Monday, September 12, 2016


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?


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


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,

Sunday, July 10, 2016


Dear Patients everywhere,
Marjorie Pelton

          Have you ever come across a GP as helpful and caring as Johann van Rooyen? What more could you want than to have a doctor who looks after you so well in your old age that he even takes you to the bank to cash your cheques. And if you can’t make it he goes there for you.
          Marjorie Pelton was living alone in a flat in Trianon, a Cape Town retirement complex when Van Rooyen began providing her with this unusual medical service. When it began in 2007 her memory was failing her but she had every confidence in Van Rooyen, after all he had been her doctor for 30 years.
          If you had looked at her bank statements you would have thought: Here is a real merry widow living it up.
          The true picture only emerged early in July 2009 when her daughters Cheryl Bluff and Carol Weber went to her flat to find their mother “very emotional and tearful.” She kept repeating that “she could not believe that someone she loved and trusted could have done this to her,” Cheryl wrote in an affidavit she attested to in 2009.

          The sisters then sat down to go through a pile of Nedbank cheques and other documents their mother had obtained from her bank. And this is what they discovered according to Cheryl’s statement.
          “Of all the cheques written between January and July 2009, 39 of them were for money Dr van Rooyen took for himself. Twenty six of these were actually in his handwriting and 13 were written by my mother, who says he would ask her for money to settle unpaid medical aid bills.
          “Even a cursory glance revealed that something was very wrong,” Cheryl a 53 year old estate agent with RE/MAX Elite in Cape Town continued.  She maintained that her mother had had no major operations that year and her medical accounts were paid by her medical aid Medihelp, yet large amounts of money had been taken out of her account either as “CASH” cheques or ones made out to Van Rooyen.
          According to Cheryl her mother’s funds dropped from R490 000 in 2007 to almost zero. In January 2009 she had R370 000 in the bank and by July that year only R100 was left. “Her entire life savings had vanished.”
          “For example” Cheryl went on; “Just from the short statement she got from the bank we saw that; February 2009 he took about R57 000; March 2009 - R150 000; April 2009 - R117 000 and in May 2009 – R20 500.
          “At least 13 of the 39 cheques written from January 2009 did not match the stub amounts he had written into my mother’s cheque book.”
          One was a cheque dated 1 April 2009 made out to Van Rooyen for R24 000 that had only R1 700 written in the stub section.
          “I believe Dr Van Rooyen has taken advantage of my mother’s deteriorating state of mind. He has known her for 30 years and therefore knows how sweet and completely trusting she is. She is a religious woman who never believes ill of anyone.”
          Mrs Pelton was aged 80 in 2009 and Cheryl made the statement then on her behalf as her mother’s memory was not up to it. She had also been diagnosed with brain, lung and breast cancer and she died the following year.
Cheryl Bluff

          Cheryl claimed that the “similarity of the dates of doctor’s visits (to her mother) and bank withdrawals ties up with what was reported by the staff at Nedbank in Plumstead.” There she was told that whenever her mother arrived at the bank during the relevant months Dr Van Rooyen was at her side.
          “The staff there claim he’s there repeatedly with old ladies, ‘helping them’ to do their banking,” Cheryl added.
          She gave the two affidavits to the Police in 2009 when she made a complaint against Van Rooyen. The Specialised Commercial Crime Unit decided they could not prosecute without Mrs Pelton who was the key witness. So the case was passed to the Health Professions Council (HPCSA), the body responsible for policing doctors. 
Part of Cheryl Bluff's affidavit

          The HPCSA then dragged its feet judging by a letter dated 6 August 2013 sent by Advocate Malini Govender, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions in the Unit for the Western Cape to the Legal Services section of the Council. In it he stated “In your letter dated 11/7/2012 you acknowledged my letter with annexures.” He said he had sent them the statements to enable the Council to decide if it wanted to investigate Van Rooyen or not.

