Dear Editor

Open letter to Maria Ramos
Dear Ms Ramos

Perhaps you have an ear for a SATS pensioner who has always thought very highly of your personal integrity.

My husband, Alan Mager George, joined the Railways in 1949 and was boarded 40 years later as the Assistant Chief Electrical Engineer. He was a Fellow of the SA Institute of Electrical Engineers, and spent many years planning and supervising the electrification of the Northern Cape line to Sishen. I edited a women’s magazine called SARWoman and continued to write a column for it even after my husband’s retirement.

Think of SATS pensioners as productive people who were responsible for much of Transnet’s present-day infrastructure. I am now a widow pensioner looking back on a long string of broken promises regarding our medical benefits, etc. My husband thought  it was not necessary to take out heavy life insurance because our future medical expenses would be covered and the pension would be adequate to live comfortably. Little did he know. While in no way denying the incredible benefits brought by democracy, I do want to remind you of this almost forgotten band of SATS pensioners. We can’t help feeling that Transnet and Transmed are waiting – not too patiently – for us to die.

I appeal to you to use some of the proceeds of the sale of the V&A Waterfront to grant us a pension increase. I can’t remember when last we were given anything other than the 2% a year.
Mrs Lesley George
Cape TownImage 714

Is this channel legitimate?
One of my employees was approached, telephonically, by an outfit called Channel Life. He made the mistake of giving them his bank account number over the phone. He now finds that they are deducting a total of R369.20 monthly from his account, which he claims he never authorised them to do. Is this company legitimate? Is what they are doing legal? How can he get out of it?
Mike Zimmermann

In a serious fix
So now the government has a policy of zero tolerance for speeding. Yes, speed can kill, but the majority of road deaths occur between 7pm and midnight in areas around shebeens. What about the really important issues? We have an HIV-Aids epidemic. Crime is out of hand. What they have in common is drugs and more drugs.

How much crime is a result of addicts looking for ways to pay for the next fix? How much prostitution or unprotected sex comes from drug use? Eliminate drugs and you make a serious dent in all these problems. We have serious drug problems everywhere but the drug squad has been disbanded. At what point do we have zero tolerance towards drug dealers? The police pursue speeding drivers as that makes money. Do they ignore the drug dealers for the same reason?
Totally Fed Up

Serious money magic
Last year, noseweek carried the story of how some St John’s boys, sons of wealthy and influential parents, evaded being charged in a serious assault case.

This time the victim is a young man from Cape Town, Andrew Merryweather, who was violently assaulted by a group of teenage youths last September. He faces spending the rest of his life in a wheelchair. Alas the youths involved also have wealthy parents – they are from the well-heeled Southern Suburbs, and attend top schools.

This was a very public assault. There were witnesses. A mother of one of the assailants refused to help the badly injured Merryweather, and was more concerned with getting her son and his buddies away from the scene. A closed-circuit TV camera recorded her vehicle’s number.

Apparently there was some behind-the-scenes boasting,  but when it was realised that the damage to the victim was likely to be permanent, and that legal repercussions would follow, everything went mousey quiet. Suddenly, nobody knew anything. No boy came forward.  No parent had the decency to stand up. (They did hire a heavyweight criminal lawyer, William Booth, just in case the law came looking.)

Image 715Eight youths were summoned to an identity parade. School talk has it that they changed their appearance for this – and, on the advice of Mr Booth, opted for a joint line-up of 40 people. Not surprisingly, witnesses were unable to identify any of them. For weeks, nothing happened, and the attackers could prepare for and write their matric exams.

Suddenly, after three months of inaction, and the matric exams now over, the suspects were  subpoenaed to appear in court on charges of  attempted murder. Such a crime should have led to the prompt arrest and charging of the suspects, followed by a bail hearing and a speedy prosecution.Why were the wheels of justice so conveniently halted? Dammit, I could accept it if a magistrate granted bail  and postponement for the accused to write matric. But to pretend that an investigation is going nowhere for three months is totally unacceptable.
And since when were people subpoenaed instead of arrested for violent crimes? The said lawyer denies that his clients got special treatment, and implies that the delay was purely because the police needed time to complete their investigation, and the prosecutor needed time to decide whether or not to prosecute. Well, I suppose we have to accept his word –  just as he can’t prove there aren’t fairies at the bottom of my garden.
Ron McGregor

Not soft on support
Two letters to noseweek regarding accounting software demonstrate the need to ask key questions before purchasing a software product.

