Saturday, October 15, 2022


Dear Ivan Saltzman, CEO and founder of Dis-Chem pharmaceuticals,

What’s brought on your sudden urge to do the right thing which you have outlined in this appalling letter of yours to your ‘Senior Management’?

You never worried about whether or not you were doing the right thing when the Covid 19 pandemic was killing people. All you saw was a huge opportunity to make money and more money by increasing the price of the  masks you were selling, not once, not twice but three times, while this deadly disease raged on.

This rightly backfired but not before you and Dis-Chem had earned a reputation for being super scrooges that cared nothing for the welfare of people as long as it could go on taking their money, money and more money.  

I assume you are once again only thinking about making more and more money, but like the greedy approach you took to Covid 19 when you didn't care if people, who could not afford a mask might die, this anti-White stance of yours could have an even more devastating affect on your business.

Our Black African National Congress (ANC) Government introduced Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment, as it’s version of reverse apartheid, to address the inequities Blacks suffered under the previous White Nationalist Party Government. That was in 2003, so why have you now decided that Dis-Chem must suddenly comply with a 19 year old regulation. Have you been breaking the law ever since then?

You have effectively antagonised all your white customers and would-be customers with this letter. Presumably you don’t build a business to become South Africa’s second largest pharmaceutical chain with 165 stores that’s revenue take in 2019 reached a whopping R21.4 - billion without a high percentage of this being White money. So as this letter of yours is all over social media and has clearly gone viral your anti-white stance could be even more disastrous for your firm’s reputation than ripping off people with pricey life saving masks?

Your controversial letter is a bit confusing. In paragraph 1.1 you say that a brake must be put on the appointment of Whites and this includes ‘external appointment and internal promotions.’ Whites clearly have nothing much to look forward to. Then in 1.2 you stipulate that ‘no appointments are to be made on managerial level’ without your approval as CEO. Presumably this is to prevent any Whites from slipping through the promotion net by mistake.


  Sorry I must repeat this for the benefit of my readers even though it is something you obviously know. In July 2020 the Competition Tribunal nailed your company for the excessive price it charged for surgical masks and fined it R1.2 million. The first of your three increases took place on the same day as South Africa’s first Covid case was revealed. So you weren’t half rushing to show your true colours by dubiously taking advantage of this national crisis.

In the last paragraph of your letter you say that ‘with Dis-Chem being a JSE (Johannesburg Stock Exchange) listed company, these are harsh measures and necessary if we are to remain profitable and to avoid a potential fine of 10% of turnover, which would cripple the business. This is a real threat at this stage.’

My understanding is that your letter was to belatedly fix the racial make up of Dis-Chem to comply with the law. If this is the case and your firm was quoted on the JSE in November 2016, about six years ago, why hasn’t your firm been fined? Is this due to the inefficiency of the Government or the Stock Exchange?

           If you don’t mind me pointing out the obvious you can’t make apartheid that discriminated against Blacks right with a wrong that does the same thing against Whites, and that’s exactly what you and the African National Congress Government are trying to do.


Jon, one of those second class Whites, who is glad he is now too old to be downgraded from a management position to sweeping the floors at some company or other.

P.S. I see that Dis-Chem was founded by you and your wife Lynette, who is the Managing Director and as such did she have any say in the compilation of this controversial letter of yours?

*Note: Before writing this I emailed Ivan and asked him if his letter that was on Twitter was genuine. He did not reply but I got a read report so I realised there was no point in asking him if he wanted to vet this story of mine before I posted it.

P.P.S. This letter of Ivan's to his senior management caused such a stir when it escape into the public domain of social media that the Dis-Chem Board, not Ivan this time, issued a statement saying they "regretted the tone" of Ivan's letter that was "erroneously widely shared." But they still made it clear that they will continue to make "great strides" in their efforts to transform the business to comply with all the legislation. So while this initially gave the impression the company was back tracking it is in fact going to continuing doing what was the basis for what caused the huge public backlash to Ivan's letter. 

Saturday, October 8, 2022


 Dear Siya Kolisi,

         I don’t really approve of women playing rugby because they show up us men so badly. Did you watch the Women’s World Cup game between the Wallaroos (Australia) and the Black Ferns(New Zealand). It was a real eye opener that showed you and us men how the game should be played by passing and running with the ball and scoring TRIES.

