Monday, February 6, 2017

IS SOUTH AFRICA'S SICK GOVERNMENT HEALTH SERVICE TERMINAL

Dear Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi,
Motsoaledi
          Chris Barron’s brilliant Sunday Times interview with you after 94 mentally ill patients died in probably the country’s worst medical disaster showed what a terrible state our Government health department is in.
          Mickey Mouse could have given him better answers. But then perhaps I’m being a bit unfair because all he would have had to go on is the deplorable government health service that your African National Congress party has given us since it came to power 23 years ago.
          From what you told Chris you appear to be in another world devoid of the reality the average South African has to contend with daily if all they can afford is to be treated at your mostly bad Government hospitals and clinics.

          It was comical the way you came across. You would have been better off just saying: “No comment.”
          And, as if everything is perfect, you press on regardless with your plans to introduce a National Health Insurance scheme. Even first world Britain is battling to sustain its NHS because of the enormous cost, but you think it will work in our third world where the Government is already financial strapped to a large extent because so many people in power are putting their hands in the Government purse.

          In any case there are many far more important things, like basic services our vast population of poor people need before an NHS is introduced.
          For us the only thing an NHS will insure, the way things are going, is that seriously ill patients will be more likely to die than live.

          If Qedani Mahlangu, the Gauteng Provincial Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Health, and her officials didn’t have the brains to realise that if you take these vulnerable people out of a health care facility and dump them in private homes with untrained carers you are going to kill them, then the department is very, very ill indeed.

          Actually it’s more than just the health department; it’s your entire ANC Government that is so terribly diseased. It has been decimating every single government department since it came to power. There’s not one that is not plagued by corruption or some other kind of serious scandal.
          It’s hardly surprising when we have our President Jacob Zuma leading the way with one shocker after the other.

          How qualified was Mahlangu to be in charge of a provincial health department and as the Minister for Health for the entire country where were you when this deadly shuffle was unfolding?
          Mahlangu has held various MEC positions in Gauteng, the province that surrounds Johannesburg, the industrial and financial heart of the country. She obtained a teaching diploma with an Advanced Diploma in Economics at the University of the Western Cape as well as a Graduate Diploma from the London School of Economics.
          Was knowledge of impersonal economics all that was needed to qualify her to head a province’s medical department? Clearly she had no training at all in what was perhaps the most important attribute she needed for the job - how to treat the helpless with compassion.
          In his findings Health Ombudsman Professor Malegapuru Makgoba blamed her and her officials for the “callous cost cutting” that led to the death of the 94 from “disease, hunger, thirst and neglect.”
          She resigned but shouldn’t you also take part of the blame? Don’t you keep an eye on what’s going on in the provinces?
          At least you are appropriately a medical doctor. But your party appears to haphazardly appoint its top Government officials because I see that you were previously the MEC in the Limpopo province for transport, agriculture and education. So was it pure luck that a doctor ended up as our national Minister of Health?
          The big question now is: Will Mahlangu get a huge state pension or will she be given another plumb job with something like the R2-million a year salary that she was taking home as the Health MEC?
          Regards,
          Jon, who thanks his luck stars that he has a medical aid that ensures he that he has the funds to be treated in a private hospital.

P.S. I bet you Dr Motsoaledi that when you or members of your family need hospital treatment you keep well clear of the state medical facilities that you no doubt want us all to use under your National Health Insurance scheme.

P.P.S. Professor Makgoba deserves the highest praise for pulling no punches in his report and for naming and shaming the main culprits in no uncertain terms.

           

Thursday, January 19, 2017

SWEARING ON SOCIAL MEDIA - MUMMY KNOWS BEST

Dear Media Scribes,

          As people in the public eye shouldn’t you be particularly careful about watching your language when tweeting or having your say on Facebook?
          Before you put something into print shouldn’t you ask yourself if the words you are going to use will be acceptable to your employer’s image or any publication you write for?
          You might use foul language in your everyday talk among your friends, but is it wise to put this on social media unedited?
          Lauren Hess, News24’s Night Editor evidently believes in keeping editing out of her personal life.  I wonder if she was taught anything about the pitfalls of Social Media when she got her national diploma in journalism at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology in 2006; or whether this ever came up while she was a content manager for the News24 and FinNews website, before she moved up to her Night News Editor’s job.
          For some reason, which I have not been able to fathom, women are something like 80% more likely than men to use the F… word on Social Media and Lauren did nothing to spoil the figures.
          One lady is so desperate to be noticed she has dubbed herself Trouble@LadySayFuckALot. I’m not suggesting that Lauren is in this league yet, but if she doesn’t listen to her mother who knows what might happen.



