Dear Editor

Barry Sergeant an instant friend

I’m so sad about Barry Sergeant’s death. He was so kind to me even though we never met, and I felt him to be a friend and loved him. Two months ago, he spoke about his farm and things he was working on, and told me to visit. I should have gone then, if only to meet him and keep that moment with me.

Khadija Sharife

See Editorial, Farewell Cowboy in this issue.Ed.

Gassed out of our homes

Having read your article in nose205 on Enviroserv’s dumpsite near Hillcrest, I thought you need to be told about how we – here in Midstream, Thembisa, Glen Austin and Brakfontein in Midrand – have an even worse problem with the Interwaste dumpsite.

They are allegedly dumping hazmat (hazardous materials and items) waste from platinum mines at this site, which is creating hydrogen sulphide and sulphur dioxide, both deadly gases.

As a result, we are being gassed out of our homes. People everywhere are sick and animals are dying. The government has been “investigating” for two years already and it is getting worse by the day.

Please can you look into this, as we get threatened by Interwaste lawyers when we post on Facebook or message.

Paul Treleven

Noseweek is no stranger to sniffing out Interwaste’s stink (see nose194). We suggest you contact environmentalist Desmond D’Sa, of the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, for  assistance. D’Sa travels the country to help communities battling with toxic companies. We also suggest you visit the Upper Highway Clean Air NPO to see how that KwaZulu-Natal community has rallied in their area. A Noseweek journalist will be contacting you shortly to get your story and to ruffle the scales of the legal minions slithering around Facebook instead of respecting your right to a healthy environment. Because that’s how we roll.Ed.

Discrimination in death

I am glad you published “Forgotten but not yet buried” in nose208. It tallies with my experience with Claremont Shul. My late mother belonged to the Jewish Seniors Club that met in Claremont/Wynberg regularly. In fact, she left money to them.

She also used to go to the Claremont Shul for the high and holy days and paid her annual dues there too.

When she died – and despite my father having been Orthodox – I had her cremated, but I asked the Rabbi to say prayers for her. When he refused. I asked a devout shul-goer pal to intervene and try to sort this out, as I thought that my mother, who didn’t really want to be cremated but left it up to me to decide, would appreciate having prayers said in any shul for her. In the end it created such a problem situation that I don’t know whether this was ever done.

I do believe that these self-serving judgemental humans will get a taste of their own meds in due course.

Pam Herr
Sun Valley

‘Last Word’ always first class

I have for years been a happy subscriber to Noseweek. This weekend, again, Harold Strachan’s contribution (in nose208) was a masterpiece of humour.

Does Noseweek  have a “Last Word” collection of his contributions in print? If so, then I am a keen purchaser. If not, then how about putting one together?

John Barbardt
CEO, Bonnievale Wines

Mother’s Sassa account raided

I have spent a year trying to get the money Sassa’s paymaster appointee stole from my mother’s pension.

After all the paperwork and phone calls and trips to various places they have told her it’s her own fault and said someone has been buying airtime from her account.

This is rubbish. They have perpetrated a fraud and need to take responsibility.

Jenny McLeod
Meadowridge, Cape Town

Bled dry by Hermanus

Recently we have read in your Letters pages about municipalities that do not charge sufficient rates on properties because of too-low valuations. Well, let me tell you that there is one municipality where such a state of affairs will definitely not happen: the Hermanus municipality of the Overstrand. This municipality is run to show a healthy profit and, whereas business has to deliver to show a profit, Hermanus municipality has the advantage of not having to do so.

President Jacob Zuma’s example of government has been readily embraced by the Hermanus councillors en bloc – DA, ANC, same difference. Where Zuma bribed the justice department, Hermanus employs the smartest lawyers the region can provide, paid for by the rates and taxes levied on the property owners.

Municipalities used to be instances of service – in Hermanus it has become an instance of imposition. Valuations of houses are decided unilaterally by the lawyers – every four years a higher figure, despite the fact that in the market, house prices have dropped considerably during the last five years. In my case, our house was revalued for almost R1 million more, to R2.735m, while surrounding houses had been sold for an average of less than R2m. The result was an increase in rates of R3,600/year.

If you protest, the next month you will find an increase in your electricity deposit of R5,000 to be paid directly, in order to punish you.

Hermanus municipal lawyers’ law is Law, house owners had better not forget. To fill the coffers, the lawyers invented an additional payment on car licences – a transaction fee of R36 – to get more fines. You won’t be told when your car or driver’s licence is to be renewed, so quite a few people who were used to a “service” municipality find themselves riding around with out-of-date papers. The municipality has appointed a crowd of youngsters with yellow vests to pounce upon car owners in order to fine them.

