Letters

Dear Editor


Klapotzed by Harold

Harold Strachan is not normally my favourite columnist, but hell he got it right with the “klapotz” article (nose118). That, and the tributes to Marike – we will miss her – made the August issue one of the best.
 
John Rance
Stutterheim
 
Maybe you’re finally starting to get Harold? Welcome to the club!Ed.
 
Durbs needs noseweek
 
Nose118 rightly questioned Durban’s 2010 website. This is typical of the goings on in Durban under the incompetent leadership of Mike Sutcliffe. In fact, it’s but the tip of the iceberg. Please investigate the fiasco around the Remant Alton bus company deal and the subsequent lack of public transport in Durban. You also might want to enquire as to why ratepayers are continually having to bail out Ushaka Marine World, to the tune of millions. Our local press clearly lack your zeal and investigative prowess and tend to be nothing more than council lapdogs. 
 
I can’t wait.
 
George van der Merwe
Glenwood
 
Romancing the Silverstone
 
In response to your puerile “Romancing Ms Silverstone” (nose118), two immediate objections:
 
1. If any male captain of industry had had relationships it would not have warranted a mention.
 
2. There are many factual errors in the article. This must cast doubt on your general credibility.
 
The alleged philanderings amounted to nothing more than a normal consort between two adults. 
 
Your investigative reporters should concentrate on business matters, rather than relying on unfounded canards from disgruntled former employees.

Sandra Kahn
Waterfront, Cape Town
 
You fail to identify even one factual error in our story, whereas we are happy to point out many in your letter; so many, in fact, that it seems you have not even read the article. For a start, central to our story was a relationship being conducted by a male captain of finance. Secondly, this particular bit of consorting, normal or otherwise, gave rise (sic) to a serious conflict of interest that may well have influenced how a contract worth hundreds of millions of rands was awarded by a public company.
 
Finally, we spoke to no disgruntled ex-employees. Perhaps we should have. Please supply name and contact details of the person you have in mind. – Ed.
 
Dog eats dog
 
Your article “Dogfight at the SPCA” (nose118) gives an unbalanced view of the situation. The disgruntled Pat Werdmuller-Von Elgg has waged a vendetta against the NSPCA and Marcelle Meredith for at least eight years. 
 
Marcelle Meredith IS a tough person to work for. She has extremely high standards. Her staff, colleagues and societies would not have it any other way, and she is greatly respected in the SPCA movement and abroad, being invited to join the board of WSPA – a huge feather in South Africa’s cap. Contrary to what your article states, Marcelle has years and years of animal welfare experience and ran an SPCA before she joined national council. 
 
Directors are not “elevated” to national office; they are elected by the societies in their various regions. 
 
Jane Marston has done hundreds of thousands of rands’ worth of legal work for the SPCA, free of charge.
 
In comparison, Mr Francois van Wyk has been involved in our movement for five minutes. His claim that the orginization will be bankrupt in four years is laughable. 
 
I object to the way Mrs Werdmuller-Von Elgg insinuates that the NSPCA in the form of Mrs Meredith, Mrs Marston and Ms Loxton did nothing about the problem SPCAs in the Western Cape. If she had bothered to read a constitution for any of the SPCAs, she would have seen that blame for bad management lies firmly at the feet of the residents of the towns in which those SPCAs function. 
 
I ask you to think of the bigger picture here. The only thing that is going to suffer as a result of Werdmuller’s vendetta is animal welfare in this country. 
 
Jenneth Geel
Secunda
 
Many SPCA old-hands mentioned Medith’s lack of qualifications, not just Mrs Werdmuller-Von Elgg. It was UCT’s Centre for Conflict Resolution which found that conflicts affecting the organisation “were largely left unmanaged” – and the Office of the Public Protector which referred to “an unaccountable management style”. And we did study the SPCA constitution – maybe you should too. – Ed.
 
Ambrosini doing good work
 
Having been an employee of Promethea for some 18 months I am able to shed light on issues you raise in nose117 about the Parasafe stove. 
 
Mr Vale was never coerced into signing over his intellectual property. He is trying to exploit loopholes now that the Parasafe stove is successful, and wants a bigger piece of the pie. Mr Vale would never have been in a position to bring this “invention” into the market place – it takes millions to manufacture, import, distribute and then drive sales. Without Mr Ambrosini and investors, the Parasafe would never have seen the light of day.
 
I was involved in many tests and trials and in getting the stove approved by the SABS. As you say, it does take a huge sum of money to have anything approved by the SABS. 
 
But I have yet to read an article about the illegal stoves smuggled into the country that cost hundreds of lives each year – but I also understand that would not sell as much copy. [Wrong. That was our cover story in nose68, June 2005. – and it sold well! Ed.] 
 
