Through the years, Noseweek has relied heavily on its readers for their support, their criticism and their story ideas. Nowhere is this better reflected than in the vibrant letters pages. From the outset, readers have shared our trials, tribulations and even our joys. Twenty years on, we use this birthday to celebrate historically with a selection of letters which appeared in the 20 issues produced in the difficult first five years. Ed
I acknowledge receipt of the first issue of Noseweek. For obvious reasons, eg cover page and page 9 [see cartoon below], I cannot associate myself with your publication. Kindly remove my name from the circulation list.
C F Swanepoel
SA Reserve Bank
Obviously you are so obsessed with sex (cover page) and rude jokes (page 9) that you failed to notice pages 3,4,5,6,7 and 8, which should have concerned you more. Your much-appreciated letter, together with the Reserve Bank’s failure to stop the illegal flight of billions of rands from South Africa, lends support to the long-held theory that the wankles at the Reserve Bank generally look at the wrong pages. Regarding your request to dissociate yourself from our publication, regrettably, with things being as they are at the Reserve Bank, we are unable to promise anything. – Ed
Re: Cape Town’s mayor, Frank van der Velde (nose1).
I’m not surprised he swims so happily off Green Point in a sea polluted with municipal sewerage – he talks so much shit, he’s used to the flavour.
C J E
Break-in at No 10
The Department of Foreign Affairs is still in a quiet sweat about a most unfortunate break-in at 10 Hamilton Street, Pretoria, in mid-March. Minister Pik Botha shares the President’s offices at the Union Buildings, from where statements are regularly issued denying involvement with Angola’s Unita movement. Less well-known is the “Angola section” of Foreign Affairs which is installed in rented accommodation – at 10 Hamilton Street.
Bullion on banks of the Buffalo
What a relief it is to read of good, clean, old-fashioned dirt, instead of the new South African politics.
Are you going to do something about the foreign millionaires who are buying up properties around the country? There’s one in East London that becomes curiouser and curiouser. Is there bullion on the banks of the Buffalo?
J D L
Under the bedclothes
I enjoyed nose1, although it is not what I expected. I was looking forward to something humorous, but found that it reports on various acts of skullduggery in a very serious way.
As for your humour: surely you could find some way to score off Jane, other than by putting her nude on the cover? I live among old-fashioned, harmless old folk. It’s a pity I have to read the modern equivalent of the Police Gazette under the bedclothes, for fear of being thought a voyeur.
I wish you every success. Let us get some of these pirates behind bars.
S G Appel
Dr Zackyl & Mr Take-you-for-a-ride
After Sharpeville, Anglo subsidiary LTA won the contract to build the multi-million-rand, riot-proof new headquarters for the Department of Bantu Administration, nerve centre of the apartheid system in Pretoria. There to hand over the keys at the opening ceremony was LTA chairman Zac de Beer – better known as leader of the opposition Progressive Party. The Anglo-controlled press obligingly did not record the event. Noseweek was less obliging, prompting this reader’s response:
De Beers were cosier with the regime than you can imagine. On the road out of Kimberley lies the De Beers game farm Rooipoort. On it, is a historical building known as the Shooting Box.
Here, Harry and the Boys from Anglo and De Beers do some shooting and relaxing. Here, too, were invited (in the ’70s and ’80s) most of the military and Nationalist top brass to relax, shoot and talk. Invitations came from Harry himself.
Most guests behaved, except for Magnus and a few of his cronies: often at night they would creep in on a sleeping comrade and douse him with a bucket of water. Ha, ha.
One wonders, of course, what was discussed between the brass and their hosts, staunch supporters of the old Progressive Party.
Fear and trembling at NAT press?
I tried to buy your magazine in [Nasionale Pers’s] Leisure Books, Cape Town and was advised that they were “not permitted to sell it”. Is this in the spirit of the free flow of information?