          “This is your decision and I believe you will act in the best interests of the medical profession.”
          Now FOUR YEARS after the Medical Council received Govender’s first letter it is actually going to hold a Professional Conduct inquiry at which Van Rooyen is to be charged with being “guilty of unprofessional conduct” in that he abused his doctor/patient relationship with Mrs Pelton to enrich himself.
          The hearing will take place in Cape Town later this month.
          When I asked Dr Van Rooyen if he would be 
attending the hearing he said he didn't know what 
was happening. That was for other people to organise.        
        Questioned about the allegations relating to him and Mrs
Pelton he said: "That was about eight years ago. I just get on with my work. I don't get involved."
        The Council might have given him the gap to slip through to enable him to have the hearing adjourned at the very least. It's humpty dumpty medical cops could't even get his name right on the charge CHARGE SHEET.
            It is given as DR JOHANN ROOYEN
                                          *     *     *
          The Mrs Pelton’s case is not the first time Dr van Rooyen has been reported to the HPCSA after drawing money from a bank allegedly on behalf of one of his very ill elderly patients.
          In 2011 Eric Rowberry, who was then working in West Africa, asked me to look into Van Rooyen’s relationship with his father Richard who died aged 69 at his home in Cape Town on 21 July 2010.  Van Rooyen began treating him four months earlier when he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.
          During this time the doctor went to the bank allegedly on Richard’s behalf and cashed seven cheques made out to cash totally R68 000. There was no dispute that the doctor cashed the cheques and the fee he charged for all his services was an agreed  R5 000 a month.
          The only statement Van Rooyen gave the family was for a total of R30 000 and as one of the beneficiaries Eric wanted to know where the rest of the money had gone.
          Eric, who had considerable email correspondence with Van Rooyen, told me, “The doctor's argument has been that he was doing my father a favour by going to the bank for him as he was too weak or was too cold and he was worried my father would catch a cold/pneumonia. I don’t buy this as he was strong enough to take me to lunch; tour Robben Island and drive himself to Calitzdorp (a round trip of 800 km from Cape Town). It was totally out of character for my father to spend money like this. He was frugal to say the least.”
From his website
         I saw Van Rooyen at his surgery in Gabriel Road in the Plumstead suburb of Cape Town. He has been practising in the area for almost 40 years. His room was at the end of a passage leading off a dentist reception area. Van Rooyen’s patients waited there but he had no receptionist and the dentist’s receptionist evidently did not deal with the doctor’s patients. While I was waiting there an elderly woman came through from the doctor’s room and said to the receptionist, “Don’t I get a receipt?” She was told to go back and speak to Van Rooyen. She returned soon afterwards saying that everything was now in order. I then went in to see Van Rooyen.

