Tuesday, July 9, 2019

STOOD UP BY SUNE` GRIESSEL THE PUBLIC PROTECTOR'S WESTERN CAPE REPRESENTATIVE


Dear Readers,

          Calls for the Public Protector Busiswe Mkhwebane to be fired are getting louder and louder after a second court hearing found against one of her investigations.
          In his column in the Sunday Times headed “Mkhwebane is a public menace, not a public protector, and she must go" Barney Mthombothi wrote that Ramamphosa must make sure that parliament takes the necessary steps to remove her. A subsequent editorial in the same paper was headed: “This rogue investigator is what the public most need to be protected from.”
          If she must go so should Sune` Griessel who is in charge of the Western Cape Protector’s office in Cape Town, together with some of her useless staff.
          As far back as June 2017 I received an acknowledgement that my complaint to the Public Protector office in Pretoria had been received. I was trying to initiate an investigation into the way the Cape Town City Council had been wasting millions.
          For nearly four years I had personally documented, with my own pictures and posts on my blog, the way Council had been spending huge amounts on ineffective ways to try and keep the sand dunes in place above a municipal rubbish dump, next to the kite surfing beach at Witsands not far from Cape Point. The dump was closed more than 30 years ago, but there is still tons of plastic and other non-biodegradable material under the sand. The Council has been spending all this money to try and prevent this from getting washed into the sea.
          What I discover was that the Council’s net fences erected to ensure that the remains of the rubbish was always covered were getting blown away by the strong winds that are endemic to the area. Sometimes they were flattened as fast as they were put up. From time to time costly earth moving equipment was brought in to shift dunes around only to have the sand blown back to its original position.
This is how the ratepayer's money is being wasted
          At the end of last year Greg Oelofse, Cape Town’s Head of Environmental Policy told me that this maintenance work on the dunes would have to continue ad infinitum. What they had been doing had been successful because since 2006 none of the buried rubbish had been washed into the sea.
          What he neglected to mention was that in the last few years we have not had enough rain to wash anything into the sea.
          He was not in favour of vegetating the area with alien Port Jackson willow because in the unlikely event that they would be given permission to do this by the appropriate government department they would still have to spend money on an ongoing basis to make sure it did not spread to other areas.
          Meanwhile on the other side of the mountains above Witsands the lower slopes are covered in a forest of Port Jackson. They have been like this for more than 10 years and nobody has done anything about it.

          So what would be better – go on spending millions to try and keep the constant shifting sand in place at Witsands or plant Port Jackson? This would be self perpetuating and cost not a cent extra once planted. It already grows naturally in patches around the 19ha rubbish dump site and what’s more important is that it does not need any watering to get it going.
          My complaint to the Public Protector contained details from six of my posts about what has been going on at the dump site as well as links to the posts. Many of these included the replies I got from the councillors concerned as well City officials.
          But this was not good enough to even get the ace sleuths at the Public Protector’s Cape Town office started. A year after my complaint was received they were still trying to work out whether the “law allows your complaint to be investigated.”
           After I was told that my complaint had been shelved because I had not supplied enough information I came across a quote from the Public Protector herself that made nonsense of what the Cape Town office had been telling me. She said that even if her office is not provided with the evidence to support an allegation this did not stop it from being investigated.

          When I pointed this out to Griessel she phoned me and asked me to come to her office in the centre of Cape Town. I told her that I was not prepared to do this as it was quite a trek from where I live near Kommetjie. So she asked for my exact address as she said she had been visiting the township of Masiphumelele (Masi), which is in the same area, almost every week. When I gave it to her she undertook to come and see me at my home and made an appointment for the following week. About an hour before she was due to arrive somebody from her office phoned to say she would not be able to make it because the authorisation for the trip had not yet come through.
          Hers is such a humpty dumpty department that the office manager apparently needs an authorisation to travel from the centre of Cape Town to a place in the Southern suburbs. I told the caller to tell Griessel to tell me in an email what she wants me to give her. I never heard from her again.
Most of these claims didn't feature in my experience
          My response was to send her an email in which I told her that as head of the Western Cape office she sets an appalling example. “You told me among other things that your officer doesn’t deal with blogs. So you are evidently behind the times in that area of technology as well. Who does one complaint to about rotten service from your office?”
          While the City Council continues to blow money on a grand scale at an old rubbish dump site 40 000 Blacks live in Masi not far away, in what the Public Protector herself described as: “The most disgusting conditions I have seen in my life,” after she visited the township a couple of years ago.
          Regards,
          Jon
P.S. Thanks Sune`Griessel and your staff for doing your bit to tarnish the already besmirched name of the Public Protector.

