Dear Editor

Crime shame
The reluctance of the government to confront the criminal fraternity is quite understandable. Who, in any democracy, would wish to alienate such a large and growing constituency?
Hugh Farquharson,
Forest Town, Johannesburg

Innovative rip-off
I have been Motivated (by Dave Robbins, Letters, nose89) to write to you about the Innovative way that Standard Bank has been Inspired to increase profits.

I am the treasurer of a small collectors’ club. We have had a cheque account with Standard Bank for about 10 years and were granted, without request, an automatic overdraft facility of R600 when the account was opened. We have never used it.

In January Standard Bank introduced a monthly fee of R25 for this facility that we did not want and have never used.

If we had borrowed the R600 from them, at 20% this would have cost us R120 per year, or R10 per month.

So the charge for not using the facility is more than two and a half times the interest we would pay if we did use it. Talk about Innovation!
Cedric Edwards
By email

Inspired to make money
Your story about Standard Bank (nose90) brings to mind my experience when, some years ago, my wife had a small inheritance which she wished to invest overseas. As I was banking with Standard at the time I asked their advice.

Within the hour they’d sent a young man called Jason Hallet to advise me. Without going into all the details, he gave me advice on how to invest in an offshore fund via the bank in Jersey or Guernsey. He explained to me that these investments were “opaque” as far as the Reserve Bank was concerned and how I might take all my holiday allowance and place it in this account, and various other tricks of a similar nature. It immediately became evident to me that I was being enticed to contravene all the Reserve Bank regulations and that, in fact, I was being asked to commit a criminal offence. I threw young Hallet out of my office and phoned his boss, Mr Rhett Groome, who was too busy to speak to me but who miraculously became un-busy after I explained to his secretary that I was about to phone the Attorney General to lay a formal complaint.

Mr Groome became so unbusy that he came over immediately to see me and brought with him all the proper papers to open an offshore account. I declined, however, after reading the third clause in the small print which gave the bank carte blanche to screw up on your investment without incurring any liability to themselves.

Oh yes – I was also advised at the time to take out an increased mortgage on my house to invest it in some cockamamie scheme that the bank had dreamed up.

It seems as though the bank are not so good at giving financial advice which benefits the client but, boy oh boy, are they good at making a fast buck at your expense. Happily I did not follow their advice and after I’d experienced spectacularly poor service on a number of occasions, I closed my account with them. So, the subtext: Inspired (to make money out of hapless gullible clients); Motivated (to cover their own interests); Involved (in some very questionable advice giving).
David Klatzow

On the money
It follows from your article on Standard Bank (in nose90) that its financial planner, Le Riche (how appropriate!) is clearly suspect. Aren’t financial planners supposed to be registered with the FSB – and have qualifications to do this job? Why does this person have no qualifications or training and yet get employed by a leading bank as a financial planner? If this is so, should not the bank’s directors be called to account?

And why did the bank’s financial planner not offer his clients a fixed bond rate on the bonds he persuaded them to raise for capital to invest in the bank’s loss-making offshore schemes? Oh, of course – then the bank would itself have lost money! 
Pam Herr
Fish Hoek
Yup, he’s not a fool, he’s just a sheister salesman. – Ed.

Direct democracy
I don’t profess to know anything about the Free Market Foundation’s funding these days or its stance on global warming.

However South Africa: the Solution and Frances Kendall’s other books on the subject of local government were the blueprint for a practical alternative to our current, increasingly centralised, system of government and what I believe is a deeply flawed constitution.

The advantages of real power at local level in a multi-lingual and multi-cultural country are obvious: mother tongue education, politics becoming issue-driven rather than party political, empowerment through local radio and television.

In short, using taxpayers’ money for services instead of for the WaBenzis a centralised system inevitably throws up.

Even conservation and ecological matters would benefit. The best direct democracy is still being able to take the offending official (who backs development on wetlands and the like) by the scruff of his neck and kick him out of the local council.

I’m with NoseArk on ecological issues but this collateral damage to Louw and Kendall is undeserved.
Nick Taylor[yes, the one],
Verlorenvlei, West Coast

Your view appears to be based on the assumption that local electorates are less gullible than the national electorate, and that the temptations of the latest Merc and the quick buck to be made from uncontrolled development are less at local level than they are at national level. Experience suggests otherwise. – Ed.