All this might not be legal but house owners who built or bought a house in their younger days now find it difficult to defend themselves against the demands of the Hermanus Municipality.

Lawyers are too expensive, already the habitants have paid for the municipal lawyers that attack them in our zumacracy and so far there does not seem to be any defence against the persecutions of Hermanus Municipality.

Nick Dekker
De Kelders, Gansbaai

Unfairly tainted

I was distressed to discover that in Mandy Wiener’s piece on Mahen Munsamy’s money laundering schemes (nose208) you say I “aided and abetted” him, suggesting that I had assisted him in some illegal or morally reprehensible activity. All I did was assist Munsamy to source and develop the properties he purchased. I am a property developer (not an architect) and was doing my business as I would for any client.

The acquisition of the first two properties occurred well before the Sasol/FNB saga. I also lost a considerable sum of money when Munsamy reneged on our agreements for the development of the properties after much work had been done. I would appreciate a note clarifying this.

Andrew Botha

Slimy sorts duping others

I am only about half-way through the February issue (nose208) and it sort of leaves me speechless to read about all these slimy people who defraud and harm others. But I really enjoyed the Editorial and the comments about BEE. BEE will be around for ever as it is a crutch. It is also a form of racialism that is bad news for our country but, ironically, is government policy.

Keep up the really good work that you and your staff do. One of these days I guess I should subscribe to the digital version of Noseweek but maybe I’m a bit old fashioned and still enjoy the printed version.

Dave Nicholls

Where’s my money, SARS?

In 2006, R105,000 was unlawfully removed from my personal bank account by SARS. After repeatedly failing to get any kind of information from SARS regarding this, in 2013 I contacted the Public Protector. SARS – suddenly, after seven years – now said I had been audited in 1999 but were unable to provide audit reports, assessments or any documentation to substantiate this claim.

The Public Protector advised me to try the Tax Ombud. For the past two-and-a-half years my matter has been with the Tax Ombud, whose mandate is to determine maladministration or whether SARS followed the correct procedures before removing my money.

To date, SARS has been unable to show any documentation to justify the removal of my money, and it is clear to the Tax Ombud that not one single procedure was followed by SARS.

Despite the Tax Ombud having recommended that SARS repay my money, SARS has shown the middle finger to the Tax Ombud who has no legal powers.

All that SARS has shown me over the past 11 years is computer-generated made-up figures, which I have told them in writing were fraudulently compiled... as without substantive documentation, where did these figures come from?

SARS has shown me a simulation of account, as to what they think might of happened. When I asked if they would accept a taxpayer providing them with simulated expenses, they refused to answer.

I have repeatedly asked the Tax Ombud to request SARS to take me to court, however the Tax Ombud just laughs at me, saying SARS would never go to court with this matter, as they know they are in the wrong.

The lack of transparency, accountability and integrity within SARS is disturbing. They appear to be a law unto themselves, with total disregard for the man in the street.

Can Noseweek please help me in resolving this long ongoing saga?

By email

Hard to keep track of corruption

I’m sure I’m not the only reader who battles to keep track of the endless flood of corruption by the various government departments, as well as the SOEs and also crooks in the private sector, and I’d hate to think that they will be allowed to quietly disappear, leaving the guilty unpunished.

As a result, I suggest that Noseweek publish regular updates reminding us of what scandals remain unresolved and guilty parties unpunished, along with the details of the issue in which the story was published.

In this way, we can continually raise the issues until the appropriate action is taken.

Mitch Launspach
Noordheuwel, Mogale City

Democracy/capitalism is flailing

The discussion on Ralph Mathekga’s book When Zuma Goes (nose207) has prompted me to order a copy so that I can study his ideas in detail.

For some time I’ve been concerned that the Highway to Light long championed by the (North-) Western World (in other words, Capitalism/Democracy) has run into swampy ground. No longer do the ideals espoused under that scheme appear to be sufficient to provide a smooth roadbed for the carriage of the advancement of society.

We’ve seen, among other phenomena, the Arab Spring, Brexit in the UK, and the emergence of Donald Trump in the US. There are close similarities between what is happening in the US and what happened in South Africa in 2008 –  a system effected by an intellectual, aloof leadership (Obama and Mbeki) that was elbowed aside by a scheme espoused by successors perceived to have a populist agenda.

The same emotion that has bubbled to the surface in other societies has resulted in the demise of numerous Muslim leaders in North Africa and the Middle East, and Cameron in the UK. In fact, South Africa pretty well pioneered this phenomenon within the structures of its own liberation movement.

So what happens next, worldwide? Should we, together with Asia’s teeming millions, attempt to replicate the social democracies of Scandinavia across the globe? Should we all emulate Japan and South Korea?

