Tuesday, January 31, 2012

RESTRUCTURED SHAREMAX GROUP




RESTRUCTURED SHAREMAX GROUP
UPDATE COMMUNICATION
31 January 2012
The Boards of Directors (“Boards”) of the Restructured Sharemax Group report as follows.
SCHEMES OF ARRANGEMENT PROCESSES
1. The Boards are pleased to announce that the High Court has sanctioned all the
Schemes of Arrangement in respect of the Zambezi Companies, the Villa Companies
and the Income Plan Companies, as proposed during November 2011 to relevant
scheme creditors and scheme shareholders.
2. The relevant Court Orders sanctioning the Schemes have been registered with the
Companies and Intellectual Property Commission in accordance with the provisions of
the Companies Act.
3. During December 2011 the Scheme in respect of the Growth Plan Companies, as
proposed during November 2011 to relevant scheme creditors and scheme
shareholders, was approved and adopted in accordance with the provisions of the
Companies Act.
4. As provided for in the Schemes, the Registrar of Banks has, in terms of the Banks Act,
formally withdrawn all the Directives which pertained to the repayment of funds, which
were issued during September 2010, in respect of Sharemax Investments (Pty)
Limited, all the Sharemax Syndication Companies and the Individuals against whom
such Directives were issued.
5. Following the aforesaid, all four Schemes have become unconditional with effect from
20 January 2012.
6. The unfortunate delay in obtaining sanctioning of the Zambezi, Villa and Income Plan
Companies’ Schemes is regretted. This was caused by the actions of parties who
attempted to intervene in the sanctioning process of those Schemes, under
circumstances beyond the control of the Boards. These parties withdrew their
intervening actions. Save for additional legal costs to the Sharemax Syndication
Companies in opposing the attempted intervention, the delay did not result in any
losses or further costs to the Sharemax Syndication Companies or Investors.
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7. Attention is drawn to the fact that the Directives and their effect had, since October
2010, been under formal judicial Review, up to the date of the withdrawal of the
Directives as aforesaid.
8. The Boards are satisfied that no relevant transgression of the Banks Act exists in
respect of the Restructured Sharemax Group which may negatively, or at all, impact
on the continuing affairs and/or the assets of the Restructured Group.
9. The Boards are furthermore satisfied that there exists no illegality in the Restructured
Group that could affect the affairs of the Restructured Group or the restructured
interests of Investors going forward.
10. The Boards thank the thousands of Investors who voted in such overwhelming
numbers in favour of acceptance and approval of the Schemes. In excess of 99,5%,
both in number and in value, voted in favour of the Schemes, to the best benefit of all
34,000 Investors.
11. The Boards have commenced implementing the Schemes and the successful
restructuring of the historical Sharemax Syndication Companies group, resulting from
the successful Schemes of Arrangement processes.
12. The historical Sharemax Syndication Companies group is now part of an unfortunate
chapter in history.
13. The Boards and Investors can now look to the future and the enhancing of the affairs
and value of the Restructured Group and the assets in which Investors had historically
invested, and now remain with their restructured interests.
14. The Boards will do all in their power to add and unlock value in the best interests of
Investors, not only in terms of monthly income, but also in terms of the maximum
capital repayment as envisaged in the Scheme Circulars.
15. Business is continuing in the ordinary course, without risk of interference from third
parties with agenda’s pertaining to profiteering from actions aimed at unwarranted
and unfounded liquidation, judicial management or similar processes, which actions
caused immense hardship and contributed to the loss of value of the historical
Sharemax portfolio.
16. The Boards have embarked upon the procuring of short and long term funding in
order to, inter alia, upgrade various of the shopping centres within the Restructured
Group and as priorities, to complete the road works at the Zambezi Mall, complete
current upgrading activities and procure optimal tenanting in all centres.
17. The Boards are also in discussion with various parties in regard to furthering the Villa
Mall project as soon as practicably possible.
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18. The Receivers for scheme creditors and scheme shareholders having been appointed
in terms of the Schemes, have commenced the preparation of Debenture Certificates
to be dispatched in due course to Investors, in terms of the provisions of the Schemes.
19. The Boards emphasise that no basis or need exists for any judicial or statutory
sanction or supervision of any kind in respect of the management or affairs of the
Restructured Group, and that all affairs of the Restructured Group are under the
control of the Boards, working in conjunction with the Receivers to the extent
necessary as per the relevant provisions of the Schemes.
20. The Boards thank the South African Reserve Bank for the opportunity afforded to the
Boards to procure the restructuring of the affairs of the historical Sharemax
Syndication Companies group, as successfully as such restructuring has been
achieved, resulting in the Restructured Group.
21. The Boards furthermore thank all the Advisors for their valued assistance during the
process of restructuring.
FURTHER PROGRESS
Further and regular progress reports and updates will follow with information on specific
properties, their upgrades and development, as soon as practicably possible.
Please note that this information will be available on the Frontier website
www.frontieram.co.za. You are welcome to visit this website for regular updates and
background information.
Investors will be informed directly via sms of any communication placed onto the web.
Please also note that only this website, sms’s, telephonic and personal communication,
including emails and letters, directly to and from Investors, will in future be the official
medium of communication utilised and acknowledged by the Restructured Group.
Queries may be directly addressed by contacting the Frontier Client Services at 0860 77 77
22 or emailing admin@frontieram.co.za.
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A plea for a proper investigation into the debacle.
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ALEC HOGG: Well, Chris de Beer has got a similar case that he's digging into. He's a lawyer at De Beer Janse v Vuuren & De Wet. Chris, you've taken a particular interest in Sharemax. We'll get on to that in a moment, but why? What stimulated you to be interested in this whole saga?

CHRIS DE BEER: Hi Alec. Ja, we are acting on behalf of investors in some of the syndication companies and we had a proper look. We've been investigating the scheme for a while now, and ... down to the fact that in our papers we basically state in 700 pages what we believe the state of affairs is. Certainly some of the syndications are doing much better than the others, but the application is brought with a view of ultimately ensuring protection of investors and the public.

ALEC HOGG: You mention an application. You too are going to the courts to try and resolve an issue that you feel is problematic with those who are currently running the Sharemax portfolios. Why are you concerned that they aren't doing a good job?

CHRIS DE BEER: As far as "basically concerned that they are not doing a good job", I think the concern is more regarding the powers that are divested to the statutory managers. They are appointed in terms of the Banks Act, and they've got ... limited powers, whereas if you apply for a judicial manager they've got far more powers than the statutory manager, and they can do proper investigations into financial affairs. They can deal properly with any irregularities if there should have been any. They can better ensure the protection of investors.

ALEC HOGG: You say that you are representing investors. How many investors are those, Chris?

CHRIS DE BEER: Well, it's a group of investors. You've got people putting a lot of money in...

ALEC HOGG: So it's a lot.

CHRIS DE BEER: Pensioners as well. One of my clients put R10m in one of these syndications.

ALEC HOGG: What possessed him to do that? R10m in a Sharemax syndication?

CHRIS DE BEER: It's a lot of money into what was sold as being a good property investment.

ALEC HOGG: So he bought the story, he gave some broker, what, probably R3m in commission, and he's now struggling to get his money back, or at least to get some of it back?

CHRIS DE BEER: You see, that's the reason I say, Alec, there should be proper investigation into this. We don't want to be responsible with statements we make. The bottom line is that we see that some of the properties, specifically the latest ones, are grossly overvalued. And we can't see how with limited powers any statutory manager can properly protect investors and the public. If you have a look at the profile of the investors, I mean, it's old people, it's basically a mix. But ja, it should be a very responsible approach, and that's why we also try to ensure continuity by requesting the court to appoint the statutory managers as the co-judicial managers.

ALEC HOGG: So you want judicial managers. In South Africa's history, though, the past 27 years, only one property has come out of judicial management. All the others have actually gone bust. Is that not something that might happen here - that you then get the liquidators getting their hands on Sharemax, and heaven knows if anything's going to come out after that's happened.

CHRIS DE BEER: What I can tell you about that, Alec, is that at this stage we are approaching the court to get the permission in terms of the appointment of the statutory managers to bring judicial management applications in respect of seven of the syndication schemes. I think the two most problematic schemes are the Zambezi Retail Park and The Villa Retail Park. We are basically bringing two judicial management applications for Zambezi and for Villa.

ALEC HOGG: Those are the two biggest ones, are they?

CHRIS DE BEER: Yes. The two biggest ones, the two latest ones and also the ones with the biggest problems, looking at values.

ALEC HOGG: Chris, just on a broader sense, you say you put together 700 pages for the courts. Is there stuff that's come out in your investigation that we haven't seen yet from Sharemax?

CHRIS DE BEER: Alec, I can tell you this much. The papers are available from tomorrow at 10 o'clock, on an internet website. It's a link that you can find on the internet site. It's a public document, so anybody who wants to read it can go and read it there.

ALEC HOGG: How bad were these guys - Mr Willie Botha and his team, his cohorts?

CHRIS DE BEER: Well, I think it's for the reader to decide. At this stage we are strongly of the view that there should be further investigation into the affairs of the group. I think it's quite clear that there have been irregularities, otherwise there wouldn't have been statutory managers. But ja, I think specifically if you look at the way that they conducted loans between the companies - I think that's something that needs to be attended to.

ALEC HOGG: Chris, just finally - did you track down any assets abroad, overseas?

CHRIS DE BEER: Well, at this stage we haven't really had the opportunity to do that, but that's something that a judicial manager will probably have a proper look at, and we'll investigate that as we go further.

ALEC HOGG: Chris de Beer is a lawyer at De Beer Janse v Vuuren & De Wet, and he's done some serious investigation, as you heard, into Sharemax. We will be posting that link onto Moneyweb tomorrow. You can go and read the 700 pages and make up your own mind.
( Money Web)
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Special Report Podcast: Niki Vontas – CEO, Bonatla

Niki Vontas cries foul says communication process to shareholders is flawed.
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ALEC HOGG: It’s Tuesday December 13 2011 and in this Boardroom Talk special podcast, Niki Vontas, chief executive of Bonatla Property, joins us now. Niki, good to have you on the programme, there’s been big developments in the Sharemax saga. From your perspective though, you did propose a rescue scheme and walked away, why? What was the background to that?

NIKI VONTAS: I put together a proposal that was originally accepted by the directors of Sharemax and they circulate it to the constituencies. Unfortunately, if you remember, there were a lot of public debates and public analysis in the Financial Mail or the Finance Week in which I commented and obviously I commented on controversial findings of my due diligence and they invoked this disclosures to the press for canceling the transaction summarily for disclosure of, for a breach of non-disclosure, which I find very funny because the press knew almost as much I knew already.

ALEC HOGG: So, you didn’t really walk away it was more a question of being kicked out.

NIKI VONTAS: I need to tell you I still haven’t walked away, there could be still some surprises but I cannot comment on that yet.

ALEC HOGG: But at the moment shareholders or investors, 35 000 of them, at Sharemax have actually voted in favour of a rescue scheme that’s being decided on right now. You don’t think it’s such a good idea?

NIKI VONTAS: Well, first obviously I wouldn’t like to comment on the process but from the little I’ve seen, if you visit the Sharemax website you’ll see that there’s less than 200 people visiting that website a day, there’s very little visits. What you find generally speaking in this doomed [UNCLEAR] syndication schemes like Bluezone that we salvaged or Sharemax or [UNCLEAR] or Realcor, you’ll find that the investors are generally older investors, generally Afrikaans, they haven’t got an email address, they haven’t got proper communication skills and they really rely on [UNCLEAR] communication to get decisions or information passed onto them. So, what I dispute really is that the process is completely flawed. I don’t believe that proper documentation has been circulated to investors to allow them whether or not they will get the investment of such a long period as [UNCLEAR] ten years and what Magnus Heystek, in fact, commented on the Business Report is absolutely right. It’s a total circus.

ALEC HOGG: It’s a circus you say?

NIKI VONTAS: It’s a total circus…[UNCLEAR] a total circus because if you want to put a proposal to 30 000 or 40 000 people on most probably the biggest failure in physical property in South Africa, you at least make the owner of at least the proper analysis of the merit or the pitfalls, you give feasibilities, you give time value of money, your present value, the returns over such a long period. You give them some form of information to ponder about and you don’t give them such a short time basically. Basically to me it’s a little bit of a hit and run operation that’s basically the way I consider it.

ALEC HOGG: From a business perspective though, can this rescue plan that has been proposed work?

NIKI VONTAS: I don’t think so. You’ll find that the Sharemax [UNCLEAR] is not finished, you’ll find some further applications for liquidations, further litigation. Obviously by now the investors are desperate and therefore they are going to consider anything but I still believe that in property there is always a solution. Sometimes if the difficulties are extreme, like in Sharemax, the solutions are more extreme but I still believe its investors deserve proper information in order to make a proper decision. They should, I think…if you want to talk to shareholders you can work like in the old Company Act, [UNCLEAR] to get special resolutions, you conduct meetings, you’ve got quorums and things like that. I haven’t seen anything of that sort. It looks like a bosberaad and the next day you basically announce a 99.9% approval. Last time I’ve seen that it was 1938 and 1939 in Hitler’s referendum. So, my feeling, you need to apply corporate governance, the new companies act, you need to apply proper process to give the time and information to investors to decide whether or not these solutions be good for them an what applies for them, applies for anybody. If I do that transaction, they should also call special meetings and give information and give analysis and ask the press to comment. This thing is a little bit of an occult operation.

ALEC HOGG: Do you know Connie Myburgh, the lawyer who’s behind this rescue scheme?

NIKI VONTAS: Yes, I’ve heard about him, yes.

ALEC HOGG: I believe our investigation journalist, Julius Cobbett, says that he was one of those who vigorously defended the Garek disaster. Lots of people lost much money there as well. What is his motive in this? Are you saying that his motive perhaps is questionable?

NIKI VONTAS: I believe Mr. Myburgh was involved also, if I remember, with Colin Barnard and the fiasco on the Melrose Arch deal with the mine pension fund in 2004, on which I think the late Ian Fife put some very nice article on them, so there must be a bibliography on the SM available if [UNCLEAR]

ALEC HOGG: So, if the courts are to sanction this, would you then try to go to court to get it reversed?

NIKI VONTAS: No, we’ve got other things pending but I cannot believe a court, looking at the way this process was handled, is going to sanction it. I don’t believe a proper judge is going to sanction a process like that. It’s the biggest failure in property in South Africa with 40 000 or 45 000 victims that are asked to give the money over and most of them, I can guarantee you, will be dead before the last payment because they are generally - the syndication investors in all these schemes – are generally retired people, who unfortunately invested their life savings in a property investment with obviously a property and a financial risk and therefore they lost their investment and now ask to receive the return on the investment through their estates because a lot of them won’t survive that [UNCLEAR], I can tell you that.

ALEC HOGG: Niki, outside of Sharemax there’s another controversial property issue going on at the moment, where the shareholders in a company called Accentuate or 26% shareholders there are tackling the management on a lease that was signed by the management before the property was sold. Do you have any insight into this?

