Saturday, October 27, 2018


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.
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.

Monday, October 15, 2018


Dear Readers,

          Adv. Busisiwe Mkhwebane, South Africa’s Public Protector recently announced that in the years 2016/17 and 2017/18 they finalised 21 176 out of 25 288 complaints.
Well, if mine is anything to go by these figures must be extremely suspect.  After more than a year her Cape Town office had not yet decided whether or not the law allowed them to investigate my complaint against the Cape Town City Council.
For nearly three years now I have been investigating why the Council goes on spent millions on ineffective schemes to try and keep the sand dunes in place, above a municipal rubbish dump at Witsands near Cape Point. The dump was closed more than 30 years ago.
26 June 2017: I emailed my two page complaint about this shocking waste of money to the Cape Town office of the Public Protector.
29 June 2017: The receipt of this was acknowledged in a letter signed on behalf of a senior manager in which I was told that once they had established “whether the law allows us to investigate your complaint” they would contact me again.
6 November 2017: Ayanda Mngqinya asked me to provide proof of my allegations against the Council and two days later I sent her a five page email in which I expanded on my original complaint. This included links to six of my posts on the subject in which there were numerous pictures, which showed conclusively how the use of nets to try and keep the sand in place had failed dismally. They had either been blown over or buried by the very strong winds that are endemic to the area. I quoted Councillor Johannes van der Merwe, the Member of the Mayor’s Executive team at the time, who was in charge of the Environment, as well as other people involve in the project. Van der Merwe claimed that what they had been doing was an extremely cost effective way of managing the landfill site. I pointed out that on 30 March 2016 the Cape Argus carried a story based on my blog that effectively verified what I had written. I mentioned that in another post addressed to the Mayor Patricia de Lille I had emphasised the fact that the Public Protector had described the conditions in the township of Masiphumelele, which is not far from Witsands, as the “most disgusting I have seen in my life.” And I appealed to her to get the Council to stop wasting money at Witsands. I also pointed out that although my posts had all been very critical of what the Council had been doing, I never had single complaint about the accuracy of what I had written.
22 January 2018: I sent an email to Ayanda Mngquinya asking her what progress there had been with my complaint as the money wasting by the Council was starting all over again at Witsands. I attached photographs that showed how nets had been blown over just days after they had been erected.

