Monday, June 18, 2018

THE NIGHT THE BISHOP WENT ON A STRIP CLUB CRAWL OF LONDON'S FLESHPOTS


Dear night clubbers,
Peter Stringfellow
          The death of the “King of Clubs,” Peter Stringfellow revived memories of our daughter Belinda Abbott’s brief strip club waitressing career. Convent school educated she was a sweet 21 year old, who had left Johannesburg to see the world, when she got a job at Peter’s London Stringfellows Club.
          She hadn’t been there long when this man surprised everyone. He arrived dressed in a Bishop’s cassock and a mitre.
          “Stringfellows was packed, but it felt like the parting of the Red Sea as astonished revellers made way for me,” he was quoted as saying. “I paused for a moment and the club’s best looking waitresses draped themselves all over me and pouted professionally.”
           One of them was our Belinda.

          The story with our daughter and another girl in the main picture with the Bishop was a page lead in London’s Daily Mirror. No names of the two waitresses were given in the caption, so when Belinda sent us the cutting I replied: “Which one is you? P.S. What does a Bishop wear under his cassock.”
          The Bishop turned out to be none other than Daily Mirror reporter Chris Hughes. The article claimed that he had proved that “bishops REALLY are God’s gift to women.”
Peter and his admirers
          It began: “After years on the town with the lads I found out at last what it felt like to be Mr Right. Well Bishop Wright actually.
          “Forget corny chat-up lines, after shave and wads of money,” he wrote. “If you want to pull the girls dress up as man of the cloth.     
 “I swopped my suit for holy vestments for six hours – and by the end of the evening I had been to Heaven and back.”
          According to his holy orders he claimed that his final test was a visit to Stringfellows night club in London’s West End. By that time he was “in mortal danger of falling from grace.”
          Belinda is now Belinda Glynn a fashion designer in Melbourne, Australia.
Celebrities (Belinda is third from the left) at the 2017
Australian Open in Melbourne. A far cry from waitressing
in a London club
          The Club’s website boasts that “Peter has made Stringfellows the most famous Gentlemen’s club in the world offering the epitome of fine dining and certainly the most beautiful girls that you will ever have the pleasure of meeting.”
Belinda now

          At the start of his entertainment career Peter booked the likes of the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix to play at his clubs. After opening Strngfellows in London in 1980 he launched other clubs in Paris, New York, Miami and Beverly Hills.
          Stringfellows hosted such celebrities as Rod Stewart and Tom Jones.
          Peter died of cancer earlier this month aged 77.  He married three times and is survived by his wife Bella and four children.
          Regards,
          Jon, who has never been a bogus Bishop but he has always been a real Abbott.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

WHEN GOLDILOCKS TOOK ON BIG BUSINESS AND WON

Dear readers, 

         Fairy tales don’t often come true but this one did. And who needs consumer journalists when Goldilocks can do the job so well.


Regards,
Jon, a Consumer journalist who had his belief in fairy tales restored by this case.

P.S. This is a blast from the past when my hard hitting column Business is Business ran for two years in the Business Section of the Sunday Times. Beares has been swallowed up by the Lewis Group although the name still lives on in some of the stores.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

