On Wednesday errantly triggered fire sprinklers raining droplets of water on guests did not dampen spirits at the British High Commission’s annual opening of Parliament bash, at which well-turned-out guests crowded on manicured lawns in Bishopscourt.
The sprinklers elicited giggles and were promptly switched off, following British High Commissioner Nigel Casey’s speech which accentuated water-saving regulations in Cape Town.
Among the guests on the balmy evening was new National Prosecuting Authority director Shamila Batohi, who kept a low profile and asked not to be photographed. Batohi drew a rush of attention in a front seat at Parliament’s gallery on Thursday evening, with President Cyril Ramaphosa going off script in his address to say “watch this space” in relation to her appointment.
Also in attendance at the British High Commission’s plush thatched manor was former Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille, who left the DA to found new political party Good. De Lille appeared relaxed in a blue linen pantsuit.
Evidently still popular despite last year’s Cape Town mayor fracas, she stepped away for photographs with Artscape chief executive Marlene le Roux and political satirist Pieter-Dirk Uys.
University of Cape Town vice-chancellor professor Mamokgethi Phakeng added dazzle to the event in a form-fitting shweshwe blouse and wide blue skirt. She said her outfit was by designer Refentse Mokale from Pretoria. Phakeng, just back from participating in the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, happily posed for pictures with diplomats and fans, seemingly recovered from an attempted campus assault earlier this week.
Springboks Jean de Villiers and Bryan Habana were in the throng, each in a grey suit with white shirt collars unbuttoned in the heat. Habana grinned when Casey brought up the rugby World Cup in Japan in September, with the High Commissioner adding that the UK had every intention of beating the South African team.
In his speech Casey said he gets asked about Brexit a lot, adding that the most pertinent question had been directed at him by Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete: “She gazed at me intently, and then simply said: ‘But what is Brexit?’” Casey said Brexit was a choice arrived at by the British people, likening it to negotiating an amicable divorce where both parties end up a little hurt and initially poorer.
But the real topic of the evening was Bosasa and pending arrests. Conversations were generously lubricated with Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel and later whisky, with platters of seared salmon, tempura prawns and wild mushroom tartlets, followed by chocolate brownies and macaroons. Afro-folk singer Bongeziwe Mabandla provided a soulful mood on the lawn under the stars