         The first half ended with the score Wallaroos 17 - Black Ferns 12. Incredibly the Aussies’ three tries were scored by their wings. When has this ever happened to a Springbok team in an entire match in recent times or ever because you guys don’t play that kind of pleasing to watch game? In fact in the last five years I doubt if our wings have scored a total of more than half a dozen tries, because they so seldom get the ball.

A Wallaroo scoring

         In the same half one of the Black Ferns’ tries was also scored by a wing. I lost count of what happened in the second period when New Zealand ran out winners by 41 to 17, but I’m sure there must have been some wing tries in the Black Ferns score. What could have cost the Wallaroos the game was when they had two players sent off for 10 minutes towards the end of the first half, but this did little to dampen the overall entertainment value of the match.

         Since you and our team won the world cup with a dreary win at all costs brand of rugby that is all brawn and no skill with passing cut to a minimum, a lot of other teams have followed this bad example. No doubt the thinking was: ‘You must have been right if your team won the Cup.’

         After being bombarded with your brand of rugby it was hard to believe that these women were playing the same game. I never saw one box kick or any aimless kick down the middle of the field that in your men’s game does nothing but give possession away and passes the advantage to the opposition. What was most pleasing was that the ball went down the back lines regularly, so no wonder the wings scores all those tries.

         If wings score in your brand of dreary play it usually happens when they get the ball by mistake or have gone scrounging for it themselves. The men’s game formula these days has reduced passing to a minimum; kicking the ball anywhere, usually to nobody in the middle of the field to get it away from your end and thus giving possession away; then, when possession is somehow achieved the use of brute force to battle your way down the field in the hope of eventually scoring.

         It is tailor made to kill the game as an entertaining spectacle.

         It wasn’t only the woman players who made this woman’s rugby match such a refreshing experience because the female referee more than played her part. She cleverly allowed advantage play on numerous occasions to keep the match flowing with the result that unlike in the men’s games you play Kolisi the whistle wasn’t going every five minutes with the accompanying breaks in play.

         Women’s rugby can only go from strength to strength and unless you and the rest of your male players WAKE UP they will overtake you as the preferred brand of Rugby Union to watch.


Jon, an avid Rugby critic, who vaguely remembers playing for his school’s under 10 mixed (boys and girls) 1st Rugby team.







Wednesday, September 28, 2022


 Dear Readers,

Murray Norton

Is presenting at the BBC a breeding ground for cyber-bullies?

At last one of them has been jailed and this should also have happened to Murray Norton 10 years earlier. This most cowardly of crimes was what led to the death of my son Simon Abbott, but although Norton, the culprit, was actually working for the BBC at the time no action was taken against him.

Now Alex Belfield a former BBC radio presenter has been given a five year sentence in Britain. It appears that cyber-bullying is not yet a crime there, but what they ridiculously call ‘stalking on the internet’ is, and it was this that got Alex incarcerate.

After 25 years in broadcasting Alex found himself in Covid Lockdown and this prompted him to start “The Voice of Reason” on You Tube from his mother’s backroom bedroom. A year later he had 236 million hits as the United Kingdom’s Number 1 News Talk and presenter online.

Alex Belfield

For some inexplicable reason this success was not enough for him, so he made an even bigger name for himself by going after four people, including fellow broadcasters.

He was convicted of harassing them online by posting social media messages, sending emails and encouraging the followers of his You Tube channel to target them.

One of his victims was Jeremy Vine, a popular TV and radio presenter. According to the Judge he made “wholly false” allegations of theft against Vine. Bernard Spedding another BBC presenter received death threats and had come close to committing suicide, the court was told.

Murray Norton’s “vicious and unrelenting cyber-bullying” campaign against Simon on the island of Jersey where Norton had a long history of working as a BBC presenter was similar or probably worse than what Belfield did. Norton was hosting a daily three hour show on Radio Jersey at the time. His attacks on Simon were made particularly personal because he had a photographer accomplice to snatch pictures of Simon that they put on Twitter and possibly elsewhere. To make matters worse this was not long after the death of his sister in extremely tragic circumstances, which Norton was well aware of.