Monday, April 22, 2019

SICKENING: the warped view of humanity displayed by Notre Dame's generosity scramble by the very rich


Dear Readers,

          People experiencing all kinds of unspeakable horrors in natural disasters don’t get anything like the same reaction from the billionaires, who fell over one another trying to be the biggest giver after the Notre Dame fire.
          When did you last see all the international television news channels reporting on a giving race that went up, not by millions of dollars at a time, but by hundreds of millions? In a few hours it had topped $900 million and climbing.
          It shot up faster than the fire at the Cathedral.
          All this was to restore an 800 year old building that the French Ministry of Culture is responsible for maintaining. It’s such a dodo that the French Government can’t afford to pay for its upkeep so there’s a charity trying to make up the shortfall.
Nobody was injured in the fire; nobody was made homeless; no children were orphaned; millions of poverty stricken people didn’t find the entire area where they live well above head high in water that remained there for weeks; it didn’t cause widespread famine; nobody had their home and all they possess burnt to a cinder; so how could this philanthropic frenzy possibly be justify? 
Great Minds think alike
Was this just a chance for these business leaders to do what they know best – flaunt their wealth and get one up on their monied rivals? “Ha!, Ha! I’m richer than you,” they could have been saying like little kids, if not publicly then under their breath.
The embers were probably still warm when Francois-Henri Pinault, who is married to actress Salma Hayek, announced that his family would donate 100-million euros ($112 –million). He is the CEO of Kering the luxury goods firm that owns brands like Gucci and is estimated to be personally worth $17-billion.
One of the problems of leading a race is that you are always likely to be overtaken from behind before you realise it, and I’m sure no billionaire likes to be beaten, but that’s exactly what happened.
Not to be outdone his rival in the fashion industry Bernard Arnault, the world’s third richest man and head of LVMH pledged to double Pinault’s miserable amount. This was hardly surprising as he himself is said to be worth $94-billion.  LVMH has brands like Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior
Then the BettercourtMeyers family that controls L’Oreal matched Arnault’s pledge.

'That shows real enterprise which I admire. They are obviously
more than capable of looking after themselves.'
          The French government allows companies a 60% tax rebate on donations to promote culture, but the billionaires were quick to deny that they would be getting any tax breaks for their big hearted gestures.
          This hard to believe display of wealth came at the worse possible time for the French government battling to quell a mini French Revolution. It’s the peasants against the rich with the Yellow Vests brigade protesting, violently in some cases, all over the country for economic justice. This Easter was the 23rd consecutive week-end that they had rampaged through the streets.
          Philippe Martinez head of Frances’s CGT trade union federation complained that if tens of millions could be given to rebuild Notre Dame they must stop being told there was no money for social upliftment.
'Don't give me that story about these kids being among
the needy, you can see they're just being naughty.'
          It is a terrible indictment of the human race that repairing a building comes well before alleviating human suffering of mammoth proportions in every corner of the globe. This is especially so as fixing Notre Dame is likely to take five years or more. It will then be an even more expensive millstone around the neck of the French people, who have evidently had a gut full of luxury spending at the expense of the likes of the Yellow Vests. 
         At the time of the fire extensive maintenance work was going on judging by the amount of scaffolding around the cathedral. So is seems more than likely that the blaze was started accidentally by one of the workers.
   
'It's clear these people don't need any money from me. That
house will be fine once it dries out.'
         Regards
         Jon
P.S.  In March this year Cyclone Idai killed more than 300 people as it swept through Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi. The harrowing pictures of some of those affected have quotes from an anonymous billionaire.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