LIES,LIES AND MORE LIES ARE WHAT TWO MASSIVE AFRIKAANS MEDIA GROUPS PRINT TO ENABLE SHYSTERS TO RIP OFF POOR BLACKS

Dear Readers,
Prof. George Claassen
          How can this possibly be allowed 24 years after the White apartheid government was replaced by a Black one? Are we back in those much hated apartheid days when South Africa’s Afrikaner rulers felt nothing for the welfare of the Blacks they were oppressing?
          Old habits die hard with Naspers and the Caxton Group it seems if they can get away with it, and do what big business so often does – make money with no regard for the ethics of what they are doing.
          Naspers, a multi national internet and media group offering services in 130 countries, does it through its Media24 newspapers.  And so does Caxton that has 88 titles in its newspaper division.
          They think nothing of continuing to print in various editions advertisements aimed at the poorest members of our society which they themselves agree are not believable.
          The ads, clearly aimed at Blacks, promote such obvious lies as penis enlargements and instant riches all with a 100% success guarantee. The purveyors of this deceit have equally unlikely titles such as Dr Bonga, Queen Apiah, Professor Habib, Chief Juba, King Abuja and a host of others.
          The Professor Habib ad was in Media24’s Daily Sun and this learned gentleman claimed to be the “strongest herbalist, healer from Egypt” who could bring back “lost loved ones”; make your “manhood strong and thick ”and “win lotto” etc.
          While it is unlikely that this no doubt fictitious title could be confused with Professor Adam Habib the Vice-chancellor and Principal of Wits University I think the papers are playing a dangerous game. They could just libel a real person.
          As far as I know it is illegal to call yourself a doctor when you are not one, but that doesn’t bother these newspapers one iota. Making money is all they are thinking about.
Citizen ads

          I began my efforts to stop these ads being printed with Caxton’s Johannesburg based daily The Citizen. Steven Motale the editor at the time conceded that these advertisements were “not believable.” He added that he felt his paper should still carry them with a “caution.”
          But when I said this would be an admission that his paper believed the ads were dubious he replied, “It’s a tough one. I’m going to take it up with the advertising department.”
          That was in 2013. Nothing changed however and the paper, which is publish Monday to Friday and has a daily circulation of 43 480, is still coining it out of these lies in the Herbalists section of the Classifieds.
          I have now turned my spotlight onto Media 24’s Daily Sun as well as its free weekly People’s Post which has 10 editions that are distributed door to door in Cape Town. The Sun that claims to be South Africa’s biggest daily has a circulation of 174 483 while People’s Post brags of a weekly print order of 318 495.
          So between them these two publications spread an awful lot of Herbalists lies week in and week out.

          What do you think happened when I asked Professor George Claassen Media24’s Ombudsman about these dubious ads? “I see that your group is not concerned about some of the ads it is happy to carry just to make money,” I told him in an email.
          He went even further than The Citizen’s editor by saying, “I agree with you, many of these ads are totally misleading and even fraudulent.”
          Claassen should know if anybody should. This former Professor of Journalism at Stellenbosch University has written a book on quackery which was an Afrikaans best seller.
Reggie Moalusi

