For those who have the same warped sense of humour this Letter can also be had in French.
(Complaints can be addressed to the Blog Council, your nearest newspaper, radio or TV station and when you leave this blog remember to pull the chain)
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Five of us in the Chapel, me crying.
Listened to 4/5 songs and it was over. I filled the coffin with 6/7 bunches of
flowers and a picture of us together. Ben did a crap job. No friends invited,
no cards, no flowers – just mine, No respect.
What an appalling epitaph for any one and it is so much worse if you
were closely related to the person who died and were unable to do anything about it.
Death gives no second chances.
was the email I got three years ago from my son Simonand
I have been agonizing over it ever since. It was bad enough that she had died
in such tragic circumstances, but to hear that the man she had been living with
for some 20 yearshad been as heartless in the end as to give her such a deplorable send off made
my blood boil.
A "crap job", was a huge understatement. She needed to betreated with dignity which didn’t
feature anywhere in Ben’s idea of a funeral. It was deplorable. And this was
especially so as he was not some uneducated bumpkin, but a London barrister at the top of the legal fraternity. Could it a book I wrote have been an uncanny prediction of what was
to happen to my daughter?
time it had not even been published and she had no idea I had written it. As a
journalist I don’t normally believe in the supernatural, but I can’t help
wondering if she would still be alive today if it hadn’t been for that book.
based on one of my cases when I was running my own private eye business, which
I turned to after leaving newspapers. A young girl
mysteriously fell to her death from the 15th
floor of a block of flats in Johannesburg.
Samantha when I last saw her
my horror my daughter Samantha did much the same thing. She had been a teacher at
the Victor Seymour Infants School in the Londonborough of Carshalton and
was living with her barrister partner, Benjamin Squirrel.
Squirrel, a member of the Criminal
Bar Association, has been involved in some of Britain’s most sensational trials. These included the happy slapping
case in which a teenage girl made Britishlegal
history when she was prosecuted for using a mobile phone to film a man while he
was being beaten to death by two young thugs.
of Squirrel’s cases was that of Anton Gelonkin, who perpetrated one of the country’s
largest identity frauds. The chairman of a Russian
bank he disappeared during the 1995 collapse of the
Moscow City Bank and later turned up in Britain where he used various aliases to commit the crimes.
Simon, who lives in Jersey, told me his sister never wanted
to have children. "She had Bosco to replace our Mum who died suddenly aged 68, he said.
"Bosco was only seven
weeks old"he went on,"whenSamanthabecame very depressed. To try and cheer her up Ben and his mother Ingrid took her out for the
day. And while they were sitting at a café she got up, passed the baby to Ingrid and ran off.
Ben phoned her
and asked if he could come and fetch her but she shouted, ‘NO’."
afterwards she was dead. She hadjumped off the seventh floor of the car park
near the Sutton Council’s civic offices in London. She was 41.
Simon and Samantha’s
mother Julianne and I were divorced 37 years before my daughter’s death. At the time we
were living in South
Africa and she returned to her home town of Exeter
with the two children.
she poisoned them against me. Sadly Samantha
would have nothing to do with me after she grew up, although I did have some
contact with Simon.
Ben, who I only knew of after Samantha’s
death, also refused to acknowledge me, so it looks as though I will never, ever
be able to see my grandson.
From the little that Simon told me about Samantha’s funeral, to which I was not invited, it was
just as weird as the one for the girl in my book. In his email Simon described how Ben and
his brother, and two of his mates, collected the body from the hospital and
took it in his Jeep to be cremated.
It was what happened then that upset Simon so
much, not only because it was a final goodbye to his only sibling, but because of
the indifferent way it was conducted.
What got into Ben I will never know? Why didn’t he give her a proper farewell?
The staff at the school where she taught as well as parents of the children
would surely have wanted to attend. They must have been shocked at his callous
Most dogs get a better funeral than that.
those crime cases influenced him for the worst?
Set in England and South Africa (1930 -1985) my book, which is a mixture of fact and
fiction, ends with this:"Nobody who gets divorced should ever use theirchildren
as a means of getting their own back. And nobody ever wants to write a novel
that has a real life ending like this."
I hope Ben will remember that part about not using children to get
your own back. As things stand it’s clear that he has no intention of
ever letting me near Bosco and I’ll probably be
dead by the time the boy is old enough to make up his own mind.
father who like a lot of other people, wishes he could turn the clock back.