My son was a self employed software developer living in Jersey when my daughter and his only sibling 41 year old Samantha Abbott jumped to her death from a car park building in England. It happened shortly after the birth of her first child while she was suffering from post-natal depression.

In memory of his sister Simon established a Trust in Jersey to raise money for women with post-natal depression. That was the beginning of  his heartless, bullying troubles that were to eventually lead to his own death of a heart attack.

As the Island’s most prolific charity fund raiser it looked ominously as if Norton regarded Simon’s fund raising efforts that included a Fashion Show as unwelcome competition on an island of just 100 000 people, because that’s when the cyber-bulling started.

Norton was said to have posted comments on Facebook and Twitter accusing Simon of being a con-man who was just collecting donations for himself. The Police however, could find no evidence of this.  And because of Norton’s standing on the Island people assumed he must be right and joined in like vultures on a kill.

After my son’s death Norton went on to become a Minister in the Jersey Government before being appointed Chief Executive Office of the Jersey Chamber of Commerce.

   A cyber-bulling ball takes some stopping once a VIP like Norton gets it going. He effectively scuppered any chance Simon had of raising money for his Trust which was properly registered in Jersey. What was probably Simon’s most envied idea was his Fashion Show at which he planned to auction clothes donated to him by celebrities.

He listed more than 20 of them he claimed had given him clothes to sell and these included people like David & Victoria Beckham, Naomi Campbell, Elle McPherson, Rebecca Adlington (Double Olympic Gold Medalist, Swimming), Usain Bolt (Triply Olympic Gold Medalist, Sprinting) and so on.

The most inexplicable side of this story was that before Norton began his vile social media attacks the BBC Jersey’s website carried a glowing report about Simon’s Fashion Show idea together with a list of the celebrity donors.

Simon took Norton's behaviour up with Jon Gripton head of the BBC in Jersey. Gripton, however dismissed the complaint on the grounds that the Corporation was not responsible for what Norton did in his spare time as he was employed as a freelance by the BBC.

I also complained to Gripton after Simon’s death when I was unaware that my son had earlier done something similar. I conducted my own long distance investigation across half the world from South Africa. I sent him a comprehensive dossier that included extracts from the Jersey court records of when Simon sued Norton and his partner in crime freelance photographer Ian Le Sueur, as well as six others for libel in a desperate attempt to stop them trashing his name on social media. The case was never concluded because of Simon’s death.

Simon claimed to have been assaulted by Le Sueur and another person as a result of Norton’s harassment, but he could not get the Police to take any action against the people involved. Norton had lured Simon to a meeting in an empty church to enable Le Sueur to secretly snatch a picture of him which Le Sueur then use to illustrate abusive posts he put on Twitter using the profile name  Fashion Juice.

          On 6th February 2012 Simon sent a desperate email to his advocate saying: “Ian Le Sueur has spent the whole week-end spamming Twitter with my picture saying I’m a conman, conning items out of celebs and duping people out of hard earned money.” Simon estimated that these tweets could have been seen by as many as 500 000 people.

Gripton initially told me that he received Simon’s complaint in October 2011 and he added, “I then made Norton aware of his responsibilities as a freelance working for the BBC, stressed the need  for impartiality and reiterated the need to bear this in mind in any dealings in his personal social media or indeed elsewhere."

What he told me next reflected badly on the BBC. “I was of course aware of his postings on his private Facebook page, but felt, following my investigations, that this was not a matter for the BBC.”

  When I complained that he could not be described an impartial judge Gripton passed the case up the line to David Holdsworth: Controller, English Regions, BBC News. By this time Leo Divine, the BBC Regional Head had sided with Gripton after Simon had complained to him when he got not joy from Gripton.

Holdsworth supported his underlings. He found there was no evidence that “Murray Norton had engaged in or incited cyber-bullying on either the BBC or his personal accounts, or on public websites.” He added that he believed the investigations were properly done.What he said next made nonsense of his claim that Norton had not taken part in cyber-bulling Simon.

“Divine spoke to Norton, who had ceased posting any comments about Simon Abbott in October 2011, after your son had complained, and confirmed that he would not be posting further comments.”

