SARS spies, damned spies and more lies

SARS spies, damned spies and more lies

A Byzantine history of internecine strife in the national security system. By Martin Welz, with contributions by the Noseweek investigative unit.

Given all the secret deals and factional spying that has most South African public structures and institutions in ruin, it came as not much of a surprise when, in August last year, the Sunday Times claimed to have discovered an illegal, “rogue” spy unit operating out of the South African Revenue Service (SARS). Even if they did get most of the story wrong and end up targeting the wrong person, the real irony is that they, themselves, appear to have been played in the spy-versus-spy game.

Since the ANC’s earliest days in power, it has been party policy to deploy its loyal cadres to positions of power and influence – not only to do the job and enjoy the financial rewards but, primarily, to advance ANC interests. Why would the management of SARS be an exception?

Land-grab by stealth

Land-grab by stealth

The new euphemism is ‘custodianship’ – where the government will own all the land.

What it boils down to is a wholesale land-grab by deceit of the agricultural sector in South Africa. It just won’t carry that politically incorrect label and we probably won’t see any of the messy pictures of poor white farmers driven down Julius Malema Boulevard in their rusty 1960 Hillmans, trailers full of their farmhouse furniture, à la Zimbabwe.

Even Dr Anthea Jeffery, who is head of special research at the liberal-oriented South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR), is careful not to call it a nationalisation assault. But her warnings about the current policy trajectory of the South African Government as it affects farming is deeply disturbing.

Eskom plays Russian Roulette

Eskom plays Russian Roulette

Glencore vs Eskom – and some curious BEE deals

Massive spoils went to a Mauritius company with anonymous shareholders.


Mention Optimum Coal and the following words, attributed to Mark Twain, immediately come to mind: A mine is a hole in the ground with a liar standing next to it. Except in this case, there are probably several liars.

Predecessors of mining conglomerate BHP Billiton established the Optimum Coal Mine to supply Eskom’s key Hendrina Power Station by way of a conveyor belt from mine to power station. The 30-year contract they signed in 1993 determined that the price of coal supplied to Eskom was to escalate in line with the general inflation rate. Over the years, however, it became clear that mining costs were rising at a far higher rate than the general inflation rate. By 2010 BHP Billiton was happy to sell – some say give away – Optimum to a BEE consortium.

Quite apart from getting shot of an asset with poor profit prospects, what was in it for BHP Billiton?

Tangled web of Cato Manor

Tangled web of Cato Manor

Insights into the scandalous machinations behind the Cato Manor accusations.

Hunters have become the hunted, with members of the former Serious and Violent Crimes Unit, of the Durban Organised Crime Unit based at Cato Manor, now demanding that racketeering charges against them be quashed – and asking that disgraced acting national director of public prosecutions, Nomgcobo Jiba, be ordered to pay all their legal costs from her own pocket. She is cited as both first and second respondent in the application launched on 8 July.

Meantime Jiba was to have gone on trial for perjury and fraud after Judge Trevor Gorven found she unlawfully ordered the prosecution of Major General Johan Booysen on murder and racketeering charges, then lied to the court by saying she had evidence to back the charges. The charges were, however, dropped by new NPA boss Shaun Abrahams, as he believed there was no prospect of it succeeding. Jiba was his deputy, who he has now placed in charge of all prosecutions in the country.

 

SAA hits legal turbulence

SAA hits legal turbulence

The national carrier could face up to R6bn damages claims.

SAA’s anti-competitive ghosts have come back to haunt it. Adding to its current management chaos and desperate attempts to make ends meet, it faces two massive claims potentially amounting to more than R3 billion – one from Comair for R1bn and another for R2.2bn from businessman Robert Watson, who has acquired the rights and interests of Rethabile, the BEE minority shareholder of the now-defunct Sun Air.

Neither of these amounts include interest, so SAA could be facing claims in excess of R6bn, sufficient to swallow the entire bail out received from the government earlier this year.

Ellies plug isn't wonderful

Ellies plug isn't wonderful

Inventor seeks justice in court.

It’s the old story of the big boys bullying the little guy, taking his idea and then squeezing him out of the deal. But in this case, the inventor of the iconic Wonder Plug is not lying down. He wants to settle the score once and for all with Ellies Electronics, whose very profitable surge protection plug is, at best, based on his product; at worst, a near copy of it.

Jason Roper is MD of Africa Surge Protection and designer of the original Wonder Plug, which he patented. In 2002 he teamed up with Ellies Electronics, who agreed to sell the plug, along with a range of similar Roper products,  in its chain stores but with their own branding. “The deal was that we’d supply, and they’d distribute our range,” says Roper.

All very well, until the patent on the Wonder Plug lapsed.

It didn’t affect the business relationship with Ellie Salkow, founder and executive chairman of Ellies, and in 2005, at their annual meeting to discuss production needs, Roper was asked to expand his production capacity to meet the growing demand for the Wonder Plug.

Black like me

Black like me

Transracial adoptive parents subjected to torrents of criticism. 

I recently joined a Facebook group devoted to transracial adoption. I thought that by joining I would meet and have enlightening and fulfilling discussions with like-minded people across the globe on the subject. I also thought it would be a good platform to attract readers to my blog which is on parenting and, occasionally, when the topic calls for it, the fact that my husband and I are white and our children are black and adopted. The old adage of being careful of what you wish for is ringing so loudly it threatens to drown out the maxed-out volume of our home.

