Dead men walking

Dead men walking

Decades after being employed by the apartheid government’s secret atomic weapons programme, hundreds of workers are nowhere closer to getting compensation for debilitating illnesses that were probably caused by exposure to radiation or harmful chemicals. Mandy de Waal and Jon Pienaar investigate.

Sepepe fears for his life. He claims his health was irreparably damaged after working for the Uranium Enrichment Corporation of South Africa (Ucor) in the 1990s, where he says he was illegally exposed to nuclear radiation and toxic chemicals used in uranium enrichment. After fighting for decades to get compensation for himself and hundreds of others like him, Sepepe says he no longer sleeps at his Atteridgeville home.

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Sickly stench of careless greed

Sickly stench of careless greed

Ronald Bobroff  pips No. 1 to the post by R50m.

A man is known by the company he keeps, goes the old proverb. This is particularly so at this time for the former president of the Law Society of the Northern Provinces, Ronald Bobroff and President Jacob Zuma. Behind their friendly smiles in the vanity photograph we lifted off Bobroff’s website, is the sickly stench of careless greed. Both have sought to avoid having to answer multiple allegations of theft and other impropriety and appear to  share the belief that others will not see through their flimflam.

But when it comes to the misappropriation of public funds, Bobroff seems to have pipped Zuma to the post by about R50 million.

Bobroff and son

Bobroff and son

Tony Beamish gives Noseweek readers an easy to read A–Z of the life and times of Bobroff and son.

SOS: Save our seeds

SOS: Save our seeds

A convention agreed by a shadowy inter-governmental group to protect commercial plant breeders and seed merchants may be foisted on Africa’s farmers, threatening their age-old practice of saving and exchanging seed.

The International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (Upov, after its French title) has been around since 1961, comprising mainly rich countries working to protect the patent interests of global industrialised agriculture.

Even today, with a membership expanded to 71, only four African countries have signed up.

I shall return

I shall return

Suspended police Major-General Johan Booysen is saddling up to fight for his job.

The day they announced that the Cato Manor unit was closing, there was a huge celebration at Westville Prison. “The people in Correctional Services told me so,” says the suspended KwaZulu-Natal Hawks boss, Major-General Johan Booysen.

“A lot of those guys in Westville Prison were put inside by the Cato Manor guys. It was not a popular unit among criminals. They had a huge respect for Cato Manor.

 

Latest reports from Africa Confidential

Latest reports from Africa Confidential

Dogfight. Zanu highfliers battle for control of Air Zimbabwe

Factions supporting the two main contenders to succeed President Robert Mugabe – Joice Mujuru and  Emmerson Mnangagwa – are fighting for control of the state airline, compounding its problems of poor service and corporate debts. New Transport Minister Obert Mpofu (formerly minister of mines), a close ally of Mnangagwa, has been investigating several of the airline’s leasing contracts that he deems ruinously over-priced.

Failed attempts to train air force staff to service the Airbuses has drained about $1m from the airline.

Payback Time for Bruce Winship

Payback Time for Bruce Winship

When Noseweek took a swing at dodgy Durban businessman Bruce Winship’s Grid Group in March we pointed out that the man who, according to Carte Blanche, had repeatedly withheld payment from smaller contractors to the tune of R30 million was a trustee of, and spokesman for, evangelist Angus Buchan’s Shalom Ministries and a key member of the Greytown farmer’s Mighty Men conference organising team.

We received an email from Tocknell two days later with fantastic news: Buchan’s Shalom Trust had finally intervened by establishing a team made up of church members, Grid executives, their accountant and a lawyer to investigate the outstanding moneys and establish a R12m fund to pay Winship/Grid’s valid creditors on a last-in:first-out basis by 15 April.

Do not swallow after reading

Do not swallow after reading

In spite of growing concerns about over-use of potent antibacterials in the home, some manufacturers are determined to keep shoving these chemicals down our throats.