Norton was doing nothing wrong in the BBC’s eyes yet he suddenly stops doing it when Simon complains. But even then he did not stop because in November 2011 he fired off another salvo at Simon on his Facebook page. “The Police and the press and possibly the taxation authorities must be sent all complaints with hard evidence that Simon has actually done something wrong. Simon, if you are watching this -which my friends, he might be – give it up; come clean on the finances of the Trust. Put the items you claim to have from the famous to good use. I’ll auction them for some people in real need instead of fake events that help no one, even those of us trying to raise funds.”

This was a page lead on October 13, 2013 in Britain's
The Mail on Sunday, the Sunday Newspaper of the
Year in 2019 with a circulation of 800 000

The BBC’s final whitewash job on Norton was conducted by the BBC Trust, which is the governing body of the British Broadcasting Corporation. It agreed to consider my appeal against the decision of the three BBC top executives who ruled that Norton had not engaged in or incited cyber-bulling against Simon.

I was told an independent Editorial Adviser would be appointed to investigate the case and produce a report to aid the BBC’s Editorial Standards Committee that would consider my appeal. I was to be given the report to comment on and this would form part of the final document.

The stink of bias arose because they refuse to name the Adviser, leaving me with the uncomfortable feeling that he/she was a BBC lackey.The fishy business didn’t end there, it got worse. In the Adviser’s report, references to information that would be given to the Committee, but not shared with the parties to protect the privacy of the individuals involved kept cropping up. This was the reason given for only giving the Police statement to the Committee.

The people who were interviewed by the adviser were listed but nowhere was my name mentioned even though I could easily have been contacted in South Africa. He/She had a two and a half hour meeting with Norton.

The Adviser’s bias really showed when under a ‘Confidential’ heading he/ she stated: “The News Editor of the Jersey Evening Post (the Island’s only paper) told me that he thought Murray Norton had been very brave to take on Simon Abbott and that he had done the island a favour by his actions.”

When the final version of the Committee’s findings arrived for publication that recurring theme that some of the wording ‘has been amended to protect the privacy of the individuals concerned’ cropped up again. Not a single person was named in the final report. Even my son and I were referred to as Complainants 1 and 2 and Norton was an anonymous BBC radio presenter.

The Committee of five rejected my appeal and accepted the very convoluted arguments of the BBC’s department heads and emptied the rest of its whitewash onto the BBC for acting in good faith and dealing fairly with both complainants.

The Trustee members of the Committee who dealt with the appeal were; Alison Hastings (Chairperson), Sonita Alleyne, Richard Ayre, Bill Matthews and Nicholas Prettejohn. They were not named in the findings. I had to establish their identities myself.

If this is the BBC’s idea of justice it badly needs help because it is appalling to say the least. It was like what could happen in some secret society.


Jon, who only wishes he could have been in Jersey when Simon was being so terribly bullied.












Sunday, September 4, 2022


 Dear Readers,

          Here are my ideas.


          This is one of the most unfair sports there is. Somebody like Argentinean Diago Schwartzman at 1.7 m tall is expected to play on equal terms for the same prize money against somebody like that American giant John Isner at 2.8 m. It’s a game where the taller you are the more likely you are to be able to serve unplayable aces, which is something the little players are seldom able to do in what is the most important part of the game. In other individual sports like boxing and weight lifting competition is evened out by dividing competitors into weight categories, effectively making size nothing like the advantage it is in tennis.

          I believe only ONE SERVE should be allowed. Currently the serve is the only time in tennis when a player has two chances to get the ball in play and as this is the aspect of the game that is so much in favour of tall players restricting it to one shot would help to even the odds. The big servers would then have to be much more circumspect knowing that they can no longer just blast away as hard as they can to begin with as they would no longer have two chances to get it right.

          There should be no LETS (when a served ball hits the top of the net, goes over and still lands in). At the moment if a player hits a ball that clips the top of the net and it goes over and in during normal play they win the point if it is not returned successfully. So why should it be any different for the service.

          The number of times a server can bounce the ball before hitting it should be restricted to TWO. It really is a pain in the but watching the likes of Novak Djokovic bounce the ball seemingly forever before serving.

          Abolish ADVANTAGE. When the score reaches Deuce (40-40) the winner of the next point should take the game. At the moment games can become very tedious bouncing between Deuce and Ad and back again.

“Tennis is psychological sport you have to keep a clear head. That’s why I stopped playing”- Boris Becker.

