More than 50 child carers attended the safety-awareness training workshop in Surrey Park at the end of November. The workshop formed part of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women & Children Campaign, hosted by HV CID & SAPS Claremont.

HV CID manager Jenni Coleman was the brainchild behind this initiative and hosted a similar workshop last year. Jenni said the HV CID acknowledges that the carers are a very important part of the Harfield Community and feel it is important to equip the women in charge of looking after our children with tools and information to keep themselves and the children safe.

Sergeant Lutchmee Chetty of the Claremont police highlighted some practical tips for the carers, on how to be safe and more aware of their surroundings at all times. She urged them to take note and immediately report any incidences and suspicious vehicles or people in the area.

Norgarb Properties is very proud to have had the opportunity to sponsor this amazing initiative. The Carers loved our little goodie bags, refreshments and emergency card with useful emergency contact numbers which we provided to them. They definitely found the session informative and inspiring.

Thank you to Jenni Coleman who worked tirelessly in making this workshop such a success. To Sergeant Chetty for running the course and to Har-Lyn Neighbourhood Watch and Fidelity ADT who also sent volunteers to assist. We are grateful for your efforts and contribution to the Harfield Village

How your home can make you wealthy

One hears a lot about home ownership being the key to personal wealth creation, especially from those selling property to first-time buyers, but the details of just how that works are often sketchy. “However, the process is really quite simple,” says Rudi Botha, CEO of BetterBond, SA’s biggest bond originator, “although it always demands discipline and can sometimes involve sacrifice.”

The key to becoming a real estate mogul, he says, is to understand what equity is and how to get more of it. “Quite simply, equity is the percentage of your home’s value that you own, or the difference between what a buyer would pay for your property and how much you still owe the bank.

 “In other words, it is the amount you would be able to realise in hard cash if you were to sell your home today. When that amount is not very large, you are what is known as ‘house-rich and cash-poor’ and will only be able to increase your wealth if you start looking at ways to increase your equity.”

When you first purchase a home, for example, your equity will generally be equal to whatever deposit you paid. So a quick way to increase your equity is to pay a bigger deposit – or buy a less expensive home, says Botha.

“With household budgets currently under such pressure, it is difficult for most people to save up a large amount of cash to put down as a deposit. But it takes the same amount of money to pay a 10% deposit on a home costing R800 000 as a 13% deposit on a home costing R600 000 – and you will immediately have more equity, or what ultra-wealthy investor Warren Buffet calls ‘skin in the game’.

“In addition, your willingness to compromise and buy the cheaper property could well be rewarded by your lender with a lower interest rate on your bond – especially if you apply through a reputable originator like BetterBond* - and that could help you build up equity even faster. If your budget enables you to afford a monthly bond repayment of R7000, for example, but the monthly bond repayment for the cheaper home is only R5000, it is really worth paying that extra R2000 a month off your bond anyway – because it will enable you to achieve 100% equity within 10 years.

“In other words, you will have paid off your bond completely and will not owe anything at all to the bank if you sell it. And assuming the capital value of the property has increased by then, you will have quite a lot more wealth that you started out with, which you can then use as a very substantial deposit on a new home while you repeat the wealth creation process.”

Alternatively, he says, you could split your cash and buy two properties – one to live in and one to rent out – and carry on increasing your personal wealth that way.

“Either way, building up equity should be your main goal, and there are several other ways to do this too, starting with putting your spare cash, annual bonus and any tax you may get back from SARS into your bond account. This may mean giving up on holidays or a new car for a few years (that’s where the sacrifice comes in), but it will be worth it when you sell you home and you get to keep most of the profit instead of having to pay it to the bank.

“In addition, you can make home improvements that will increase the value of your home at the same time as you are doing your utmost to pay off your bond. The most popular include a complete repaint, an additional bathroom, a kitchen upgrade, added security measures and “green” equipment like solar geysers, but you should seek the advice of an experienced local agent to ensure that the cost of these improvements will generate the added value you hope for.”

*BetterBond uses a multiple lender application process to ensure that clients obtain the very best interest rates available. Currently the average variation between the best and worst rate offered on an application is 0,5%, which could translate into very significant savings for the borrower, at no cost for the service. On the average first-time buyers’ loan of R760 000, for example, the potential savings amount to more than R60 000 worth of interest over the 20-year lifetime of the loan, plus some R3000 a year off the monthly home loan instalments.

Issued by etc

Anne-Marie Bamber is Norgarb Properties dedicated Home Loans Consultant. She has over 15 years’ experience in assisting clients with their Home Loan needs and has placed many happy families in their dream homes.

