Dear Editor

Bravo at 25!

So, Mr Welz, not farewell, it seems, but onward and upward! (With a nod to Private Eye – and poet E J Thribb (17½) which I subscribed to for years – until the demise of the rand.

Congratulations and accolades are definitely due to yourself and your committed writers, cartoonists and advertisers. And for having outlasted the notorious Scope.

Bravo to you all!

Your content, always so bare to the bone and precise as any crime scene or murder autopsy, has sometimes driven me to the bottle after trolling through the misery that infests this unfortunate yet beautiful and opportunity filled country.

I sympathise with your despair at the South African psyche’s inability to discern satire from news, but please do not give up entirely. Allow those of us endowed with a bit of intellect, cynicism and quirkiness to get to the back cover with a smile and some hope instead of feeling the knife turning in our guts.

I will drink a glass of decent chenin blanc to the next 25 years, after nose225, which was an excellent read. 

Robert de Vos

Simon’s Town

•  Congratulations to you and your team for 25 years of publishing Noseweek, which I have long enjoyed. I wish you luck for the next 25 years – and may your readership grow!

Philip Strachan
Cape Town

Proposed basic income grant

DA MP Karen Jooste exemplifies Stephen Covey’s basic requirement for getting something done: knowing what to do, how to do it and why. As in the three-legged stool, if one is missing it falls over.

In today’s amateur society how often do you wonder if politicians know what they are doing, how to do it and why.

Jooste stands out as a rare professional in a sea of amateurs.


•  How up-to-date was your article “How to defuse SA’s ticking time bomb” thesis (nose225)? In it Karen Jooste told us how essential it is to have a liveable basic income grant in South Africa and that she was going to present her “ground-breaking document” to an international conference in Finland in August.

I can’t see how it could be described as ground breaking but that’s not my real point. What I didn’t see mentioned, unless I could not see for looking, was that in April this year Finland ended its basic income trial with 2,000 unemployed people, presumably because it didn’t work. So this blew a huge hole in her entire case which,  ironically, she is going to promote in Finland.

Jon Abbott,

Cape Town

Karen Jooste’s response:

Noble as the aim may be, my suggestion is not simply about paying a liveable, additional grant as a form of poverty alleviation through increased taxes. My proposal goes much deeper into creating a socially just society in which socio-economic policy improves the security of the least secure groups; does not impose controls on some groups that are not imposed on the most free; focuses on rights as opposed to charity and promotes dignified work. This entails a complete restructuring and re-prioritisation of government’s budget, including but not limited to policies such as BEE.

As far as Finland is concerned there has unfortunately been much incorrect and uninformed reporting on the pilot. The project is continuing as planned till the end of the year. The aim of this project is primarily to test the effect of unconditional payments on job incentives particularly whether it will encourage Finns, who are afraid of losing their generous unemployment benefits, to take up short-term jobs. I will happily write a comprehensive overview of Finland’s experiment when I return from my visit in August.

Shade to the Berggruen picture

Anne Susskind’s column on her visit to Berlin (nose224) was a sensitive piece of writing that resonates. Just one correction: as Heinz Berggruen himself emphasised, he did not actually flee the Nazis. He left Germany precipitously for other reasons.

Thanks to the Nazis (with whom he rather sympathised) and his Jewish roots (which he spent a lifetime repudiating, except when it was financially advantageous to acknowledge them), he had a visa to the US and a scholarship to Berkeley University in his pocket.

He never fought with the Allies: he held a comfortable desk job in America while the fighting lasted, arrived in Europe when it was over and plunged straight into the lucrative Black Market.

His main aspiration was accumulating vast wealth (gladly at the expense of others) and without paying taxes. In terms of residence and taxes, he never returned to Germany, and as the Jewish Aufbau newspaper remarked, his “gesture of reconciliation”, ie the tax-free, overpriced sale of his stock to the German government, was more accurately a “business opportunity”.

The rest, I’m afraid, is hype, an early exercise in fake truth.

Vivien Stein,
Yale University, USA

Turning tables from Down Under

Thank you Harold Strachan for a you-too, me-too view of Down Under (nose225). A marriage to an Australian and visits to children in “Seednee” and elsewhere have allowed many observations of that nation’s notions of “maitehood”.

Highest on the list was reading Sally Morgan’s “My Place in 1988”, charting the personal discovery of her grandmother and mother’s “forced removals” from their mothers.