          After tweeting that her mother had just taken to Social Media Lauren let us into to her mother’s thinking with these wise words: Lauren: please mind your language! Don’t use the ‘f’ word so publicly! Your mother. 

           I couldn’t resist carry on the banter with: I couldn’t agree with your mother more. I added a link to a post I wrote in 2015 about journalists who had fouled their nests on Twitter in much the same way(Bad language journos).                                                                  You don't have to be a genius to guess what Lauren tweeted back to me. 
She ignored her mother’s advice completely with: fuck off


          I was interested to know what the policy was at News24 regarding this sort of thing so in an email I asked Adriaan Basson the Editor-in-Chief if his Group approved of its staff using this kind of language on Social Media.
          “Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I will address the matter,” he replied. While he didn’t say anything more I assume this means that his firm has even stronger views on the subject than Lauren’s mother.
          And he has the power to ensure that Lauren doesn’t ignore them if she values her job.
          So it looks as though Mummy did know best Lauren, after all.
I thought it would be pointless asking Lauren for her comments before I posted this because I didn’t think another two words would add to it.
          Regards,
          Jon, the Poor Man’s Press Ombudsman.

P.S. The worst swear word I ever used was Damn! when I missed a nail and hit my thumb. And as I don’t have an employer to censure me I don’t have to worry about what my Mother says.

P.S.S. News24 is part of the massive South Africa based Naspers multinational internet and media organisation.

Monday, January 16, 2017

CAPE TOWN'S MUNICIPAL INTELLIGENCE AT ITS WORST

Dear Patricia de Lille Mayor of Cape Town,

         In the Sunday Times article headed How Cape Town became a place that means business you told us why the Mother City has been named as having one of the best foreign direct investment strategies in the world.
         That’s great but it doesn’t mean that nothing must be done about a shocking waste of ratepayers money that keeps going on and on at the same place.
         You can’t get much more idiotic than this: piling sand that has been blown onto a road back on to the edge of it where it came from.
         You can’t get much more idiotic than this: dumping a lot of the sand in truck loads onto the edge of a nearby wind swept car park.
Sand being cleared
         The section of road that gets covered in sand is just before the entrance to the Soetwater recreational and camping area. This also has an environmental education centre and conference facilities for about 40 people.
Some cleared sand piled on the side where
it came from
         The road branches off there to Witsands surfing beach a short distance away where there is a car park as well as a slipway for launching boats.
Sand dumped on the side of the car park
        Within a week of the sand on the road being shifted with a front end loader and two trucks the road was covered almost as badly as it had been before. This expensive charade takes place every few months depending on how strong the wind has been.
         It’s as idiotic as digging holes and filling them up again. But nobody on the Council seems to realise this. After all it’s not their money that is being spent so why worry. See:clearing the road once again .
         The real problem is the adjoining dunes where the City has spent millions on futile schemes to stabilise the sand. See: capetown's money dump; wasting moremoney dumping gets worse .                 
         No doubt our services charges will go up soon by the usual 8% to 10% while our money continues to be blown away with this kind of idiocy.
         Yours faithfully,
         Jon, a ratepayer and Consumer Watchdog who only wishes that his bite was effective enough to eradicate scandals like this.

