Weekend wrap: SA Jazz legend dies, fatal animal interactions, SA photo-journalist missing and Cape Town Open Streets

Cape Town - We're in the middle of January and as you prepare to hit the work and school run full swing - here are some of the weekend stories you might have missed, that you need to know about.

Take a  look...

SA jazz legend dies

Nelson Mandela's favourite singer and legendary local Jazz icon, Thandi Klaasen, 86, has died following a battle pancreatic cancer. She ranks as a symbol that defines the golden age of music in South Africa.  

Channel24 reports Klaasen passed away on Sunday morning,  with Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa  tweeting, "We are saddened to learn that Jazz Legend Thandi Klaasen has passed on. Our thoughts are with her daughter Lorraine, her loved ones, & fans.

"uMama Thandi Klaasen will be remembered for her indomitable spirit, who succeeded against all odds... and her silky smooth voice which serenaded audiences the world over. How much richer we are having heard her sing.”

Klaasen’s daughter, Lorraine wrote on Facebook: "Today is the day my mom left us. She passed away peacefully this morning. Thank you all for your kind words and prayers. I share this encouraging scripture, Revelations 21, verses 2, 3 and 4. In part it says that in death there will be no more pain, no more suffering. It will be a thing of the past.

"We will update with funeral arrangements. On behalf of my family we thank you all."

SA tour guide dies as animal interactions scrutinised

A tour guide was killed when crocodiles attacked him in a pool at a farm in Paarl on Saturday, police have confirmed. The incident happened at the Le Bonheur Crocodile Farm, where the body of the 54-year-old was retrieved from one of the crocodile pools - it is alleged that he was busy in the pool when he was attacked by crocodiles -  see News24's coverage here.

Crocodile farm tours have since been suspended due to the incident which has left the guide’s colleagues “traumatised”. Le Bonheur website said its guided crocodile pond tour, conducted every 45 minutes, involved ramps leading to open dams which housed more than 1 000 crocodiles. The name of the guide is known to News24, however the employee asked that it not be published yet as not all his family members have been informed. 

The issue of  ethical practices around animal interactions is in the spotlight with a campaign at OR Tambo International arrivals, encouraging lion cub petting receiving numerous complaints about it giving tourists the wrong message.

SEE:  SA airport to remove cub petting images that give tourists the wrong message

New SA Tourism CEO Sisa Ntoshona who has said he hopes to 'eradicate' cub petting and animal interaction, responded to the complaints about the year-long campaign put in place before he became CEO saying, “We are fully cognisant of the global anti-petting lobby and back it unreservedly. However, I must emphasise that this is our stance as an organisation and is not necessarily our country’s official policy, as the practice has not been outlawed.”

He acknowledges that SA Toruism is not able to dictate how various business run their operations even if it is not regarded as being in the interest of conservation - as the issue of animal interactions is not confined to only lion cubs in South Africa.

“The best we can do is educate, inform and guide these businesses, and constantly liaise with government, the trade and conservation bodies on the best way forward.”

Ntoshona says, “There is still much to be done around awareness, the OR Tambo incident just informs and highlights the importance of constantly educating the industry.”

Acsa has since covered the section of mural at OR Tambo International Airport that depicts a family petting lion cubs while they find a suitable replacement for the image.

Firefighter heroes continue to battle fires around the Cape

Fires raging from Somerset West to Signal Hill in the Western Cape, some since the 10th of January, have now been contained thanks to over 1 000 Working on Fire (WoF) firefighters.

The most recent fire over parts of Signal Hill, which started on Friday Evening and was contained on Saturday is alleged to have been caused by arson.

Wildfires in Somerset West and Simon’s Town during the past two weeks had cost the City of Cape Town R10 million, with three months of the fire season still ahead.

The Department of Environmental Affairs has confirmed, during the operation WoF had two Huey Helicopters, a spotter plane and about 50 firefighters from the Mamre and Newlands Teams assisting Table Mountain National Park.

According to Philip Prins, Integrated Fire Management for Table Mountain National Park says a small crew from Cape Point and Working on Fire will be brought in to monitor the area and conduct mop up operations to secure the areas burnt. 

SEE: 5 Wine Estates, lodges burnt in the Winelands, fires continue

Since the start of the fire season (1 December 2016) ground and aerial support have been instrumental in the suppression of 57 fires and limited the areas burnt by 95 959.3 hectares throughout the Western Cape.

Firefighting aircraft have racked up 432.3 flying hours.

For January 2017 alone, ground and aerial support were instrumental in the suppression of 39 fires and limited the areas burnt by an impressive 26 492 hectares throughout the Western Cape.  Firefighting aircraft racked up 285.2 flying hours.

SEE: Table Mountain fires close roads: Be fire smart this summer season

SA photo-journalist missing in Syria 

While many of us travel for pleasure, a number undoubtedly do so for work - as is the case with Johannesburg journalist Shiraaz Mohamed. News24 reports Mohammed disappeared on Thursday and has still not been heard from, according to the disaster relief organisation Gift of the Givers.

Gift of the Givers is a disaster relief organisation mainly active on the African continent, but also medical services and other aid in northern Syria.

Mohamed arrived in Syria on 4 January and was meant to depart on 9 January before being detained.

According to the report armed men took him to an unknown place after stopping their convoy on Aljamiliye Road on Tuesday afternoon. Mohamed, along with two organisation members, had been on his way to the Turkish border to exit Syria.

While travelling on a “relatively safe route” in the war-stricken country, the group had been stopped at a point and were asked about Mohamed’s nationality, passport and religion.

Mohammed’s Facebook page documents the last year when he travelled to 12 international countries - having covered the earthquake in Nepal.

2017's Summer Cape Town Open Streets kicked off

Bree Street in the Cape Town city centre was closed to vehicular traffic on Sunday 15 January from 12:00 until 17:00, turning the hip street into a pedestrian paradise for at least five hours. It saw a vibrant celebration of the first Open Streets Day (OSCT) for this 2017 summer season. The car-free day in the Cape Town CBD is the first in a new six-month long series of OSCT days.

The next  OSCT day will take place in Mitchells Plain on 2 April 2017

ALSO SEE: Cape Town festivals and events to welcome summer!

Those wanting to enjoy a festive open streets atmosphere in the winelands can also look forward to Stellenbosch Street Soirees which take place form 18:00 - 20:00 on the following dates:

25 January 2017
8 & 22 February 2017
8 & 22 March 2017

SEE: Get Festive in Stellies this summer with Street Soirees

Find Your Mauritius Escape

We've journeyed to the incredible Maldives... and this weekend we explored the tropical paradise of Mauritius!

And it's not hard to understand why Mauritius is an easy island escape four South Africans - a short 4-hour flight away, with a favourable exchange rate and a visa on arrival opening up a gateway to its warm waters, spectacular food and wonderfully diverse island culture. From eye-popping luxury resort wanderlust to the evolution of this island escape - Mauritius is more than your honeymoon package destination - so why not explore it through the eyes of Mauritians. 

Next week we'll be bringing you the choice Gap Year destinations, so don't miss it - Sign-up for Traveller24's #FindYourEscape newsletter to stand the chance to win a R5000 travel voucher.

What to read next on Traveller24:

- Yikes! Massive Croc Drags Kill Over Kruger Road

60 + Hottest trail runs to conquer in SA in 2017 

- 2017 Public Holidays: How to score all the days for a little leave
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