Dear Reader: Local heroes show their mettle

Local heroes show their mettle

As more and more institutions fail to serve the public interest, people are turning to the press and other, perhaps less acceptable, alternative means to obtain redress for wrongs they have suffered.

For that reason, Noseweek, in its 21st year, finds itself in demand as a source of recourse more now than ever before.

It takes great courage for an ordinary citizen to attack the credibility of a public company headed by a celebrity businessman (who doesn’t know Mark Barnes for the business wisdom he regularly dispenses in Business Day?) while at the same time having to expose your own vulnerability.

But there is honour in warning others where danger lies. In the Zuma age, knowledge is our first line of defence, not the law or the police.

The hero of our cover story, William Joshua, did not come to us with his story, but when we found him, he told it without hesitation or reserve. Not for money or revenge, but because it might be useful to others. It provides important cautionary information: First, if you’re a speculator in futures and derivatives, don’t trust the figures that appear onscreen on the popular online trading platform GT247.com, previously known as Global Trader. They are systematically rigged to eliminate risk and maximise profits for its JSE-listed parent, Purple Capital Ltd, landing their client with all the risk and losses.

Second, don’t trust the Financial Services Board to look after ordinary consumer interests, even if the service provider in question is a so-called licensed financial services provider. Like the Reserve Bank, the FSB’s primary function is to promote a sense of security – if needs be, a false one – in the financial services industry.

Third, ditto for the JSE. The JSE is a private business that earns its profits from its members and the turnover in their shares. The more the merrier. It has a vested interest in not knocking any of them out of the game. And they won’t. Check the history of Mouldmed (and see our next issue).

The Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services (FAIS) Ombud has of late fared somewhat better with her Sharemax judgments – many years after investigative journalist Deon Basson went to his death trying to persuade the authorities that Sharemax was a Ponzi scheme targeting the elderly. None responded until thousands more pensioners had become victims. It’s easy to kick Sharemax when it’s already down.

You might as well come to terms with the fact that you’re on your own. Get smarter and do your homework (as Joshua eventually did), trust your instincts (as he eventually did) – and then don’t smile, argue! And talk to Noseweek. Right now that seems to be the most promising way to rein in the predators.

Readers might recall that Global Trader once operated a similar online trading platform in the UK, that was suspended by the UK authorities and then went bust. Its failure was attributed to a lack of good governance and poor risk management. Now it’s gone to the other extreme, rigging the system to exclude all risk (and massively up their profits). As for ‘good governance’, it’s been given a whole new meaning, more Machiavellian than good.

The Turton attack

In this issue (Top scientist attacks Wonder Woman) you will read about a most unfortunate – and unseemly – row between Dr Anthony Turton and Mariette Liefferink (dubbed Wonder Woman in nose162), prompted by some outrageous insults that Turton directed at Liefferink, his one-time ally, on Facebook. These appear to have been triggered by his jealous irritation with our cartoon cover image of her, and because he wrongly attributed to her the (somewhat dated) warning in our story that AMD might flow down the streets of Joburg and flood its basements.

The wider, very serious problem highlighted in our story does happen to be the issue that Liefferink has managed to keep on the public agenda for a decade – with passion and pretty-well single-handedly.

She is the one who has kept the public informed, and politicians motivated, never mind what some (no doubt worthy) scientists have all this while been discussing and researching in private. She deserves our appellation Wonder Woman. We make no apology for that.

The Editor

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