P.S. At the time of my daughter's death you could find Squirrel's profile, complete with photo, on the Internet. Not any more. After that funeral he is rightly hiding his head in shame. Note. He has now reappeared & here he is
You are busy destroying it deep sigh,
after deep sigh.
Pleas from your
wives and girl friends are totally ignored. You don’t seem to realise that by
continuing with your selfish behaviour you could take us all down, you men
So stop it now otherwise I’ll have to
put my wife Gayle onto you – all 5ft of her. And
you won’t like that one bit I can tell you.
What the devil am I talking about you
will no doubt be asking.
Well the result of a very important
study has just been released. But like so many of these scientific wonders it
has neglected to mention what effect men, doing much the same thing, are having
on our world right now.
In a climate change
finding researchers have calculated that the farting of dinosaurs could have
put enough methane into the atmosphere to warm the planet during the Mesozoic period. Of
course you all know when that was.
In case you don’t it was just the other
day between 250-million and 65-million years ago. It was also known as the Age of the Reptiles and ended with another spectacular
All has been revealed in the publication
Current Biology, which is rather odd because
there is nothing current about what was supposed to have happened millions of
Wilkinson of Liverpool’s JohnMoores University
reckons they have established by asimple
mathematical model that the microbes living indinosaurs
could have produced enough methane to have had an important effect on the
climate in those days.
Methane is a greenhouse
gas that has huge global warming dangers so you would think that Wilkinson
and his colleagues would be better employed doing simple mathematical calculations to work
out what you men are doing to the world NOW.
Alright I accept that you are by no
means the size of dinosaurs which weighed something like 20 tons, but there are of a lot more of you.
According to my
rough calculations there could be three billion of you on this planet and as
any woman will tell you that amounts to one hell of a methane cloud, which will
soon make us as extinct as the dinosaurs if you don’t show a lot more control.
So put a sock in
it or something.
Don’t try saying what about you, because
as my wife will tell you I know myself better than anybody and I have never,
ever contributed the slightest puff to that methane cloud that you guys are so
But I can’t say the same about Toddy, the dog in our house.
Jon, a Non Farterif there ever was one.
Buy my book ‘Where have all the children
gone?’ on Amazon.com It’s a thriller with an underlying love story
that defied generations of Afrikaner/English prejudice.
If you want a really tasteless
evening out, surprisingly not from the point of the food, try Napoli
Trattoria owned I am told by BernardoNapoli.
It is colourfully decorated inside with flags and
other souvenirs around the place and it takes a bit of time to adjust to the
dim lighting. So it was a while before we noticed the tastelessdecoration
hanging on the wall just above my wife Gayle’shead(see pic).
Does Cape Town’s restaurant licensing
authority approved of pornographic eating houses, I wonder. Do children have to
be accompanied by an adult if they eat at this trattoria?
It is described as anold fashioned Italian style restaurantand is in the Main Road of Fish Hoek, one of the Southern
suburbs of Cape Town.
Bernardo evidently believes in telling his guests
exactly what’s on his mind. And what was on his mind turned out in ourcase to be as tasteless
as what was hanging on thewall.
When my wife and I decided to take
two friends there we were embarrassed from the start as each table had a
scruffy note in the middle saying the credit card machine was not working. But
as that is the facility normally provided by just about every restaurant, that
was how we had intended to pay.
So we started the evening off by
having to worry as to whether we had enough cash on us to pay.
Bernardo unconvincingly assured us we could pay
the following day if necessary, and when he complained about what the banks
charged for a card service it got us wondering as to when he last took credit
His disposition changed when I ordered a Hawaiian pizza from the menu. He berated me for having
shit and not ordering something Italian
like the rest of us. Are you anAmerican? he asked as if that was some
kind of affliction.
Cape Town's Table Mountain cableway
This was hardly the recommended
recipe for how to treat diners in this tourist Mecca at the Southern tip of
The bill came to R415.
The evening was supposed to be on us but all we could raise was R220 so our guests coughed up another R210, which we borrowed from them, to enable us to hand
over R430 to mine host.
That’s when Bernardo exploded. At
the top of his voice in this very small establishment this short, stocky man
told us that we should give a tip of at least
R40. He accused us of being very
But the tasteless evening was not over yet.
After we had gone to our car my
slim, diminutive, five foot tall wife returned by herself and told Bernardo that his
behaviour had been unacceptable. She pointed out that the only reason that we couldn’t pay any
more as far as the tip was concerned was because we couldn’t use our credit
card and had to scrounge money from out guests.