  

Thursday, November 24, 2016

NEWSPAPER IMMORALITY A LA CAPE TIMES

Dear Newspaper Readers,
Cape Times News Editor
Lynette Johns
          Was my complaint to the Press Council about being lied to repeatedly the final one that broke Independent Media’s faith in that body’s ability to fairly police its publications?
          As you probably know that’s Iqbal Surve's empire that claims to be the leading newspaper group in the country with titles like the Cape Times, the Cape Argus, The Star in Johannesburg and various others. 
          As a former newspaper investigative journalist living in Cape Town I have a blog to keep me off the streets. So when I got an exclusive I thought the post would make a good story for my local morning daily the Cape Times.
          It was about a doctor (caring doctor) charged by the Health Profession Council with abusing his doctor/patient relationship to enrich himself.
          The Cape Times News Editor, Lynne Johns evidently agreed with me after I sent her an email on 11 July with a link to the post. I told her, “You can take anything off my blog, just credit it. I’m a former Sunday Times investigative journalist so I know a bit about how to do investigations.”
          I followed this with a call the same day to make sure she got the email and I again emphasised that my blog should be credited. This she agreed to, if the story was used.
          In an email she thanked me for giving her the link and said she would pass the story on to one of their reporters.
          After that I got nothing but one broken promise after another.


13 July: The story appeared as the front page lead under the byline of Francesca Villette. I had given her the contact details of the complainant and had sent her affidavits I had received. She too undertook to credit my blog. But nothing appeared and nor was I or my blog mentioned in the brief peace the following day about the hearing being adjourned. There was still room of course for Villette’s email address at the bottom.
14 July: I outlined what had happened in an email to the Editor Aneez Salie. It began, “What has just happened to me is what gives journalists a bad name.” He later claimed he only saw my email on 18 July and he would “meet with those involved tomorrow and revert to you.” This he never did even though he expressed his “sorrow for the inconvenience.”
19 July: When I complaining to Johns on the phoned she said she did not know about any undertaking. Her email response made nonsense of this when she wrote, “Once again thank you for alerting us to the story and sharing your knowledge, we really appreciate it. Unfortunately the subs had to cut the story. This is why the reference to your blog did not make the paper. However, there will be a follow-up and then Francesca will do a sidebar on you, your blog and how you uncovered the story. Please accept my apologies.” I told her it could be months if not years before the case came up again to warrant a follow up story and that it was “ an old tired excuse to blame the subs.”  
20 July: The paper had another chance to put things right, but didn’t. On page four it had a story about how, for the second time in seven months, the Cape Times front page had been chosen among the world’s Top Ten by the Newseum in Washington DC. And as life would have it this was the one with the story I originated splashed across it. The article about this achievement told readers what the story was about but again there was no mention of who had tipped the paper off. In the background at the top of the page was a photograph of President Zuma and Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa unveiling the Delville Wood Memorial in France. The story about this was on the inside pages.



24 July: Fed up with the ongoing deceit I complained to the Press Council.
28 July: The Council’s Public Advocate, Latiefa Mobara replied saying that the Cape Times is keen to set the record straight.” She included the paper’s response from Damien Terblanche, its Internal Legal Counsel. He began by explaining, for my benefit, how a newspaper works. His reason for my blog not being mentioned in the Newseum’s story was that it was not “the front page lead that got us the accolade, but the page in its entirety, specifically our masthead picture” showing the unveiling of the memorial. How this prevented my contribution being credited in the part that referred to the front page lead or any of the earlier stories only he knows. “We are surprised and disturbed that Abbott has turned to the Press Ombud when we were still in communication with him,” he went on. He repeated the paper’s offer to do a sidebar about me and my blog when the case came up again. “This is surely more than we would do for anyone else. We request that the Ombud refers Abbott back to us.” She did that and I told her I would accept their offer provided I could be assured that the next time the matter came up I would not be told there was again no room for a sidebar. I explained that I had only complained to her because I got no reply to my last email. I asked her to tell the Cape Times “If it makes an agreement it should stick to it.”
3 November: A report on the resumed hearing appeared on Page 4 of the Cape Times by Johns herself this time. There was another one by her the following day after the case was again adjourned. True to form that promised sidebar never materialised and nothing about me or my blog was mentioned.
Johns telling us about how important 'truth' is at the
Cape Times
4 NovemberI complained to her again.
6 November: This was a Sunday and her email was as though there had never ever been a problem. “Good morning Jon, how are you,” she began. “I can do a sidebar this morning. I have quite a bit of copy left over from last week. Can I call you? Regards, Lynette.” We had a conversation shortly afterwards and she again promised me that illusive sidebar would appear with her story in the following Tuesday’s edition. Guess what, not only was the sidebar invisible but so was the story as well. 