► Just prior to publication of nose3 (August 1993) the directors of CNA-Gallo, owners of 90% of the book and magazine outlets in South Africa, including CNA and Exclusive Books, heard a malicious rumour that Noseweek was causing strop and would be sued for millions. They panicked, and banned it from their stores. This was conveyed to our readers in the nose3 editorial. Noseweek and its loyal and influential readers immediately went on the campaign trail.
Free pass for struggle folk?
As a founder subscriber to the original Nose that ceased publication in 1984, I looked forward to your re-entry into the national sewers. Three issues on and so far OK. The hatchet jobs on the Van der Veldes and Zac de Beer were a bit contrived, but, what the hell.
But wait, something is missing. Not a word about the struggle folk. No frauds, lechers, bullies or rogues in the liberation constituency? Can it be that Welz has lost his balls and joined the ranks of the politically correct?
Robin Carlisle, MP
Why, Mr Carlisle, how nice to find you floating down our sewer. The Van der Veldes were a bit of a bad joke, but Zac de Beer? We note you carefully sidestep the problem of his secret (business) dealings in Pretoria. Like friend Tony, do you fear losing Anglo’s pocket money?
The “liberation constituency” has yet to acquire the power and money sufficient to justify our closer attention. But each dog will have his day. Meanwhile, to show we are not altogether unaccommodating, this month’s DP scoundrel, Johannesburg city councillor Clive Gilbert – who for years enjoyed the protection of party big nobs Uncle Zac and Gubby Gibson – is hoping to join the ANC. Maybe that way he plans to speed their progress to perfidy. – Ed
► The anti-CNA campaign continued:
Readers will note that, while they eagerly market smut, bookshops controlled by CNA/The Literary Group – which include all branches of Exclusive Books, Bookworm and Pilgrims – still banish Noseweek from their shelves “for business reasons”. Many reputable, independent bookshops and newsagents do, however, stock us. Call us for your nearest supplier – and remember this when you are shopping for books. Support independent booksellers and support freedom of speech. – Ed
The FNB story
We are an aggrieved creditor of KPL-Etsa in liquidation and commend your bravery in publishing an unabridged version (nose3) of the events culminating in that company’s demise.
The absence of advertising in your publication, welcome as it is, is always going to make its future precarious and expensive. Our decision to subscribe is made in an attempt to enhance your ability to publish the truth and be damned – a dangerous course and probably, alas, a recipe for trouble. Government, big business – the establishment – do not suffer lightly fools who rush in where angels fear to tread!
We, for our part, have publicly pledged our company to a code of ethics and honesty. We wish you every success for the future.
E D Hinton
O-Line Support Systems (Pty) Ltd,
I am getting long in the tooth, out of touch and losing my sense of smell, therefore I was stimulated and revived when I came across issues 2 and 3 of Noseweek. These have provided me with a great deal of entertainment, following the activities of some of our major African stars, gyrating amid their concomitant constellations viz: Zac, FNB, LTA, Stals, Basil Hersov and his royals, Kultural Chris and the lovely Lorna. Our orbits have all collided in the past. Any research into the habits of the denizens of the deep must be a worthy objective. Herewith an investment for one year’s subscription – with good wishes for increasing success.
Date for a laugh
At least I know for definite that there is one day each month that I will smile in the new South Africa – the day that I receive my edition of Noseweek!
No-bell for our Fanny
Re: the attack on Frances Kendall (wife of Leon Louw) concerning the publicity given to her nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. When you say Noseweek is “banned” from bookshops controlled by the CNA/Literary Group, surely you mean the CNA et al choose not to stock it? Presumably they are simply showing their good business sense and good taste.
Readers may write to the Louws, their publishers, Amagi Books, and their support group, Groundswell, all at the same address. Unlike Noseweek, their various books on The Solution for SA, the Sex-Y Factor and other important matters are available at all branches of CNA and Exclusive Books. – Ed
R1,000 for us, good word for Zac
Thank you for forwarding the issues I was unable to obtain at the CNA. Although I must congratulate you on having the guts to expose wrongdoing, I strongly disapprove of the article on Dr Zac de Beer. To imply that he was involved in assisting the Pass Laws Act in any way is ludicrous. Add the enormous contribution he has made to social change in this country, and I feel you owe him an apology.
