Dear Editor

Koeberg power play

“Koeberg’s Secret Medical Files” (noses53,54,55) has lifted the lid on Eskom’s shameful conduct in my case. However, several important matters arising from Part 3 need noting for the sake of accuracy and clarity.

Miltons Attorneys did not refer me to a “retired consultant”. Ian Murray told me he was “Miltons”.

Eskom’s contrived tactics are well documented. Senior general manager Peter O’Connor wrote: “On 1 Dec ’98 [at the infamous “nothing legal or formal meeting”] Eskom tabled an ex-gratia settlement offer, which was not accepted by Mr Lockwood.” But, of course, there was no real “settlement offer”, as was clearly revealed in Koeberg Part 2: (Again it’s O’Connor speaking.) “At a meeting held on 14 Aug 2000 [at Miltons offices] Eskom tabled an ex-gratia settlement offer.” Compare that to Miltons’ (Murray’s) report on the same meeting: “Eskom has not come up with a rands and cents figure at all.”

Quite simply, Eskom’s claims about having made a settlement offer are false.

Later, after almost two years, Eskom made a verbal “settlement offer” following “extensive negotiations” with Murray at Miltons’ offices. Incredibly – given Eskom’s conduct – Miltons did not take the basic precaution of drawing up a note detailing the verbal “offer” and getting all those present to sign it. “That would be highly illegal, please understand legal ethics,” I was told. Miltons declined my instruction to ask Eskom to provide the offer in writing, claiming this would “offend” Eskom. Miltons did themselves set out Eskom’s “settlement offer’” in a two-page letter to me, and suggest that I formally accept it (“for your family”) without delay. Murray later assured me: “I have given you the terms of the offer in writing. If you accept it, that’s a binding agreement you can sue them on, they cannot get out of it. You can get your money in a couple of days.”

But only weeks later, as I had feared, O’Connor denied that the offer included Miltons’ R7500 fee and now alleged “Eskom’s settlement offer made to your lawyer was dependent upon certain conditions yet to be agreed upon and should be regarded as part of a package.” Miltons’ letter and urgings to accept the offer was silent on this. Thanks to “legal ethics” Eskom could – at any stage – claim their verbal offer was “dependent upon” anything. Which merely proves that I was correct in insisting that a written offer – from Eskom itself – was imperative.

I then terminated Miltons’ mandate to act for me.

Eskom CEO Thulani Gcabashe and chairman Reuel Khoza rebuffed my urgent appeals to disclose in writing the settlement terms and conditions Eskom wanted to include. I invited Gcabashe and Khoza to say if my request was unreasonable. Instead, Khoza sanctioned the withdrawal of the R400,000 “offer” – with Eskom resorting to a preposterous falsehood that there had been “no response” to the offer.

Could it be – given Eskom’s systematic lying – that Khoza made his decision because he was misinformed, perhaps wilfully so? Archbishop Tutu recently said, when comparing the “powerful” to people of true greatness: “It is large-hearted and courageous people who are not diminished by saying ‘I made a mistake’.”
Ron Lockwood

Tumour rumour

You have not produced a single fact to back up your innuendos that Koeberg causes cancer. Your comment to my letter (nose56) – in which I pointed out how absurd the innuendo was, given the very low levels of radiation at Koeberg and the huge mass of evidence from independent, reputable institutions showing that there are no increased cancers in nuclear workers – was this: “Our fear, now, is that such a survey at Koeberg might yield such a result – because workers are routinely fired/retrenched before their cancer is formally diagnosed.” To make such extremely serious charges against Koeberg, you must have good evidence. Please let me see it.

Every letter in favour of nuclear power has been attacked by the editor. Your comments about subsidies for nuclear are wrong, too. Nuclear is not only the safest and cleanest large-scale source of electricity (over the full energy cycle, including fuel preparation, construction, operation, waste disposal and decommissioning) but competes economically. It has the lowest production costs in the USA. It is the single largest source of electricity in Western Europe and is usually the cheapest. Among the countries that use nuclear power, I know of no special favours today for nuclear over other energy sources. On the contrary, nuclear is forced to pay for disposal of its waste, whereas coal, which produces a vast quantity of deadly toxins that remain dangerous for billions of years, is allowed to dump it freely into the environment. Similarly for noxious gaseous waste from gas turbines. The German coal mines are heavily subsidised. The wind people demand a huge subsidy and insist that customers should be compelled to buy wind-generated electricity, otherwise nobody would – because it is hopelessly expensive and unreliable.

