Letters

Dear Editor



Another leak

I live in Sea Point. I did some alterations to my property. Afterwards I discovered a leak from the shower into the bedroom that has caused fungus. I called the builder two months ago and he still has not arrived.
Are you interested in the story?
Disgruntled
Sea Point

No. - Ed.


Kebble quibble

I have been reading noseweek over many years. Occasionally in a speech I have referred to noseweek as an excellent example of high quality journalism. I was, however, very disappointed in the article on Brett Kebble in nose55 - not only because he is a client of ours.
I regard your criticism of high-profile people as being of great value, but this article, while referring to a large number of topics, lacks a proper investigation of the facts to support the views of the author. It is also unfair to people other than Brett Kebble, such as the young polo player photographed on horseback. This was a very deserving case where a black person with no future, very gifted - but no prospects of developing those gifts, was assisted by Kebble to not only develop his talents but also to participate on a competitive level. The impression created is that he is just a puppet and that, in fact, his development has not been advanced by Kebble’s intervention. The article is not on your level of journalism, taking as it does so many issues completely out of context.
Good luck for the future.
Adv.Willem Heath,
Heath Executive Consultants, Tyger Valley

On this occasion the purpose of our piece was not to investigate an issue, but to present a “profile” of a prominent individual, a character sketch - a creative exercise - that offers an interpretation of the man and his position in society. For all that, the research cannot have been too bad, or you would surely not have used as your only example for criticism our reference to the young black polo-player. The point of the reference in our story was not to establish whether the young man derived benefit or not from Kebble’s sponsorship, but rather what the somewhat bizarre incident told us about the character and motives of Kebble and his PR-advisor. Take a look at that photograph again; what is its most striking feature? Brett Kebble of course! Thanks for declaring your interest - and for the good wishes. - Ed.


To label the Brett Kebble Art Awards as nothing but a “shameless attempt to divert public attention” is an insult to the integrity of all involved in this project, from the judges to the artists who entered.
Where is the rule written that patronage and sponsorship of the visual arts has to be strictly altruistic in order to be legitimate? When it comes to sports and entertainment, large corporations throw sums of money to sponsor tournaments, concerts and even parties with the obvious objective of gaining visibility for their brand. In the field of education and science individuals and corporations such as Anglo American and Sasol allocate massive funds for the furthering of particular fields, ensuring that their corporate identity is as visible as the signature on each cheque they sign, and so it should be.
Without the support and commitment of these funders, the growth and development of these sectors would not be possible, starving all citizens of the country of the many opportunities that these non-profit driven ventures bring. The relationship between a funder and his project of choice should always be a mutually beneficial one in order to assure the healthy development of both.
To believe that sponsorship of the arts should be an altruistic mission is naive, but to believe that this strips such projects of all credibility is simply insulting.
The 2003 inaugural Brett Kebble Art Awards received more than 1600 submissions, arguably the most entries for an art competition in the country. These entrants included some of the top names in the contemporary South African arts industry.
As for the shadow cast upon the judges, as highly respected artists and academics, their credentials are unquestionable. What archaic, preconceived notions assume that professionals with numerous degrees and expertise in their field are accused of compromising their integrity when they are afforded the same treatment that is the norm in the corporate and governmental sectors, where professionals are expected to demand top dollar, with expense accounts and first class flying is the norm. The selection of judges in such an award is what determines both the credibility and standard of such an event.
The “blushing” judges referred to in the noseweek article, as well as an additional highly regarded judge and two selectors have all agreed to put their reputations behind the Brett Kebble Art Awards 2004. A definite confirmation of their belief in the integrity of the project if there ever was one!
Taryn Cohn
Media Liaison
Brett Kebble Art Awards

We note your email address is that of Mr Kebble’s ubiquitous PR man David Barritt.
What you say is absolutely correct - but where’s the rule that says we should not point out how tacky it all is.
By your account all the artists and judges are happy to have promoted the “healthy development” of Mr Kebble’s less-than-savoury business interests.
That does raise questions about their intelligence and/or integrity. Regard that as an insult if you will. - Ed
.


