Letters

Dear Editor


Very special delivery

I had a good chuckle this morning: wrapped around The Times, delivered to my door, was the November Noseweek. Good lateral thinking!

Adrian Kettle

Pinelands

♦ My November Noseweek has just been hand delivered by a pleasant young man. That’s service and going the extra mile – literally!

Thanks again and good luck with this ongoing problem.

Richard Grundy
Centurian

♦ Just to note, with thanks, that I received the November edition on Sunday morning 2 November, delivered to my street address. Don’t know exactly how, but well done.

Mike Young
Sedgefield

♦ T’is now the 4th November and nowhere in the Northern Suburbs of Johannesburg can one locate your rag. Damn it pisses me off, because it’s the only one I read. Radio adverts are wasted and just irritate because I know it’s not in the stores. What can we do? The Post Office is not helping matters either.

Markham Batstone
Johannesburg

Help is at hand. This issue should arrive at more addresses and shops – and sooner – than last month’s. Please let us know if it doesn’t: the more information we have, the better we’ll be at resolving remaining snags. The Post Office was once a great institution, providing an essential service and it is not that easily or quickly replaced. Ed.

Perplexed about KPMG

It’s all so perplexing why institutions such as KPMG and the FSB would  try to protect a company like GT Traders (noses166&167) and more recently, Western Areas, JCI and Randgold (nose181), when clearly and unambiguously, according to your articles, they are manipulating their clients. As do most banks, insurance companies and the like!

It seems it’s open season on Mr Average who hasn’t the means to take them on through the courts.

Warwick Oakley
Bedfordview

Old Transnet tricks

The Transnet Pension Fund sent a most revealingly misleading letter to all its members on 31 March 1993. Some noteworthy extracts:

“With the conversion of the SA Transport Services to a company on 1 April 1990 an actuarial valuation… found that a deficit of R17.18 billion existed in the Pension Fund. In order to address the deficit… R10.39bn will be paid by Transnet to the Pension Fund in the form of Transnet securities.” [The equivalent of promissory notes. Most were later simply cancelled.Ed.]

“The balance will be paid as lump sums out of Transnet profits within 10 years.” [Transnet never earned profits and no such lump sums materialised.Ed.]

“The deficit increased to R10.47bn… as at 31 March 1992… also because of the salary and pension increases granted to members… between 1990 and 1991
which had been higher than provided for.

“The benefits of the transient fund were compared to those of 52 other pension funds. It was found that the transient fund had the second best retirement benefits in the country… at least 30% better than those of the ‘average’ fund.

“Since these benefits are not affordable, the trustees decided to amend [reduce] them.”

[Some examples:] “Spouse’s pension reduced from 80% to 70% of member’s pension.”

Members’ pensions would only be increased by the statuary 2% per annum increase for five years after retirement. “If the financial position of the fund allows it, the Trustees may decide to reduce the period of five years.” [In fact it has remained at this minimum for the past 21 years. Ed.]

Alan Wells
Howick

The entire letter can be found here. Ed.

Health hypocrites

Dis-Chem should put its house in order before attacking anyone else. For example, how can a supposedly health-conscious chain of pharmacies force its customers to run the gauntlet of sweets and chocolates when queueing for the tills, knowing it will make them sick? Hypocrites!

Don Edwards
Aldara Park

FNB happy to help – really?

The Garcinia Cambogia Scam (nose181): While my story does not involve Dis-Chem, I was caught by an advert on the internet about this new marvel medicine. All I had to pay was postage of $7 and $7.50 for a trial offer of the two items. Stupidly I fell for the fake report and didn’t know the picture had been photo-shopped and that thousands of others had been caught.

Within days of giving my bank account number for an EFT, two amounts of over R1,200 were quickly removed for a product I did not order. Off to the bank to stop the transaction. Days later I saw the stop payment had been reversed by FNB and the money again removed from my account. I was told, “Oh yes, we saw a red flag, but this is not fraud, it is a dispute, so please discuss with someone who handles disputes”.

I got nowhere with FNB disputes, who told me to write a letter explaining the situation. Having done so and demanded my money be returned to my account, there was silence. This is the bank that states in bold letters in every branch: “How can we help you?”

I am still receiving confirmation of orders not placed, with customs duty of R400-plus on each item. They are posted from the Virgin Islands. Told the post office I wasn’t taking them. Fortunately I have a new cheque card. The scam artists are still at it on the internet, now supposedly selling newly discovered fruits, flowers or a mysterious bulb – and stupid people like me are still falling for it.

Jo Maxwell
Pinelands

Thumbs up for Oz


In response to Anne Susskind’s October missive from Oz: despite Trigg’s opinion, my family and I find Australia a very democratic and fair dinkum country.

Steve van Tonder
Nerang, Australia

Dire days for the press


Your informative coverage of recent events at Independent Newspapers (nose181) raises disturbing questions about press freedom, especially as it echoes trends in the Media24 group. For example, in Pietermaritzburg it has reduced the formerly esteemed The Witness to the status of “a miserable little rag”, in the memorable words of one reader.

Its newsroom has been turned from a place of creativity and collegiality into one of disciplinary hearings, demoralisation and despair. Long­-serving local staff with a commitment to the community have been ejected (as supposedly redundant) or harassed into resignation, to be replaced by outsiders who produce occasional so-­called scoops for the front page.

This mayhem has been engineered by careerists on obscenely high salaries.

The established readership has been treated with contempt and the once-excellent opinion and feature pages have become a mockery crowned by never­ending egotistical advertorial masquerading as opinion from the editor himself. The long-­term objective is opaque.

The threat to newspapers does not come only from Luthuli House but also from corporate fascism. And the implications for freedom of expression are dire. Think back nearly 30 years to the destruction of the Rand Daily Mail when courageous and committed journalists pioneered a new way forward via the alternative press.

Christopher Merrett

Pietermaritzburg

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