Contact her today for no cost stress-free home-buying.
Anne-Marie Bamber
Home Loans consultant
Tel: +27 (0)21 851 3568 | Fax: +27 (0)21 441 1494 | Cell: +27 (0)82 071 1665
E-mail: anne-marie.bamber@betterlife.co.za

Patchwork | January in the Garden

We've made it into Summer, and somewhat surprisingly water restrictions have been lowered and we are still having sporadic rain! This is wonderful for our gardens. As many of us take holidays over the festive season, it's a great time to get stuck into the garden as a relaxing break, or to get the kids involved. Why not give family and friends edible or drought-resistant plants, seeds or succulents as meaningful Christmas gifts? It can also be fun to give children a plant or garden bed to take care of over the holidays.

Here's this month's plant list:
Amaranth, Climbing beans, Beetroot, Broccoli, Brussel sprouts, Butternut, Cabbage, Carrots, Chard/Spinach, Chinese cabbage, Chives, Chilli pepper, Cucumber, Kale, Kholrabi, Ginger, Globe artichoke, Leek, Lettuce, Potato, Pumpkin, Radish, Rhubarb, Tomato, Watercress, Zucchini

Here's a list of drought-resistant plants that you could invest in for your garden if you're not growing food. 

Happy gardening, and Merry Christmas to those who celebrate!

From: Gabriella Garnett



Do you feel that December will ruin your hard work this year?  Are there just too many parties, dinners and family gatherings that weight gain seems inevitable?  It is possible to survive the Christmas season without gaining weight.  Don’t fall for the myths of unavoidable holiday weight gain.  You can enjoy you holiday favourites and still start the year looking slim and trim.

Let’s debunk some of the common holiday myths.

Myth 1: Most people gain 2-3kg’s over the holiday season
You’ve probably heard this, you may even have experienced it, but in truth, holiday weight gain is actually quite small.  According to one study, the average adult gains about half a kilogram during the holidays.  The problem lies in the fact that most people do not lose this weight during the following year, which means there is a subtle gain over the years, and in later life we suddenly notice the middle age spread!  It is of course still important to be mindful and careful of your eating during the holidays to minimize the damage.

Bottom line, what you do from January to November really determines your weight.

Myth 2: Eating less during the day will help me control my weight
Skipping meals during the day in an effort to keep calories for later is generally an approach that will backfire.  Although it may sound logical, you will arrive at the function ravenous and ready to eat a lot of everything you see!  Instead of starving yourself to prepare for a function, just eat as you normally would.  By not being overly hungry when you arrive at the function, you will be less likely to eat past the point of fullness and overdo it.  Keeping calories for later promotes obsessing about food and takes away from the enjoyment of the food.

Bottom line, if you want to prevent overeating, eat a healthy breakfast and lunch as well as a snack before you go out.

Myth 3: I have to give up my favourite holiday foods not to gain weight
Absolutely not.  All foods can be worked into a healthy eating plan.  And avoiding all your favourite foods will only leave you feeling deprived, which could ultimately lead you to go overboard and binge.  The key is to taste the treats and fill up on the healthier foods.

Bottom line, you can have small portions of your favourite holiday foods.  Savour them so that you don’t need a large portion.

Myth 4: A few little nibbles won’t do any harm
A few little snacks eaten here and there can easily add up to a whole lot of calories, so be careful of what you put in your mouth in between meals.  If you would like some snacks, put them on a small plate, sit down (this is very important!) and enjoy them slowly.  In this way you will be aware of what and how much you are eating.  It is the mindless snacks that creep in that cause the biggest problem with our weight.

Bottom line, be mindful of what you are putting in your mouth.

Myth 5: It’s all about willpower
Yes, willpower can play a part when it comes to managing snacks, treats and portions.  But it takes more than just willpower to control your food intake.  Some easy ways to rely less on willpower:

ü Eating regularly during the day (to balance your blood sugar levels) so that you are not starving will help you not have to rely on willpower. 
ü   Managing your environment by removing yourself from the table of snacks.
ü  Bringing a healthy plate of food (crudité with a cottage cheese dip for the starter snacks or a salad for the meal) so that there is something you can fill up on if you really need to eat.
ü  Drinking water in between each alcoholic drink.

Bottom line, don’t rely on willpower to stay on track, it runs out at some point!

Myth 6: Cleansing or drastically cutting calories after the holiday season is the best way to counteract all of that holiday eating you did.

This is completely unnecessary and counterintuitive.  Firstly, your body detoxes and cleanses itself every single day – eating more fruit and vegetables will help with the process as these foods contain all the nutrients that the liver requires to work at its best.  Secondly, suddenly decreasing your calories confuses the body and it is more likely to go into a holding on state if the calories are cut for a longer period of time.  And thirdly, it puts you into a ‘diet mentality’, which ruins your relationship with food and spoils the enjoyment of food.  Rather get back to basics after the holiday season and continue to listen to your body – your body does not lie about what it needs.

