Jean-Jacques Cornish

Santa wallops his father-in-law

Children standing on line to have their picture taken with Santa Claus at a shopping mall in South Africa’s coastal city of East London were horrified when Father Christmas left his seat to punch one of the onlookers.

The man has since laid assault charges against his red-suited assailant.

Eugene Henning, tells the local newspaper he was approached by his assailant when he was listening to the Salvation Army band playing Christmas carols.

The festively-clad figure told him to move on which he refused to do.

Only after he was assaulted did Henning learn that the man in the Santa suit was his former son-in-law.

Hemingways Mall in East London, who’d employed Gary Rusch to wear that suit say they’ve sacked him.

Parents say their children have been traumatised by witnessing the fisticuffs.

Hubert Mhambi says his children began crying when they did not get the picture they wanted.

He says no matter how upset Rusch was, he should have stuck to being Santa and kept his cool.

Instead he has embarrassed himself and upset children who came especially to see him.

The story comes as light relief to South Africans who have experienced a series of armed robberies at shopping malls during the Christmas holidays.



Enquire about availability for radio, podcasts, reporting or opinion pieces.

Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.