Letters

Dear Editor


Outsurance gets outed

It came as no surprise to find a horror story involving Outsurance splashed across your pages – it was just a matter of time. Anyone naive enough to do business with an organisation that refuses to do business in writing, is inviting trouble.
In July, I approached Outsurance for a quote – in writing – on my household insurance.
I run my own small business and everything I do is done in writing. This affords my clients the opportunity to make informed decisions and gives them the opportunity to ensure that they have all the facts at their fingertips. It also ensures that they have all the time they need to digest the information I’ve given to them, and are able to ask any questions that they still might have, prior to committing themselves to anything. And they have the peace of mind of knowing that everything is committed to writing.
I might have changed to Outsurance if they did business on my terms (that is, in writing), but I never heard another word from them. For which, apparently, I should be grateful.
Paula Kernan
Morningside


Otto’s new life

In your article about Outsurance and the case of Michael Collison (nose72), claims manager Renee Otto was the villain of the piece.
And now that same Renee Otto is MD of Channel Life! The mind boggles! Are we going to see the same trend in life claims there? What is the view of the Life Offices Association?
Robbie Stutterheim
By email


Driving a hard bargain

The attitude of Outsurance staff to claims in one thing, but the quality of the fine print in their contracts is equally worth noting. So your readers might wish to take note that, whereas Mutual and Federal and SA Eagle, for example, do not exclude claims when the driver is found to have been drunk, provided the insured was not aware of the fact when he handed control of the vehicle to the driver, or has not given his consent to the driver to “drink and drive”.
Outsurance is different – it excludes drunken driving altogether, even if the insured was completely unaware of the situation.
There are many other instances of their wording being different from mainstream policy wordings. So, buyer beware!
Stuart MacPherson
Century City
 

Better Luyt than never

In your article “Afrikaans press hasn’t the balls” (nose71), Deon Basson claims that Louis Luyt disregarded M-Net when he negotiated a $550m TV rights agreement with Newscorp on behalf of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. While that is correct, he did not “disregard” M-Net for negative reasons.
The facts are that M-Net could in no way match Newscorp’s offer of nearly R2.5 billion at the time the deal was sealed. Basson wrote, a few paragraphs later, that at the time of the signing, M-Net Supersport earned profits of R12.2 million on a modest revenue of R35.8 million! That is peanuts compared to what Newscorp earns in a week, let alone a year. There was no way M-Net Supersport could compete with the big boys, irrespective of how much we appreciated their efforts.
Luyt brokered a lucrative deal and secured the success of the Super 12 and the Tri-Nations. Many young South African players reaped the benefit of international exposure as a result. Bear in mind that according to the contract, Newscorp had to pay Sarfu in US dollars, with a weak rand at the time. Sarfu, in turn, paid their expenses and players in rands, which means that SArugby were reaping extra financial benefits from it all. Luyt may not be Mother Teresa in drag, but he’s not stupid!
Fred Pohl
Ashton


Tshwete business

The question raised by Deon Basson about the superficial coverage by the Afrikaans press of rugby scandals brings to mind the astonishing story that appeared in Rapport on May 23 last year, which quoted Brian van Rooyen acknowledging that he had donated from Sarfu’s coffers a cool quarter million rand to a trust fund for the widow of Steve Tshwete, who was not even sports minister when he died.
Van Rooyen justified the gift on the grounds that other sport codes had given much more. Even more astonishing – given that the ANC did not deny the story – is the failure of the press as a whole and the parliamentary opposition to pursue the matter further.
The only other reference was a few sentences in ThisDay three days later: “One can only imagine the party political strings that were pulled to redirect a proportion of public gate money and sponsorships to a departed ANC politician’s widow.”
That “pulling of party strings” might well be seen by others as a form of extortion, given the constant threats made against various sports codes by the government.
Hopefully the matter will not be allowed to rest there.
Just Curious
Cape Town

One would have thought that the widows of cabinet ministers qualified for handsome life insurance payouts and more than adequate pensions, so why the begging anyway? – Ed.


Hopping about Hepple

I have never met Sir Bob Hepple and he was never the subject of any conversation I’ve had with Paul Trewhela (nose71). The comment attributed to me is untrue. I hope Trewhela has the decency to apologise to us both.
Nandha Naidoo
Bournemouth, England


Hit the road Harold


In “It’s all Mine” (nose61, October 2004) you described how Pierre Hough claimed ownership of large tracts of road reserve and township land that had once been set aside for public use in Natal. You ended with the assertion that “The National Roads Agency has a team of researchers working full-out at trying to establish the true situation.”
Twelve months of working “full-out” without a word, and no follow-up from noseweek makes me wonder whether the fault lies with the roads agency or with noseweek, who are too busy printing crap from Harold Strachan. How about a follow-up? (And I don’t mean more Strachan.)
Tino Rupping
Parow

Hough’s claims against the eThekweni municipality were argued before the Maritzburg High Court and we’ve been waiting for Judge Patel’s judgment since 20 July. – Ed.