AUGUSTA GOLF CLUB IS STILL PLAYING ITS MASTERS OF WOMEN GAME


Dear Ladies,
Martha Burk who
got death threats
          How have you allowed America’s Augusta National Golf Club to continue treating you as nobodies for just about all of its 86 year existence?
          Notorious for its racial prejudice and sexist views it has been changing at a snails pace that is the antithesis of the current century. This is particularly appalling considering that its membership includes some of the richest men in the world like Microsoft’s Bill Gates.   
          Home of The Masters that has just been played this championship began life as the August National Invitation Tournament. Even its founders, amateur champion Bobby Jones and banker Clifford Roberts had misgivings about giving the tournament its current name.
          It had hardly started when Roberts proposed the change. Jones felt this was too presumptuous, but five years later Roberts got his way.
          Other words for presumptuous are arrogant, egotistical, insolent and cocksure and the club’s male members that have been running it have certainly lived up to these unenviable characteristics.
          Ironically Tiger Woods, who has just won his fifth Master’s title, would never have been allowed to hit a single shot on the course in its earlier years. As an African American he would only have qualified to have been a caddie. Up to 1983 competitors were compelled to use an Augusta Club caddie and these were traditionally all African American.
          In 1975 one of the club’s worst prejudices began to crumble when Lee Elder became the first African American to be invited to compete in the championship.
          But the club still had a women problem: How to go on keeping them out. With millionaires, and billionaires as members their mothers, wives and other female members of their families were evidently too subservient to their Masters to call them out for their blatant sexism at Augusta. 
          It was left to Martha Burk, a syndicated columnist and women’s rights activist to stir things up among the chauvinist pigs in their cosy Augusta pigsty where some 15% of members are CEO’s of massive corporations. Golf was incidental in this fight. It was about power.
          In 2002 she clashed with the then Chairman William “Hootie” Johnson. He responded by telling the world unashamedly that Augusta was a “single gender” club. He then had the gall to liken it to the Boy Scouts or the Girl Guides.
          She failed in her initial attempt to get the club to accept women as members, when she was refused a permit to protest at the gates during the 2003 Masters.
          Her luck changed later, however. Two gender discrimination law suites brought by her organisation, The Women on Wall Street Project, against companies associated with Augusta resulted in a $79-million settlement.
            Presumably if you treat women badly at your club you more than likely do the same in your company.
Condoleezza Rice
          Burk had to contend with death threats and being called all kinds of names like man hater and lesbian. This did not deter her. She won. Her efforts evidently embarrassed the Augusta Board of Directors into changing their admission policy on women. Grudgingly in 2012 they invited Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State in the Bush administration and Darla Moore, the former president of the private investment firm Rainwater Inc that was founded by her husband Richard, to become members.
          They were more or less forced to invite “Ginni” Rometty to become a member after she became Chief Executive of IBM, one of the main sponsors of The Masters.
The men at the top of this stuffy 300 member club could then congratulate themselves on how well they treated women. After all what more could anybody ask for now that they had three female members?
          Yet the Masters still did little to encourage woman once things had settle down after Burk’s attack.
          For some reason or other the current Chairman Fred Ridley announced a pathetic sop to them that did nothing to eliminate the Club’s clear female prejudice.
          The Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championships would be held just before this year’s Masters. This he claimed was to “inspire greater interest and participation in the women’s game.”
          It fell rather flat when he added that the Club was not contemplating holding a tournament for women similar to The Masters.
          The winner of this year’s event received $2-million for the first time. But the way things are no women will ever win any money at Augusta. That would be going too far in this male reserve.
          It is particularly deplorable that so many leaders of industry should have thought it was okay to prevent people from playing just because they had the wrong skin colour and that women could not be members for being…. women.
          These men proved that in spite of their lofty positions they were not nearly responsible enough to be in a so called “Land of the free.” And I can’t think it can be much fun being one of so few women among all those chauvinist pigs. It’s mucky in there.
          Regards,
          Jon
P.S. One of the Club strange idiosyncrasies involves the green jacket that is presented to every Masters winner. They are tailor made for each winner. Then they are only allowed to keep it for a year before returning it to the club for safe keeping in a special green jacket store room. It seems they can’t trust their winners to look after them on a permanent basis. Nothing could be more terrible than if one got into the wrong hands and a tramp was seen rummaging through rubbish on the side of a road while wearing one of those hallowed garments.

               

