Dear Editor

Police Farce
If politicians really are manipulating the SA Police Service in order to favour their own criminal activities, “Booysen to sue Sunday Times” (nose174), then we really don’t have a police service or even an old police force any more. I guess it’s best described as a Police Farce.

David Pearce

Sybrand to a tee
Thank you Noseweek, there are a lot of people in the Noordhoek area who are very unhappy with Mr Sybrand van der Spuy and your article, “Fear and loathing around Cape Point”, (nose174) describes the situation to a tee.

Patrick Wright

► As the cliché goes, there are two sides to every story. Noseweek seems to be presenting only one. The vast majority of the neighbourhood around Cape Point Vineyards enjoys the weekly food market and, I believe, the City of Cape Town has now granted full permission for these activities, so the information is out of date. Anyone who wants to shut down this little slice of heaven must be a bit bonkers.

Hardy Esterhuizen

Our story was completed  prior to the municipality’s decision. – Ed.

Government we deserve
The nation, led by our media, is over-reacting to the thieving that President Jacob Zuma has succeeded in achieving for the indecent growth in size and cost of his Nkandla compound.

I recall in Bulawayo in 1982 a prominent Nigerian professor addressed a public meeting of our Institute of Human Relations. Among all his good advice, one item really impressed: “Democracy in Africa is the freedom to steal at your own level”. Raising your level is thus your main objective. The supreme leader in this regard – at least in this part of the world – is Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe.

By muzzling the media, killing the rule of law by appointing puppet judges, and controlling the army and secret police, he has raised his ability to steal.It matters not that the economy is shattered, millions starve or emigrate, infrastructure decays, agriculture, health and education are destroyed.  What matters is that he is able to steal whatever he wants and thus becomes a political hero to most South Africans, and especially to Zuma who recently spurned an invitation to the Mandela remembrance event in Britain to attend a Mugabe daughter’s wedding.

To date our still-existing – if constantly attacked and diminishing – organs that work to defend our constitution have succeeded in restricting our president to stealing a far smaller slice of our GDP than Mugabe has achieved.  

South Africa’s future  is clear: either we preserve the personal freedoms guaranteed by our constitution, or we don’t. We are a democracy, the choice is ours and as happened so tragically in Zimbabwe, we get the government we deserve.

Michael Hill

A brush with Interface Media
I would like to tell you about the way Interface Media treat trusting and unsuspecting customers. I signed a contract with Interface according to which they promised me 600 hits a month on my small-business website for six months, for which I paid R3,000-plus- vat per month. I market a special ladies’ hairbrush called – what else? – Wonderbrush.

After the first pro-rata period of 10 days I received 28 hits. The first full month thereafter (January last year) I received 287 hits. The next month I did not pay and advised them I would pay again after I received 600 hits, as per the agreement. In February I received 17 hits and then they suspended the service due to non-payment. They started up again and in June and July I got 79 and 74 hits respectively. Over four-and-a-half months I received 569 hits, still 31 hits short of what I was promised per month.

I asked to cancel the agreement since I got the same number of hits managing my site myself. They refuse to hear my side, have blacklisted me and are suing me for the balance of the agreement – R17,100. Any advice? They have pages and pages of complaints on Hello Peter, so I am not alone.

Erika Smedy

Irene Duarte, Client Services director of Interface, says: The under-serving on the campaign is purely due to the low volume of users searching for “brushes”. We do guarantee to serve the clicks due as per contract; it just takes longer than anticipated with niche market categories such as this one.

Possible solutions: We re-look at the keywords and continue to run until all clicks due are served; or we assist in reaching the click target by adding (at no charge) a Facebook campaign and a display ad on the Google network.

However, we would need to resolve payment of the outstanding balance prior to any campaigns going live.

How about simply a refund for non-perfomance in terms of the contract?Ed.

Medical screw-ups are cover-ups
Your story “Hospital training is sick” (nose173) says the Health Professions Council of South Africa has a statutory obligation to both protect the public and serve the profession. I can sympathise with medical interns who say the HPCSA is not fulfilling its statutory duties.

I trained in nursing, midwifery and infectious diseases. Ten years of varied experience in the medical industry taught me that screw-ups had to be covered up. After suffering from far too many medical, surgical and dental disasters in my own family I eventually took a legitimate and serious complaint to the then South African Medical and Dental Council (SAMDC). My complaint was summarily dismissed.

I then took my complaint to the Small Claims Court because I wanted back the money we wasted on damaging treatment. The practitioner had refused specialist referral saying he could do the work himself. He then made such a mess of the job that a specialist could only partly fix it. To escape liability for his error and to save his reputation, he alleged in court – among a load of other fabrications and defamation – that he had ordered me to go to a specialist but I had not listened.

I had no records to disprove his claims or prove my complaint and the injustice stuck in my throat. I then tried for three years, along with a small group of similarly angry people, to set up a rights organisation for medical consumers. We received complaints from over 500 dissatisfied medical customers. Thanks to media attention we eventually managed to have a meeting with a few executive members of the SAMDC.

We mainly asked that consumers be given copies of their medical records so they could prove complaints; free choice, so they could go to specialists without a referral; and copies of defendants’ responses to complaints so they could be answered.

They promised to discuss our concerns with the full council and come back to us. They never did. They simply stated via the media that medical records belonged to doctors, and that no one had yet been able to prove the council had not done its duty.

No one can prove anything without records. They also said complainants could get copies of a defendant’s explanation, but only if the defendant agreed. They spoke about “informed consent” and “risks versus benefits” which are both a load of hogwash but even I couldn’t see that at the time. They treated us like idiots and played cat-and-mouse with us. We could not go on fighting a multi-billion-rand cartel with the resources we had, so gave up.

No one can now try to tell me that the HPCSA, the equivalent of the SAMDC, cares one jot about the public.

One of the council’s other duties is to advise the Minister of Health on health matters, and this duty it performs exceptionally well.

Over the past 20 years or more it has managed to manipulate politicians into passing legislation that allows public money to be poured into the private sector, pretending all the while that it would lighten the burden on the public sector. Anyone can now see that it was chicanery.

Fortunately consumers now have the right to get a report from a practitioner (HPCSA Ethical Rules, Rule 16). This takes time and trouble although practitioners who have confidence in their abilities, are honest, and respect their clients, do not object at all.

The fact that this rule has been on the statute books for years but kept under wraps by the HPCSA shows it could not care less about serving the public. When self-regulation becomes self-enrichment, self-aggrandisement and self-protection, it is no wonder public services in many provinces are chaotic, sans legislation or resources to police them.

Mary Fanner


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