Martin Steenkamp and his collection was a hit at the Durban Fashion Week recently.

The adage that there is no substitute for hard work, no matter how talented one may be, fits Martin Steenkamp like one of his award-winning fashion designs. Driven to realise his dream, Steenkamp finished his schooling and then worked for seven years at a fast-food outlet to fund his studies at the Pietermaritzburg School of Fashion Design  (SOF).

Arguably the most talented designer to graduate from the SOF, Steenkamp’s most recently walked off with the Fashion Innovator 2018 title at the prestigious Durban Fashion Week (DFW)). The DFW accolade, identifying him as a next generation emerging designer, is the latest in a string of awards, including a Top Five placing at the Vodacom Young Designer competition. The winning garment, a tailored coat with hand manipulated sleeves and a skirt that was hand embellished with leather scales, also happens to be his favourite design, at this stage in his career at least.

A bright future beckons, and Steenkamp is hard at work towards creating his own label - John Martin - a luxury men’s wear brand destined for boutiques and retailers across Africa. Steenkamp wears his own creations that sets him apart, but also are extensions of how he celebrates his brand. Steenkamp is a role model to other aspiring designers and a credit to the SOF under the guidance of its indomitable principal, Priscilla Bhika. (DA)

Angie Narayanan (Community Chest) with The Witness general manager Neil Tapinos and advertising manager Marijke van Bosch.

The Community Chest’s annual Remarkable Man Golf Day will be held on Friday, November 2 at the Maritzburg Golf Club. The Witness has pledged its commitment as the event’s media sponsor with support from main sponsor Makhaotse Narasimulu and Associates, Barloworld Ford (hole-in-one sponsor) and Hayfields Kwik Spar as the provider of prizes and snacks). Four-ball entries and or hole sponsors must approach Angie on (033) 3941031 or at

  Today in History  

1986: The musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe, Phantom of Opera, makes its theatrical debut in London’s West End. 

It may not be around for much longer, so take note of World Post Day.

  News worth knowing  


SA’s financial markets were rattled as president Cyril Ramaphosa came under pressure from opposition parties to accept finance minister Nhlanhla Nene’s offer to quit over undisclosed meetings with the Gupta family. Nervousness among investors pushed government bond yields to their highest level in 10 months, while the rand moved to within 2c of touching ZAR15/US$ for the first time in three weeks. (BDLive)



South Africa is in the longest downward business cycle since 1945, according to a report by the Centre for Risk Analysis (CRA) at the Institute of Race Relations (IRR). "This is extraordinary, since other emerging markets are driving the global economy," IRR CEO Dr Frans Cronjé said in the report. The CRA looked at data provided by the SA Reserve Bank (SARB) on the country's business cycle phases dating back to the end of the Second World War in 1945. The SARB data - measured in months - indicates that SA has been in a downward phase since December 2013. According to the CRA report, the SARB data defines growth cycles as representing "fluctuations around the long-term growth trend of aggregate economic activity". The SARB determines upper (peaks) and lower (troughs) turning points in the business cycle in terms of the growth cycle definition of business cycles and not the classical definition, the report said. Classical business cycles refer to periods of absolute increase in aggregate economic activity, followed by periods of absolute decrease, as in a recession. (Fin24)



Toyota South Africa operations were halted yesterday at its Durban assembly plant and a Johannesburg warehouse because of a strike by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA). The union said it would continue the strike until its demands are met, adding that the action would spread to other Toyota factories over disputes on issues including staff recruitment, bonuses and transport allowances. (Reuters)



Auditor General Kimi Makwetu has lamented poor financial controls in the public sector that lead to irregular expenditure, saying the scourge has reached an "all-time high". Speaking at The Banking Summit, Makwetu said the rising rate of irregular expenditure called for stricter regulation that would empower his office to deal more harshly with transgressors and help boost compliance. "There is a glaring absence of consequence for all wrongdoing, which has given rise to calls to expand the mandate of the Auditor General," he said. President Cyril Ramaphosa is currently studying the Public Audit Amendment Bill, which seeks to expand the mandate of the Auditor General. The legislation would compel accounting officers at government departments and entities to adhere to the office's recommendations. According to Makwetu, irregular expenditure at local government quadrupled from ZAR4 billion in 2010/11 to more than ZAR16 billion in the 2016/2017 financial year, and nationally, from ZAR11 billion to around ZAR50 billion. (Fin24)



Last year, executives of the Competition Commission experienced a "spate" of criminal acts, including being held up at gun point and a security breach at the commission's premises. This led to protection services being appointed at a cost of ZAR14.9 million, members of parliament heard. Competition Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele, said executives had been victims of crime. "The Competition Commission and senior staff have been subject to a spate of criminal acts, the source and purpose of which is not yet apparent, in spite of these having been reported to the law-enforcement agencies.” (Fin24)