NIKI VONTAS: Well, no, I’m quite aware of that transaction, all I can comment from what I…and I pursued it over the last year as well, all I can comment is that first if you as a director are involved in a property company and you’re obviously a director of the operating company, which is listed on the AltX I think, you should technically, if you sell that property company or the property you should have a related party circular, whereby you recuse yourself from any voting on your shares and you allow your shareholders to decide if this deal is good or bad for the company. I don’t think this process was followed and the other comment that I have is that if you do a leaseback, industrial leaseback, traditionally the operating company sells its property by signing a lease and obviously receives the proceeds from the sale of the property. In this case the property went into a ten year onerous lease but without receiving any proceeds from any sale. The proceeds of the sale went obviously to the shareholders of the property company or the directors, I suppose, and therefore there’s no merit whatsoever. If I was in the property company I would have only signed a three or four year lease or five year lease because it doesn’t help you to be on the [UNCLEAR] for ten years for the benefit of somebody else who’s unrelated to your operations.

ALEC HOGG: You call it an onerous lease, is it above market rates?

NIKI VONTAS: It is, I would say it is. There is obviously, although it’s an industrial area, they could argue that the ratio of non-industrial space to office space is not the same because traditionally in industrial property you find that 80% of your space is industrial and perhaps 15% to 20% of the gross lettable area is offices, in this Steeledale property you’ll find the ratio of office is higher but still I believe Steeledale is Steeledale, it’s not a prime area anymore. It used to be a good industrial area in the olden days of apartheid but for the new change of…since 1994 a lot of the old industrial areas, which are very largely your areas in the south were generally created to separate the white townships from the black townships. Now it’s not anymore the case. Your new industrial areas are created just for the economic value, not anymore for a demarcation between racial groups. I think all the…I visited, in fact, two or three of these industrial areas like Troyeville and Booysens, all these areas are basically declining quite substantially at the present moment because there’s an exodus of these industrial tenants towards your Lindor Parks [UNCLEAR], your Medowdale, all your new generation industrial townships.

ALEC HOGG: How did you get involved in investigating the Accentuate deal?

NIKI VONTAS: I put an offer two years ago, I put an offer last year, which obviously didn’t succeed.

ALEC HOGG: Because you were…for what reason?

NIKI VONTAS: Well, I was not satisfied with the transaction.

ALEC HOGG: Oh I see, so you actually had the opportunity to see the transaction and you felt that it wasn’t fair?

NIKI VONTAS: Well, I’ll tell you want makes me nervous. In a similar transaction what you should do technically if you want to be really fair the director should engage with the company in which they’re also directors, I suppose, the listed company, and say, listen guys we want to get out of this property transaction, we want to sell back the property to Accentuate, so the tenants must buy the property at a market related price so there’s no conflict of interest. So, suddenly now Accentuate is the owner of the property company, okay at a market related value, so the directors obviously take the proceeds, cash the proceeds. But now Accentuate at least can sign the ten year lease after having received its proceeds from the sale. So, the correct way to do it would be to sell back the property to Accentuate and allow Accentuate to do the ten year lease with the new buyer. That would have been much more fair.

ALEC HOGG: What would the difference in value be for this property without a ten year lease and with a ten year lease?

NIKI VONTAS: Well, what counts is not the length of the lease, it’s the confident of the tenant. [UNCLEAR]. My argument is that your lease is first as good as the tenant, the property is really a pretext. In property investment you could have a big tent in the Kalahari desert with Microsoft as a ten year tenant, it’s better to have that and have the cash flow than having a beautiful marble building in Steeledale with Accentuate as a tenant for ten years.

ALEC HOGG: So, in other words it’s the ten year lease that’s the important part here. What would that be worth on this…?

NIKI VONTAS: What counts is the discounted cash flow of this lease, basically it’s all the ten year income streams, which your present value at a discount rate, which is your [UNCLEAR] rate, which takes into consideration the risk free, let’s say the total return from the bond market, which is a risk free rate, plus a little risk premium attached to the risk of this property, its location, its age, the Accentuate financial covenant. So you could discount anywhere at around I would say 16% to 18% discount rate. If you discount this cash flow of this ten year lease at this rate you will arrive at a net present value, which will give you the value of the property.

ALEC HOGG: And roughly, this property, what would the deal have gone through at?

NIKI VONTAS: I would hesitate to give you my comment on that.

ALEC HOGG: But what were you prepared to pay for it with a ten year lease?

NIKI VONTAS: Me, I took the income and, if I remember, I capitalised at around 13% yield. If I can give an example at the present moment, prime property transactions are arrived at at capitalising the first year net income from rental at around 9%. The Accentuate deal I would have capitalised at 13% because I would have expected a much higher initial return, taking into consideration the risks. So, I touched around the 13% return. But obviously my deal didn’t arrive because it was not acceptable.

ALEC HOGG: But in rand terms what would that make it worth?

NIKI VONTAS: Try to remember, to tell you the truth…

ALEC HOGG: Is it a R5m deal or a R20m deal?

NIKI VONTAS: No, no, no, it was, if I recall, it was a R7m or R8m deal, if I recall.

ALEC HOGG: All right, so it’s not a huge deal then.

NIKI VONTAS: No, it was not a major consideration because ultimately it was a B grade industrial property in a B grade industrial area. Also, if I recall, there were other tenants in that property [UNCLEAR], if I can remember.

ALEC HOGG: Niki Vontas, the chief executive of Bonatla.
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Sharemax collapse ‘will hurt economy’
January 26 2012 at 05:00am
By Roy Cokayne


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Roy Cokayne


THE COLLAPSE of the Sharemax group of companies and the subsequent scheme of arrangement and offer of compromise to creditors and shareholders is set to have a massive knock-on effect on the economy.

André Prakke, a chartered accountant who has investigated the affairs and schemes promoted by Sharemax over many years, is adamant that investors in Sharemax’s various schemes will not get any further money out of them despite the sanctioning of the scheme of arrangement by the North Gauteng High Court on Friday.

“That money is gone. The construction companies are still owed millions. That money will have to come from somewhere. This tragedy will unfold by the end of this year,” he said.

Brenthurst Wealth Management director and financial advisor Magnus Heystek echoed Prakke’s views, saying individual investors still stood to lose a great deal of money despite the approval of the scheme of arrangement.

Heystek said an independent investigation of the scheme of arrangement had estimated that investors would only get back 10c in each rand that they had invested.

However, Heystek said if investors felt their financial brokers had let them down, they could take the brokers to the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Ombud. They could claim back up to R800 000 of their invested capital if the advice they received was shown to be inappropriate.

Prakke said the knock-on effect on the economy of investors losing their money was enormous because the estimated 30 000 investors translated into about 60 000 dependants, most of them pensioners who were reliant on income from these schemes.

This meant the state would have to look after their pensions and medical care, he said.

“The worst is that the people who caused this will never have to answer (for their actions) as things are happening now. There is serious corruption behind this. Where the corruption is I don’t know but it will come out in the next five years,” he said.

Prakke stressed investors in Sharemax had no certainty of outcome because the scheme of arrangement was based on the premise that funding would be obtained to get the scheme off the ground and to complete The Villa and Zambezi Retail Park.

But Prakke questioned what would happen if funding could not be obtained.

He said Sharemax’s entire operations and planning and preparations for the scheme of arrangement had in recent times been funded by diverting money from income-producing property syndications in the group, with the approval of the statutory managers appointed by the Reserve Bank, but without the knowledge of investors in these specific schemes.

This was both irregular and illegal in terms of both the old and new Companies Act without first obtaining the authority and approval of shareholders from these specific income-producing schemes at special meetings.

The analysis in the schedules to the scheme of arrangement revealed this diversion had so far cost between R12 million and R13m, which had been provided for over a long period of time by diverting funds from income-producing schemes, but a further R9m still had to be paid, Prakke added.

Pierre Hough, a strategist and economic crime investigator, said the provisions of the Companies Act could not be used to fix the contraventions by Sharemax of the Banks Act.

Hough said an investigation by the registrar of banks found the issuing of shares and linked debentures was a contravention of the Banks Act and none of the shareholders and creditors therefore became lawful shareholders in terms of the Companies Act.

In addition, Hough said the properties that were being syndicated were not transferred to the syndication vehicle at the time the shares and linked debentures were issued, which meant there was nothing underpinning the share issue.

Hough said the scheme of arrangement meant shareholders were compromising themselves and would lose their money while the people who caused the mess could “just walk away”.

He questioned whether the statutory managers appointed by the Reserve Bank had complied with their responsibilities because they “had failed to take possession and control of the assets of Sharemax”. page 18
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Charges laid over Sharemax scheme
18 Oct 2010



Sharemax’s attorneys, Weavind & Weavind have apparently been charged with fraud by Pierre Hough, managing director of Chase International who laid the charges at the Brooklyn Police Station on behalf of one of his clients.

According to station commander, Brigadier Andre Wiese, a case of fraud had been opened but this matter had been transferred to the commercial crimes unit in Pretoria.

Hough says Weavind & Weavind failed to respond to a demand for repayment of a R200k deposit originally paid to the attorneys by one of Chase International’s clients. He has apparently lodged a claim with the fidelity fund of the Law Society of the Northern Provinces in an effort to get the client’s money back.

Hough has accused Weavind & Weavind of theft amid allegations of fraudulent non-disclosure and misrepresentation in the prospectus published for the Zambezi Retail Park.

Hough has also accused the attorneys of transferring money out of their trust account prior to the property being transferred to the syndication vehicle. The Department of Trade and Industry specifically prohibits the withdrawal of funds from a trust account prior to the properties being transferred.

Apparently Zambezi Retail Park and The Villa – other properties in the Sharemax portfolio – have not yet been transferred to the syndication company.

Kidnapping was like a scary 'action movie'




JAN 31, 2012 | SAPA-AP | 5 COMMENTS
Two men came out of nowhere as his car idled in traffic. One shot his security guard five times and stole the dead man’s gun, while the other ushered the captive into a tiny getaway car, where a waiting driver sped away. They crashed through a police roadblock and traded fire with a truck of police officers


Two men came out of nowhere as Greg Ock’s car idled in traffic in a remote Nigerian town. One shot his security guard five times and stole the dead man’s gun, while the other ushered Ock into a tiny getaway car, where a waiting driver sped away.

The car weaved through traffic on side roads and then sped to a main road, where police, known there as “mopols”, had erected a roadblock.

Ock’s captors crashed through the barricade and traded fire with a truck of police officers, who narrowly missed Ock.

“I felt like I was in an action movie,” Ock told America's Associated Press at his west Georgia home on Monday, a day after he returned to his family.

Ock, 50, was held seven days and then released Friday after he was kidnapped January 20 in Warri, a main city in the Niger Delta, an oil-rich area where foreign firms pump 2.4 million barrels of crude oil a day.

Ock worked in construction for decades, landing gigs all over the US and as far away as Abu Dhabi.

He loved the work, the camaraderie and the pay, which helped him support a wife and four daughters.

He landed in the Nigerian town of Sapele in September 2010 to begin one of his more adventurous assignments, maintaining gas turbines and other heavy machinery for Marubeni Corp.

It was tough work and the perks weren’t enticing. The food was bad, he said, and the heat was unbearable. But he had chances to leave the “little prison” of the company’s base camp, often going on Sundays with co-workers and a security guard to a golf course, or to neighbouring Benin to eat at a Chinese restaurant.

His journey the day he was ambushed wasn’t nearly as adventurous. He went with a driver, a security guard and a company secretary to a clinic in Warri, where he would get a checkup for a recent bout with malaria.

He took out some cash from an ATM, hopped in the car and tuned his iPod to Don Henley as the driver idled in traffic.

What happened next seemed to unfold in a flash.

A gunman ran up to his vehicle and yelled “die, mopol, die” as he fired five bullets into the guard. The other gunman ordered Ock out of the car and pushed him toward a tiny red Audi.

“They told me we were an easy target. We didn’t have tinted windows and only one mopol,” he said. “They told me they wanted a white guy anyways.”

They escaped the city, and one of the kidnappers then called Ock’s boss and demanded about $330,000 for his safe return.

They drove about an hour, arriving at a squat shack where he was forced into a small room. He shared the room with two or three guards, a plastic chair, piles of dirty dishes, some scattered clothes and a mattress blocking the window.

The men dulled his senses by forcing him to smoke marijuana and drink Baron Del Valle red wine at all hours.

He didn’t have many food options, either.

Early in his captivity, Ock said he asked for boiled eggs. From then on, he got four eggs in the morning and four at night. As a snack, he got apples.

He was told few details about the negotiations his captors were working with his company, adding to his unease.

When he was able to sleep, his captors often woke him by cranking an odd mix of local music and Dolly Parton classics from a stereo.

“I was on the edge all the time,” he said.

After a few days, he decided to escape. He found a butcher knife resting in a bowl and reached for it when he thought his captors were sleeping. They weren’t. One alerted the others, who “slapped me around a bit” and chained him tighter to his chair.

Despite the beating, Ock said he wasn’t tortured.

The next morning, a guard pulled out a gun and threatened to kill his captive. Ock called his bluff.

“I told them I didn’t care,” he said. “I’ve had a good life.”

On Thursday, Ock could tell the negotiations were heating up.

His captors were celebrating and drinking moonshine. Two of the men left the house around noon, returning five hours later with wide smiles.

Around 3:30 Friday morning, the men dumped Ock in a desolate area with about $12 to hail a scooter to the nearest police station. Once there, he called his boss and his wife to let them know he was OK.

Ock said he wasn’t told by either his captors or his company whether a ransom was paid.

“But they seemed happy,” he said. “They let me go for a reason — and I don’t think it was because they were out of eggs.”

He returned home on Sunday morning, arriving at Atlanta’s airport to a rapturous greeting from family and friends. There, a limousine drove him the 60-mile (96-kilometer) route to rural Bowdon.

Someone told Ock to peek out the sunroof as they approached, and when he did he saw about 500 people gathered to celebrate.

Among the gifts he received was a plastic bag with only an egg and an apple. The friend who offered it to him joked that she didn’t know if he wanted breakfast or supper, so she brought both.

Ock has no plans to return to Nigeria, instead looking for work closer to home.

But his wife Teresa said she doubts his kidnapping will scare him from working another faraway gig. “It’s in his blood to travel,” she said. “He may work here for a while. But I know him. He’ll get to itching to leave.”



http://www.sowetanlive.co.za/news/world/2012/01/31/kidnapping-was-like-a-scary-action-movie

Sowetan

Comments by Sonny

Life is cheap in Africa where Kidnapping is a National Sport.....

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sheriff confronts Gauteng govt again


Johannesburg - The sheriff of the court has visited the Gauteng government for the second time in three days, following another failure to adhere to a court order, the DA said on Sunday.

The sheriff arrived at Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane's office on Friday to attach furniture after the health department failed to settle a R6.3m claim for medical negligence, spokesman Jack Bloom said in a statement.

The claim, granted on September 5 last year by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, was instituted against the department by Shabbier Nagel. He had gone to the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria for heart surgery, but had his leg amputated instead.

According to Bloom the sheriff arrived at the office on Friday and spent most of the morning in talks with the premier's legal advisers. An agreement was reached that they would pay the full amount by Friday, February 3.

"The delay in payment at 15.5% interest has added an extra R320 000 to be paid by the Gauteng provincial government. This could have been saved with prompt payment."

On Wednesday South Gauteng High Court deputy sheriff Diana Chivelli arrived at Mokonyane's office to attach furniture, after the provincial government failed to pay R9.25m in compensation to a boy who was left brain-damaged because of negligence at a public hospital.

"On 18 January her officials scrambled to pay the R1m that her office furniture is valued at before it was removed to pay court ordered medical damages of R9.25m to 12-year-old Prince Sibusiso Khanyi who became brain-damaged when he was born at the Pholosong Hospital [in Ekurhuleni]," he said.