In your article on Brett Kebble you wonder where he is going to get his R400m, given that the politically motivated goodwill and credit of the banks may have dried up. Does the answer not lie in your article? You mention that he celebrated the appointment of his friend as head of Old Mutual Asset Management. Having learned a thing or two from noseweek, I’ll be keeping an eye on where OM investors’ money gets invested.
D P Kramer
Bedfordview


Solar moonshine

In response to Al Todd’s letter about Koeberg and “Khayelitsha’s sunrise industry” (nose55), some points you might consider:
The “huge spaces defaced by Uranium mining”: One of the 10 biggest in the world is Rossing in Namibia. The operation there pales into insignificance when compared to the coal mining operations in the Eastern Highveld. As to the “toxic waste dumps” - the delivered mine product is U3O8 - which is much less toxic than the by-products of a gold mine.
“Sun panels and windmills can be installed on roofs, occupying no space.” But then you do have to find space for storing the 18-or-so storage batteries and the DC to AC inverter. As to wind energy Ð for a 3kW wind turbine you’ll need a 9m tower - supporting a 3.5m wheel - really not suitable for putting on the roof. Anything less will supply only lighting needs - very sweet but not realistic.
Turning now to “Khayelitsha’s sunrise industry”. It’s stated that if the methods of solar water heating and thermal insulation used on 10 test houses were used on 413,000 houses then 110mW “could be saved and generated”. That’s a helluva lot of houses! Are you serious?
I think they’ve missed the point - the 110mW pebble-bed reactor is supposed to generate electricity which is then sold and which will ultimately pay for the cost of generation.
The “Khayelitsha’s sunrise industry” project seems to have as its premise that the cost of installing all the energy saving will be paid for by others and passed on gratis to the people who live there - worthy and humane it may be, but not much of a financial proposition.
As to the matter of “carbon credits”: This is a means by which we and other countries sell to the First World part of our right to generate emissions - thus forcing our own further generations (but not the First World) to adopt emission free strategies at a cost that will never be covered by the original carbon credit sale - is this a good idea?
Terry Mackenzie Hoy
Pr. Eng.
Pinelands

If you look at the defence budget, why should the government/taxpayer not pay for such a project? And, believe it or not, government policy appears to be to supply the poor with a certain amount of services - electricity included - gratis. And more jobs. If that is given, then energy-efficient buildings and sun panels may well be the most economically and socially responsible way to go. Certainly more research along these lines is called for. Nowhere in noseweek has it been suggested that “conventional” power sources should or can be totally dispensed with. - Ed.


Whilst renewable energy initiatives are welcome, they require money that for the poor may prove an impassable hurdle. The simple way to produce light at the times most people can use it will cost nothing.
All that is required is for South Africa to change to UK or, even better, European Central Time. Our present clock setting has daylight in summer at around 4.30am, when a very small number of people are up to use it. Set the clock back an hour or two in summer and daylight could instead be available in the evening when, by the current clock setting, we have darkness - 8pm to 10.30pm - but when the vast majority of people are still up. They would then not need artificial light to read and study.
RM Bale
Clifton

And there’d be sun panel power for the telly. - Ed.


Northridge farm

Certain sectors of the so-called ‘rainbow’ nation never cease to amaze me (‘Wake up and smell the manure’, nose55)! Dr Philip du Toit asks: “Why bother with [farm] mentorship at all? Why not let those who can farm [presumably he’s referring to whites?] continue to produce the food to feed the millions in Southern Africa?”
How presumptuous! A man of his qualifications should wake up and smell the reality of the New South Africa.
The land redistribution programme instituted by the ANC government admittedly has weaknesses, both institutional and substantive. Perhaps the project in Ceres (nose51) was not a roaring success. (I hope the institutions involved will go back to the drawing board and plan this exercise more carefully and put the proper mechanisms in place.) But the land redistribution programme is going to go ahead full steam with or without your approval, and the millions that need to be fed will be fed by farmers of all races who respect and uphold the rights entrenched in the Constitution and those of farmworkers. This also calls for those who have the necessary commercial farming expertise to realise that there is a place for them in South Africa, but they cannot purport to entrench their own racial privileges at the expense of other race groups in this country.
It is clear that farm workers and others who might want to farm on a commercial scale need the skills, institutional and financial support, and ongoing training and development from those who have the expertise – that’s all. They are not stupid, as Dr du Toit’s statement seems to imply. He and others of his ilk need to deal with this basic fact - sooner rather than later.
Mothepa Ndumo
Mowbray


