Dear Editor

Don’t pick up stompies

Your article “Mugabe’s Billionaire Fag King” (nose113) was nothing more than a precis of SARS’ founding affidavit to the high court. I have never been directly accused of any of the allegations contained in the affidavit, all of which I deny. They are unfounded, inaccurate or a distorted interpretation of the facts.

For instance, you reported the assertion that “Photographs presented to the court show the enormous size of Masters International’s cigarette manufacturing plant, and of a gigantic Klockner packaging machine ... [that] ... is currently disassembled and stored in a container .... Sources familiar with the company were sceptical of it still being found there.”

The fact is that virtually all the machinery used by Masters International was leased on operating leases and was, therefore, not owned by the company. To the best of my knowledge, the equipment has either already been repossessed by its owners, who are unconnected, or is in the process of being recovered.

SARS knew, or ought to have known that simple truth, but it seems, have found it expedient to put a negative spin on this ... to make a more compelling case to the courts. Your article dutifully repeated these lies or inaccuracies without even bothering to check their veracity.

Finally you cited the supposition that I was “allegedly the biggest supplier of arms in the Congo civil war” – a clear giveaway that you do not have a single shred of evidence to back up this remark.

You did get one fact right – I do spend most of my time in Britain.

John Bredenkamp

Thorney House, Harare, Zimbabwe

Our report was declaredly based on an affidavit filed by SARS in the high court – call it an accurate precis, if you will. It is not customary for the press to seek comment on evidence still under consideration by a court, which it then still was. While we are pleased, now, to note your denials for the record, the one example you have chosen to demonstrate the inaccuracy of SARS’s assertions is not nearly as clear cut as you suggest: the machine is listed amongst the assets belonging to Masters International that were valued at the liquidator’s request – and for which you and two of the companies you are said to control put in an offer to purchase.

It is the United Nations, the United States government and the EU that persist in holding such an extremely negative view of the role you have played, and continue to play, in African politics.Ed.

In praise of Strachan

Anyone who describes Harold Strachan’s writing as “maniacal raving” (A Welgemoed in Letters, nose113) is probably in urgent need of help; a sense of humour implant, perhaps?

Harold is a first-class writer – his books and many articles are testament to that. He also possesses a superb sense of humour and a wonderful imagination, something clearly lacking in your correspondent. Welgemoed’s world must be a dull place indeed.

Harold’s column is always first port of call in this household.

CL Bickle


In praise of noseweek

When I’m minister of education (one day) I’m going to insist that your fantastic magazine is prescribed reading matter in schools!

My kids are both at varsity, studying architecture and corporate communication, and they love the magazine. It’s inspired many a heated debate around the family dinner table. Thanks for helping me “direct” my sprouts into that big world out there with an open mind that definitely gives them that “edge”.

Sidney Pittaway


Cell-charge complaints

In response to Colin Reeves’ letter (nose113) about unauthorised charges to his cell phone account: people should complain to the DTI’s  Office of Consumer Protection, Consumer Complaints, Private Bag X84, Pretoria, 0001.

Advice can be obtained by calling 0861 843 384. A complaint form is also available from the website and can be faxed to 012 394 2436. Perhaps if enough people bother to complain, cellphone service providers will be forced to take action and bring these practices to an end.

As for your editorial reference to lawyers’ exploitation of the RAF: you will be happy to hear that the legal fraternity’s “tap” to the RAF and accident victims was turned off, as of 1 August 2008, by the RAF Amendment Act.

While we now have a no-fault system, the bad news is that compensation is now very restricted (much in the manner of workmen’s compensation under the Compensation of Occupational Injures and Diseases Act) and the Law Society is going to challenge the matter in the Constitutional Court – see www.lssa.org.za

Congratulations on a super magazine.

Irene Best

Parklands, Johannesburg

War memories

Thank you for including some war-time stories (nose113). It is as well to be reminded that there are evils far worse than corruption and fraud.

Marike Roth’s story brought back my own war-time memories as a schoolboy in Laren, a village less than half-an-hour by bicycle from Loosdrecht and Hilversum. My mother and I lived in a former timber-school building surrounded by a wooded area. She decided to allow a German Jew, a Mr Rosenbaum, to come and onderduik with us. My father, who had remarried, never forgave her, because it might have put me at risk. I remember Mr Rosenbaum did not particularly like my mother’s cooking but, impeccably courteous, would call it “sehr interessant”.

The place was set well back, making it invisible from the street. And amidst the trees a neighbour (who was also my mother’s lover) helped plan a hideout. Between the trees he dug us something he had learned from the Germans: a deckungsloch – an (air-raid) shelter hole in the ground, about one by one metre, two metres deep. Unless a bomb fell right on top of it, it provided fairly efficient cover. We had a wooden box placed in it, for Mr Rosenbaum’s comfort, and a few pine branches nearby that could be pulled over the hole, making it hard to spot. Like in Hilversum, we organized a bush telegraph warning of a razzia (raid) in progress in the area. It would take us two minutes to bundle Mr Rosenbaum into the deckungsloch, together with a blanket and some water. One day a razzia alarm did come through. Mr Rosenbaum panicked and ran into the forest. We never saw him again and the deckungsloch remained unused.

Hans Fransen


Hospital heroism

Very important day today!  Just a few hours ago I got my bone marrow transplant, which was really like getting a blood transfusion.  They are calling Johnny, my brother, “super-donor” because he only had to go through apheresis once, and they collected enough stem cells from him for 6 transplants. So he’s the hero right now, who did this for me, in spite of a dreadful needle phobia.

It’s a bit like having a new birthday. Now we wait for his cells to colonize my body and start making new cells, which will take a couple of weeks. We are hoping for a bit of graft vs host disease, which is a good thing, but a lot of it is a bad thing.  Johnny is an amazingly good match – all 6 antigens match, and they sometimes do transplants around here with only 4 or 5 matching antigens if they can’t find any better.

So hold thumbs!

Marike Roth

University of Louisville Hospital,Louisville, Kentucky


Throw book at government

The Somerset West Library is a public library situated in the heart of the town, and serves a vast community. That it should be forced to close on Saturdays – due, it is said, to extreme staff shortages – is a public disgrace. Saturday is the only day most working people and their school-going children are able to visit a library to borrow books or research material needed for school projects.

This is only one of many public libraries that close on Saturdays or have otherwise shortened their working hours.

Please help us stop this inexorable drift into the morass, caused by the likes of Pallo Jordan’s department!


Somerset West

Right now you can help yourself by resolving to vote, and encouraging all your friends to vote in the forthcoming elections. – Ed.

Google-eyed account

Love your philosophy, integrity and courage, but comparing HP’s operations with Google’s (nose113) is as ill-informed as likening a pharmacist to a brain surgeon.

HP employs huge numbers of staff in every work category. It suits them to participate in personnel upliftment and development programmes.

Search and information engines, such as Google, however, can be “one man bands”; the opportunity for the advancement of the citizenry is therefore relatively non-existent.

The thrust and tenor of the article and the heading, “Google’s Evil SA Campaign” border on the incredible. It smells of desperation and agenda. I think I smell a rat.

You have not helped your cause nor has the professional reputation of the people quoted been served.

Travis Honeycutt

By email

We’re talking market share here, and putting back in where you take out, not how many people you employ. Besides, Google obviously agreed with the main point of our story – they’ve called off their bid to get rid of local suppliers. – Ed.

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Submitted by : Ron Mcgregor of Cape Town on 2009-03-26 22:32:50
Delighted to note that John Bredenkamp reads Noseweek. I thought it was only read by intellectuals.


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