With regard to PASASA: besides several meetings with senior representatives,  I demonstrated the stove at an EMS/PASASA event on National Paraffin Safety day in JHB. Google it and see for yourself.
 
A lot has been said about Mr Ambrosini’s nationality or how many passports he has. That is irrelevant. Hundreds of people enter this country illegally every day – yet we sensationalise a foreigner who contributes as a taxpayer and job provider. Having known Mr Ambrosini for a number of years I can confirm he is a decent man, extremely hard-working and a person who has contributed to this country in a number of ways. I would find it extremely hard to believe that he would persist with legal matters without just cause.
 
Jethro Geyser
Cape Town
 
Paradise misled
 
In quoting Mr Adriaan Smuts, your article about the Paradise Palms development in Mozambique (nose116) created a misleading and damaging impression of the role of our law firm, MGA, in relation to the development.
 
Smuts was quoted saying: “All the contracts between the purchasers and the developer were drawn by ... MGA” and “we were led to believe that MGA attorneys investigated the developers’ rights in the property...”.
 
MGA neither advised any of the purchasers, nor did it advise the developer, Zveee View Limitada, in relation to these particular purchase contracts. 
 
Further, MGA did not provide advice in relation to that company’s rights to the land, and it had no involvement whatsoever with the funds of purchasers that, according to your article, have been “spirited away”.
 
MGA received funds on account from just one prospective purchaser of a plot at Paradise Palms, which was paid over on his express instructions to Zveee View Limitada. 
 
From a building contractor we gathered that the purchase contracts for Paradise Palms may have been based on a standard form which our firm had drafted for an altogether different development. It should never have been used without our consent and without specific analysis of its appropriateness.
 
Jorge Graca
MGA Advogados & Consultores
Maputo
 
We are happy to set the record straight. – Ed.
 
Santam premiums
 
I have just received a letter, unsigned, from Santam Contact Centre, Bellville, dated 01 July and postmarked 03 August,  announcing a premium increase, effective 01 September 2009.
 
It states:
 
“Premium increases unfortunately are an unavoidable aspect of the insurance industry. Various factors, including the rising cost of vehicle repairs, higher prices for imported goods, as well as changing weather patterns, put pressure on claim costs and therefore on premiums.”
 
This from a company that has just shown an improvement of 215% in headline earnings. Their income of course derived from selling policies and profits on investments. Those “unavoidable” increases have nothing to do with the cost of vehicle repairs, but rather with the policy lapses that occur as a result of current hard times – so the suckers still paying are punished with increased premiums in order to keep up those headline earnings.  
 
In a News24 report, Mutual and Federal is quoted as saying gross premiums declined by 7%, which is approximately the increase in my premium announced by Santam.
 
Charmaine Griffiths
By email
 
Santam parent, Sanlam, very generously sponsors an annual award for the best journalism in the country. We’re thinking of reciprocating with an award for the best creative writing in the financial services industry. – Ed.
 
Old Mutual down the pan?
 
Please, please, tell me, do Old Mutual have problems? I have been trying for months to get answers about my retirement/pension fund, but they never return calls. I am losing a lot of money each month, but no-one at Old Mutual wants to give me info. Are Old Mutual going down the toilet?
 
Gordon
Johannesburg
 
They are run by a few obscenely rich, bonus-grabbing #!@&es, a computer and a call centre. None of them cares a hoot who you are or what you want. They will, however, record your call – for your protection. But, for their own protection, they won’t give you a copy of the recording. If that’s the toilet you’re talking about, they’re down it. – Ed.
 


 
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Submitted by : Philip Smith of QUEENSLAND on 2009-08-27 16:00:03
Most all contentious matters can be understood once we grasp the two dog rule. It explains government actions ( or lack thereof ) big business arrogance and many of the other imponderable issues.

The question is always - Why do they do or not do - this that or the other. Common sense will always be left at the door, so that can safely be ignored.

The Answer is that we should never be surprised, because in all cases the two dog rule applies and yes I know you want to know what it is -

For the brave read on...

If you found a dog on the lawn picking up its own poo, you would be surprised.

Why does a dog lick its balls - because it can.

Therefore in dealing with any of the above entities - in terms of the two dog rule - You must never be surprised that they do whatever they want to, because the can.

Preserve your sanity - think Two Dogs
 
Submitted by : Sidney Pittaway of Kroonstad on 2009-08-26 22:46:20
Old Mutual down the pan?

Hi Mr Nose.
Just wanted to check with Gordon if he has a Financial Advisor and whether the advisor is earning any "fee" from Gordons investment?
If so, I'd suggest Gordon jumps on that advisors kneecaps!
If he doesn't have an advisor, then I'd suggest he gets one even if it will be costing him a few bucks for the "service". The fee being negotiable of course.
Sidney Pittaway
Kroonstad

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