The premier's spokesperson, Xoli Mngambi, said the R9.25m claim was being handled by the health department and had been referred to it. He confirmed the sheriff had visited the premier's office on January 18. He said he was not aware of Friday's visit for Nagel's claim and referred further inquiries to the health department.

Department spokesperson Simon Zwane said Nagel's claim was being processed with the aim of having it settled by Friday, February 3.

The department had been granted leave to appeal Khanyi's claim.


- SAPA

Read more on: da | nomvula mokonyane | jack bloom | johannesburg | pretoria | government spending | health | local government

Police crack real estate syndicate



Police crack real estate syndicate
Sne Masuku | 29 January, 2012 00:06
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EmailPrintPolice have cracked what is believed to be one of the country's biggest real estate crime syndicates, involving the sheriff of the court's office in KwaZulu-Natal.
A group of sheriffs are alleged to have colluded with an estate agent who bought repossessed houses for "a bargain" at auctions and sold them at highly inflated prices.

Durban South Sheriff Nthiananda Govender and estate agency boss Mohamed Afzal Ebrahim were arrested on Thursday in a joint operation between the police and the Hawks.

More arrests are expected.

Shortly after their arrest, Ebrahim and Govender appeared in the Durban Commercial Crimes Court where they were granted bail of R30000 and R50000, respectively. The men have also been charged with tax evasion.

Sources close to the investigation say Govender allegedly owes the SA Revenue Service R22-million, while Ebrahim is allegedly to have dodged paying more than R13-million in taxes. The probe into the syndicate was commissioned by First National Bank.

One of the investigators, advocate Karl Auret, said the syndicate had targeted all the major banks in the country. Although Auret could not estimate how many properties had been allegedly bought and sold by the syndicate, he said its members would buy a repossessed house valued at R200 000 for R20000.

"This alleged syndicate has been operating for years," he said.

The case was postponed to February 8 for further investigation.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sharemax collapse ‘will hurt economy’










Exposing a murky world
Issue #108, 1st October 2008 Noseweek Publication



Deon Basson's book was subject to a court application to suppress various chapters.(RIP Deon Basson)



Sharemax collapse ‘will hurt economy’
January 26 2012 at 05:00am
By Roy Cokayne

THE COLLAPSE of the Sharemax group of companies and the subsequent scheme of arrangement and offer of compromise to creditors and shareholders is set to have a massive knock-on effect on the economy.

André Prakke, a chartered accountant who has investigated the affairs and schemes promoted by Sharemax over many years, is adamant that investors in Sharemax’s various schemes will not get any further money out of them despite the sanctioning of the scheme of arrangement by the North Gauteng High Court on Friday.

“That money is gone. The construction companies are still owed millions. That money will have to come from somewhere. This tragedy will unfold by the end of this year,” he said.

Brenthurst Wealth Management director and financial advisor Magnus Heystek echoed Prakke’s views, saying individual investors still stood to lose a great deal of money despite the approval of the scheme of arrangement.

Heystek said an independent investigation of the scheme of arrangement had estimated that investors would only get back 10c in each rand that they had invested.

However, Heystek said if investors felt their financial brokers had let them down, they could take the brokers to the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Ombud. They could claim back up to R800 000 of their invested capital if the advice they received was shown to be inappropriate.

Prakke said the knock-on effect on the economy of investors losing their money was enormous because the estimated 30 000 investors translated into about 60 000 dependants, most of them pensioners who were reliant on income from these schemes.

This meant the state would have to look after their pensions and medical care, he said.

“The worst is that the people who caused this will never have to answer (for their actions) as things are happening now. There is serious corruption behind this. Where the corruption is I don’t know but it will come out in the next five years,” he said.

Prakke stressed investors in Sharemax had no certainty of outcome because the scheme of arrangement was based on the premise that funding would be obtained to get the scheme off the ground and to complete The Villa and Zambezi Retail Park.

But Prakke questioned what would happen if funding could not be obtained.

He said Sharemax’s entire operations and planning and preparations for the scheme of arrangement had in recent times been funded by diverting money from income-producing property syndications in the group, with the approval of the statutory managers appointed by the Reserve Bank, but without the knowledge of investors in these specific schemes.

This was both irregular and illegal in terms of both the old and new Companies Act without first obtaining the authority and approval of shareholders from these specific income-producing schemes at special meetings.

The analysis in the schedules to the scheme of arrangement revealed this diversion had so far cost between R12 million and R13m, which had been provided for over a long period of time by diverting funds from income-producing schemes, but a further R9m still had to be paid, Prakke added.

Pierre Hough, a strategist and economic crime investigator, said the provisions of the Companies Act could not be used to fix the contraventions by Sharemax of the Banks Act.

Hough said an investigation by the registrar of banks found the issuing of shares and linked debentures was a contravention of the Banks Act and none of the shareholders and creditors therefore became lawful shareholders in terms of the Companies Act.
( Pretoria News )
In addition, Hough said the properties that were being syndicated were not transferred to the syndication vehicle at the time the shares and linked debentures were issued, which meant there was nothing underpinning the share issue.

Hough said the scheme of arrangement meant shareholders were compromising themselves and would lose their money while the people who caused the mess could “just walk away”.

He questioned whether the statutory managers appointed by the Reserve Bank had complied with their responsibilities because they “had failed to take possession and control of the assets of Sharemax”. page 18


Related article going back to 2010..........

Sharemax attorneys form new company
December 13 2010 at 06:01am
By Roy Cokayne


Sharemax Investments’ attorneys Weavind & Weavind, a 105-year-old firm that faces possible liquidation over its alleged illegal release of funds deposited into its trust account by investors in two Sharemax syndications, has registered a new corporate entity.

Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office records show that W and W Associates was registered by Doreza van Wyk, an associate attorney at Weavind & Weavind, on November 10.

The new firm lists the same physical address and auditors as Weavind & Weavind but the physical address differs from that on Weavind & Weavind’s website. The business start-up date was November 10.

Jaco Spies, a senior legal official for the disciplinary department of the Law Society for the Northern Provinces, said last week that the society did not have any knowledge of the new registration.

Spies said all new law firms were required to register with the law society, complete certain forms and obtain a fidelity fund certificate.

Raiford Johnson, a senior partner at Weavind & Weavind, confirmed the firm had registered a company by the name of W and W Associates “to meet any future needs in terms of our expansion and/or diversification strategy”.

He said: “At present neither our directors nor any of the lawyers employed by us, including Ms Van Wyk, have any intention of practising in any other capacity than as directors and employees of Weavind & Weavind.”

Kobus Schabort of Schabort Incorporated, an attorney representing 11 investors in two Sharemax syndications, who submitted a letter of demand in October to Weavind & Weavind for the repayment of R1.55m his clients had deposited into its trust account for The Villa and Zambezi Retail Park syndications, declined to comment on the reason for Weavind & Weavind registering a new firm.

“I don’t know why they did it but can make my own inferences,” he said.

The demand submitted to Weavind & Weavind was in terms of section 345 of the Companies Act, which is a precursor to a possible liquidation application.

A government notice on property syndications, issued in 2006, prohibits the withdrawal of funds from a trust account before properties for a proposed syndication have been transferred to the syndication vehicle. Neither Zambezi Retail Park nor The Villa have been transferred to the syndication vehicles. Weavind & Weavind maintains the government prohibition is not applicable to the firm.

Schabort said a decision had not yet been taken on whether an application would be launched for the liquidation of Weavind & Weavind. He said consultations were still taking place with his clients and that a decision would definitely be taken this week.

A R200 000 claim was lodged by a single investor in October with both the law society’s fidelity fund and Attorneys Insurance Indemnity Fund related to the release of funds deposited into Weavind & Weavind’s trust account.

The same investor also opened a fraud case at the Brooklyn police station in Pretoria. The case was subsequently transferred to the commercial crimes unit.

Sharemax defaulted on monthly payments to investors in early September and construction on both Zambezi Retail Park and The Villa ground to a halt at the same time.

The registrar of banks in mid-September appointed statutory managers to manage the repayment of funds after an investigation found that Sharemax’s funding model contravened the Banks Act.

About 40 000 shareholders have invested about R4.5 billion in property syndications promoted and marketed by Sharemax. - Business Report

-------------------------------

The luxurious lives of Sharemax bosses
Nov 13 2011 11:03 Jaques Pauw Related Articles
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Why Sharemax deserves a death blow
Johannesburg - This is the luxury life of the two top managers of collapsed property syndication company Sharemax - while thousands of investors have lost most, if not all, of their money.


City Press has traced about R250m of assets owned by trusts and companies of Sharemax’s former managing director, Willie Botha, and his marketing manager, Andre Brand.


Botha and Brand were, for almost a decade, at the helm of Sharemax as about 40 000 people invested an estimated R5bn in the company’s 50 property syndicates.


The Reserve Bank ruled in May last year that Sharemax had contravened the Banks Act and had illegally collected deposits from investors.


City Press can reveal this week that one of Brand’s acquaintances, Wietz Nell, has handed incriminating documents and information to the police’s Hawks unit.


The Hawks would not say whether they have launched an investigation against Botha and Brand.


In the documents, Brand accused Botha in a memorandum of illegally pocketing at least R9m of money intended for investors.


Brand also alleged that Botha had, over a period of four years, pocketed R53m in “commission” from a Sharemax front company. Brand demanded a R24.5m share from Botha.


Botha this week ignored multiple attempts to get comment.


Brand said this week that Nell had obtained the documents dishonestly, but he did not deny their veracity.


Brand said that he had in the meantime cleared his complaint with Botha and that he withdrew any allegations against him. He said he now believed the money was paid legally to Botha.


Tomorrow, a group of Sharemax investors plan to bring an urgent court application to declare Sharemax bankrupt, and to freeze the assets of Botha and Brand.


Among the assets that the investors want frozen is Botha’s luxury yacht, which he keeps in the Egyptian port of Hurghada in the Red Sea.


The Italian-designed Scuba Scene is apparently worth between R120m and R150m, and is wholly owned by the Willem Botha Family Trust.


The boat has its own website and is described as “43 metres of classic nautical beauty and luxury”.


It says the Scuba Scene is a “true marvel of design, technology and style to provide all its passengers with an aesthetically pleasing masterpiece”.

The investors also want to ask the high court to prevent Brand from selling his 3 000 hectare game farm near Thabazimbi in Limpopo.


The game farm, Thaba Motswere, has been valued at R79m, and has giraffe, eland, kudu, gemsbok, cheetah and leopard.


The farm’s lodge alone cost Brand an estimated R20m to build and resembles a five-star hotel with all possible amenities.


Brand is desperate to sell the farm and even considered a price of R21.5m last month.


Botha has an equally luxurious game farm in Marken in Limpopo that is thought to be worth even more as it has the Big Five – elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and cheetah.


Botha lives in a double-storey villa in the exclusive Silver Lakes Estate in Pretoria. Brand recently signed a contract to sell his mansion in Mooikloof in Pretoria for R15m.


Botha was in August “relieved” of his duties and resigned as director. Brand has also since left the company.


In September, the Reserve Bank put Sharemax under statutory management, ordering Sharemax to repay its investors, but there was no money left to do so.


The documents that City Press obtained shows that after Botha and Brand had left Sharemax, they were still paid R15m commission.


The company that is managing Sharemax on behalf of the Reserve Bank, Frontier Asset Management and Investments, did not respond to queries this week.


A forensic auditor, André Prakke, studied the documents obtained by City Press and concluded that there was evidence of money laundering, theft and fraud.


Prakke says that 80% of the money that was invested in Sharemax is gone.


Prakke has investigated Sharemax for many years and has submitted statements about the company to the high court.


He says that the commission that Brand refers to in his memos to Botha has never been revealed in any of Sharemax’s property portfolios.


- City Press


Read more about:
fraud | sharemax | investing | property

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------



13 December 2011 23:01 Special Report Podcast: Niki Vontas – CEO, Bonatla
Interviewer ProfileAlec Hogg is a writer and broadcaster. He founded Moneyweb and is its editor-in-chief.

Sharemax: Liquidation averted? Niki Vontas - CEO, Bonatla

Niki Vontas cries foul says communication process to shareholders is flawed.
- DOWNLOAD THIS INTERVIEW

ALEC HOGG: It’s Tuesday December 13 2011 and in this Boardroom Talk special podcast, Niki Vontas, chief executive of Bonatla Property, joins us now. Niki, good to have you on the programme, there’s been big developments in the Sharemax saga. From your perspective though, you did propose a rescue scheme and walked away, why? What was the background to that?

NIKI VONTAS: I put together a proposal that was originally accepted by the directors of Sharemax and they circulate it to the constituencies. Unfortunately, if you remember, there were a lot of public debates and public analysis in the Financial Mail or the Finance Week in which I commented and obviously I commented on controversial findings of my due diligence and they invoked this disclosures to the press for canceling the transaction summarily for disclosure of, for a breach of non-disclosure, which I find very funny because the press knew almost as much I knew already.

ALEC HOGG: So, you didn’t really walk away it was more a question of being kicked out.

NIKI VONTAS: I need to tell you I still haven’t walked away, there could be still some surprises but I cannot comment on that yet.

ALEC HOGG: But at the moment shareholders or investors, 35 000 of them, at Sharemax have actually voted in favour of a rescue scheme that’s being decided on right now. You don’t think it’s such a good idea?

NIKI VONTAS: Well, first obviously I wouldn’t like to comment on the process but from the little I’ve seen, if you visit the Sharemax website you’ll see that there’s less than 200 people visiting that website a day, there’s very little visits. What you find generally speaking in this doomed [UNCLEAR] syndication schemes like Bluezone that we salvaged or Sharemax or [UNCLEAR] or Realcor, you’ll find that the investors are generally older investors, generally Afrikaans, they haven’t got an email address, they haven’t got proper communication skills and they really rely on [UNCLEAR] communication to get decisions or information passed onto them. So, what I dispute really is that the process is completely flawed. I don’t believe that proper documentation has been circulated to investors to allow them whether or not they will get the investment of such a long period as [UNCLEAR] ten years and what Magnus Heystek, in fact, commented on the Business Report is absolutely right. It’s a total circus.

ALEC HOGG: It’s a circus you say?

NIKI VONTAS: It’s a total circus…[UNCLEAR] a total circus because if you want to put a proposal to 30 000 or 40 000 people on most probably the biggest failure in physical property in South Africa, you at least make the owner of at least the proper analysis of the merit or the pitfalls, you give feasibilities, you give time value of money, your present value, the returns over such a long period. You give them some form of information to ponder about and you don’t give them such a short time basically. Basically to me it’s a little bit of a hit and run operation that’s basically the way I consider it.

ALEC HOGG: From a business perspective though, can this rescue plan that has been proposed work?

NIKI VONTAS: I don’t think so. You’ll find that the Sharemax [UNCLEAR] is not finished, you’ll find some further applications for liquidations, further litigation. Obviously by now the investors are desperate and therefore they are going to consider anything but I still believe that in property there is always a solution. Sometimes if the difficulties are extreme, like in Sharemax, the solutions are more extreme but I still believe its investors deserve proper information in order to make a proper decision. They should, I think…if you want to talk to shareholders you can work like in the old Company Act, [UNCLEAR] to get special resolutions, you conduct meetings, you’ve got quorums and things like that. I haven’t seen anything of that sort. It looks like a bosberaad and the next day you basically announce a 99.9% approval. Last time I’ve seen that it was 1938 and 1939 in Hitler’s referendum. So, my feeling, you need to apply corporate governance, the new companies act, you need to apply proper process to give the time and information to investors to decide whether or not these solutions be good for them an what applies for them, applies for anybody. If I do that transaction, they should also call special meetings and give information and give analysis and ask the press to comment. This thing is a little bit of an occult operation.