There is no doubt the time is right for a publication like Noseweek which exposes the many wrongs in this country. The Investors’ Guide has tried several times to do the same, but nobody wants to “get involved in a scandal”.
Consequently I enclose my cheque for R1,000 to assist you with your aims and express the hope that a more accurate balance between good and bad will be forthcoming.
M D, The Investors’ Guide
Thank you! For R1,000 we are prepared to strongly disapprove of that article about Zac and the new HQ his company built for the Department of Bantu Administration. We agree that it is preposterous merely to imply that he assisted the government’s efforts to carry out the Pass laws, when it’s a fact that he did so – but only to boost his company’s profits. – Ed
Guess who the funders and co-owners are of Hustler, the magazine that’s been offending respectable ladies by asking them to expose their fannies? Likewise the major shareholders in TIM Marketing, previous operators of the 087 sex lines? None other than the respectable gentlemen at Syfrets, the trust company controlled by Nedbank.
I have been tasked to monitor you. You failed to use the window of opportunity to move the goalposts or level the playing field. You are also reported still to be taking medicine (under doctor’s orders, of course) while all the sports stars and criminals have moved up to medication. Address the problem and work through your relationships.
I was sad to note the frankly cruel manner in which your November editorial referred to the fact that Viva Trust chairman Dr William Roland is blind. Regrettably I cannot ask you to cancel my subscription, as I do not have one.
Observatory, Cape Town
Dr Roland is not only blind, he is also grown up and quite capable of giving as good as he (occasionally) deserves to get. He does not need pity. You do – you don’t have a subscription to Noseweek. (Dr Roland does.) – Ed
Poison and lies
How right you are that the Appeal Court appears to have got it entirely wrong about SA Police Gen Lothar Neethling. I certainly have reason to believe Captain Coetzee when he says that Neethling supplied poison to be used by a police hit-squad. In 1975 when I visited the police forensic laboratories in Pretoria on official business, Neethling, under the most bizarre circumstances, boasted to me that he had developed a poison which would precipitate a heart attack and then be untraceable in the corpse.
Neethling was also not such a trustworthy witness. He made a statement to the police when he collided with another vehicle while driving under the influence of alcohol. He was persuaded to withdraw the statement and pay a hastily arranged admission-of-guilt fine when it was explained to him that a lying witness had no career as an expert police witness. I am prepared to testify to this under oath.
Your October 1993 issue certainly woke me up. We are becoming increasingly disinterested in the why of things, simply accepting them as given. Is it in case we regret what we might find, or because we may feel obliged to do something about it?
An Open Letter to Exclusive Books
I have always enjoyed shopping at Exclusive Books. I also regularly order books from overseas through your bookshop. Thus I read with horror that you are prepared to stock porn magazines but not Noseweek. I can only assume the reasons given in Noseweek are true, since it is difficult to account for this absurd censorship in any logical manner. I shall accordingly boycott your bookshop until I am able to buy my Noseweek there.
Show the way
Could you please provide me with a list of independent bookshops in the Cape Town area?
Department of English
University of Cape Town
I refer to comment made in nose7 concerning the CNA’s position with regard to your publication. Our policy is to keep an open mind in matters such as these. You should accordingly feel free to submit copies of your future editions to us for consideration, and you have my assurance that any such submission will be carefully and objectively reviewed by us. Advance copies for consideration should be submitted to Butch Courtney, Director of our News-stand Division.
G D O Cooper
CNA Ltd, Johannesburg
In view of your history in this matter, how open can your mind possibly be? You speak of “matters such as these”. Such as what, for instance? It is not clear to what you are referring. You banned Noseweek from your shelves without having had a copy “submitted” to you “for consideration”. In fact you appear to have done so without having “carefully and objectively” reviewed the issues of Noseweek that had been published at all. If you had done so, you would have been able to show what you found that was factually wrong or so offensive that the public deserved to be protected from us.
