Dear Editor

Tied up in knots

In Noseweek’s 167th epistle to the Unencumbered on the subject of offshore oil and gas prospecting, more particularly the chapter titled “A Bigger Boat”, you allude to a vessel “moving at four-to-six knots an hour”.

I regret to inform you, there is no such speed measurement as “knots an hour” A knot is itself a measurement of speed and describes a nautical mile-per-hour, aka 2,000 yards-per-hour.

I look forward to the Ed’s correction.

Ian Melville
By email

Ask, and it shall be given. Ed.

Thuli for president!

Thank God for Thuli Madonsela who is so important to improving accountability in South Africa. She and her team are doing great work. We are truly grateful.

Mark Sandison
Kloof, KZN

► We have a great and humble leader: Thuli Madonsela for president!

Heather Cassingham
Pinelands, Cape Town

► I have a great deal of respect for Advocate Thuli Madonsela, both personally and for the excellent job she does, and I enjoyed the sympathetic profile presented in Nose167.

However, my experience of her Cape Town “team” has been far from the ideal of  “doing a thorough job in establishing the facts… ”. When I failed to get answers from officials in the city’s valuation department, I submitted my complaint to the City Ombudsman who, in turn, was unable or unwilling to properly investigate the issues.

I then turned to the Public Protector on the basis that the city had not complied with the Municipal Property Rates Act of 2004 in that it had misused its rating processes which resulted in a failure to rate my property at market value as required by the Act.

But from the Public Protector’s Cape Town “team” I have got little more than a white-wash. While Ms Madonsela applies her undoubted skills to high-profile cases, I am led to question whether ordinary citizens receive the same level of support for their concerns.

Brian Brown
Cape Town

Defence against banks

Noseweek’s account (Nose167) of how Navy Captain Teboho Molotsi sought to do what every responsible professional does on retirement ­– settle all loans and other debts before going on to pension – and how Absa Bank thwarted that to milk him, made chilling reading.

For our own protection, we should all learn to recognise the techniques Absa used. First, Absa used terminology confusing to even professionals who are not in the finance industry; second, Absa failed to reply to the customer’s letters asking for clarification; third, Absa failed to return the title deeds and failed to provide other paperwork.

All verbal understandings inexorably culminate in the mantra: “that person no longer works for us.”

Fourth, Absa relies on the unaffordable expense of litigation while simultaneously blocking lawyers from defending you, by their conflict-of-interest contracts with those lawyers.

The customer’s only defences appear to be:

• Never accept verbal assurances from bank officials; always insist (in writing) on getting their undertakings in writing. Always immediately make and keep a copy of any bank document you sign. Never accept an assurance that they’ll “post you a copy tomorrow”.

• Should any bank fail to reply fully to a letter within a month, lodge a complaint with the Banking Ombudsman (whose independence, I know,  Noseweek doubts.)

• If Parliament holds hearings on law reform, we need to propose that the Law Society be made to list – on an updated website – the contact deals of all lawyers who are free to represent clients against banks.

Could readers propose any other defences?

Keith Gottschalk
Claremont, Cape Town

Alli all for honest engagement

Sanral strongly rejects the lies and innuendo, based on hearsay, in Nose167 about our CEO, Nazir Alli.

The article relies heavily on a picture of Mr Alli taken at the Competition Tribunal, uses this picture to insinuate that Mr Alli is corrupt because he was captured in conversation with executives from the companies found guilty of collusion.

To read anything into that picture is ludicrous. Surely, readers would want to have the assumptions made about the picture tested by asking the accused some questions? Mr Alli, at the same hearing where the picture was taken, placed a statement on record about how disappointed Sanral was with the collusive practices of the construction industry and that the agency was going to take action against the guilty parties.

That Noseweek could publish such an article without seeking the views of Sanral  or Mr Alli shows how low it has stooped. Aren’t people subjected to adverse coverage supposed to be given the right to respond in the very same article?

Do what any self-respecting and responsible journalist should do – pick up the phone and speak to Mr Alli.

We challenge Noseweek to make use of the opportunity to engage Mr Alli on any of the things it alleges. His door is open to honest engagement.

Vusi Mona
General Manager: Communications, Sanral,

Noseweek is happy to accept the challenge and will report the outcome in our next issue. The picture referred to was not presented as evidence, but rather as an uncomfortable reflection of information contained in the piece. You appear to find it equally uncomfortable. Also see Mr Nose on page 8.Ed.

