[AUDIO] To dope or not to dope?

Listen to the full package here: To dope or not to dope? 

Cannabis, ganja, weed, dagga , pot, marijuana – a wild plant which has many South Africans up in arms debating over – To dope or not to dope?

This has been the question on the lips of many people over the last three weeks over whether South Africa should legalise medical or recreational marijuana.

The wild plant Cannabis, which is illegal in South Africa. Photo: Supplied.

The wild plant Cannabis, which is illegal in South Africa. Photo: Supplied.

Julian Stobbs and Myrtle Clark – dubbed the “dagga couple” are a middle aged couple who live on their plot in north Gauteng and are both in the TV industry.

They have been smoking for almost 20 years in the comfort of their home. The couple claim they are creative people and smoke the drug to enhance their imagination. They are both in the television industry.

In 2010 the couple’s home was raided by police after they received a tip off that there was a drug lab on their premises.

Their home was broken into by the police at 2am on an August morning. The police poked and messed around for six hours in their home, ravaging their belongings in search of weed.

They searched the garden and found no drug lab on the premises. The pair admit they felt criminalised and unfairly treated for the mere fact that they smoke marijuana.

The couple has dedicated their lives for the fight to legalise this drug in the country. 

The growing of Cannabis. Picture: Supplied.

The growing of Cannabis. Picture: Supplied.

They will try to convince the constitutional court to completely relegalise dagga in South Africa and not only decriminalise it. To decriminalise it means would mean that you will not have a criminal record for possesion of the drug but it will still be wrong within the legislature of the country.

Gareth prince – another dagga activist started his campaign in the late 90’s after the law society in the Cape of Good Hope refused to admit him as an attorney.

They said he was not a fit and proper person because of his two previous convictions of possession.

Prince –a Rastafarian took them to the Cape High Court – they ruled against him. He appealed and lost again. In 2000 he turned to the constitutional court.

Weed smokers believe that they should have the right to put into their body whatever they choose to and government should not take a paternal role by trying to protect them from using marijuana.

The cannabis society spoke on Street Talk SA about their reasons why they feel growing and using cannabis should be legal.

Cannabis has been shown to cure epilepsy and attention deficit disorder in children by using the drug in cookies.

Cannabis crushed and rolled in rizzla, a paper, and smoked. Picture: Supplied.

Cannabis crushed and rolled in rizzla, a paper, and smoked. Picture: Supplied.

Professor Michael Herbst – Head of the Cancer Association of South Africa explains that while cannabis can have superficial benefits for people and children, it is still harmful and prolonged use could endanger the user’s life. long term use of cannabis has shown to increase the chances of testicular cancer, lung cancer and cancer of the throat.

The Professor says while it seems like the drug has positive and negative attributes – the CANSA institute cannot implement the use of cannabis as it is still deemed as illegal and it is a criminal offense to have it in your possession.

Doctor Tshidi Gule – Founder and Director of the Medispace Wellnes Clinic explained why exactly cannabis is an illegal drug. This is because it is a more harmful than beneficial product and it is a drug and can cause addiction in teenagers and adults

If cannabis is relegalised in South Africa – Herbst says it is important to know the difference between marijuana and medical marijuana. The THC levels in medical marijuana are reduced significantly which reduces the side effects the drug has on the user. THC in pure marijuana is high and this is how weed smokers prefer it because the high after smoking it is heightened significantly.  

Colorado in America is the most recent state to legalise medical and recreational marijuana. Nancy Grace – a legal commentator, television journalist and former prosecuter – says it is a horrible idea.

However, in South we see Mario Ambrosini from the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) being a strong front line member in the fight to legalise cannabis – after he was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer last year. He made his appeal in parliament, saying using cannabis and bicarbonate soda is what has kept him alive thus far. 

The Minister of Public Service and Administration Lindiwe Sisulu along with Aaron Motsoaledi, the Health Minister said they would strictly consider his request as this is a “caring society”.

However health professionals say cannabis is not needed for cancer.

If this wild plant is legalised – questions around how the growth and use of it will be regulated are hot topics.

