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Zoo Cookies Story

I write of South Africa, where my heart sometimes resides, and my mind often drifts back to, across the distance of lands and oceans. An Africa that always beats with a strong heart of different people, languages and cultures, who irrefutably call this land their home.”

South Africa
South Africa

My “Z” entry this week, saddens me a little; not only because I have reached the end of a lovely journey of letters, but also because today I write of a food close to my children’s hearts.  A food they had left behind when they moved away from SA in dribs and drabs.  The Zoo Biscuit!

In our home they were primarily a party biscuit, for birthday parties!  Not for every day, they were special!  That is how they gained their popularity and fame!  Keeping something for special occasions adds value.

Zoo Cookies have iced silhouettes of animals ranging from lions to dolphins, these pastel coloured bikkies are still the staple food of picnics and kids’ parties.  Many people have specific ways of tackling the eating of these sweet treats that have been around in some form or another for about 100 years.

“You must lick, soften, and eat the animal first!” they say. It fits in with Nik Naks, Biltong, Boerewors and anything South African!

“Eaten very quickly, with a glass of milk!”

Life is a Zoo Biscuit, if you don’t mind!

Two Baumanns

A sixteen year old german boy, living in London at the time, was persuaded by his uncle to emigrate to Durban, South Africa in 188o. 

JML Baumann joined his uncles grocery store business, looking after the bakery, later taking the business over.

In 1885 he began to make biscuits, hard dry biscuits by the sack load, that he could sell to the ships that docked in Durban; during the wars they were ordered by garrisons as well.

Baumann Biscuit Building

The name of the business had to be changed and the business was given government protection in 1915, after the baker’s was burnt down in anti-german riots in Durban during World War l.

Bakers index logo

It was changed to Bakers Ltd, as we know it today.  The Ginger Nut and the Marie biscuit were first sold in 1895 after John Baumann had a fancy biscuit machine installed.

So it is  these gentleman, born in Germany, that we have to thank for the Zoo Biscuits we all love, but I have to admit, John Baumann would be appalled at the shape of the animals on them today!  I have found them selling in the UK, just down the road in our local ‘South Africa’ shop, Hunters Biltong

So, with the world being such a small place now, we can even order Zoo Biscuits, on line; and my girls will never have to go without.

BUT ! only for special occasions, girls! We need this in the South African Shop in Netherlands!

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Castle Light Beer

We started from the bottom, now we are here: our beer is proudly African: having started in South Africa in 1994, we have grown over the years to be enjoyed in 10 other African markets including:  South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, Lesotho, Mozambique, Eswatini, Botswana, Uganda, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Nigeria. We are proud to be the biggest premium beer on the African continent.

The first Castle Lite was packaged in a brown bottle and since then, our packaging has undergone many enhancements. In 2000, we relaunched Castle Lite as a local premium brand, in more or less the form it’s in today; a green bottle with a silver and red label. 

Dedicated to unlocking Extra Cold refreshment, in 2009 we introduced the innovative thermo-chromatic temperature indicator on the Castle Lite label, which turns blue when your beer is perfectly extra cold for ultimate enjoyment. 

Extra Cold refreshment isn’t the only thing we’re known for unlocking. We’re also big on unlocking world-first experiences like Castle Lite Unlocks where we bring you the biggest and best hip hop acts out there, The Republic of Extra Cold, and the African continent’s very first ice bar.

Since the launch of Castle Lite in 1994, this proudly South African brand has become the biggest and fastest growing premium beer brand on the African continent. What began as a lower alcohol volume, lower in kilojoules and carbohydrates alternative to Castle Lager, is now adored here and in 10 other African countries.

The first Castle Lite was packaged in a brown bottle and since then, our packaging has undergone many enhancements. In 2000, we relaunched Castle Lite as a local premium brand, in more or less the form it’s in today; a green bottle with a silver and red label. 

Dedicated to unlocking Extra Cold refreshment, in 2009 we introduced the innovative thermo-chromatic temperature indicator on the Castle Lite label, which turns blue when your beer is perfectly extra cold for ultimate enjoyment. 

Extra Cold refreshment isn’t the only thing we’re known for unlocking. We’re also big on unlocking world-first experiences like Castle Lite Unlocks where we bring you the biggest and best hip hop acts out there, The Republic of Extra Cold, and the African continent’s very first ice bar. 

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Skilled South Africans are moving to the Netherlands

With various countries closing their borders since the inception of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Netherlands has emerged as one of the new frontrunners as a destination for emigrating South African to further their careers, say emigration experts.

Data from CBS (Statistics Netherlands) shows strong growth in the number of South African immigrants in recent years, with the country named in the top 10 source markets for migration in 2021.

Not only is the Netherlands attractive in terms of their work/life balance, but the Dutch government offers tax incentives for highly skilled migrants, especially in the financial, engineering and information technology fields.

