FLAT EARTH

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Walk on the wild side

Crime is sweeping South Africa, as one might expect where affluence and poverty exist side by side, and the demoralised, underpaid and racially divided police force cannot cope.

What to do? Roger Russell of Cape Town decided the answer was to spend six months walking to Johannesburg and back, a distance of nearly 2,000 miles, to raise public awareness of the tough task facing the police. You can guess the rest: barely 12 miles into his trek, he was mugged at gunpoint near Cape Town's airport and robbed of everything except the clothes he was wearing.

Mr Russell is gamely planning to set out again tomorrow, and is appealing for donations to replace his lost gear.

Ventura venture

Jesse Ventura would do anything to court publicity when he was a professional wrestler known as "The Body". But he has had a more ambiguous relationship with the press since being elected governor of Minnesota last November.

First Jesse got into trouble over his return to the ring last week, as a guest referee in the World Wrestling Federation's 1999 "SummerSlam". The press took exception to the $1m-plus fee he was earning from the event, and he only managed to wriggle out of their choke-hold by announcing he would give most of it to charity.

The governor had even less to say about the latest honour to be bestowed on him: the Moonlight Bunny Ranch, a (legal) Nevada brothel he patronised in the 1970s, is remodelling one of its suites and naming it after him. Apparently, he will be sent a lifetime pass.

Bugandan relations

Things have looked up for traditional rulers of Uganda since the late King Freddie was pushed out by Milton Obote and ended up on a London council estate. Last week Kampala was thronged by guests and well-wishers for the first wedding of a Kabaka, or king, of Uganda's influential Buganda kingdom for nearly 50 years.

More than 10,000 people were invited to the wedding reception of Freddie's son, King Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II. The newlywed sovereign gave the Baganda extra cause for celebration. He granted them permission to break a tribal tradition - that no one but the royal couple should have sex on his wedding night. Tradition has it that any man who fails to resist temptation on the Kabaka's wedding day will be attacked by a sheep and become impotent.

FIONA BELL

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