Sunday, March 17, 2019

SUNDAY TIMES IS AT IT AGAIN WITH 'TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE' INVESTMENT ADS


Dear Readers,
Rose Scott
          As far back as 2010 I started a campaign on my blog to get the Johannesburg based Sunday Times to stop carrying dubious investment advertisements.
          Around that time it published a report in its Money and Careers section which told readers about the danger signs they should look for in advertisements offering investment opportunities.
          One of these was: If it seems too good to be true it probably is. Among the others was: Terms such as ‘act quickly’ or ‘limited space available’ puts pressure on investors to make hasty decisions.
          It was ages before the paper appeared to have stopped taking these kinds of come-ons, which the Group’s one time Ombudsman Joe Latakgomo described as “eroding the public’s trust in newspapers.” He added that “Advertising that makes claims which are patently exaggerated, impact on consumer confidence.”
          This was in an article he wrote headed Beware of dubious adverting claims, which appeared after my complaints to the Sunday Times.
          At one stage when these types of ads were still being carried the paper undertook to ensure that the full contact details, as well as the physical address of the advertiser would have to be included.
           In January this year a prominent ad appeared in the Classified section of the paper. It had some of the same characteristics the paper had warned its readers about all those years ago. It claimed that if you invested a minimum of R350 000 up to a maximum of R1 050 000 you could double your money in two years.
One of the Sunday Times advertisements
The promoters were giving presentations at Johannesburg venues and those interested were told: “Venue and times to be advised on application for a seat. Limited seating available.”
          The contact details were equally limited being only a Red Brick Enterprises email address.
          The paper had this inconspicuous warning in the business section nowhere near the Classified section or any other advertising. The management seems to think that this will absolve it from any responsibility to anybody who might be taken by ads that are not kosher.
          When I tackled Jyoti Govind, National Sales Manager – Direct, Classified & Legals for the Tiso Blackstar Group, the owner of the Sunday Times, about this, she replied on 11 February: “Yes you are correct in saying that we had stopped many of the bogus type investment opportunity advertising sometime back. However, this advert was placed due to the fact that the investors have to attend a presentation prior to committing to investing.”
          How this made the ‘too good to be true’ claims any better only she would know.
          “I do apologise on behalf of the salesperson,” she went on, “for not having a telephone number or physical address in the advertisement. Going forward we will ensure that all the correct details appear. This advert appeared over three weeks and yesterday was the last day of inserting.”
          Although she said she was sorry for what happened she inexplicably refused to give me the missing details “due to a confidentiality clause.” She undertook to ask the client to contact me.
          Soon afterwards Bev Peinke emailed me saying: “We are currently developing a cutting edge estate of 344 apartments along the Garden Route and are very excited for the opportunities on offer to long term investors.” Earlier she assured somebody I know that the returns would be “guaranteed.”
          Their shareholders, she said, would be in Johannesburg on March 11 to hold a presentation at a guest house there.
          “We are limiting the number of seats to 15 which will be allocated on a first come, first serve basis.”
          She evidently thought I was a potential investor, although I had made it clear to Govind that I was journalist who had a blog.
          Bev’s initial answers to my questions gave the impression that she had an interest in Red Brick Enterprises that is proposing to develop an estate called Yikusasa, but she was actually the “executive PA” to Rose Scott Redbrick’s Financial Director.
          When I asked Rose how people were expected to double their money in two years as Bev had referred to it as being for “long term investors,” she told me the ad was correct, but Bev was not.
The 18 ha development site is in the Plettenberg Bay (Bitou) suburb of Ladywood, which an estate agent described as being in a part of the town that has “never taken off.” It is next door to the Black township of Kwanokuthula and consists of small holdings with a poor road infrastructure.
What the proposed apartment blocks will look like
 There were plans to have the offices of the Bitou Municipality centralised in new buildings in Ladywood but this has so far not materialised. The Municipality is currently mired in corruption allegations. These are so bad that according to a November 2018 edition of the Knysna-Plett Herald it could be placed under administration depending on the result of a forensic investigation the municipality tried unsuccessfully to stop.
          According to Scott in her development, which is being sold off-plan, investors were being offered an opportunity to purchase two bedroomed units at a 50% discount on the initial selling price. The proposed selling prices of the units given on the Yikusasa (the future in  isiXhosa)website are one bedroomed from R575 000; two bed R713 000 and three bed R813 000. They are between 50 and 75 sq m.
          “We limited the opportunity to a maximum of three options to buy to spread the risk and to encourage participation from a broader base of investors,” she stated. “The offer is to secure the funding to build furnished show units so that purchasers can see what they are buying.”
          The head of one of Plett’s largest estate agencies had this to say when I told him what the Sunday Times’ advertisement was promising: “There is nothing in the world that can give you that kind of return.”
            “Several people are prepared to take that risk based on the facts and figures presented to them,” Scott countered
          The two and three level blocks of flats will be built in seven stages in an area earmarked for middle to lower income housing.
          At this stage all the planning requirements have not been finalised and the promotional video tells us that construction will start in February, but it doesn’t say which February.
Yikusasa's location
          So those hoping to double there money in two years have to be supreme optimists, especially when the country’s economy is in tatters.
          If anybody should know how unlikely to be true this newspaper advertisement is, it is Rose Scott, because not only is she an accountant in Plett, but she also claims to be the founder of what she calls Better Business Practice.
          Regards
          Jon, a Consumer Watchdog and the Poor Man’s Press Ombudsman, who hopes that the Sunday Times will finally put ethics before money and stop promoting investment opportunities that are too good to be true.
P.S. Bev Peinke told me she ceased working for Red Brick Enterprises on February 19. Her husband owns The Pie Shop in Plett and had nothing to do with Red Brick.


