white and wearing Santa hats, began the celebrations with a procession into the hall, singing Silent Night. They continued with the carols: Once in Royal David’s City, Away in a Manger, Jingle Bells, Mary’s Boy Child and a rousing Joy to the World. Then it was the residents’ turn to sing along to lovely piano music by volunteer, Jean Johnson, as she played some of their favourites: Hark the Herald Angels Sing, The Drummer Boy and We wish you a Merry Christmas, amongst others.

Following the singing, there was a special performance by staff, who acted out the lyrics to The 12 Days of Christmas. As an introduction, Debbie Christen,  Rand Aid’s Manager: Recreational Programmes, reminded the audience that this old English carol was actually about a love-sick gentleman plying his sweetheart with a series of gifts which increase in quantity and volume over each of the 12 days.

The Ron Smith Care Centre staff’s comical interpretation of this old fashioned song brought smiles of delight and laughter, as they recognised those representing the 12 drummers drumming, the 11 pipers piping, 10 lords a leaping, nine ladies dancing, eight milk maids milking, seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree!

Next was a surprise visit by Santa Claus (aka volunteer Dave Stewart), whose arrival was heralded with the jingle of sleigh bells and a very loud, “Ho Ho Ho – Merry Christmas”. He handed out Sweetie Pies to all the residents, with the help of his two elves. The Christmas programme wrapped up with staff and residents singing to Feliz Navidad, with the staff dancing around the hall, wishing everyone a Merry Christmas.

The residents then moved across to the dining room for a lovely Christmas lunch, which consisted of a Salmon mousse starter, followed by roast sirloin of beef and lamb, roast potatoes, and vegetables. A lovely sherry trifle rounded off the delicious meal.

Care centre resident Gordon Ross summed up the celebration by saying: “I don’t think that I have ever attended anything before, where people enjoyed themselves like that… to be a part of this was very heart-warming.”