Dear Editor

Library lies

I have just read the scurrilous article on the National Library by Max du Preez. I happen to know, better than Mr du Preez, that his allegations amount to lies and slanted half-truths.

These were presented as if verified, and the NLSA’s responses were given short shrift at the end of the article. It seems that your magazine gives credence to the rantings of disgruntled employees – and I don’t care whether they are white or black or purple. If you had any integrity, you would make more than a feeble attempt to check on the veracity of the complaints against Mr Tsebe and the Minister, and you would apologise for this article and print a retraction. I wait to see whether you have the guts to do that.

By the way, Mr du Preez should stop whingeing when he’s called a racist. The responses from readers and from the DA were as expected: “Put a black man in a top job and what can you expect but failure.”

You won’t print this comment, of course, as I’m not a subscriber, and I can assure you that I never will be if gutter journalism is what you practise.

Monica Seeber

By email

It’s clear who you’re sucking up to – and it’s not the people who are deeply distressed about the state of our national library. – Ed.

Farewell Deon Basson

And now all we have is noseweek... With the sudden death of Deon Basson, the scourge of boardroom and other skelms, an era has passed. He will always be remembered for his passion to see crookedness exposed. We financial folks will remember him (even more so the crooks!).

Hannes Senekal

By email

Dept of Minerals vs the people

Why does the Department of Minerals and Energy grant a mining licence without regard for the total opposition of the local inhabitants and our own Department of Environment and Tourism (nose108)? 

Transworld Energy, a mere shell company with a very impressive name, is owned by Mineral Commodities Ltd (MRC), itself actually a minor company, although quoted on the Australian Stock Exchange. MRC have terminated their Sierra Leone diamond mining ventures and have negligible net assets, with cash resources of only A$600,000. (Info on MRC is available on the Australia Stock Exchange website www.asx.com.au – then follow the prompts on the code MRC.)

Why is it that while everyone else who wants to do business with government is required to undergo intense financial and capacity scrutiny, this minnow with no capacity at all is granted a licence to undertake a mining venture that will require hundreds of millions in investment and sophisticated teams of people to implement?

Andre Jensen

Port Elizabeth

Because bigger fish will be eager to buy up those rights once they are acquired – without having to do the dirty work apparently required in these parts to get them. – Ed.

Baby Michael: Sterilise the parents!

I have just finished reading your article on baby Michael (nose109), and it leaves me absolutely outraged. The parents ought to be sterilized and then sentenced to some good time in jail. And this so-called mother has had further babies? Hopefully the authorities will take heed and do extensive checking on the welfare of these unfortunate children.

I have been in touch with Sylvia Haywood at the Avril Elizabeth home to arrange a monthly donation and have been advised that noseweek has organized a top eye surgeon and a neurologist to examine baby Michael. Well done!

To Carina Coetzee, the prosecutor – you are an absolute champion! I salute you!

Gerry Robinson

QI Logistics (Pty) Ltd, Johannesburg

No credit to Mastercard

On the subject of refunds to Nationwide ticket holders (nose108): I bought two return tickets George/London in April on my credit card, but before I’d paid, Nationwide folded. I asked the bank whether I needed to pay, since the tickets were worthless, and was told I had to. So I filled in a dispute claim, but paid, to avoid interest on my card account.

Not a word from Mastercard about any possible refund. I then put in a claim with the Nationwide liquidators. No word from them either. An article in the Mail & Guardian in July alerted me to the possibility that we might have a claim against Mastercard. So with the help of a wonderful lady in our local bank, I again filled in the necessary forms, and after three months of her phoning Mastercard once a week, the money was finally returned to my account.

Rosemary Etellin


Contingency fees: The other side

I’m an attorney who does motor vehicle accident work and charges the contingency fee of 25% plus VAT referred to in “Head on” (nose107).

While I agree with your approach to exposing crooks, you might have changed your mind on contingency fees with a bit more research.

There’s nothing secret or illegal about them. On large claims, 25% may be excessive, but parties are free to contract and the claimant may have struggled to find an attorney who would accept less. Both parties gain from the arrangement: there is a risk for the lawyer if the case fails, while for the claimant if there’s no win there’s no fee.

The Road Accident Fund want to exclude attorneys from the claims system – but this would severely prejudice claimants, most of whom want the services of an attorney in dealing with the Fund. Typically when claimants institute claims directly with the Fund they receive a fraction of what they would receive when represented by an attorney.

Jeremy Manton

By email

Storm in a tree cup

In several articles relating to the Bryanston tree you have gone out of your way to describe me as “arrogant” and “abrasive”, and to ridicule me and my wife. Please allow me to set the record straight.

At a meeting in February 2007 it was agreed with the Reillys that we would access our property over a small portion of the Reilly property, and the tree would be saved. However, that May, for reasons unknown to us, the Reillys reneged on the agreement. We were unable to resolve the matter amicably.

The trust was compelled to launch a court application to enforce its rights in the right of way servitude. In the application we again, in an attempt to save the tree, suggested that we should have access over the Reillys’ property, but this was again rejected by them.

The good news is that the matter has now been settled and the tree has been saved. In brief, the settlement is that the Reillys abandon the court judgment and the trust withdraws the appeal, and that those residents affected by the position of the tree will have access over the Reillys’ property.

Save for the legal costs incurred, we are now exactly where we were in February 2007.

Alec Brooks


The matter of the Bryanston tree is now closed.
– Ed

Wine amateur – and proud of it!

In nose108 your wine columnist, an associate editor of the Platter wine guide, mistakenly calls me a “self-styled ‘rich fatty’” and accuses me of waging a relentless onslaught against his guide for daring to suggest that blind, as opposed to sighted, tastings are fairer. Of course his real problem is that I am an independent commentator, an enthusiastic amateur even, which drives insiders like him wild. 

In a new oral biography of English composer and eccentric Lord Berners, published by Peter Dickinson (Boydell, 2008), Harold Acton makes the point that Berners “was always treated as an amateur, which was really a pejorative term in England... it really means that you love what you are practising. (Igor Stravinsky had previously made the point that Berners “was an amateur in the best, literal, sense” and called him the best composer of his generation.)

Berners bowed out in 1950, long before the hideous hot air balloon of wine writing inflated, which is a great pity as he made a career out of mocking the boring and the pompous.   

After a week spent in the super-efficient, climate controlled, über-bling Cape Town International Convention Centre at the trade show Cape Wine 2008, I am more convinced than ever that it’s time to bring Bacchus back off the bench and into a game that has for far too long been the domain of Mammon and his midfielders.

CW2008 was very much a supermarket vision of SA wine: seminars on the impact of the 2010 soccer World Cup and ROI (Return On Investment), featuring pompous Professors of Wine Marketing and International Wine Executives talking return on brands and equity. 

No wonder foreign media coverage to date has focused on SA politics, the sprawling squatter camps surrounding Cape Town International Airport and the cardkey security system at the R4500-a-night Westin Grand where many of the invited delegates dossed down. SA wine mostly escaped mention, left as it was back on the farm in Koekenaap and Kranskop – the scheduled media tour to the Robertson Wine Valley being cancelled for lack of interest.

Of course one of the perils of arguing against the status quo is the risk of being called mad by those already suborned by the system. But, as Berners said, “better be mad than dull”.

Neil Pendock


As I recall, the complaint was that you take yourself too seriously.
– Ed.

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Submitted by : Barry Midgley of DURBAN on 2008-10-29 15:15:01
What happened to the letters and the editorial - supposedly free access to what?

Editor's Note
It's been a long month... just a technical glitch... will be free soon...


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