          During our conversation he showed me a cash cheque which he said he had just received. He stuffed it into the top pocket of his jacket. It was probably from the lady he had just seen. He told me he did not pay tax on cash payments. He agreed this was wrong but said that all doctors did this and they had a receipt book for this purpose. He then opened his one to show me. I told him that if he was cheating the tax man, how did he expect anybody to believe that he wasn’t ripping off his patients.
          The doctor evidently realised he had put himself in an invidious position by cashing the cheques because he asked me what I thought he should do to placate the Rowberry family and I suggest he repay R20 000. He replied; “I just don’t have that kind of money.” He added that I should get Eric to come and see him as he might consider paying a thousand or so to get the whole thing over with. He didn’t like dealing with a third party.
          Shortly afterwards Eric returned from West Africa and met Van Rooyen at Knead Café in Muizenberg. Eric told me that the doctor had agreed to pay back R25 000 in six monthly instalments of about R5 000. The money would come from a family trust that paid out dividends every six months.
          Van Rooyen told him that he was concerned that if the matter went to the Medical Council he would be accused of malpractice.
          He didn’t pay anything for the first six months and after some email reminders he made a cash payment of R2 000 into Eric’s account. Nothing was paid after that and he stopped answering further emails from Eric.
          In October 2012 I submitted a Letter of Complaint to the HPCSA on behalf of Eric. It contained everything in the report I had given him.
          Just over a year later a Legal Service Officer from the Council replied in a letter dated 19 December 2013 saying  that the Committee concerned had found that there was “insufficient evidence to make a finding” and the “matter is closed.”
          Included in the letter was Van Rooyen’s “explanation” from his lawyers Michael Matthews and Associates which stated:
          “Our client’s explicit instructions are that these cheques were cashed on behalf of Mr Richard Rowberry as per his formal request and our client was initially extremely uncomfortable in cashing these cheques but Mr Rowberry requested that our client attend to same.
Richard Rowberry
          “It was clear that on each occasion the late Mr Rowberry signed each cheque whilst fully compos mentis, although he may not physically have been able to cash a cheque himself, he was completely aware of what he was requesting and doing.
          “Whether this matter was irregular or not, we wish to reiterate that it was done at the express instructions of Mr Rowberry.”
          “Mr Rowberry was attended on our client in a professional and ethical manner at all times.”
          The only reference to the settlement offered by Van Rooyen was “It appears that Mr Abbott and Mr Eric Rowberry have been trying to coerce our client into making some form of settlement, which our client does not and did not need to do in anyway whatsoever, as services were professionally rendered to the late Mr Rowberry, on his express instructions.”
          The Medical Council completely ignored the fact that not only did Van Rooyen ask me what settlement I would suggest but he then went on to make an offer of R25 000 to Eric and paid one installment of R2 000.
          THIS WAS EFFECTIVELY AN ADMISSION OF GUILT. Had he been as innocent as he claimed through his lawyer he would never even have mentioned the possibility of a settlement, let alone have discussions about it with both me and Eric independently? And then make a deal with Eric which he ratted on after only one payment.
          Neither the Council nor his lawyer commented on the fact that he told me that he does not pay tax on cash payments.
          The Council is more like a doctor's protection
society than an organisation to keep them in line.
        Conveniently for them it seems that it never does any of
its own investigations. Complainants are expected to present
it with an open and shut case.
        Conveniently too it doesn't have the power to order doctors to repay any money they might have taken from a patient. 
        For that the aggrieved person has to mount their own
expensive civil action in the High Court.
              Even the Council’s former President Dr Nicky Padayachee conceded in its 2007 annual report that the perception was that the Council is “soft” on practitioners.
          To take FOUR YEARS before setting up an inquiry into Mrs Pelton’s case showed appalling inefficiency. Even some of the witnesses could have died during this time. Some might have even left the country.

          If I remember rightly I had to badger the HPCSA to get a decision out of it during the year I was kept waiting for the Rowberry finding. It is hard to understand why it took so long, especially as all they appear to have done is to accept Van Rooyen’s explanation given by his attorneys without question.

P.S. Good health to you all and may you never have reason to call on the Health Professions Council to sort out your doctor. 

Monday, June 27, 2016


Dear South Africans, 
The Black Education Minister in the Gauteng Province, Panyaza Lesufi has just shown that he is the most level-headed social media user in South Africa. He’s educated us all brilliantly. Thanks so much Minister for setting such a shining example.
Let’s hope you are followed by the entire country.
On Sunday when Lesufi went on Twitter he was shocked to be bombarded by an unprovoked racial attack. An anonymous user called him a “Fucking Kaffir” paedophile.
The cowardly racist hid behind the name “Summer Starstead” using the handle @uncucklord.
To illustrate his “cuck” he took a picture from Lesufi’s Twitter feed of the Minister in the jeans he wore in case he had to jump over a fence to get into a Johannesburg crèche that was said to be separating white and black kids during meal times.
“Here you have Gauteng MEC for Education @lesufi ready to jump a fence to take pics of toddlers. Fucking Kaffir pedo,” was his inflammatory comment
Instead of blasting off against his incredibly uncouth detractor he showed the kind of maturity not yet displayed in similar circumstances in South Africa. He also didn’t rush off to lay a complaint to the Equity Court in the hope that it would be able to track down and nail this racist in the same way it had done with former estate agent Penny Sparrow. She was fined R150 000 for calling Black beachgoers monkeys.
No, he did nothing more than to politely tweet, “Don’t call me with the K-word please.” This just goaded @uncucklord to hurl further abuse at him with the use of the K-word and the question as to why he was not wearing “piss-soaked animal skins” as this was his “traditional attire.”
The Minister was referring to Hendrik Verwoed,
            South Africa's Prime Minister who was credited
with being the architect of apartheid
         Again he kept his cool with this reply: “This one keeps calling me with the K-word. I’m not going to block him. He must just enjoy insulting me.”
It was obvious that this gutter snipe stuff was coming from a White person.
The Minister subsequently told his 27 200 followers: “Racists can insult me as they wish, but my commitment to a non-racial, equal and quality education for all our children remains unshakeable.
“Their children will study, dance and play with our children in one class and drink water from the same tap. If this hurts racists hard luck.”