► Thanks for the story on collusion in the construction industry and the role of Sanral (Nose167). As you know, the Opposition to the Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) is in litigation to try to stop the whole e-toll debacle.

Sanral’s behaviour on this one has been atrocious. The Sunday Times last year also highlighted a lot of evidence related to what you have exposed (see “Taking their toll”, timeslive 2012/11/25). If one scratches a bit deeper, one will find enough evidence to put a stop to this sham.

Wayne Duvenage
OUTA Chairperson

Smell the coffee

You published a letter from Clive Varejes (in Nose167) in which he made unflattering comments about the Douwe Egberts coffee served at an airport lounge. Kindly furnish me with his contact details.  We would like to send him a hamper which we are confident will restore his faith in our product.

Phindi Ntuli
Customer Care Administrator, Inco Labs, Bryanston

Happy to oblige
. – Ed.

Trading needs cool discipline

Your articles about Global Trader, aka GT247.com (Noses166;167) have been of particular interest to me as I work in the industry and have been involved in the set-up of a competitor. We focus on the historic shortcomings of GT and other CFD providers and turn those into advantages on our end.

Contracts for Difference (CFDs) by their nature are not for everyone, but if you trade through a reputable counter-party who trades DMA (direct market access) into the underlying market, they can be very powerful instruments to gain exposure to JSE-listed companies cheaply and easily. The key is to understand the product, and trade responsibly, with cool discipline.

Home-frozen’s desire to “turbo-charge” his investments by trading futures (Letters, Nose167) suggests a dangerous level of emotional involvement. In reality, trading has inherent risks. Trading any geared products should not be viewed as an investment. If you want to invest, buy shares; to speculate or hedge, trade CFDs or futures.

We offer clients a platform to trade Equity CFDs and futures DMA (with direct market access, in this case, to the central order book of the JSE). That way, the client can see their order from any integrated system, independent of our own, and their trades can be seen in public JSE information, guaranteeing transparency and avoiding the old CFD provider tricks like hunting stop losses, re-quotes and price manipulation.

If you hold a CFD,  all you own is a piece of paper which is a contract for the difference between the purchase and sale price of the CFD entered into between the trader and the CFD provider. Therefore, if a trader makes R100, the CFD provider is obliged to pay the trader R100 and vice versa.  The trader assumes that the CFD provider will stand good for the difference – a risk. Many CFD providers historically don’t hedge their client positions, which means they effectively bet against the client. [In theory, equally risky for both parties – unless the CFD provider manages to devise other ways of reducing his risk, secretly increasing his client trader’s risk of losing the bet by means of the tricks you refer to.Ed.] All client losses go into the provider’s pocket. As Noseweek has suggested, this may be the reason for GT’s inflated profits.

By trading DMA (with direct market access), the CFD provider automatically hedges the client position and the profits and losses are passed through. Here, the provider only profits in the brokerage charged and takes zero market risk – this is what a true broker is. The DMA model is more admin intensive from the provider’s perspective and profit margins are much smaller. However, this is global best-practice and is the best way to ensure sustainability and avoid the likes of the MFGlobal and Worldspreads implosions which leave clients in the lurch.

Brendon Johns

Velocity Trade , Cape Town

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Submitted by : Mike Turner of RANDBURG on 2013-09-28 12:30:02
Disgraced ex-journalist Vusi Mona (now - fittingly - the GM Communications for Sanral) states that Noseweek should "...engage Mr Alli...". BEWARE: the only time you can tell when Alli is lying is when his lips move.......
Submitted by : Niki Moore of Durban on 2013-09-28 12:17:04
With reference to the experience of that unfortunate Tehobo Molotsi: perhaps another area that can be looked at is bank security, and the lies that banks tell around that. After a robbery at our house in January this year, I was informed that the robber had tried to use one of the stolen ATM cards at the nearest Nedbank machine. It was puzzling at the time how hard the bank management tried to persuade me NOT to get access to their surveillance cameras, but I got a warrant anyway, which was duly served. A few weeks later the bank let me know that the footage had been deleted (despite the warrant). I laid a charge of obstruction of justice with the police, which has not come to anything. (The investigating officer on the case has told me, in so many words, that he is not interested in investigating the case.... if I was a conspiracy theorist I would suspect a pay-off somewhere down the line). I strongly suspect that the bank's cameras don't work and that they could not produce the footage anyway, but have lied about it in order to pretend to the public that they have cameras at their ATMS. I have been recommending strongly that people do not bank with Nedbank as they are so careless of their clients' security, but I have a depressing feeling that all banks are the same. Perhaps worth an investigation?


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