Why should we submit to censorship by Mr Butch Courtney, and what makes him so specially qualified and informed that he is able to judge the truth or otherwise of our reports and decide what is suitable for South Africans to read – and what not?
What other publications are submitted to Mr Courtney for him to decide who should be able to buy them? Surely then it would be better for CNA to openly declare its support for a Board of Censors? Or is CNA promoting “privatised”, corporate fascism to replace the fascist state we have only just seen on its way?
Please feel free to call us whenever you decide to stick to your usual business of distributing and selling books and publications – of all kinds and to all tastes. For spiritual and legal advice we go elsewhere. – Ed
Helderberg’s deadly cargo
Now that the Airforce’s CCB-type “privatised” operations, code-named “Pasload” and “Gauntlett” have become public knowledge – thanks to Noseweek – perhaps it is time the public was also told that one of the four pallets loaded in the combi section of the Helderberg, the SAA flight from Taipei that went down in flames over the Indian Ocean killing all its passengers and crew, held a cargo addressed to Pasload.
In certain informed Air Force circles it is said the pallet contained no-no triggering devices and components being smuggled from America for SA’s rocket programme, in a desperate bid to stop what at the time was thought to be an otherwise unstoppable Cuban advance in Angola. No wonder there was no turning back.
The fact that the Helderberg enquiry was chaired by a judge with long-standing ties to the SA and Israeli military establishment could be significant.
Put the Helderberg on the agenda of the Truth Commission and see who complains.
Your Air Correspondent
De Beers’s Russian connection
My letter is prompted by the anecdote you quoted on radio regarding Harry Oppenheimer’s son-in-law Gordon Waddell being seen by a British journalist in Moscow attending the Bolshoi Ballet during the 1970s – and its implications. Less well-known is the remainder of the story: South Africa’s “Cold War” with the Soviet Union led to a professor of geology called Smirnoff being posted to Lesotho in those years. His interpreter was a man called Levchenko, who was accompanied by a beautiful wife called, as in all good spy stories, Ludmilla.
At that time, proving that ultra Marxism could co-exist with ultra capitalism, there was much pondering in Moscow and the [De Beers] Central Selling Organisation (CSO) on how to bridge the political gap, keeping their fairly natural association apart.
Diamonds in the old USSR were a strategic mineral and, as such, fell under the old GRU (military intelligence). British intelligence had already identified the interpreter, Levchenko, as a Soviet military intelligence officer during his service in India years earlier. Truth being stranger than fiction, Ludmilla was, in fact, a ranking colonel in the same Soviet service and ran the entire Smirnoff operation in Lesotho.
The project involved Smirnoff’s being permitted to travel each month with Levchenko and Ludmilla to Mafeking, the travel visa having been obtained via De Beers’s contacts in the immigration department and in the Bureau of State Security (Boss). The excuse? To have samples of Lesotho material assayed by the scientifically well-equipped De Beers laboratory. In this way the contact was set up for Waddell and, later, Oppenheimer himself, to obtain reciprocal visas to visit Russia, ostensibly to examine, at first hand, Russian diamond mining operations. In reality it was, as you stated, to come to an agreement suiting both the Soviets and De Beers; all related to the international marketing of diamonds.
Levchenko and wife Ludmilla suddenly disappeared from Lesotho, with no trace of their having left through normal diplomatic or immigration channels.
► Our readers’ campaign had been a success: we were back in CNA and Exclusive Books and rapidly became one of thekr top-selling magazines.
More Forex frolics
I read with interest your references to that mysterious off-shore entity called Stonehage (Forex Frolics, noses8 & 9). Coincidentally, Basil Hersov’s Hermanus holiday house is called… Stonehage!
