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The BIG Issue: Francois Pienaar exclusive

The Big Issue Magazine Cape Town

Hot on the heels of its record sell-out SA Music edition, The Big Issue delivers another cracker magazine, with a heavy focus on the people in South Africa making change on all levels.

 “During crazy times like these where South Africans seem to be inundated with social, political and economic problems, looking at what people from all walks of life are doing to effect change — big and small — is, for me, a strong elixir against the despair that we could all so easily succumb to,” says Melany Bendix, editor.

 The inspirational stories begin with an exclusive interview with cover star, rugby icon Francois Pienaar. What many don’t know about the former Springbok captain is that, for the past decade, he’s led a mission to change the lives of over 2 000 children through his Make a Difference sports development foundation.

 Pienaar’s a powerful spokesman for sport’s power for change and, as Bendix points out, his outlook of not getting depressed by SA’s problems but rather “looking at what people are doing in communities to create change” is perfectly aligned with this edition’s focus.

Former Rugby Captain Francois Pienaar

 The magazine also features the tireless work of Tina Botha, CEO of The Sunflower Fund, who has dedicated the last decade to creating a bone marrow registry for South Africa, as well as Irene Pieters, founder of The Santa Shoebox Project, which collects Christmas gifts for thousands of underprivileged children each year.

 Then there’s Kayden Kleinhans, who has a vision of a South Africa where people use healthier and greener modes of transport: bicycles. So committed is Kleinhans to this vision that he’s already cycled from Europe down across Africa on an epic global fundraising ride, and he’s now set off for the second trans-America leg.

 Probing reports

As usual, The Big Issue carries several breaking and in-depth reports, starting with an investigation into Truvada, hailed as the world’s first HIV prevention drug.

 “Truvada has been met with mixed reactions,” explains Bendix. “Some consider it a ‘miracle pill’, while others caution that it could undermine existing prevention campaigns or divert ARVs from HIV-positive people, among other concerns.”

 Another report probes Africa’s growing level of alcohol abuse, following a shocking study which found that 25% of Africans are binge-drinkers — the highest proportion in the world. The report examines what various governments are doing to put a cork in Africa’s poison and whether these measures are a case of “too little, too late”.

 A stunning photo essay then explores the growing trend of whites moving to townships in search of cheaper rents and a safer community. “This feature is sure to shatter people’s perceptions of what township living is really like,” says Bendix.

 Shnit load of entertainment

The entertainment section carries full theatre and art listings for the coming month, as well as incisive book and CD reviews. In addition, there’s a candid interview with up-and-coming actor/comedian, Siv Ngesi, who hits the big screens and the stage in October with the movie Copposites and a new one-man show Race Card.

 Last but not least, film lovers get a taste of the shnit International ShortFilmFestival running in the Mother City from October 3 to 7 through a quirky and fun interview with the organisers.

 The Big Issue is on sale from street vendors in and around Cape Town and some parts of Johannesburg for only R18, with 50% of the cover price going direct to the vendor. Support a vendor, get an excellent read and make a difference in someone’s life: the change is in your pocket.

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