ALEC HOGG: Do you know Connie Myburgh, the lawyer who’s behind this rescue scheme?

NIKI VONTAS: Yes, I’ve heard about him, yes.

ALEC HOGG: I believe our investigation journalist, Julius Cobbett, says that he was one of those who vigorously defended the Garek disaster. Lots of people lost much money there as well. What is his motive in this? Are you saying that his motive perhaps is questionable?

NIKI VONTAS: I believe Mr. Myburgh was involved also, if I remember, with Colin Barnard and the fiasco on the Melrose Arch deal with the mine pension fund in 2004, on which I think the late Ian Fife put some very nice article on them, so there must be a bibliography on the SM available if [UNCLEAR]

ALEC HOGG: So, if the courts are to sanction this, would you then try to go to court to get it reversed?

NIKI VONTAS: No, we’ve got other things pending but I cannot believe a court, looking at the way this process was handled, is going to sanction it. I don’t believe a proper judge is going to sanction a process like that. It’s the biggest failure in property in South Africa with 40 000 or 45 000 victims that are asked to give the money over and most of them, I can guarantee you, will be dead before the last payment because they are generally - the syndication investors in all these schemes – are generally retired people, who unfortunately invested their life savings in a property investment with obviously a property and a financial risk and therefore they lost their investment and now ask to receive the return on the investment through their estates because a lot of them won’t survive that [UNCLEAR], I can tell you that.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Fais Ombud orders Sharemax broker to repay R800 000

Financial advice ombudsman Noluntu Bam delivered her first negative finding against a Sharemax broker last week. Her determination may spark fear among those who sold shares in the property syndication company’s two biggest projects, Zambezi and The Villa. It may also encourage other investors to lay complaints against their brokers.

Sharemax is one of the country’s two largest sellers of property syndication schemes. Investors, many of them elderly, have placed about R4.5bn in its numerous schemes. The Villa and Zambezi together account for R2.5bn of investors’ funds. They are also two of the most troubled schemes.

On Wednesday Bam ordered financial adviser Deeb Risk to repay his client, 72-year-old retiree Elise Barnes, R800 000 she had invested in Zambezi. Barnes actually invested R1.4m in the scheme, but the Ombud’s office is only empowered to adjudicate on losses up to R800 000.

A copy of Bam’s order can be downloaded here.

Risk declined to comment on Bam’s finding. He would only say that he will appeal it.

Some commentators have claimed that a complaint against Sharemax brokers would be premature because it is yet to be determined how much investors stand to lose. Moneyweb has previously argued that this should not prevent investors from laying complaints against their financial advisers, and the Ombud’s ruling confirms this view.

Says Bam in her ruling: “The issue is not whether some monies will be recovered by [Barnes] at some future unknown date. The test is whether the advice, given [Barnes’s] circumstances was appropriate. The advice provided was patently flawed.”

Bam had some harsh words for Risk, who she says meant to sell the Zambezi product to Barnes “whether it made sense or not, whether it was inconsistent with [her] circumstances or not”.

But it is Bam’s comments about the Zambezi scheme in general that should be of more concern to Sharemax brokers.

“Had [Risk] read and understood the prospectus he ought to have appreciated the deficiencies,” says Bam.

She describes how the public company into which investors’ money was placed, had only one asset: a shareholding in a private company, Zambezi Retail. “Herein lies the danger,” Bam explains. “Private companies do not have their affairs being subject to public scrutiny.” Bam also notes that Sharemax ensured that at least three of its own directors will be at Zambezi Retail for five years from the date of registration of the prospectus.

“A provider acting with due skill and in the interest of his client would have asked himself, if the two major players, namely the two private companies, are controlled by the same persons, how is accountability, transparency going to be enforced and how is investor protection going to be ensured?”

Bam found that Risk had, among other things:

Failed to disclose that Sharemax Zambezi was a long-term, illiquid investment. His own documents revealed that Barnes would need her capital in one-three years;
Failed to disclose the risk inherent in the Zambezi scheme;
Failed to disclose the investment’s costs;
Did not recommend a product commensurate with his client’s risk tolerance;
Failed to act with due skill, care and diligence in the interest of his client and the integrity of the financial services industry;

Julius Cobbett

http://www.moneyweb.co.za/mw/view/mw/en/page292525?oid=555543&sn=2009+Detail&pid=548238
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Die beleggers wat sedert 2007 reeds R765 miljoen gestort het in die Zambezi Mall-ontwikkeling wat Sharemax bevorder het, gaan oor ’n week of twee dokumente oor die voorgestelde artikel 311-skema ontvang. Dan mag hulle treur. Hul beleggings is wat inkomste en die terugbetaling van kapitaal betref, waarskynlik niks werd nie.

Die mooi broodjies wat die nuwe sogenaamde onafhanklike direkteure nou bak, troos net die finansiële adviseurs wat die onskuldige beleggers in die eerste plek in die nikswerd posisie geplaas het. Die beleggers wat R1,55 miljard in The Villa gestort het, kan solank begin saamtjank. Jul belegging kan ook nie gered word nie – nie deur ’n A311 of enigiets anders nie.

Die jongste skrywe – toevallig gedateer 1 April 2011 – aan die beleggers en in die naam van die nuwe direkteure, bevat ’n oppervlakkige uiteensetting van die A311-skema wat binnekort voorgelê gaan word. Die nuus is dat die gebou op erf 5, Derdepoort-wyk, waarop die winkelsentrum Zambezi Mall opgerig is, nie meer aan julle oorgedra gaan word nie. Kortweg: Julle het nie ’n eiendom met die R765 miljoen gekoop nie.

Finweek se krapwerk vertel kortliks die volgende: Op erf 5, Derdepoort, het die ontwikkelaar Capicol ’n winkelsentrum met ’n verhuurbare oppervlakte van ongeveer 30 000 m2 opgerig. Capicol skuld nog sowat R70 miljoen aan die bouer WF Kroon vir werk wat reeds gedoen is. Om sinvolle toegangspaaie na die sentrum te bou, sal nog sowat R10 miljoen kos. Capicol het kortom sowat R100 miljoen nodig om die projek te voltooi.

Om dit te bekom, moet Capicol ’n eerste verband oor die eiendom registreer. Dit kan net gedoen word as die Sharemax-beleggers afstand doen van hul reg op die gebou en toestemming gee dat hul huidige dekkingsverband van R600 miljoen oor die eiendom gekanselleer word.

Maar julle gaan nie met leë hande huis toe nie. Dit is die goeie nuus vir die finansiële adviseurs wat ná die tweede deel van die skema skynbaar ook nie meer aanspreeklik sal wees vir die slegte advies wat hulle aan veral senior burgers gegee het nie.

Capicol gaan oor die volgende 15 jaar R1 miljard aan die beleggers terugbetaal. Dit is 30% meer as die R765 miljoen wat julle belê het. Die terugbetaling oor die volgende 15 jaar geskied soos volg, en nogal maandeliks ook: Julle ontvang vir 15 jaar elke maand 70% van die netto huurinkomste wat Zambezi Mall verdien. Onthou, dit is 70% van die netto huurinkomste, dus nadat voorsiening gemaak is vir rente op die verband van R100 miljoen wat Capicol nog moet bekom. Paul Kyriacou, grootbaas van Capicol, is optimisties dat hy selfs voor die verstryking van die 15 jaar hul volle kapitaal aan die beleggers sal kan terugbetaal.

Jammer, maar ek en my adviseurs is maar siniese ou mans wat nogal daarvan hou om sommetjies te maak om die aansprake te toets wat so maklik gemaak word.

Die verwagting wat geskep word en waaroor beleggers sal moet besin voordat hulle die A311-proses goedkeur, is dat 70% van die netto huurinkomste van 30 000 m2 oor die volgende 15 jaar genoeg sal wees om aan hulle R1 miljard te betaal. Die sommetjie werk nou soos volg. Deel R1 000 miljoen deur 15 jaar en deel die antwoord dan deur 12 maande en weer deur 30 000 m2. Dit gee ’n antwoord van R185. Die antwoord beteken dat 70% van die gemiddelde netto huurinkomste van Zambezi oor die volgende 15 jaar R185/m2 moet wees. Om by die volle vereiste netto huurinkomste uit te kom, deel ons R185 deur 0,70. Dit gee ’n netto huurinkomste van R264/m2. Eienaars van winkelsentrums weet egter dat die netto huurinkomste selde meer is as 70% van die bruto huurinkomste. Om die bruto huurgeld – dit is die maandelikse huurgeld wat huurders betaal – te kry, moet ’n mens die R264/m2 weer deur 0,7 deel. Dit gee vereiste bruto huurgeld van R377/m2 per maand as die sentrum altyd 100% beset is. Dit is nogal ’n taai vereiste.

Voordat julle, beleggers en finansiële adviseurs, te opgewonde raak oor die nuwe wonderwerk, stel Finweek voor dat julle eers die volgende doen: Vra jou finansiële adviseur vir ’n lekker lang besoek aan Zambezi Mall. Dalk gaan van die nuwe direkteure saam … Jy sal vind dat net sowat 80% van die verhuurbare oppervlakte tans beset word deur huurders wat hoegenaamd maandeliks huur kan betaal. Een huurder is Checkers, en wees verseker hy betaal nêrens R377/m2 vir winkelspasie nie.

Vra die direkteure wat die gemiddelde bruto huurinkomste per vierkante meter is wat die genoteerde Growthpoint se toptien winkelsentrums per maand verdien. Vra wat dink hulle moet gebeur om dit vir Zambezi Mall moontlik te maak om meer huurgeld per vierkante meter te verdien as die toptien sentrums. Finweek sal graag die inligting met sy lesers en ander Sharemax-beleggers wil deel.

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Lang wagtyd vir Sharemax-beleggers

David van Rooyen
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Sharemax: Beleggers betaal dalk prys
Jan 29 2012 07:51

Johannesburg. – Die vreugde­vure behoort te brand, want die Sharemax-sage het ’n oplossing gekry.

Veral die makelaars wat onskuldige beleggers in dié gemors gelei het, vertel daardie beleggers nou dat hulle hul geld gaan terugkry.

Maar gaan hulle?

Ingevolge die reëlingskema met Sharemax se skuldeisers is belowe dat die eiendomme waarin belê is, oor tyd só reggeruk gaan word dat dit óf verkoop sal kan word óf finansiering gekry sal kan word met die eiendom as sekuriteit en dat beleggers dan met dié geld terugbetaal sal word.

Die reëlingskema het immers tyd gekoop om die situasie op te los, want die groot voordeel van só ’n skema is dat dit die gevaar van likwidasie afweer.

In so ’n gemors soos dié waarin Sharemax verkeer, klink likwidasie dalk na ’n vinnige oplossing, maar die eiendomsportefeulje is in so ’n haglike posisie dat dit vir baie min verkoop sal word.

As die likwidateurs en ander skuldeisers hul deel gekry het, gaan baie min vir beleggers oorbly en gaan mense groot verliese ly.

Nou is daar ten minste ’n geleentheid om iets aan die saak te doen, maar oor of beleggers oor vyf of tien jaar al hul geld sal terugkry, is daar twyfel.

Daar is steeds ’n wesenlike moontlikheid dat beleggers verliese gaan ly – al sê die makelaars wát.

Andersins sal hulle bereid moet wees om baie lank te wag voordat die eiendomme genoeg werd sal wees om hul belegging uit te keer.

’n Handelseiendom se waarde word net deur een faktor bepaal: die inkomste wat ’n belegger daaruit verdien. ’n

Gerespekteerde waardeerder wat die Sharemax-portefeulje ken, raam dat kopers ’n opbrengs van minstens 10% sal verlang voordat hulle dit sal oorweeg om van die eiendomme of die portefeulje te koop.

As die bestaande inkomste nie so ’n opbrengskoers moontlik maak nie, moet die prys noodgedwonge daal tot ’n vlak waar die verlengde opbrengskoers weer moontlik is.

’n Ontleding van die verskillende eiendomme se opbrengs dui daarop dat ’n belegger nou dalk net bereid sal wees om een van die eiendomme, 148 Leeupoort, vir die gesindikeerde bedrag te koop. Dié eiendom verdien vir sy beleggers ’n inkomste van 11,86%.

Omdat die inkomste-opbrengs van die meeste eiendomme tussen 1,4% en 4% van die gesindikeerde waarde beloop, gaan beleggers in die meeste gevalle nie meer as 40% van die geld wat hulle belê het, terugkry as die geboue nou verkoop word nie – ás daar kopers is.

Trouens, net vier van die eiendomme in die portefeulje van 22 eiendomme verdien tans ’n opbrengs van meer as 5%, en vier verdien selfs niks nie (Zambezi Retail en The Villa Retail Park in Pretoria ingesluit).

Dit beteken dat meer as 80% van die eiendomme se inkomste binne ’n paar jaar minstens moet verdubbel om opbrengskoerse by die vlak te kry waar kopers sal belang stel.

As toestande in die eiendomsmark verbeter, kan potensiële kopers dalk met kleiner opbrengste tevrede wees, maar selfs al gebeur dit, sal die meeste eiendomme se inkomste met 15% tot 25% per jaar moet toeneem.

’n Paar wonderwerke is dalk hiervoor nodig. Nie een van die 18 skemas wat tans ’n inkomste verdien, se inkomste-opbrengs het verlede jaar gestyg nie. Deur die bank was almal s’n verlede maand laer as in Maart.

Twee van die vernaamste redes hiervoor is stygende leegstaansyfers en al hoe meer huurders wie se huurgeld agterstallig is.

Nie een van die eiendomme kon iets beduidends aan die leegstaansyfer doen nie – trouens, die persentasie het oorwegend gestyg.

Leë ruimte en agterstallige huurgeld is die gevolg van die swak ekonomie en die moontlikheid dat ekonomiese toestande gou dramaties gaan verbeter, lyk nie goed nie.

Die swak ekonomie skep ook ’n ander probleem, naamlik dat dit vir eiendomseienaars bitter moeilik is om huurgeld skerp op te stoot, veral as dit soos in die geval van Sharemax skerp móét styg.

Die bestuurders van verskeie van die eiendomme het trouens laat blyk dat hulle eerder huurgeld verlaag om huurders te lok.

Van die eiendomme se toekoms lyk ook duister weens nog nuwe ontwikkelinge in dieselfde gebied wat huurders en hul klante wegrokkel.

’n Voorbeeld hiervan is die Sharemax-sentrum Liberty Mall in Welkom waar ’n nuwe winkelsentrum in die omgewing daartoe help lei het dat 67% van sy ruimte leegstaan. Beleggers verdien tans geen opbrengs uit dié sentrum nie.

Frontier Asset Management meen die sentrum het steeds potensiaal en wil geld belê om dit vir huurders aantreklik te maak, maar erken terselfdertyd op sy webblad dat die mark vir winkelruimte in Welkom heeltemal oorversadig is.

Nog ’n probleem is dat die beleggers destyds baie meer in die eiendomme belê het as wat dit werd was. Tot 30% van die geld wat beleggers beskikbaar gestel het, is nie gebruik om in eiendom te belê nie, maar het gegaan vir promotorsgeld, koste en die lekker kommissie wat die makelaars gekry het.