The Times reported that he said his parents had taught him “to respect those who hate you, as it is through respect that you can change your enemy.”
Well done again Panyaza. Nothing annoys people more when you don’t react as expected however much they insult you.
By taking punitive action against these gutless snipers too scared to show themselves you only turn them into heroes among their own kind. You put them in the lime light they are craving. And then the racialism wrecking ball carries on dividing our society.
Jon, a Minister Panyaza Lesufi ADMIRER.

P.S. Here’s a group who would have done well Mr Minister to have had your sensible approach. The case of course was very different. There was no racialism involved. All I did was take four journalists to task for using foul language on twitter. The significance was that they wouldn’t be allowed to use the same words when writing for the publications they worked for, so I argued that by using them on Twitter they were damaging their own and the reputations of whoever employed them. And even though they were in the business of criticising other people, all but one of them could not take it from me, so they BLOCKED ME on Twitter. The Blockers

*Note: “Cuck” is short for cuckold. It has been given all kinds of meanings most of them very racist and disgusting. But it is apparently most commonly used on Twitter to describe anti-white Whites. I can’t see where that fits in this case. Another definition which is appropriate is that it is an “unscrupulous person.”
You can’t of course have fewer scruples than Summer Starstead who the Minister assumed is a man, but if Sparrow’s actions are anything to go by there could be a woman behind it. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016


Dear Patients everywhere,
Mariskca du Plessis
          Dr Wynne Lieberthal was the smooth talking charmer who won every imaginable prize as an orthopaedic registrar in training at Wits Medical School in Johannesburg. He then fell from grace equally spectacularly.
          Professor Einhard Erken, who headed the Orthopaedic Department at the time, said this of him, “During his four years of training he turned out to be one of the most brilliant registrars the Department ever trained.”
          At the time Lieberthal had a skeleton in his cupboard that had so many rotten bones that it was a miracle that it hung together at all. It was certainly not for medical student demonstration purposes.
In the late eighties before he began training under the Professor the conman of his Mr Hyde side was causing waves all over the place.
Having started his own general practitioner practice in Johannesburg he embarrassed his two partners by featuring in a headline making story.
Even as a Fellow of the South African Photographic Society he couldn’t keep his deviousness out of his hobby. This earned him the dubious distinction of becoming the first person to be disqualified by the Society after being awarded first prize in a prestigious wild life competition. He resigned and handed back all the medals he had won.
Experts concluded that the mongoose and cobra in mortal combat in his photograph were stuffed.

