Kruger National Park visit

Recently our friends from Germany, Dr. Carsten Holtmann & Anke Plog, visited us. When they visited us in England I kept on (sometimes I think too much) about Africa’s wilderness. Carsten specifically showed a real interest in the topic so I decided to take him to Kruger National Park. The Kruger and the Kalahari Gemsbok Park are the best options for “real Africa” in South Africa. Regrettably Anke was pregnant and couldn’t go (because of the Malaria risk) so she and Lené relaxed in the Eastern Cape.

As expected it was a great trip. And yes; we did see the big 5. My personal highlight was a leopard which we saw on our last drive of the trip! Before this I had never seen a leopard in the wild in South Africa. He was very close to us – in fact he was so close that my 500mm lens wouldn’t focus! Despite this temporary setback we took some great photos. Check them and others out at Kruger National Park Photos.

Irving Knight, Attie Heunis & Eliab KhosaAnother highlight was a morning walk we did with guides Irving Knight & Eliab Khosa. I can definitely recommend this. The guys are very experienced and they can teach you so much about the bush. From the word go we went looking for lions. That was very exciting, but unfortunately we didn’t find any. Our best sighting on the walk was an African Buffalo that was about 25-30m away from us. I love the fact that you can get so close to these magnificent creatures while on foot. Irving also kept it very interesting by telling us some entertaining stories about Kruger. He also told me of some awesome tricks to find predators and kills. Thanks Irving!

Unfortunately there were disappointments as well. They were the same as the last time I visited Kruger, namely: the restaurants. We had a buffet dinner with no service, a bottle of water and a beer and the bill came to R310!! My best advice is just to stay away from the restaurants; it really isn’t worth it. We had another minor disappointment when they overbooked a morning walk; but this was when we saw the leopard so in the end it worked out perfectly.

All in all the trip just proved again that you can’t beat Kruger! And I’m very pleased to see that arguably our greatest treasure is in very good hands – except the restaurants. 🙂

NHBRC is a bureaucratic nightmare

NHBRC Corruption
NHBRC Corruption

In November 2007 I submitted the relevant documents to enrol my house with the NHBRC (National Home Builders Registration Council). With these submissions I paid them R7,500 by bank transfer. I was told at this time that I should have my certificate in a couple of days. It is now more than 3 months later and I still don’t have my enrolment certificate. If the certificate was just a piece of paper I wouldn’t have cared, BUT by law you need this certificate before you can gain any access to finance. Until now we have been building with our own money, but to have the finishing Lené wants 🙂 we have to get some finance.

After phoning the NHBRC every day for the last 2 weeks I have finally been given a name of Mario Scheepers – he is supposed to be the guy to authorise the issuing of certificates. After having spoken to Mario I was more upbeat because he sounded like he would make things happen. But I have been led down the garden path again. Every time I speak to Mario Scheepers he promises action and to phone me back in just a while. Turns out Mario Scheepers is as pathetic as the rest of the NHBRC – he just makes promises and promises but nothing seems to happen; he doesn’t even bother to phone me back.

And this is not an isolated incident. Many other builders I have spoken to have the same issue. I am really concerned as I don’t know what to do next.

Unfortunately this is the banana republic that South-Africa has become. All the government’s bureaucratic institutions (the liquor board, the NHBRC, Health Care etc) are becoming non-functional black holes where money just disappears into. If it weren’t so serious I would be laughing right now.

Update: I eventually had to get my attorney to sue them before they issued my certificate. I heard afterwards from other builders that the NHBRC use this tactic to try and solicit bribes.

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