Dear Editor

Beer’s power of persuasion

Noseweek’s recent reports on the growing public outrage at the disposal of toxic leachate into the sea off a Durban beach (noses199 200; 203 & 204), reminded me of a similar, unpublicised incident 15 years ago involving SA Breweries.

In around1999-2000 I attended a meeting between Durban’s then-mayor, Obed Mlaba, and some SA Breweries senior executives, including then- MD Norman Adami and Product Manager Stephen Park. They had just had truckloads of beer delivered for Mlaba’s daughter’s wedding reception, to which the entire community had been invited to win votes for the ANC. The SAB men asked whether enough beer had been delivered and the mayor gave a drunken thumbs-up.

For the duration of Mlaba’s reign, SAB was allowed to pump their untreated effluent into a nearby river without interference from the council.

It would be interesting to know if the untreated effluent is still leaking into the sea via the river every day, and whether the tradition of the donation of a “truckload” of beer to the mayor/others to cover up the misdemeanour is still happening.

J Zulu

Mayor from 1996 to 2011, Obed Mlaba featured in the Manase report, a forensic investigation into corruption and maladministration within eThekwini Metro. The report – which has been rotting on bureaucratic shelves since it was made public in 2013 – connected Mlaba to a multi-billion-rand waste-collection tender scam. For his shenanigans, Mlaba was rewarded with a post in the UK as South Africa’s High Commissioner.

Mlaba was a South African Breweries employee from 1987 to 1993, and was still listed as a member of the board of the SA Breweries (Ltd) Trust in a 2015 CV.

See noses
34; 86; 178; 179 &195 for more on beer-soaked Mlaba.Ed.

Saddened by pension plunder

I was saddened to read in nose199 that Tongaat Hulett Ltd had plundered a R585-million surplus from the pension fund behind the pensioners’ backs – so much so that I have addressed the following open letter to the CEO, Steven Saunders, who my husband and I knew well for half a lifetime.

My husband, David Clarkson, joined the Tongaat Sugar Company in 1959, was Chief Accountant and ultimately became Director of Marketing and Investments. For years David argued that the pensioners’ emoluments should include their car allowance, but the then-MD kept refusing.

In 2000 David received a circular letter from the Fund advising that pensionable emoluments would include the car allowance, following a high court decision. The letter went on to claim that the Group and Trustees had acted in accordance with “good governance” and “the spirit of the rules of the Fund”. This outraged David, because there had in fact been a complete lack of transparency concerning the pension fund.

He made enquiries of certain of his old colleagues and learnt that the new benefit was only applicable to members pensioned since 1996.

The proposal to discriminate between existing and post-1996 pensioners had been judged by the Pension Funds Adjudicator as illegal, but Tongaat Hulett took the matter to the high court and were successful on a legal technicality in getting the Adjudicator’s ruling set aside.

The merits of the case were not addressed by the court.

Here follows June Clarkson’s letter:

Open letter to Tongaat Hulett CEO

Dear Steven Saunders,

In 2001 David Clarkson, my husband, wrote to the Chairman of the Tongaat Hulett Pension Fund to express his astonishment at the unjust action by both the Group and the Trustees that was at odds with the philosophy of a group he had served for 34 years.

He reminded the Trustees that the assets of the Pension Fund were subscribed to by the fund members and the Group, and that employees had always placed their trust in the Trustees to administer their funds in an equitable manner and to resist any attempt to rifle their assets by a rapacious employer.

David added that these views were shared by those who had advised him.

“My concern was occasioned by the complete lack of transparency which has given rise to a lack of faith and a concern as to what other matters may be instituted in the future in a similar secretive fashion,” he wrote.

“Please bear in mind that most employees have to rely on the vigilance and rectitude of Trustees to ensure their final years are funded by their full share of the Pension Fund to which they contributed during their long hard working careers.”

Sadly David died in 2010.

I, David’s widow June Clarkson, had always believed that living in Tongaat for 30 years with my children, we belonged to one large family, sharing each other’s joys and sorrows. I was particularly fortunate to
have known and loved all your children.

Today my thoughts are shattered by knowing what Tongaat Hulett Pension Fund has done to all the loyal pensioners who believed they were giving their working years to an honest employer, only to discover that they've been cheated out of Surplus Pension Funds. Shame on you Steven Saunders for letting this happen.

June Clarkson
Terrigal, NSW, Australia

Jordaan made a big mistake

It is surprising that many were surprised by Danny Jordaan’s resignation as an “ordinary” councillor of Nelson Mandela Bay. A man with an independent outlook and self-respect would never have accepted being used in an attempt to swing the Coloured vote from the DA to the ANC – which was ultimately his mandate.

The ANC’s greatest independent thinker was Kaizana “Oliver Reginald” Tambo. It seems most ANC leaders today thrive on adulation/populism and money/status/materialism, and fail to question the basis of their popularity.

As Warren Buffett puts it: “Only when the tide is low, do we see who has been swimming naked.”

Luyanda Kama
Port Elizabeth

Share this article:

Reader's comments

Like to add your own comment ? Please click here to subscribe - OR -


While every reasonable effort is taken to ensure the accuracy and soundness of the contents of this publication, neither the authors nor the publishers of this website bear any responsibility for the consequences of any actions based on the information contained therein.