Raw cannabis ready to smoke. Picture: Supplied.

Raw cannabis ready to smoke. Picture: Supplied.

These questions remain unanswered – people speculate that it would be treated similar to alcohol laws and if a person is caught driving under the influence for example they will be arrested and jailed.

A report from a UN agency shows that around eight percent of South Africans use the recreational drug, twice the global average of four percent.

For now Dr Gule says the government has a big task ahead of them in the decisions which lie ahead of them.


[AUDIO] Looming Eskom nightmares

Picture: Supplied.

Picture: Supplied.

I did a news package for Vow FM on the looming Eskom nightmares this past week.

Listen to the full package: ESKOM: Is there light at the end of the tunnel?  

How is it okay that the biggest electricity parastatal in the country is not efficient and is failing the demands of the citizens of the country with regard to electricity supply.

People complained about being without electricity two weeks ago, for more than 24 hours, some places in Pretoria were without power for days on end.

As a result it seemed as life as they knew came to a stop. Businesses closed down or went out of business. Traffic lights were out causing major traffic pile ups on the roads and some people could not even cook their food.

For the first time since 2008 load shedding became a very dark reality in the country.

Last week Thursday Eskom declared a power emergency due to the severe constraint on the power grid as a result of the rainy weather.

Eskom’s spokesperson Andrew Etzinger says this is due to the severe wet weather the country has experienced recently.

Whether is was an issue of wet coal or the matter that Eskom does not buy good quality is yet to be known.

This was the fourth power emergency warning which was issued over the past several months. Etzinger said last week that if the situation remained stable – load shedding will be a last resort. 

Etzinger said last week that the electricity situation in the coming week will depend entirely on the weather. 

The Deputy CEO of Business Unity South Africa Raymond Parsons says Eskom needs to take more responsibility of the problem.

The parastatal says while the grid might stabilise quickly – it will remain vulnerable for at least another two years.

Millions of South Africans were without power for between two and four hours on Thursday.

This resulted in traffics jams, businesses closing and families being unable to cook food. Emily Parsons – a small business owner says buying a generator is too expensive and unrealistic for her. 

At the same time, the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry says load-shedding will hurt businesses badly if the problem persists. Raymond Parsons says in turn the economy won’t be benefiting either.

Hospitals and clinics face the biggest problem as load shedding hits the country. The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) spokesperson says hospitals have huge responsibilities towards its patients and need to avoid risky situations which endanger patients’ lives – by having efficient generators on standby.

Energy expert Cornelis Van der Waal says the implementation of Independent Power Producers known as IPP’s are important.

In the meanwhile the DA is calling on the electricity giant to pay back the R31 million bonuses awarded to directors immediately, in order to buy generators for emergency services such as hospitals affected by the power cuts.

On Monday the DA revealed a nine-point plan to address South Africa’s electricity crisis immediately.

It includes investigating why Eskom executives get huge bonuses and asking the National Energy Regulator of South African to launch an independent probe.

The DA erected billboards along Gauteng highways reading – “Load shedding: Proudly brought to you by the ANC.”

The DA’s Wilmot James says Eskom needs to meet South Africa’s electricity demands before the demands of neighbouring countries. 

Whether there is a light at the end of the tunnel for South African’s and Eskom remains to be seen – for now Eskom urges people to exercise sustainability.

Alternative voices are important

This article was first published on www.journalism.co.za

Hand made radio's were presented at the entrance to the conference to show. Photo: Prelene Singh

Hand made radio’s were presented at the entrance to the conference to show. Photo: Prelene Singh

The vital role of an alternative voice in radio broadcasting was bought to the surface of debates on the second day of the Radio Days Conference, at Wits University.

The need for community radio stations and the need for alternative voices in South Africa was stressed today by various speakers at the conference.

Licensing in Zimbabwe is a significant issue and not easily attainable especially for private stations. Media freedom activist Rashweat Mukundu, said broadcasters and media activists need to campaign for media transparency and democratic processes. An audience member from the forum commented that Zimbabwe is 20 years too late in terms of media reform. Mukundu said: “There is a positive development with Zfm and Star fm, which opened up spaces for voices which are not used in radio.”

