A poem for Nene.
By Dr Samantha J. Brooks Ph.D.

Dear Harfielders - instead of writing a neuroscience article this month, I chose instead to write a poem called The Colour Purple – for Nene, a girl who lived locally - and to appeal to people to wear the colour purple in remembrance of her.  The Colour Purple is also a film based on a fictional book by Alice Walker, about a young black woman who was raped and abused by two men (her father and her arranged husband) in deep South America - the only thing that kept her going (in this fictional story) was the dream that one day she would be reunited with her sister in Africa. I think wearing the colour purple on our clothes can remind us of our dream that one day soon in South Africa, women can be free to move around a city like Cape Town, without fear of violence, abuse or harassment.  This poem, written by me, is to remember the beautiful UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana, who lived locally with us.

The Colour Purple – for Nene

As I clench my lips tight in anger and fear, they turn the colour purple 
As I hold my breath for the politico to act, my pallor turns the colour purple
The breath-taking sunsets over Camps Bay beach, are the colour purple
The fragile Disa in bloom hidden in the gorge, is the colour purple
The jacaranda tree whose flower blossoms on maturity, is the colour purple

The bruises on the neck of the woman, are the colour purple
As she clutched the parcel, her knuckles were the colour purple
His rage, his thoughts, his words of hate, were the colour purple
This desperate rainbow nation, its colours have bled, fading to the colour purple.

Dr Samantha Brooks is a UK neuroscientist in Harfield Village, specialising in the neural correlates of impulse control from eating disorders to addiction. For more information you can contact Samantha at: www.drsamanthabrooks.com


Better health, higher educational achievement and higher net wealth are among the many socio-economic benefits of home ownership, according to the latest studies by Habitat for Humanity*, and they are certainly strong incentives for the thousands of South Africans who buy new homes each year to accommodate their growing families.

“Everyone wants their children to have a healthy and happy place to grow up and to do well at school or university,” says Rudi Botha, CEO of SA’s biggest bond originator BetterBond, “but it isn’t always easy to find a home that meets the needs of everyone in the family – or future family - and is also within budget.

“However, it is possible, provided that prospective buyers don’t rush things and are prepared to do some research and preparation before making a purchase.”

The first thing family buyers need to establish, he says, is what they can realistically afford to spend – taking into account the additional expenses involved in raising children and saving for long-term goals such as tertiary education or their own retirement.

“Small children may need day-care, for example, and the cost of schooling for older children can be very high. Then there are things like school field trips and sports tours, extramural classes and family holidays to include in the budget, in addition to the bond repayment, utilities like water and electricity, home maintenance, insurance and security.

“This is why we always suggest that buyers consult a reputable bond originator like BetterBond long before they start looking at homes for sale. The affordability calculator on our website will help you work out what size bond you can afford given your income and expenses, and our consultants can also assist you to obtain a home loan pre-qualification certificate.

“This will enable you to focus on homes that are within your budget, signal to sellers that you are a serious buyer and give you leverage in price negotiations that could save you even more on the total cost of your home.”

Second, says Botha, family buyers need to think about where they want to buy, with the most important factors in that decision being:

* Safety and security. Children need safe places to play and to meet or visit with their friends. That’s one of the reasons that gated developments and closed-off neighbourhoods are so popular with family homebuyers.

* Good schools close to home. As well as wanting to provide a quality education, most parents with school-going children would like to save time spent travelling to-and-fro for sporting and other extra-mural activities, and thus don’t want to live too far from the school gates.

* Other families. It’s great to live in an area where many of your neighbours are at a similar stage of life and your children can all grow up together.

* Proximity to work. “Spending more time with their children and less time commuting to and from work is a major consideration for most parents.

The third thing to consider, he says, is a home that will “grow with you” as your family’s needs change, so that you don’t have to sell and buy again too soon. Some features to look for in that regard are:

* Lots of storage: Having children means having more stuff. Make sure the home you choose has long-term storage like a basement or shed as well as plenty of easy-access storage like closets and cabinets. It is also really useful to have an additional room that can be used as a playroom or as a music and computer room for older children.

* The correct floorplan: Some family homes have the master bedroom at the opposite end of the house to the children’s bedrooms, and that may be appealing to the parents of teenagers. However, those with young children will probably feel more secure having all the bedrooms together.

* Family space. You may not be an award-winning chef, but a good kitchen can be a major gathering place for a family. It’s also a good idea to look for a home with a large informal living space that everyone can enjoy together.

* Extra accommodation. Working parents with young children may also need a home with room to accommodate a full-time au-pair or nanny, and those with students still living with them might also prefer that they have their own cottage or “granny flat”.


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


Our dams are in excellent shape for the Summer - what a relief, and reason to truly celebrate as we head into the heart of Spring. It's the perfect time to get planting while the ground is fertile from the rain, before the temperatures climb more dramatically. 