Bottom line, get back into your regular pattern of eating and eat less or no treats for a while.

Keeping your weight stable during the holidays doesn’t have to be hard!  You can enjoy the special and delicious foods and festive meals that make the holiday season special to you.  if you eat normally on most days, and at functions control your portions and eat mindfully, stop eating when you are satisfied, and get back to basics once the holidays are over, you will find that your clothes will not feel snug in the new year!

 Kim Hofmann is a Registered Dietician with an added Honours Degree in Psychology. She has been working in private practice for 13 years and has successfully assisted hundreds of people, from those seeking to lose weight to those with special needs (sports, allergies and intolerances, disordered eating and eating disorders, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease). Kim’s passion lies in combining her psychological studies with nutrition and food, and she often helps clients understand the reasons behind their binging and other unhealthy habits. She is totally dedicated to delivering nutrition information that is accurate, practical and easy to follow. She teaches clients how to follow an easy-to-use healthy plan that has enough energy and takes into account individual likes and lifestyle.

Kim Hofmann RD(SA)
Phone: 021 674 4666
Cell: 084 206 2715


In a time when water is so precious many are doing their best and implementing many water-savers into their homes and gardens. One such water-saver is synthetic lawn.

Synthetic lawn is made from a mixture of synthetic materials which vary from supplier to supplier. The raw materials used are crucial to the quality of synthetic lawn. Blades are always made from nylon, polyethylene (PE), or polypropylene (PP) – a common form of plastic found in plastic bags and bottles. It comes in solid pellets which are melted down and mixed with dyes and UV resistant additives. If you’re looking for quality, PE is generally your high-end option.

The backing is often made from polypropylene fibres, rubber compounds or polyester foam. A flexible adhesive such as polyurethane, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), or latex is used to coat the underside and bind the grass fibres into the backing.

Installation can actually make or break your experience. The method to install synthetic lawn varies depending on the surface onto which you are installing it and DIY can be risky. There are many factors to consider such as which region you are in and what weather conditions your artificial lawn will be exposed to. For example, you cannot use nails in extremely cold regions whilst extreme heat and reflections from windows can melt the lawn. Professionals also have knowledge of roll orientation and the direction of the lawn blades as well as excavation depth, preparation of the base, etc. It is advisable to get a local installer in to conduct a site visit and give advice on which method would best suit your individual circumstances. You could try DIY but you’d be saving yourself time and money getting it done by a professional.

Once the grass has been correctly installed you’ll need to give it some TLC in terms of cleaning and maintenance; but don’t worry, it’s not nearly as time consuming as traditional lawn. Basic maintenance would include the following:

• Brush the lawn with a stiff bristle broom (not steel) regularly to remove debris and encourage the blades to stay upright. Brush in accordance with the amount of traffic your lawn gets – you’ll soon see if the grass is looking dull or flat.
• Rake or use a leaf blower to remove fallen leaves, branches, etc.
• Hose down your lawn every month (more if heavy traffic) to get rid of dust, dirt, and pollen. If something is spilt on your lawn it is best to rinse it straight away. Recommended detergent use varies so check with your supplier.
• Remove solid pet waste as per normal – with a scoop or bag – and remove urine by hosing down the area. If odour starts to build up you can use a mixture of white vinegar and water mixed in equal parts.
• Even artificial lawn can get weeds if not looked after. Weed removal is easy enough -pick them out or spray a weed killer in advance to avoid them altogether.

The good news is that with good care, synthetic lawn can last up to 20 years. This figure obviously depends on which brand you use, but most come with a warranty of 8 to 15 years. Modern synthetic grass is chemically treated to be UV resistant and has been improved to be more wear-resistant. So whether you want to switch over to a lower maintenance back yard or simply create a little manicured spot in your courtyard, synthetic lawn is a great long term investment that may even add a little value to your property. After all everyone loves a lush green, manicured lawn!

Norgarb Properties Agent Andre Ter Moshuizen who specialises in the Claremont area, shares some household tips and handy home hints with you every month. Read more of his articles here.

Andre Ter Moshuizen: 082 602 1367 | andre@norgarb.co.za | www.norgarbproperties.co.za


Rental scams are on the rise and tenants and private landlords are potentially more at risk of being scammed. But there are some useful tips “Red flags” to watch out for. As agents it’s our business to be aware and carefully do our due diligence in the application process to alleviate falling prey to scammers. It is usually easy to spot a scam however scammers are savvy and sometimes all is not as it seems. 

