Letters

Dear Editor



Dr Hall and Rembrandt

In your article on Dr Robert Hall (nose9), you omitted to mention some very interesting facts about how Rembrandt ended up picking up the R40 million tab for that extraordinary fleet of surveillance aircraft that Dr Cornelius “Neelsie” de Villiers once hoped would make him very rich.
While you did note that Neelsie is a son of the late, more famous, Dr Wim de Villiers, you missed the other, more current, family connection: Neelsie’s sister is married to Jan Dreyer, senior partner at Hofmeyr, Van der Merwe & Botha (for decades legal advisors, by appointment, to the Broederbond on the Reef). Dreyer is also Johann Rupert’s lawyer, which makes him an advisor to the chief executive of the Rembrandt Group. With the De Villiers family fortune – including his wife’s share of it – circling the plughole, Dreyer was able to persuade Rupert to come to the rescue – using Rembrandt shareholders’ money, of course. I wonder how they had planned to enter this curious aricraft purchase in Rembrandt’s books … before noseWEEK blew the story. Maybe now they’ll donate them to the (Rupert dominated) SA Nature Foundation, or use their old Hapsburg and Conservative Club connections to sell them on to the World Wildlife Fund – as a handy means of keeping the natives and other African wildlife under surveillance. In the meantime we eagerly await Rembrandt’s next annual report to shareholders.
A Friend of the Family
Johannesburg
P.S. Johann Rupert has also been a frequent guest at parties thrown by “I’ve always been right-wing” Dr Hall.


Forex: a Feudian slip?

I read with interest your references to that mysterious off-shore entity called Stonehage (Forex Folies, noses8 & 9). Co-incidentally, Basil Hersov’s Hermanus holiday house is called … Stonehage!
“Jones”
London

You talk coincidence! Read the following extract from Private Eye: - Ed

[Rupert Agnew, Consolidated Goldfields chairman, testifying to US enquiry into Minorco’s takeover big:] “Mr Ogilvie Thompson told me that there was a company – he referred to it as Central Holdings – which had been established by the Oppenheimer family in Luxembourg [and which] would from time to time take the initiative in new investments, some of which were later followed by investments by Anglo American and/or De Beers … he did indicate that key Oppenheimer executives … derived benefit from the family company.”
[Private Eye comments:] But the Central Holdings trail in fact begins 20 years ago when it was set up to receive a $40 million portfolio of unidentified investments from Hagstone Investments, a South African company whose address was given as the Joburg Stock Exchange. Hagstone owned all the Luxembourg company’s shares. Who, in turn, owned Hagstone and what was in that portfolio is hard to discover as the company was dissolved and its records seem to have been misplaced.
One suggestion is that this transaction may have been related to a wish to create a vehicle outside the grip of South Africa’s tight currency/taxation regulations.


Thabo's gravy train

I have, in the past, always been a defender of Deputy President Thabo Mbeki (even when he no-shows for diplomatic appointments), believing that he has certain qualities not often found in politicians – sincerity, true diplomacy and a sense of humour – so it saddens me that he, too, now appears to have run for the whistle of the gravy train.
At a recent OAU conference of Information Ministers held at Sun City, he resided (you don’t merely “stay” in such accommodation) in a suite costing R10 000 per night. Assuming that they kept the accommodation for his exclusive use for the duration of the conference (one week), that cost R70 000, excluding “extras” (a hamburger costs R27 up there).
Two questions: (1) How can R10 000 per room be justified – even if it comes with “dedicated” staff, jacuzzi etc.? And, more important, (2) how does Thabo Mbeki justify the cost while millions in our country do not have even the most basic shelter?
And then there is the question of holding such conferences at Sun City in the first place. Some of the African ministers attending the conference had not, apparently, been told of the “reigning” prices at Sun City, came unprepared and impecunious – and had to leave on the next available aircraft. One or two were so poor they had no suitcases and came with their belongings in plastic bags. What kind of example are our politicians setting – or is it just one-upmanship? For the sake of the new South Africa, I hope that Mr Mbeki and his lesser colleagues rediscover their true values very soon, and abandon the palaces of the hated apartheid regime.
Linda Drake
Cape Town


Pick 'n Pay strike

On behalf of the Pick ‘n Pay workers who are members of the SA Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union, I wish to thank you for Maureen Barnes’ objective analytical essay on the recent strike – especially with regard to the so-called anti-Semitism allegations of the Pick ‘n Pay bosses.
We look forward to future editions.
Tommy Bangani
Regional Secretary, SACCAWU
Cape Town

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