11 April 2018: Ayanda replied saying she was “currently unavailable” and that I should directed all queries to Mrs Judith Steyn. This I did.
16 April 2018: Nkagiseng Motaung replied under the heading PROGRESS REPORT. “Kindly take note that your complaint was received by the Public Protector Western Cape Regional Office and I am the investigator assigned to your matter.” She went on to say that she will be “assessing my matter” and will revert back to me with the “outcome of the assessment.” So it was clear from what she told me that at this stage, 10 months after her office received my complaint, nobody had yet decided whether it was something they were entitled to investigate.
12 June 2018: I sent an email to Advocate Stoffel Fourie, who I was told was in charge of the Cape Town Public Protector’s office, even though he is apparently based at Bhisho in the Eastern Cape. Before I was given his email address my phone calls to the office in Cape Town, the head office in Pretoria as well as the one in Bhisho went unanswered. His email address wasn’t much help either, because all I got was two read reports in reply to my emails, and nothing more.
23 July 2018: Although my complaint was now more than a year old this unbelievably inefficient organisation was still trying to work out if it was qualified to deal with my case. Nkagiseng Motaung told me in an email that they required some more information to “assess whether the law allows your complaint to be investigated.” She wanted to know the following (My comments are in brackets):
1.    Issues that you wish the office of the Public Protector to investigate (As if I hadn’t told them already).
2.    Outcome sought by yourself should your matter be investigated (This must have been painfully obvious from what I had already sent).
3.    Proof that you formally raised your complaint with the City of Cape Town Ombudsman, your reference number as well as proof of outcome (This I hadn’t done because I didn’t think it was necessary as the Mayor and a member of her Mayoral Committee must have been aware of what I had written)
4.    Proof that you formally raised your complaint with the Office of the Speaker in as far as the conduct of the Councillor and Council is concerned and the proof of outcome (Same answer as Item 3).
5.    Proof of any other institution/s you raised your complaint with as well as the out come thereof (Same Answer as 4).
6.    Any other relevant information and/or documentation including correspondence between yourself and the official you communicated with. (I wasn’t prepared to send all this because I felt I had already sent more than enough information for any investigator to get started)
It ended with “Please take note we will now proceed to pend your file to the 3rd of August 2018 in anticipation of the above requested documents, as we cannot commence the investigation due to insufficient information. As soon as the above has been received, we will then proceed to asses the matter further and advice (sic) accordingly.” In this email this ace investigator also changed my sex by addressing me as Ms. J. Abbott, although all my emails had ended “Regards, Jon Abbott.”
24 July 2018: I replied to Nkagiseng Motaung saying that her office was an “absolute disgrace” because more than a year after I submitted full details of my complaint I was now being asked what outcome I wanted “should your matter be investigated.” I added that it was like reporting a murder to the police and being asked what outcome I wanted. “If something appeared wrong it was up to the Protector’s office to investigate it and not expect the complainant to provide all the proof,” I told her. “How could some poorly educated person possibly provide any of the information you are now asking for?”
10 September 2018: I got an email with a letter attached signed “PP Sune`Griessel (Mrs), Provincial Representative (Western Cape). It began with: “For further enquiries: Mrs N. Motaung, 31 August 2018.” The gist of the five paragraph letter was that as the Public Protector was “an office of last resort” I had not taken “all reasonable steps to exhaust all remedies available” to me
          “Due to the insufficient information regarding your complaint, we are unable to assess the matter further. We will now proceed to close our file and thank you for engaging with the office of the Public Protector.”
          I’m a retired former Sunday Times investigative journalist. So if I can’t present the Public Protector’s office with sufficient information to get it started, what hope has the average person?
          My experience shows how very unlikely it is that 83% of complaints to this branch of Government were finalist in the last couple of years as Busisiwe claims.
          Jon, a very disgusted Consumer Watchdog, who hopes she does a much better job than this.
See also: Monumental waste

Sunday, October 14, 2018


Dear Bongani Siqoko,  

Editor of the Sunday Advertiser aka Sunday Times,
          I feel terribly sorry for you. They take you from that piddling little Daily Dispatch (Circulation 25 000) in East London (population260 000) and make you Editor of the country’s top selling national paper, the Sunday Times (Circ. 260 000) that operates out of Johannesburg, our biggest city (pop.1-million). That was at the end of 2015.
          Ever since then you have been the face of record breaking Sunday Times apologies.
You were just getting into the hot seat in December 2015, when the Press Ombudsman gave you his Christmas and Welcome to the Sunday Times present. It was his ruling that the ‘rogue unit’ expose` about the SA Revenue Service (SARS) was rubbish. It had been running for months and he order that your new paper must retract everything and apologise in writing.
          One has to wonder what really went on here. Pearlie Joubert, a member of your paper’s investigative team at the time, says she was isolated when she began to question what was going on. What was the motive for ignoring the very perceptive alarm bell she was ringing? Could it have been something more than just a front page lead?
          When she could not get her message through, she very bravely resigned.
          She’s was the real hero of that disgraceful chapter in the history, of a once proud newspaper. What she did is actually the front page lead for next week, but of course you will never print it.
The REAL HERO Pearlie Joubert: She's laughing here
but it was no joke on the Sunday Times
          Did you know at the time that you were being brought right across the country just to be thrown among the Great Whites, without a cage, almost straight away? Soon afterwards you had to explain that whole page apology that appeared in April 2016.
          At the time your appointment was announced Andrew Bonamour, Times Media (Now Tiso Blackstar – the Group changes it’s name more often than a chameleon changes colour) CEO had this to say about the outgoing editor Phylicia Oppelt, under whose watch these lies occurred: “We are delighted that Phylicia will remain with the group and help drive the exiting changes across the titles.”
          What?  Just when she had so completely messed up. Why wasn’t she asked to explain how it happened, instead of you, in that whole page apology? And where is she now - still driving “those exiting changes?”
          Today I see you are at it again, apologising once more for cock-ups that occurred even before Oppelt was the Editor. Now it’s all about the 2011 Police “death squad” lies that appeared when Ray Hartley was the Editor.
          These, as you say, “created the impression that Gen Johan Booysen was operationally in charge of the unit, and by association directly and personally responsibly for the killings.”
          Only a trivial libel that just happened to be completely untrue.