“Apartheid South Africa could have learned from this lot,” I thought. Yet I met not a few pleasant and friendly pale Australians who, like your nephew’s MP, believed that “all that” was best left in the past, y’know?

A rich irony is that I was unaware while reading the book of another revealing event of 26 January 1988. While pale Australia was tan-ta-rahing over the bicentennial of Cook’s dropping anchor in Botany Bay, a dark citizen was raising the Aboriginal flag on Dover Beach, declaring that “I, Burnum Burnum, being a nobleman of ancient Australia, do hereby take possession of England on behalf of the Aboriginal Peoples.”

I only discovered his speech in 2011 but re-read it regularly – the most poignantly punchy yet gently humorous history lesson I know.

Forward to 2018 – where the majority of Australians it seems are in favour of amending the constitution to actually mention the “A” word. “A” is the first letter of the alphabet and Aborigines are the First Peoples, right? Nah, Malcolm Turnbull and the boys aren’t coming to that party just yet, maite!

PS: Congratulations on your 25th!

Yvette Worrall
Plettenberg Bay

Nedbank’s abuse

On 29 March this year, our small business account with Nedbank was frozen without any communication from the bank. The account has been with them for 27 years.

When I contacted their call centre, I was told that we had not complied with their FICA requirements.

I pointed out that we had been dealing with their small business manager since 5 March 2018 and had submitted all documents requested. It then transpired that two further documents were required which they had omitted to mention. (One of these had in fact been handed to them 9 months prior!)

The account was eventually cleared after 12 days. During that time I spent well over two hours on telephone calls to their Professional Services section, Complaints Division and FICA Division in addition to writing lengthy emails to the small business manager. Three emails to their complaints division went unanswered until after the account had been cleared.

The fact that they effectively shut down, at month-end, a small business that has financial and VAT commitments, without the courtesy of a phone call or email, is disgraceful and amounts to abuse.

Even after establishing that the fault was on their side they refused to clear the account.

It is apparent that they have a small army of very polite staff where no one has the authority to make a decision or take effective action.

To add insult to injury, three days after the account was cleared it was again frozen as they had discovered a further document missing – again, one that had not been requested. After four days it is still frozen.

Have others experienced the incompetence and abuse of this bank?

C Murray

Cape Town

John Binns writes to Vodacom – and the fun begins…

Correspondence with Vodacom about unauthorised Vodafone VLive charges

On Facebook you say I didn’t send you an email; well here is proof of the two that I sent you…

I was charged for a fraudulent transaction on my account in February and the subscription was meant to be cancelled. I was credited with the amount and assured this subscription had been removed. Rubbish! Another subscription appeared on my March account.

Pass a credit on my account immediately and remove all subscriptions.

Legal action will be taken, since you cannot charge anything against my account that I have not authorised. A class action lawsuit will be the only way you will learn not to steal from your clients. Get your act together once and for all.

Vodacom replies:

Thank you for your email. We have tried calling you today on 082… but the call was routed to voicemail.

 Protection of your account against fraud is critical to us so we need to verify that you have permission to request information on this account by asking you a few security questions: ID Number; address where monthly statement is received; bank name and account type. Once we receive this, we will be able to assist with your query.

Nadeem Jacobs

Mr Binns provided the requested information within the hour, whereupon he received the following:

The account was credited on 14 March for the invoice of March (see statement attached). I have now logged a new request for the subscription in April to be credited. Your SR reference number is… You will be contacted with feedback within 24-48 hours.

Ashwin Abdurahman,
Vodacom Customer Care

Binns responds:

Please explain why Vodacom allows unauthorised charges to my account?  We have a contract and under no circumstances can extras be charged without my authorisation – Vodacom is in breach of contract and legal action is an option being investigated.

These subscriptions are fraudulent and a class action lawsuit is being considered.

Vodacom replies:

Similar services around the world, such as Apple iStore and Google Play, are active by default and customers have the convenience of paying for content services and subscriptions without having to continuously re-enter credit card/payment details.

Through Vodacom payment platform, customers can subscribe to the likes of Showmax, Deezer, and Office 365 as well as games, sport, and small business services.

For customers that prefer not to have or use credit cards, this means they can access and subscribe to services that they might otherwise not have access to.

