Dear Editor

Xenophobic innuendo

I benefit immensely from the wisdom of Noseweek (especially Cde Harold) in the difficult process of coming to understand the people of South Africa.

An avid foodie, I was delighted by the beautiful photo page in nose157. Yes! I thought. Recognition at last of this charming Chinese couple who provide me with breathtakingly fresh vegetables here in Cyrildene. What I was not expecting was xenophobic innuendo. Yes, I admit that across the street from the Vegetable Lady, the Tofu Lady doesn’t charge for the plastic bag when she sells you “six piece” Tofu for R10. And customers actually handle the food! Imagine that!

But “criminal economy”?

I’m no lawyer, so rather listen to the thousands of (mostly) white Joburgers who, at Chinese New Year, fill the streets after dark. Where else in Joburg will you find a street party where the crime-obsessed middle class feels safe?  Their street sense doesn’t seem to be telling them the Veg Lady is part of the “criminal economy”.

Tony Flanagan
Observatory, Johannesburg

See Editorial and Updates in this issue.

► Excellent article on the happee Chinee shopkeepers!

Muriel Hau-Yoon
Cape Town

Blighted landscapes

I am the editor of the newsletter (BotSoc Chat) of the Bankenveld Branch of the Botanical Society of SA.

I especially enjoyed the article in nose157 “Ivo gives some lurve to The Man”, which advances several reasons against fracking of Karoo shale. As a geologist, I fully concur with those reasons. What I found disturbing was the sad picture of the Jonah Field in Wyoming with all those drills and producing sites. Is that what our Karoo will look like?

Dr Nick Grobler


Best policy

Santam has noted the report on its handling of insurance claims in nose157 (“Ve haff vays…”).

As SA’s largest short-term insurer, Santam paid out 99% of all claims last year – totalling R12bn. In fact, we paid out 64 cents for every rand of net earned premium, against an industry average of only 58 cents.

With over 700,000 policyholders, Santam handles more than 40,000 claims a month, 97% of which come through the 24/7 emergency call centre to be digitised, indexed and subjected to a predictive analytics test that differentiates between complex and standard claims, allowing about half of all claims to be settled in 24 hours. Less than 2% of claims are referred to Censeo for assessment. Once assessed, a panel of claim experts at Santam decides on the correct course of action.

Only around 0.4% of all claims are repudiated on the basis of suspected fraud – no record to sneeze at, particularly in an industry where fraud exceeds R3bn annually. We stress that the LVA [layered voice analysis] is one of several tools for determining a client’s profile. No claims are rejected on the basis of the results of a LVA.

Donald Kau
Head: Corporate Affairs, Santam

Lenny for a laugh

The hilarious response on Moneyweb from Leonard Katz to disclosures (in nose157) about the sale of Cape Town’s 15 on Orange Hotel:  “Liquidator, lawyers deny wrongdoing” ) is matched only by Noseweek’s response to his, on the same site!

I wonder whether liquidator Stephen Gore just pays Lenny’s exorbitant fees without question, or demands a specified taxed bill appropriate for actual services rendered. Perhaps the Madam-Master should check it out? Then I ask myself: when the esteemed partners of ENS discuss a bonus for Taryn Solomon (née Gore), what are the chances that Daddy’s 100-bar-a-month legal bill gets a mention?

Knowledgeable Person
Atlantic Seaboard, Cape Town

See article Are we bovvered? in this issue. - Ed.

All sorts like a good read

Kindly do not assume that all the readers of Noseweek who saw your one-sided advert – “Shout from the rooftops!! This space will get your message across to 50,000 well-heeled South Africans” – in previous editions (but absent from your latest nose157) are well-heeled.

Thank you for an excellent, much-needed investigative publication featuring “ saints, sinners and rogues.” Keep up the good work!

Roy Joubert

Predator problem made worse

In response to all the advice that farmers have been getting from non-farmers about non-lethal predator management (noses84, 115,137,153,155, 156), many experienced farmers reckon these non-lethal measures have actually increased the predator problem for the simple reason that, because their numbers are not controlled, particularly jackal breed in ever-greater numbers. Then, when they have habituated to measures such as dogs, electric fencing and sirens, they overrun the farms.

Roelof Bezuidenhout


For Bezuidenhout’s extended letter on the subject, originally addressed to the
Cape Times, click here. Ed.