The latest which agents and owners alike are facing are fraudulent bank statements submitted with the application, seemingly stamped and dated by the banks. Most wouldn’t question the validity when presented with bank statements looking legit.

For tenants it is fundamental that you physically view the property and meet with the agent, or if viewing without the agent that you verify who the agent is, i.e. scammers often take pictures off ads currently being advertised by agents and sometimes even use the agent’s name. Always verify the authenticity of the agent by phoning the agency (not merely a cellphone provided in the ad). It is imperative that no funds should change hands at this stage. Red flag… if asked to pay a deposit to secure the property and/or first months rental before the application has been processed and lease drawn up. It can be easy to get excited by a ‘good deal’ and think by paying the deposit you are guaranteed a lease. 

It is important to remember that these con artists are professional and you can easily be swept up by their sweet talking. Never accept that you cannot physically view a property. Red flag ……. Why an appointment can’t be kept, “agent/landlord” is out of town and cannot be there, or keys not available or being couriered. But they stress the urgency as there are a number of applications and prospective tenants who are willing to pay the deposit. 

For a genuine rental application, you would need to provide ID, bank statements, proof of income, employment history, references past and present. FICA , proof of current residence.  If not asked to provide this with a signed application form giving the agent/landlord permission to carry out check then Red flag…..start asking why. And never submit this documentation to anyone until you’ve verified that the agent.

Insist on seeing the current FFC and check the EAAB website for registration. Or do your own investigations as every estate agent has to be registered with the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) and have an up-to-date Fidelity Fund certificate. (FFC). These certificates are issued on an annual basis and must reflect that the agent is licensed to practise for the current year. Regardless of any excuse given, it's illegal for an agent to practise if they are not in possession of a valid FFC.
As the financial strain on tenants is increasing, the demand for more affordable rentals rises thus making it easier for con artists to operate by “providing” a good deal and using fear of loss as a tool con tenants into paying a deposit upfront to secure “due to the number of people interested”.

In summary:  
• Don't pay any form of deposit or application fee until you have physically viewed the inside and outside of a property and met with/verified the agent. 
• Check and see if the agency marketing the rental property has a valid Fidelity Fund certificate.
• DO NOT pay any money before or during an application process until the go ahead has been given and application and ITC checks have been concluded.
• Be wary of adverts on free classified websites.
• If an add looks too good to be true and the price is a giveaway compared to what is advertised in the area - then it probably is too good to be true.
• Never do business purely via sms / email.   When meeting with a private landlord ask for proof of ownership to verify that they are in fact are the registered owners. 
• An agent will need to have a signed Mandate with the owner and would have received FICA and ID as well as proof of ownership.
• Always insist on a written lease and check it carefully before signing.
• Private Landlords – carefully scrutinise bank statements submitted with an application for any sign of alteration to e.g. the name, or date.

The information contained in this article expresses our thoughts, views and understanding based on our experience and is not to be taken as legal advice. As such LettingWorx Rentals will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information.

LettingWorx Rentals


How to keep your home safe this holiday - “More jingle bells, less alarm bells”

The lead-up to the festive season is a busy one. People are packing, making holiday plans, doing last-minute shopping and attending endless year-end functions. However, ensuring the security of family and property should be a priority.

“We have all had a long and tough year and it is only natural to want to relax and drop your guard.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what opportunistic criminals are depending on. We hope these tips will help you enjoy the holiday with the ease of knowledge that all your security plans are in place,” says Charnel Hattingh, National Marketing and Communications Manager at Fidelity ADT.

She offers the following tip sheet on valuable do's and don’ts:

1. Ensure that your alarm is in working order. December is traditionally a busy period for security companies, so homeowners should test their alarms at least three weeks before going on holiday. Should the system require servicing, this should be arranged as early as possible.
2. Ensure there are no gaps in your fence or unintentional points of access to your home that may need additional security.
3. Connecting outdoor lights to timers and motion sensors act as an additional deterrent.
4. Two weeks before you leave for your holiday, advise your security company of your holiday plans. Should an incident happen while you are away, it is essential that they have the following updated information:
• all key holder information
• details of domestic workers, gardeners or house sitters who may be staying on the property while you are away.
5. Inform your neighbours and Neighbourhood Watch of your holiday plans so that they can keep an eye on your property while you are away.
6. Stop all newspaper and other deliveries if applicable and arrange that someone collects your post while you are away. A bulging post box is a clear indication that you are not home.
7. If you have hired a house sitter, teach them how to use your alarm system correctly.
8. Make sure that all bushes or trees close to your doors and garage are trimmed, to avoid the possibility of intruders hiding behind them.
9. Be discreet when packing your car. Do so behind closed doors. If possible, in your garage.
10. Do a quick once-over before you leave on holiday. Double check that you have locked and secured all windows and doors. Sliding doors can be secured simply by placing a piece of timber cut to size in the sliding rail. Don’t leave ladders, spades or tools outside as these can be excellent break-in tools. Ensure that all valuables and remote controls for automatic gates and garage doors are not left lying around.

