Letters

Dear Editor



My warmest congratulations on your having successfully defended the defamation action brought against you by Dr Robert Hall. Those of us who value freedom of information and expression in South Africa are grateful for your courage and fortitude in facing an extremely unpleasant situation.
I speak from experience. In 1993 I was sued for defamation by Nick Steele, Director of the KwaZulu Bureau of Natural Resources, over an article I published in Index on Censorship. It covered several issues: the suppression of a school play, forced removals and conservation, and the death of David Webster. Like you I was assisted by the Media Defence Trust. Unlike you I was at the wrong end of an out-of-court settlement. Most of all I remember the stress and the feeling of helplessness facing a system that favours the rich and powerful.
You are struck a major blow for civil rights in South Africa. I wish you every success in your journalistic endeavours.
Christopher Merrett
Librarian, University of Natal, PMB


WE GET SOME ROCKETS ABOUT THAT IRISH ROCKET
(PLEASE DON’T REMIND US)


A minor correction to your excellent, amusing article about the Irish rocket: to the best of my knowledge the Rapier is a large system designed for airfield defence etc. The one so desired by Armscor was the hand held Javelin.
Hence the almost unseemly interest in the dedication to (Protestant) Ulster of one Raymond Pretorius, an Armscor alumnus so enchanted by the Paddies that he felt compelled to spend a great deal of time in that fair land. I like the theory that it was a Brit sting. As I recall, rumours did the rounds in Pretoria after the Paris debacle to the effect that the content of the rolled up carpet was a Blowpipe, older forerunner of the Javelin, and also built by Shorts, but high on Armscor’s DON’T WANT list.
Yours sincerely
The Airman
Cape Town


I NOSE WHAT I LIKES

Well, well, just what have you created here? A South-African crotch-kicker like Private Eye. It’s long overdue, and has been sorely missed.
We live in a time in which the gravy train has taken on the appearance of a blubber cauldron, and you must give every VIP the benefit of doubting him.
So we need frequent sanity checks on all big business and government.
Sincerely
Matthew Loxton,
Centurion

Where have you been for the past two years? – Ed.


As always, I found the latest noseWEEK interesting and entertaining. There is one story, though, I thought should be brought to your attention: I have known Stephen Grundlingh from before I joined the Mission to the UN and have always found him to be a reliable and upright citizen. He assures me that he had no involvement whatsoever in the incident reported on page 7 of issue 14 and that he has never been a member of NIS. It would seem that the article has done him a serious injustice. I have no reason to doubt him and thought you would want to rectify the matter.
Keep up the good work.
Peter Soal
SA Mission to the UN
New York

Absolutely. See Editorial – Ed


DELIGHTFUL, DEDICATED WOMAN SEEKS MEDICAL ADVICE FOR A HARD DAY’S NIGHT

Reading your organ is like a breath of fresh air.
Now please investigate the plight of the women who work like dogs for the medical fraternity in the Mother City. The pay is lousy, the hours are long, there is no medical aid and, wait for it, no pension! In return for these fantastic working conditions, the puffed-up med men get delightful, dedicated women (quite often with a marvellous sense of humour too – they need it) who must toil until their old age as there is no security to look forward to in their twilight years. Do these same loving, caring doctors have any pension plans for their domestic staff, one wonders? My God, a retirement annuity is not exactly going to break the bank. I don’t see any signs of the med men going without – holiday homes are common, together with all the trappings that go to make life as comfortable as possible.
I look forward to a full expose.
A lady in distress
Claremont


A MESSAGE FROM INSIDE

When I was being besieged by the Authorities, a senior advocate advised me that I had no chance of winning a war against the Reserve Bank. Unfortunately, I did not believe him. I am therefore pleased to see you have taken up the cudgels with Dr Stals. Little would please me more than to be able to witness the downfall of a mafia-like power that has ruled unchallenged for so long and has trodden on so many along the way.
I still wonder what has happened to Mr Amore (Piet) Strydom who defrauded Pretoria Bank of millions of rands, and yet the police refuse to investigate – or has his file also bee ‘lost’? [Msaterbond was, with encouragement from the Reserve Bank, to have amalgamated with Pretoria Bank at the time!]
Now the Masterbond curators are claiming to be the big heroes, while, as you quite rightly pointed out, they have become multi-millionaires while supposedly looking after the interests of the poor pensions. All the directors of Masterbond together were never remunerated with a fraction of the amount that the curators have received in fees.
They boast about success but the facts are that the sale of Phinda (R43m – enough to pay all the investors in full) was concluded two months prior to provisional liquidation.
It merely had to be executed by the curators. Some thirty units (about 10% of the total) at Fancourt were sold to an overseas investor, Abraham von Praag for R23m long before October 1991, but the curators were unable to execute this sale.
All they managed was a fall-out with the developer, followed by the sale of the entire estate at half its value. The Mykonos settlement was not orchestrated by them, but by a few shareholders. They have achieved nothing with Marina Martinique and did not need to do anything at Silverhurst other than to collect huge fees for transfers and other services.
But they are not satisfied yet. They are continuing with Supreme Court cases against the auditors and others, which sounds meritorious – but it will be interesting to find out what percentage of the eventual ‘settlement’ figure accrues to the legal team as opposed to the poor investors.
A number of these claims are against us Masterbond directors and their families. When we exhausted our own funds and virtually all our family’s funds on legal costs, we were compelled to apply for bail reductions in order to be able to use the balance of family funds.
This was vehemently opposed by the state who sent the police to investigate our financial position. They came up with nothing, but perhaps the curators believe that the police are incompetent.
This is not difficult to understand.
On the one hand [accountant/co-liquidator] Horton Griffiths* has been “perusing” our books for four and a half years. He knows that the criminal trial cost me more than I ever received from Masterbond (other than my salary, which I had to live off). One case, which started in May last year, will cost the Masterbond investors more than R300 000 in legal fees.
Despite the fact that the curators know that they have no chance of recovering any of it from us, they are still hungry for fees.
They will tell you that they want to go for my family trust, but that family trust liquidated every single asset it ever had and lent the money to me (more than R1m) for the criminal case. The balance sheet will reveal that the money has been written off. They may also tell you that they want to have a go at my wife’s assets, which she has held since 1967 and which survived my sequestration in the mid seventies. The best that they will achieve is to cause my wife some hassles, which I believe will be minuscule in comparison to the ordeal which she and my family have already endured. The curators will make a lot of money from the poor investors, but then who worries about another million or two?
Kind regards
Abraham ‘Koos’ Jonker
Victor Verster Prison, Paarl

* Griffiths was, of course, once also the auditor that approved Cape Investment Bank’s unfortunately-misleading accounts. See nose 16. – Ed.


MILLENNIUM “BYLINE”

I note that noseWEEK doesn’t appear for months at a time.
It would appear that the editor now publishes in Millennium under the by-line “Paul Bell”.
Would it be possible for me to transfer my subscription at no extra cost?
Yours faithfully
I J Muller
Cape Town

We’re having difficulty deciding who should get this year’s award for cheek, you or Paul Bell. – Ed.

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