Rob Ridout of Job Search International says skilled South African professionals are in high demand.

“Highly skilled South African professionals are seen as assets to foreign employers. South Africans should not be hesitant to apply for international vacancies, especially in the Netherlands,” he said.

Why the Netherlands?

Covid-19 and its far-reaching effects have not deterred the economic growth of the Netherlands. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), the economic growth rose to 4.8% for 2021.

With the economy growing at such an exponential rate during a pandemic, the Netherlands has now been facing a different type of dilemma, job vacancies are now outnumbering the number of unemployed people. This means that there are roughly 123 vacancies for every 100 unemployed people according to the CBS.

“One of the major success stories, that shows that the Netherlands is the global hub for tech, is that Dutch company ASML recently sold their advanced chipmaking tool to Intel for more than $340 million with even more orders being placed by other companies. This, in turn, will create many more job opportunities for highly skilled migrants in the financial, engineering and IT arenas,” said Ridout.

It is not just the growing pool of vacancies that’s attractive for South Africans. The Dutch work/life balance is another contributing factor to why the Netherlands is seen as an emerging hub for skilled migrants, he said.

Tax benefits of working in the Netherlands

There is also a 30% tax ruling that is another attractive incentive for expats. This ruling is aimed at highly skilled migrants that have expertise in areas that are not easily found in the Netherlands, says advisory firm Tax Consulting SA.

“What the 30% ruling entails is that an employer may compensate you for ‘extraterritorial costs’ equivalent to 30% of gross salary untaxed. But there are certain specifications that highly skilled migrants need to meet before they can qualify for this incentive.”

According to the Dutch Tax Administration, employees must meet the following conditions –

The employee is in paid employment.
The employee has specific expertise that is not or hardly found in the Dutch labour market.
The employee was recruited outside of the Netherlands.
The employee is in possession of a valid decision from the government.
Exiting South Africa correctly

Once the highly skilled South African has found employment in the Netherlands, important steps need to be taken to ensure that they remain tax compliant with SARS.

“The first important question that needs to be asked is whether one is going to emigrate with the intention to permanently stay in the Netherlands, or if that person will come back to reside in South Africa.

And the second vital factor is whether the person will be an employee or independent contractor. These are criteria that will determine what exemption or route you can take in terms of tax residency and foreign income,” said Victoria Lancefield, general manager for tax residency and financial emigration at Tax Consulting SA.

All South African tax residents need to submit tax returns to SARS on an annual basis to declare their South African or foreign income, if foreign income was made then the taxpayer needs to claim an exemption on foreign earnings.

Foreign earnings will be taxed on the surplus of R1.25 million at the marginal income tax rate which could be as high as 45%. Even if the tax resident qualifies for an exemption, a tax return needs to be submitted.

Tax residents need to understand that even if they cease their South African citizenship, their tax residency will remain because citizenship falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Home Affairs and tax residency falls under the jurisdiction of SARS, the two do not align.

What are your options?

Certain processes are needed to formally cease tax residency so that SARS does not come knocking on your door.

“There are two options available to South Africans thinking about emigrating,” said Lancefield.

“They can either undergo the financial emigration process if they are emigrating with the intention of not coming back to reside in South Africa, or they can apply the Double Tax Agreement (DTA) between two countries.

“The DTA route is undertaken when the professional has the intention of coming back to reside in South Africa in the future.”

It can be an arduous process to start the financial emigration or DTA process and that is why it is important for one to consult professional and experienced tax practitioners and tax attorneys to help them alleviate the tax burden while they get ready to move overseas to further their careers.

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Amazing Story about Mrs Balls

For over many decades, Mrs H.S. Ball’s Chutney has graced dinner tables of many South African households. ‘CHUT­NEY’ is a pun­gent condi­ment that orig­i­nated in In­dia. The name is de­rived from the…

The story of Mrs Ball and her well known chutney has been told so many times by different sites. The narrative is however, laden with so many errors that it warrants an attempt to correct some of the fabrications.

A quick search on Google will tell you that the famous chutney recipe supposedly originates from Canada and it was brought to SA by Mrs Ball’s mother, Sarah Adkins.

And that she, together with her husband, Henry Adkins, and the chutney recipe were shipwrecked on the SS Quanza in 1852.

There after, settled themselves in King William’s Town. The story goes that the couple had a daughter, Amelia in 1865. After getting married to Mr Ball, Amelia was supposedly given the magic secret chutney recipe from her mother, that went on to be enjoyed by the world for decades.

This is a fascinating story but its far from the truth, It’s the kind of narrative that adds value to the brand, and can sell chutney – but as the saying goes, “never let the truth get in the way of a good story!”

The popular narrative is problematic in many ways. First of all, Mrs Ball’s parents were English not Canadian, and Henry Adkins held no naval position.