“The best way to keep your home safe over the festive season and to ensure peace of mind is to follow these guidelines and to get a preholiday alarm service check-up to ensure the system is in full working order”, explains Hattingh.

“Your security company can even do a full risk assessment and make recommendations as to where you can improve your home security. You may wish to consider outdoor protection beams, smoke detectors, CCTV and even electric fencing.”

Issued on behalf of Fidelity ADT

Manager - Harfield Village Community Improvement District (HVCID)
Cel: 081 412 6109   E-mail: admin@hvcid.co.za


Getting involved in maintaining and enhancing our local parks is an excellent way of getting involved in the community. Unfortunately, we’ve noticed that sometimes our wires get crossed and freshly-planted indigenous plants get mistaken for weeds, or that weeding happens without mulching to preserve soil moisture.

The FOHP has experience in sustainable park maintenance through our years of work in the parks, and as such have a specific approach to planting which emphasises permaculture methods and techniques. These include:

• No weeding without mulching, to avoid patches of bare soil which get very hot and dehydrate nearby plants
• Preserving biodiversity through the use of water-wise, indigenous plants
• Using plants that contribute to the local ecosystem through producing nectar for bees, fruits for birds, etc.

If you’d like to be involved in planting or weeding parts of the parks, please get in contact with is at harfield.parks@gmail.com so we can coordinate our efforts and continue to use sustainable permaculture methods.

Grass rehabilitation project: 
If you see a few square metres of grass roped off in one of the parks next year, don’t panic! The FOHP may be attempting a small scientific project next year to determine the difference between a no-mow approach, weeding with composting and weeding without composting. We’ll be documenting the change in the grass and sharing our findings via the newsletter and Facebook pages.



The two sides of the festive period: peace and goodwill versus Frantic Friday when anything but peace prevails! What can neuroscience tell us about compulsive shopping in the festive period and the January sales?

By Dr Samantha J. Brooks Ph.D.

Impulsivity and compulsivity play a large role in neuropsychiatric research as they underpin many mental health disorders. Unfortunately, impulsive and compulsive thoughts and behaviours are also commonly observed throughout the festive period! Impulsivity is a natural tendency found in all animals that enables the quick avoidance of danger or threat without too much forethought. However, when impulsivity becomes excessive it can be harmful to us and to others. Compulsivity on the other hand, is not a natural tendency. Instead, it is a maladaptive coping strategy or repetitive behaviour that we learn as a habit to help lesson tension or dampen negative emotions. And whereas impulsivity is often related to craving and addictive behaviours – or even violent crime – compulsivity reflects something we do repetitively that we have learned to associate with reward. Usually animals and humans only repeat a behaviour if it was previously pleasurable, or reduced discomfort. By considering the brain processes of impulsivity and compulsivity during the festive period, we might be able to improve our behaviour, control our thoughts, and return to a better sense of peace and goodwill for all!

The tendency to crave and consume (e.g. buy) new products on offer in the shops, especially during the festive season, is an impulsive trait. Most of us do not need another new gadget, a larger TV, or a new pair of shoes. Yet, we might have that uncontrollable, impulsive urge – aroused by the media – to go out and splurge our last remaining credit on an already over-burdened store or credit card. We know we shouldn’t, and we know we want, not need.  But some of us just cannot help the urge to buy more and more stuff over the festive period – and beyond! This is especially true when peer pressure forces us to demonstrate our elevated social status. We would rather avoid our friends, families and co-workers looking down on us! The negative feelings that come with the sense that without the latest gadgets or clothes we are not good enough, can – we have learned – be easily improved with a quick trip to the shops! And while the craving aspect of buying new things is impulsive, the repetitive trips to the shops that become a habit, are learned and compulsive.  Compulsivity means repeating something over and over – even when it is detrimental (like spending credit when you haven’t got the cash) – to the point where it is difficult to stop. 