I’m hoping Mathekga’s peek into the future for South Africa will give us a world view for our grandchildren to look out for.

A J H Long
Tzaneen, Limpopo

High at the wheel is hazardous

Medical cannabis – Beyond anecdotes (nose208) refers. Much has been written about making dagga (Cannabis sativa) legal. Very few have had experience with it, as it is a banned product.

I remember about 1974 the police helicopters coming into the Karkloof hills and forests looking for dagga, and when found, cutting and burning the plants. I can also remember some plants hidden deep in the forests that were 4m high.

During the early 1980s, after good rains and lots of sunshine, the dagga crop was good, the Africans working on my father’s farm were smoking dagga on a daily basis. Smoking blue smoke as they say.

A worker under the influence, who was asked to hit a part on a plough at a moderate speed with a 5kg sledge hammer, instead lifted the hammer and with all his might, hit the part and broke it.

A young African, also under the influence, driving a tractor, descended a steep hill at full throttle with heavy plough in tow.

When he tried to brake, the tractor swerved to the right, he over-steered to correct and the tractor overturned and squashed him.

I have no doubt at all that the nation will rue the day that “it is easy to smoke dagga”. Accident rates of vehicles and road deaths on the roads will increase exponentially.

And in the workplace schizophrenia will also be a problem in the workforce.

Peter Dawie

De Lille has no interest in Cape Town’s heritage

Regarding Cape Town Executive Mayor Patricia de Lille’s recent resignation as provincial DA leader so that she can “concentrate on her mayoral work”, the Habitat Council has launched a Review Application in the Western Cape High Court (case no 16920/16) against inter alia the Executive Mayor of Cape Town and the Mayoral Committee.

De Lille’s resignation is a cause for genuine concern to all who care about preserving heritage in our city. Her obvious delight at the prospect of being able to concentrate on her mayoral work fills us with dread at the thought of what the focus of her attention will be. Much of her mayoral work reflects her mantra: “Away with red tape; roll out the red carpet for development”. Her value system would seem not to include an appreciation for heritage. The erstwhile Spatial Planning and Land Use Management committee (Spelum) has been stripped of all decision-making powers. The Planning Bylaw bestows virtually boundless discretionary powers on her on appeal.

A Development Forum with which she works closely – and which consists exclusively of architects, developers, builders, etc – has closed-door meetings with De Lille on propositions for development.

The Lutheran Church in cape Town

With respect to the current application for development on the 18th century warehouse alongside the Lutheran Church in Cape Town, the Habitat Council has become aware of this increasing centralisation of power in recent times.  It has endeavoured, so far unsuccessfully, to have the warehouse along with the historic street block it stands on declared a national heritage site.

This property is situated on the only remaining street block reflecting the low-slung 18th-century architecture of South Africa. The warehouse in question was built from 1764 to 1767 by the Malay slaves living at the Cape, and is directly linked to the origins of the Lutheran Church in Africa.

When the plans to build a multi-storey’d office block on the roof of the warehouse became known, spontaneous objections flooded in. A municipal team of experts was put together to assess the application and advise Spelum.  Their unanimous finding was that the application was to be turned down – which Spelum, in an unopposed vote, did in 2011. An appeal to the Planning Appeal Board in 2014 against the rejection was unsuccessful.

A somewhat changed proposal was submitted towards the end of 2014. Again a team of officials was tasked with assessing the application. This time, however, they chose to support the proposal.

But the councillors serving on Spelum  were highly critical of it. After a site visit in June 2015, one councillor described the proposal as “brutal, ugly and unforgiving” and “undesirable, unsuitable” and “impacting negatively on the environment”. Their request was that the officials should revisit their report, explaining the merits of their recommendation.

Both the June 2015 and the July 2015 Spelum meetings recommended that the application be turned down.

The Habitat Council noted an appeal against the mayor’s decision and the matter was referred to the city’s Appeals Committee. Four DA Councillors voted for the development and the two ANC Councillors voted against it

In a subsequent meeting, on 3 November last year, the mayor and the mayoral committee took exactly two minutes to approve the development on the Melck warehouse.

The Habitat Council believes there is a systematic bias in favour of developers and that the DA Councillors are obliged to follow the instructions of their leadership (De Lille).

What happened to the so-called “open opportunity society’ slogan of the DA?

It has become clear to us that the DA under De Lille has no regard for our unique Heritage and Environment. We can only hope that she comes to realise that preserving our heritage is a constitutional and legislative mandate.

Habitat Council has received the full record of the Appeals Committee and had until 15/02/17 to amplify their papers in preparation for the court case to follow.

ML Roux

Executive Officer: Habitat Council

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