 Reggie Moalusi Editor-in-Chief of the Daily and Sunday Sun told me, “I don’t believe in herbalists. But I don’t impose my views on our readers. There are people who believe in them.”
It’s a real cop out for Reggie to say he doesn’t impose his views on their readers when as an editor he must surely be making decisions almost daily that affect what the paper publishes on the editorial side.
Apart from heading these two papers he is also now the Secretary General of the South African National Editor’s Forum (SANEF), the organisation that gave me the complete brush off when I tried to raise the question of these dubious ads with it some years ago. This was in spite of the fact that it claims to be “committed to promoting and support ethical discourse and conduct in the South African media.”
However he was not a member of its Council then.
          The trouble is that so many newspapers conveniently regard their editorial and advertising sections as if they are completely different entities that have no affect on one another.
          When he was appointed Media24’s ombudsman Prof. Claassen was quoted as saying: “Journalists cannot hold other sections of society, such as politicians, public figures and the private sector to account if they do not apply the same standards of responsibility and accountability to their own profession.”
          Well what’s the point in expecting journalists to do this in the editorial side of newspapers when the ones I have mentioned give a shop window to people who are lying their heads off in these Herbalists advertisements?           
          I have taken examples from the two groups that illustrate the kind of morality that is going on. These make me believe that this kind of advertising could be even more widespread in these media empires and perhaps in other groups, than just in the publications I have mentioned. 
          Prof Claassen put the blame on the Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) code for being “very vague on these types of advertising.” He then referred to the old White Man’s law of caveat emptor (buyer beware) which he said “also comes into play in which the user/buyer has a certain responsibility to also make informed judgements on whether to buy a produce or use a service.”
Esmare` Weideman
          Esmare` Weideman Media24’s Chief Executive Officer relied on the same excuses when I posed this question to her: “Why does your group continue to feel the need to make money out of lies that are used to rip off the poorest sections of our community.”
          “George is correct that the ASA rules are vague, and that the user/buyer has to exercise judgment. As you know, we have a disclaimer on all our ‘smalls’ advertising pages.”
          Both she and George ignore the fact that the ASA does not publish newspapers and nor does it have any direct say as to what goes into them. So just because the ASA is not doing its job by taking action to stop these advertising lies, does that mean papers are perfectly justified in continuing to make money out of them.
          Early in 2014 the ASA had an Ad-Alert list of 19 advertisers on its website and nearly half of these were traditional healers with names like Dr Bumba, Dr Rehema and Prof. Wakho. This list is sent to all its members to ensure that those with an adverse ruling, who have not responded, can not advertise again.
          At about the same time the ASA claimed  to have “ruled against such advertisements on numerous occasions, and it is hoped that the appropriate authorities will address this issue as it is no doubt causing harm to the credibility of legitimate healers and practitioners and this industry at large.”
          The ASA, which is controlled and paid for by the advertising industry, has conveniently been structured so that it does not have the powered to order papers as whole to stop taking these suspect ads. It can only deal with complaints about the ads themselves involving its own members and it doesn’t initiate anything without a complaint.
The one time consumer journalist on that paper
          What these two media groups are doing is an indictment of the ASA’s failure to do what it claims is the main reason why it was established – “to ensure its system of self - regulation works in the public interest.”
          As for the disclaimer Esmare` talked about that is a published verification that her group is fully aware that what it is doing is not remotely kosher. By just publishing these ads I believe the papers are giving the services offered a certain stamp of approval in the eyes of the less educated on the basis that they would not expect their paper to lie to them.
          Here’s the one in the Daily Sun with my comments in brackets. It is headed Important Notice to Readers and goes on to tell them in the smallest of print that the paper “has not verified whether any of the services or products advertised are safe to use or will have the desired effect or outcome (Why is the paper promoting them if it is so doubtful about how genuine they are?). Readers will note that some of the promised results in the advertisements are extraordinary and may be impossible to achieve (That’s just glossing over what a lot of people would recognise as lies).  Beware some of the procedures advertised may be dangerous if not executed by a qualified medical practitioner (These ads promote some people as qualified doctors when they are obvious not). Readers are warned that they should carefully consider the advertiser’s credentials (How are the unsophisticated people who are evidently taken in by the mumbo jumbo of these herbalists supposed to do this?).”
          It ends by saying “Daily Sun does not accept any liability whatsoever in respect of any of the services and goods advertised (How can this possibly be right when the paper is promoting what it admits are lies and without its advertisements these shysters would have great difficulty in reaching the people they are out to con. In this case relying on the old buyer beware law is like driving the wrong way on a motorway with a sign on the back of your vehicle that says ‘My lawyer assures me that I cannot be blamed if anyone crashes into me because they have a duty to watch where they are going’).”
          What really should have happened long ago is that the journalists in these media groups should have exposed all these bogus doctors, professors and the like in an effort to stop them continuing to rip off the unsuspecting poor. Instead their papers have shown deplorably double standards by not dealing appropriately with that lying hand that feeds them, while still continuing to reveal the shortcomings of others in our society.
Regards,
Jon, a Consumer Watchdog of long standing and Poor Man’s Press Ombudsman, who does his best to tell as few lies as possible. And if by chance he does tells one he is happy to correct it and not blame it on a reader’s poor eyesight, the Blog Council or some other pathetic reason.
See: citizen's lies