Neuroscientists have been able to pinpoint some of the brain processes involved in the difference between impulsivity – acting inappropriately withouth much forethought – and compulsivity – repetitive, habitual responses despite adverse consequences. Areas of the midbrain are typically over-active when we feel impulsive, including the amygdala,  striatum and insular cortex. Interestingly, these brain areas can sometimes be over-active in people who abuse drugs, gamble, overeat or who engage in promiscious sexual practices. So one could say that the impulse to spend more and more money in the shops is a bit like an addiction that has become uncontrollable. Conversely, when we act compulsively, our prefrontal cortex is overrun with thoughts about our habit, be it shopping, dieting, cleaning, or even something healthy like a sport, hobby or occupation. When we develop a compulsion, such as spending too much money in the shops on items we probably don’t need, we are unable to delay the powerful sense that the immediate reward is much better than a later reward (e.g. saving one’s money for the future).  And usually, after some time has passed after the compulsive shopping, an overwhelming sense of guilt, anxiety and negative emotions flood the mind. Then, the part of the brain called the anterior cingulate – midway towards the front of the prefrontal cortex – becomes activated to try to stop the conflict in the mind between feeling pleasure from shopping, and feeling guilty about spending too much money.  But the brain doesn’t like to feel guilty or anxious for long.  Instead, it tries to find a quick fix to feel better again!  And the impulse to spend rears its ugly head quite soon, as we have been taught by an ever-stimulating media that it is good to keep on buying things!

But like an addict – and people who frantically search for the latest sought-after item – our impulses and learned compulses never satisfy us for long.  We are simply led deeper and deeper down a spiral of alternating brief periods of reward and despair.  Neuroscientists specialising in addiction processes understand that it is very difficult – but not impossible – to rise up from the depths of this spiral.  When people hit trock-bottom they may have spent all of their money, stolen precious items from their families and friends, damaged relationships, amassed huge amounts of debt, become obese, and perhaps also damaged their health. But, despite being at rock-bottom, there is a ladder out.  Neuroscientists using Pavlovian behaviourism as a guide, understand that over time habits can be extinguished, and new, healthier habits can be learned in their place.

With this in mind, we should consider if we really want to be elbowing our way through raucous, screaming crowds next festive season to buy the latest gadget, item of clothing or food that we don’t really need. And we can try to pay more attention to our emerging impulses, and decide not to act on them as rampantly.  Instead, perhaps we can slow down our compulsive tendencies to max-out our credit cards, by placing a delay between stimulus (the bright, exciting advertisements) and potential response (reaching for our wallet or purse).  If we can achieve this, we might have more money, better health, and more friends to share the festive period with next year!

Happy Holidays Harfielders!

Dr Samantha Brooks is a neuroscientist at the UCT Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health, specialising in the neural correlates of impulse control from eating disorders to addiction.  For more information on neuroscience at UCT and to contact Samantha, see www.drsamanthabrooks.com.


December in the garden

It's already December - how did that happen!? Summer is in full swing, Christmas is around the corner and temperatures are climbing, but it's not nearly as hot yet as it's been in previous years. It's a good time to plant, and the plant list is a long one this month.

December's plant list: 
Amaranth, Basil, Bush and Climbing beans, Beetroot, Butternut, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Carrot, Chard, Cape Gooseberry, Celery, Chives, Chilli, Cucumber, Eggplant, Kale, Kohlrabi, Ginger, Globe Artichoke, Leek, Leaf Mustard, Lettuce, Jerusalem artichokes, Onion, Parsnip, Parsley, Peas, Potato, Pumpkin, Radish, Rhubarb, Sweetcorn, Sweet pepper, Sweet potato, Turnip, Tomato, Watercress, Watermelon, Zucchini. Don't forget all the herbs!

Happy water saving, and happy planting – the two are not mutually exclusive, so it's about finding smart ways to do both sustainably.


Motivations of the have’s and have-not’s this holiday season.

 ‘Tis the festive season – but in the Fair Cape this does not always mean that people are jolly.  During times of extreme poverty, what can neuroscience tell us about the motivations of the have’s and have-not’s this holiday season?

By Dr Samantha J. Brooks Ph.D.

On a sunny Sunday afternoon recently, at 2pm, my partner and I were taking a stroll along the
catwalk from Muizenberg train station in the direction of St. James, when a pair of local men jumped in to our path and threatened our lives at knife and gunpoint.  Luckily, the two men only threatened us – others haven’t been so lucky.  They wanted my handbag – and took it – as easily as taking a gift off the shelf in a shop.  SAPS told us when we reported the crime at Muizenberg that the catwalk, flanking the sunlit aquamarine ocean and providing an angelic view of False Bay and the mountains – is a particularly notorious hotspot for violent crime during the festive season. A honey trap if you will for tourists and non-tourists alike.  Local dishevelled, weather-beaten men, young and old, use hammers, guns, knives, rocks to threaten – and sometimes injure or kill – innocent walkers along this stretch, to gain the spoils they need to provide for themselves or their own families, or to sell on for drugs to get them through the lonely time of year.