The wage gap between the highest and lowest paid and between men and women should be disclosed in company financial statements, says an agreement reached at the Jobs Summit over the weekend. Business, represented by Business Unity SA, agreed companies would be encouraged to voluntarily disclose pay differentials with a view to making these commitments compulsory within 12 months. Disclosure of ratios between the highest and lowest paid has come to be regarded worldwide as a way to promote a fairer society as well as provide a disincentive to excessive executive pay and is compulsory in an increasing number of countries, from the US to India. Disclosure of the gender pay gap is done less widely, with the UK recently becoming the first country to make it compulsory. The idea is that business takes ownership of this and voluntarily discloses, self-reflects and addresses disparities that cannot be justified. (BDLive)



Prasa, SA’s state-owned passenger rail agency, remained on track after the high court lifted the suspension of the agency’s safety permit imposed by the Rail Safety Regulator on Friday. The regulator suspended Prasa’s safety permit last Thursday, following a collision between two train sets in Kempton Park, Gauteng, in which 320 people were injured. It also said Prasa could not demonstrate that it had the ability, commitment and resources to properly assess and effectively control the risks arising from its railway operations. The regulator gave Prasa 48 hours to wrap up its operations and inform all its customers, employees and contractors of the decision to suspend its permit. But on Friday Prasa approached the courts for an urgent interim order to lift the suspension of the safety permit imposed by the regulator, which meant Prasa was permitted to continue operating until the matter had been heard. The matter will be heard on Thursday. (BDLive)



SA is set to conduct a countrywide census of commercial agriculture amid talk of expropriation without compensation, which has created a lot of uncertainty in the sector. Statistics SA will from October 15 deploy about 600 field staff to visit commercial farms to establish the number and size of farms, the crop types being farmed in different geographic areas, and the agricultural inputs, like irrigation usage, being used. The census will cover commercial farming in crop production, livestock farming, fisheries and forestry. Statistics SA says data collected from the survey will play a key role in clarifying the size and structure of the agriculture sector, its contribution to national accounts, and its employment figures. (BDLive)



Woolworths will remove single-use plastic bags from one of its stores during a six-month trial period in a bid to end plastic pollution, it said on yesterday. From November, Woolworths, which also has operations in Australia and New Zealand, will not offer any plastic bags at its Steenberg store in Cape Town, with customers having the choice of either bringing their own or paying ZAR5.50 for a reusable bag. South Africa does not have a law banning plastic bags, but to reduce littering and discourage customers from buying them, South Africa increased the plastic bag levy in April by 50% to 12 cents per bag. Woolworths' head of sustainability Feroz Koor said research had shown that the levy introduced in 2003 has not curbed the country's plastic shopping bag consumption. He said the retailer aims to phase out plastic bags by 2020. (Reuters)



General Motors (GM) has fallen prey to a slowing Chinese economy amid a worsening trade war with the US. The largest US carmaker yesterday posted a 15% drop in deliveries in China for the three months ended September 30, its first quarterly report since the trade dispute began escalating in July. The automaker’s sales in China fell 2.5% in the first nine months of this year, GM said. Slower economic growth and a trade dispute with the US that has intensified in the past few months are threatening to put the brakes on a near three-decade growth in China’s vehicle sales. GM was mainly losing market share to Japanese automakers, especially in compact sedans and sport utility vehicles, said Yale Zhang, an analyst with Automotive Foresight in Shanghai. (Bloomberg)



Avoiding global climate chaos will require a major transformation of society and the world economy that is “unprecedented in scale,” the UN said yesterday in a landmark report that warns time is running out to avert disaster. Earth’s surface has warmed by one degree Celsius — enough to lift oceans and unleash a crescendo of deadly storms, floods and droughts — and is on track toward an unlivable 3ºC or 4ºC rise. At current levels of greenhouse gas emissions, the world could pass the 1.5ºC marker as early as 2030, and no later than mid-century, the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) reported with “high confidence”. A summary for policymakers of the 400-page tome underscores how quickly global warming has outstripped humanity’s attempt to tame it, and outlines options for avoiding the worst ravages of a climate-addled future. (AFP)



The Messiah by GF Handel will be performed on November 25, and the Pietermaritzburg Amateur Music Society (PAMS) Choir is staging rehearsals from this evening (Tuesday, October 9) a 6.45 pm at the Dutch Reformed Church, Beverley Road, Prestbury. Rehearsals on Tuesday nights are compulsory for new singers and choir members, including those who have sung the Messaih before. Contact PAMS Choir chair Jonathan Draper at for more information.


2 Trainsmart  Workshops 2018

The  Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business


Bookings: Maureen - 031 5634302, 082 820 2412,

Year-end Special Rates!
R620 pp / R580 pp for 3 or more / R550 pp for 5 or more.

Exceptional Customer Service ... And More
Monday 22 October, 8.30 - 1 pm

Energize staff and improve customer service. Create a more worker friendly environment. Provide quality service, develop the right attitude and ensure repeat customers! 

  • Service Excellence… "You don't get a second chance to make a good first impression”.  Develop people skills!
  • Communicating for Service Excellence in the Workplace.
  • Attitude and Behaviour in the Workplace.
  • Encourage staff who are not working to full potential.
  • Adapting to change - handling difficult customers.
  • Go that extra mile!
  • “How to connect with the Customer” and build great teams!

Essential Sales Skills
Tuesday 6 November, 8.30 - 1 pm


An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. 

Benjamin Franklin

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