'You can't wake the baby ...'

What made travelling on SAR passenger trains in the olden days so special? There are many attempted explanations. In this priceless feature, guest writer Jasper Cook – who, it turns out, worked as a stoker in the golden days of steam – finally unveils the secret. Read here >> 


After years of delay, the revival of the stalled Ou Boks Housing Project seems to be under way at last.

According to the Umsobomvu Municipality, a  contractor is due to take over the derelict site before mid-November 2023. The current contracts are for building 50 BNG houses in Ou Boks, and upgrading the Kuyasa Sports Ground.

Community members have been invited to an ‘introduction meeting’ with contractors, to be held in the Kuyasa Community Hall on 10 November. Read more >>

A community in agony over jobs

Since filing the feature story below, the situation in Colesberg has taken a turn for the worse. In the early hours of Thursday 26 October, a bakkie belonging to the ANC subregional chairman, Siyabulela Phololo, was torched outside his house. Truck tyres were set alight on the N1, and all traffic along the national route was rerouted through Colesberg. Community meetings have failed to resolve the underlying issues, and the conflict may result in Colesberg losing the precious job opportunities on offer. Read more >>

Throwing lots while Colesberg burns

A SANRAL road maintenance project is providing Colesberg residents with precious new job opportunities. Contestation over the selection process has been so fierce, writes Phakamisa Mayaba, that it has sparked off violent protests. Read more >>

The ace up Magashule's sleeve

Iron Ace has had a long and chequered political career. Seemingly undaunted by his expulstion from the ANC, he has formed a new political party, the African Congress for Transformation. Phakamisa Mayaba assesses his chances of surviving the dreaded chill outside the ANC. Read more >>

Fear and loathing in the townships: the arrival of Operation Dudula

The BBC Africa documentary “Fear and Loathing in South Africa’ has focused renewed attention on Operation Dudula – an ominous grass roots organisation whose sole aim is to ‘force’ foreign nationals out of the country. They’ve even registered for next year’s elections. By Phakamisa Mayaba Read more >>

No amandla without data

Phakamisa Mayaba take a closer look at ‘Mr Bitcoin’, Arise South Africa leader Mpho Dagada, who wants to ride the Fourth Industrial Revolution into the South African Presidency. Read more >>

When doing the sums, do the BRICS add up?

Despite all the hype surrounding the recent BRICS summit in Pretoria, writes Phakamisa Mayaba, it will take time before any meaningful gains or losses reveal themselves. Read here >>

'Kill the Boer': musings from a layman

Julius Malema has sparked another furore by singing ‘Kill the Boer’ at the EFF’s 10th birthday celebrations in a Johannesburg stadium. Phakamisa Mayaba seeks to unravel the often toxic debate that followed. Read here >>

Moonshot pact: enough fuel in the rocket?

Following its heavily publicised convention, the Moonshot Pact has morphed into the Multi-Party Charter, which is meant to topple the ANC in next year’s election. But, asks Phakamisa Mayaba,  does this rocket have enough fuel? Read here >>

Houses, roads, and a 15-year wait

ANNOUNCED in 2006 as a presidential project, the multi-million-rand Ou Boks township project was meant to herald a new age, housing people from Kuyasa while the latter would also be rebuilt. Fifteen years later, its 80 structures are roofless, gutted shells, and the people who were meant to move in are still waiting. Phakamisa Mayaba explores the dark heart of Colesberg’s developmental failures.  Read more >>

White town dreaming ...

In 1991, the gifted journalist PAUL BELL visited Colesberg to take its pulse at the start of the political transition. More than 20 years on, PHAKAMISA MAYABA revisits Bell’s iconic article in Leadership magazine, asks what has changed in the meantime – and comes up with an ironic answer. Read more >>

The past of the SA mining industry come home to roost

ZAMA ZAMAS are not the problem they are made out to be, writes TERRY BELL, but the product of decades of exploitation of migrant mine workers from across the southern African region. Instead of being criminalised, the informal mining sector should be regulated. Read more >>

An ubuntu moment

Maeder Osler recalls a memorable incident at Umso Senior Secondary School involving a serious young teenager, Mbulelo Kafi, and the late Tina Joemat, then MEC for education in the Northern Cape. Read here >>

Looking back: the first issue of Toverberg Indaba

In 1990, Maeder Osler, founder of Toverview, founded a monthly newsletter called Toverberg Indaba, and served as its co-editor until its closure in 1997. He reflects on how Toverberg Indaba started, the first issue, and its implications for the Colesberg of today. Read more >>


TOVERVIEW acts as a portal for the websites of two enterprising Colesberg people, namely the journalist and writer Phakamisa Mayaba, and the entrepreneur and developmental activist Mbulelo Kafi. Read more about them below, and click through to their websites.

Phakamisa Mayaba

Phakamisa Mayaba is a freelance journalist and creative writer who is building impressive content on his own website, EPARKENI. To connect with this exciting site, click here.

Mbulelo Kafi

MBULELO KAFI is a former town councillor, a development enthusiast, and an entrepreneur. He has a deep understanding of the issues facing his community, and is committed to finding solutions that benefit all members, whether through Sakhisizwe Travel and Tours, a company he founded to promote tourism and economic growth in the region, or his role as an inspirational speaker. He is seen here with the minister of tourism, Patricia de Lille. To connect with Sakhisizwe Travel and Tours, click here.


Toverview is proud to welcome R.W. (BILL) JOHNSON as guest writer. A distinguished historian, political scientist and journalist, he is one of South Africa’s most prominent and most perceptive political analysts. In recent years, Bill and his wife, the Russian-born historian Irina Filatova, have become friends of Maeder and Les Osler, and have visited them on Hanglip Farm. Bill’s articles normally appear behind paywalls, but he has kindly agreed to make them available to Toverview. We particularly intend to publish his articles on the politics surrounding South Africa’s date with political destiny in the form of Elections 2024, thereby adding to the series launched by our local writer, Phakamisa Mayaba. To go to Bill’s posts, click here.

JASPER COOK: jazz musician, composer, Karoo-lover, raconteur and friend. He currently lives in Johannesburg, but has spent a lot of time on Hanglip Farm, and is dreaming of returning to the platteland. Read more about him here >>

Jasper has started his own website, AndThisIsJaz. Wonderful content, and technologically unique. (In his Other Life, he was a computer wizard.) It also contains his Hanglip Farm blog, again with important material about the farm, its ecology and sustainable future, and current efforts to revitalise cultivation, based on traditional farming methods in Zimbabwe.

TERRY BELL is a Cape Town-based  journalist, commentator and author, specialising in political and economic analysis and labour matters. He maintains a blog called Terry Bell Writes. He has kindly agreed to make his insightful articles available to Toverview.

The Forgotten Highway Express

ROSE WILLIS, publisher of the legendary ROSE’S ROUNDUP, has begun to publish a second monthly newsletter, the FORGOTTEN HIGHWAY EXPRESS. To read more about Rose, her newsletters, and how to subscribe, click here.