Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Cape Town's Money Wasting Department is at it again where millions have already been blown away

Dear Cape Town Ratepayers,
Patricia de Lille
          Your City’s futile efforts to stabilise the sand above a rubbish dump that was closed 30 years ago have already wasted nearly R6-million. But the Council has learnt nothing from this reckless use of your money.
It has just started splurging more on a repeat of what it has proved conclusively doesn’t work. This scandal is particularly galling because there are so many more deserving causes among the poor.
My plea to the Mayor Patricia de Lille to stop this has proved fruitless and yesterday kilometres of costly, brand new netting was once again being erected on the dunes at Witsands next to a popular surfing beach not far from Cape Point.
        About a year ago netting was put up at exactly the same place after the wind exposed the rubbish and tons of sand was twice brought in by heavy earth moving equipment to cover it.
         The nets were supposed to ensure that the sand remained in place. But the strong winds that are endemic to the area just blew them and the sand away. And again the plastic and other non-biodegradable material that still remains was revealed.
This time the nets have been erected directly onto the exposed rubbish without it being first covered with sand. So if the experiment didn’t work the first time it is even more unlikely to work now.

February 2016 sand was dumper here to cover exposed rubbish
which was netted. Within a couple of months this had to be
repeated because everything had blown away 

Feb 2017 the place where the sand shown above was dumped
       and had nets put over it after it was all blown away

March 2017 part of the same area immediately above showing
the rubbish more clearly
April 2017 new nets that have just been erected over the exposed 
rubbish shown in the above two pictures
     The whole idea of all this fruitless tinkering with nature is to try and ensure that in the winter rainy season none of the existing rubbish gets washed out into the sea.
Yet the Council is making little effort to do what the international experts believe is the most cost effective and sure way of stabilising sand dunes. And that is to cover them with vegetation. This is growing naturally on either side of the 19 ha site but it doesn’t stand a chance of getting established over the dump if the Council keeps moving the sand around almost annually with heavy earth moving equipment.
        How can Patricia de Lille, her City and ours still claim to be “committed to building a Caring City, a city that does everything it can to help  those most in need of our assistance” when it regards misusing huge amounts of money on a obsolete RUBBISH DUMP as more important than people.
Jon, a disgusted ratepayer who deplores this kind of public waste which is one of the main reasons our country is being dragged into the gutter.
P.S. See: millions blown away

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Dear Newspaper Readers,
Andrew Bonamour Times Media's CEO
          You would have thought that a large organisation like the Times Media Group that claims to be a “premier newspaper and magazine publisher with the most recognised brands in South Africa” would know one of the most elementary advertising legal requirements.
          Included in its stable are the Sunday Times and its daily offshoot The Times.
          For years The Times and perhaps other newspapers have been blatantly breaking the law by carrying illegal CorporateSport advertisements for its business breakfasts.
Part of Times Media's pledge
          This firm that is in sports management and marketing claims that these occasions “have become the most established breakfast forums in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban and offer sponsors a cost effective and focused environment through which to impact large captive business audiences and enjoy the effective brand exposure.”
          Various high profile sporting personalities such as rugby coach Brendon Venter; Proteas cricketers Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn and All Blacks Kieran Read and Israel Dagg have been the stars of these events.

          Sponsors of the breakfasts have included firms like Vodacom, Mimecast international cloud based email managers, Landrover, Accenture the business management consultants and McCarthy Toyota. The backers of these get togethers must surely take some of the blame for what has been going on.
          But none of the top business people who have been involved in these breakfasts over the years or anybody at the Times Media Group appear to have noticed that the CorporateSport advertisements were illegal because the prices given excluded VAT.
          The VAT tax came into force in South Africa in 1991 and the South African Revenue Service’s VAT Guide begins its “10 Important Principles” with this: “All prices charged, advertised or quoted by a vendor must include VAT at the applicable rate (presently 14% for standard-rated supplies).”

Another extract from the Times Media pledge
          The earliest CoporateSport advertisement I could find was a 2013 one that gave the prices for individuals and tables of 10 marked (excl.VAT). And the firm has been breaking the law like this since then or even before that aided and abetted by The Times Media Group, which more than perhaps any other type of business should have known better.
          When I pointed this out to Andrew Bonamour the Chief Executive of Times Media in an email he replied promptly saying: “I will look into it. Thanks.”
          Oops almost a month later on 10 April I told him, “You need look no further than one of your own papers, today’s The Times.”

          In one of those quirks of life Wendy Knowler, that ace consumer expert, who writes regularly for The Times, just happened to have a page spread about advertising. In it she told us: “‘The price you see is the price you pay’” was the catchy phrase devised by the Government “many years ago when value-added tax was first introduced.”
          “By law,” she went on, “retailers had to advertise VAT-inclusive prices - and still do. So that was intended to impress on consumers that no retailer could add tax to an advertised price.”
          But undeterred CorporateSport has been doing just that.
          Bonamour passed the problem on to his General Manager Reardon Sanderson who told me he had spoken to Ross Fraser, the head of CorporateSport and “he will amend the adverts going forward. We should not have a repeat of this,” he added.
          Meanwhile my efforts to get comment from Fraser went unanswered. I assume he got my 11 April email because I checked with his PA and she phoned me back to say it had been received.
          He seems to keep out of the limelight as I could find nothing about him on the internet. So perhaps not answering my emails is just part of his hideaway approach to life.  
          In the last one I told him that as his advertisements stating “excl.VAT” were illegal then people who had paid more than the advertised price were all entitled to a refund, going back years, of 14% if that’s what they were charged. And judging by the website pictures showing the crowds of people who attend these CorporateSport gatherings this could mean a great deal of money.

