Dear Editor

Flights of fancy

You have to be congratulated on your brilliant December cover of our illustrious president giggling his empty head off as he receives his new toy replica aircraft. I fear that will become reality – with the R4 billion price tag.


E Hammond
Cape Town

‘Not guilty – and BEE compliant’

We act on behalf of Mr Brett Latimer and the Oxford Freshmarket Group controlled by him.

Your publication of the article Meat tycoon has a bone to pick” (nose195) is defamatory per se, and false in material respects. It also constitutes a violation of our client’s right to privacy, dignity and psychological integrity. It has substantially diminished the good name and reputation of Mr Latimer and the Oxford Supermarket brand in the estimation of ordinary readers. It has caused incalculable harm to Mr Latimer and his business, including his positive work for advancing black empowerment in South Africa.

The legal proceedings instituted [against Latimer] by the three persons out of the Camperdown Magistrate’s Court are sub judice. Your report makes no mention that Mr Latimer filed a plea denying all the allegations. Nor was an attempt made to obtain his comments in connection with the false allegation and the circumstances surrounding the incident at the Engen service station on the night of 20 April 2014.

You may interview Mr Latimer to ascertain the true facts for the purpose of publishing a suitable correction in your next edition, together with a sufficient apology.

We await your reply within seven business days, failing which our instructions are to institute legal proceedings claiming very substantial damages of R50m arising from your clearly wrongful invasion of our client’s rights.

M S Omar and Associates

The report in nose195 was based on the pleadings that our reporter found filed at court. Such pleadings are on public record. All the allegations that the writer complains of as being defamatory and “false in material respects” are as stated in the plaintiffs’ particulars of claim. We properly reported them as allegations, and also that Mr Latimer had filed notice of his intention to defend the action, from which readers could only deduce that he was not admitting to the allegations.

Noseweek reported only one element of the story that was not contained in the court documents; a third party at the service station pointed us to the video footage of the incident, where it is recorded that, in the course of the altercation, one of the defendants struck Latimer on the head with a credit card machine, causing him to fall to the ground. We included this obvious detail in our story in fairness to Latimer.
Finally, we also noted that Latimer had chosen to settle his dispute with the first plaintiff – the one who struck him with the card machine – by paying him R15,000.

We are happy to record that Latimer subsequently filed a plea in which he formally denies the plaintiffs’ allegations but confirms that the first plaintiff struck him with a credit card machine. We also now note his claim to be an enthusiastic proponent of black economic empowerment, although what this has to do with the issues in this case we cannot fathom.

We do not believe we owe Mr Latimer an apology and, as for the threat of a R50m damages claim, we’ll take our chances. We leave it to the court to decide the merits of the opposing claims in the case.Ed.

Dad was no smuggler

I take exception to my late father Ernesto Bisogno being given the title of “Emerald Smuggler” (nose195), in your story “The Sting”. There is nothing further from the truth. Yes, he was a colourful person and no doubt, made a few enemies as well as a few too many controversial acquaintances, but smuggler he was not.

I worked with him for seven years in “the Emerald Exchange” so I am well acquainted with the procedures followed for the export of uncut emeralds, as I was head of that department and it was my responsibility to see these were adhered to.

If you are referring to his arrest in Zambia, I would gladly give you the true story, but in short, the parcel of stones confiscated and forfeited (as a fine for contravening the Exchange Control Act of Zambia) was legally exported from South Africa through the then Jan Smuts Airport, with a DA24 and F178 as well as an Export Permit signed by the head of department, a Dr I Goldberg.

If you have any other proof of him having been a “smuggler” please advise me of such, alternatively, I reserve my rights. I believe a public apology is warranted from Noseweek.

Kenneth Bisogno
Kempton Park

For Noseweek’s response, see Fond memories of a charming rogue in this issue. – Ed.

♦ Although the reference to our firm in your articleThe Sting” (nose195) was factual and innocent enough, the issue of publicity is a sensitive one for our profession and we distance ourselves from any possibility that the reference to our firm was in any way initiated by ourselves.

Further, any fee agreement we have is strictly confidential, as between attorney and client. Your allegation that the contingency fee agreement is for 25% of “any payout” is incorrect.

The agreement is in fact for twice the usual attorney and client fee, or a success fee of 25%, whichever is the lesser, and is in accordance with the Contingency Fees Act.

De Jager & Du Plessis Attorneys

♦ We have experience of Louis Steyn (The Sting”, nose195) when he purported to offer R250 million for a property project company in Limpopo, “payable within four weeks”.
Obviously no money arrived!

Eckart Haacke

Argentina rather like home

In Hugh Oatley’s excellent piece on Argentina (nose195), he describes the country’s public sector under former president Cristina Kirchner as “interfering, overblown and cronyist, presided over by ministers of dubious qualification and talent”.

Now in which other country, I wonder, would that description of government
also fit?

William Bowler
Hout Bay

Sad times

It’s a sad day. For years I could not wait to get my copy of Noseweek, but no more. The quality of your publication has deteriorated. In the past, your issues dealt with individuals: attorneys; doctors, entrepreneurs. Abe Swersky, Ronnie Lipman, Lennie the Liquidator, the doctor’s wife who spent R25,000-a-month on clothes.