Soon afterwards his partners kicked him out of the practice without a cent and he escaped any criminal charges because their lawyer’s advice was “One Jewish boy doesn’t put another Jewish boy in jail. Leave it to him he will dig his own grave one day.”
Lieberthal had been diddling them by paying cheques from patients into his private account. He also committed fraud by double leasing office equipment and motor vehicles that he leased and sold.
Shortly after he opened a second GP practice when he left the first one in “a big rush” there was the little matter of the theft of a Mercedes Benz 280 in the winding up of his estate. He had been voluntarily sequestration.
His insurance company had refused to pay his claim and his Trustee took this to court believing that it had been repudiated on “spurious grounds.”
These 38 screws & 17 rods were put in & taken out of a
woman's back in 28 spine operations in three years
He soon found out how wrong he was. Lieberthal had been up to his old tricks again. The claim was fraudulent. The car had not been stolen.
Houdini-like Lieberthal managed to wriggle out of this unscathed even though the magistrate referred the matter to the Attorney General with a view to prosecuting him.
Another of his talents was ripping off insurance companies. In 1991 he, his twin brother Hugh and several others got away with hundreds of thousands from several life insurance companies with an ingenious dread disease scheme. A case was opened with the police but strangely they took it no further.
Just before he went to Medical School he became addicted to pain killers after having had several back operations. He was treated as an in patient on several occasions and was still a recovering drug addict under Erken's supervision when he joined the Medical School.
Professor Erken
On leaving Wits in 1996 he quickly built up a thriving orthopaedic practice at the Rosebank Clinic where he specialised in spinal surgery. It was not until several years later that a blaze of publicity exposed the sham that was his looked-up-to public image as a respected doctor.
He had been coining it by often threatening patients with paralysis unless they had urgent, unnecessary operations. Others were scared into the theatre with stories of cancerous growths that did not exist.
          When all this was going on the Health Profession Council of South Africa (HPCSA) that claimed to be there for the well being of voiceless patients, was losing files stuffed with complaints, while Lieberthal continued to set new records for the numbers lodged against a single doctor.
          One of these files contained records of 32 cases of his negligence that had been submitted by three of his fellow specialists. This was possibly unique as doctors rarely speak ill of each other.
          The doctor friendly HPCSA that had procrastinated for years was finally galvanised into action by a wave of radio and press publicity that highlighted his appalling record. He was dubbed him “The Butcher Rosebank” by the media. The HPCSA then brought seven charges against him at a disciplinary hearing.
But not before his botched operations had maimed at least 70 people, some of whom died shortly after coming under his scalpel.
          It cost his medical negligence insurance company millions in indefensible claims.
          One woman had 38 screws and 17 rods put in her spine and then taken out during 28 operations over a three year period. They had to be removed when a very virulent infection set. She was reduced to crawling around on all fours in her tiny house where she lived alone.
          Possibly his worst mess up involved Mariskca du Plessis. In what should have been a routine operation to remove rods that had been put in her back by another surgeon to straighten her spine Lieberthal paralysed her from the waist down. He inserted screws unnecessarily that severed her spinal cord.
          That cost the Provincial Health Department R6-million to settle the girl’s malpractice claim.
          It was in 2002 when she was 14 that Lieberthal put her permanently into a wheel chair.  
          He fought the HPCSA allegations against him with every trick imaginable, but eventually after a hearing that lasted a year he was found guilty of a mere seven cases of unprofessional conduct one of which involved Mariskca.
          The disciplinary committee hearing the case was told that “not once did he express regret or admit that he had made a mistake.” His attitude of “I did nothing wrong” was said to be “frightening.” 
          He was barred from practising. Undeterred the wily medic got a job almost immediately as a GP with an Irish Army peace keeping force in North Africa. They of course were unaware of his dicey background.
          It was only after his year’s contract ended and the matter was raise in the Irish Parliament that this became public knowledge.
          His subterfuge here did not count against him in the eyes of the HPCSA that seemed to have a particularly soft spot for Lieberthal. After all the country was badly in need of orthopaedic surgeons – at all costs it seemed.
          It was not long before he was allowed back into practice, but only under supervision in a provincial government hospital.
          Without the knowledge of the HPCSA the doctor, who found it almost impossible to do anything on the level, got a job at a small government hospital in an out the way little town in the Eastern Cape. It didn’t have an orthopaedic section so he started one. That’s how much being supervised meant to him.
          The HPCSA ignored that infringement and suddenly he was in the news again in 2010.  He had just resigned as head of the orthopaedic department at the much larger provincial hospital in the coal mining town of Witbank, about an hour and half’s drive from Johannesburg.
          The Mr Hyde side of him was back once more with 13 new complaints having been lodged with the HPCSA.   
Left handed Lieberthal is accused of operating
on a man's back while his left arm was in a cast-
The Star 2005
          Again he was suspended but while these cases were still pending his strange relationship with the HPCSA enabled him to practicing once again. He was not allowed to do any surgery but he was given permission to become a general practitioner.
So he started a GP practice in the small Mpumalanga town of Sabie (Population 10 000) not far from the Kruger National Park.
If only the Medical Council had done its job properly by striking him off the register permanent a lot earlier many lives would not have been ruined.
Then too if the police and other authorities had done what they are supposed to do this habitual crook might have had his criminal activities cut short by getting the punishment he so richly deserved.