          Evidently as a result of my inquiries an advertisement for the 11 May 2017 breakfast gives two prices for tables of 10 and two for individuals. One is the (excl.VAT) price while the other one is the (incl.VAT) price.

          This prompted me to email Reardon saying: “I suggest this is not right either. If ALL advertised prices have to include VAT then the ones that don’t are surely not legal. And this latest ad suggests you have a choice, to pay the price that includes VAT or the one without it.”
          I questioned why CorporateSport was so obsessed with pointing out the Vat aspect in its ads. “Surely the Vat amount is given on all its receipts and everybody who goes to the kind of event that it organises will know that VAT will be charged,” I argued.
          Reardon has yet to reply to this email.
The Times & Corporatesport finally get it right in the
paper's 21 April edition although the '(incl. VAT)' is
not necessary
         Jon, the Spoil Sport; Consumer Watchdog and Poorman’s Press Ombudsman who evidently reads the The Times a lot more thoroughly than they do at Times Media.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017


Dear Patricia de Lille, the Mayor of Cape Town,

          Sorry to have to repeat myself but you evidently ignored my previous requests to stop our City, yours and mine, from squandering millions more on a rubbish dump site closed 30 years ago.
          It was at about this time last year that the spend thrifts on your Council started the annual waste of money here that has so far seen something like R6-million of ratepayer’s cash being literally blown away.
May 2016 new nets

Jan 2017 nets buried and blown away
          So I am appealing to you once again to stop this misuse of our money on futile attempts to stabilise the sand dunes at Witsands, next to a popular surfing beach and boat launching slipway between Kommetjie and Scarborough not far from Cape Point.
Feb 2016 tons of sand dumped on exposed rubbish
May 2016 rubbish showing again where the sand had been
 dumped & flattened in Feb 2016
June 2016 more sand being dumped in the same place as
before because last lot had blown away
Feb 2017 back to square one where the sand shown in above
 pictures was dumped
March 2017 another section of the area immediately
          As you know all this money has been blown trying to ensure that what is left of the rubbish is covered with sand so that when the winter rains come it doesn’t get swept into the sea.
          Last year heavy earth moving equipment costing a fortune was used to shift the dunes around. They were then covered in a web of nets that were supposed to keep the sand in place in an area that is plagued by very strong winds.
          Well none of this worked. Today just about all the lines of nets have either been completely buried or flattened by the wind. And on huge sections of the 19 ha site the plastic and other non-biodegradable material that had been buried by the earth movers is now exposed because the nets failed to do the job they were designed for.  
August 2016 stream on edge of dump being deepened
Jan 2017 the place where the stream was
          When I first began making inquiries about the management of this site Johan van der Merwe, your Mayoral Committee Member responsible for Environmental Planning  told me that the wind blows the dunes around causing the waste to be expose and that the “wind netting will keep a more permanent sand ‘blanket’ and also reduce annual operating costs.”
          He also said that if the nets got buried they would be lifted from time to time so that they could continue to do the job they were intended to do. Well this virtually never happened, because if this had been done the nets would not be in the useless state they are now. 
          Please, please Patricia stop this terribly waste. It has been made even more of a scandal by the fact that a short distance away is the Black township of Masiphumelele which the City you head has clearly been neglecting.
          Why else would the Provincial Government, which like the City of Cape Town is also controlled by your party the Democratic Alliance (DA), have taken your Council to task for not ensuring that Masi’s refuse removal, toilet and other facilities were kept up to standard. The Province claimed that the City had let things slide to such an extend that there was a “significant danger to the health and well-being of the residents there.”
How far would R6-million have gone to alleviate this deplorable situation?
            Is it more important to spend massive amounts of money year after unsuccessfully trying to keep the sand in place at an old rubbish dump site, than to ensure that the environment in Masi is such that the people there can live reasonably well?
In much the same way as you and your Council refuse to accept that what has been going on at the dump is ineffective, I see Cape Town is appealing the Province's directive that you should pull up your socks, as it were, in the way you are administering Masi.
This kind of thing is just asking for trouble when the poor all over the place are protesting almost daily for better living conditions.
So I implore you to ensure that not a cent more is blown away at the Witsands dump. If money has been earmarked for this it will be far better to use it in Masi.
The pictures illustrate what a criminal waste this whole exercise has been.
Jon, who is not only a blogger but is also a Cape Town ratepayer who is very much interested in how his money is used – or SQUANDERED.
See also: municipal intelligence ; scandalous dumping ; city won't stop ; wasting money ; never ending .

P.S. Blue is the DA’s colour