With the rapid development of business technologies it’s vital that companies have the capacity to keep up, and as smaller organisations don’t have the necessary in-house skills, software suppliers are creating support structures, usually in the form of call centres that users access for an affordable annual fee. Also for the sake of affordability, the costs of support and upgrades are being annualised.

It is important to realise that accounting software is the information systems’ backbone to any business. Customers need support immediately and this is primarily why our Cover program was been devised, which allows Softline Pastel to provide extensive expertise on a range of issues relating to accounting principles and policies, operating systems, and networks. We now have in excess of 30,000 customers on Pastel Cover, the number having doubled in the past three years. This bears testimony to the value we offer our customers.
We are confident that the Pastel Accounting software range will continue to form the foundation of South African business.
Lara Nahon
Director  – Business Development, Softline Pastel

Local is lekker
In a recent article and letters about accounting software, favourable reference was made to Omni Accounts. Against all the odds, locally developed Omni Accounts is a well respected and affordable package that is steadily gaining market share. With more than 9000 sales in less than three years, Omni Accounts is set to capture the local accounting software market over the next few years. (It has been around for more than 20 years.)
Ivor van Rensburg
IT Public Relations

Not horsing around
The Taxpayers Collective wish to announce that we intend demanding five horses from that Goniwe chap who once was ANC chief whip, for having used public servants, i.e. administrative assistants, to clean up his personal birthday mess. (The going rate is three, but she was called out on overtime.)

We don’t want cows; we buy our milk from supermarkets. Borat, the Kazakhstan reporter invited to report on the trial, will understand: in our 19th century mining economy with its lack of public transport and properly maintained roads, horses are more useful. And one can eat them if, say, a tribal war breaks out.
Mr T

The eagle hasn’t landed
After reading your earlier accounts of dirty dealings in the claims department of SA Eagle, a friend suggested that I write to you as I too have had a most unpleasant ordeal with the insurer’s forensic team. SA Eagle clients should be made aware of what they are up against when they have claims.

On the evening of 14 June 2006, while at a filling station in Vereeniging, my son was the victim of a hijacking. As he opened the car door, two men climbed in and ordered him to drive off. A while later they ordered him to stop and get out, then drove off, never to be seen again.

I submitted a claim via my insurance broker to SA Eagle. My brokers appointed Ben van Zyl from Sovereign Assessors to investigate the claim. He in turn appointed a Mr J Fourie from Lojan Veracity Assessors, who interrogated my son to no end. Then Mr Naude, manager of the forensic team, got my file. Despite several calls to him to enquire why there was a delay in settlement of the claim, I got no answer. I was eventually telephoned by his assistant, Mr Wynand Lowe, who told me that the claim was still under investigation. Weeks later Lowe called again to say that Naude wanted my son to come to SA Eagle to make a proper statement since they were not happy with the information in their possession.

I was at a complete loss to understand Mr Naude’s line of reasoning and decided to telephone a Mr D Naidoo, the claims manager at SA Eagle, for help. I believe no such person exists: he was never available to take any calls, let alone phone back when messages were left asking him to do so.

A friend made some enquiries; it is apparent that the two gentlemen, newly appointed at the forensic department of SA Eagle, were previously employed by the SAPS. Maybe this explains their unusual behaviour!

Only in the second week of September did someone at SA Eagle come to their senses, as I was telephoned and told that the claim would be paid.

It is my understanding that the general rule of insurance is utmost good faith. Without doubt, this is something that the forensic personnel of SA Eagle should come to grips with, sooner than later.
Mrs WM Steyn

Great train robbery
As a long-serving Transnet employee I was often told: “Your salary might not be good, but when you retire you will receive a good pension and have a good sick fund for your old age” - a lie on both counts.

While Maria Ramos makes hay in the sunshine and basks in the media limelight, I’d like to remind her of the forgotten army who gave their best and now find they are an embarrasment to Transnet and the government. We were robbed in our working years - and are being stolen from in our twilight years.

Mr Nose, give them hell!
D A Burnett
MidrandSee story.

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