Koeberg and cancer

Eskom has done wrong by Ron Lockwood in encouraging him to take early retirement without telling him of his signs of leukaemia. It must apologise and compensate. But to suggest (as noseweek and Earthlife - but not Lockwood himself - have done) that his cancer might have been caused by the miniscule radiation he received is just silly.
Radiation has never been seen to cause damage to human beings at below 10,000 mRem a year. The limit for radiation workers at Koeberg, which few ever get near, was half that and is now only 2,000 mRem a year. People have been found living with natural background radiation of above 15,000 mRem a year with no harmful effects.
Background radiation at Guarapari in Brazil is 17,500 mRem a year and at Ramsar in Iran 79,000 mRem a year (caused by natural hot springs whose water contains radium).
An Eskom physicist told me that a rough calculation showed a large hospital using radiotherapy would release more radiation into the environment in one day than Koeberg would in one year.
Huge studies have been done by independent institutions such as the US National Cancer Institute and the UK Office of Population Censuses and Surveys, of the incidence of cancer in populations living near nuclear installations and in nuclear workers. The results are always the same: no increased cancer in surrounding communities; fewer cancers among the nuclear workers than you would expect in a normal population.
For example: A study by the Johns Hopkins University, released in 1991, looked at 70,000 workers who had serviced nuclear-powered ships in the US Navy between 1957 and 1981. The half of them who had received extra radiation doses had fewer cancers than the half who had not, and fewer cancers than in the general public. (The latter result is probably because the workers have to pass medical examinations before they are employed.)
No doubt such a study on Koeberg workers would yield the same result.
Andrew Kenny
Noordhoek

Our fear, now, is that a survey at Koeberg might yield such a result - because workers are routinely fired/retrenched before their cancer is formally diagnosed. - Ed.


Not-so-good news

I wish I could share Rian Malan’s good news about Aids (nose55). I’m not sure what statistics can be drawn from my story: I know two Zulu families very well - the head of one I have known since she was 19. She is now nearly 50. Of her five children two are infected with HIV. Both lost their partners to Aids and a 16-week-old baby has perished. All in the last 18 months. The deaths have been recorded as “natural causes”.
The other died on 7 February leaving behind his partners and two small children - his death certificate, too, cites “natural causes”. He was HIV-positive for seven years.
Is it possible that hospitals are giving the cause of Aids deaths to alter statistics?
PA Askew
Shaka’s Kraal, KZN

Rian Malan is bold enough to challenge the status-quo on HIV and Aids, but only to a degree. While laudable, he is merely paddling in the shallows. His livelihood as a mainstream journalist would be threatened were he to peel back the covers to reveal all the sordid issues hiding between the layers of HIV-Aids dogma.
Acquired Immune Deficiency most definitely exists but I believe the whole HIV=Aids project has been built as a house of cards on a foundation of quicksand. In time, when the structure comes tumbling down we will be faced with an unconscionable burden that is on par with the Nazi holocaust.
I may or may not be right, but to shoot the messengers without having the decency to examine what is being said is as abhorrent as those who condoned apartheid by just keeping quiet.
My question to Rian Malan: Why not venture out of the shallows and cut to the core of this issue? Why don’t you personally want to go there?
Paul Murray
Cape Town

Maybe he doesn’t share the certainty of your beliefs either. Or perhaps martyrdom just isn’t his thing? - Ed. n

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