P.S.  I have been campaigning for some time on my blog to get The Citizen to stop taking these ads. But whatever I did I could not get it to cease publishing them. Although the ASA has deplored these ads it is clear that it is not serious about getting papers to stop taking these money spinners. When I tried to lodge complaints about the ads with the ASA I was given a complete run around. I was referred to the Print & Digital Media SA (now defunct) in 2014. Caxton was one of the members. They also claimed they did not have the power to stop this kind of advertising and I was referred back to the ASA. I then tried Terry Moolman, Caxton’s CEO and co-founder. He didn’t reply but his PA emailed me to say my inquiry had been passed to Paul Jenkins, Caxton’s Group Chairman and Chairman of the Social and Ethics Committee. I got no reply from him either and the lies continue to be printed in the Herbalist section of The Citizen. It also blocked me on Twitter as some kind of reprisal for exposing its dubious advertising practice on my blog. I was equally unsuccessful when I tried to get SANEF to take a stand against these ads. It claims to be “founded on high ideals in an industry that around the world is often maligned for its lack of integrity,” yet Mathata Tsedu, its director at the time didn’t bother to reply to my email even though I phoned him to make sure he got it. He is a former editor of City Press, which is a Sunday paper in the Media24 stable. Editors clearly won’t take a stand against newspapers over this for fear of putting their jobs on the line in a relatively small media environment.
But I have no job to lose.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A ROYAL DATE THAT COULD HAVE RADICALLY CHANGED THE BRITISH MONARCHY

