Dear Editor

Sergeant, a firebrand

I am a former member of the SAAN (South African Associated Newspapers) family (Rand Daily Mail, Sunday Express, Sunday Times and Financial Mail) where I ended my career as Deputy Works Foreman. I have long been a subscriber to your valued magazine.

I knew Barry Sergeant when he was a young firebrand on the Financial Mail and we shared a love of Malamut dogs, which he was breeding at one stage. He was also very much into “mushing” and wrote lovingly about the annual Alaskan sled-dog race.

Barry’s passing is a terrible loss to investigative journalism. Who, now, will report as fearlessly on the many financial shenanigans that beset South Africa, particularly in the mining industry?

Best wishes and strength and tenacity in your difficult and perhaps often thankless job.

Günther Linzer
Mondeor, Johannesburg

Fundamentalists control Beth Din

The bigotry and sectarianism exposed in a reader’s letter “Forgotten but not yet buried” nose208 has not received the publicity it deserves. Zan and Noreen Swartzberg of Bethlehem, Free State, will have to rely on the Reform Overport Shul for all their burial arrangements.

For half a century, all Jews, regardless of whether they were Orthodox or Reform, were buried together in Cape Town.

Then, about the turn of the century, a new generation of Jewish fundamentalists gained control of the Beth Din, the Chevra Kadisha, and other communal authorities and demanded that, from then on, only Orthodox Jews could be buried in the Jewish graveyard.

They also imposed their will when it came to other issues, inter alia doubling the time typically required for conversion to Judaism.

Sadly, the clergyman the media chooses to designate the Chief Rabbi is more accurately termed the Chief Rabbi of United Orthodox Synagogues, the majority denomination. He is reported to walk out when any minority Reform rabbi participates in a ceremony.

I discovered that my mother was donating to the communal entities Zan Swartzberg mentions. Her dementia meant she could not understand that, while her money was good enough for them, her body was not.

A Reform Jew
Claremont, Cape Town

Poisoned and sickened

I must agree with Paul Treleven’s views on EnviroServ (Letters, nose209), I have lived in Midrand for many years and since 2012 I have rented cottages in Pitzer Rd, Glen Austin, where not a day goes by without my having to put up with the noxious emissions and nauseating stench from InterWaste’s F G Landfill.

I and my dogs have suffered many illnesses and horrific symptoms which are documented and attributable to the mercury and hydrogen sulphide gases emanating from the site. It should never have been allowed in what is a residential/agricultural and environmentally sensitive area.

Apparently, we residents are imagining things, according to Lonmin and InterWaste. The facts are there, however. And they don’t live in their own toxic stink.

This “processing” ha-ha should be done at source, so they should pack up their collective boxes of spiders and go away.

We and our animals are being poisoned, sickened and ignored for the most part because we cannot afford legal counsel like Midstream Estate developers Bondev can.

Is anyone able to help?

Gina Hall
Glen Austin, Midrand

See "The big stink" in this issue. – Ed.

Penalise pensions minister

Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini should be held personally responsible for the extra ATM fees and the R1.25bn increase. She can pay it out of her pension.  

Donn Edwards
Aldara Park, Randburg

• After such flagrant stonewalling/ disregard for the Constitutional Court’s ruling, shouldn’t Bathabile Dlamini be jailed for contempt of court? Or are some more equal than others?

Terry Nelson 
By email

Can we trust Nature’s Choice?

Thank you for exposing Brian Neary for bottling fructose syrup which he sells as Agave Nectar  through health food chains such as Nature’s Choice (Sweet Talk”, nose209).

I had previously been buying the imported Mexican product from my local Spar but because it’s expensive and there is little demand, they no longer stock it.

So I was thrilled to find this local product on sale in Pick n Pay, Dischem and Spar, although I did wonder why it was so watery – the imported syrup was dark and thick. Now I know.

This weekend I printed out your article and advised each manager in these stores to take the matter up with Nature’s Choice.

I then wrote to a Mr Sheldon Mandy of Nature’s Choice who proceeded to hide behind the bitter divorce/slander story put out by Neary. Mr Mandy assured me he was in the process of investigating the matter and would get to the bottom of it. He is the Procurement and NPD Director.

I was not happy with his reply.  It is his end product that is in question.  What quality checks had Nature’s Choice done?

I will certainly spread the word re Nature’s Choice and will no longer trust any of their products.

Lesley Gove
By email

Ford cautioned over misleading stats

Even if Mrs Marie-Anna Cherenack’s calculation of the rate at which her Ford Figo guzzles gas (10 litres per 100km) didn’t quite tally with the more modest 8.5 litres per 100km recorded after testing by her own expert Gary Wilson (nose209), both fuel consumption rates are well over the 6.6 litres per 100km claimed by Ford in its specifications sheet for Mrs Cherenack’s 1.4 Figo Ambiente.

Your writer recalls with glee [sadness, more likely. – Ed.] Ford’s second current headache: the tendency of some of their 2012-2014 1.6 Kuga SUVs to burst into flames, resulting in the recall of more than 4,500 after no fewer than 46 reported conflagrations in South Africa.

But that’s not the Kuga’s only delinquency. Last year the Advertising Standards Authority of SA (ASA) reported a complaint by a Mrs Haim about the fuel consumption of her 1.5 Kuga Ecoboost Ambiente. In its advertising, Ford claimed that all Kuga models would under normal conditions require only 7 litres of fuel to do 100km, but Mrs Haim said her Kuga demanded more than double that – no less than 15l per 100km.

The ASA ordered Ford to withdraw or “appropriately amend” their unsubstantiated and misleading advertising for the Kuga’s claimed fuel consumption with immediate effect. Ford was warned not to repeat misleading  figures like this in future.

Ford South Africa’s director of sales, marketing and service, Neale Hill, subsequently assured my favourite motoring mag Wheels24: “We will be amending the fuel economy data in our relevant communications materials for the Ford Kuga.”

Following its report last August, Wheels24 was deluged with fuel consumption complaints from a host of Kuga-owning readers. When the magazine conducted a poll: “Do you trust claimed fuel-consumption figures?” a whopping 91% (14,847 votes) said no. Only 9% said yes.

Rather than proceed with her intended “independent public investigation into the practice of misrepresented fuel efficacy figures in the motor industry,” why doesn’t Marie-Anna Cherenack go the route of Mrs Haim and just bring her Ford Figo’s gas-guzzling to the attention of the Advertising Standards Authority?

Randolph Forbes
Cape Town

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