Don’t phone us
My wife and I applied for renewal passports at the same Wynberg Home Affairs office described by Mr Nose (“Home Affairs pulls the plug”, nose90). After waiting the suggested six- to eight-week period we phoned the number given to us at the initial meeting. Sure enough, we had dialled “Wynberg unplugged”.

So, back to the Wynberg office, where, after a 1.5 hour wait in the “collection” queue, I was advised that my passport had been posted; my wife’s was still in “printing”.

When I phoned again the following week – surprise – after just 5 minutes the phone was answered. (She’s back from sick leave!) I was now told that, while my passport had been mailed, my wife’s was only “in fingerprints”. (I was advised that “fingerprints” precedes “printing”.)

After another week and another visit to the offices, I am told my wife’s passport is now also in the post.

Neither has arrived.

On the unpainted walls of Wynberg Home affairs there’s a very prominently displayed poster which reads “WE CARE”.

I don’t think they could give a Tinker’s Cuss.
Julian Seymour

Rabbid headline
Your headline “Cops and Rabbis” (nose90) gives the impression that Jewish religious leaders are implicated in shady dealings, something that one soon sees is not the case.

It is unfortunate that you chose to sacrifice strict accuracy for the sake of a clever pun.

There is a difference, surely, between being outspoken and hard-hitting and on being needlessly offensive.
David Saks
SA Jewish Board of Deputies, Johannesburg

The end is nigh: the Jews, too, are losing their sense of humour! – Ed.

Gender bender
To the admirer of Hilary Prendini Toffoli’s column who makes the sweeping statement that it is “just what the ladies need”, I say: “Nonsense!” I am a woman and read everything in noseweek, except that column.

Reading (or not reading) this column and/or noseweek has nothing to do with gender.

Quite right. Although it is possible to write presuming a male – or female – readership, we do not. I never miss Hilary’s column. It’s better than an afternoon at the zoo – and it’s written with style! – Ed.

Feeling better
Having just forked out for my monthly fix of noseweek, I have to thank you for your wise advice to Ingrid Luyt (letters, nose90). I have skipped pages 32 and 33 as prescribed by you and I feel a lot better now.
Jane Austin

Yes, but what will Mr Darcy have to say when he hears what you’ve done? – Ed.

Drivel and gossip
I’m glad you’ve been made aware of the fact that most readers purchase your magazine for its controversial content, and not for the crock dished up in the “social” pages.

I note your suggestion to Ingrid Luyt that she skip the two pages she does not want to read – but I must point out that the “Drivel and Gossip” portion of noseweek now covers the last seven pages of the magazine.
V Rupping
If this goes on for much longer, I’m going to have to skip reading the letters page. – Ed.

Fit to print
Please note that I am no longer involved with Financial Fitness Consulting (noses53&86) and have not been for the last four years. Any misdeeds by Jim Millar, imagined or otherwise, are his and his alone.
Iona Minton,

Four Jacks and a Jill
I am trying to contact the pop group of the 60s Four Jacks and a Jill – mainly Clive and Glenys. I am a friend from the USA and unfortunately lost contact with them many years ago. Can you help, please?
Beryl Middleton

Dronkie serenade
A friend of mine caught the 10am train from Cape Town to historically romantic Matjiesfontein last week, and had an interesting experience. There is apparently only one class these days – third class – so everyone sits shoulder to shoulder as if on a bus.

Once the train leaves CT station it becomes a mobile shebeen, with people coming round plying the passengers with beer, brandy and coke – and the odd snack, like chips.

No bloody wonder so many people are killed by trains, when they’ve poured themselves out of the train at De Aar. Interestingly, I happened to be editing an article on foetal alcohol syndrome last week and De Aar has the highest rate in the country. I just cannot imagine in whose interests it is to have a trainload of drunken, belligerent passengers traversing the countryside each week – wouldn’t be at all surprised if the beer and brandy is old, or tainted or in other ways unsaleable via conventional means... Maybe I’m just a conspiracy theorist but it smacks of exploitation and greed to me.
Lynne Stafford

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