Cultivating corruption?

A good while back you reported on the local wrongdoings of fertilizer major Omnia (See noses78, 93, 94,100,116, 119). Your readers might like to know that the company is now subject to investigation in Zambia for alleged tender rigging and/or corruption.

In late October the ZNBC reported that Zambia’s Anti-Corruption Commission had sealed off Omnia’s offices and those of another fertilizer supplier, Nuiombo Investments, also contracted by the government to supply fertilizer for the country’s Farmer Input Support Programme.

Both companies are under investigation by Zambia’s Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.


Impediments to Nedbanking

Anticipating long end-of-month queues at the banks, I took along two cheque books for two different banks. I had a simple plan: go into the bank that has the shorter queue, make a cash withdrawal and be on my way.

Nedbank had no queue to speak of. I presented my cheque. Hundreds or two hundreds? Hundreds please, I replied. Instead of putting the elastic band around the notes which he already had in his hands, the teller’s eyes went suddenly cold. “This account is dormant,” he exclaimed. Discussion proved fruitless, so I scanned around to see if there was some kind of candid camera thing going on.

I was directed to the enquiries counter. The additional 15-minute wait didn’t help. I answered the security questions correctly, my ID and cheque were in perfect order. It was explained to me that my account had become dormant and I must first make a deposit to unlock the system – R20 would do. Apparently, I had not been using it often enough to satisfy Nedbank. “I came here to withdraw money, not to deposit money,” I replied. “You put the lock on, you take it off.”

The enquiries counter man tried ever so hard to be as helpful: Would I like to speak to the manager? Obviously. Sadly, Nedbank designs its systems more along the lines of creating obstacles, than solving problems. The man came back empty-handed – sorry, the manager is not available. Say that again, not available? Are the people running Nedbank insane? I left and joined the queue at Standard Bank. I should have done that in the first place.

John Fetter

Hip happens

Your article on defective hip replacements in nose156 was great stuff, focusing on medical procedures but, I believe, could have been technically more informative for patients and attorneys alike.

The defective De Puy ASR, a second-generation product that was hastily launched to compete with other companies, technically differs considerably from other supposedly similar, but successful products.

On the topic of Medical Aids having legal recourse, a leading medical aid group [Discovery – Ed.] has instituted a system of “Preferred Suppliers” in the category of Joint Replacements. Effectively the choice of joint implant is prescribed by an unqualified organisation – leaving the surgeon without choice and unable to apply their professional judgement on the best option for the patient.  When approached, the scheme claims its appointed preferred suppliers are reimbursed at an unlimited rate owing to the agreed “shared risk”.

Should patients who are members of this scheme not be entitled to legal recourse against the scheme which insists on preferred suppliers?

And why was this product only withdrawn from the South African market well after the US  recall?

De Vos’s reference to patients as “chancers” is somewhat harsh. As a professional, he should apply a better understanding, of human nature.

Richard M Walker
Port Elizabeth

For Richard M Walker's full letter click here

Court off guard

Since my retirement I have taken to visiting the Western Cape High Court to while away the hours. I am generally dismayed and disappointed by the standards of advocates and am fully in agreement with Mr Nose’s obvious disdain for them.

However, on Monday 22 October, the notorious advocate Nigel Riley was appearing before Judge Jeanette Traverso. Intrigued, I went to view the action. Despite my misgivings regarding Riley – based purely on what I had read in noses153,157 – I was captivated by him and his exquisite performance and skill.

He displayed all the qualities one would expect of a traditional barrister: a formidable presence in court, charismatic, obviously intelligent and entertaining to watch. He is unquestionably the finest proponent of the art of cross-examination I have watched, and destroyed the opposing party’s witness quickly, with ease and a smile.

My opinion appeared to have been shared by the normally difficult Judge Traverso.

G Macintosh

Which might explain why Riley allegedly succeeded in seducing a 17-year-old schoolgirl and then in persuading her to have a back-street abortion. And no doubt why the Johannesburg Bar Council is still to make a ruling on a complaint lodged against him by a client 22 months ago. We’re counting.

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Submitted by : Pete Swanepoel of MONTCLAIR on 2012-12-01 08:33:08
Signed G Macintosh of Rondebosch? - or Nigel himself?
What a fake love letter!


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