October'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

October's What's-in-season list:  

Vegetables: Globe artichoke, Beetroot, Green beans, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chives, Courgettes, Cucumber, Leeks, Garlic, Lettuce, Mealies, Mushrooms, Onion, Parsley, Parsnips, Peas, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Radishes, Spinach, Squash, Sweet potatoes, Tomatoes, Turnips, Waterblommetjies

Fruit: Apricots, Mulberries, Bananas, Oranges, Lemons, Grapefruit, Naartjies, Guava, Paw-paw, Pineapples, Kiwi, Rhubarb, Strawberries

Happy planting!

Patchwork Group
Gabriella Garnett
076 2199 849 | gabriella.garnett@gmail.com


These are easy to make but take a little time. They can be frozen for a few weeks, so good to make for guests – who will love them.

I don’t always abide by the exact measurements in the recipe. Use ice trays as moulds – stars and heart shaped ones if you have them. I have only made them in the shaped silicone trays.

  • 400gm melted chocolate
  • 500mls vanilla ice cream.

With a pastry brush, brush the inside of each mould with melted chocolate. Freeze until set and repeat. Place a spoonful of ice cream into each mould and freeze. Pour melted chocolate over the top of each mould to for a lid and freeze again, preferably overnight.

To unmould tap the bottom of the moulds gently. If you are serving them for a dinner party, turn out the kisses beforehand, place on greaseproof paper and freeze until needed.

Lyn Staples, Norgarb Properties Estate Agent
Cell: +27 (0)82 846 0739 | Office: +27 (0)21 674 1120 | Fax: +27 (0)21 774 4927
Email: lyn@norgarbproperties.co.za
Focus Areas: Kenilworth & Claremont Village


In the wake of the kidnappings which have made headlines over the last few weeks in Cape Town and Johannesburg, Fidelity ADT has issued a general alert to all residents.

Parents have been urged to empower their children, teenagers and varsity-going young adults with all the information necessary to respond to any crisis or act of criminality.

“As parents and guardians, it is our responsibility to not only educate our children about safety but to also give them the necessary tools to deal with a crisis. While we certainly don’t want to live in fear, we do need to have frank conversations about what to do when things go wrong,” explains Charnel Hattingh, National Communications and Marketing Manager at Fidelity ADT.

There are simple actions, she says, which can often keep a child or young adult safe.

 Teach your kids: 

• They must always walk to or from school with a friend or friends. Stick to streets they know and never take short cuts through quiet areas or empty parking lots and never walk with cell phones and iPads in full view.
• If they get picked up at school, they should never leave the premises but always wait inside the school grounds for their lift to arrive.
• Younger children particularly must never get into a stranger’s car; even if the stranger claims that someone they love is hurt and that they have been sent to pick them up. Remind them that you would never send someone they don’t know to fetch them.
• Consider using a password system. If the person coming to collect you from school cannot repeat the password you and your child agreed on, they should not get into the car but immediately ask for help.
• If a stranger approaches your child, they should not talk to them no matter how friendly they may seem. If someone tries to grab them, they need to fight, kick and shout. If your child does encounter any suspicious activity, encourage them to get a good look and memorise their physical details and clothing, as well as the vehicle they are in. Listen for any names or other details that might help identify them later.
• Make sure your children memorise their full names, address and phone number. Using a play phone, teach them when and how to dial 10111. If they are older they should have some emergency numbers programmed into their phone or consider having a safety App such as Fidelity ADT's FindU on their phone.

Remind students: 

• Older children should be reminded to keep their valuables out of sight at all times and not to use headphones because this will dampen their ability to sense their surroundings. “The more you cut your senses off the easier it is for someone to take you by surprise. Stay alert!” says Hattingh.
• Alter their route: If they are walking home or to public transport they need to alter their route. “Even if it takes longer, always use a route that is well lit and populated with houses and other walkers instead of taking shortcuts through less-friendly areas. If you feel threatened, you can at least knock on someone’s door for help if you’re walking through a familiar neighbourhood.”
• If you are using a taxi service, ensure it is a bona fide service provider.
• Be extra cautious to go and meet anyone who befriends you on social media. Always meet in a public space with 2 or 3 friends as backup.
• Be cautious to be lured by people offering you a job or modelling contract. Remember safety in numbers.

“Quite simply, the same rules that apply to adults need to be instilled in children and young adults and if someone cannot be found, it is vital to report this to the authorities immediately,” concludes Hattingh.

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


Spring is in the air and it’s time to get on top of your pets flea problem.

Choosing a flea treatment is no easy task and you want to be sure you use the best and safest product for your pet. New products are constantly coming onto the market offering the convenience of longer protection against fleas and ticks, so let’s to recap on how to tackle Fleas!