Saturday, March 2, 2019

MARTIN WELZ - NOSEWEEK'S TAKE A LOT SCROOGE


Dear Noseweek Readers,

          As Noseweek magazine might tell you this is “News you’re not supposed to know”.
          What’s more it’s so hot I can assure you it will never appear in Martin’s publication, which he founded 25 years ago as South Africa’s only investigative magazine.
          As a former Sunday Times investigative journalist, turned self employed Private Eye, I have had a hard hitting blog for nearly 10 years to keep me off the streets in my retirement. From time to time I gave Martin some of the exposés that have appeared in it. He used them, sometimes crediting only my Dearjon-letter blog, while on other occasions my name was mentioned as well. An article I wrote specifically for Noseweek had my byline on it.
          Knowing full well that I was a pensioner he never once suggested paying me and nor did he ever offer to give me a free copy of the Noseweek edition in which my contributions appeared.         
          It was one way traffic. My blog is not a money making exercise. On the other hand Noseweek must be, otherwise it would not have survived for so long. Bad habits die hard. I just write for fun.
          As recently as a few weeks ago Martin phoned me to ask if he could use the story I broke in 2016 about the Cape Town doctor who ripped off his elderly, terminally ill patients. I agreed and even passed on two pictures I got for my post headed Caring doctor who cashed cheques for his elderly patients.
          The Health cheques for GP report in the February 2019 edition of Martin’s monthly magazine took up two pages with a large section of my post used almost word for word in most of it. I must concede it did credit me and my blog as the originator of this scoop.
          In January this year I published a book entitled Dearjon Exposed. It contains what I believe are some of the best posts from my blog. As Noseweek features in several of the posts as well as in the blurb on the back of the cover I thought I would get Martin to give the book a plug.

          Although his magazine is never much more than 30 pages it does devote one page to Books.
          When I gave him a brief run down about my book on the phone he told me to bring it to him. After driving a considerable distance from my home I handed it to him in his Cape Town office. Impatiently he said he was too busy to discuss it then and that I should phone him in a day or two. “Then we’ll talk,” he added.
          “Then we’ll talk” became his mantra for several weeks after that as he was always too busy to discuss my book. He kept putting me off, but at no stage did he have the courage to say anything like, “That’s not the kind of book we would write about in my magazine.”
          He kept me on the hook like a fisherman enjoying the torment.
          It ended on a Monday or Tuesday I think it was. He was initially not available when I phoned in the morning so I sent him an email. In it I asked when we were going to have this “talk” about whether or not he was going to give my book a plug. I referred to the unpaid writing I had done for Noseweek and complained that he was often not available when I phoned, but he never phoned me back when I left messages.
          Later that day I did get hold of him on the phone. He sounded angry and again told me to phone him on another day when “We’ll talk.” After I told him I had sent him an email he said he would have a look at it. In all my dealings with him he has seldom, if ever, replied to any of my emails.
          I never heard from him again.
          This tale had quite a few similarities to the way Lynne Johns, the news editor of the Cape Times behaved when I gave this Dr van Rooyen exclusive of mine to her paper in 2016. It was used as a front page lead without any reference to me or my blog.
          Johns and other members of that paper’s staff lied to me repeated. Much like Welz did over my book they kept leading me on by repeatedly undertaking to credit me as the originator of this story. Many lies later neither my name nor my blog had been mentioned anywhere in the Cape Times.
          Having taken on dubious business leaders and crooks of all kinds over the years you would have thought that Martin’s ethics would be of a higher calibre than to play this dishonest game of pretend.  He created the illusion that he was considering promoting my book when, as it turned out, this was never, ever his intention.
          My guess is that he probably didn’t even open it.
          Well Martin a.k.a *Ebenezer this is my side of that “talk” that you actually lied about because, in spite of numerous undertakings, it never took place. There’s one consolation: I certainly won’t be out of pocket if my exposés don’t ever appear in Noseweek again.
          Regards,
          Jon, a disgusted contributor, who has learnt a valuable lesson. No doubt this was “News you are not supposed to know,” but you sure know it now.
*Ebeneza Scrooge was made famous by Charles Dickens in his 1843 novella A Christmas Carol. His last name has become synonymous in the English language with a person who is very tight fisted with their money.

