Dear Editor

Not COPE-ing

I approve of your editorial in nose112 encouraging us all to support an opposition party in the forthcoming elections. Very important advice! I was going to join COPE (they seemed to be saying all the right things) – until I heard that Dr Allan Boesak, with his erased criminal record, had joined. Now I’ve lost interest.

Pam Herr
Sun Valley

To join a political party is to compromise. The best you can do is choose the one least compromising to you
.– Ed.

INSETA in the spotlight

Your articles on the INSETA (noses108,110&111) suggest you have been fed a load of muck – and that you should check your sources more carefully. Some facts:

1) My ex-wife, Shirley Steenekamp was not found guilty of any charges levelled at her by a member of the INSETA council. She was suspended and a disciplinary inquiry was held – chaired by a senior advocate from the Johannesburg Bar. The inquiry cleared her of all charges and she was re-instated by the INSETA council – not by Mr Abel, as you incorrectly reported.

(Emails traced to a computer in the Steenekamp home helped to disqualify Phakama Nkosi from contesting the CEO position, but the enquiry did not establish which Steenekamp had sent them. Mr Abel, as acting CEO, asked the council to give Shirley the benefit of the doubt – which was naturally granted.Ed.)

2) Your contention that my ex-wife then expressed her gratitude to Abel by engineering his appointment as the CEO of the INSETA, is ludicrous. (All noseweek said was that, with Abel as CEO, Shirley got away with numerous improprieties.)

3) AdVtech’s succesful tender had nothing to do with my ex-wife, or my son. Shirley is too honest and too smart to try and influence a tender submitted by any company – particularly one which employs a family member. My take is she would have recused herself from involvement in the awarding of the INSETA tender involving AdVtech. (She didn’t.) Check it out. (We did.)

Methinks that unsuccessful and frustrated tenderers for INSETA work have led noseweek by the nose. Be brave: publish an apology for the misinformation you have printed.

Piers Steenekamp (Senior)

Mrs Steenekamp refused to comment when offered the opportunity. Why should we now accept a second-hand “take” from you as reason for apology? Ed

Vidal information

I congratulate noseweek for its exposure of the many issues that blight our country. However, the journalist who wrote “Argy bargy over Cape Vidal wrecks” (nose112) has done a bad job of research and ended up providing ammunition for opportunistic scavengers to weaken the defences of  beleaguered conservation areas. Professor Rudy van der Elst and his so-called professional ilk should hide their faces in shame knowing what Andrew Zaloumis has achieved through the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority, and the plethora of social upliftment programmes that he has instituted in north-eastern Zululand.

Having witnessed St Lucia in its ecological heyday, from 1958, and its deterioration as a result of various hydrological impediments, I marvel at how the wetlands of the lake’s eastern shores have recovered with the removal by iSimangaliso of millions of thirsty gum and pine trees. Without this intervention the lake’s fauna would have succumbed to the its hyper-saline condition. Using this minor barge episode to weaken Andrew’s resolve is nothing more than a destructive form of cowardice. 

Paul Dutton, MSc
Environmental Consultant
Salt Rock, KZN

Nothing wrong with our research. - Ed.

St Lucia blues

On holiday in St Lucia in December we encountered a number of symptoms of the unhappy situation between Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and iSimangaliso (nose112). Sightings of leatherback and loggerhead turtles are down by 50% on the previous year – and some scientists attribute this directly to the sinking of the barges so close to the coast; where the main exhibition at the False Bay fossil park (part of iSimangaliso) used to be a rich treasure trove of ancient history, it is now but a dusty room in desperate need of paint, with gaping holes where rare fossils used to be.

At risk of belabouring the point, there were big plans for St Lucia. I attended one of the presentations around 2000 (www.sanparks.org/about/media/2002/stluciaauthority.pdf). In a speech at the time, then Deputy President Jacob Zuma (in a press release written by Andrew Zaloumis) outlined a whole range of opportunities on offer in the park for parties with appropriate experience in the tourism sector. It appeared that extensive consultation had taken place to ensure that all stakeholders were involved in the process.