Dié geld is nie agterbaks ingesamel nie. Dit is baie duidelik in die prospektus uitgestippel, maar beleggers (of dalk hul slim makelaars) het dit nie gelees of besef wat die implikasie daarvan is nie.

Voordat ’n belegger dus sy geld kan terugkry, moet die waarde van die eiendom nie net herstel tot die vlak waarteen dit gekoop is nie, maar baie meer toeneem om vir die res van die uitgawes te betaal.

Boonop het die reëlingskema gepaardgegaan met groot koste, waarvan die besonderhede getrou aan die nuwe bestuur se styl waarskynlik geheim sal bly.

Daar is miljoene betaal aan skikkings met skuldeisers en astronomiese regskoste, en dié geld kom nie uit die Sharemax-bestuur se sak nie, maar is by die eiendomsmaatskappye geleen en moet waarskynlik uit toekoms­tige opbrengste vergoed word.

Sake24 sê nie beleggers gaan niks terugkry nie.

Die struktuur is geskep om beleggers oor tyd te betaal en die huidige bestuurders gaan dit waarskynlik probeer doen.

Dit is egter nie reg om valse verwagtinge by beleggers te skep nie. Daar is baie struikelblokke wat kan keer dat die eiendomswaardes genoeg herstel om beleggers se geld binne die beloofde tye terug te gee.


Lees meer oor: sharemax

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Charges laid over Sharemax scheme
18 Oct 2010



Sharemax’s attorneys, Weavind & Weavind have apparently been charged with fraud by Pierre Hough, managing director of Chase International who laid the charges at the Brooklyn Police Station on behalf of one of his clients.

According to station commander, Brigadier Andre Wiese, a case of fraud had been opened but this matter had been transferred to the commercial crimes unit in Pretoria.

Hough says Weavind & Weavind failed to respond to a demand for repayment of a R200k deposit originally paid to the attorneys by one of Chase International’s clients. He has apparently lodged a claim with the fidelity fund of the Law Society of the Northern Provinces in an effort to get the client’s money back.

Hough has accused Weavind & Weavind of theft amid allegations of fraudulent non-disclosure and misrepresentation in the prospectus published for the Zambezi Retail Park.

Hough has also accused the attorneys of transferring money out of their trust account prior to the property being transferred to the syndication vehicle. The Department of Trade and Industry specifically prohibits the withdrawal of funds from a trust account prior to the properties being transferred.

Apparently Zambezi Retail Park and The Villa – other properties in the Sharemax portfolio – have not yet been transferred to the syndication company.

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Law firm: Summons against Sharemax
14 Jan 2011



Weavind & Weavind, the attorneys acting for Sharemax Investments has launched a R9-million damages claim against Pierre Hough, managing director of Chase International, Chase Consulting, financial planner Toffie Risk and Johanna Margaretha Magdalena Bosman, an investor in Zambezi Retail Park syndication.

The firm is claiming R2-million while its seven directors are each claiming R1-million from Bosman, Hough and Chase Consulting because of damages that they allege were a result of Bosman’s conduct.

In its particulars of claim, Weavind & Weavind list a number of statements alleging that funds deposited into the firm’s trust account had been stolen. The allegations were apparently made in affidavits drafted in support of a complaint to the Law Society of Northern Provinces and a criminal case.

Weavind & Weavind says the allegations are wrongful and defamatory and implied that the directors were implicit in the theft and shared the proceeds. It claims the statements were made with the intention to defame the firm and its directors and injure their reputation.

Hough, who had assisted in compiling the affidavits, said that the damages claim lacked substance and merit and he confirmed that all the respondents named in the Weavind & Weavind application would defend the action.

He said the damages claim was aimed at scaring off other investors in the syndication to prevent them from lodging claims against the law firm.

Jaco Fourie, a senior legal official within the disciplinary department of the Law Society of the Northern Provinces says the organisation is awaiting a response from Hough to the allegations made by Weavind & Weavind. Once it has received the response it will present its evidence to a disciplinary committee of the law society.

A case of fraud was opened against the firm after Sharemax defaulted on monthly payments to investors in September last year. The commercial crimes unit is investigating the case.

Readers' Comments Have a comment about this article? Email us now.

It was the illegal release of the trust funds that started the whole feeding frenzy and made a joke of all the investor safeguards provided for in the Unfair Business Practices Act. Go for them Pierre. You have a lot of support out here - how about us starting a fund to pay a bounty on each one of those involved being put behind bars. - L. Oldacre

Hi, lees News 24 van vandag,kyk in watter weelde leef Botha en Brand,hoe kan hulle met die bedrog wegkom terwyl ek en my vrou, altwee pensionarise, van dag tot dag moet leef op genade,ek kan ook my eiendom verloor,het nie meer n inkomste nie en ons leef op R2,000 n maand.Mense,hoe werk die wet dat skelms ons geld kan vat en daarmee gegkom?Ek wat n leek is weet nie watter kant toe nie,het probeer werk kry maar is te oud,het 10 jaar terug n hartomleining gehad.Het ook nie geld om n saak te maak nie,glo nie dit sou in alle geval gehelp het nie.WAT kan ek doen,groete. - Willem

Pay without work for KZN teachers


Pay without work for KZN teachers
2012-01-26 22:31


Durban - More than 900 KwaZulu-Natal teachers earn salaries without setting foot in classrooms, provincial education authorities said on Thursday.

These teachers claimed to have been displaced from their work places because of violence and intimidation, Education MEC Senzo Mchunu said in Durban.

"We are trying to deal with this problem because it hits us financially. We have agreed to develop a process to fast track the absorption and utilisation of these educators," he told reporters.

KwaZulu-Natal was the only province with this problem because of its history of political violence.

Some teachers had apparently been displaced for years. All they did was regularly go to the education department's circuit office to sign paperwork indicating they were still in the department's employ.

Mchunu said the department was busy doing away with the "displaced" category.

"This has to stop because we no longer have violence in this province. If teachers have problems in their schools, they must stay until those problems are resolved."

Some teachers refused to go to the new schools to which they had been assigned - with union backing.

Mchunu said the department would also deal with principals who consistently produced poor matric results.

"We are worried about the poor level of accountability among some principals. You find a principal who would produce less than 20% matric pass rate for four years and nothing is done to him."

They would first get training. Further action would be taken against them if they continued to perform badly.


- SAPA

Read more on: durban | pietermaritzburg | education

Third party was behind secret Sharemax settlement



Third party was behind secret Sharemax settlement

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A mystery buyer paved the way for court to sanction rescue scheme.
JOHANNESBURG - A mystery “investor” has paved the way for a court to sanction the Sharemax rescue scheme. The scheme, designed to save Sharemax-promoted syndication companies from liquidation, was sanctioned by the North Gauteng High Court on Friday.

It is also expected to be a formality for the Reserve Bank to withdraw its directives to repay investors. The Reserve Bank-appointed inspectors are also expected to be relieved of their duties at the various syndication schemes.

Last year Moneyweb reported that the Sharemax rescue had hit a speed bump. Clients of attorney Chris de Beer asked the court to delay sanction of the rescue scheme. This delay was granted. De Beer argued that proper process had not been followed, and that the rescue plan seeks to legalise an illegal scheme. The directors of the syndication companies were not impressed. They issued this media release at the time.

This year it was revealed that investors opposing the rescue, including De Beer’s clients, had received a secret settlement.

It has been speculated that this settlement may have been paid from investors’ funds. However, a source close to the rescue has confirmed that the settlement was made by a third party.

This means that the objecting parties sold their Sharemax investments to a third party for an undisclosed sum.

The identity of the mystery buyer will be open to some speculation. A cynic might believe it is a person or entity with strong vested interests in the rescue plan’s success.

In theory, the identity of the buyer ought to be public information. The syndication schemes are public companies, which opens their share transfer registers to public scrutiny. However, the directors of the Sharemax syndication schemes are not known for their disclosure. Moneyweb has previously been refused unrestricted access to financial statements. The directors also went to great lengths to keep the finer details of the rescue scheme out of the public eye.

Prior to publication a copy of this article was sent to Dominique Haese, director of the Sharemax syndication companies. We received this response:

Mr Cobbett,

Your email’s of 11h38 and 14h03 refer.

All the 311 Schemes of Arrangement have been sanctioned by Court and the relevant Court Orders have been registered.

I am unfortunately in no position to comment on the content of the rest of your emails and/or the “draft article”.

In not dealing with your “draft article”, please do not assume anything as to the correctness or not of anything stated or to be stated in such “draft article” or any subsequent actual article/publication of anything emanating from yourself.

All the rights of the Sharemax Syndication Companies, as re-structures, both prior to and post re-structuring, are reserved.

All press releases are and will be exactly that, press releases, and will be provided to the press in the normal course.

Regards

Dominique Haese

Managing Director

Frontier Asset Management (Pty) Ltd

( Moneyweb )

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

De Kock/Mlangeni meeting 'could help'







De Kock/Mlangeni meeting 'could help'
A well-prepared meeting between apartheid police assassin Eugene de Kock and the family of victim Bheki Mlangeni could help both heal, the Restorative Justice Centre (RJC) said on Wednesday.

25 January 2012 | Sapa

JOHANNESBURG - A well-prepared meeting between apartheid police assassin Eugene de Kock and the family of victim Bheki Mlangeni could help both heal, the Restorative Justice Centre (RJC) said on Wednesday.

Mike Batley, of the RJC said: "A meeting between them that is carefully prepared and facilitated by a trained and sensitive facilitator would probably be of immense value to the both of them."

Independent Online reported on Tuesday that De Kock wrote in a letter that he would like to apologise to Mlangeni's mother Catherine. He accepted he could not seek forgiveness from the murdered man, nor ask her for forgiveness for his death. But, he said he wanted to apologise for the pain and suffering he had caused her.

Mlangeni was quoted as questioning his motives and asking why he had waited so long.

The RJC said it was not about condoning, excusing, or forgetting.

Batley quoted Anglican Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu: "Forgiveness is not pretending that things are other than the way they are. But forgiveness benefits the victim as much as, if not more than, the offender. It is never too late for this to take place."

Bheki Mlangeni died of head injuries after a bomb built into the headphones of a Walkman portable cassette player exploded while he was wearing them.

De Kock had been part of preparations for the bomb, which the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was told was actually intended to kill Dirk Coetzee, a former police operative.

Coetzee, who at one stage worked with De Kock at the assassins' base Vlakplaas outside Pretoria, later crossed over to the African National Congress. Vlakplaas operatives had included cassettes by Neil Diamond and one on Vlakplaas operational matters, along with the Walkman, in a parcel intended for Coetzee.

Mlangeni opened the parcel when it arrived and used the Walkman, sustaining serious head injuries when it exploded.

The RJC offers its services to victims of crime, as well as the perpetrators of the crimes and their families.

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Jann Turner
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Articles
:: WHO SHOT MY DAD ? ::

This article appeared in the UK's Independent on Sunday on November 9, 1997 and in the South African Mail & Guardian for the week of August 29 to September 4, 1997

I began searching for my father's killer in 1989. I was living in New York City at the time. I read in the paper that an investigative journalist called Jacques Pauw had blown the lid on a place called Vlakplaas, South Africa's Death Squad HQ. Horror unfolded in the forms of Almond Nofomela and Dirk Coetzee and for the first time I pictured my father's murderer as a person, rather than a state or a system. I called the New York Times and asked them to put me in touch with Jacques Pauw. As it happened Jacques was going to be in town the very next week.

We had dinner in a restaurant on St. Marks Place, later we walked the chaotic, carnival streets of the East Village and all the time we talked about murder and mayhem in a country more than half a world away. Jacques said to me that night that he didn't think I would ever find my father's killer. I was more than sure that he was wrong, I was absolutely certain.

Now my search is over. I suppose the story was never going to have a happy ending, but I never expected the truth to be so depressing. The truth is I will probably never know who came to our house in Durban that night in January 1978. I'll never know who it was that fired the shot through my sister's and my bedroom window, who it was that ran away from the house as my father lay bleeding, who it was that left me trying in vain to resuscitate a dying man.

No one has applied for amnesty for the murder of Dr. Rick Turner. Over the years there have been a series of leads, flutterings of hope when it seemed we might discover who killed him and why, but we've always ended up with the fantasies of cranks or hitting the wall of silence surrounding BOSS and the Security Police. This week I slammed into the very last cul de sac. I am tired of it, tired of returning to the horror of the night my dad was killed, tired of pushing and pushing to get to the ever elusive truth about who killed him and why, tired of doing this alone. There is a chance - because the cut off date for receipt of applications is an ever-receding one - that someone will. But it's unlikely.

I was not the first to embark on this quest. I took it up where my grandmother, Jane Turner, left off. My father was her only child. She devoted more than a decade to the search for her son's killer. I took up the baton when she got too old and too sick to investigate any further. It has been a strange mission, one that has taken me into the some the darkest corners of South Africa. The journey has brought me closer to my father, but never close enough to his killer.

It has brought me all too close to the kind of people that must have killed him. I met Dirk Coetzee in London, just after the travesty of the Harms Commission. He didn't know who killed my dad, but after that meeting I cried. I cried becuase I was shocked to have met a chaotic, half-crazed, human being- not a cold, caclulating monster. I cried with horror at the realisation that we were connected, Dirk and I. We were all too intimately bound up by violence that he had perpetrated and that my father had fallen victim to. South Africa had screwed us both up.

In 1993 I came back to South Africa to make a documentary for British Television, following up on all the leads the police had left hanging.

Too many people had mentioned the name Andy Taylor in connection with dad's murder for it to be mere coincidence. Taylor used to come to our house, checking up on my father both before and after the banning. So I called Andy Taylor and asked to meet him. He refused. He said the murder was a great mystery which had long puzzled him. I said it seemed unlikely that he had never heard even the slightest rumour about who the killer might be. Taylor finally admitted that 'it might have been one of our guys, but we kept our noses our of each others business.' He was sorry, but he couldn't help me.

In the eighties my grandmother had pursued BOSS agent Martin Dolinschek all the way to the Seychelles. In 1993 I found him in Zambia - in ANC 'custody.' We talked for several hours. He said he didn't do it and I believed him, but was sure that he knew more than he chose to tell me. Martin Dolinschek is now a senior manager in the National Intelligence Agency.

There was one fresh lead. An ex-cop told me that he had heard, through friends in the security police, that policeman nick-named 'Rooibaard'had boasted a great deal about killing my father. According to my source this 'Rooibaard' was killed in a mysterious single vehicle accident around April '78. The source suspected he'd been killed in order to shut him up.

Then there were the Sluggett and Beelders stories - both long and involved and not worth explaining. I think those people are cranks, that they are as deluded as their stories.

I went back to London to edit the film, knowing only that South Africa was still a place where assassins could hide.

Whoever killed my father had the best assistance in covering their tracks. Chris Earle was the investigating officer at Durban Murder and Robbery in 1978. I came back to see him in 1995, when he was a Brigadier in Krugersdorp. He was still convinced that the murder was not a political one. I said that, given the circumstances, this was a ludicrous suggestion. His hands shook, but he stuck firmly to his story. I'm sure that he was lying and that someone ordered him to shut the investigation down when he got too close to Dolinschek, BOSS and the Branch. The docket reeks of a cover up.