Vodacom reiterates that it has a zero-tolerance approach to any type of illegal activity on our network and we take a hard line if a third-party contravenes any agreement they may have with Vodacom or the likes of WASPA’s code of conduct. We have and continue to suspend and terminate the services of WASPs and their affiliate content aggregators and will continue to investigate reported transgressions and then ensure that we take appropriate action.

We also seek to ensure that affected customers are fully refunded on first contact with Customer Care 

…standard practice is to refund the customer first and then investigate the query/allegation later.

We continuously enhance our systems and processes to eliminate fraudulent activity… [and] make regular improvements to our double-opt-in processes to make it clear to customers what they are subscribing to, the term [length] and the amount they will pay. We actively upgrade anti-fraud detection software.

Vodacom is putting measures in place to curtail all new WASP activations. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Buzwe Bonga,
Social Media Consultant


I don’t care what other platforms have to offer!  I have a contract with Vodacom and you cannot fraudulently charge me for something I did not subscribe to.  These WASPs, that Vodacom are part of, are illegal and cannot be allowed to continue.

Don’t give me your pathetic story – I want to know how Vodacom allows these subscriptions on my account without my authorisation.  Give me an answer. Show me you are making an effort to be an ethical company.

Noseweek in copy, as they have been exposing Vodacom’s fraudulent activity for some time and they will continue to do so until you desist with stealing from your customers.

John Binns
Chartered Marketer
Cape Town

When Harry writes to Vodacom, things quickly turn nasty

On 7 June 2018 Harry Nelissen of Fourways wrote an email to Saki Macozoma who, besides being chairman of Safika Holdings, is also a director of Vodacom and head of its ethics committee. (His telephone number: 083-2001300). The subject line of his email reads: No problems at Vodacom?

Dear Mr Macozoma,

I gather that it is your understanding there are no problems at Vodacom.

Beginning three days ago I am being charged daily with R8.70 in respect of “Winsports” and R8.70 in respect of “Zaplium”. I have no idea who they are and certainly have never given permission for these charges.

 I have sent a letter of complaint but, of course, Vodacom being what they are have not even acknowledged receipt.

Unless these charges are cancelled and refunded there will be another letter in the next issue of Noseweek.

HP Nelissen

Reply from: Saki Macozoma (mail to: saki@safika.co.za)

Sent: 08 June 2018

You gather from what?  There is no company without challenges. Please proceed and publish as you see fit. It is a free country. If you are serious in following [up] and resolving whatever concerns you have, please follow the procedures of the company.

Saki Macozoma

Harry to Saki  on 25 June (copied to Noseweek):

I refer to your letter of 8 June in reply to mine of 7 June. At the outset let me advise you that I don’t like the tone of your response and, as suggested by you, I will copy Noseweek in on this.

For the past two years I have tried to do exactly what you suggested ie follow the procedures of the company, without much success. It was not until recently that I happened to spot some blatant diversion from my data, which was acknowledged by Vodacom and a refund arranged. Then it occurred to me that if data could be diverted why not airtime? So I decided not to use my telephone function for a week and check my daily balance at the same time every morning. Lo and behold, an amount of R14 was diverted every day (R5,110 per annum).

From previous experience I know there’s not much point in going to Vodacom’s shop in Fourways Mall, so decided to go to an independent dealer. There the following was discovered: I was being charged for something called “HIA SPECIAL” and “GAMES” services. I have no idea who these people are and certainly never gave my permission for these charges. How much money has been diverted and over what time span?

I would suggest this certainly is a case for Vodacom’s ethics committee to investigate, but won’t hold my breath waiting for a possible refund.

Note to editor: I am nearly 87 years of age and most of my working life was spent in a corporate environment, where we would never have dreamt of treating a customer as dismissively as Vodacom routinely does its customers.

Macozoma responds (cc Noseweek) on 27 June (at 6.24am):

Please follow the processes as set out by company protocols. If you are not happy with that, you have recourse to consumer protection bodies. If you are not happy with their response you have recourse to legal remedies.

Nelissen replies on 29 June:

I’m sorry that you still do not appear to appreciate the problem. It is not a question of going through all the right channels and protocols at Vodacom or approaching other bodies. All these should not be necessary if Vodacom did the right things in the first place.

Do not charge your customers with items to which they have not agreed in the first place. Do not divert funds (I could think of use another word for this) from customers’ data or airtime without their consent. 

Yours sincerely
HP Nelissen


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