Judging by what we have just seen and heard, much of that zeal appears to have dissipated – as often happens when politicians get bored or distracted.

Clifford Roberts
Somerset West

Prosecutor puts her case

The Specialised Commercial Crimes Unit, Pretoria, gets the impression (from your article “Nedbank’s award-winning criminal” in nose111) that you think we did a poor job in relation to the plea bargain concluded with rogue attorney Andre Croucamp and the prison sentence subsequently passed on him.

I believe we in fact did a very good job in this matter.

Let me explain: You say that Nedbank agreed to the plea bargain “with alacrity”. Lengthy negotiations between the state and the defence took place prior to the final Plea and Sentence Agreement document being finalised. It came as no surprise that Nedbank agreed to the proposed document: it was sound in law.

In the same paragraph, you say that Croucamp was “let off the hook” with a sentence of 15 years. I hardly think that can be described as being let off the hook. He was sentenced to 47 years of imprisonment, 15 years of which is effective. This is not unusual, nor a light sentence.

Noting that no witnesses were called you suggest that this was to ensure (in the interests of Nedbank) that “no embarrassing evidence” would be led. It is in the nature of a section 105A Plea and Sentence agreement that all the relevant information is contained in the document itself and that no witnesses are called. Such an agreement is between the prosecution and accused, but it does not bind the court in any way. The court considers the document, along with the charge sheet and any other factors it deems relevant, before deciding whether or not it agrees that the proposed Plea and Sentence agreement is just. If not, the agreement will not be made an order of court. 

The prosecution of the matter, in the normal course, would have been lengthy, technical and expensive. Clearly all parties benefit significantly if it becomes unnecessary to go that route. Valuable time and resources can be spent attending to other matters (of which there are unfortunately plenty).

I also hold the view that the sentence which would probably have been imposed, after a lengthy and expensive trial, would not have differed significantly from the one imposed as a result of the Plea and Sentence agreement. That is the primary reasoning underpinning section 105A – to give the accused, properly represented, who wishes to plead guilty, a fair opportunity to do so and not waste the court’s time.

Glynnis Breytenbach
Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Pretoria

Whacked once a week

Warning: beware of a scam operated by Integrad, which advertises “Brain Teasers” all over the internet. If you click on one of these ads, then give your cell number, you are whacked with an extra R43.86 each week on your cell account – no confirmation required.

Nashua Mobile said they couldn’t stop the charges, so I phoned Integrad, where Tandi said she would stop the charges – but no refund. At my threat to write to noseweek she giggled and hung up.

Colin Reeves

Give me steak, not schnitzel

Noseweek has evolved into a sophisticated (well almost) publication, while by and large retaining its original ethos. I have the habit of reading it cover to cover in one sitting, though cursing at the occasional travelogue and Harold Strachan’s maniacal raving.

But of late the cutting edge investigative journalism has become blunted and the seat of the pants, publish-and-be-damned attitude is no longer there.

In nose112 we were treated to The Great Pesticide Exposé! While this is certainly of concern, it hardly warranted five pages. This type of article is more suited to the compost and broccoli brigade.

When I order steak, I want steak, not schnitzel!

Take your best shot.

A Welgemoed

Ah, the good old days! Isn’t it strange that more people want to read us (and Harold) now than ever before?Ed.

Where are the books

I read your reports on the National Library, and your readers’ comments, with interest. It troubles me that the library is now closed on Saturdays – the excuse being a lack of funds and personnel. Yet R400m goes on a new building in Pretoria, that is destined to stand half empty for the foreseeable future.

Another matter is the collapse of the Centre for the Book. Under Elizabeth Anderson this was an active organization that did much to stimulate interest in books amongst the previously disadvantaged. The present director spends much of his working day writing a novel! Once managed by a committee attached to the Book Development Council, today it is just another division of the National Library where pretty well nothing happens.

Old friend
Cape Town

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