Then there's Vic McPherson. A couple of Christmases ago I found myself in the desultory, livid pink interior of the John Vorster Square Officers Club. I'd been taken there by Vic McPherson, an ex-Security Policeman who had been in charge of surveilling my father's house. McPherson is a thin man with a whining voice and a shifty, crab-like gait. I've met him twice and each time the smell of alcohol on him hit me from several metres away. Vic bought me a double Bacardi and Coke for every one that he drank. I was straining to keep up and to stay focussed.

Vic McPherson admitted that my father's neighbour, a man called Jack Tubb, was one of his agents. McPherson spoke freely of his close relationship with the Tubb family. At one point he remembered something and exploded into giggles, almost falling of his stool. 'What '' I asked, perplexed. 'No, no, no - I can't tell you. It's not something I can tell a lady,' he spluttered, shaking his head. 'I'm no lady,' I answered acidly, wondering to myself what kind of ladies came to a place like this. McPherson paid no attention to my reaction, he launched into his nasty little tale regardless, giggling almost throughout.

Once upon a time there was a little upset in the otherwise regular and orderly surveillance at 32 Dalton Avenue. One Sunday night McPherson received an urgent summons to the Tubb residence. He found the household in a state of uproar. Mr and Mrs Tubb's son and daughter in law were over for dinner. Jack knew - from experience - that on Sunday nights a couple of the students who stayed in my father's commune would go into the spare room to have sex. Not wanting to miss a trick Jack had excused himself from the dinner table and gone into the surveillance room for his own private peep show. Troubled by her husband's over long absence from their family gathering, Mrs Tubb went looking for him and found him masturbating in the shed. The dinner was ruined - as you can imagine. Fortunately for the Tubbs, agent McPherson was on hand to smooth ruffled feathers. The surveillance continued, Jack Tubb was never caught wanking again and Vic McPherson is now a senior offficer in our new South African Police Service - having been promoted several times since 1990.

While all this detail gave me a vivid picture of the banality surrounding my father's death, it brought me no closer to the answer I sought. Then, out of the blue, this week the promise of a breakthrough arrived in the form of documents. Sitting in his rental car in Church Square, Pretoria, an ex- Security policeman put into my hands a ream of paper that was 'lifted' from NIA files by yet another ex-cop - who'd taken them as 'insurance.' My source believed this pile of papers would yield the vital clue, the missing piece in the puzzle of who killed Richard Turner www.turner.ukzn.ac.za. After several hours of reading I had made my way through the entire document and I knew it held no such thing. All it does is confirm the extent of the surveillance he was under for all those years. The most chilling documents in the pile are 'source reports' from people who got very close to my father - suggesting that there was at least one spy amongst his inner circle of friends and trade-union comrades.

The only possible clue is an unattributed and undated list of suspects which includes Dolinschek and his brother in law; Wladimir I. Van Scheers. Also 'Nick Rossouw (dood)' and one Corrie Van Deventer. I've never heard of Rossow or Van Deventer before. Why not' Was Rooibaard Nick Rossouw'

One particularly creepy transcript, stamped GEHEIM, is dated March 8, 1977. It's a report of an interview conducted on March 1st of that year by Martin Dolinschek. At that point my father had one year left of his five year banning order. In that last year he was often depressed. In many ways the banning had worked, isolating him from his teaching, from the new movements in the country and from friends who were also banned, or elsewhere. So he had applied to leave the country, in order to take up a Humboldt Fellowship in Germany. Dolinschek was there to assess his application.

Dolinschek reports that 'No one but the subject and the interviewer were present during the interview which was conducted in the lounge of the house. Once Fisher (my step-mother) entered the room and was introduced by TURNER as his wife. She didn't say a word, gave the interviewer a dirty and hostile look and left the room ... During the interview TURNER was relaxed, though at the beginning he was nervous and his hands were shaky. As the interview progreessed TURNER became completely at ease and in fact acted a role of lecturer more than that of a person being interviewed.'

It was very strange for me to see this, to learn about my father through the transcript of a converstaion recorded by an agent of Kruger and Vorster. Scanning the page I could hear him speaking the words; 'I don't smoke, I don't drink, or take drugs and I don't agree with any person who smokes, drinks or takes drugs. I mean, I think that the people who take alcohol, the alcholics are on a par with people who take drugs. They are both dangerous.' I hear him expressing his rage and pain about his own father's alcoholism. Through this secretly made transcript I hear him rebuking me for a lifestyle quite different to his own ascetic one.

I picture my father sitting on the sofa in the lounge at 32 Dalton Avenue, saying to Dolinschek with his little tape recorder rolling under his jacket 'our problem then is; the White's short term greediness. I've got the moral point of view which is condemened anyway, but what worries me is - now I am not talking as a moralist, but as a social scientist - that Whites cannot get away with it in the long run. If the Whites continue to monopolise the resources in a way that they are monopolising the resources now, they are going to produce an explosion ...'

Later on, as he relaxes, there is a moment in the converstaion which I think says everything about him. Dolinschek asks 'what do you think about white consciousness and radical actions'' Then the transcript reports 'TURNER- (laughs) - what do you think about it'' That was my father.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission offered the first and last hope that my father's assassination would be officially investigated. It was a real chance to breakthrough the wall of silence surrounding BOSS and the Security Police.

This week sources within the Commission told me that their investigations have uncovered a high level cover up. But that is all. It seems the TRChave been thorough in checking out the police, but have they requested BOSS and Security Police files' Have they subpoenaed everyone I listed in my submission with something to tell us about my father's murder' If not, why not.

Alex Boraine, the acting Chair of the TRC, explained to me that ; 'the time one would like to devote to individual incidents just isn't available, there are so many others to do.' I do understand. As Richard Lyster, Truth Commissioner, pointed out to me; 'in Natal there are twelve investigators and four thousand six hundred cases.' Perhaps the Truth Commission's Investigations unit was doomed from the start. Perhaps it would have been better to call it the Verification and Research Unit.

And yet, in an important respect the Truth Commission has helped me and my family. We testified in October 1996. After the hearing I felt lighter. I felt unburdened. To have told my story, to have been heard out by officials of Mandela's governement, to have our loss so publicly acknowledged - it was very important. Perhaps the emotional closure is what's most important.

In the end it was my father who restored me to the present. We had been filming in his house in 1993 and when the crew had wrapped all the equipment and loaded into the van I spent some time alone in the house, saying goodbye. I stood on the place where he died and had a vision or an hallucination, I'm not sure what to call it. My dad and me were in a tunnel with raging winds pulling us apart, but we held onto one another by our fingertips. The strain of holding on was exhausting, but I wouldn't let go. And then he did. We flew apart and suddenly I was alone. When I walked out of that house it was into the present, released of a burden on of the past.

In a sense that should be enough, but it isn't. It isn't because I know that there is someone out there who knows who killed my father and why. It is difficult to explain this need to know. It's so powerful, so visceral. But it has to do with needing to shine a light into the shadowy deed that ended my father's life and changed the course of mine. Why' Will someone please just tell us'!

My father's mother is 89. She spends her days alone in a flat in Somerset West, surrounded by fading photographs, her still sharp mind betrayed by an ever deteriorating body. I simply haven't got the courage to call and ask her how she feels about the fact that she will probably never know who killed her only child, her beloved son. How can I confront her with the knowledge that her chance at peace of mind has dissolved'

It is very, very hard to accept that I may never know who killed him and why. It is very hard to accept that the truth will remain obscured. You see some body killed my father. Somebody shot down this man who spoke gently of reason and freedom, who swore violently at the failures of his DIY projects, loved bad English cooking and Elvis and Hegel. A man who was thinking about going for a walk on the beach tomorrow with his daughters, if only the rain would let up. What do YOU think went through his mind in those twenty long minutes after the bullet ripped through him' Those twenty minutes before he died' How much fear' How much regret' How much love' How much forgetting' How much forgiveness'

There are people out there who know the truth. Will some body please just tell me'




:: EUGENE : FROM APOCALYPSE NOW
TO SCOTLAND THE BRAVE ::

Date: 28 May 1999
WM&G

Over the last year and a half, Jann Turner has visited Eugene de Kock in jail several times. She found him angry and haunted `Eugene wants to see you. He says he doesn't bear any grudges." The call came from a lawyer I'd met during my work on SABC's Truth Commission Special Report. Eugene de Kock had recently been sentenced to 212 years in prison for a host of appalling crimes committed during his time as commander at Vlakplaas, apartheid's death farm. Grudges' I wondered. What on earth does De Kock mean' I had never met the man. All I knew was what I'd read of his horrifying effectiveness as an assassin and that on one of the more than 1 000 pages of his amnesty application he detailed his knowledge of my father's assassination, which was scant and nothing new.

But I was curious. And so it was that I found myself, one sunny morning in September 1997, driving up to Pretoria where I was to meet Schalk Hugo, De Kock's attorney. I had no idea of what to expect. I thought of the movie Silence of the Lambs; picturing myself as Jodie Foster staring down the restrained psychotic form of a South African Hannibal Lector.

I had seen De Kock only once before, during his trial in 1995, and I remembered the pure hatred I felt as I watched him and the rage and disgust I transmitted when our eyes met as he scanned the courtroom. I chugged into the car park of Pretoria Central Prison at the appointed time. The only other car in the lot was a silver-grey Mercedes. Hugo jumped out to greet me. He was young and well dressed, not at all the "perp lawyer" I'd expected. I'd never been inside a prison before. Stepping into the maximum security section was stepping into a world I'd rather have remained ignorant of. I was struck by the sounds; of voices, of gates clanging open and shut, of jangling keys. Outside the visitors reception was a tall glass bowl with two beautiful fish swimming in it, sunlight streamed through the water illuminating their brilliant colours. The sight transfixed me. A man with a baby face and sly eyes saw me watching them and approached. He was the keeper of the fish. "They're called Oskars," he said. "They're hunting fish. If you put another fish in there the Oskars would kill them in a minute. They're very aggressive fish. Very aggressive."

In the waiting room I asked Hugo if he liked his client. He looked at me and said, "Mmm." Then he looked away, as if that discussion was over, but suddenly he turned back and said simply, "You'll like him too." Yeah, right! I thought. I don't think so. But Schalk wasn't wrong. A minute later we were hustled into the prison itself, towards De Kock, who stood, flanked by two warders, waiting. I was amazed to find myself extending my hand, but I had no idea of how else to greet him. De Kock's handshake was powerful. "Hi, I'm Jann Turner," I said, a little shakily. Then we were led into a consulting room. The room was putty-coloured, with mismatching chairs chained to the table legs, which in turn were bolted to the floor. A warder brought us a tray of coffee. I gathered from De Kock's manner that he had ordered and paid for the coffees. Three more rounds would be brought in before I left.

I didn't know where to begin, so I launched in with the obvious. "Mr de Kock, I got a message that you wanted to see me." He smiled, a surprisingly shy, nervous, smile. "You don't have to call me Mr de Kock - you can call me Gene, or Eugene - or whatever you like." He did have something to tell me. He'd read a recent article in the Mail & Guardian in which I'd raised some questions about the identity and whereabouts of some of the former security policemen whose names had come up in the course of my investigation into my father's murder. De Kock had the answers. I thanked him for the information and said I would hand it over to the police. He insisted that if there was any theory or name I wanted to run past him, that I should not hesitate to do so. Why on Earth, I wondered, does he want to help' I'm still not sure that I know. As it turned out the information he gave wasn't much use. But somehow a conversation flowed from that beginning. Looking back I think it was he who initiated it. He simply started to talk. He was angry. He felt he'd been cut loose by the generals and his superiors. He felt they should be inside with him. "When they start negotiating they have to get rid of the cupboard full of dirty tricks, so instead of being the blue-eyed boy who would be the next general, I'm the leper they must dispose of." His glasses are so thick you can't see the colour of his eyes. I found I watched his mouth more than his eyes. His politeness and intelligence disarmed me. His shyness took me by surprise, the nervous smile and glance as he explained that if he'd known I was coming he would have shaved. He said he didn't often get attractive women coming to visit him. There was nothing lewd or sexual in the way that he said this, it was an artless, childlike compliment.

At one point Hugo got up and left the room. I wasn't really aware of how long he was gone although for a second I was conscious of being entirely alone with "Prime Evil". I wanted to know how he felt about remorse and forgiveness. I said that if I did ever meet my father's killer I don't think I would care if he were sorry or not. He said simply that he would never ask for forgiveness because he didn't deserve it. If he were in my shoes he would want revenge.

I wanted to know how he walked into his house after a hit, how did he switch from assassin to father reading bedtime stories to his sons' He said sometimes after an operation he'd drink it out of his mind. Sometimes he'd go home and burn all the clothes he'd been wearing, then wash obsessively. Did his wife know what he'd been doing all those years' He said she had an idea that he was no ordinary policeman, but she had no idea of the extent of it. He said the strange hours and the travel took its toll on their marriage; she'd even thought he was having an affair. He said the night he told her what he'd been doing, when it was all over and he knew he'd be arrested, "it was like tearing my own heart out". He talked about the horror that comes back to him at night. How he smells it, tastes it, sees it and he can't sleep. I remember at the time I found that reassuring, such a man shouldn't be able to sleep at night.

He described himself as a "veteran of lost ideologies". His war was over, he insisted. What would he do if he ever got out' He didn't know. He didn't think about it. He couldn't think beyond this amnesty application. After an hour and a half or so Hugo said it was time to go. De Kock said he hoped I would visit him again.


As we walked out I looked back into the prison, he was watching us go. He smiled and raised his arm in a kind of salute. I waved briefly back, then followed Hugo out through the massive wooden door toward the green moat where geese and goats roamed freely and warders were playing cards at a table set up on the grass. The air was warm and sweet with spring.

As we drove back through the prison compound to the car park neither Hugo nor I said a word. Three days after that meeting De Kock was moved to C-Max and there he hit rock bottom. Former National Party politicians were claiming they knew nothing of the torture and murder of their political opponents during apartheid. At best, they said, it was misinterpretation of policy, but they took no responsibility for the assassins.

Now De Kock was alone. His ex-wife and children had fled overseas; many of his former friends had ratted on him at the trial. When I visited him after Christmas I barely recognised the haggard, thin, depressed and disoriented man the warders brought in. He talked about dying, he seemed to feel he deserved to die. That day I sensed he was changing fundamentally. There is nothing like staring at the prospect of life in jail to make a person reflect searchingly on what has put them there. I believe that is what De Kock had begun to do. He was overwhelmed by regret, he felt his life had been a destructive waste and he was angry with himself for having been naive enough to believe.

One February morning, at the Guguletu Seven amnesty hearing, I rode up in the elevator with De Kock and his guards. I asked if he felt the truth commission had changed him. He said yes and he said it so certainly that I didn't doubt him. "You see," he went on, "the only friends I have now are my former enemies." And as the year wore on De Kock was up and down; some days he felt the process was worthwhile, some days he was tired and depressed. He was shunned by most of the other applicants he appeared with, but applauded by audiences and even embraced by the families of victims who thanked him for his refreshing candour. Hugo said to me once that he was thankful he wasn't landed with any of the other applicants as clients. "At least my boytjie - although in some instances he did worse things - at least I don't have to worry about him lying." Hugo was up and down like his client, strained by the impossibility of judging the outcome; there are no precedents, nothing to suggest how things may turn out.