8 November: My email of disgust to her went unanswered. I told her “It looks as though the Cape Times has been pulling my chain.” It ended, “The obvious heading for my next post would be Newspaper Immorality a la Cape Times.
10 November: The surprising twist to the saga was when I told Latiefa what had happened. She disclosed that as Independent Media, the publishers of the Cape Times, had withdrawn from the Press Council they no longer had any jurisdiction over any of its papers. It appears that with 77 complaints against it to the Press Council this year, including some unfavourable findings, Independent Media decided it would be better off dealing with them itself. Heaven for bid that I should tell a lie, but it’s a possibility that my complaint was the one that finally pushed this Group into resigning. It pulled out allegedly to save legal costs because it felt that the Council should never have abolished the waiver clause. This compelled complainants to agree to relinquish their right to take legal action against media owners if they wanted their complaint heard by the Council. And when I Googled this I saw that Jovial Rantao, a former editor of various papers in the Independent Media Group, had been appointed its internal ombudsman to deal with complaints with “immediate effect” from October 21.  Having dealt with ineffective internal newspaper ombudsmen before I didn’t have much faith in this one. But I thought I would test him with my Cape Times experience. Bad idea.


11 & 15 November: I emailed him, but got no reply.
Rantao
17 November: I tried phoning him at the Group’s Johannesburg head office on the number (011 633 2180) that I had been given for him and the automatic response was that his voice mail had not yet been activated.  On the same day I spoke to Jennifer Johnson in another section of the headquarters and she undertook to get him to contact me. She copied me an email she had sent him asking him to do this. By 24 November I had heard nothing from him.
So that’s a very cost efficient way of getting rid of a complaint with the minimum of effort.
          When he was appointed Rantao was quoted as saying, “Independent Media has always maintained high standards of ethical journalism as guided by the Press Code. My role will be to ensure that our publications continue to adhere to these high standards and that complaints from members of the public are dealt with fairly and efficiently.”
          My experience was a long way from making this Rantao statement a reality.
          Among his many accomplishments he is a former Chairperson of the South African National Editors Forum. Ironically under the heading of “Core Principles” it states “SANEF is founded on high ideals in an industry that, around the world, is often maligned for its lack of integrity.”
          And if you want to know why, you need look no further than the Cape Times.
          Regards
          Jon, the Poor Man’s Press Ombudsman, who has never been in favour of self policing. Would you value my opinion if I told you that my blog was the best one in the world?

P.S. With the advent of social media information of all kinds gets flashed around the world in an instant, making it more and more difficult for papers to get exclusive news. That’s one of the reasons why so many of them are declining. So it’s very short sighted of papers if they don’t treat people like me in a way that encourages them to keep passing on good stories. In my case at least they got the raw material for their business for free. Most firms would relish this prospect.         
        