Dear Royalists everywhere,
King Jon I
          The wedding of the year at the end of this week could have been very different had my mother played her cards right. So different in fact that neither Prince Harry nor Meghan Markle would be there and if it was to take place it would be between another couple with no connection to them at all.
          You see if my mother, Cape Town socialite Leonie Chiappini had not been so fussy and had been seriously mesmerised by being chosen to date a prince I might have been King of England right now.
          Prince of Wales was the title granted to the heir apparent to the British crown since the 14th century. Prince Charles, the eldest son of the current Queen is the longest serving Prince of Wales.
          But in 1925 when he visited South Africa the Prince of Wales was the first born of George V, King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and  Emperor of India. On the trip he spent four days in Cape Town being wined and dined. This was when my 18 year old mother had her first introduction to Royalty.
Mum and the Prince of Wales
          She was the talk of the Cape when she was summoned by Royal decree to accompany him on several of these posh occasions. At the time this good looking 30 year old bachelor was a catch every girl and their mothers of course, would have dreamt of.
          If royal blood was a necessary credential to marry into the British Royal Family my mother had the right background. According to a remarkable book by Sir Ralph-Payne Gallwey one of her Italian ancestors Louis Philippe was King of France from 1830 to 1848 when he was forced to abdicate after an uprising.
          The Cape Times described her as a “member of a very well known peninsular family who takes a leading part in its social life. Her beautiful fair colouring and clean cut features marks her as one of the most attractive looking of the younger members of society.”
Mum
          So she was a pretty good catch in her own right.                              
          Had my mother married the Prince of Wales he would not have been forced to abdicate within months of becoming King Edward VIII in 1936 on the death of his father. Not one to comply with accepted convention he caused a constitutional crisis only a few months into his reign when he announced his intention to marry a divorcee and an American to boot.
          The Brits were not going to have that old boy. The Government threatened to resign. Wallis Simpson had not only divorced her first husband but was in the throws of getting rid of a second one.
          Inevitably the complications were compounded by a religious side issue. Marrying her would have clashed with the King’s token role as head of the Church of England. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Church of England and symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, would have had a cadenza.
          But whatever the British might have said about His Majesty at the time they could not fault the length he was prepared to go for the woman he loved. He abdicated in December 1936 and married her in France the following year after her divorce from her second husband had come through.
Wallis Simpson and the Duke of Windsor
          In spite of the fact that he had so badly tarnished the Royal image he was given the title of Duke of Windsor. He and Wallis then remained inseparable until he died aged 77 in 1972. She lived on to just short of her 90th birthday.
          So if he had married my mother he would still have been King in 1972 and I, as her first born, would have ascended to the throne at the age of 39 having, like him, held the title of Prince of Wales from the age of 16.
          As it turned out Mum told me that he was the “rudest man” she had ever met. And being a headstrong woman she was certainly not prepared to make an exception to ensure she lived a life of absolute luxury being almost worshipped wherever she went as the Queen of England.
          In 1933 she married my father Cecil Willoughby Abbott whose English father was the owner of Markhams the men’s clothing business in the centre of Cape Town. It was founded in 1873 by H.W Markham. My grandfather cleverly married the boss’ daughter, which enabled him to become the owner.
After completing his studies at Oxford University where he had been a Diocesan College (Bishops) Rhodes Scholar my Dad joined the firm and followed his father as its head. Eventually he sold out to the Foschini Group. It now has 330 of these men’s clothing stores. Long after it took over from my Dad the powers that be there inexplicably decided on the costly exercise of taking the S off Markhams.
          While on a visit to England with my father in 1936 my mother was invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace on 22 July just a few months after that very rude Prince had become King Edward VIII. Of course she went.
The basic form that Royal invitations take hasn't changed ever.
My mother's above in 1936 and Prince Harry's in 2018
          The odd thing about the snooty invitation was that the only person who the Lord Chamberlain had been “commanded by the King to summon” was “Mrs Willoughby Abbott.” Whether there was a separate invitation for my father or whether he was deliberately left out I will never know.
          Anyway as I was not born with Royal blood I have just had to battle along through life with that inferior blue stuff.
          Regards,
          Jon, who always blamed his mother for not giving him a crack at being King because he was convinced that his natural diplomacy and sense of duty would have made him perfectly suited for the job.
Prince Harry and Meghan 
P.S. It looks as though Harry is marrying into a family from hell. Meghan’s half sister Samantha hasn’t spoken to her for three years. To rub it in she has been making money out of her book The Diary of Princess Pushy Sister. And when Samantha 53 appeared on Piers Morgan’s TV talk show Good Morning Britain to complain about how their father Thomas had been harassed by “media vultures” Morgan sailed into her. She was there to back her dad who was caught out by London’s Daily Mail for staging paparazzi photos of himself that the paper claimed were fakes. Morgan accused Samantha of trashing Meghan for years and asked how she could have “the gall to come here to talk about media vultures.” Megan’s half brother Thomas also showed how deep the rifts run in the family when he wrote an open letter to Prince Harry asking him to call off the wedding to avoid “the biggest mistake in Royal wedding history.” While the ex-actress might make a good life partner for Harry her family baggage is more like what the Americans would describe as trailer trash. One newspaper described her extended family as a “motley collection of individuals who, between them, have a long record of boozing, bust-ups and bankruptcies.” Hardly what anybody would want as an addition to their family particularly if they happen to be the Queen of England and Prince Philip in an age where celebrities are under a brutal media spotlight from every angle 24/7.
          This has some similarity to the Duke of Windsor/Wallis Simpson affair in that Meghan has also been divorced, although this is no longer regarded in the same dim light as it was in 1936. She too is an American with the added complication of being of mixed race – her father is Dutch-Irish and her mother is an African-American. But unlike the Duke, Harry is too far down the line of succession ever to become King so that must come as some relief to his critics in the Royal Family.
          Will it be as successful a marriage as the Duke and Wallis’ was or will Harry be making the terrible mistake that Meghan’s half brother predicted?   
     

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

HAS DStv's CLAIMS THAT SHOWS ARE 'ALL NEW', 'BRAND NEW' AND 'NEW' NOW BEEN TOTALLY DISCREDITED


Dear DStv subscribers,
Jodi Arias the show off  killer
          It seems that DStv, the pay television arm of Multichoice that has tarnished its reputation with so many repeats is not at all bothered about damaging it still further by continuing to make out that programmes are new when they are not.
This is in spite the fact that the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has told it to stop fabricating promotional material on more than one occasion.         
          It again shows how toothless the ASA is. It was established by the adverting industry as its internal policeman and had to be placed under business rescue two years ago. Now it doesn’t appear to be able to ensure that transgressions it has ruled against do not go on being repeated in similar forms by the same firm.  
          In the last few weeks DStv has been extensively promoting “Jodi Arias from Lust to Murder. All new Tuesday 10 April” on the Investigation Discovery (ID) channel. And when I complained that this was not new as I had seen it on DStv before I got this reply from Alet Bensch, MultiChoice’s Content Bouquet Manager.
Alet Bensch