One thing even Lieberthal could not cheat and that was death. He died suddenly of a heart attack at his home in Sabie on Sunday 5 June. He was 61.
Oddly enough it appears the people of Sabie never saw his Mr Hyde side.
The social media tributes and condolences from people in the town painted him as their perfect Dr Jekyll far removed from the Lieberthal who had so seriously harmed so many of his patients.
On the town’s Facebook page where it is described as the “Town of the Year” there was this tribute, “Today Sabie mourns the loss of a great man. Not only was he our Doctor but he was our friend. Dr Wynne Lieberthal – we will remember him as the Doctor who became everyone’s friend. A brilliant mind who was passionate about helping and saving. He lived to serve. May God bless and comfort his family.”
Other tributes came from Jenny Moolman who wrote: “Very sad news. Dr Lieberthal, you will be missed by many. You were a very gentle, caring man, and one of the few doctors in today’s day and age who would see and attend to your patients any time of the day, even on Sundays. RIP and condolences to your family.”
And Cathy Rees added to the accolades with, “Wonderful GP and man. Compassionate and caring. Has left a huge hole in Sabie. Love and support to his family.”
If only his compassion had extended to saying he was “Sorry” to Mariskca du Plessis before he died. It would have meant so much to her.
Confining her to a wheelchair was compounded by the fact that he had never told her he was sorry for what he did.
Few of his orthopaedic patients that he operated on will shed a tear and those that he butchered will no doubt be relieved that he will never again be able to do the same thing to anybody else.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

CAPE TOWN SCANDAL: City won't stop dumping your money

Dear Cape Town Citizens,
Van Eeden

          Your Council continues to play in its favourite sand pit with thousands of your ratepayer’s money. It will be millions more before you know it the way the bungling is going on.
          This would be on top of the R5-million that has already been thrown away on failed experiments at a rubbish dump site that was closed for refuse 30 years ago.
            Ironically it comes just as all our service charges are about to go up by almost 10% - well above the inflation rate.
          The site is at Witsands next to a popular surfing and wind surfing beach not far from Cape Point.
          It is also a short distance from the troubled Black township of Masiphumelele and the Coloured one of Ocean View where they are crying out for funds to upgrade the facilities.

February & March earth moving takes place

          In February and March this year a regiment of huge earth moving equipment spent more than a month rearranging the sand dunes – something that has been going on more or less in the same way for the last 10 years.
          The purpose of this massive expenditure of R500 000 a year or more has been to stop what is left of the buried rubbish from being washed into the sea by keeping it well covered in an area where strong winds shift the sand around at most times of the year.
          My impression is that instead of solving the problem these machines make the dunes even more unstable and destroy any vegetation that could hold it together that might have started growing on them.

May 10 road has to be cleared of sand.

The job was done so poorly that less than two months after the dune moving had been completed a front end loader had to clear a nearby road that was covered in sand.

June 8 earth movers are back doing exactly what they had done before

That was early in May. Now a month later on 8 June the same number of earth movers - a huge tracked bulldozer and excavator as well as two dumper trucks – were brought in once again to cover large sections of non-biodegradable material like glass and plastic that the wind had uncovered.  
Sand being dumped in June in exactly the same place as
it was put earlier in the year in February/March
March 7 net fencing is erected

The R200 000 net fencing on a 4 ha ridge that had been built up parallel to the sea also proved to be a complete failure.
          This “tried and tested” method was put up last March by Vula Environmental Restoration that claims to be dune restoration specialists.
          “The nets work by disrupting the airflow thus forcing wind to drop the sand load within the net field on top of the old landfill site,” Deon van Eeden the head of Vula told me. “The sand is then retained where it is required.”