Desperation for material wealth, when poverty makes life appear hopeless in the face of people with relative abundance, is clearly a major malady blighting the Fair Cape, particularly during the holidays.  The problem is so commonplace – especially along the catwalk from Muizenberg – that SAPS are so pitifully under-resourced to be able to tackle the problem – even if it is moral for them to do so.  According to John Gray, an eminent English professor, humanism – the belief in human morality and progress – is a fallacy that we cling to almost religiously about our self-identity.  A belief in humanism and civilisation allows us to think that we are getting better at living together in society. This might be especially true for South Africa, where civilians hoped –after Nelson Mandela became president, and after Zuma was ousted – that substantial progress towards Tutu’s vision of a Rainbow Nation would be made.   But when we remove the gossamer-thin veneer of the idea that we are naturally civilised – such as when we find ourselves living in vermin-infested shacks on the Cape Flats immersed in sewerage and rain water, or when war engulfs a country – humans quickly revert to the basic laws of survival. Can you honestly say that if you and your family were starving and desperate that you would not resort to robbing someone better off than you? John Gray’s work suggests that our morality and civilised beliefs would be dropped in favour of reducing the pain of our wretched situation.

More important to the brain than morality and the idea of civilisation, is the ability to learn how to get rewards and to avoid pain.  Every mammal on the planet has a brain that does this – perhaps other vertebrates and invertebrates too.  It is a basic tenet of our ability to survive that we should try to minimise our pain.  This could be why violent crime is so difficult to stamp out in Cape Town.  A Western Cape robber typically lives a life of pain:  poverty, fear of death, and the continuing disjointed fragile community that stemmed from the mass District 6 removals of the infamous Group Areas Act of the 1960s Apartheid government.  Pain is an everyday occurrence for people living on the Cape Flats in the Western Cape. As such, it should come as no surprise that as I walked down the path with my partner that we looked – to the brains of those poverty-stricken men who used violent weapons to rob us – like ripe cherries asking to be picked.  And once the brain learns that it is easy to gain pleasure and avoid the pain of poverty in this way, the natural inclination to use violence to rob gains ever more momentum.

Perhaps we can use this basic knowledge of the brain to prevent future violent robbing along the catwalk at Muizenberg and other infamous crime hotspots in the Cape this festive season.  If the brain is adept at finding pleasure and avoiding pain, we should, as citizens, make it less easy and pleasurable for armed robberies to take place.  More patrol officers should be deployed to protect holiday-makers, signs should be erected to alert those like my partner and I, who do not know this is a crime hotspot.  And perhaps for the longer term, the most important question of all is how to reduce the pain experienced by the inhabitants of the Cape Flats and other poverty-stricken areas?  How can the government and society put right the wrongs of Apartheid that has surely fuelled the motivations of criminal gangs in Cape Town?

Keep your wits about you, and try to spread joy and pleasure while avoid any painful situations this festive season.

Dr Samantha Brooks is a UK neuroscientist working with the University of Cape Town, specialising in the neural correlates of impulse control from eating disorders to addiction.  For more information on neuroscience at UCT and to contact Samantha, see www.drsamanthabrooks.com.

Is WiFi dangerous to your health?

The question of WiFi and the unseen radiation that is all around us has long been under scrutiny with a vast amount of conflicting information found on the internet. Before we even delve into the WiFi and health question let’s take a look at radiation.

Most often the term radiation brings up images of nuclear blasts and humans with three arms but really this is the emotive fantasy of TV. There are two types of radiation – ionizing and non-ionizing. Ionizing radiation examples include x-rays, gamma rays, and good old ultraviolet (UV) and has the energy to excite electrons, knock them out of orbit and therefor ionize the atom. High levels of exposure to ionizing radiation has the potential to mutate your cells and can be detrimental to your health, which is why it is used in such controlled and protected environments. Non-ionizing radiation however is a wavelength longer than light and includes infra-red rays, microwaves, radio waves, baby monitors, Bluetooth, cellphones, and so on. In fact, it is hardly possible to avoid it all together as society has made full use of non-ionizing radiation in modern technology. WiFi comes in at a low 2.45GHz, along the microwave band with baby monitors and cellphones.

Image from howtogeek.com

Research on the effect of radio waves on human health can be dated back to the 1950’s when concerns were raised about the Navy servicemen being exposed to the powerful shipboard radar. This accumulates to at least 60-odd years of apparent research and yet the internet is full of websites disagreeing on whether or not WiFi is actually dangerous to your health. From websites stating that even low wave radiation can cause oxidative stress, fertility damage, neuropsychiatric effects, calcium overload, cancer and endocrine changes to conflicting sites stating that there are no harmful effects whatsoever…so who do you believe?