          “I can confirm this is a brand new series, although the subject matter has been dealt with in other programmes previously, and a film called ‘Lust to Murder - Jodi Arias’ was aired on another channel last month. But no promos for the film were aired.”
          In my email reply to her I stated: “I don’t accept your explanation that this is a ‘brand new series.’ It can hardly be ‘all new’ (my underlining) when by your own admission it is not.
          “This is the kind of dishonesty that the Advertising Standards Authority told DStv to stop doing, isn’t it?
          “If I tell you a marginally different version of a story you have already heard does that make my story ‘all new’?
          “DStv’s ‘all new’ promotions have now been totally discredited because once one of them is found to be a lie how can your company expect anybody to believe anything else it claims?”

          She justified it still further by replying: “The series is indeed 100% new. None of theses episodes have aired, therefore they are ‘new’ if they have not aired before even though the subject matter was covered on other channels.”
          Significantly she was now referring to it as ‘new’ rather than ‘all new.’ And she ended her email with this most telling remark: “We are not promoting the topic as new - only the programming.”
          I then told her: “Sorry Alet that’s just splitting hairs to say ‘We are not promoting the topic as new - only the programming.’ How is the average person supposed to know that? Surely they are only interested in the topic not your programming. I bet if you took a survey among viewers and asked them what they thought the description ‘all new’ means they would say it means that it was something that was completely new that had not been shown on DStv before or some people might even go as far as believing that this meant it had never been aired anywhere else before.
“Whichever way you look at it this kind of thing has a touch of dishonesty about it. This is what con men do – they make something out to be far better than it actually is and I can’t understand why DStv has to resort to this sort of promotion when it virtually has a monopoly of paid TV in South Africa.”
I wonder how many people at DStv watch their own shows because late on the night of Thursday April 12 the promo for the Jodi series kept stating it would begin on Tuesday which was the10th of April, when it did actually start. This was shown repeatedly throughout the evening. Then shortly before midnight what I assume was a repeat of the first episode of the series was shown to add to the confusion of viewers.
Jodi murdered her boyfriend in 2008 by stabbing him 20 times while he was in the shower. Described as one of the most bizarre and salacious trials in American history it did not end until 2013 when she was convicted of first degree murder. She is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
DStv evidently believes that promoting just about everything as ‘all new,’ ‘brand new” or ‘new’ is the way to get people watching. Here’s a sample from the ID channel in addition to the Jodi Arias one – All new Bride Killa; All new Home Alone; New series Murder Chose me and The 1980s the Deadly Decade The new Series.
And then there is the Brand New Shifting Gears on the Discovery channel.
          I don’t know how true these statements are, but isn’t it shooting itself in the foot if this way of promoting shows is not believable?
          Just a couple of months ago the ASA slammed it in a ruling that reflected badly on MultiChoice.
          “One would not expect the label ‘brand new’ to be applied to a show that has been available in South Africa since 2013,” it stated.
          MultiChoice can hardly be “enriching lives” as it claims if its morality sinks to this level.
          The ASA found that the claim that “Mom 3 brand new season. Tuesday on Comedy Central” was misleading. This was the ASA’s wishy, washy way of saying it was not true. MultiChoice was ordered to withdraw the claim that this was new.
          Its pathetic defence was that even though Mom had previously been on DStv’s 101 channel it was new to Comedy Central (122).
          MultiChoice also got into hot water with the ASA for claiming there were 1800 movies a month available on DStv. It was told to provide the ASA with substantiation for its claim from an independent auditor.
DStv got so mixed up trying to justify that 1800 films
 a month story that it couldn't even count properly.
This is from the Business Report
          It’s not easy to find somebody else to vouch for your lies, so the ASA never received anything further from this entertainment company.
          The consumer’s complaint was upheld and MultiChoice was ordered to withdraw the claim.
          Regards
          Jon, a Consumer Watchdog, who doesn’t appreciate paying higher and higher DStv subscriptions if he can’t be sure that what he is being told about the shows, is true.