De Kock fascinated me increasingly. My friend Jon Blair likened it to the morbid obsession of one who is terrified of snakes and who can't resist watching them from behind the safety of a glass wall in a snake park. Most friends didn't want to hear about it. He's a murderer plain and simple, they said, he had a choice, but he became an assassin for an unjust cause. He deserves to rot in jail for the rest of his life. Nevertheless I felt I had an extraordinary opportunity to understand this man, so my visits continued. One day in the middle of last year I went to see him in the privileged prisoner's section of C-Max, where he still resides. The rain clattered down noisily on the corrugated plastic roof, we had to speak up to hear each other. He was unshaven, wearing a grubby orange C-Max boiler suit, but energetic and very up, not a trace of the blues he gets sometimes. He grinned at me. "It's funny, I was just thinking about you last night," he said. "I was thinking it's nice to have you as a friend." He was hungry for company and conversation. We talked about books; he loves thrillers, especially Tom Clancy and Ken Follett and John le Carré. His favourite movies are war movies; especially Platoon, Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now. All muscular, testosterone-fuelled flics, yet it's interesting that they also document the descent into madness of individuals caught up in the horror of war. He used to own a tape of the soundtrack to Apocalypse Now. He has a radio in his cell and listens to music. His favourites tunes are Scotland the Brave, the great march of Aïda and Flower of Scotland. He told me his great passion is bagpipe music - he wants a single bagpipe to play at his funeral and it must play Scotland the Brave.

After nearly two hours it was time to go, we stood up, shook hands and then he embraced me. Just briefly. He told me to take care; I patted his back and said he should do the same. It was a fleeting hug; a brief, seemingly uncomplicated goodbye, but this was not an uncomplicated moment. I've spent years looking for my father's killer, for the killer, instead I found a killer - and for me this is about understanding. Something had changed for everyone else too.

In September last year De Kock appeared at the hearings into the Cosatu and Khotso House bombings. It turned into a Vlakplaas reunion. At the lunch break I watched as his former colleagues circled fearfully, uncertainly round the man who was once their lion. Willie Nortjie was there, one of the men who'd testified against De Kock at his trial. Nortjie approached nervously and I saw his hand shaking in Gene's steady one, his gaze flinching in Gene's unflinching one. De Kock must have been boiling with emotion, but he betrayed not a flicker of it. Afterwards he said, "Six months ago I would have puked on him, or probably six days ago. But now - ag, whatever, if it makes someone rest easier tonight then that's fine by me. Finally it just comes down to him and his conscience." From the look of him nothing rests easy in Willie Nortjie's conscience.

During Pik Botha's testimony De Kock got up and walked out of the room. I'd seen him do this before - he sometimes gets panic attacks. I followed him out to the courtyard where he stood surrounded by warders. "Are you okay'" He said he couldn't take listening to Botha. "Panic attack'" "No. More the moer in." Then he said quietly, "I want to ask him who I was supposed to hate so much that I had to go and kill them. Who'" Silence for a bit, then he looked at me very seriously. "Jann, tell me honestly, what are my chances'" I was taken aback, not sure of the answer. "Tell me if it's bad news. Bad news is like cancer. You have to face it."

At Christmas I had a terrible dream. I was in a prison, alone. There was chaos all around me. De Kock had escaped. In The Silence of the Lambs Hannibal Lector cut off someone else's face and disguised himself with the mask. In my dream De Kock had simply cut off his own face and was now at large. I woke with only a hazy sense of the dream, but felt burdened by this terrible knowledge that he was after all a dangerous psychotic and I felt somehow responsible for unleashing this brutal man onto the world. I saw him again this week, just before he was to appear at the first six-month cluster of amnesty hearings focussing on his time at Vlakplaas. De Kock smiled and hugged me warmly. In the conversation we snatched as he was waiting to testify I asked how he felt. He said he hadn't slept properly in weeks. Terrifying dreams haunt him; in one of them he is being bundled into a tarpaulin and shoved under a bed, he's unable to scream because his throat has been slit. In another he's caught in heavy surf and every time he comes up for air another massive wave dashes him down and pulls him under. The worst, he said, is a dream in which he's choking. He wakes up and is paralysed, unable to breathe, unable to scream for help and then, after what seems like an eternity, the breath comes and he's sitting bolt upright in bed, gulping air.

The warders moved, it was time to go in. He squeezed my arm. "Now it's life or not life," he said. "This is it." And seconds later he was out there in front of the cameras and the judges, talking calmly of what he knows best - murder and mayhem. "I take full responsibility for all operations carried out by my men while I was commander at Vlakplaas." And, later, "We destroyed lives, ruined the lives of the families of those we killed, by living past one another we destroyed one another. It was a futile exercise; we wasted the most precious thing. Life itself." Finally, he said, "I would like to tell these families that I'm sorry. There will always be a yearning and a sorrow, which will never be rectified."



:: January 8 marks the 30th anniversary of the death of Rick Turner www.turner.ukzn.ac.za. His daughter Jann Turner talks about his life and the lessons we could still learn from him today ::

Cape Town. Christmas 1977. I was 13 years old. That seems like a very long time ago now, in a galaxy far, far away. We were living in a period of civil war. Rebel armies, gathered in hidden bases, were plotting strikes against the evil apartheid empire. Security police storm troopers hunted down rebels and imprisoned or killed them. And the empire’s sinister agents continued to enforce the banning order that had kept my father imprisoned in our home for five years.
I saw Star Wars IV: A New Hope for the first time that Christmas and the mythical tale of good and evil resonated in ways I’m sure George Lucas could not have imagined. Otherwise it was a quiet Christmas in Cape Town with my mum. On Boxing Day my sister and I flew unaccompanied to Durban to spend the rest of the holidays with our father.
He was unable to visit us in the Cape because the absurdly titled “Minister of Justice” confined dad’s movements to the magisterial district of Durban, forbade him from teaching, publishing or even being in a room with more than one person at a time.
We knew the minister’s agents were watching us because they made their presence felt with the slashes they left in dad’s car tyres, the fire bomb they threw into our house one night and the truck-load of cement they dumped on our lawn for a laugh. We saw them following us when we drove around the game reserve, we heard them listening in on our phone conversations and we met them when they raided our house in the middle of the night. I knew they would be there over the holidays because they’d been there, on the shadowy edges of our lives, ever since I could remember.
It rained heavily over New Year. On the day the news of Donald Woods’ escape broke we went for a walk along the flooded banks of the Umgeni River. It was raining in the early hours of the morning of January 8 when someone armed with a 9mm pistol walked up our driveway and shot my dad through the window of my sister’s and my room. The bullet hit him at point-blank range. He lost consciousness almost immediately and died 20 minutes later in a pool of his own blood. The empire triumphed again.
Nevertheless I knew, as we buried my father with voices raised in song and fists raised in defiance, that somewhere out there was a force called justice that would ultimately eradicate the evil that had shrouded my family and my country in darkness.
I knew this because in the days after dad’s death Kim and I were taken to see Star Wars a second and then a third time by concerned friends, who tried to keep our minds off our grief and the horror of what happened. My 13-year-old self hooked into the logic and the language of the film as a way of making sense of what happened to my father and of what was happening to me.
Perhaps it’s not so odd then that it’s scenes from Star Wars that have flashed through my mind during critical moments in our history. In 1994, as I stood among ululating, toyi-toyiing South Africans in the ballroom of the embassy in Trafalgar Square, watching the inauguration of President Nelson Mandela, I recall thinking of the scene at the end of episode IV when Han Solo and Luke Skywalker received medals from Princess Leia in a ceremony of huge gravity and celebration. I am sad for my father and for my country that he never lived to see that day and to enjoy life and work in the new South Africa that I am privileged to call home.
January 8 next year will mark the 30th anniversary of his death but, despite so much change in the intervening decades, I believe his voice and his presence would make an important contribution right now. I doubt that he would have been at Polokwane as an ANC delegate, but he certainly would have attended the conference as an observer and analyst, very probably doing exactly what he did in the Seventies — standing on the outside of the institutions of power, analysing and questioning in that calm, lucid, humorous and, above all, rational way that was his.
I would love to talk to him right now about the leadership contest and its implications. I would love to have his thoughts and his counsel, because I’m not sure the result of the ANC election will make a difference to my feeling that some of our Jedi Knight leaders have gone over to the Dark Side, that power has corrupted ideals and that vision has been replaced by an obsession with careers. He would at least have offered me a more complex, and perhaps hopeful, explanation.
But he might well have asked, as I do — where is the contest of ideas? Where are the visions for our society and its future? Where are the manifestos of strategy and policy? All we hear and read is that both leaders are loyal members of the ANC and that they will uphold the policies of the ANC. But are we merely to expect more of the same from the ANC in terms of social and economic policy for our country? If neither candidate, nor indeed the party, is offering a vision of a better and more just society, then does the vote really matter? Have we all been caught on the hook of a huge red herring? And is the casualty not then the stuff that really matters?
We’ll only ever be able to speculate on my father’s views; nevertheless we can still learn from the example of his life and the record of his work. I believe that now, perhaps more than ever, those lessons need to be remembered and applied.
If you google his name you’ll find descriptions along the lines of this one penned by Gail Gerhardt: “Turner, Richard (1941-1978), Visionary academic who inspired a generation of young activists and helped galvanise the labour movement’s resurgence before his assassination in 1978.”
My father was born in Cape Town in 1941, the son of working-class English parents who came to Africa for a better life. He grew up on a fruit farm near Stellenbosch and attended St George’s in Cape Town as a boarder. His father died when he was 12, so it’s probably the influence of his mother, Jane, that formed the confident, widely read and thoughtful young man who registered at the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 1960 for a BA in engineering. Against Jane’s wishes he switched to philosophy in his second year and graduated with honours in 1963. It was in the early Sixties that the chances of meaningful peaceful change ended with the arrest and imprisonment of the ANC and PAC leadership. Opposition to apartheid went underground and the National Party state became a monolith.
Alan Brooks, one of my father’s closest friends at UCT, chose to get involved by joining the mostly white African Resistance Movement. Brooks was arrested and badly tortured and, on his release, left for England. In 1974 dad commented: “The ARM episode, in which disillusioned students tried sabotage, shattered their own and others’ lives and did great damage to the cause they were fighting for [and] made me acutely aware of the dangers of students turning to violence.”
It was central to his world view that intellectual activity was crucial to the development of a strategy for change and the creation of a new society. Tony Morphet describes this facet of his character well. “He was entirely opposed, as every detail of his life makes clear, to the concept and practice of a small vanguardist group. He was constitutionally incapable of following an orthodox Leninist or Stalininst line.”
Morphet also writes: “He never, at any time, entertained the dream of a short-term conflict leading to massive change. His concern was with the value-creating processes through which such a struggle would develop. It is worth noting the distinction he consistently drew between the struggle in Mozambique and that in Zimbabwe.
“As the Portuguese dictatorship collapsed and the Frelimo leadership began to assume control Turner taught himself Portuguese to follow as closely as possible the developments in Mozambique. He was especially interested in the ways in which the consciously controlled process of the struggle waged by Frelimo had developed and concretised the ends they sought to achieve.
“By contrast he was gloomy about the prospects for the resolution of the conflict in Zimbabwe. Violence, uncontrolled by any sense of ends, had already become the deciding factor and he foresaw that the vaguely defined and sloganised socialist programme of the Patriotic Front would simply be swallowed up in an unending succession of bloody conflicts. In the absence of any coherent grasp of ends and means, violence was likely to become endemic.”
This thinking was shaped in the crucible of Paris and the emergence of the new left in the mid-1960s where he registered at the Sorbonne to study for a doctorate on Quelques Implications de la Phenomenologie Existentielle [Several Implications of the Phenomenology of Existentialism]. He wrote his thesis on the political implications of existentialism and Sartre in particular. What developed was a radical take on thinking and teaching.
In an article penned in 1968 he wrote: “Philosophy or the philosophic attitude is the questioning of assumptions, the attempt to discover and examine the assumptions on which any particular argument in any particular sphere is based.” What he brought back from France was the idea that since we have created society as we find it, we can also change it.
The act of thinking in a utopian manner, that of envisioning a new society, is an important one, because that vision can form the blueprint of change and, therefore, of the new society. As Eddie Webster has said, Rick Turner www.turner.ukzn.ac.za took seriously the injunction that it is the task of the intellectual not merely to understand the world, but also to change it.
This was dangerous thinking in apartheid South Africa.
He’d married my mother, Barbara, on the eve of his departure for France and I was born there in November 1964. On our return to South Africa in 1967, dad took up a series of teaching positions before settling into a permanent post in the philosophy department at the then-University of Natal in 1970. By that time I had a sister, Kim, and my parents marriage was disintegrating. Kim and I remained in the Cape with our mother, while dad settled in Durban.
Once there he quickly came into contact with the leaders of the emerging Black Consciousness movement through which he met and developed a personal relationship with Steve Biko, then a medical student at the university. My father’s response to Black Consciousness and to Biko’s injunction to him to work on conscientising whites was an important one because it galvanised white students to work in the one remaining legal area of political organisation and opposition, the labour movement. “In an important sense,” my father wrote, “both whites and blacks are oppressed, though in different ways, by a social system which perpetuates itself by creating white lords and black slaves and no full human beings.”
It was through Biko that my father met the woman who would become his second wife; Foszia, who was a student on what was then Natal University’s black campus. Their living together contravened the Mixed Marriages Act, the Immorality Act and the Group Areas Act. Barred from a civil marriage my dad converted to Islam to marry Foszia in a religious ceremony that was conducted by an imam in the garden of Fatima and Ismail Meer’s house.
Tony Morphet writes of this marriage that it “aptly symbolises the barriers which Turner was prepared to break through in his quest for a life that unified consciousness, values and actions. The liberal ethos out of which he had grown consistently stopped short of such an authentication of chosen values, withdrawing rather into uneasy compromises which insulated values from actions.”
As a teacher he was exciting and intellectually invigorating. His classes were always packed and the informal seminars and lectures that he organised with Michael Nupen and others were hugely popular with students of all disciplines
on campus.
“Education is not,” he wrote, “about
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learning a group of key facts in some special order. What has to be learned is a particular way of thinking, the ability to analyse, to think critically and to think creatively.”
Eddie Webster said of him: “Turner provided a generation disillusioned by the repression of the Sixties … with a vision — a moral vision — of what a new South Africa could become and a strategy of how we could reach it.” Halton Cheadle, a student of my fathers, says his skill lay in his ability to communicate the most complex and nuanced of ideas without crudifying them.
Cheadle was one of the students who, with guidance and assistance from my father and Harriet Bolton among others, helped to get white students involved in the organisation of black workers, spurring the formation of the Nusas wages commissions. With Cheadle my father was a moving force behind the Institute for Industrial Education and the South African Labour Bulletin during and after the Durban strikes of 1973.
In 1973 he committed some of his teaching and ideas to a book. The Eye of the Needle: A Guide to Participatory Democracy in South Africa was first published by Ravan Press as part of the South African Council of Churches Spro-cas report. Alan Paton described the book as “ an essay on our condition, as searching as any that has ever been written. Turner writes without vituperation of censoriousness, but rather with a quiet moral authority.” In a letter to a newspaper replying to a critic my dad wrote of the book: “Whatever it’s faults [it is] cheap, short, non-academic and free from philosophical name-dropping.”
The impact of The Eye was far reaching, particularly among white South Africans looking for alternatives to underground activism and the liberalism then on offer. And the political activity around my father did not fail to come to the attention of the security police. Morphet writes that the state’s security apparatus saw him as “a revolutionary and as a man with a charismatic capacity to mobilise others”. While he was far from a party man he “had the potential to draw together a new formation of opposition groups — a formation that might include the whole spectrum of opposition from exiled organisation to the ‘homeland’ leadership and rank and file to Black Consciousness and white activists and even to some elements of the Progressive Federal Party”.
And so the state banned him in March 1973, with seven national Nusas leaders and eight Saso/BC leaders, including Biko. He continued to advise unions and student leaders informally, but the banning order effectively silenced him. A brief respite from his non-person status occurred when he testified as a defence witness during the 1975/76 trial of the “Saso nine”. To its eternal credit the University of Natal refused to recognise his banning order and continued to pay him a salary, which allowed him to pursue his philosophical studies. In 1976 the government denied him permission to take up an illustious Humboldt fellowship in Germany. He was killed two months before his banning order was due to expire.
As Tony Morphet writes, so beautifully and succinctly, of the death of his friend: “What is lost to South Africa, but in the same moment affirmed, is the meaning of a life lived in freedom. Turner revealed to a society caught in the defeating logic of oppression the shape and substance of life conceived in freedom and lived out through the enactment of rational choices.”
And that is why I say it is in his work and in the example of the conduct of his life that we can still learn from him. I can hear him today, still questioning. While we have political freedom, do we use it effectively? Do we have a contest of ideas in Parliament and the country at large, or — he would have asked — does the ANC function with a lock on power and an uncritical constituency? Why is there no political sanction for incompetence and corruption?
I believe he would have been deeply alarmed, as I am, that the moral compass of our politics appears to have gone haywire under the magnetic pull of greed for money and power.
It would have troubled him profoundly that corruption in the police and low-level white collar and public service crime runs as rampant as high-level corruption and cronyism on government tenders. The extent and violence of crime in the country would have appalled him. And I think that he’d have been particularly upset by the state of our education system.
He would have been quick to ring alarm bells last month when, on the day after some of the worst education statistics in living memory were published, our education minister’s only comment was on the conduct of the leadership race in the ANC.
For me the sharpest instance of this moral confusion was the flying of our flag at half-mast on the day PW Botha died. Even schools accorded him that recognition. If we had any sense of right and wrong, we would have left his death to be marked by obituary writers and columnists instead of according such honour to a man who presided over one of the most vicious, racist states of the 20th century and whose legacy for most South Africans was violence and poverty.
But, while we have our problems and our foibles, as all country’s do, I think there would have been a great deal in South Africa today of which my father would have been extremely proud. He certainly would not have thrown up his hands at the complexity of it all and retreated to the turrets of a foreign university. He was above all a South African and an activist academic and there is no doubt in my mind that the force of his intellect would have been brought to bear on work here at home.
Reason and imagination. Critical and visionary thinking. Those are the forces he would have deployed. Powerful forces that need to be nurtured and safeguarded. Forces that are eroding and will fade if we let them. It would be the most fitting memorial to him if we were to resuscitate those forces in our daily conversation and activity and in the wider politics of our country.
May the Force be with you and with all of us over the holidays and into the coming year.



