The monster that ate Berea

The monster that ate Berea

"Durban council not to be trusted," rules judge and orders nine-storey building under construction on the Berea to be demolished.

The company responsible for building a multi-million-rand development in Currie Road, Berea, Durban, may soon own an expensive heap of rubble instead.

On June 29 Serengeti Rise Industries was ordered by the High Court in Durban to demolish its half-built R60-million, nine-storey investment. Judge Esther Steyn’s finding left little room for an appeal and her judgment has left mud on the faces of both Serengeti and eThekwini Metro.   

The council and Serengeti failed to inform the affected neighbours of plans to build a massive structure in the heart of a residential area that would block the views of dozens of homeowners, rob them of any privacy and destroy the aesthetics of the sought-after suburb. 

Breakdown Volkswagen

Breakdown Volkswagen

Tour company tells all about Volkswagen's new "breakdown bus".

The wheels of the bus don’t go round and round as Volkswagen dodges complaints of faulty vehicles. 

Dependability is the word that Germany’s auto giant Volks-wagen likes its dealers to push with potential customers. “You know that when buying one you can count on getting where you need to go, when you want to,” assures VW’s spiel. Unless you happen to be Baz Bus, that is. The company has had to bring in a psychologist to counsel its managing director and stressed-out fleet drivers after investing R2.5 million in five new Volkswagen Crafters.

Why mental breakdowns over five Crafter 50 2.0 BiTDi high-roof panel vans – converted into “midibuses” to carry 22 international backpackers apiece in a unique “hop-on hop-off” service along our scenic western coastline? Because they broke down, time and time and time again. And again.

And despite the exchange of 1,065 emails at the latest count, Volkswagen South Africa refuses to do anything to mollify Baz Bus’s owner and managing director Barry Zeidel over its piles of junk.  

Absa fails sums test

Absa fails sums test

600% increase in fees is 'in line with inflation' according to the bank.

Absa claims that increases in its monthly service fees for home loan agreements, after remaining “unchanged” for years, are now only increased in line with inflation. Both claims were blatant lies, a client with the mathematical skills needed to do the calculations has discovered.

Last year Absa’s head of home loans, Carel Gronum, sent clients a letter in which he claimed that, historically, the monthly service and administration fees on Absa’s home loan accounts had remained unchanged since the commencement of these agreements.

Case of the disappearing millions

Case of the disappearing millions

How R600m vanished, under the expert care of Investec.
By Barry Sergeant.

At 11am on 13 July 2015 the Sheriff auctioned and sold 326 million ordinary shares in JCI Limited, equal to 9.72% of that company’s issued share capital.  The shares belonged to Black Bear Resources Ltd and had been attached by the Sheriff in execution of a costs order granted against Black Bear in September 2012, when it failed in its bid to put JCI into liquidation.

JCI remains, of course, at the centre of the wreckage left behind by the late Brett Kebble, who was shot and killed on 27 September 2005.

At the recent auction, there were no known bids from JCI itself, or from its controlling shareholders, Allan Gray (26.1%), and Investec Bank (26.7%). The latter had been principal lender to JCI from 1997, when Kebble clandestinely seized control of the mining investment company, until mid-2014.

Sanral's latest road to ruin

Sanral's latest road to ruin

Sanral and its cronies are determined to build a wildly expensive new route to Durban, when sensible repairs would do the trick. By Barry Sergeant.

As South Africa’s democracy “matures”, so the legacies of all kinds of interesting prior relationships continue to ripen. One project that cannot escape attention is the proposed N3 highway bypass that will effectively turn Harrismith into yet another South African ghost town, consigning thousands of people to unemployment, and tens of thousands of their dependants to destitution. That’s apart from the extra billions that it’s going to cost the South African road user.

If state roads agency Sanral and its crony road construction companies have their way, the N3 will be routed down an entirely redesigned and reconstructed De Beer’s Pass, rather than the existing Van Reenen Pass at Harrismith, as the gateway across the escarpment. If this project proceeds, an estimated R5 billion (more likely R10bn by the time it’s completed) will have to be found to fund the rerouting of the N3 highway between Johannesburg and Durban.

Acting Hawks boss rushes to appoint 'friends and cronies'

Acting Hawks boss rushes to appoint 'friends and cronies'

Senior officers excluded from selection committees. By Glynis Underhill.

When in March Judge Elias Matojane of the North Gauteng (Pretoria) High Court described acting Hawks boss Major-General Mthandazo Berning Ntlemeza as “biased and dishonest” and “lacking integrity and honour” for making false statements under oath in court, it was expected this would be his undoing. Yet no action was taken against the man in charge of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (DPCI) despite opposition calls for his axing.