He was not the least bit repentant and got into another
slanging match with her saying among other things that he had seen that one of
our guests had a lot of money in his wallet.
So if you want to risk Bernardo’s wrath, Napoli Trattoria is
the place to eat. Just remember to bring enough money because you can’t use a
credit card and he decides how much you must tip.
And don’t bring the kids unless you are not concerned
about giving them a porno experience.
Jon, the Consumer
Watchdog, who does look at porn but not while he’s eating.
The Film and Publications Board, which controls
these things, is currently trying to make the difficult decision as to whether
or not what’s on the wall at this trattoria is in fact pornographic under the Act before itcan
determine a course of action.
Being a Government department this might take
Here she is in all her glory. I say shebecause she showed all
the characteristics of the female of the species.
First she appeared over night in our CapeTown
garden dressed in white just like a bride.
A day later – well
I won’t tell you just yet what she did then. Suffice to say it was not very
Being Mushroom lovers
you’ll know who I am talking about. She is Coprinus Comatus, the
choicest of her ink cap group with the not too complimentary common names of ShaggyMane (not Shagging Dame) or Lawyer’s Wig.
As high as 15 cm they
grow in lawns and especially in recently turned soil.
Trying to identify the lady I contacted a
mushroom farm where I was told, I wouldn’t eat itif I was you.
They could not have been more wrong.
It is described in all the
reference books as perfectly edible, in fact delicious.
But watch out for her cousin Coprinus Atramentarius.
She is a real smoothy, but not nearly as beautiful as Comatus
and she has a particularly wicked streak.
Her pet hate is alcoholism, in fact
anybody who even touches the stuff.
Although she is
perfectly edible, don’t try taking something as mild as a glass of wine when
she is on the menu. You’ll know all about the evils of drink if she catches up
with your tipple.
The mixture induces alarming symptoms
like vomiting, palpitations and you’ll go red in the face. You’ll think you
have eaten a poisonous toadstool and are about to meet your maker.
But it’s not as bad as you might
think. It’s just that because she doesn’t like boozers she has made her own
antidote, but it’s not lethal. It is
similar to Antabuse, a drug used to treat alcoholism. Could they be the answer to South Africa' s drunk driving problem? The Government could feed them to the Nation for free.
To get back to the lifestyle of that beauty I
On the second night, without batting
an eyelid, she dropped her skirt and ended up with an immaculate bob hairstyle.
What was left of the skirt appeared as a black ring round her ankles.
The next night rain turned her hair into
what most women look like after they have been in the shower.
In the next day or two she aged rapidly
and withered away as she spread her spores all over the place to produce the
next generation of delicious, edible mushrooms that look too deadly for most
people to try.
Your food lover,
is busy heating up the frying pan ready for the babies.
As you probably know by now Noseweek,
South Africa’s only investigative magazine, has published a
slightly shortened version of this letter in its May
edition. But Ithought you would like
to read the original. So here it is.
It’s deplorable the
way your paper has been promoting crooks for years. This is especially so as
the Sunday Times likes to brag that its team of investigative reporters are
there to do just the opposite.
Do you know what I’m talking about?
Well you should if you watched Carte Blanche’s
expose` on TV the other night.
It was about the
activities of two wide boysKevin CholwichandFrancois Buys.They were
saidto have defrauded a host of people out of a total of more than R100-million over the
last few years with a variety of scams.
News Flash 13/05/2012: BUYS commited suicide last week by hanging himself.
But where the Sunday
Times comes in was that two of their companies that were mentioned were Whoopee and Geo Connect.
So what, you might ask? What’s that got to do with a paper that is believed byover 3-million readers
The answer is that you have been
carrying Whoopee andGeo Connect advertisements and various other suspect ones that promote
And all my efforts to get you to
stop have come to nothing.
"We can’t be expected to check every ad that appears in the paper," you could argue. "That’s why we
specifically warninvestors to be careful where
they put their money."
Sorry that won’t wash in this case. I have been
campaigning for more than three years to get your paper to stop these ads because
they could harm a lot of people, particularly pensioners and those who can
least afford to lose their savings.
I first complained to Thabo Leshilo in 2009 shortly
after he had been appointed the Public Editor
for the Avusa Group (Sunday
Times, The Times, Sowetan etc). This Harvard
educated, former editor of several Avusa papers,
was billed as the Group Ombudsman.
He apparently agreed with me judging by
the story he wrote in the Sunday Times headed Taking a stand on
unsavoury adverts. The report
mentioned my name and implied that something was going to be done to ensure
this kind of advertising no longer appeared.