(Jailed for bankruptcy offences)


          Golfers spend far too much time fiddling with their balls on the greens. Place marking and picking up of balls on the greens should be abolished. Here are some other changes that I believe would make the game more exciting and watchable.

          Players should have to play in the same order that they start a hole until they hole out. If they find they are snookered by another person’s ball when it’s their turn to put on the green they would have to either knock it out of they way with their put or go round it. It would make play on the greens a lot more interesting.

          Lifting of dents made by balls landing on the greens to smooth them out should no longer be allowed.

Hockey is a sport for white men. Baseball is a sport for black men. Golf is a sport for white men dressed like black pimps.” – Tiger Woods


          INTERNATIONAL RUGBY has become a game of aimless kicking away of possession, brawn and very little skill. Passing the ball beyond two players is an increasing rarity. As this win at all costs style of play appears to have been developed by the SPRINGBOKS when they won the last World Cup everybody else is doing much the same thing. A lot more should be done to promote a running, passing type of game.

          To encourage try scoring the points for a TRY should be increased to 7 with 3 for a conversion. Penalties should only count for 2 points. BOX KICKING should be banned completely and when the ball comes out of any kind of scrum it should have to be passed through the hands of at least two players before it can be kicked.

          There should be no more penalties or free kicks at set scrums unless foul play is involved. The ref should just let these go on even if they develop into a loose scrum until one side or the other gets the ball. At the moment they are so regulated they destroy the flow of the game and often result in penalties, which are the dreariest part of what is supposed to a running, try scoring sport.

          INTERNATIONAL PLAYERS of today have forgotten that RUGBY was started by William Webb Ellis when he picked up the ball during a football match at Britain’s Rugby School and RAN with it. This aspect of how the game should be played is a lot more evident in school boy rugby than it is at the top.

"You're not going to please everyone, but then, it's not about pleasing people -it's about winning rugby games."-Alun Wyn Jones, International lock forward for Wales and the British and Irish Lions.

This is exactly the attitude the Springboks seem to have adopted.


          How many males sporting codes have women as managers or coaches? My bet is there is a handful, if any. Wayde van Niekerk South Africa’s 400 m World Record holder did have a woman coach when he broke the record but now that she is almost 80 he has switched to a man.

          Men should be banned from being managers or coaches in any kind of women’s sport. I can’t understand why women have no yet campaigned for something like this. All kinds of female sports from hockey to tennis and a host of others have men as coaches. The South African women’s cricket team has had a man as a coach (appointed by men no doubt) for 10 years and he was far from being a major star in his playing days. It’s hardly surprising then that the team hasn’t exactly excelled under his leadership.

“The tennis ball doesn’t know how old I am. The ball doesn’t know if I’m man or a woman or if I come from a communist country or not. Sport has always broken down these barriers” – Martina Navratilova


          What to do think of my ideas?


          Jon, an Armchair Sportsman of note.














Thursday, June 2, 2022


 Dear Readers,

         The Management of the Sun Valley Checkers Hyper in Cape Town leaves a lot to be desired.

                  I live in that area and I shop at this Hyper quite regularly and in my experience the help desk inside the main entrance is left completely unmanned at times and items in the hardware section don’t have clearly visible prices on them.

What really capped my bad management experience at this Hyper a couple of weeks ago was when an apple crumble special was promoted on a large board outside the main entrance at R39.99. When I saw this I went in only to find that the apple crumble there was priced at R44.99.

This sent me on a hunt for the store manager. After speaking to a couple of people who said they were ‘one of the managers’ I finally located the manager Wayne Rosenberg. After I pointed out this price discrepancy to him and told him I wanted to buy an apple crumble he went to a till and organised for me to get it at the promoted price.

The entrance to the Sun Valley Checkers Hyper

We all make mistakes so I expected him to immediately ensure that the price inside the shop matched the one on the board. But he did no such thing. Several days later nothing had changed so it is anyone’s guess as to how many people paid R44.99 for an apple crumble they could have got for R39.99. It should not have been up to a customer to point out such an obvious mistake which should have been seen earlier by the manager or one of the other managers and when the manager was made aware of this he should have corrected the situate immediately.