March 13 first winter storms flattens or buries nets

          The system failed completely to retain the sand because the wind was so strong during the first two winter storms that most of the 5 km of netting was either buried completely or flattened. And a large area of rubbish was exposed between the nets.
Net graveyard
May 30 some netting removed to prepare for the dumping of more sand

          They then had to be partially removed so that tons more sand from further inland could be brought in to cover the exposed area.
          “The nets are maintained by lifting so as to retain their functionality and to continue to catch the sand in the target area,” Van Eeden said.
          It is weeks since the nets were trashed and very little has been done to raise them again.
Nets removed to make way for more sand to be dumped
          Vula's contract runs until March 2017, but as the nets have been so ineffective so far it would seem pointless in having them replaced.       
          In any event he revealed that they were only put there in a “test” section to “inform the formulation of the future management strategy for the Witsands landfill.”
After playing in this sand pit for more than 10 years I would have thought the Council and its experts would have finished experiments years ago.
I pointed out to Van Eeden that William Woodhouse, a Professor of Soil Science and a member of the US Army Corps of Engineers, who was an expert on dune stabilization, maintained that the most effective way of doing this was with vegetation. It was the only permanent solution as well as being very cost effective.
Van Eeden’s firm claims to have stabilized dunes with indigenous grasses and to be able to produce vast quantities of indigenous plant seed. So I asked him why the vegetation method had not been adopted at Witsands.
“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 is not an Environmental Authorisation in terms viability of the relevant legislation to implement this,” he told me.
Mounds of sand that were covered naturally by the
          indigenous vegetation shows that this could possibly
be grown over the whole site

Councillor Johan van der Merwe the Mayoral Committee Member for Environmental Planning gave me a similar explanation when he said, “It was almost impossible to do this as the sand is naturally mobile and if it were to be successful this natural system would require several authorisations.”
          “These,” he added, “Were a Standard Operating Protocol as part of land fill closure.”
        It is a terrible indictment on the Council that 30 years after the dump was closed it has done nothing to overcome the bureaucratic stumbling block that would have enable it to try covering the site with vegetation – a method that all the international experts say is the one sure way of permanently stabilising dunes. And if it worked the Council might never have to spend another cent there again.
        There is no question that vegetation will not grow there because all around the dump site the dunes are covered with it growing naturally.
          Van Eeden confused the issue of whether to plant vegetation or not when he told me that the net system was “indeed non-permanent but it aids significantly in creating a stable environment and micro climate where seeds naturally occurring in the sand can germinate. It is clear from past efforts that the unstable environment is not conducive to self stabilisation.”
Another example of vegetation covered mounds in the
middle of the land fill site
          Both he and the Council’s experts don’t seem to have taken into account that Witsands is almost at what is known as the “Cape of Storms” and that is why the net system did not work making it necessary to bring in the earth movers once again.
           The cost of hiring these is mind boggling made worse because each of them has to be transported to and from the site on a low bed truck. Somebody is making a killing and they are not from either of the nearby townships I mentioned earlier.
          Nothing will stop the City from continuing to build sand castles over and over again with your money while it steadfastly refuses to adopt the only method that could solve the problem once and for all at a minimum cost.  
What is being done is about as futile as digging holes, filling them in and then digging them out again, only in this case it’s at GREAT COST.
          It is a disgraceful, outrageous SCANDAL that should stop immediately because it can only seriously damage the Council’s reputation.
          Jon, a Consumer Watchdog who does his best to make sure his bark is heard.

P.S. Before I put this on my blog I sent it to Johan van der Merwe and invited him to make any comments he wished. The reply I got was: “Please feel free to proceed without City comment.”
Earlier Posts: 
Cape Town's never ending money dump
Is Cape Town still wasting money on a rubbish dump closed 30 years ago