Bar Ladies

It lies at the foot of Muizenberg Mountain, tucked away between the Steenberg wine fields and the mystical Tokai forest. Notorious for its “Numbers Gangs” and as unforgiving as the Cape of Storms once were. Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison.

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Just more than 4000 women are imprisoned in South Africa. Only 2.6% of our prison population are women. 

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That’s one of the lowest percentages in the world. Not bad for a society of which just more than half is female. Many women are imprisoned for theft rather than violent crime. 

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I guess some mothers has to put food on the table by any means possible. But as the men, female prisons are also overcrowded. A cell for 25 with 37 inmates was not overcrowded, I was told. 

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Some of South Africa’s most dangerous criminals are held in Pollsmoor Prison. The prison has a staff of 1278 and the capacity to accommodate 4336 offenders, but the current inmate population is over 7000. This figure fluctuates daily.

© Photos: Armand Hough

Dogs of War

In the war against the poaching of rhinos in the Kruger National Park (KNP), SANParks rangers need all the help they can get. One of the most effective weapons in this battle is man’s best friend.


More than 40 highly trained tracker dogs are aiding rangers to sniff out poachers along the more than 300km border with Mozambique, where most of the poachers are believed to enter the park.


I had the chance to meet two of these amazing animals which are Bloodhounds crossed with Dobermans. They’re not bred for attack. Given the chance, they would probably lick you to death.


Training doesn’t come cheap and if you factor in maintenance and veterinary bills, the cost runs well over R100 000. The hounds hunt poachers by scent and are followed by air and ground crews.


As part of ongoing anti-poaching efforts in the Kruger National Park, rangers have embarked on a DNA extraction and profiling drive.


It’s not as easy as it sounds, because each of the park’s rhinos has to be tracked, darted, then rehabilitated.


Once the rhino was cornered and darted, rangers jumped out of moving vehicles to secure the calf and ensure it did not injure itself during the delicate operation in which its mother’s DNA would be sampled.


The sedative used to dart the rhinos is so powerful it can kill a human just by contact with the skin. Even so, it took about seven minutes to take effect and, as soon as she became wobbly on her feet, the team moved in, lying her down on her side.


It was the first time I had seen a rhino up close in the wild and the smell surprised me. Her skin was covered in dried mud from her last dip in the watering hole. The team of vets monitored all vital signs to make sure she didn’t undergo any undue stress.


Gathering DNA data of each rhino in the Kruger National Park is crucial for the survival of the species because researchers are then able to trace each horn seized back to the specific animal from which it came.


A few minutes later, the vets administered an antidote to the sedative and backed away carefully, waiting for it to kick in. Less than a minute later she rocked herself to her feet and stood up on shaky legs.


She looked at us for a few moments before storming off to reunite herself with her calf. The estimated black market value of an average-sized rhino horn is said to be about R4 million. That is a substantial increase from 2007, when the rate was about R350 000 each.


I was saddened to think that a substance with no medicinal value could lead an entire species to be hunted to the brink of extinction.

I was invited to the Kruger National Park by Rhino Tears wine, which donates R15 from the sale of each bottle to the SANParks’ honorary rangers program. It has raised R700 000 since its inception in 2014.

© Words and pictures by Armand Hough / African News Agency (ANA)

The Return of the Railway Police

At least R210 million has gone down the drain due to arson attacks that destroyed 146 train carriages in Cape Town in the past five years.


October – Mere hours after the Portfolio Committee on Transport received a briefing from the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) on the burning of trains, another train was set alight in Cape Town Station.


Two trains with three carriages each on platform 17 & 18 were alight.

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There has been reports that the offices above the station deck are also affected, but fire fighters on the scene will be investigating.


July – 3 Train carriages were set alight at Retreat railway station.


2 Fire Engines, a Water Tanker and Rescue Vehicle plus 14 Firefighters were dispatched.


At Maitland station there is a whole “graveyard” of  burnt out and vandalised train carriages. Last month two entire trains were set alight in Cape Town.


Rewards of up to R25 000 are payable for information leading to successful convictions.


A commuter at Maitland station who wanted to remain anonymous, said: “The fact that trains are being burnt out like this, is sad because all of us are being affected by it.”


October – The much-anticipated Rail Enforcement Unit was launched during a parade ceremony at Cape Town railway station.