JOZI: REHAB CITY
Jann Turner: Second Draft
December 6, 2006
2370 words

This Christmas will be my fourth without red wine and come New Year I’ll be toasting 2007 with lime soda instead of champagne. This might sound like a deprivation too stringent to contemplate, but for me choosing not to drink is a liberation. Five years ago I could not have imagined a sober holiday season. From my corner of the bar sobriety was an appalling and absurdly unnecessary form of self-denial. I knew I drank a bit more than most, but I certainly wasn’t an alcoholic. Five Christmases ago I drank so much red wine with lunch that I have no memory of the occasion, only a sickly recall of the following morning when I woke with a stomach that felt like it was being excavated with a rake, a head that throbbed like the light on top of an ambulance and a mind filled with paranoia, regret and self hatred. But I bounced back and within a few days was ready to party again. This time I bought cocaine to pep up the champagne and I saw in the New Year passed out on the garden path of a friend’s house. Next morning I felt not only deeply ashamed, I also felt cheated – I hadn’t even had fun.

Nevertheless I persisted for several months before concluding that drink and drugs were no fun at all anymore. In fact they seemed to take me deeper and deeper into a numbed out depression. A friend suggested that I might have a problem and gave me a number for someone called Dan Wolf who ran a treatment centre called First Step. I still didn’t think I had a problem, but I called, thinking I’d do anything to get help to feel better, I’d even pretend to be an alcoholic. On my way to the centre I had an anxiety attack – what if they turn me away? They’ll see that I’m obviously not in the gutter and they’ll turn me away and then what will I do? But Dan Wolf took one look at me and said he could help – if I was willing to do the work. Like everyone else who wakes up from the party that’s gone on too long I was desperate, so I said, “sure I’m willing!” But I had no idea of the struggle that lay ahead of me.

It’s a long haul back from rock bottom. There are essentially three phases to recovery. First there’s detox, when you stop using and your body goes through withdrawal as you break the physical dependence. Second there’s a period of learning to sustain your abstinence - this requires facing your denial and getting honest about who you really are. And finally there’s the challenge of living happily ever after – that is of soberly and consciously getting on with all too often mundane day-to-day of adult life.

By far the biggest obstacle I faced in treatment was my own denial about the seriousness of my problem. I didn’t end up whoring myself in Hillbrow, I didn’t sell any of my worldly possessions for drugs, I didn’t crash any cars and I didn’t steal from my family or friends or anyone at all – therefore I wasn’t really sick.

But I did take up a lot of oxygen when I was high. And generally I got there on a mix of booze and cocaine. I spoiled more than a few dinner parties with loud and obnoxious behaviour. I vomited spectacularly at my cousin Patric’s wedding – his bride’s family had to replace the living room carpet because the stains of my red wine puke wouldn’t come out. I spent around R50, 000 on cocaine in the two years or so that I used it on a weekly basis. Now that might not sound like much to your average MEC with a business lunch account, but to me that’s money that could have been spent on several great overseas trips and a whole number of other truly worthwhile things. I had a rule for my drug using that made me feel in control – I wouldn’t touch it while I was working. Inevitably my working week got shorter and I worked less and less. I became unreliable in every way – as a colleague, as a writer for hire, as a friend.

My pattern was to start with a glass of wine around sunset. By eight I’d be too drunk to take more without a bit of a kick from some Columbian marching powder, so I call a dealer and have him deliver a gramme or two to me wherever I was. By midnight or thereabouts I would quite suddenly have had enough and I would need to sleep. Sometimes I would pass out on a sofa, sometimes on a garden path, sometimes right there at the table I’d been drinking at. Most times – if I didn’t wake up and drive myself home I would be carried there safely by family or friends who became increasingly distant the more hectic my using became. Thankfully I have never woken up in a place I didn’t recognize or in the bed of someone I didn’t know. Incredibly and mercifully I never hit anyone while I was at the wheel of my car and in no state to string a sentence together let alone navigate a road. Physically I remained fairly intact in the two or three years that were the worst of my drinking and drugging. But emotionally I was shattered.

The day after a days-long binge I would want to die. And I would only recall snatches and flashes of where I’d been and what I’d said and done. The shame was as paralyzing as the physical poisoning. I empty as a coffin.

And yet I struggled with getting clean. I could picture life without drugs, but life without a nice Merlot on a cold evening, or a chilled Castle on a hot day? I mean, what was the point? At first I believed that rehab might teach me to drink in a controlled fashion – the kind of elegant and sophisticated sipping that they do in Martini ads. Dan Wolf smiled when I argued this. He used to say to me: “Keep it simple Jann.” He said that over and over again in response to my complex, qualified questions and explanations. It took me months to understand and accept that recovery was not about controlling myself; it was about surrendering to the truth that I am powerless over drugs and alcohol. I can never have just one chilled Castle on a hot day – I’ll have two and then three and I won’t stop until I pass out. So if I choose to drink then that is what I’m choosing – to be someone I don’t like being doing something I don’t enjoy. It was months before I could to say with conviction “I’m Jann. I’m an alcoholic and an addict.”

It also took me a long time to accept that I was in any way similar to the people around me in treatment – people who really had whored themselves for heroine, who had squandered their parents retirement funds, who had extorted hundreds and thousands from their employers and had even abandoned their young children. What on earth was the connection between me and the pethadine addicted Chemist who manufactured drugs for a West African syndicate and the middle aged men and women addicted to perfectly legal and perfectly lethal prescription medication? “I often find myself telling a housewife that withdrawal she is about go through is no different to your average heroine addict,” says Wolf. “It’s a tough thing for a person to accept that although her dealer wears a white coat and has a respectable business, she’s not much different from a Hillbrow junkie.” Most shocking to encounter in treatment were the teenagers - kids from wealthy backgrounds going to smart schools and addicted to marijuana, coke, kat, ecstasy – you name it, they’ve done it. Dan Wolf points out; “twenty years ago there was cocaine in South Africa, but had to be quite an operator to get it. Nowadays, hard drugs are cheap and easy to get hold of. There’s a whole community of dealers invested in making access to cocaine and heroine and whatever else you want, as easy as possible. If you forget to phone them then they’ll phone you.”

But why am I an alcoholic? One argument says it’s a physical disease like cancer. Another view holds that it’s a combination of biological, psychological and social factors. Both my grandfather’s died alcoholics. My father’s father from sclerosis of the liver and my mother’s father expired in a corridor of Groote Schuur hospital – he was withdrawing from alcohol while being treated for a cancer of the tongue acquired from his forty a day smoking habit. But my sister isn’t an addict; in fact she’s revoltingly moderate in all her habits except perhaps chocolate consumption. So it’s not just my genes that have given me this perverse gift. I think what ignited my addiction was too much loss in general and my divorce in particular - which left me with a terrible sense of defeat and sadness and loneliness. But I didn’t want to feel sad and lonely and defeated – who on earth does? So I numbed out the feelings with booze and drugs. And almost obliterated myself in the process.

At the time I believed I was a free spirit, exploring my own limits and those of my world. And Joburg is a great place to do that. It’s a city of extremes – rich and poor, sophisticated and crude, compassionate and negligent, skyscrapers and deep tunnels, diamond bright skies and shadow cold streets. And if you look hard enough you will find whatever it is that you need here; establishments where you can drink yourself to your knees and have drugs delivered to you on the spot. Fortunately - if you’re looking for help getting off your knees then Joburg delivers again. This is the city to check in to Rehab.

There’s an impressive array of places to clean up and at least two new treatment centres have opened here in the last six months. Carl - a recovering addict with twelve years clean - says this boom in rehabs is a sign of the sheer entrepreneurism of the city. “A growing supply of addicts plus big bucks from medical aid equals an excellent commercial opportunity for anyone in the business of treating addiction.”

But whilst they may be savvy entrepreneurs, the kind of people who are in the business of treating addiction are also profoundly committed and compassionate individuals. Along with partners Allan Sweidan and Charles Perkel, Dan Wolf has developed a group of treatment centres called the GAP, or General Addictions Programme, which supports addicts in all phases of recovery.

The Gap at Crescent is a detox centre with a three-week programme. “It’s a psychiatric hospital,” says clinical psychologist Allan Sweidan; “so the Crescent is an addiction casualty environment. People go through withdrawal under supervision.”

The Gap at First Step was where I got clean. It was the first of the GAP centres and also the first intensive outpatient centre in South Africa, allowing patients to continue with their lives whilst in treatment. “It wasn’t my idea,” says Wolf, “I saw the model offered in the States and brought it to Joburg.”

The GAP in Ferndale is the newest of the centres. “What we are providing here is a long-term environment that allows people to heal. Sometimes a short programme doesn’t touch all sides of a person.” Says Wolf. Patients stay a minimum of four weeks and a maximum of six months. “This is not about punishment- it’s about learning to look after and value yourself and your relationships with others. Longer treatment often helps patients sustain recovery of what it is they lost or maybe never had. “In the end,” says Wolf, “recovery is a spiritual journey and I believe that spirituality is about doing the things that define us as human – making choices, delaying gratification, actualizing potential and going beyond our instincts and impulses.”

That’s not to say that everyone who goes into treatment recovers. In fact the stats are bleak. “One needs to assess what recovery means for each patient,” says Allan Sweidan. “If one is stuck with the idea that successful treatment implies that once our patients leave our programmes they are ‘cured’, then everyone involved is headed for disappointment.” More than a handful of the people I was treatment with are dead and yet more are back out there using and those I have bumped into look far from in control and far from happy. A reminder to me that I can never get complacent about my sobriety. That if I want to continue enjoying life as much as I have over the past few years and if I want to continue being productive in the world then for the rest of my days I need to choose - every day - not to drink or use drugs.

I’m not sure if it’s since I cleaned up that I’ve become more aware of drug and alcohol abuse in Joburg, or if in fact it’s really getting worse. Are the GAP centres full? “We are really busy – but our policy is to never turn people away if we can possibly help it.” Says Sweidan.

I am so relieved Dan Wolf didn’t turn me away. And I am so grateful for the challenges he confronted me with in my treatment. There were days when I could have happily strangled him for his stubborn persistence in pushing me to peel back and back and back the layers of my denial. But nothing recovery has demanded of me has ever been as hard as waking up with a force ten hangover and a suicidal self hatred. Three and a half years after calling Dan Wolf to ask for help I am just ecstatically grateful to be sober and looking forward to a Christmas and New Year with my family that I have a good chance of remembering with joy.


Copyright © 2007 Jann Turner. All rights reserved

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De Kock’s letter
January 24 2012 at 09:22am
By Eugene De Kock


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INLSA

The mother of the late Bheki Mlangeni, Catherine Mlangeni, can't believe that after nearly 20 years, Vlakplaas operative Eugene de Kock wants to say sorry. She previously told The Star: "He can rot in hell." Photo: Itumeleng English

De Kock wrote to The Star:

1. I fully accept that Ms Mlangeni cannot forgive me for my involvement in her son’s death. Real forgiveness requires that the person against whom the deed was perpetrated be asked for forgiveness, but with murder, forgiveness becomes impossible.

2. With that in mind, I cannot ask Ms Catherine Mlangeni for forgiveness for the death of her son, and I will have to live with that pain and regret forever. There is no greater punishment than to have to live with the consequences of the most terrible deed with no one to forgive you. For me, even my own death can’t compare.

3. I, however, want to ask her for forgiveness for the pain and suffering she as a mother had to endure due to my terrible deeds.

Not only her, but also the whole family of Mr Mlangeni who suffered as a consequence of what I did in those years of madness. There might be no pain greater than the pain one experiences with the loss of a child. Your forgiveness will mean a lot to me, but it can in no way wash away the pain I have caused.

4. I am in jail now for approximately 17 years. I accept responsibility for my contribution to the evil of apartheid and deserve the years in incarceration. The isolation from my family and loved ones has given me some idea of what the Mlangeni family had to live through, although I understand that nothing can compare with their experience. Justice means I might be here for the rest of my life, and while I would like to have the opportunity to contribute to a democratic society in a meaningful way one day, I understand the justifications for my incarceration.

5. I had been a soldier and policeman most of my life. I had known no other life; war and jail is almost the sum total of my experiences as an adult. The violence I have seen, experienced and perpetrated is an almost unbearable feature of my mind. I have asked forgiveness at the TRC and also to victims and families who have visited me since my incarceration. I asked because it releases some of the guilt I experience, but I know it may not make it easier for those who were the victims of my justifications for apartheid at the time.

6. If you ever feel it will help you to deal with your pain and sorrow, feel free to visit me.

My deepest regrets