Sunday, November 20, 2016

PETER BRUCE'S PIE IN THE SKY SOLUTION

Dear Peter Bruce,

          In your Sunday Times column this week you proposed an idyllic solution to what you describe as South Africa’s “single most pressing social threat - land.”
          You told us that “everyone knows South African capitalism is Victorian. It makes only a few people rich.”
          You are making us out to be unique. Isn’t that what happens all over the world, whatever system is in place?
          After first telling us that capitalism is the only answer “to poverty and inequality because it creates wealth” you suggested remedies that are the antithesis of capitalism.
(If anybody knows how well capitalism works it's Warren
Buffett capitalism needs overhauling )                                                                           
       Handouts never made anybody rich except for those who corrupt the system. They certainly don’t encourage people to work hard and make a prosperous life for themselves.
          Your idea is to give every person who has nothing a 1000 sq m plot from the country’s unused land, as close to “an existing town or city as possible.” Imagine the in fighting and bribery there would be to get the plots next to the big cities like Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. A further complication would be that the value of the plots would vary enormously and a lot of well off people would suddenly claim to be poor.
          Your other pie in the sky idea is to have R20 000 deposited into a bank account in the name of every child born. The money would then be invested by our asset managers for “at least a 10% return” until the child could access it at the age of 21.
          Anybody who has had a retirement annuity where they are forced by law to have the money looked after by an insurance company will know how much the returns suffer from the amounts that are creamed off in fees. Mine has grown well short of 10% in the last 10 years.
          You go on to say that about 1.1 million people are born every year and by the time the first children turn 21 there would be more than R20-trillion in the kitty. You add more wishful thinking with, “The state would claim its investment back from their estates when they die.”
          Much like the currently student loans scheme, no doubt, where they are supposed to repay their loans once they have a job, but many don’t bother and the Government doesn’t make much effort to collect what is due either.
          “We would never have to entertain a ratings agency every again,” you claim.
          It’s as simple as that. Only you don’t say where all this money would come from; where you would find the people honest enough to look after it for all those years and so on.
          Your Communist type, master plan would produce different “pressing social threats,” like protests from people who urgently need their money paid before they reach 21.  Then too we would have abandoned plots of land all over the place in areas where people don’t want to live.
          You also told us that your dream scheme depended on the impossible, certainly in South Africa that is …. “clean, efficient government and brave politicians to make it happen.”
          The real answer surely is to reform the capitalist system itself. It can’t last in its present form where so few people have more money than the rest put together.
          There should be a ceiling on wealth. And once that ceiling is reached you pay say 90% of your income in tax.
          Of course that will never happen because the power is in the hands of the rich.    
          A French Revolution type revolt is the only way to placate the destitute and give the rich the fright they need. But that won’t solve anything either as most people, particularly the masses, will then be far worse off than they were before.
          It wouldn’t be long before man’s greed would produce a new crop of super rich once again.
          Can you imagine Julius Malema and his cronies choosing to ride around in an old bakkie instead of a top of the range Mercedes Benz or BMW if your plan became a reality? 
          Thanks Bruce for this idea that was no doubt conceived to convey the message that the Sunday Times has the welfare of the poor of our country at heart. It was a bit of light hearted reading on a par with Zapiro’s cartoon which was on the same page. Luckily the poor can’t afford to buy your paper otherwise they might soon be clogging our cities with marches when they don’t get their free bit of land.
          Regards
          Jon
 P.S. Note to readers: Apart from being a regular SundayTimes columnist Bruce is also Editor-in-Chief of Business Day and the Financial Mail in Johannesburg, so he won’t be needing a free plot. He’s already a very healthy CAPITALIST.  But no doubt any additions to his immediate or extended family would qualify for that R20 000 nest egg.
       