A 100 officers underwent training and are ready to assist the existing security services.


Their main objectives are to ensure passenger safety and prevent the burning of trains.


The Rail Enforcement Unit seen in action as they apprehending their first suspect. The suspect was in possession of meth smoking paraphernalia and he was traveling without a ticket.

© Armand Hough / African News Agency (ANA)


It is somewhat incongruous that from Maria Arendse house, just off the N7 highway between Morningstar and Melkbosstrand, there is an almost picture perfect view of Cape Town’s Table Mountain.


She lives in Wolwerivier, which is just 30km from the city centre but for its residents, who were moved there, it may as well be a million miles away. For decades the community of Skandaalkamp near the Vissershok landfill site used to scavenge just to survive.


The landfill is now a restricted area. Now they have gone from extreme poverty to an even more desperate situation.


Wolwerivier was designed as an Incremental Development Area, for people waiting for better housing.


Residents say they feel as if they have been abandoned in a barren wasteland with no means of finding work or food.


Life in Wolwerivier is hard for John Miket who is unemployed and struggles to find a job even at nearby farms. Families encamped in the Wolwerivier, about 28 kilomteres from Cape Town, still find it hard to adjust in the area, more than a year and a half after being settled there.


The Wolwerivier development formed part of the City’s Integrated Housing Project. Wolwerivier made headlines after the City offered emergency accommodation there to seven families facing eviction from Bromwell Street, Woodstock. The families refused to move, demanding alternative accommodation in the inner city.


Bromwell street residents await the Cape Town High Court decision on whether or not they will be move to Wolwerivier. The City of Cape Town says Wolwerivier had cost about R50 million and would see the accommodation of a maximum of 500 families.

© Armand Hough / African News Agency (ANA)

Living for Style

City Centre Muscat, Nissan Murano add campaign 2009. By Armand Hough

Al Ali Mall Bahrain, Jimmy Choo advertisement 2010. By Armand Hough


© Photos by Armand Hough

Fire in the Sky

Thunderstorms approach the Cape of Good Hope early on Tuesday morning as heavy rain is expected to bless the Western Province with some well needed rain. This photo was taken from Three Anchor Bay. Photographer: Armand Hough

The State of Our Nation

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© Photos by Armand Hough

Day 1

Schools in the Western Cape opened their doors again to over 109 000 learners in Grade 1. I went to see how parents cut the umbilical cord from their little ones as they formally start their training to become the future leaders of South Africa and quite possibly, the world.

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This is Chulumanco Gawulekhaya from Nolathando School for the deaf in Khayelitsha. The unique colour of her eyes is a result of her hearing disability and does not affect her eyesight. Her eyes are more light sensitive than normal but she can see perfectly.

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Lilitha Linganiso from Nolathando School for the deaf in Khayelitsha spells her name to the teacher.

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Mbali Gaqazele and Zlmonde Stulweni getting breakfast at Surrey Primary in Manenberg.

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Zahrah Barodien is clinging to her mother at Surrey Primary in Manenberg.

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The grade 1 girls of Highlands Primary School in Mitchells Plain line up to be separated into specific classes.

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Best friends Zoe Welgemoed and Qaiyarah Melrose from Highlands Primary in Mitchells Plain knows each other from Grade R (pre-school education) already.

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Lian Loubser from Highlands Primary in Mitchells Plain gives in to his anxiety when he realised that he was the only child whose name was not on the class register list. This was due to a minor administration error that was corrected immediately, but for a child’s first day of school and as I can recall from my own childhood, this can seem detrimental at the time. If only they knew what lies ahead…


© Photos: Armand Hough

Die Kaapse Klopse

The Kaapse Klopse is a minstrel festival that takes place annually in the beginning of January in Cape Town. It is also referred to as Tweede Nuwe jaar (Second New Year), by local Capetonians. As many as 13000 minstrels took to the streets this year garbed in bright colours, either carrying colourful umbrellas or playing an array of musical instruments.

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Participants are typically from Afrikaans-speaking working class Cape coloured families who have preserved the custom since the mid-19th century.

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People consider the festival a right of renewal that has been shaped by the Cape’s history. The events that are associated with Klopse in the festive season include competitions for the Christmas Choirs, Cape Malay Choirs and Cape minstrel choirs.