You talk coincidence! Read the following extract from Private Eye:
“Rupert Agnew, Consolidated Goldfields chairman, testifying to US enquiry into Minorco’s takeover bid: ‘Mr Ogilvie Thompson told me there was a company – Central Holdings – established by the Oppenheimers in Luxembourg [and which] would from time to time take the initiative in new investments, some of which were later followed by investments by Anglo American and/or De Beers… he indicated that key Oppenheimer executives derived benefit from the family company’.”
Private Eye comments:
“But the Central Holdings trail in fact begins 20 years ago when it was set up to receive a $40 million portfolio of unidentified investments from Hagstone Investments, a South African company whose address was given as the Joburg Stock Exchange. Hagstone owned all the Luxembourg company’s shares. Which, in turn, owned Hagstone. What was in that portfolio is hard to discover as the company was dissolved and its records seem to have been misplaced”
“One suggestion is that this transaction may have been related to a wish to create a vehicle outside the grip of South Africa’s tight currency/taxation regulations.”
Analysis strikes a chord
On behalf of the Pick n Pay workers who are members of the SA Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union, I wish to thank you for Maureen Barnes’s objective analytical essay on the recent strike – especially with regard to the so-called anti-Semitism allegations of the Pick n Pay bosses.
We look forward to future editions.
Regional Secretary, SACCAWU
Gem of a scandal
Am I to understand that Hansie Cronje has been smuggling Winnie Mandela’s friend’s diamonds to Julian Askin, for him to finance Absa’s grovelling for Gauteng’s provincial account? Or am I suffering from information overload?
A wee mistake?
A business section smalls ad (nose11) says “Elephants pass wines” from the beautiful Franschhoek Valley – to be released soon. I have always wondered where some of the stuff came from.
Shades of authenticity
In describing Vergelegen (nose11), your food correspondent comments that the buildings have been painted a kacky yellow called Naples yellow “by someone’s favourite decorator”. I was the decorator. I wish to put an end to the often-repeated inaccuracy that I was responsible for choosing this shade.
The decision to paint Vergelegen ochre was taken by the architects and their clients. It was based on a scrape which suggested that at some stage the house was painted that colour, as were many other Cape buildings.
There are no rigid rights and wrongs in restoring a house that has changed over 250 years. My view was that since great efforts were being made – correctly I felt – to preserve Vergelegen as it was in the Phillips’ era, the house should be white, reflecting the Arts and Crafts passion shared by Cecil Rhodes, Lady Phillips, Herbert Baker, and other cognoscenti of the day.
The traditional ochre would have been a limewash that quickly assumed a powdery, faded look – with little resemblance to the crass plastic colour chosen by the architects responsible for the restoration. It is nice to know that you are not to blame, and that your good taste can always be relied upon. – Ed
Let me assure you that your exposé [nose13] of the Law Society and its coverups has been met with delight by the bulk of the legal practitioners in the Cape Province. I have been in practice for over 30 years and am glad at long last to have found an ally who has the guts to stand up to the Law Society and its mafia-style behaviour.
Nose13 was an absolute joy to read! Your article on Christo Wiese was astonishing and the piece on Woolworths really knocks its own responsibility programme.
At the Open Society Foundation’s annual lecture on 17 August, the Speaker of Parliament, Dr Frene Ginwala, referred to your article on that important firm of attorneys, Sonnenbergs. She remarked particularly on the professions – like the Law Society – hiding behind their own colleagues, and your uncovering of the facts.
► There was a 14-month gap between the appearance of nose14 and nose15 as a result of the all-consuming libel action brought against Noseweek and its editor by millionaire US tax fugitive Dr Robert Hall, following our exposé of his dubious past in nose9. We eventually won the case, but the cost of a seven-week high court trial would have closed us down nevertheless, had it not been for the scores of readers who came to our rescue with sufficient funds to get us up and running again.
Press on with civil rights
My warmest congratulations on your having successfully defended the defamation action brought against you by Dr Robert Hall. You have struck a major blow for civil rights in South Africa.
