The poisoned land

The poisoned land

Dirty secrets of frightening mercury contamination haunt neighbours. 

A fire at A-Thermal, a highly toxic waste incineration site in Olifantsfontein, Gauteng, has brought to light a dirty secret: more than 40 tonnes of mercury-laden waste – delivered by South Africa’s biggest storekeeper of the deadly metal – was burned and released into the environment in September 2013 when the plant burned to the ground; and authorities still appear to be clueless as to just how toxic the waste was.

To this day, the nearby community and environmental groups have not been told what other chemicals were destroyed in the inferno.

The sender of the waste was a KwaZulu-Natal facility, Guernica Chemicals, once known as Thor Chemicals, when it was a British-owned multinational company that for several decades, imported mercury waste from global polluters to its facility for safe-keeping and recycling. It has since been rebranded as Guernica Chemicals – along with a second offshoot, Metallica – and remains based in Cato Ridge, just outside Durban. In the 1990s Thor was shut down when workers died from excessive mercury contamination.

The secret Rhodes

The secret Rhodes

‘I leave all my worldly goods in trust for the establishment, promotion and development of a Secret Society, the true aim and object thereof shall be the extension of British rule throughout the world, the perfecting of a system of immigration from the United Kingdom, and of colonisation by British subjects of all lands where the means of livelihood are attainable by energy, labour and enterprise, and especially the occupation by British settlers of the entire Continent of Africa, the Holy Land, the Valley of the Euphrates, the islands of Cyprus and Candia, the whole of South America, the Islands of the Pacific not heretofore possessed by Great Britain, the whole of the Malay Archipelago, the seaboard of China and Japan, the ultimate recovery of the United States of America as an integral part of the British Empire…’

This surely numbers among the most deranged sets of objectives ever compiled, declares Robin Brown of this first will drafted by Cecil John Rhodes in his just-published biography of the ‘Colossus’: The Secret Society – Cecil John Rhodes’s Plan for a New World Order.

But, despite the grandiosity of the secret plan, Rhodes and his successors managed to achieve many of its objectives.

Investec takes a beating

Investec takes a beating

Reportback on the recent high court ruling on the rights of Randgold minority shareholders whose shares are registered in the names of nominee companies

On 15 September, North Gauteng High Court Judge Pierre Rabie finally, after 10 months of deliberation, handed down his judgment on a technical side-issue raised by Investec in a case now known as the Randgold minorities vs. Investec.

The “main” case was introduced into court in 2011. While Investec has categorically stated ad nauseam that the main case bought by the minorities has “no merit whatsoever”, Investec appears set on avoiding a court being given the opportunity to make such a determination.

The minorities are suing Investec, a fellow shareholder in Randgold & Exploration, for oppressive conduct and are demanding that Investec pay them R1,3 billion in damages. In this side-case, which many believe was raised as a stalling tactic, Investec’s lawyers argued that the minorities had no locus standi (right or legal standing) to bring the action because their names do not appear on Randgold’s official share register.

Absa accused of being 'shameless liars'

Absa accused of being 'shameless liars'

Lies, more damned lies and Absa.

A Durban estate agent and an attorney who have been working together for more than two years to try to get Absa’s pension fund managers to pay out the death benefit due to a rural KwaZulu-Natal widow, have concluded that the bankers are shameless liars. 

On 1 May 2013, Nkosinathi Bernard Dlamini, a 36-year-old contract security guard at the prestigious Michaelhouse College in the KZN Midlands, died in a freak accident while walking alongside railway tracks. The sudden force of a train rushing past pushed him against a concrete slab, killing him instantly.

Thus began the struggle of his then-pregnant widow, Mandisa Happy Dlamini, to get her disbursement from the provident fund to which Nkosinathi had diligently contributed for 12 years. The only hint she had of how much money might be coming her way was a benefits statement she found from February 2010 recording an amount of R51,724.

For whom the e-toll tolls

For whom the e-toll tolls

Sanral chief faces fierce local opposition.

Nazir Alli, outgoing CEO of SA National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral) must be looking forward to retirement. He’s a divisive and increasingly detested man. Nobody, it seems, wants his e-tolls, which have the tell-tale signs of a solution in search of a problem.

He tried to bully and threaten the residents of Gauteng into paying for his ill-conceived e-tolls boondoggle, yet only one-in-four complied, leaving a R2.8-billion revenue shortfall in the last financial year alone. On this basis e-tolling is doomed. It has already failed in countries with much higher compliance rates, such as Portugal, where 80% of motorists pay their tolls.

The Western Cape High Court in late September threw out Alli’s plan to toll the N1 and N2 in the Winelands.

But Alli was not yet done.

Sharks. In and out of politics

Sharks. In and out of politics

In Australia, feline Aids affects 14-29% of cats tested, and one-in-six outdoor cats is estimated to be infected with the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. There are moves afoot to confine domestic cats indoors, where they won’t be such a threat to native birds and wildlife. Australia’s first threatened species commissioner, Gregory Andrews, would like all cat owners to keep their cats contained 24 hours a day. “It’s a journey that Australia has to go on,” he says.

Containment measures in the Australian Capital Territory already require cats in some suburbs to be kept indoors; if outside, they must be on a leash or in an enclosure. Passed along mainly in catfights, FIV is not transmissible to humans and uninfected cats can be vaccinated.

Lions to the slaughter

Lions to the slaughter

The trophy-hunting industry is making many farmers rich – but the process of domesticating the king of the jungle is destroying the species for the amusement of thrill-seeking tourists. The lions are ...
 
The poisoned land

The poisoned land

Dirty secrets of frightening mercury contamination haunt neighbours.  A fire at A-Thermal, a highly toxic waste incineration site in Olifantsfontein, Gauteng, has brought to light a dirty secret: more than 40 tonnes of ...

The secret Rhodes

The secret Rhodes

‘I leave all my worldly goods in trust for the establishment, promotion and development of a Secret Society, the true aim and object thereof shall be the extension of British rule throughout ...

Investec takes a beating

Investec takes a beating

Reportback on the recent high court ruling on the rights of Randgold minority shareholders whose shares are registered in the names of nominee companies On 15 September, North Gauteng High Court Judge Pierre Rabie ...

Absa accused of being 'shameless liars'

Absa accused of being 'shameless liars'

Lies, more damned lies and Absa. A Durban estate agent and an attorney who have been working together for more than two years to try to get Absa’s pension fund managers to pay out ...

For whom the e-toll tolls

For whom the e-toll tolls

Sanral chief faces fierce local opposition. Nazir Alli, outgoing CEO of SA National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral) must be looking forward to retirement. He’s a divisive and increasingly detested man. Nobody, it seems, ...

Sharks. In and out of politics

Sharks. In and out of politics

In Australia, feline Aids affects 14-29% of cats tested, and one-in-six outdoor cats is estimated to be infected with the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. There are moves afoot to confine domestic cats indoors, ...