Tuesday, October 22, 2019


Dear Readers,
How is this for dubious newspaper morality? The Northern KwaZulu-Natal Courier, a community paper in the Caxton Group carried three exposés about the activities of members of the De Beer family’s Ponzi businesses Coin-It Trading and CommEx Minerals.
          The first one early last September was headed Drama unfolds as Coin-It and  Commex Minerals are raided. It was about how the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) had launched an investigation into these two companies.
          Its next report was headlined: Investment scheme maintains everyone will get paid.
          Then on September 18 it announced: Coin offices closed pending FSCA probe. Readers were told that it was too early to say what will happen to investors in Coin-It and CommEx Minerals following the raid by the FSCA.
          Soon afterwards the paper, which has a weekly free distribution of 15 000 copies in the coal mining town of Dundee (Population 34 000), carried the half page, controversial paid advertorial headed Coin-It Traders Speak Out! It would have earned the publication something like R7 000. 
This is how the Courier coined it & how
the advertorial began
          It was a huge puff extolling the good deeds these Ponzi scheme promoters had done for the people of the area as if their kind of business was perfectly acceptable.
          After weeks of controversy, Coin-It Trading appeals to the community to not forget all the good it has and is still doing, the ad began
          Speaking to the Courier, it went on, Coin-It’s representative, Peter Estrice said, “The public was not informed in the past on the big scope of activities that were taking place and the participation of social activities carried out by Coin-It.”
          Coin-It described itself as a huge part of the Dundee community and as such had aided many people.
Peter Estrice
          He claimed that when “last year’s terrible floods took away five lives, including three children, from a family in Sibongile (a Dundee township) Coin-It was there. We played a big role in helping the needy and even went to the extent of repairing some churches that were damaged.”
           Small businesses that relied on Coin-It had been enormously affected.
          “Other companies have also lost revenue when we stopped our service, such as the buying of trucks,” Estrice maintained. “Our hardware companies can no longer continue with business as everything has come to a standstill. Coin-It has donated signage to schools in the area and will continue to assist schools in other districts in the future.”
          Referring to the pending FSCA investigation Estrice stated: “As much as Coin-It is taking a beating it is also affecting our small businesses and individuals who relied on Coin-It. Our clients come from different backgrounds such as government officials, working class and the unemployed and Coin-It takes care of them.” He promised that they would have a "ceremony with our clients once everything had been sorted." 
          The advertorial concluded with the logos of the businesses the De Beer family evidently have an interest in.  
          In an email to the Courier’s Editor Terry Worley I asked how his paper could expose the Coin-It Ponzi scheme and then take this advertorial that promotes it.
          “The Courier has just gone one better than the Sunday Times for appalling double standards just to make money,” I told him. "You have also completely blown your belief in the 'community newspaper being the trustworthy watchdog of the community.'”
          I was referring to the fact the Sunday Times carried two advertising inserts from CommEx and My House, another Ponzi scheme promoted by the same people, a few days after its sister publication had revealed that Coin-It and CommEx had been raided by the FSCA.  (Heartless Sunday Times)
          Worley told me to refer to their advertising department. In a subsequent email he started that the Hawks investigation appeared to be stagnating, but they were following up because more investors who had not received their money still needed to make statements.
          “We are told not even 15 have made statements and there are apparently 27 000,” he added.
          I sent a similar email to Rod Skinner, Caxton’s Regional Editor for the area that includes the Courier asking why that controversial advertorial was accepted. “Surely that was the antithesis of good newspaper ethics,” I told him. “The message it sent was that your paper only cares about making money, not ethical behaviour.”
          He replied saying: “In fairness we had to give Coin-It a right of reply. They however insisted they wanted to reply in this manner. It is not for us to dictate how they as a company wish to exercise their right of reply.
          “Nothing in the advertorial solicits business for the scheme. Our investigative team is still investigating it along with several others in Northern KZN.”
                                     *     *     *
          Jon, a Consumer Watchdog and the Poor Man’s Press Ombudsman.
P.S. The Caxton Group is no stranger to accepting adverts just to make money regardless of the morality of what it is doing. For years The Citizen, its daily paper that circulates mainly in Gauteng has been carrying Herbalist ads, when even one of its editors conceded to me that they are not believable.  Full of people claiming to be doctors, professors and the like when they are clearly nothing of the kind they offer services like “100% win lotto” and “manhood enlargement.” These are obviously nothing else but lies. (Lies,lies and more lies)

P.P.S. An advertorial is an advertisement written in the same style as a newspaper article. So it’s not hard to guess why the Ponzi promoters wanted their ad in this form.

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