P.S. It is very short sighted of the news media and editors like Martin Welz to treat people like me the way he did. In this tech age everybody is a reporter on social media and on blogs that are all over the place, so this makes it harder than ever for the likes of Noseweek to get exclusive scoops. He should therefore nurture anybody who is prepared to pass on good tips or in my case actually write the entire story with an investigative background. Ironically he was prepared to sacrifice a relationship that goes back years because he would not promote a book that actually includes quite a few puffs for his own magazine - Noseweek.   
See also: Rip-off doctor and Newspaper's lies    
     

Sunday, December 30, 2018

SHOULD THE PRESS STILL BE JUDGED BY ITS OWN OMBUDSMAN

Dear Newspaper readers,

          South Africa’s Press Ombudsman Johan Retief has shown once again what a bad idea it is to have the press policing itself.
          Tucked away in the one corner of Page 5 of the Sunday Times of December 16 was a tiny story headed Press Council RULING Apology to Collins Letsoalo.
          This was a retraction of everything it published in its June 24 issue under the heading “Pay it back, AG tells Prasa’s 350% boss.” It apologised to Collins, the former acting CEO of South Africa’s Passenger Rail Agency (Prasa) for “falsely, misleadingly and unfairly stating, both in the story and in the headlines, that the auditor-general had issued a special report on the matter and ordered Letsoalo to pay back the money to Prasa.”
          The office of the AG has categorically denied that it issued any such “special report,” it went on.
          “We apologise to Letsoalo for creating the false, misleading and unfair impression that he had obtained money to which he was not entitled, thereby unnecessarily tarnishing his dignity and reputation.”
          It ended by telling us that Letsoalo had complained to the Press Ombudsman who had found in his favour and that readers could find the full story on the Press Council’s website.
          This brief apology gave readers, who had not been following the story very little idea of what it was all about. Any other flaky report like this would be quite unacceptable elsewhere in the paper.
The little apology is on the right if you can see it
          The original story that carried the lies was a page lead yet, as so often happens, the Ombudsman lets papers get away with apologies which are given nothing like the same prominence as the stories that cause the damage to people’s reputations. It’s clear that they are being allowed to make them as inconspicuous as possible so that as few people as possible see that their paper cannot be trusted.
The original story
In this case Retief’s conclusion that the reporter, who did the story was a liar, was conveniently not published in the paper but left on the Ombudsman’s website for readers to go and find it for themselves.
The same applied to Retief’s very damning remarks.
Like: “Need I say what immense damage such reporting does to the credibility of the South African media in general, and the Sunday Times in particular.”
And: “I have hardly, if indeed ever, seen such misleading, unfair and untrue statements in a headline.” And, as the Ombudsman, he has been dealing with complaints like this for 10 years, although he recent resigned and will leave his position in the New Year.
The name of Caiphus Kgosana, the reporter responsible for damaging the Sunday Times’ reputation so badly, was not even mentioned in the apology that appeared in the paper.
The background to the story is that after Letsoalo was appointed acting CEO of Prasa the Sunday Times dubbed him the 350% boss for increasing his annual salary from R1.7 million to R5.9 million. The Board decided to dismiss him after the story appeared, although he was subsequently vindicated by a judge who ruled that he was entitled to the increase as it was in line with what his predecessor was getting.
The judge’s decision was made before the controversial story appeared and Letsoalo claimed that Kgosana agreed to quote the judgement to give balance to any report he wrote. But this never happened.
Dealing with the claim in the Sunday Times story that the Auditor-general had issued a special report in which he ordered Letsoalo to pay back the increase, Retief stated that the AG’s office had denied ever issuing such a report or telling Prasa that the increase had to be repaid.
He wrote that he had given the paper ample time to “provide me with the special report that Kgosana says he has seen and from which he has quoted so lavishly.
“I have no other explanation for Kgosana’s inability/refusal to provide me with this document than one of the following alternatives:
·      Either there is no such document, in which case the journalist has deliberately misled the public, his own  newspaper, and this office; or
·      He has accepted the existence of a forged document as a real one, without proper verification.
     “I am highly suspicious of Kgosana’s failure to provide me with the report.”
          He believed the first alternative was the most likely one.
          “This can only mean one thing,” he added. “The journalist has deliberately misled all and sundry.”
          Retief ruled that the apology the paper had to print should be on Page 3 which was the same page where the original story appeared. 
          He also decided that due to the “seriousness of the matter” the Sunday Times had to carry a so called kicker on its front page that had to include the word apology and Letsoalo’s name “referring to the text on Page 3” – Ha! Ha!
But the Sunday Times didn’t regard it with the same seriousness. It ignored this directive and put the apology on Page 5, presumably on the basis that it was less likely to be seen the further into the paper it was placed. In any case the front page kicker was so innocuous it would not have alerted many people to the existence of the apology.
Letsoalo has threatened to sue the Sunday Times, Prasa and its former executives for R20-million for loss of income and defamation. 
Newspapers would be less likely to behave badly like this if they knew they would have to publish an apology just as prominently as the original story, at the very least. That’s what should happen automatically if proper justice was to prevail instead of these token wishy -washy, penalties that are the inevitable result of an industry that has got away for years with a system of judging itself.
Retief told me that he always directed a publication where to publish the apology, “even determining that the word ‘apology’ be published in the headline.
“It depended on the seriousness of the transgression. Normally I direct a newspaper to publish on the same page. In some instances I have gone to page one even though the transgression was not on that page. A few times I have taken a whole page.”
  Inexplicably he told me he did not know what I meant when I asked him this: “Why is it that you allowed a newspaper like the Sunday Times, which is not an on-line publication, to merely refer its readers to your website for the most damning part of your ruling in this particular case?”
          In a supplementary question to the one above I asked if it was his normal practice to allow newspaper apologies to carry just a small part of his ruling in print and then refer readers to the Press Council’s website?
          He merely answered: “I always ask a newspaper to publish the sanction – this is normal practice.”
          He assured me that as soon as his office reopened after the Christmas recess the Sunday Times would be told to repeat the Letsoalo apology, this time on page 3. As far as I know this never happened.
You would think our lying reporter would be in for the high jump, especially as the SundayTimes has been forced to carry a rash of whole page, record setting apologies in the last couple of years.
As recently as Oct 2018 the Sunday Times carried a screed by media
 strategist Chris Vick to try and convince us that it had reformed. This
was part of it, but the tall stories keep getting printed

