Letters

Dear Editor



The Codfather is shocked

I was shocked to read your distorted article BoE’s Fishy Business with the Codfather [nose30]. Please note that I entirely reserve all my rights insofar as all allegations made against The Codfather and myself are concerned.
GEORGE SINOVITCH, Morningside

All the judges who heard the cases found you to be an unreliable witness. What rights might you be talking about? – Ed.



Tim Noakes replies

Your correspondent, made bold by anonymity, fabricates a malicious lie about my father’s supposed life as a fugitive from justice, living on ill-gotten gains [Letters, nose30]. He arrived in Rhodesia in 1946 and quickly developed perhaps the most successful tobacco exporting company in Africa. By 1954, he had sold the company to a leading US company whereafter, as an employee of that company, he semi-retired to a ‘life of sheltered luxury’ in Cape Town. More than a decade later, my father vigorously rejected the logic of Rhodesian UDI, famously telling members of the Smith government that, combined, they lacked the intelligence to run the Cape Town City Council, much less the cunning to combat United Nations sanctions.
As elder statesman of the Rhodesian tobacco industry, my father faced the choice, after UDI, of deserting an industry he had helped to grow internationally or, as a British citizen, of breaking a British law of convenience that he considered to be immoral [by secretly exporting tobacco in breach of sanctions].
It is disingenuous to equate my father’s actions with those of Hansie Cronje. His work helped to mature an industry that benefited (besides himself and his family) tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of mainly black Zimbabweans. (Only later were the dangers of personal tobacco use established.)
In later years, my father travelled without restriction in Europe, the UK and in the USA. He was never charged with a crime for his actions during the transition to Rhodesian independence.
Finally, I did not join the Hansie-bashing brigade. For at least the first month, I was a lone voice, subjected to a great deal of personal invective. Only later did the focus shift from the messenger to the captain himself, who has since been declared persona non grata by the United Cricket Board.
Please check your facts in future. The prudence of those given to vindictiveness should always be questioned.
TIM NOAKES, Constantia

See editorial.


Shake-up or Shaikdown

22 August 2000
Your article pertaining [inter alia] to our client [former minister of defence] Mr Joe Modise [nose30] is scurrilous and defamatory of our client and we have been instructed to institute the appropriate claim against you for damages. Insofar as you may intend publishing further articles concerning our client, we urgently require from you an undertaking that any such articles will not be published. Please note that our client’s rights are reserved.
BEDER-FRIEDLAND INC, attorneys, Jo’burg

In response to the above letter we asked Messrs Beder-Friedland Inc to advise us where we went wrong in our report, so that we could make the appropriate corrections. On 19 October 2000 they replied:

No payments were received from any German investor but from local bankers who financed the deal [Modise’s purchase of R30m-worth of shares in defence contractor Conlog] and in respect of which adequate repayment arrangements were made.
Insofar as an impression was created [in nose30] that our client was able to influence the [submarine] deal, likewise such allegations are denied. Prior to the equipment deal being finalised, it had to be approved by three separate Ministries, namely the Ministries of Defence, Finance and Trade & Industry and after same had been approved by them, was thereafter approved by Cabinet.
Cabinet approved the deal on 1 December 1999 whereafter Cabinet signed the deal on the 3 December 1999. Our client had already resigned his Ministerial position prior to the approval and signature.
In view of your anxiety to correct errors and mitigate damages, we now invite you to publish the aforegoing with the appropriate apology and retraction.
BEDER-FRIEDLAN INC, attorneys, Jo’burg

We assume that your reply was written in accordance with your client’s instructions. Regarding our report that Mr Modise signed the submarine deal days before he resigned, we have no reason to retract or apologise. If you consider the press cutting and picture reproduced on page 2, you will concede that his denial and explanation are clearly misleading. On 13 June 1999 Modise announced that he had concluded a draft [technical] agreement with a German consortium to supply three submarines for R4.5-billion. He resigned from the cabinet on 16 June 1999. Concerning the source of funding for his R30m investment in Conlog, before considering a retraction and apology, we would wish to know who the bankers were, who signed surety or provided security for the loan (supposing, of course, that the bank is not based in Lapland) and what the repayment arrangements were. Full disclosure on these points would, we suggest, be both in the interest of transparent government and in the public interest. – Ed.



CIA links with the struggle


Your article on CIA and M16 links with the armed struggle [nose30] mentions the establishment in South Africa of Insight Publications and lists me one of the original three directors (with Randolph Vigne and my old friend Victor Benjamin). So far, correct. Insight Publications published The New African magazine as a counter to Fighting Talk, published by the Communist Party. The initial idea was mine and I provided some of the seed money to launch the project. To my knowledge no other outside finance was provided. We battled to keep the magazine going. What happened after Randolph fled South Africa I cannot say as I had no contact with The New African after July 1964.
NEIL ROSS, Plumstead
See page 24. – Ed.

M’Lords, have mercy!

As a passenger on an airline one is bound by the pilot’s judgement (be it good, bad or otherwise). Scary stuff. The same applies to being a litigant in the High Court – but that’s even scarier. Pilots at least have to pass a strenuous annual examination to check their physical and mental fitness. What about making similar annual medicals mandatory for judges? After all, the drafters of our constitution had the foresight to provide that ‘judges shall be fit and proper persons’.
JR, Marina da Gama

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