Linda Twala Keeps Hope Alive on Christmas

Making music in Alexandra.

Making music in Alexandra.

South African philanthropist Linda Twala turned 70 at the end of 2014 and celebrated by hosting a Christmas party for the senior citizens and orphans of Alexandra township. Atlas Finance helped out with the fete, too, which drew more than 4,000 attendees. For elderly residents who couldn’t make it, volunteers delivered food to their homes.

Alexandra, or “Alex”, has long been a neglected and underserved part of Johannesburg and Twala remains one of its strongest advocates. During Apartheid, he organized anti-state meetings at his Alex-based house despite threat of retaliation. Indeed, his home was once set on fire by Apartheid supporters.

An entrepreneur and provider of funeral services, Twala enjoys sharing his success with less-fortunate members of the community. He now wants to obtain affordable housing for Alex through Habitat for Humanity.

“The government needs to give away RDP houses instead of charging people for them,” he says. “And people who are selling vetkoek on the pavement should be given flats. They can’t supply the banks with credit guarantees but they have viable businesses.”

Like the township’s own Santa Claus, Twala continues bringing whatever gifts he can find to Alex and its people.

Atlas Finance Assists Kya Sands Fire Victims

Jack Halfon Kya Sands

On October 9, 2014, a fire devastated roughly 1,200 homes in the informal Kya Sands settlement, northwest of Johannesburg. Although never confirmed, it’s believed that the fire began when a stove turned over while a woman was cooking. While the cause is irrelevant, the disaster left a community of over 2,000 people homeless, with no belongings other than what they were able to grab in the scramble. Women fled to safety, while men tossed water on the fire in vain.

With an Atlas Finance branch not too far away in Strijdom Park, the incident feels very close to heart. As a gesture, Atlas Finance and CEO Jack Halfon donated 10,000 Rand to Bryanston Methodist Church, who in turn provided accommodations for those whose homes were destroyed in the fire. In addition, the Kya Sands community intends to collaborate with a handful of government departments in order to address inevitable the socio economic backlash. The community has been promised a plot of land in Lion Park.