(Ntlemeza had applied for leave to appeal a court finding that his suspension of Gauteng Hawks head Shadrack Sibiya was unlawful.)

But Ntlemeza remains secure in the knowledge that he enjoys high-level political backing, say senior Hawks members. He has recently fast-tracked around 60 promotions and appointments, sidelined experienced people, and suspended key senior Hawks figures. Particularly controversial has been the composition of the selection panels he has appointed to interview and select candidates for these jobs.

UPDATE: Glimmer in the Transet tunnel

UPDATE: Glimmer in the Transet tunnel

A combined summons has finally been issued against South Africa’s national transport monopoly, Transnet, by about 60,000 impoverished pensioners who, for over a decade, have received piffling 2% annual increases on their generally miniscule pensions.

The class-action summons issued by first plaintiff Johan Pretorius of Bloemfontein and second plaintiff Johan Kruger of Pretoria – both pensioners – draws a new element into the case. This involves the discovery of a remarkable R310 million “donation” given by the trustees of one of Transnet’s pension funds, the Transport Fund, to Transnet.

That sinking feeling

That sinking feeling

Not since the Battle of Trafalgar have we witnessed such marine hostilities.  By Jack Lundin.

More than a few of the R500,000-plus luxury pleasure boats that ply the waters of the Vaal River and dam have passed through the Vereeniging boat yard of Honda Marine’s one-time authorised dealer Tony Lindhorst. And this can be a painful experience.

Take the case of Sue Brownlie and her 18-foot custom-made Premier Pontoon. Brownlie hails from East London, where she spent 22 years building up her own Landvest estate agency. For family outings on the water she turned to Tony Lindhorst, then operating a boat business in Gonubie, and picked up the pontoon for R300,000. Standard Bank obliged with R201,420 and Brownlie paid the R100,000 balance in cash.

What's up with Labat Africa's share price?

What's up with Labat Africa's share price?

For years, Labat-Africa’s listed stock price bumped along at about 10 cents per share (cps). A year ago, it started issuing one of many cautionary notices to investors of its intention to make an acquisition.

Sex, drugs, lies and blackmail

Sex, drugs, lies and blackmail

How blonde spy double-crossed her clients and blackmailed her way into SARS and the Sunday Times. By the Noseweek Investigations Team It was a bomb of a story: a blonde Pretoria lawyer confessing to Sunday Times ...
 
The monster that ate Berea

The monster that ate Berea

"Durban council not to be trusted," rules judge and orders nine-storey building under construction on the Berea to be demolished. The company responsible for building a multi-million-rand development in Currie Road, Berea, Durban, ...

Breakdown Volkswagen

Breakdown Volkswagen

Tour company tells all about Volkswagen's new "breakdown bus". The wheels of the bus don’t go round and round as Volkswagen dodges complaints of faulty vehicles.  Dependability is the word that Germany’s auto giant Volks-wagen ...

Absa fails sums test

Absa fails sums test

600% increase in fees is 'in line with inflation' according to the bank. Absa claims that increases in its monthly service fees for home loan agreements, after remaining “unchanged” for years, are now only ...

Case of the disappearing millions

Case of the disappearing millions

How R600m vanished, under the expert care of Investec. By Barry Sergeant. At 11am on 13 July 2015 the Sheriff auctioned and sold 326 million ordinary shares in JCI Limited, equal to 9.72% of that ...

Sanral's latest road to ruin

Sanral's latest road to ruin

Sanral and its cronies are determined to build a wildly expensive new route to Durban, when sensible repairs would do the trick. By Barry Sergeant. As South Africa’s democracy “matures”, so the legacies of all kinds ...

Acting Hawks boss rushes to appoint 'friends and cronies'

Acting Hawks boss rushes to appoint 'friends and cronies'

Senior officers excluded from selection committees. By Glynis Underhill. When in March Judge Elias Matojane of the North Gauteng (Pretoria) High Court described acting Hawks boss Major-General Mthandazo Berning Ntlemeza as “biased and dishonest” ...

UPDATE: Glimmer in the Transet tunnel

UPDATE: Glimmer in the Transet tunnel

A combined summons has finally been issued against South Africa’s national transport monopoly, Transnet, by about 60,000 impoverished pensioners who, for over a decade, have received piffling 2% annual increases on their ...

That sinking feeling

That sinking feeling

Not since the Battle of Trafalgar have we witnessed such marine hostilities.  By Jack Lundin. More than a few of the R500,000-plus luxury pleasure boats that ply the waters of the Vaal River and dam ...

What's up with Labat Africa's share price?

What's up with Labat Africa's share price?

For years, Labat-Africa’s listed stock price bumped along at about 10 cents per share (cps). A year ago, it started issuing one of many cautionary notices to investors of its intention to make ...