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Although it was called the Coon Carnival by the Klopse themselves, local authorities have renamed the festival the Cape Town Minstrel Carnival as foreign tourists find the term “coon” derogatory. Appart from the controversy, The Kaapes Klopse remains one on Cape Town’s proudest and definitely most colourful traditions.

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© Photos: Armand Hough

The Southern Wanderer

_IAM4218 Nature photography was the reason I picked up a camera in the first place. I can recall asking my parents for a subscription of National Geographic at an age when my friends wanted toy cars and G.I. Joe action figures. I guess I realised that the people creating these photographs had to physically go to these amazing places. They would have to interact with the people, hear the sounds and breathe the air. I wanted to bear witness to the world and share my stories. Okavango Delta Southern Wanderer_IAM3104 Roaring African Adventures_171 The opportunity to combine my photographic passions presented itself when a Swedish friend of mine, Gabriella, decided to visit Cape Town and wanted to go on an African adventure. This was my chance to experience my long awaited nature photography desires. _IAM1632 Roaring African Adventures_153 I called up a friend Conrad who I knew did his own overland tours through Africa. His company, Roaring African Adventures and his reputation as an expert in the area preceded him. He quickly customised a two week round trip through four countries including wildlife excursions in several national parks, adrenalin pumping adventurous activities, a traditional canoe safari in the Okavango Delta, and getting face to face with Africa’s wildest inhabitants. He called it “The Southern Wanderer”. Francistown Southern Wanderer_IAM4034Roaring African Adventures_166 The commute from Cape Town to Livingstone was a gruelling fifty two hour bus ride with a quick stopover in Windhoek where we had just enough time to find a dirty chicken shop and buy some last min snacks for the second leg of the drive. In Livingstone we would pick up the overland vehicle. Kavango River Southern Wanderer_IAM3802 Roaring African Adventures_169 On our arrival to Livingstone, it was a race to the Zambezi Waterfront’s swimming pool where we lounged with Mosi Lagers in hand and nurtured our aching muscles from the long bus drive up. Five Australian travellers and a New Zealander joined us and the next morning our journey officially started with a visit to the Zimbabwean side of the Victoria Falls. Roaring African Adventures_159 Zim Hwange Southern Wanderer_IAM2230 We spent the next few days making our way through Zimbabwe, spotting more elephants than local people and we were treated to seeing two lionesses taking down a warthog in the Hwange National park. I was told that we were quite lucky to see this. Roaring African Adventures_170Roaring African Adventures_177 After crossing the border into Botswana we went for the surreal experience of driving through the endless horizons of the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, a few more nature reserves and some of the most beautiful game lodges I have ever seen in my life. Roaring African Adventures_161 Kavango River Southern Wanderer_IAM3642 We arrived in Maun after a short drive where we climbed into a couple a Mokoro traditional dugout canoes for a three day trip into the Okavango Delta sharing the aquatic highways with hippo’s, crocodiles and elephants. The wildlife inspecting around out tents was ridiculous and when we spotted fresh lion tracks on one of our walking safaris, it made the situation we put ourselves in so much more real. Roaring African Adventures_059 Roaring African Adventures_087 We crossed the border into Namibia’s Caprivi Strip where we spent an evening sleeping amongst hippos and crocs at the Ngepi Camp. The resort is situated on the banks the Kavango River and is famous for their extravagant tree houses. Roaring African Adventures_156 Roaring African Adventures_008 Back onto the road we headed towards Kasane next to the Chobe River that seperater Namibia and Botswana. There we went on a guided boating safari and camped on the rivers shores. Kavango River Southern Wanderer_IAM3674 Roaring African Adventures_164 Our journey drew to an end as we headed back to The Zambian border but on our return to Livingstone we had a few days to relax and confront the rapids of the mighty Zambezi River on a white water rafting excursion. Livingstone is a town where you can try your hand at many fear inducing activities that the resorts had to offer from walking with lions, elephant safaris and helicopter rides over Vic Falls. Roaring African Adventures_146 Zim Hwange Southern Wanderer_IAM2521 The trip was life changing to say the least and served both as a holiday and a photographic adventure. The food was exquisite, the company was delightful, views mesmerising and the photos, well, I guess they came out all right. Roaring African Adventures_048 RAA CT_NWS_E1_221214_p01

© Photos: Armand Hough