P.S. This may not be an ‘all new’ post of mine but I doubt that you will have read anything like it before - on my blog.

Note: Before I posted this I sent a copy to Calvo Mawelo DStv’s CEO, who I originally contacted. I invited him to comment or to make factual corrections if necessary. He merely suggested we have a meeting to discuss this, a suggestion I felt would not take the matter any further.
       

Sunday, April 8, 2018

CAPE TOWN'S COSTLY INEFFECTIVE DUNE STABILIZATION CONTINUES AS IT PROPOSES HUGE SERVICE CHARGE HIKES FOR RATEPAYERS


Dear Cape Town Ratepayers,

          Here we go again. Having proved conclusively that a web of nets erected to keep the sand in place over an old rubbish dump has been a hopeless failure the Council is putting up even more of them. The dump, closed more than 30 years ago, is in the middle of a 19 ha site that consists of mainly sand dunes.
          The Council is repeating what it has done at the beginning of every year since 2016. Only this time an even larger section of the dunes next to the Witsands surfing beach not far from Cape Point is being covered with these rows of nets.
          Officials seem unconcerned that they’ll soon get flattened or buried in the sand by the gale force winds that are endemic to the area.
          In its efforts to ensure that none of the remaining rubbish (plastic and other non biodegradable material) gets washed into the sea during the winter rainy season, which happened many years ago, the Council has spent something like R7-million in the last 12 years.

          Even though we are in the midst of the worse drought anybody can remember the Council upped its wasteful spending on the site from 2016 onwards, blowing about double the R500 000 average that had been splurged in previous years.
The waste of money gets worse and worse. It just goes on and on. My efforts over a period of more than two years to get the Mayor Patricia de Lille to put a stop to this have proved fruitless.
          On 26 June 2017 I lodge a complaint about this with the office of the Public Protector and I got an acknowledgement a few days later. It said that my complaint would be “assessed to establish whether the law allows us to investigate your complaint. As soon as the process is complete we shall revert to you and advise you accordingly.”
          I have yet to be “advised accordingly” although I was asked to provide further proof of my allegations in addition to what I gave in my original evidence. I then sent links to my various posts on the subject as well as photographs etc.
          But if Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane the Public Protector keeps complaining that she hasn’t got enough money to investigate the big crooks properly what is the chance of my complaint ever being finalised?   
          This never ending waste is particularly galling at a time when the Council has drastically increased the price of water as it badly needs money because of the crippling draught. In addition it is proposing massive hikes, some as high as 26%, on all services charges for ratepayers. These are way above the inflation rate.
On the other side of the mountain from Witsands there are 40 000 people living in the Black township of Masiphumelele who are crying out for improved living conditions while this waste goes on and on.
          When the netting began all over again in 2018 I tried to find out what the Council intended to spend on the site this year. At the start of my investigating in 2016 I dealt with Councillor Johan van der Merwe, who had the Environment portfolio.
My questions to him evidently became too hot when I asked how the tenders for the work had been allocated. That was when I was told I would not be given any further information.
          It is ironic that the Councillor in charge of Environment when the waste of money at Witsands really escalated is now the Mayoral Committee Member for Finance who recently made a speech introducing the The Greater Cape Town Water Fund Pilot Project.
          This year Van der Merwe told me that Councillor Brett Herron the Mayoral Committee Member for Transport and Urban Development was now in charge of Environment. He in turn passed me onto Gregg Oelofse the Manager: Coastal Management.
          He wanted me to meet him on the site but he had to cancel our appointment because his elderly mother in Durban broke a leg.
          Obviously he could not have anticipated this but I was mystified as to what he could have told me on the site that he could not have put in an email. How much the Council plans to spend at Witsands this year is surely not a secret.
          A couple of days ago workmen were busy digging out buried nets along the sea front where virtually all the original ones had disappeared. They were rolling them up and carrying them away. And when I asked if they would be re-erected I was told that they had rotted.
          This makes nonsense of the assurance that I was given in 2016 that buried nets would be dug out and put up again. So that’s another aspect of how wasteful this netting scheme is.
          The pictures below are glaring examples of what a wasteful failure the netting has been ........  


