Dear Editor

Fee, fi, fo, fum
Re Investec employee benefits that weren’t (nose102): I don’t see what the problem is – I feel sure that the bankers and their advisors will see the error of their ways if they are approached in the “correct” manner. I would be prepared to handle this matter for a small consideration of, say, 5% of what’s recovered.
Len Palmer
Many a true word said in jest. –Ed.

What is Investec hiding?
Like you, I don’t believe Investec employee benefits so-called “London-based” – but mysteriously anonymous – insurer exists. But, if it does, it has repudiated liability. Why else would Investec not wish to identify it, or disclose the terms of the policy?
Financial advisor

Playing the ostrich
I can’t decide whether or not to play an ostrich and pretend that the greed of our slimy “pillars of society” doesn’t affect me emotionally. It does. How is it possible that so many South Africans have no qualms about ripping off those who put their trust and faith in them? How do they sleep at night? Do they drink themselves into a stupor before falling into bed? I guess they do.

What makes people want so much? Looking at the obscene opulence around me, and then off to the townships where there is such poverty, I can’t get my head around the fact that these so-called “high society moguls” do so little for the common man/woman – unless there’s a tax benefit and/or a lavish “celebrity” party attached to their “donation”.

The bottom line (a stupid expression) is profit above people. Fat cats living off the ill-educated or uninformed: Investec who spend millions on TV advertising and then plunder the pensions of the working class elderly; dirty deals, fraud and blatant theft, which our courts seem to condone when the have-nots are not able to pay the price for the best legal representatives; overweight, under-educated, overstretched, underpaid police caught up in protecting the guilty with a little palm greasing. Yes, I think I will play an ostrich as there is no where for me to go.
Jo Maxwell

You may have nowhere to go, but there are several things you can do. Remain a decent human being, for a start. Don’t do business with Investec. Encourage your friends to do the same.– Ed.

Just the beginning
Your piece on cigarette advertising provided some light entertainment (nose102) – the miscreant advertisers would never be able to explain when or how an ad is not an ad. But what amused me most was noseweek’s flouting of the same law you castigated Phillip Morris for, when you chose to reproduce the ad to illustrate your story, or was that a simple “communication”?

To the best of my knowledge there is no other local case where it is legal to sell a product, but illegal to advertise it to the same consumer.
This will soon have a sequel (if the meddling mother grundies have their way) when liquor advertising is subjected to the same repressive laws. This will lead to a large loss of income to the advertising industry and its ancillary operators, down to cap manufacturers and banner makers, as it will be illegal to display liquor brand names.

And by the way, does anyone even notice that after the advent of the ban on cigarette advertising there was no decrease in the price – which one would have expected, given that their peddlers were no longer obliged to spend that money on “communication”.
Bob Broom

Making a difference
We too can add our names to those caught up in the woes of incorrect chassis numbers on vehicles (nose98). No prize for guessing that the vehicle in our case was a 1998 Toyota Landcruiser.

Police clearance confirmed that neither the chassis number on the vehicle nor the quite different chassis number on the registration papers were those of listed stolen vehicles.
We then approached Rand Stadium Toyota for help. They contacted the manufacturers in Japan and the vehicle was confirmed as a grey import.

With their help our car was subsequently registered with the authorities. We are most grateful to Rand Stadium Toyota for their efforts – they had not even sold us the car!
Debbie Keech
By email

The new paperweights
I giggled and gasped at the detail you unearthed (nose101) about the academic non-qualifications of the new self-created academia. These days any degree you want is hardly more than an email or two away – which makes me wonder how many newly appointed city managers have made use of such offers. 

How about a “name and shame“ column?
Michael Pollock
Name and shame – haven’t you noticed? – that’s our game! – Ed

Attack on hospital unfounded

Your two pieces dealing with the death of Ms Matiwane in March 2004 (noses91,102) contain unfounded allegations against the staff of Mowbray Maternity Hospital, and Professor Susan Fawcus in particular. The first was particularly damning, despite sincere attempts on the part of Professor Fawcus and myself to play “open cards” with your reporter. The more recent piece also suggests that the delay in conducting the inquest into Ms Matiwane’s death is due to stonewalling on the part of staff at Mowbray Maternity Hospital (MMH). I wish to set the record straight by pointing out the following facts:
Both articles allege that the death of Ms Matiwane was “entirely preventable”, although you offer absolutely no hard evidence to support this conclusion. The allegations are supported in your first article by a number of rather speculative musings attributed to Dr Ingrid Grauls – described as an “independent medical expert”, but in truth a general practitioner, whose opinion on obstetrics and anaesthesia are hardly expert.