VoW fm broadcasted live from the conference on all three days during lunch. Samkele Kaase a presenter for Vow fm seen in the picture hostings his lunchtime slot. Photo: Prelene Singh

VoW fm broadcasted live from the conference on all three days during lunch. Samkele Kaase a presenter for Vow fm seen in the picture hostings his lunchtime slot. Photo: Prelene Singh

Radio shapes a society and plays a key role in relaying information to the public. Jacques Kokonyange, station manager for Radio Muugano in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) tried to shine some light on how important radio broadcasting is in war zones.

Kokonyange explained that radio in the DRC operates in security zones, but yet 500 people were still kidnapped, showing the lack of safety in the country. Radio Muugano provides a platform for police and other authorities for informative reasons. “The government has no choice than to let us broadcast because it is a voice which is needed in the country in active war,” said Kokonyange.

Along with this Kokonyange said that they rarely broadcast live and information relayed on air has to be linked up to credible sources in order to dodge threats from rebels.

It was clear that radio works best in an environment of diversity. Station manager of the newly launched Power fm, Ferdinand Mabalane explained that the radio station is not for the black population but for South African’s who are concerned with where the country is going. This choice of topical broadcasting can be attributed to the success of Power fm thus far.

Xoli Matomela the host of the Law Focus show at VoW fm. Photo: Prelene Singh

Xoli Matomela the host of the Law Focus show at VoW fm. Photo: Prelene Singh

The day ended off with ‘law focus’ which is a weekly show hosted by Xoli Matomela and Paul McNally at the Wits Radio Academy. Field reporters at the academy are sent out to bring in stories which deal with the law, and issues that are rarely dealt with on any other radio platform. Matomela played a sound package for the forum about female miners and how they are treated as sex workers rather than mine workers.

The conference proved that for a country to be fully democratic and push progression and movement there has to be alternative voices within the radio landscape.

The conference comes to an end tomorrow. Visit the website for more information or follow @jhbradiodays on twitter.

Radioactive experience


Growing up with the voices of John Robbie and Jenny Crwys Willams on Talk Radio 702 and later listening to DJ Fresh on Yfm and Jeremy Mansfield on 94.7 Highveld stereo, to now listening to Gareth Cliff on 5fm mornings and Anele on Highveld and Fresh on the ‘fresh drive’ on 5fm. These voices have all shaped the surroundings in which I grew up in.

I listened to these presenters and they were always just a voice, a path in which to gather my information and a voice which made me laugh and entertain me. Also, voices like Jeremy Mansfield who brought the human aspect to his radio presenting with his charity work. They are not just voices as I realized when I was old enough; they are people who sparked my interest in the media and my interest in the radio and television industry.

radio station

This week I have been doing my radio course at VoW fm (Voice of Wits) and it has been a for fillings experience thus far. Being on radio and being on television, working behind the scenes and producing what the public hear and see was just an unreachable thought a few years back. It was something I could aspire to but something I did not know I could ever do.

Now I have reached that stage where I see radio presenting and being a broadcast journalist is a definite in my future, it is something I know I will do in my career.

radio presenter

Last week we learnt the basics of radio presenting and news reading, the journalistic basics. The most important part of this was learning how to read the news. I learnt that in order to be on radio you do not have to have a radio voice, you need to have a good command of the English language and speak clearly. A journalist/news reader s meant to read the news the way they want to. not sing-song or elongated words but simply the way you would speak if you were giving a speech.

It is also important to breathe. The breathing exercises we did were amazing. The amount of things you can accomplish with breathing is unreal. My voice on record I feel sounds nasal-like but through breathing I was able to change my voice to being more suitable on record. Breathing also helps getting through the script without running out of breathe and calms your nerves.

earphones world

I recorded my first news bulletin in studio on Friday and it was extremely nerve racking in the beginning but listening to t back, it was pleased that I could do a decent job and not totally run the bulletin through the mud.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and I cannot wait to get back into the studio again. The skills I have gained thus far in the course will equip me to walk into a studio and be able to get straight to work with the equipment and speech.