SS Quanza

Additionally, the SS Quanza got wrecked in 1872 not 1852 and the couple only met in SA. Furthermore, the original Adkins chutney recipe differs from the now famous chutney, notably by replacing dried apricots with mixed fruit as well as adding a key secret ingredient.

In 1852, Henry James Adkins married Elizabeth Sarah Spalding in King William’s Town, the couple settled in the village of Fort Jackson to run a general dealership.

In 1870, Sarah started making the famous chutney commercially, but she wasn’t good at building a brand. She initially named her delicious chutney, ‘Mrs Henry Adkins Senior, Colonial Chutney Manufacturer, Fort Jackson, Cape Colony.’

How Sheldon Tatchel Grew Legends Barber From 1 Store In Eldorado Park To 50 Across SA

The couple had 12 children in total; 7 sons and 4 daughters, one of whom was Amelia.

Amelia Ball

In 1886, Amelia married Her­bert Sad­dle­ton Ball at Newlands, East London. Herbert worked as a rail­way su­per­in­ten­dent. The Ball family moved to Johannesburg – with Amelia taking her mother’s chutney recipe to her new location.

In between raising a family of seven children, Amelia continued to follow her mother’s chutney making tradition, and the condiment became popular at church bazaars, at the time of the First World War (1914 – 1919).

It is during this time that Amelia created the famous Mrs H.S. Ball’s Chutney we know and love today.

In 1921, Her­bert re­tired and the family moved back to Cape Town, where they lived in the coastal vil­lage of Fish Hoek. Amelia con­tin­ued making the chut­ney on a home in­dus­try scale, with Her­bert tak­ing a few bot­tles a day to sell at cen­tral Cape Town.

While sell­ing their chut­ney, Her­bert met Fred Metter – a food exporter, who de­cided to help them with marketing. Sales surged soon afterwards.

The business got bigger and outgrew its premises in Fish Hoek, the Ball family es­tab­lished larger fac­to­ries in Diep River and then Re­treat.

In 1957, the chut­ney was ex­ported to Eng­land for the first time, and by the early 1960s, over two mil­lion bot­tles a year were be­ing sold.

Amelia Ball passed away in November 1962, aged 97. May her soul RIP.

The fam­ily busi­ness was sold to Brooke Bonds Oxo in the early 1970s, which later sold it to Unilever Foods.

Over the years, the chut­ney has been ex­ported to many African countries, as well as the UK, Ger­many, Australia and New Zealand.

The chutney has be­come such a pop­u­lar ad­di­tion to braais, stews, bobotie and cheese sand­wiches that more than 8000 bot­tles are pro­duced every single day.

5 flavours of Mrs H.S. Ball’s Chut­ney are pro­duced: orig­i­nal, chilli, peach, hot and tomato.

The orig­i­nal recipe re­mains a closely guarded secret to this day, but over the years with the internet, sev­eral cooks have revealed that it mainly comprises of apricots, peaches, sugar, grape vine­gar, onions, salt and cayenne pep­per.

Mrs H.S. Ball’s original chutney

In December 2012, Tiger Brands acquired Mrs H.S Ball’s Chutney from Unilever for a reported R475 million. To this day, the iconic chutney remains under Tiger Brand’s ownership.

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South Africa Now Classified as Very High Risk Area Without Variant of Concern

From 16 January, 2022, the Netherlands government has reclassified South Africa as a Very High Risk Area without a Variant of Concern. Fully vaccinated travelers from South Africa are now eligible for exemption from the EU Entry Ban. Travelers will still need to produce a negative test result and quarantine.

More information on the EU entry ban exemption categories can be found here: EU entry ban exemption categories | Coronavirus COVID-19 |

Negative Test Result

All travellers over the age of 12 must produce a negative PCR test, no older than 48 hours before departure, or a negative antigen test, no older than 24 hours before departure. 


All travellers over the age of 12 are required to self-quarantine for ten days and must complete and sign a quarantine declaration.

You can find more information on this page: Exemptions to the mandatory quarantine requirement | Coronavirus COVID-19 | A reduced number of exceptions from the full list apply. Please confirm that you qualify for exemption before travelling. You must be able to prove that the exception applies to you. Travelers must always have a completed quarantine declaration, even if you do not have to quarantine.

Passengers in transit will not be required to quarantine but must complete a quarantine declaration.

 Keep in touch with your airline and check your travel advice regularly.

You can find all information on our website: Checklist for entering or returning to the Netherlands from outside the EU/Schengen area | Coronavirus COVID-19 |

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Quality Website to Sell Your Products in Netherlands.

List South African products on The South African Shop in Netherlands!

Anybody that makes or wants to sell their South African products can list it on The South African Shop in Netherlands. The market place is designed to be simple and has a huge amount of searches per month relating to South African products and Services. It also has one on the best Top Level Domains money can buy to make it easy to find by customers. There is no signup and its free for anyone that wants to list South African related products!