Librarian, University of Natal, PMB
Big business versus Marxists
Congratulations on your court victory. We might differ on political and economic philosophy but such clashes are irrelevant in the search for truth, which seems to be Noseweek’s main aim. I happen to be a free marketeer, but having worked for big companies, I recognise that big business managers are as obnoxious as Marxists, hate free competition as much, and even worse, speak jargon-ridden drivel.
I Nose what I likes
Well, well, just what have you created here? A South-African crotch-kicker like Private Eye. It’s long overdue.
We live in a time in which the gravy train has taken on the appearance of a blubber cauldron, and you must give every VIP the benefit of doubting him.
So we need frequent sanity checks on all big business and government.
High price to save Absa
Why, if South African taxpayers have paid so high a price to help save the Absa banking group, were we not given a substantial share in it which would now compensate for our investment and the risk? Why do the then-shareholders benefit so handsomely, when it was they who put the bank in so precarious a position?
A C Gillett
A healthy diet
I applaud your plan to send copies to parliamentarians, but suspect they’d not be used for reading. The new lot of Orwellian pigs are already showing an alarming tendency to keep things quiet. Ergo, more power to your elbow.
Not quite right, Mr Young Some, it seems, are beng read… – Ed
Thank you for the complimentary copy of Noseweek, which, as always, I found most interesting – particularly the editorial in nose16. Wishing you best of luck.
Gill Marcus, MP
Deputy Minister of Finance
Ms Marcus is one of many parliamentarians who have received complimentary subscriptions to Noseweek, sponsored by our readers as part of our relaunch fundraising effort. Letter-writers Kenny and Young are among those who generously contributed. – Ed
The reference to Philippe le Roux raises some curiosity for those UCT students in the early 1970s who remember him as a Nusas leader and a so-called radical student who, when sought by the security police for a relatively minor offence, dramatically skipped over the Botswana border.
The later role he played as a sanctions-busting agent of apartheid South Africa, the company he has kept and his other nefarious activities [while MD of UK motorbike manufacturer, Norton] of course raise questions about his bona fides as a student leader. Could his dramatic flight (on a motorbike nogal) have been rigged? Was he an elaborately set up, long-term “sleeping” plant of the state security agencies?
Resignations and disappearances
With the recent resignation from Denel of Mr Johan Alberts in order for him to devote more quality time to his family, instead of to the boring daily routine of flogging old stocks of AK47s, RPGs etc, it crosses my mind that we have not heard a peep at the TRC from or about his predecessor, Mr Tielman de Waal, despite his having played an important role in the Total Onslaught.
‘B’ for Ball’s Olympic effort
How dare you publish an informative, well-worded, concise and hard-hitting magazine, as in this country, we have an enviable record of centrally mediated “Manufactured Consent”.
If you carry on there will be no more fig fronds of misinformation to hide behind.
I would like to thank Mr Chris Ball for masterminding the Olympic bid. Without his dedication and expertise it could all have been very different.
Parliament takes note
Congratulations on your article on Amway. I raised this matter in Parliament in August, saying: “The scheme looks like a pyramid one… In an Amway pamphlet it is stated that one’s annual income can be R400,000… But the US Federal Trade Commission demands that it be clearly stated on labels of Amway products that 54% of distributors each get nothing, and for the rest, the average payout is $65 (R325) per month.”
Any readers who have had their fingers burnt in this regard are welcome to contact me.
David Graaff MP
► I was very disturbed to see your response to Amway. It is clear you are not fully informed about the workings of this fine corporation. Amway has been cleared by the highest courts in the world and has been set as the standard by which all other multi-level marketing organisations are judged. As with any franchise, there is no guarantee you will be successful. Amway gives you the opportunity and teaches you how to do it. If you fail, don’t blame Amway! I speak from my own experience in the few months I’ve been involved with this opportunity.
Peter D Joffe
Wrath of Muhammad
We need not despair because Texans have chosen to maintain sanctions against South Africa! By God, The Prophets and CNN, El Nino is going to flood Texas by New Year’s Day, and I will rejoice in the justice of the Laws of God and physics.
La Mercy Beach, KZN
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