By Bronwynne Jooste
A US film-maker researching a film on alien sightings is causing a stir, with dozens of South Africans claiming they have come across extra-terrestrial activity.
Last week Weekend Argus reported on Randall Nickerson of New York, who was in the country to research a film on UFO sightings in Zimbabwe. Nickerson came here to talk to Zimbabweans, many of who fled home and are living here.
The main incident on which the documentary film will be based focuses on a sighting reported to have taken place at the Ariel School in Ruwa, Zimbabwe in 1994. Children, aged between five and 12, reported that they saw a flying object land behind the school building and a figure emerge from the craft.
The incorrect e-mail address was published in our article last week, but that didn't stop many people from making contact. Some searched the web, others contacted the newspaper.
Nickerson said two children, who say they witnessed the event, have since contacted him.
Doug Cattin, who lives in Johannesburg, was living in Zimbabwe at the time, and discussed the issue with a representative of US-based organisation the Mutual Unidentified Flying Object Network.
"It's quite a conservative, mainstream organisation, but even they sent their African representative to investigate the event," said Cattin.
Cattin said some children said they received telepathic messages during the encounter. The principal asked the children to draw the figure they had seen, and although they did so in their separate classes, the drawings were strikingly similar.
"The kids who received the messages said the being had told them that they were the future of the world. Their parents had spoilt it in different ways, and it was up to them now."
The research and film is partly funded by the John Mack Institute. Mack is a late Harvard professor with whom Cattin chatted at the time. "He said there was no way these children were lying."
Nickerson said some people had also come forward since last week to report other sightings in South Africa. "This is not my main area of concentration, but I want to know more about what they say they are seeing."
Trevor Oertel, from the Free State, said he had seen a number of unexplained things during his stay in the Kalahari Desert in the late 1980s.
Oertel was a farm manager at an estate in the Kalahari. "Literally daily we would see a pillar of light floating above the mountains. We became very complacent about what we were seeing. At night we would often see a kaleidoscope of colours trekking across the desert."
Yet some people had tried to deny the sight before their very eyes. "An ex-girlfriend of mine saw it. When I asked her about it, she said she was a born-again Christian and they did not believe in such things."
Nickerson said he had been flooded with information by many claiming to have witnessed sightings. "I'm going to expand my time here. More people have come forward - some very credible witnesses."
l His e-mail address is email@example.com