Ms Matiwane did not die while undergoing Caesarean section. She died a day later at Groote Schuur Hospital from complications of gestational proteinuric hypertension (GPH). To imply, as does your second column, that the “surgical hands” of Professor Fawcus (who performed the Caesarean section) were responsible for Ms Matiwane’s death, is both unfounded and grossly unfair. 

To suggest as you do, that Ms Matiwane’s Caesarean section was done without an anaesthetic is grossly irresponsible. The name of the anaesthetist is clearly stated on the theatre record, and a full anaesthetic record is contained in the hospital file which was placed at your disposal.

I repeatedly told your reporter that a post-mortem examination had been done on the deceased, and that a detailed report is available from the hospital file, but you allege that no such examination was performed.

I categorically deny that MMH staff are in any way responsible for justice’s delay in conducting and concluding the inquest into Ms Matiwane’s death. The entire hospital record, post-mortem report and a detailed affidavit from Professor Fawcus have been available to the investigating officer and the public prosecutor for the past two years. To suggest that delays in the inquest process are due to lack of co-operation from health staff is both unfounded and unfair.

Publishing this letter will present your readers with a balanced view of a tragic event, details of which have been distorted, much to the distress of dedicated health staff who do not deserve to be unfairly implicated in the death of Ms Matiwane.
Dr David Bass
Medical Advisor
Western Cape Department of Health

Curiously, Dr Bass, the distortions appear to be yours. We did not claim that MMH staff were holding up medical inquests: our point was a general one about getting medical practitioners to testify.

Nor did we allege that the Caesarean section was done without anaesthetic – we simply reported that, contrary to regulations, no anaesthetist was named on the theatre summary sheet to which we had access. Nor did we say Ms Matiwane died on the operating table – we said she never awoke from surgery. As for access to the hospital file – you yourself barred us from seeing it. So much for your claim to have played “open cards”. Furthermore, the investigating officer, Inspector Jones, confirmed that there was no autopsy – he was forced to reconstruct the pathology report for the courts from medical records. Lastly, Dr Grauls simply “translated” for us the medical terminology in the sections of the files that were available. We said no more than this. We note that you’re an orthopaedic surgeon – no expert on obstetrics either. – Ed.

Electrical eye-opener
NoseArk’s exposé of what the reckless rush to generate more electricity is doing to our environment was an eye-opener. Small wonder the rate of cancer is sky-rocketing in South Africa. When will we wake up and realise our government is poisoning us?

I realize we are facing a power crisis, but this is, frankly, no excuse to follow a system which simply trashes our environment and severely affects the health of the nation.

Not a catastrophe
Your assertion (nose102) that the consumer is to blame for the electricity shortage is nonsense. Obviously if electricity is sold at an unsustainably low price (temporarily achieved by making no provision for the future) consumers will not bother to economise in its use.

And while coal is certainly a dirty fuel, your account of the dire consequences of using it are surely exaggerated, not to say hysterical: croplands and grazing areas destroyed, a toxic soup of acid and heavy and radioactive metals sterilising agricultural land in perpetuity and poisoning major rivers, etc etc. Representing problems as catastrophes does nothing towards solving them.
Richard Cope
Noseark did not “blame” consumers for the electricity crisis: Ark merely suggested that it made more sense to spend money on developing ways to reduce consumption, rather than on producing more electricity at any cost. The consequences of reckless coal mining are there for all to see in the areas identified in the noseweek piece. - Ed.

Diamonds are forever
There is a rumour prevelant in Johannesburg that Mr Mbeki and Mr Mugabe are currently partners in a diamond mine in the Congo. Could there be any truth in this assertion?
Barry Black
By email

Wok is Mbeki's problem
Over the years I’ve grown ever more fascinated by Thabo Mbeki’s selfless support of Robert Mugabe, without apparent regard for the damage this has done to his domestic and international credibility.

The question I’d most like answered is just how much incentive (stick or carrot) China has been applying to President Mbeki in its endeavours to protect its enormous and ever-growing political (and economic) investment in Zimbabwe.

Only China could have kept South Africa’s nose so well and truly brown from its proximity to Mugabe’s posterior for the past eight or more years.
Lee Hall
By email

Taking Bullard by the horns
Who said the following about David Bullard’s book Screw it, Let’s do Lunch?

“David Bullard’s weekly Out to Lunch column is the finest example of the benefits of a free and unshackled press. Let’s hope it continues to be so.”

Answer: Sunday Times editor Mondli Makhanya quoted on the dust jacket of the book.
Deon Adriaanse

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