Mattress money matters

noseweek has finally hit Stanford!
The banks are already destroying us – and now eBucks’/FNB’s stupid, uninformed clients are actually being set up to pay for someone’s little joyride to the moon! Bank charges are an insanity, but when you really need financial help from your bankers (who already have your house as security), they suggest you try somewhere else! What is one to make of it all? Am I the only one who prefers to keep my cash under my mattress?
Marischka
Stanford


Banks in Blighty are better

Looking at your letters page, I feel the urge to point out that South African banks are extremely greedy. Do you know that my banking in the UK costs me nothing? No admin charges, no charge for internet banking, no government this or that, no multitude of charges hidden under the dubious labels “administration fee” or “bank fee”.
I just love noseweek. Reminds me of why I left Africa and keeps me focused when my missus urges me to go back.
Monty Paul
Durley, UK

It’s obvious you’re bored witless and are missing us all madly. Listen to the missus. – Ed.


Liberty, get a life!

I note in nose71 you posed a query as to Liberty Life’s conduct. Some eight years ago I was paid out under a 10-year endowment policy that had matured. I was initially paid out little more than I had invested. I wrote in considerable anger to Donny Gordon as the managing director to express my indignation that just about every one of the 10 years that I held the policy I had been sent annual reports reflecting that the returns could be in the region of up to 15% but that, more realistically, appreciation in the region of 12% would probably be obtained.
Donny Gordon’s PA wrote back to explain that nowhere in my original contract was such a representation made and they were in no way liable. I then re-examined the contract and came across a clause in the small print in an attached schedule in which – lo and behold! – Liberty had guaranteed a 6% return on money invested. A cheque making up the difference was soon sent to me.
I continued the argument in letters addressed directly to Donny Gordon – answered each time by his PA – and finally received an explanation which only Liberty could have believed justified their conduct, namely: that during the first year of the endowment policy approximately 40% of my money had been used for “administration costs and for the following two years up to 30% each year” – and that, had this money not been deducted, a return of up to 12% would have been made! Strangely enough none of this was disclosed in any of the annual reports!
Andrew Duncan
Westlake


Hellkom hath no fury


In his account of how Telkom abandoned their case against the master of the website Hellkom, Hans Muhlberg (in nose72) cites the Constitutional Court’s judgment in the Laugh it Off Black Labour T-shirt case. 
Your readers might enjoy the irony: the main Black Labour T-shirt judgment was written by Mr Justice Dikgang Moseneke – who was, from October 1994 until his recent appointment as a judge of the Constitutional Court, the chairman of Telkom.
TB
Plumstead


Kebble, Einstein and folly


Albert Einstein once said: “There are only two infinite things: The Universe and human stupidity – and I have my doubts about the Universe!” After reading and listening to Brett Kebble being showered with accolades, I can only conclude that Einstein underestimated human folly.
Mike Smuts
Krugersdorp


Late lamented letter

I couldn’t help noticing that my note from way back was a trifle stale by the time it appeared in your October edition under the heading “Kebble goes down”.
Steve Pain
Cape Town

A trifle. – Ed.


Message to the rich


In Black Souls in White Skins? Steve Biko urged his fellow blacks not to engage in “tea parties” with white liberals but rather to distance themselves in order to avoid the watering down effect of collaboration.
Lynne Baker could take a leaf out of Biko’s book: the “amnesty for honesty” proposal, particularly the most recent draft, courtesy Tim Gordon-Grant, reeks of the kind of watering down Biko was suggesting. Lynne Baker is right to feel uneasy: no good can come from such a secretive caucus, especially one including Roger Cameron who has a mammoth conflict of interest in this case and has already demonstrated a readiness to abuse a position of authority.
This was a serious crime that should be dealt with in the criminal courts. We need to send a message that the state does not ever overlook crime, regardless of one’s affluence. Furthermore, it is an indictment of those involved that a fund has not already been set up to help with the Bakers’ medical bills.
James Kerry
Kenilworth, Cape Town

See St John's Passion in this edition.


Counting on readers


Has Mr Nose lost his three balls? (From his abacus, that is.)
In nose72, in the story about Worldcom, $9 billion has been converted to “about R55m”.’strewth! I hope he finds the three missing digits soon – or shall we call in Mr. Numbers?
Ron Dyamond
Melkbosstrand

We count on our fingers. Past a certain point it starts getting boring. – Ed.


Alas, poor Porritt


The latest string of charges brought against Gary Porritt brought to mind your report in March (nose65) on how a sore knee, opportunistic pancreatic cancer, acute depression and the sudden onset of diarrhoea had, one after the other, afflicted members of the Porritt family on the way to court. Not to speak of the occasion when his wife Bernice, due to answer questions at an enquiry, mysteriously disappeared, later to be found in a ditch having swallowed “a substance”. Which ailment will it be next?
A friend who had the dubious pleasure of working for Porritt a few years back has always said that Gary’s famous trick was to find every lame excuse under the sun not to appear before court or the authorities, in the hope that the plaintiff would either run out of money or become fed up and eventually give up. It seems his tactics haven’t changed.
I can’t believe that the courts can be so lenient and naïve. I hope, for the sake of all the investors who lost their money in Porritt’s scams, that the court will come to its senses.
Meanwhile the Porritts are certainly not losing any sleep over their victims’ losses. In fact, both Gary and Bernice are still in business. (Bernice runs a chain of shops in Kwazulu-Natal called Inkyshop.)
Nick McConnellwick

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