The overall consensus seems to be that there is no conclusive scientific proof either way. Several studies have reported biological effects of prolonged WiFi exposure (headaches, etc) yet technical limitations have prevented any solid conclusions from being drawn up. It seems that prolonged exposure and exposure to high levels may cause some effects. Either way authorities have still put in place exposure limits with which wireless devices must comply – with WiFi being way below the set limit.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has assessed that there is no established scientific evidence of adverse health effects below current exposure limits. It may be that the amount of exposure 24/7  can be detrimental, especially long term, however until science catches up and is able to produce solid evidence, all we have to go on are our own personal experiences and beliefs. To err on the side of caution, you can do the following:

• Ditch the microwave.
• Hardwire your laptops, desk tops and smart TV’s to your router.
• Switch off your WiFi when you are not using it.
• Put your mobile devices onto aeroplane mode whenever you can.
• Do not charge your mobile devices in your bedroom when you are sleeping.

As with a lot of new age technology, science sometimes seems to get ahead of itself, designing and creating without being able to mark the effects these things really have on us. Until it catches up and is able to prove the effects, we’ll continue hearing different stories from all corners.

Remind yourself that science once told everyone that the earth was flat…so perhaps “scientific proof” isn’t always the final word.

Norgarb Properties Agent Andre Ter Moshuizen who specialises in the Claremont area, shares some household tips and handy home hints with you every month. Read more of his articles here.

Andre Ter Moshuizen: 082 602 1367 | andre@norgarb.co.za | www.norgarbproperties.co.za


How to downsize without tears

With their children grown and leaving for university, jobs abroad or homes of their own, an increasing number of people in their 50s and 60s are downsizing from big family homes to smaller, lower maintenance properties in security complexes – but the process is often painful.

“Even owners who have been planning their move for years can find it extremely difficult to start packing when the time finally arrives to do so, and usually that’s not because they are scared of getting older, but because family homes are associated with so many memories and emotions,” says Rudi Botha, CEO of BetterBond*, SA’s biggest bond originator.   

“In addition, even when empty-nesters can see the financial advantages of downsizing, they often worry that it will also entail a drastic change in lifestyle. And then of course there is the hard work of the move itself, especially when it means having to sort through 20 or 30 years’ worth of possessions to decide what to pack and take and what to sell, give away or discard.”

“However, we meet clients who are doing this every day, and have learned that there are quite a number of positive aspects to focus on that can make the change much easier and the move something to actually look forward to.”

The first of these, he says, is the relief from the high costs of maintaining a large property and keeping it in good condition. There is also less risk of having to replace or repair expensive components such as the roof, wiring or plumbing. “It’s important to remember that your home isn't getting any younger either, and that a property that gets run down because you no longer have the energy, agility or inclination to keep up maintenance will be harder to sell if you delay your move.”

Secondly, a smaller, more modern home can actually mean a better lifestyle, because it frees up time as well as money for other endeavours, such as hobbies, travel and study - or for some of those luxury features you’ve been promising yourself for years. You’ll also have the opportunity to choose a home with greater security if you wish, or maybe one that doesn’t have stairs and will be easier to get around as you get older.

Botha also notes that they younger you are when you make the move, the easier the transition is likely to be. “There is much less chance that you will have to make a forced sale due to changed circumstances such as ill health, and a much greater chance that you will make new friends and develop new interests in your new location.

“In addition, if you plan ahead and control the timing of the sale, you should be able, with the help of a knowledgeable local estate agent, to make your move when the market is in your favour. This may mean you pay more for your new home then than you would in a softer market, but if you’re selling a more expensive property in the same market, you should come out well-ahead financially.

“And then of course if you apply for your new home loan through BetterBond, we will ensure that you get the very best interest rate available, which will make your move even more financially advantageous.

“At the moment, we are finding that the average variation between the best and worst rate offered on an application is 0,5%, which could translate into very significant savings for the borrower, at no cost for our service. On a loan of R1,5m, for example, the potential savings amount to more than R120 000 worth of interest over the 20-year lifetime of the loan, plus some R6000 a year off the home loan instalments.”

*BetterBond is SA’s biggest bond originator, accounting for 25% of all new mortgage bonds registered in the Deeds Office annually. Its statistics are thus a reliable indicator of the state of the residential real estate market.

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Anne-Marie Bamber is Norgarb Properties dedicated Home Loans Consultant. She has over 15 years’ experience in assisting clients with their Home Loan needs and has placed many happy families in their dream homes.

Contact her today for no cost stress-free home-buying.
Anne-Marie Bamber
Home Loans consultant
Tel: +27 (0)21 851 3568 | Fax: +27 (0)21 441 1494 | Cell: +27 (0)82 071 1665
E-mail: anne-marie.bamber@betterlife.co.za