Our dodgy man in London

Our dodgy man in London

On 12 March Business Day ran an editorial headed “Obed Mlaba – the right stuff for London”, shortly after it had been announced that Mlaba was President Jacob Zuma’s choice as the new ambassador there. The piece gushed on about the former Durban mayor’s business acumen, saying “Mr Mlaba showed a strong bias to business when he ran Durban and it is clear that he will try to bring new energy to the relationship with the UK”.

The newspaper noted that “it is in Britain where we lay the groundwork for our relationships with the industrialised world. The quality and vitality of our diplomacy in London, because it is where we still have so many friends, has never been more important”. 

Whoever wrote this obviously hasn’t kept up to date with what went on in Durban under Mlaba’s rule. And when he presented his credentials to Queen Elizabeth, the package is unlikely to have included a copy of the damning 7,051-page Manase Report into corruption in Durban. 

Two cases due to be heard within months involve Mlaba.

Eurolab feels heat over generic cancer drug

Eurolab feels heat over generic cancer drug

Company failed to disclose problems with treatment to Medicines Control Council

Early last year Noseweek shone the spotlight on the marketing of generic drugs – particularly those prescribed for the treatment of cancer – and on a generic drug distributor, Eurolab.

The company, which supplies oncology practices with what is ostensibly data-collection software, but is in effect a program that ensures any practice using it will prescribe or dispense Eurolab’s products wherever possible.

Eurolab distributes an oncology product, Axtere, manufactured by a company called Accord. The product is also known as Accord Docetaxel; Docetaxel being the name of the formulation. Axtere is a generic of an established cancer drug called Sanofi, which has come out of patent.

Axtere – a drug that needs to be mixed – is sold under two names, Taxotere and Docetere, and is administered intravenously through infusion lines. In each case the drug must be stored below 25°C and prepared and infused at room temperature.

Soon after Axtere made its appearance it was found to be seriously problematic: oncology practices complained that it “turned into jelly in the lines”. In other words, it separated, blocking the infusion lines and making it impossible to administer intravenously.

The oncologists objected to using it but Eurolab told them to “just heat the stuff up to 38°C and it’ll be fine” and “Here, use these heating devices”.

I pay the cops every week

I pay the cops every week

Joburg criminal lawyer admits to bribing.      

Last month Noseweek and other media reported that the chief financial officer of the Financial Services Board, Dawood Seedat, had suddenly resigned following disclosures that he had received large sums in cash from wealthy Johannesburg businessman Edrees Ahmed Hathurani, MD and major shareholder of a large retail chain, Africa Cash ’n Carry. The payments, totalling several million rand, had allegedly been extorted from him by Seedat and associates in the South African Revenue Service (SARS) in return for making his tax troubles “go away”.

It transpires the issue has a long and complicated history, and that Hathurani and some of his associates and advisors may themselves yet have a lot more to explain. And that they are not new to the idea of paying to have their problems with officialdom disappear.

Court records show that in February 2010 Hathurani received an income-tax assessment requiring him to pay a spectacular R580 million in respect of arrear income tax, penalties and interest. He lodged an appeal with the Tax Court against the assessment but SARS insisted on immediate payment on the so-called “pay-now-argue-later” principle.

Facing the shame

Facing the shame

The black middle class must confront SA’s problems – or be forced to handle serious accusations, says Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela in an interview by Sue Segar.

She is a clinical psychologist, a member of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), one-time University of Cape Town academic and author of the award-winning book A Human Being Died That Night: A South African Story of Forgiveness. The book is an account of her prison interviews with apartheid hit-squad commander Eugene de Kock, who was sentenced to life imprisonment, and the extraordinary relationship that developed between the two.

Besides her work on forgiveness and reconciliation, Gobodo-Madikizela remains closely plugged into current developments in South Africa. These days, the comfortable indifference of the black middle class is a red flag to this concerned member of their ranks, who loves opera, jazz, movies, gardening and walking at the seaside.

Gobodo-Madikizela, is about to launch her latest book, Dare We Hope? Facing our Past to find a New Future – a collection of local and international writing that offers a unique perspective on healing a wounded South Africa. She has become increasingly preoccupied with the need for engagement by the black middle class. Her book tackles, head on, the lack of hope that seems to have taken root in South Africa in a context of scandals, corruption and protests.

Historic steps will rise again

Historic steps will rise again

Locals puffed up and down the flight for 125 years, but then it was closed for repairs – which took an inconvenient ten years. By Donwald Pressly

The historic De Smidt Street steps, which run down the lower slopes of Signal Hill from Loader Street to Waterkant Street in Cape Town’s tourist magnet of De Waterkant, have been closed and “under repair” for the past 10 years because, it seems, the city authorities simply can’t get their act together.

Murder most foul

Murder most foul

Murder mystery delays R17m insurance payout by Discovery Life to victim’s partner.

Alexander Klencovljevic, 29,  had been in a permanent relationship, living “as a married couple” with mega-millionaire Jeffery Mark Wiggill, 54, for nine years – bringing up five children together – when Wiggill was murdered on 19 June last year. For the past year Discovery Life has been desperately trying to hold off having to pay out R17 million on the two life policies they sold to Wiggill in 2005 and 2010.

Klencovljevic recently launched a high court application to force the insurer to pay out on the two claims where he is the major nominated beneficiary. In court papers he states that during their relationship, Wiggill adopted four children, now aged between three and 18, while Klencovljevic himself adopted a fifth child, now aged six. He needs the money to support them.

A smooth-tongued Bishops' boy

A smooth-tongued Bishops' boy

Victims keep falling for charmer’s wiles

There’s a conman on the loose in the Western Cape. He may be small fry, but he’s slick and he’s caused a lot of grief, so be careful if you meet a man called Duncan Briggs – a “Bishops boy”.

