Dear Editor

Bullets over Kimberley
Thank goodness that Kimberley (where bullets are cheap and politicians are expensive – nose126) is to get a new prison and a new lunatic asylum. Let us hope that some of the main players in your story will have compulsory recourse to one or the other of these institutions in the near future.
Amber Land

Beyond the pale
Noseweek is a robust read, and rightly so. However, the job done on two municipal officials involved with the Sonstraal Dam in Durbanville (nose 126) goes well beyond the pale.

Under severe pressure from residents to improve conditions at the dam, Altus de Wet of the Parks Department has tabled a comprehensive report which has been presented to the residents and which is still to be considered first by the local Ward Forum and thereafter by the subcouncil, which I chair. Conclusions as to the causes of the problems and how best to deal with them are therefore premature. No “killing spree” is planned for later this month (April), or at all.

What is clear is that the situation has been sorely misrepresented. The Before and After photos accompanying the article were taken in different seasons in different years and from totally different positions. The After photo gives the lie to the laughable allegation that the grass has been devastated by over-cutting – the spiky growth not favoured by ducks and geese can be seen standing high above the ground. No one here believes the foul-mouthed, blood-thirsty and illogical threats attributed to as gentle and good a person as former official Sybrand Burger. (“Good” and “gentle” are, by contrast, not terms one would apply to your sources.)

If culling is eventually sanctioned let only vegetarians cast the first stones.

Claude Ipser
Councillor for Ward 105
Chairperson of Subcouncil 7, Koeberg. City of Cape Town

We had had sight of De Wet’s report; it was inter alia the drift of it that prompted our story. Your parting line – “if culling is eventually sanctioned” – is the giveaway line. The “after” picture was taken after the “before” picture – and after the park had enjoyed the city Parks Department’s devastating attentions. We are pleased you have noticed that all that remains is the spiky growth not favoured by ducks – or humans. No doubt you wish only vegetarians were competent to object to the mooted culling of ducks and geese. However, most sensible people understand the difference between killing creatures because you need food, and killing creatures simply because you deny their right to breathe the same air and paddle the same pond that you do. – Ed.

CapeNature: the truth
CapeNature would like to express its concern over the misleading article in nose126 about the duck situation at Sonstraal dam in Durbanville.

You state that “CapeNature has resorted to chemical warfare and scorched earth tactics”. Not true. The Sonstraal and Vygekraal dams in Durbanville are under the management of the City of Cape Town which has recently announced its plans to manage the waterfowl in the dams. To date, CapeNature has not even received an application from the City for culling permits. We have stated in the media that we are not likely to issue permits to the City to cull Egyptian geese since they are not a problem from a biodiversity point of view.

Dr Kas Hamman
Executive Director: Biodiversity,  CapeNature

The subheading which attributed a scorched earth policy to CapeNature incorrectly reflected the content of the story itself, which – correctly – attributed it to the city’s Parks Department. As regards the rest of the story, we did give you an opportunity to put your side before publishing, but you didn’t answer our call. – Ed.

Bishops regrets
We have investigated very carefully the allegations of misbehaviour on the part of Bishops Prep boys (nose126) that you reported to us a few days before publication. We did find that a few boys had indeed thrown objects over the adjoining wall and shouted comments to residents of the Edingight Complex. The matter has been very carefully dealt with both in an educational and disciplinary sense. The boys’ parents have been informed, and the boys have written letters of apology and will have to perform community service.

We certainly regret this incident: poor behaviour of this nature that includes blatant disrespect for adults is completely contrary to the values the school seeks to instil in each of its boys and is never tolerated.

Grant Nupen (principal)
Greg Brown (headmaster, Prep School)
Bishops, Rondebosch

Thank you for a prompt and civilized response to the problem. – Ed.

No doubt
Your unnamed correspondent (“More Municipal Madness”, Letters nose126) claims to have written to somebody who does not exist, “the Honourable Minister of Housing, Mr Mathews Phosa”; this is clearly a blatant lie and casts doubt on the rest of the story.

Dr Leteketa Makoro

You’d make a cruel school mistress. The letter was indeed written and was in fact addressed to “The Honourable Mr Mathews Phosa, ANC Treasurer General”. It was received and signed for by his office on 11 July 2008. We have the signed copy. This was after our correspondent had written to the MEC for housing. (Both letters were to no avail.) We accidentally conflated the two in the process of editing a long, sad tale. There is no doubt about the truth of the story and the merit of the argument: the Johannesburg rates department stinks!Ed.

Bothas both
“The Liquidator and the Taxman” (nose126) refers to “a firm [of attorneys] called David Botha [that] issued invoices for R93,594...” The reference is absolutely not to me or my firm. Please clarify.

David H Botha
David Botha & Associates

The firm we referred to is in fact the Johannesburg firm called David H Botha Du Plessis Kruger, and the David H Botha there referred to, we have since learned, was the late David Hercules Botha.
We note that you are David Humphreys Botha and are happy to confirm that you are not the person referred to in our story. We regret any embarrassment our incomplete reference may inadvertently have caused you.

Transnet and the River Club

Transnet has written to noseweek objecting to various aspects of our report (in nose125) about Transnet’s dealings with an allegedly politically well-connected company called Liesbeeck Leisure (Pty) Ltd. The report dealt in some detail with the leasing and possible sale of a Transnet property in Cape Town known as The River Club. Our report suggested that, should Transnet be planning to sell the property (as part of its programme to dispose of “non-core” assets), matters have been set up so that the lessee, Liesbeeck Leisure, (or anyone to whom it might have assigned its rights), will be able to exercise a pre-emptive right to buy it at a fraction of the property’s true value. Unfortunately the blurb beneath the headline incorrectly flagged the story as being about a sale which had actually already taken place.

In his letter, Transnet spokesman John Dludlu lists 15 points of contention relating to our article. These, he says “are some, not all, the points we contest.” They make for a long and tediously detailed argument in print – even before we get to respond to them. In the circumstances we have decided to publish the full list and our responses on our website, as part of our online edition. You will find it in “Letters”, to which everyone has free access. Some of Transnet’s points we concede, many we don’t. We still maintain that the general drift of our story holds. This simply serves as a cautionary notice: Transnet has placed many elements of our story in dispute. – Ed.

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