At the New York headquarters of Colgate-Palmolive  there has been much trumpeting of the results of a recent study into the effectiveness of its antibacterial toothpaste, Colgate Total.

Inexplicably, the FDA ruling compelling manufacturers to remove triclosan and triclocarban from their soaps unless they could prove they were safe and effective, targets only soaps. Other products containing these toxins, including toothpastes and mouthwashes, are to be left unexamined.

Promises, promises

Promises, promises

So where's the cash?

How to weave a tangled JSE property web.

When in 2006, estate agents Engel & Volkers introduced Sue and Erik Howland to a prospective buyer of their historic Gerard Moerdyk house in Pretoria, they believed they’d got lucky.

A company owned by former Anglo American computer-audit specialist Morrison Smit and his business partner Kobus van den Berg, was prepared to pay R4.3 million for the house – and give them a share of the company.

The Cape Dutch house, at 163 Charles Street in the once-leafy Arcadia, features an olive tree in the large grounds that was planted by General Jan Smuts, a friend of the first owner, Judge Farrell. Architect Moerdyk is famous for designing the Voortrekker Monument.

The Howlands were selling because they had decided to leave their busy city lives behind. Sue ran a successful medical glove and sock company called Soo Concepts and Erik was sales manager of Hall & Pickles Labelling. They planned to try their hand at farming macadamia nuts in Mpumalanga.

The purchase offer was accepted and a few months later R2.6m of the selling price was paid on transfer, as agreed. The outstanding balance of R1.6m was treated as a loan to the purchasing company, Dartingo Trading (Pty) Ltd, of which Smit and Van den Berg were the directors. Sue Howland was to get interest on the loan, a third of the company’s shares, and a share of the profits when the house was re-sold after refurbishment.

Bubble Trouble

Bubble Trouble

A South African economic meltdown is imminent, warns the analyst who forecast the last global financial crisis. By Donwald Pressly Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble lies ahead for the South African economy, at least in the opinion of ...
 
Dead men walking

Dead men walking

Decades after being employed by the apartheid government’s secret atomic weapons programme, hundreds of workers are nowhere closer to getting compensation for debilitating illnesses that were probably caused by exposure to radiation ...

Sickly stench of careless greed

Sickly stench of careless greed

Ronald Bobroff  pips No. 1 to the post by R50m. A man is known by the company he keeps, goes the old proverb. This is particularly so at this time for the former president ...

Bobroff and son

Bobroff and son

Tony Beamish gives Noseweek readers an easy to read A–Z of the life and times of Bobroff and son. ...

SOS: Save our seeds

SOS: Save our seeds

A convention agreed by a shadowy inter-governmental group to protect commercial plant breeders and seed merchants may be foisted on Africa’s farmers, threatening their age-old practice of saving and exchanging seed. The ...

I shall return

I shall return

Suspended police Major-General Johan Booysen is saddling up to fight for his job. The day they announced that the Cato Manor unit was closing, there was a huge celebration at Westville Prison. “The people ...

Latest reports from Africa Confidential

Latest reports from Africa Confidential

Dogfight. Zanu highfliers battle for control of Air Zimbabwe Factions supporting the two main contenders to succeed President Robert Mugabe – Joice Mujuru and  Emmerson Mnangagwa – are fighting for control of the state ...

Payback Time for Bruce Winship

Payback Time for Bruce Winship

When Noseweek took a swing at dodgy Durban businessman Bruce Winship’s Grid Group in March we pointed out that the man who, according to Carte Blanche, had repeatedly withheld payment from smaller contractors to ...

Do not swallow after reading

Do not swallow after reading

In spite of growing concerns about over-use of potent antibacterials in the home, some manufacturers are determined to keep shoving these chemicals down our throats. At the New York headquarters of Colgate-Palmolive  there has been ...

Promises, promises

Promises, promises

So where's the cash? How to weave a tangled JSE property web. When in 2006, estate agents Engel & Volkers introduced Sue and Erik Howland to a prospective buyer of their historic Gerard Moerdyk house in ...