As he put it ads, "like the rest of the paper had to bebelievable."
it didn’t take long for your paper to revert back to its old ways. So I
complained to the Press Council that it had not
kept its word, but Thabo claimed to have no
knowledge of the article. Unfortunately I had not kept a copy and it was
nowhere to be found on the internet, so my complaint was dismissed.
At one stage I accused him of being a
window dressing appointment who had not been given the power to deal with
complaints effectively. He replied that
he had been "agonising
over this."Soon afterwards he disappeared without a trace and even Googlestill says he has the same job.
The ads carried on appearing and I
continued to complain.
was succeeded, as you know, by veteran newsman Joe
Latakgomo, who has an equally impressive pedigree. In the early days of
his tenure he got upset with me because he felt I had accused him of being
another lame ombudsman.
But his subsequent reports in the Sunday Times and The Times
have given little indication that he is anything other than a run of the mill
columnist. I have only seen one that dealt with a specific complaint and that
was mine. And even then he made no definite finding.
last year he wrote an article headed Beware of dubious advertising claims.And onceagain it looked as though your paper was finally going
to stop aiding crooks.
us that these come-ons "eroded the public’s trust innewspapers"and that "false
advertising, or advertising that makesclaims
which are patently exaggerated, impacts on consumer confidence."
he gave us this assurance: "We will continue asjournalists
to expose those who cheat and lie to our readers."
Not only were these two scamsters
not exposed in your paper, even though their dubious history of some 10 years or more
was there for all to see on the internet, but the dicey ads continued.
Blanche has revealed that both Whoopee
and Geo Connect were some of the many creations
of the Cholwich-Buys team and people who
invested in them lost the lot. So much for their money back guarantees given in your
One investor was Veronica
Diedricks, a 47 year old former Telkom
project manager who lives in Krugersdorp. This
mother of two teenage boys put her entire pension payment of R250 000 that she had accumulated after 10 years of hard graft into Whoopee.
She left Telkom
because of white and black racial issues which meant the whites had little
prospect of promotion and is now a contract worker for Nokia
Siemens where she is "veryhappy." Her husband was retrenched and as neither of them gets a pension they
were relying on the Whoopee investment to
improve their lives.
Like many others she is not shouting whoopee, I can tell you. "Nowmoney in my house is
very scarce," she told me.
This was supposed to be a website linked to a
call centre to enable people to advertise their businesses at a monthly fee.
The men then took huge amounts for the privilege of becoming a licence holderin the scheme.
Diedricks was promised R60 000
a month after 15 months, but all she got were a
few payments of R28and then last March a letter arrived saying the business had run out
of money and was closing.
It had raked in R8-million.
Buys appeared on the TV show
in tears as the duped partner who admitted very little. Cholwich was invited to give his side, but never did.
Both men are unrehabilitated insolvents,
who get people to front for them as directors of the companies. They have been
going from one failed business to the next. Other names they have used include The Bare Essence,Phone Petrol, Prepaid Online, Duo Dial, Free Talk, Money Call, Dynamic Life and Xtreme Telecoms (its ads also appeared in the Sunday Times).
A disgruntled former director has created
a website for the sole purpose of warning
people against the business practices of the two men.
It claims that the motto they live by
is "Fake it till
you makeit",and they certainly seem
to have done that.
The site, that includes pictures of
theses smooth talkers, invites people to join its Justice 101 campaign to try and
ensure that these con-men get what they deserve in a criminal court.
I hope that you and
your paper are proud of having helped them to fleece so many people, because
without the huge exposure that the Sunday Times gave them,
I doubt whether they would have left such a long trail of desperate, poverty
stricken pensioners and bread winners in their wake.
Your disgusted reader,
Jon, the Poor
Man’s Press Ombudsman, who can’t say, "I told you", often enough.
P.S. It’s not too late
to give these two gentlemen the usual treatment that you meet out to corrupt Government officials and
other individuals. The question is:"Are you man
enough to doit?"* * * * When I told Bokkie Gerber, Editor of Rapport, South Africa's Afrikaans national Sundaypaper to look a this post as it applied equally to his paper he replied:"Thanks. Thesekind of ads are a big concern. I have asked our ads department to take extra care to screen ads and not accept those with dodgy promises." His approach was totally different to that of the Sunday Times where no Editor ever admitted to me that there was anything wrong during my three year campaign to get the paper to stop taking these ads.