         You would be wrong. The week after the apology appeared Caiphus Kgosana’s name was the first of two in the byline for the papers’ front page lead story, as if nothing had happened.
But this is nothing new. It took ages for it to get rid of its long time ‘ace’ investigative reporter Mzilikazi wa Afrika for mixing fiction with fact. And then it continued to employ Jim Jones as a freelance writer in its business section (Business Times) for eight years after it knew he was a thief.
Regards,
Jon, the Poorman’s Press Ombudsman who worked on the Sunday Times in the days when its fairy tales were true (goldilocks and big business).

P.S. Before I had seen his tweet I sent Kgosana an email telling him briefly what I intending writing and I invited him to make any comments he wished on the Ombudsman’s damning report. I also asked him how current this Linkedin profile was and he never replied although I got a read report.
If this is correct is he the right person to be teaching
journalism at a university?
Note:The Press Ombudsman comes under the Press Council that has been established by the media industry to police it with the aim of maintaining a high standard of ethics. It only has the power to make rulings involving its member publications and it can’t order any of its members to pay damages. Aggrieved parties, who believe this is what they deserve, have to go to the supreme court for that.


Saturday, October 27, 2018

THE MOST PRECIOUS RUGBY TEAM IN THE WORLD

Dear Parents,
Guy Pearson Headmaster
of Bishops

          Boys at Cape Town’s Diocesan College, commonly known as Bishops, are so special that the school feels it necessary to make sure that its rugby first team stands out from the from the commoners at other schools.
          With a motto of Pro Fide et Patria – For Faith and Fatherland you could hardly expect anything different from this private, all boys school where the annual College fees in Grade 12 will set you back R240 380 per boy, plus no doubt thousands more in extras. So you wouldn’t want them treated any other way would you?
          The boys in the team I’m talking about have no numbers on their jerseys, because as one of the boys said on TV just before a televised match: “We are one.”
          Meanwhile the teams they play against such as those from the nearby Government schools like South African College Schools (SACS) and Wynberg Boy’s High all have numbers. The fees for Grade 12 borders at these two schools are considerably less than half what you would pay at Bishops.  
          This was Guy Pearson, the headmaster of Bishop’s explanation for this very elitist behaviour: “In his book ‘Bishops Rugby, a History’ Paul Dobson writes the following: Bishops does not wear numbers, partly because there are usually no programmes at matches, partly because it holds to the belief that rugby is a team game and individuals should not be singled out. At worst it is a harmless tradition; at best it is an expression of idealism.”
Bishops & Wynberg players
          Idealism has been defined as the unrealistic belief in perfection – hardly something boys should be taught so early in life I would have thought.
          And just to make sure that Bishops has no big heads in its teams Pearson told me: “You are correct; we do not pick a man of the match. You will notice that when the game is televised the commentators pick a man of the match, but we don’t.
          “I forgot to mention that the teams we play do not mind us playing with no numbers, they appreciate this tradition. We have other ‘quirky’ traditions like running on as a group from behind the post and not through a ‘tunnel of adulation’ like other schools.”
          Is this Bishops approach to rugby the best way to prepare boys for the real world, where everybody is certainly not equal? Didn’t Communism fail dismally with its no class divisions ?
          Bishops evidently believes it is so unique that it can blithely ignore the whole purpose of having numbers on jerseys. As everybody must know they are there to enable referees to easily identify players that transgress, and it also makes the job of commentators of televised games a lot easier. They complain that when Bishops is playing they sometimes get picked out for getting the names of players wrong.