Monday, September 12, 2016

CAPE TOWN'S SCANDALOUS MONEY DUMPING GETS WORSE & WORSE

Dear Patricia de Lille, Mayor of Cape Town,

            As the head of what your Democratic Alliance party claims to be the most efficient municipality in the country can you please, please stop your Council wasting more money on a rubbish dump that was closed 30 years ago?
            The cost so far this year could exceeded R1-million or even reach R1 500 000 before the year is over.
            Don’t blame me if I haven’t got my figures spot on because ever since I began my expose`of this scandal Councillor Johan van der Merwe, your Mayoral Committee member in charge of Environmental Planning has not been very forthcoming about the cost and exactly what is being done to maintain this site at Witsands next to a popular surfing beach not far from Cape Point.
            I have had to drag information out of him bit by bit. At one stage he told me my figures were not correct but he didn’t give me the right ones.
            Now my questions and the posts I have written about what is going on at this 19 ha sand dune covered area have clearly got too hot and embarrassing for your Council.
            How else can you explain why Van der Merwe has now clammed up and refuses to answer any more of my questions? I’m not surprised that he doesn’t want  more publicity because this is a shocking waste of ratepayer’s money made worse because it is taking place not far from the townships of Masiphumelele and Ocean View where the residents so badly need funds to upgrade facilities.
            In March this year he told me that managing this site to ensure that what is left of the rubbish under the sand - plastic, bottles and other biodegradable material – doesn’t get washed into the sea by streams that develop in the winter rainfall season, has cost R500 000 a year for the last 10.
            He added that “more than 60%” of the amount spent had gone to “the employment of unskilled labour.” This would have meant that the poor in the area would have benefited by a massive R3-million over the period, a figure that I would dispute as ‘Unbelievable.’ But I am happy to apologise if your Council can give me some kind of reasonable proof that this actually happened.
            I have been going to Witsands regularly over the last few years and this year your Council has gone berserk with its spending there as if money is no object.
            Since February hired heavy earth moving equipment consisting of a huge tracked bulldozer; an excavator and two dumper trucks was brought in on two occasions. They spent several weeks on the site moving the sand around. And if the job had been done properly the first time this equipment would not have been needed again just a couple of months later.
            These machines don’t come cheap and at a rough guess R700 000 has already been spent hiring them. To this must be added another R400 000 for the maze of nets that have been put up in an effort to keep the sand in place in a very wind swept area.
            The disregard for the way our money is being thrown away was graphically illustrated when a lone excavator recently arrived on a Monday to deepen the stream that had started running into the sea on the one edge of the site.
            It stood idle until Thursday, was used on that and the following day, and remained parked at least until noon on the following Monday. When I questioned this Van der Merwe told me that the City’s hire rate at Witsands for an excavator was R538 an hour and it didn’t cost anything for the first three days of the week as it was delivered earlier than required.
            On the site I got a different more probably version and that was that the excavator could not be used initially because the operator was waiting for the nets that went across the stream and near it to be lifted so that it could get in.
            I would have expected your experts to have been able to predict where the stream would run so the nets did not end up straddling it and then have to be removed.
            The deepening of the stream was definitely an absolute waste of money. Where the work began it was about six meters wide and the water was a mere two or three centimeters in the deepest parts.

            The sand was dug out in the middle of the stream to a depth of a meter and piled on the side for about a kilometre. It evidently hadn’t occurred to the Council’s experts that if you dig holes in waterlogged sand they close up almost immediately and in this case, before the excavator left the site, the stream had reverted back to its original depth. 
After the stream was dug it went back to this which was
no deeper than what it was before the excavator moved in
            So that was at least another R21 000 thrown away on the dump.
            Among my very first questions to Van der Merwe I asked what effort had been made to cover the land fill site with vegetation as this was internationally accepted as the best and most cost effective way of stabilising coastal sand dunes.

      
            He replied that in this case it was “almost impossible to do” and in any event to “modify this natural system” could not be done “without several authorisations.”
            He didn’t explain this and on several occasions since then he repeated that an “Environmental Authorisation” would be needed to do this.
            The contract to erect the netting was given to Vula Environment Restoration a firm of dune restoration specialists at a price of R200 000. It claims to have stabilised dunes with indigenous grasses and to be able to produce vast quantities of indigenous plant seeds.   
            “The reason why the entire 19 ha has not been instantaneously vegetated is that there has not been a detailed study of the viability of this and there in not an Environment Authorisation in terms of the viability of the relevant legislation to implement this,” Deon van Eeden the founder of Vula told me. 
            So for more than 10 years your Council has been happily spending millions on this site without bothering to do the “detailed study” he talking about or getting the necessary authorisation that would allow the site to be covered in vegetation in much the same way as the adjourning dunes, thus solving the problem forever at minimum cost.
            It now transpires that Van Eeden’s firm is doing what I advocated six months ago even though that mysterious authorisation has not been obtained.
            “Natural recolonisation by local vegetation has taken place in certain areas where seed banks exist,” he told me last month. “This has been possible with the reduction in sand movement created by the netting. Some limited planting of cuttings taken from the area is taking place adjacent to existing vegetated areas where sand has inundated areas that previously had vegetation.”
            However when asked him if he had solved the Environment Authorisation problem he again repeated what had now become a council mantra: “Any proactive planting of the historical mobile dune field will require an Environmental Authorisation.”
            In March Vula initially put up 5 km of netting on a 4ha ridge that was made by the earth movers parallel to the sea. The nets were supposed to force the wind to drop the sand on top of the landfill between the rows.
            The first two winter storms flattened or buried much of the netting and a large area of rubbish was exposed. That was when the earth movers had to return in May to dump tons more sand on the exposed areas.