I could in many cases identify the people concerned, as I knew them. Even where I did not know the person concerned, the issues made great reading. But now your targets have become corporates and the government. All this can be seen and read in the downgraded Argus and Cape Times.

I think the time has come for me to discontinue my support of Noseweek.

Manfred Shevel

We received the above letter a little while back, prompting a period of introspection. Shortly before going to press, I called Mr Shevel to suggest that the number of people he knows who feature in Noseweek are probably sadly diminishing with the passage of time (Abe’s long dead, Ronnie no longer answers his phone, Lennie doesn’t talk to us); that his characterisation of Noseweek remains spot-on and that it hasn’t changed that much. I was gleefully going to point him to Priscilla, queen of Hout Bay in this issue and remind him that we have always also dealt with corporates and occasionally, when absolutely necessary, with the government, and that I’m absolutely certain none of it can be seen and read in The Argus and Cape Times, downgraded or otherwise.

But Manfred didn’t come to the phone. From his charming wife Riva, I received the sad news that he died unexpectedly on 4 January.

This letter stands as his memorial.Ed.

A costly, shabby pensions schemer

On 9 April 2015 retired Cape Town businessman Jerry Welz wrote the following letter to the Director General of the Department of Labour, Mr Thobile Lamati:

Dear Sir,

In 1963 I purchased a company manufacturing small transformers for the electronics industry. I did the correct thing by registering with the Receiver of Revenue and with the Department of Labour.

After one week, a gentleman announcing himself as a designated agent of the Industrial Council for the Iron and Steel Industry, Western Cape, called and insisted that I register with the Industrial Council. I objected and he subsequently had a magistrate’s court summons served on me. Against my right of free choice I was forced to join and to pay R25 per month as an administration fee to the Council.

I kept protesting that I was not in their Steel Industry but to no avail.

A Mr D van der Walt from the Labour Department even came from Pretoria to reason with me, said if I refused they would close me down, adding sarcastically that my business should be closed if it could not afford a R25-per-month admin fee.

Then we were informed that we would be forced to join the Industrial Council Pension Fund. I researched the legality and found that the Pension Fund Act of 1956 specifically debarred the Industrial Council from registering a pension fund under the Act (Section 2).  When I objected, the Financial Services Board wrote to me stating (wrongly as the Appeal Court would find 42 years later) that they had decided to register it and control it via the Pension Fund Act to give contributors adequate protection, and the Registrar of Pensions had decided to go along with the plan.

Over the years up till 1998 my small company had seven employee contributors to that pension fund. In 1980 one of my employees died tragically.  As his employer, I took responsibility to research his death benefit, as his dependants were not capable of handling the paperwork involved.

The Cape Town Regional Industrial Council was unable to assist in any way. I flew to Johannesburg and went to the Seifsa head office. A gentleman there treated me indifferently and told me that, as I was not a member of an employers’ organisation, to go to the pension office nearby as he had a lunch appointment and would be out for the afternoon.

I went to the pension collection head office, where I interviewed the chief officer, a Mr Kukard. He agreed that the deceased estate was entitled to R10,000 but that I had to go back to Cape Town, appoint an attorney and make application to the Master of the Supreme Court, who would then instruct the pension fund to pay the R10,000. I did this and appointed a firm of attorneys to act on the matter.

Their advice: between the Supreme Court and Mr Kuckard’s office, the R10,000 would be eaten up in costs. My employee’s dependants never got one cent.

Subsequently over the years all my employees left my employ and went in different directions. All got their contributions paid back to them in full with only a nominal amount of interest. Most have since died. All that remains is my 5% contribution over all those years. The rule was that every week I had to take 5% of the employee’s wage and add another 5% out of my company’s funds.

I understand on good authority that the fund was moved out of the pension fund control and is now in the hands of Seifsa and the Trade Unions and that they are paying pensioners (and themselves) a bonus out of an R11bn “surplus”. It is obvious that the excess is brought about by the 5% employers’ contribution which stayed behind when employees left the fund.

What provision has your department made for non-party employers to get their rightful share back out of the fund excess? (Voluntary member employers have long ago been refunded their contributions.)

Who must I approach to rectify a financial injustice brought about by the reckless and ruthless actions of the then Department of Manpower who abused the rights of simple citizens and labelled them as non-parties and forced them into a very shabby and expensive financial schemer?

Please advise urgently.

J P Welz

Mr Welz has yet to receive a written reply. When he recently inquired when he might expect a response, the DG’s PA advised him that his letter had been “passed on”.

Now see Pension Billions Bonanza in nose78 and Editorial in nose79.Ed.


Goldfish coming to Cape Town
seeks bowl in city flat.

Highrise, seafront, apartment block:
An eyesore with a perfect view:

Tired of rejection?
Publish your poems
in our classified section.

by Gus Ferguson

(From: Stressed-Unstressed by Gus Ferguson)

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