          You gave Booysen a lot of space to have his say. Unfortunately this shows how meaningless these apologies of yours are, if your paper and other sections of the Tiso Group go on employing the same journalists, who have proved conclusively that they can be relied upon to get it wrong in a big way.
          The scribes mentioned in the bylines on the stories you are apologising for now are Stephan Hofstatter, Mzilikazi wa Africa and Rob Rose.

                                                *     *     *     *     *     *
Breaking News

            In having his say Booysen told us that he had to contact the Editor Hartley to “demand to be heard” to give his side of the story, when that’s one of the basics of journalism that every cub reporter gets told: Always get both sides of the story.
            Hofstatter then comes to see him and they had a recorded teleconference with Wa Africa. Booysen tells them that the photographs they had of dead suspects had nothing to do with the story they are doing. He also told them that he knew their “sources” and that they were being investigated by the Hawks.
          Undeterred your ace investigators “evidently made no effort to verify the facts with the institutions” Booysen had referred them to. “Instead the versions of the suspects under investigation were published,” Booysen went on.
          This Don’t let the facts spoil a good story team then ensured that the gruesome pictures of the bodies appeared with their story when, as Booysen had told them, they had absolutely nothing to do with it.
How brainless was that?  These were supposed to be senior journalists behaving like naughty kids. 
Your apology today, which is full of excuses, loses any value it might have because you have including something that is clearly not true. What good is there in saying Sorry for our lies and then explain why with another one.
“We were in pursuit of nothing but the truth and we were not motivated by political, commercial or personal interests,” you told readers. “We stood to gain nothing from reporting on these issues, but merely fulfilling our constitutional obligation to inform you”(Isn't "were" missing somewhere?).
What a lot of guff. Is the Sunday Times now a charity? Does it not need money to exist? Your paper was purely motivated by getting exclusive, sensational stories that increase readership and the profits that flow from that.
I know we are supposed to have a very good constitution, but I can’t find the section that says newspapers have a duty to inform us. It’s probably just me. I can’t see for looking.
Bongani, I accept that you can’t be blamed for the fictitious scoops that appeared before your time, but some odd things have happened while you’ve been in charge.
For a start how can you still have Wa Africa doing investigations for your paper and having regular front page leads?  He should have been bowled out as soon as it was apparent that the police death squad story was rotten to the core.
He was still there after Jacques Pauw’s book The President’s Keepers came out in October 2017.  In the book he accused Hofstatter and Wa Africa of “Helping Zuma’s keepers to destroy the finest law enforcement institution in the country.” He was talking about a group of people in SARS who lost their jobs as a result of the “rogue unit,” to which your paper gave credence to.
There’s perhaps a follow up book for him: The Rogue Unit at the Sunday Times – the inside story.
The Terrible Twins - Hofstatter & Wa Afrika
Then too you should have known that freelance Jim Jones was a crook when the Business Times, your business section, continued to use him.(love affair with a crook)  You were also very much in charge when that whole page, paid African National Congress anti Democratic Alliance plug, masquerading as a news story, appeared.(dropping moral standards)
I know you don’t decide these things but the management of your group must also be censored for making Rob Rose the Editor of the Financial Mail and keeping  Hofstatter on reporting for the this publication and Business Day. His excuse for going astray was that they were “under pressure for scoops.” This is the life of every reporter, so imagine what it would be like if they all come up with fairytales.

Both Rose and Hofstatter have written allegedly factual books about shady goings on. One has to wonder now, how much of these are actually fiction.
Jon, the Poor Man’s Press Ombudsman, who tries to keep his factual fiction to a minimum. I must add that my only motive in writing this blog is to put the world right without any thought of being rewarded.