I put all this in an email to Pieter Engelbrecht the CEO of Shoprite Holdings the owners of Checkers. I ended it with “In my experience the service at this Hyper is nothing like as good as what you get at the nearby Pick n Pay.” He passed my complaint down the line to Brandon Anthony in the Customer Care Department.

Brandon thanked me for bringing my concerns to their attention and then referred to the various aspects of my complaint. This is what he told me:


·      “The staffing issue at the Information Counter has been addressed with the Front Admin Manager to ensure that there is constant coverage.

·      “The prices in the store have been updated and corrected which is a standard procedure and will be continually monitored.

·      “Regarding the price discrepancy on the apple crumble, the Branch Manager has been addressed about not immediately attending to the error on the price board outside and the price the item scanned for. The matter has also been addressed with the Stock Administrator and Department Manager to ensure that the pricing and scanning of products is correct, to minimise the likelihood of such an issue from reoccurring.

         “We would like to apologise for the frustration you experienced and hope that your future experiences in our store will be better.”


Jon, a Consumer Watchdog with a taste for apple crumble.

P.S. There are 37 Checkers Hypers and 202 Supermarkets in the Shoprite Group.

P.P.S. It’s rare to find a CEO of a large company who is not too high and mighty to answer emails sent to his or her email address by a journalist like me because they always have somebody to delegate it to. Pieter Engelbrecht as it turned out was not in that rare category, unlike Richard Brasher, who recently retired as Pick n Pay’s CEO. Richard set the Gold Standard for CEOs who answer their own emails. He would reply to mine sometimes within an hour or even on a Saturday and as a lone freelance it was not as though I was employed by a big newspaper or some national media group.


Tuesday, April 19, 2022


 Dear Readers,

The Upmarket Tramp
          One morning a few weeks ago my wife and I were driving along a virtually deserted road in front of the Sun Valley Primary School in Cape Town when I saw a tramp rummaging through a municipal dustbin attached to a light pole on the other side of the road.

          He looked so forlorn and down and out that I said to my wife: “I must give him something.” I stopped and looked through my wallet only to find that the coins I had  were of such miserable denominations it would have been an insult to give them to him. So I thumbed through my notes and the smallest one was a R50. I handed it out of the window and beckoned to him.

          The guy, who looked white and was probably in his early twenties at a guess, crossed the road, took one look at the money and walked off without saying a word.

          Neither of us could possibly imagine what could have gone through his mind.

            How often would this take place even once in a million times or even in a trillion? This was my third experience of what you could only describe as being in the ‘it will never happen’ category.

The Bad Driver

          Beside the Long Beach Mall in Cape Town there is a narrow road that runs down to a circle at the back of it where there is a Stop Sign, but a lot of motorists just ignore this and drive straight on because there is not much traffic there most of the time. Adjoining the circle there is a large car park for people going to the Mall.

          On this occasion I drove round the circle and turned left to go towards the car park entrance. To do this I had to cross the end of the road where the Stop Sign is only on this occasion the car coming along it did not stop. I had the right of way but fortunately I was going very slowly so a collision was narrowly averted.

          I drove into the car park and as I got out of my vehicle the bad driver was getting out of his almost opposite mine. “It’s customary to stop at Stop Streets,” I told him. He glared at me but said nothing as we both walked away.

          A few minutes later when I walked into Food Lover’s Market in the Mall I saw him coming towards me. He apologised profusely for going through the Stop Street without stopping and said that he had been “quite wrong” to do this.

          I was so amazed by his response that I think I mumbled something like: “Well it’s good to hear you admit you were wrong and hopefully you won’t do it again.”

          That was my second experience of something that might only happen once in a million times, if at all.

Cycling Madness

          A few years ago just before the annual Cape Town Cycle Tour through the City the roads were full of would-be competitors getting in tune for the big occasion. I was driving my wife’s car as she was away in Johannesburg.

          I was in one of two lanes of traffic going along Ou Kaapse Weg about to turn right into Kommetjie road when suddenly these cyclists appeared with a complete disregard for their own safety in the narrow space between the two lines of vehicles. They obviously all belonged to the same club because they were dressed in identical colours.

          I hooted to warn them of the danger they were in and as one passed my car he slapped the windscreen with his hand. It shattered with an almighty bang. You can imagine the fright I got, but fortunately there was still enough clear glass to enable me to see where I was going.

