Letters

Dear Editor



Levett's "obscene" package


Days after you told of the corruption at Old Mutual under executive chairman Mike Levett and called for his departure (nose34) he had left his executive positions. Good! But then Business Report (July 17) revealed the obscene extent of his departure package – R150m! Levett may have served 42 years with OM, but he was, after all, an employee. No employee, outside of a family-owned enterprise where the family takes the risks, should be allowed to benefit to such an extent. My first OM policy was taken out in 1954. Throughout the years, until demutualisation, every blurb received from the OM contained the phrase “your society”. Mike Levett’s January 1999 letter, addressed to me as “a member of the Old Mutual”, states that “the Board has carefully considered the proposal and believes that demutualisation will benefit the Old Mutual and you, the member. For this reason the Board believes that you should vote yes to the proposal …” Yes, I did benefit from the issue of “free” shares, but, wow, nothing approaching the benefits enjoyed by Levett (and no doubt many other executives), especially those attributed to his inevitable move to London. Sadly, I needed to sell my shares, but, judging from Business Report’s criticism of OM’s performance, that may not have been a tragedy. It seems to me that my society became their society – a classic example of us and them. Keep up the good work.
RONALD COPPIN, Hillcrest


Ex-Mutual man Allan Greyling


I have no intention of entering into any dialogue on the issues raised [in nose34] as no purpose would be served by being tried by media. At the risk of spoiling a good story by including the facts, let me assure you that your conclusions are false, misleading and defamatory. Consequently I reserve my rights.
ALLAN GREYLING, Sandton

Sure you want to avoid trial by media, just as you contrived to avoid every other sort of trial, you devious schmuck! You omitted including any facts at all. It seems you’re not only a conman, you’re also a coward. – Ed.



Submarines: what benefits?


South Africa has had three “Daphne” submarines for years. What has the total cost, both to buy and to operate them, been over that period? Comparing cost with benefits, was the purchase of these vessels justified? Then let’s look at the estimated total cost, purchase and operating, of the three new German submarines, spread over, say ten years. What benefits do we expect?
Would it not be more cost effective to cancel the contract, and pay the cancellation cost?
PETER DURING, Claremont


Camp Christo


Thanks for the wonderful Christo Wiese expose. The whole of Clifton is cheering!!!
HMB, Clifton

I note the Sunday Times is now also a noseweek follower. See their account of Wiese’s Clifton development [ST July 22] which appeared the week after nose34.
ALFRED J ROBINSON, Somerset West

And the Cape Times, three weeks later! – Ed.


I was in Cape Town for the rugby, and went to Clifton to see if your story [on Camp Christo] was factual. Naturally it was! If anything the photo didn’t do justice to the enormity of the development. My concern is the underground rooms will not have a sea view – so what can we expect to see next?
ALAN TAUROG, Springs


Who dumped our history?

SA newspaper files on the Internet only go back to about 1993. Earlier material seems to have been unceremoniously dumped. So yes, you can indeed obliterate history – it’s a done deal as far as English newspaper archives go. What have the newspaper houses done with our history?
CHRIS MOORE, Pietermaritzburg


Lottery's missing R560m


In July the Lottery Distribution Board announced that R7.8m would be distributed to 54 successful charity applicants. So, together with the R4m distributed in December, the “magnificent” sum of R12m has now been given to the cash-strapped welfare sector. But according to the Uthingo website, by 14th July 2001, tickets sales [income] totalled R4.48 billion. Of that, R550m was paid in VAT; prizes totalled R1.97b and the operator is allowed R786.36m (20%) for costs and profit. So far beneficiaries have received a mere R12m. That means R1.16b remains to be distributed to worthy causes. But the distributors say they only have about R600m still available. If so, what has happened to the missing R560m? In addition, scratch cards are selling at a rate of R5m a week. Those funds should by now total about R120m – after prize payouts. The R1.29b total (lotto and scratch cards) should be earning R2m a week in interest alone! When last year the Community Chest had to stop their scratch cards, they lost more than R2m in income – income the causes they support relied upon.
BRIAN BAILEY, Somerset West

The poor aren’t our government’s priority! – Ed.



The full catastophe about an apostrophe!


We take the liberty of drawing your attention to an incorrect use of the apostrophe in nose33: page 15, line 4 of “Sorry Nedcor”: incorrect use of “it’s [top executives]”. Also, ibid, page 2: “1990’s” in Koos Botha’s letter.
Otherwise, our congratulations!
The rules are very simple:
1) Apostrophes are used to denote a missing letter or letters, eg “can’t” instead of “cannot”, “it’s” instead of “it is”.
2) They are used to denote possession, e.g. “the dog’s bone”. But, note that “its” (denoting possession) does not take an apostrophe.
3) They’re never ever used to denote plurals.
DA CRABTREE, Melrose
for The Apostrophe Protection Society

We were paranoid; now we’re neurotic! – Ed.



Why Percy avoids tackles


Why do I get the same uneasy feeling watching Percy Montgomery play as I did watching Hansie Cronjeer? Many in my circle share the view that Percy will sell out the chap to whom he is passing – to avoid being tackled so that he can pick up second-phase ball (for more camera time?). Maybe his boot sponsorship, hairdresser and endorsements of hair-care products have something to do with this?
JOHN COETSEE, Cape


SAA circus proposal

I suggest we ask our government to do the following as part of our President’s Millennium Africa Plan: Appoint a new SAA Chief Executive to fix up the mess left behind by Coleman Andrews. Offer the job to the present British Airways CEO with a “market-related, performance-driven” package. I’m sure increasing his current R10m BA package to R250m will entice him. Help the new SAA CEO by using taxpayers’ money to destroy Comair’s price-cutting initiative (by dropping SAA prices still further). When Comair is on its knees, let SAA buy up their fleet (for nothing) and then sell it to boost operating profits (and the CEO’s remuneration package). Once Comair has been forced to close, quadruple SAA airfares again so we can all brag about a new healthy SAA. Award the new CEO a medal and a R100m bonus for service to SA – and then take away his work permit.
Register SAA as a circus and put it on circuit to recover taxpayers’ lost billions. As part of SA citizens’ survival plan I make the following suggestions:
1. Tell the present Government that unless they make those responsible answerable for the wasted billions and a lack of good governance at SAA, we will never vote ANC again.
2. Only fly Comair and tell SAA to give its discounted tickets to politicians – to cut what it’s currently costing us to fly them to Cape Town, where they fall asleep debating how to get new “damaged” discounted 4x4s from hungry First World arms dealers.
We also hope Coleman Andrews will agree to join the new SAA Circus. We are sure he will have the international audiences in “stitches” entertaining them on how he “rolled over” South Africa.
BASIL KRANSDORFF, Melville


Saltino stampede

Before the stampede starts, where can I buy Michael Saltino’s CD Flying Away? It’s Africana in the making! Music that speaks of the struggle against the odds, of the little man prevailing against the odds, of the little man prevailing against the SABC juggernaut, makes for a refreshing change – and must rise in value as more appreciate its worth on a Zen-value scale.
ANTHONY ABBOTT, McGregor

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