          Mr Pearson was not exactly correct when he told me that the schools Bishops play against don’t mind this no number business. I canvassed the heads of just two other Cape Town schools that play Bishops and they have both been sporting rivals of the special one for longer than most people can remember. 
Jan de Waal


          Jan de Waal, Headmaster of Wynberg Boy’s tactfully phased what I believe most people would say: “This is a classic case of tradition, which is now having a negative impact on the modern game.
          “Many schools have little traditions passed on from one generation to another.
Queens (Queens College, Eastern Cape) for example do not play with a number 13, Bishops have no numbers etc. I’m sure there were soundly thought through reasons for the original decision, but maybe its time to revisit those traditions to adapt to the current realities.”
          On the other hand Brendan Grant, Headmaster of SACS has a very passive approach. “That is Bishops tradition and we have no problem with it at all. We look after our traditions and do not dictate to other schools what they should do.”
          While doing research for this post I came across an advertisement that must have given the boys a laugh. It was immediately below a video of a Bishops vs Wynberg match and was for Vascamen, available at Clicks and Dis-Chem, where it can also be bought on-line. It’s in the sexual wellness category with ingredients like horny goat weed.
          Nobody seemed to know how it got there.
          “It doesn’t seem right to me that they should have videos of school rugby coupled with ads like this without obtaining the okay from the schools involved,” I told Pearson in an email. “As if teenage lads are not horny enough without getting them to take horny goat weed etc. Does anybody at Bishops or any other school know if this product is a performance (on the rugby field as well as in the bedroom) enhancing drug?” 

          Pearson told me that the video streaming of schoolboy matches was done by a company called School Sport Live. Bishops had nothing to do with this. “I will let them know that some of their adverts are not appropriate in a school context,” he said, adding: “I personally do not watch these videos so am unaware of the content of the adverts.”
           “This advertisement is not created or endorsed by us,” Rowan Raaff head of School Sport Live emphasised. “We deal with schools, so we would be shooting ourselves in the foot if we associated ourselves with a product of this nature.”  
          Vascamen is a local South African, Loock Pharmaceuticals product. Its Marketing Director Marieke Prinsloo assured me they would never place an advertisement for this anywhere connected with schools. “We do however have a few deals with sports magazines, both printed and on-line, that fit our target market profile, mostly 35 years and up.”
          The advertisement in question must have been one of those Google phenomenons because when I looked again it had gone.
          “While it offers a variety of sporting choices rugby is truly at the heart of the school,” Bishops tells us. “The main rugby field was the first in South Africa and is sometimes used by the Springboks for practice sessions out of the public eye. Many Bishops boys have gone on to become Springboks, most recently Robbie Fleck and Selborne Boome.” 
Former Bishops boys have become rugby internationals
all over the world
          Bishops was established in 1849 by Robert Grey, the first Anglican Bishop of Cape Town. He founded two schools, one for native children and the other for European children and it was the latter that became Bishops.
          The Bishop was certainly not preaching "We are one" in those days.
          Regards,
          Jon
P.S. When I was at Bishops a hundred years ago we were not nearly so precious and if you stepped out of line you knew all about it. Six of the best with a flexible cane left an indelible impression on your backside, and your mind for quite a long time.