          All the cyclists disappeared as if somebody had waved a magic wand while I drove to the nearby Police station knowing full well that reporting the incident would be a futile exercise. Bicycles don’t have number plates or any other distinctive marking yet they are allowed to be driven in among all the other traffic on our roads.

          I had no chance of being able to identify the cycling car clapper, who seemed to belong to a Club in the nearby Ocean View Coloured township, yet I felt I had to report what happened to the Police because it’s the kind of thing insurance companies insist on regardless of the likelihood of success.

          I had hardly got to our home nearby when I received a call from the Police station. The Officer told me they had a man there who wanted to speak to me. When he came on the line he told me he was an advocate who had some kind of official position in the cycling club to which the car slapper belonged. He had heard about what had happened and he asked me to withdraw my Police complaint as the Club would then deal with the matter. He took my home address and undertook to ensure that the windscreen was replaced at their cost.

          Within a few days Plate Glass came to our house and replaced it perfectly. It didn’t cost me a cent and when my wife returned from Johannesburg the car was once more in the same condition as she had left it in.

          How often would that happen anywhere let alone in South Africa? It was a million to one chance or perhaps there were even greater odds against it turning out so well for us.


          Jon, a Consumer Watchdog and self appointed Poor Man’s Press Ombudsman.     








Monday, April 18, 2022


 Dear Readers,

I was born in Johannesburg, the only child of somewhat elderly parents. When I was three, my father, a Maths teacher, had to take early retirement because of ill heath.  He developed a thyroid condition which made him very ill, but the treatment was so successful that he made a complete recovery.

My aunt was the philosophy prof at Huguenot College in Wellington and owned property there. My parents chose to move to Wellington where they established a small Primary school. I attended this school where I and a motley group of children who for one reason or another, did not fit into the rigid Government School system, were taught by my parents, mostly by my mother, who with extraordinary skill managed to keep three or four classes occupied at the same time. Somehow she succeeded in imparting the three Rs to us, although I must admit that my Arithmetic remains shaky to this day. She also introduced us to Shakespeare and many other classics and instilled in us a love of literature.

In retirement my father discovered his true vocation, admin. He became a church warden, the chairman of the Bowls Club and the secretary or treasurer of almost every charitable organisation in Wellington. 

I grew up in a very academic atmosphere, surrounded by teachers and professors in a house filled with books on all sorts of subjects. After leaving school I went to Cape Town University. I didn't want to be a teacher like my Mom and Dad so I opted for Science courses which I struggled to master, but I did manage to acquire a BSc. Also at UCT I met my husband, Mike and we got married soon after we graduated. I worked for a short while in Cape Town as Food Bacteriologist, then Mike and I went to Zambia (which was then Northern Rhodesia) where he had a job as a Government Land Surveyor. 

In the first few years we spent a lot of our time camping in the bush, but when our four daughters got older they needed to go to school so I had to stay at home. We lived in several different towns including Livingstone and Lusaka. In Livingstone I was offered a teaching job.  I became a Science Teacher and to my surprise I found I quite enjoyed it. I later taught in schools in Choma and Lusaka too.

After Zambia got Independence, we left and settled in George. We lived in George for thirty years.  Happy years at first but I did go through a very bad time, having to cope with an alcoholic husband and a schizophrenic daughter. Then things improved. Mike joined AA. and was a changed person. Dot was put on medication which helped her though it didn't cure her.

Margaret's children Luke, Eleanor, Shirley & Patricia with 
granddaughter Danielle on the floor

Work was my salvation. In George I worked for Table Top as a bacteriologist, for SA breweries as a chemist on their Hop Farms, and for two years I taught in a township school, but the job I held down longest and enjoyed the most was as a soil chemist and researcher in the Dept of Forestry. Sadly, the Forestry Research station was closed down. But I was lucky and got a good teaching job. When I finally retired I was teaching a bridging course to post matrics at Mossgas.

After my husband died, I came to live in Cape Town sharing a house with my son, Luke.  Here I took courses in writing and just as my father found his true vocation after he retired, I discovered creative writing, re-invented myself and am now a published poet.



P.S. Here are the titles of my books of poetry: At least the Duck survived; The Last to Leave; Portrait in Thread; A Pious Pachyderm and Living Locked Down.