Like most species of animal and insect the flea is a survivor. It has the ability to adapt its biological make up in order to counteract environmental changes that may threaten its existence. These changes do not happen overnight but they do happen. For many years the flea products available to us contained the same old insecticides, which eventually became useless. Drug companies have constantly tried to come up with new ways of combating this problem whilst ensuring the safety of your pet.


Many modern flea treatments contain chemicals that attack the nerve cells of fleas causing hyperactivity, disorientation, paralysis and death of the flea. Other products include an insect growth regulator that also interrupts the flea breeding cycle.

These products are rigorously tested for efficacy and safety before they can be registered. It is probably safe to say that the newest flea products are going to be the most efficient as they will have been developed using the latest research. Here are some of the products worth investigating.

Activyl  For Cats and Dogs

• active ingredient indoxacarb that was specifically developed to overcome insect resistance
• uses enzymes inside the flea to activate it.
• Indoxacarb has not been used for flea control before.
• It is effective at killing adult and developing stages of fleas
• no known resistance – yet!
4 weeks of efficacy against adult fleas on the pet and developing stages of fleas in the pet’s environment
• spot on treatment
• safe for dogs and cats from 8 weeks of age or more than specified weight
• waterproof and remains effective after shampooing and bathing
does NOT kill ticks


• active ingredient  afoxolaner
• oral systemic treatment
tick and flea control for 1 month
• safe for pups 8wks and older
• dogs can swim
safety in pregnant or lactating bitches has not been tested


• active ingredient Fluralaner
• Fluralaner is a potent inhibitor of parts of the arthropod nervous system
• kills adult as well as juvenile ticks (larvae, nymphs).
• Newly emerged fleas on a dog are killed before viable eggs are produced.
• acts systemically so dog can be bathed and can swim
• safe for puppies over 8 weeks old
• Can be used in breeding, pregnant and lactating dogs.


• a topical solution with an easy Twist'n'Use™ applicator.
• active ingredient Fluralaner
kills ticks for up to 12 weeks
kills fleas and prevents flea infestations for 6 months.
• Fluralaner is a potent inhibitor of parts of the arthropod nervous system
• kills adult as well as juvenile ticks (larvae, nymphs). Newly emerged fleas on a dog are killed before viable eggs are produced.


kills fleas and ticks for 12 weeks
• a topical solution with an easy Twist'n'Use™ applicator.
• active ingredient Fluralaner
• Fluralaner is a potent inhibitor of parts of the arthropod nervous system
• kills adult as well as juvenile ticks (larvae, nymphs). Newly emerged fleas on a dog are killed before viable eggs are produced.

Bravecto has been tested extensively for the safety of your pet, for more information check out the website.


• imidacloprid & Flumethrin
pevents tick and flea infestation for 8 months
• repells ticks and fleas immediately
• frequent swimming or shampooing should be avoided
• safe for use in cats over 10 weeks old
• safe for puppies over 7 weeks old
• safety in pregnant or lactating animals has not been tested.

Things to consider before purchasing your flea treatment:

• how bad is the flea problem? You may need to start with a combination of products including environmental insecticides to get on top of your pets fleas.
• does your dog swim ? If so, choose a product that will withstand your dog being wet .
• will your pet tolerate a collar?
• how easy is it to dose your pet or apply spot treatments?
• how good are you in remembering to treat your pet every month?

Unfortunately, one of the main reasons flea treatments fail is the pet owner! The months go by so quickly it is not always easy to keep up, if you find you slip up with medication it’s definitely worth considering those that last longer!



It’s Grandparents’ Day on September 9th, and so what can psychology and neuroscience tell us about how a child’s brain develops in the presence of community elders?

By Dr Samantha J. Brooks Ph.D.

Grandparents in South Africa might hold the key to a brighter future! In South Africa, according to a report by Statistics South Africa, more people than ever are becoming grandparents, and grandmothers are becoming younger. Also, according to a study by Nkosithathi and Mtshali, in 2015, grandmothers in contemporary South Africa are the main source of parental support, with grandfathers providing a key role model for a child to mimic. The traditional role of grandparent as being an authoritative, punitive presence, out of touch with modern society, existing on the periphery of a child’s life, is predominantly out-dated.  Instead, grandparents play an active role as confidant, educator, entertainer and companion to children, especially when parents themselves are not available. For South African children, the role that grandparents occupy in their life, is especially important for those who live in poverty-stricken areas such as the Cape Flats, where children might not always be able to go to school for lack of money or safety fears.  According to the British Psychological Society, while much is written about how attachment styles between parents and children effect brain development and function, far less is written about the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren.  Given that grandparents are no longer on the periphery of a child’s life, but whose presence reflects a daily interaction - often in person – with their grandchildren, it is important to consider how older people within the family, whose memories might allow them to know more about the world and life than parents, influence a child’s brain development.