Briggs, 45, is charming, smooth-talking and convincing. A few years ago he took the good people of Hermanus for an almighty ride. People like Leigh Murray, a personal trainer from Johannesburg, who had moved there with her children when her marriage was in trouble. They struck up a romance and Briggs charmed Murray with grand ideas of buying a farm together in nearby Bot Rivier, where she could establish the wellness centre she’d dreamt of owning.

Rough Justice at Corobrik

Rough Justice at Corobrik

After an internal fraud is uncovered at Corobrik, employees wonder why some people have been targeted and others not.

In November 2013 Johann Pretorius manager of Corobrik’s South Coast Centre – a man with 18 years’ service – was dismissed following a disciplinary hearing when the company uncovered a R2.8 million fraud involving false credit notes.

Although it was clear that the fraud was not committed by Pretorius but by an employee, Mohan Amichand, Pretorius was charged in a supervisory capacity – with gross negligence – on the basis that Amichand reported to him.

Landlord Hell

Landlord Hell

Nightmare tenants plunge property owners into a frightening spiral of debt. By Helen Grange

What do you do as a private property owner and landlord when your tenant owes you more than R70,000 – a year’s worth of outstanding rent – and steadfastly refuses to move out, having bolted the door from the inside? That, and you already owe the city council R20,000 for water and electricity that she continues to use?

This is the predicament of Lebo and Zakhele Zulu, who let their three-bedroom house in Ormonde, south of Johannesburg, to Avril Adams for R6,000 a month. Four months into the deal Adams stopped paying and ignored letters from the rental agent, Rawsons Property. Only after the Zulus resorted to engaging a lawyer in December was a court date set – August 11 – to hear their application for an eviction order.

Latest reports from Africa Confidential

Latest reports from Africa Confidential

Sacrificial Lamb. Phantom blogger teases Zim politicians

Police in Zimbabwe have arrested a top editor suspected of being the mystery blogger who seriously embarrassed Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) during the elections – but he denies all charges.

The Baba Jukwa affair – “Baba Jukwa” being the pseudonym of the anonymous blogger who tweaked the tails of Zanu-PF leaders during last year’s election campaign – is taking a more sombre turn.

Personal security trumps food security at AU summit

Africa’s leaders are more concerned about their own security, than about food security.

The massacres in northern Kenya reinforced concern about a belt of worsening instability across the middle of Africa and the lack of effective forces to stop it.

Borderline. Bye Bye Bruce

Borderline. Bye Bye Bruce

Depending what country they come from, the Australian government has offered asylum-seekers in its Manus and Nauru offshore detention centres up to AU$10,000 (R100,500) to go home. Those who don’t v ...

Randgold: explosive as the Arms Deal

Randgold: explosive as the Arms Deal

Investec claim they are, effectively, free to benefit from crime. By Barry Sergeant.      A sage once said that when in a hole, the first rule to observe is to stop digging. This advice seems ...
 
Our dodgy man in London

Our dodgy man in London

On 12 March Business Day ran an editorial headed “Obed Mlaba – the right stuff for London”, shortly after it had been announced that Mlaba was President Jacob Zuma’s choice as the new ...

Eurolab feels heat over generic cancer drug

Eurolab feels heat over generic cancer drug

Company failed to disclose problems with treatment to Medicines Control Council Early last year Noseweek shone the spotlight on the marketing of generic drugs – particularly those prescribed for the treatment of cancer – and on ...

I pay the cops every week

I pay the cops every week

Joburg criminal lawyer admits to bribing.       Last month Noseweek and other media reported that the chief financial officer of the Financial Services Board, Dawood Seedat, had suddenly resigned following disclosures that he had ...

Facing the shame

Facing the shame

The black middle class must confront SA’s problems – or be forced to handle serious accusations, says Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela in an interview by Sue Segar. She is a clinical psychologist, a member of the Truth and ...

Historic steps will rise again

Historic steps will rise again

Locals puffed up and down the flight for 125 years, but then it was closed for repairs – which took an inconvenient ten years. By Donwald Pressly The historic De Smidt Street steps, which ...

Murder most foul

Murder most foul

Murder mystery delays R17m insurance payout by Discovery Life to victim’s partner. Alexander Klencovljevic, 29,  had been in a permanent relationship, living “as a married couple” with mega-millionaire Jeffery Mark Wiggill, 54, for nine ...

A smooth-tongued Bishops' boy

A smooth-tongued Bishops' boy

Victims keep falling for charmer’s wiles There’s a conman on the loose in the Western Cape. He may be small fry, but he’s slick and he’s caused a lot of grief, so be careful if ...

Rough Justice at Corobrik

Rough Justice at Corobrik

After an internal fraud is uncovered at Corobrik, employees wonder why some people have been targeted and others not. In November 2013 Johann Pretorius manager of Corobrik’s South Coast Centre – a man with 18 ...

Landlord Hell

Landlord Hell

Nightmare tenants plunge property owners into a frightening spiral of debt. By Helen Grange What do you do as a private property owner and landlord when your tenant owes you more than R70,000 – a ...

Latest reports from Africa Confidential

Latest reports from Africa Confidential

Sacrificial Lamb. Phantom blogger teases Zim politicians Police in Zimbabwe have arrested a top editor suspected of being the mystery blogger who seriously embarrassed Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (Zanu-PF) during the elections – ...

Borderline. Bye Bye Bruce

Borderline. Bye Bye Bruce

Depending what country they come from, the Australian government has offered asylum-seekers in its Manus and Nauru offshore detention centres up to AU$10,000 (R100,500) to go home. Those who don’t volunteer will spend a “very, ...