Some of the first nets that were erected
         
Nets put up more recently near the stream
              Since then nets have been erected over another huge area further inland. But like the first lot the wind flattened or buried a lot of them within weeks of them being put up. Once this happens according to Van der Merwe they are supposed to be restored to their original positions, but from what I have seen this has only been done in a very small section.
            I believe that if the Council stopped disturbing the dunes so often with earth moving equipment there would be far less chance of existing vegetated sections being covered with sand and the plants would be more likely to spread across the entire site.
Left to nature this is how vegetation is growing on the
dunes on the edge of the Council's sand pit next to the beach
         
What the dunes in the Council's sand pit next to the beach
look like after being shifted around and netted.
             It’s odd that Van Eeden’s company, the experts, should start planting now just when the Cape’s rainy season is coming to an end.
After the Council gave Van Eeden permission to answer my questions and he told me that his R200 000 vat inclusive contract lasted until March 2017 he never made it clear that this was purely to put up the nets and maintain them.
It was only by chance that Van der Merwe disclosed recently that the nets themselves plus the poles to hold them up were bought from two other different suppliers in December 2015 and June 2016 at cost of R101 000 and R111 400 excluding vat.
The depressing thing is that spending on nets and putting them up is not yet over because Van der Merwe says that the City will soon be advertising for quotes for “the remaining netting and maintenance work required on the site.” He added that the cost of this would only be known once the job had been awarded.
“It is the intention to net the entire dune field before next summer and the ongoing management will include strategically lifting some nets while leaving others to encourage sand to accumulate in areas where it is needed.”
            And who knows, if they don’t do the job properly we might see the earth movers back.
Questions that Van der Merwe would not answer:
·       Why is it that after spending R500 000 annually on the site for the last 10 years the Council has not yet got Environmental Authorisation to enable vegetation to be planted on the entire 19 ha?
·       Why is planting taking place when there is no Environmental Authorisation?
·       From whom and how it the necessary Environmental Authorisation obtained if the Council wants to go ahead with vegetating the whole of the site?
·       Was Vula’s price to put up nets on the 19 ha or only the 4ha that was done in the first phase?
·       If it was only for the 4ha section how much will it cost to do the rest of the area?

Regards,

P.S. My suggestion, which was clearly regarded as sacrilege, was to plant fast growing Port Jackson willow over the dump. As you no doubt know this was originally brought from Australia to cover coastal dunes, similar to the ones at Witsands, in other parts of Cape Town.
It spread so quickly it got the alien tag so your Council would rather carry on squandering millions than plant this. Meanwhile a whole mountainside is covered with it 
a few kilometers from Witsands and your Council is doing nothing to get rid of that. It is now flowering, so it won’t be long before millions more Port Jackson seeds will be sprouting all over the place.



Thursday, September 8, 2016

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST FACEBOOK & ST TWITTER


Dear Facebook and Twitter worshipers,


With the tech aged now upon us it's open season
For destroying reputations without rhyme or reason.
On Facebook or on Twitter
The gutless can troll their dirty litter
Which will be picked up and hurled
To every corner of the world.

It’s according to the gospel of St Facebook and St Twitter
That’s all they ever think,
Not noticing the stink,
That’s such a subtle smell
It’s beckoning them all to hell,
As they go on worshiping according to St Facebook and St Twitter.



Followers are the coin of this shadowy crowd
Where true names get lost in banks of cloud,
But that’s okay according to the gospel of St Facebook and St Twitter.

Watch out; watch out for your little teen,
He could be paedo or he could be clean,
It’s nowhere there in the gospel of St Facebook or St Twitter.



He’s so smooth and so kind,
Mum and Dad will never mind
If I go on making love according to St Facebook and St Twitter.

Dad did you hear Mum scream
That’s sis’ dress they’re dragging from a stream.
It must be true it’s on Facebook…. and on Twitter.


This speaks for itself,
Regards,
Jon