In South Africa, the role of grandparent in a child’s life, unlike most Westernised relationships, is often most apparent in response to a crisis, when the grandfather or grandmother are usually the best placed to intervene.  For example, the likelihood that a parents’ ability to look after a child is impaired, is much greater in South Africa than in other parts of the world, due to a higher incidence of poverty, substance abuse, parental jail sentences, or mental illness. This is especially true in Cape Town, and the influence of these parental issues on a child’s mental development is well studied.  For example, in the Western Cape, a high incidence of foetal alcohol syndrome (caused by mothers drinking during pregnancy) and related attention deficit disorders, adolescent methamphetamine and dagga use (often provided by gang leaders, substituting for absent fathers), and high levels of uncontrolled aggression, are all related - in part - to brain dysfunction.

However, it is not only external factors (substance misuse, maternal alcohol consumption, aggression) that alter a child’s brain development, but so too do major changes in society.  For example, it is well debated (see Don Pinnock’s book, Gang Town) that one of the contributors to the current rise in gangsterism in Cape Town, could be the dismantling of the influence of grandparents and other community elders, on the life of children growing up in District 6.  In the days of District 6, prior to the forced removals - to the Cape Flats where gangsterism is rife - sanctioned by the Group Areas Act in the 1950s-1960s, elders could keep a quiet eye on the children, in order to inform the parents of bad behaviour. Children knew that they were quietly being observed by their elders, and reports from people who used to live in District 6 say that this kept the general levels of crime low or petty (even though there were still gangsters around!). This covert web of influence by community elders to keep the youngsters in check, occurs to a much lesser extent in post-apartheid Cape Town, and may explain the surge in violent crime in recent years.  One must question whether, in the long-term, today’s army presence can provide an adequate substitute for the presence of grandparents and elders in the lives of these communities.

The presence of grandparents or similar elder figures in a child’s life, especially from an early age, becomes internalised and allows the child’s brain to develop stabilising cognitions and self-regulations that remain for life.  Our most famous South African elder statesman was of course calm, smiling Madiba himself, who always surrounded himself with adoring children in his latter days. The absence of our elder statesman in South Africa may explain some of the issues we face today!  The stabilising cognitions we develop as children often come from a wiser older person, who is likely less impulsive and driven by arousal, than younger family members, or who has more time to sit and chat to children than parents.  The influence of a stable home life on a child’s brain development was famously shown in Professor Robert Winston’s Millennials Study (‘Child of Our Time), where he followed the life-course of 25 babies born to families in the year 2000.  In this longitudinal study, it was suggested that children who developed within a stable household (read: non-arousing, routine-driven, quieter households surrounded by a loving family who expressed interest in the child), went on to have far less mental health issues in adulthood.  These stable children also had a better socio-economic outlook – they have got good university-entrance exam grades, good jobs and happy, healthy relationships of their own.  It suggested that the influence of a stable, loving upbringing, was far more important than socio-economic status (although child poverty can reduce the chance of growing up in a stable, loving household).

Similarly, in a much larger study in the UK – the Millennium Cohort Study of over 19,500 individuals born at the turn of the century - the latest data sweep, when the participants were age 14 years, showed that a child growing up in poverty had worse outcomes, such as higher levels of mental illness and poor well-being. However, to put this into South African terms – the presence of a stable, loving, non-arousing (e.g. low or no emotional or physical neglect or abuse) family network, could be more important than whether or not a child lives in poverty, if we consider that District 6 was a poor area but with many community elders.  Of course, it is easier to say than to implement a stable household in a township shack, with no electricity or running water.  But remember those who grew up in townships and thrived, such as Professor Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, or Trevor Noah – from Langa in Cape Town, and Alexandra in Johannesburg, respectively.  According to his biography, Born a Crime, Trevor Noah’s grandmother CoCo was a strong, regular influence in his life in the townships, which no doubt helped him to become the international star he is today!  If families who live in townships can try very hard to foster the stabilising, loving influence of grandparents, despite the poverty, Cape Town might be able to foster greater numbers of future generations that can escape the poverty trap.  By maintaining a calm, stable household, no matter what is going on outside, the developing brain of a child, with the help of their important grandparents, will be able to develop the neural processes for resilience, which is vitally needed to overcome future poverty and crime for themselves and their families.

So let us celebrate the true power that grandparents have – either yours or sharing somebody else’s in your community – to reshape the beautiful brains and the beautiful futures that Cape Town grandchildren deserve.  Happy Grandparent’s Day Harfielders!

Dr Samantha Brooks is a UK neuroscientist in Harfield Village, specialising in the neural correlates of impulse control from eating disorders to addiction.  For more information you can contact Samantha at: www.drsamanthabrooks.com

Click to read all previous articles by Dr Samantha J. Brooks Ph.D.