I am all in favour of solar energy where appropriate (I admit that solar power does produce extremely dangerous substances but I am confident that such deadly materials can be handled and stored safely). Solar energy could be used for water heating and for the supply of small amounts of electricity in remote areas. But to suggest that solar or wind can supply electricity for South Africa’s industrial economy is just a fantasy. For large-scale electricity we need a clean, safe, economic source of energy, such as the Pebble Bed Reactor.
Andrew Kenny
Cape Town

We will be returning to the issue of Koeberg and cancer in the near future. – Ed.

Motoring along

As a relatively new reader I was fascinated by your story about VW’s apparent lack of interest in its customers (nose56), repeated in The Star a week later in connection with Audi YY and A3 products.

Three years ago I bought a Volvo V70 XC – not a cheap car but I was lured by Volvo’s reputation for quality and long life. What a bad choice that seems to have been. My problems have been taken up with Volvo SA to no avail at all. Clearly buying an expensive car with a good, if boring, reputation does not ensure peace of mind.
Henry Watermeyer

See page 25. – Ed.

Oil and grease

I have come upon a list of “oil beneficiaries” from Saddam Hussein on abcnews.go.com . Under “South Africa”, Tokyo Sexwale is listed as having been allotted four million barrels of Iraqi oil. This reveals him to be not only into shady business, but a political fraud as well. See the same website, under the heading “Iraq oil bribe for UN”. We should not allow South Africans to get away with it!
Harry de Leeuw
Hout Bay

Bread winner

On the 9th of May, the Sunday Times ran a front page story about South Africa’s new super-rich: individuals with a net worth of more than R200m. I was particularly interested to note that Tokyo Sexwale, former Gauteng premier, was estimated to be worth R1.5bn.

How can that be physically possible, considering that Tokyo’s only been in the private business sector for just over five years? Or did his individual wealth creation start in the days when he was premier of Gauteng? Come to think of it, Tokyo was only allowed to return to South Africa in 1990.

This accomplishment must surely be a South African record in wealth creation and a shining example of “black economic empowerment” at its best.
Arthur Tsimitakopoulos
Cape Town

Swish Trish

Fascinating read about Barry Davison and his marital travails (nose55). Could screwing your neighbourhood be the latest trend at Anglo – one way or another?

Now, have you heard....Trish Trahar, that feisty fiftysomething resident of Morningside, Sandton, and outspoken opponent of the ghastly, vulgar and unsightly property developments around and about the Trahar family home, may have had a change of heart?

Trish (wife of Major Tony who, coincidentally, has a farm in Ficksburg like Barry) has over the past few months been buying up the houses neighbouring her own, so that the Trahar compound can be kept a decent distance away from the recent development in her previously quiet patch of up-market Morningside. Neighbours were persuaded to sell on the basis that any and all further property development that they might have been contemplating would be opposed with the full force of the family connections. As a sensible alternative, by selling to Trish, they would be preserving the last remaining green belt in the area. [C’mon, who’re we talking to here? No-one sells in Morningside to save the green belt! – Ed.]

No sooner had the last neighbour signed over his property, and with the ink scarcely dry on the paper, than Trish was seen in the company of chopper pilot, bon vivant and great supporter of the green (back), Mike Barnes. What would Mad Mike, a developer of truly superior residential property, be discussing with Trish??

Not the development of her newly-extended Morningside spread, surely?
Neighbourhood Watch

Maybe, having seen what happened to poor Sally Davison, Trish has realized an Anglo wife must earn her keep – so stuff the neighbours, the Greens and the poor-whoever-they-are! – Ed.

 Anthony John Trahar (54), BCom CA (SA), was deputy chairman of Anglo American Industrial Corporation until it delisted in 1999. He then joined the board of Anglo American plc. Last year he succeeded Barry Davison as CEO of Anglo American plc, much to the delight and relief of top management. He remains chairman of Mondi Ltd, a director of AngloGold, Highveld Steel and Vanadium, Scaw Metals, and the Tongaat Hulett Group, and the husband of Trish.

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