Nets being re-erected on 2018.01.17 with what's left of the
previous ones in the foreground
Five days later on 2018.01.22 what's left of of the nets at the
same place as the above scene after a gale
Diary of Cape Town City Council’s huge waste of money in a futile attempt to keep the sand in place at the Witsands rubbish dump site which was closed more than 30 years ago.
(This is a sample of the wasteful expenditure on parts of the 19 ha site that has been repeated all over it in the last two years)
Section of dunes next to the beach at the car park end where the mountain stream washed rubbish into the sea some years ago.
Feb 2016: Heavy earth moving equipment and dumper trucks used to cover exposed rubbish
May 2016: In the same place sand blew away exposing rubbish once again.
June 2016: More sand brought in with dumper trucks.
Feb 2017: Back to square one. Rubbish exposed again as the sand had all blown away as nets proved hopelessly inadequate in keeping it in place.
April 2017: New nets erected right on top of the rubbish without first covering it with sand as had been done twice before.
Nov 2017: Nets trashed by the wind.
Beginning of 2016 & Feb 2018 showing rubbish once again
exposed in the same place
Money wasted deepening the stream from the mountain.
August 2016: While the stream was running an excavator was used to deepen it but because of the fine sand it just went back to its original depth within hours of it being “deepened”.
Jan 2017: There was no sign that there had ever been a stream there because the wind had blow so much sand across it.
May 2017: A bulldozer was used to dig out another river bed for the stream even though there was absolutely no sign of any water running down from the mountain as there was a serious drought.
Nov 2017: The river bed had once again completely disappeared under tons of wind blown sand. 
The new river bed and now
For years sand blew onto the road to the Soetwater recreational area and the Council brought in a front end loader from time to time to clear it. All the nets on the dunes nearby did nothing to prevent sand getting blown onto the road and even when bulldozers and other earth moving equipment was being used nobody thought to substantially reduced the height of the dunes next to the road. Now suddenly in February 2018 nets have been erected for the first time next to the road in an effort to stop the sand blowing onto it. But they had hardly been put up when the wind had blown some over and almost buried others in the sand. And as most of them are on high ground the chances of them all being flatted or buried very quickly is huge, as this has happened all over the site in much more sheltered places.
 
What's happening here is described immediately below
 Sand being removed from the road in January 2017:
It was then dumped in the nearby Witsands carpark making double work because it had to be removed from there. The ironical part of the second picture is that some of the newly erect nets next to the road (February 2018) are beside naturally grown Port Jackson, which the council has so far flatly refused to plant to stabilize the Witsands dunes at a fraction of the cost of nets and earth moving equipment.


Surely this is the most sensible way of dealing with the Witsands site especially as the City Council badly needs money for drought relief and numerous other projects to uplift the poor. And it makes more sense that ever because
everything the Council has tried up to now to stabilize the dunes has been such a very expensive failure.

March 29 2016: In a Cape Argus article base on my post City of Cape Town’s never ending money dump Gregg Oelofse  was quoted as say: “We haven’t had litter exposed for nearly 10 years.” He added that the netting was cost effective as it was easy to pick up and move around.
Both statements were questionable. As the pictures above show the litter is constantly being exposed because the nets do not do the job they are supposed to do. In addition they are hardly easy to pick up and move around when they get complete buried and trashed by the wind. It also turned out that they rot. This results in new ones having to be erected in places where others had been put up previously.
Cape Argus story - not one of the nets shown still exist
                                              *    *    *    *
          Why does a local authority go on splurging money for years on something that clearly does not work? It surely can’t be that none of its experts haven't got the brains to realise this.
          So I can only assume there must be a reason that is not immediately apparent which nobody is prepared to reveal.   
              
          Regards
          Jon, 
          a Consumer Watchdog who is 
          also a Cape Town ratepayer.