The transracial adoptions group is large, with over 6,000 members, based predominantly in the United States. My request to join was accepted and I was told to read the pinned post and then spend at least 48 hours reading past postings to get a feel for the group. I read the pinned post then introduced myself and added a link to a blog I wrote six months ago on our journey to adopt our first child. I immediately received comments and feedback, all positive, with many queries regarding the differences in SA/US terminology, procedures, etc. Then I was rapped over the knuckles, put firmly back in my box and instructed not to engage again until I had done the 48-hour homework.

Anxious Times Media pensioners await judgment

Anxious Times Media pensioners await judgment

Are Times Media pensioners about to lose their mystery backer in the battle for their full medical aid subsidy with new group owners Blackstar?

In July, nose189 reported that an elite group of 23 greyheads, including former executives Stephen Mulholland, Roy Paulson and Jimmy Mould, had accepted a settlement offer by CEO Andrew Bonamour that would see their slashed medical aid subsidies fully restored, back-dated for the past two years.

No such luck for the remaining 200-or-so lower-ranked pensioners. Only the 23 whose names appeared on the original court papers would benefit from the offer. Not to worry, new proceedings will be launched “in which we will seek judgment in favour of ALL pensioners,”  former Sunday Times managing editor Mould, 76, told Noseweek at the time.

Corobrik at CCMA

Corobrik at CCMA

Unprofessional conduct costs Corobrik plenty.

In August last year Noseweek carried a report that Corobrik had been severely reprimanded at a CCMA hearing in Durban for the manner in which it attempted to fire its South Coast Centre manager, Johann Pretorius (nose178). He had allegedly failed to detect credit-note fraud by a junior employee. The CCMA arbitrator ordered Pretorius’s reinstatement, but both parties subsequently agreed to a confidential financial settlement.

Damaged Goodes. Dreamtime nightmare.

Damaged Goodes. Dreamtime nightmare.

A conversation about race, Aussie style: In 2013, a 13-year-old spectator called an Aboriginal footballer “an ape”. The footballer identified her and security removed her from the stadium. At the time, a chorus of voices (media “shock jocks” and right-wing commentators) said the AFL player, Adam Goodes, should apologise for humiliating the “little girl” who could not have understood what she was saying.

On realising she was young, Goodes  graciously asked people to support her,  and the media, to go easy. “It’s not a witch-hunt, I don’t want people to go after this young girl. We’ve just got to help educate society better so it doesn’t happen again. It’s not her fault, she’s 13, she’s still so innocent, I don’t put any blame on her.”

Cyril under the microscope

Cyril under the microscope

Maybe he’s not the mega-rich entrepreneur the public believes him to be. Testifying to the Marikana Enquiry on 11 August last year, Cyril Ramaphosa described Shanduka, the company with which he is generally ...
 
SARS spies, damned spies and more lies

SARS spies, damned spies and more lies

A Byzantine history of internecine strife in the national security system. By Martin Welz, with contributions by the Noseweek investigative unit. Given all the secret deals and factional spying that has most South African public ...

Land-grab by stealth

Land-grab by stealth

The new euphemism is ‘custodianship’ – where the government will own all the land. What it boils down to is a wholesale land-grab by deceit of the agricultural sector in South Africa. It just won’t ...

Eskom plays Russian Roulette

Eskom plays Russian Roulette

Glencore vs Eskom – and some curious BEE deals Massive spoils went to a Mauritius company with anonymous shareholders. Mention Optimum Coal and the following words, attributed to Mark Twain, immediately come to mind: A ...

Tangled web of Cato Manor

Tangled web of Cato Manor

Insights into the scandalous machinations behind the Cato Manor accusations. Hunters have become the hunted, with members of the former Serious and Violent Crimes Unit, of the Durban Organised Crime Unit based at Cato ...

SAA hits legal turbulence

SAA hits legal turbulence

The national carrier could face up to R6bn damages claims. SAA’s anti-competitive ghosts have come back to haunt it. Adding to its current management chaos and desperate attempts to make ends meet, it faces ...

Ellies plug isn't wonderful

Ellies plug isn't wonderful

Inventor seeks justice in court. It’s the old story of the big boys bullying the little guy, taking his idea and then squeezing him out of the deal. But in this case, the ...

Black like me

Black like me

Transracial adoptive parents subjected to torrents of criticism.  I recently joined a Facebook group devoted to transracial adoption. I thought that by joining I would meet and have enlightening and fulfilling discussions with ...

Anxious Times Media pensioners await judgment

Anxious Times Media pensioners await judgment

Are Times Media pensioners about to lose their mystery backer in the battle for their full medical aid subsidy with new group owners Blackstar? In July, nose189 reported that an elite group of 23 ...

Corobrik at CCMA

Corobrik at CCMA

Unprofessional conduct costs Corobrik plenty. In August last year Noseweek carried a report that Corobrik had been severely reprimanded at a CCMA hearing in Durban for the manner in which it attempted to fire ...

Damaged Goodes. Dreamtime nightmare.

Damaged Goodes. Dreamtime nightmare.

A conversation about race, Aussie style: In 2013, a 13-year-old spectator called an Aboriginal footballer “an ape”. The footballer identified her and security removed her from the stadium. At the time, a ...