Cheated out of a new house

2008-05-18 00:00

I had a hard time explaining to our former domestic worker that the teachers, nurses and other KZN government employees found guilty of corruption would not lose the houses they fraudulently acquired.

Hannah has a vested interest in this matter, even if her name is at the bottom of the waiting list. She has been on the list for some time, and the unexpected release of 100-odd dwellings materially would speed up the waiting.

This alas, did not happen, and the bureaucrats caught with their snouts in the trough received a smack on their wobbly bottoms before being shooed back into the pig pen to carry on where they had left off.

In practice, Hannah, who has been struggling along at a domestic worker’s wage, is no better off for the law having run its course, while the government employee who crooked the system for their own greed walked away with a slap on the wrist, a fine and an illegally acquired house.

Quite how this ruling was arrived at is anyone’s guess, but we suspect it is a case of government people looking out for government people, and that with our money.

The same theme, but with a different story, is playing itself out in our bastion of freedom and democracy. Parliament has decided that going after the travel agencies that colluded with our esteemed MPs in the Travelgate scam is not worth the hassle, and has signalled its intention to abandon efforts to recoup the outstanding millions.

Closer to home, reports from Durban suggest that taxi drivers with big traffic fines are being offered the opportunity to settle at a lesser amount, just so that the fine is paid.

We’re not sure of the full story, but we are pretty certain that a questionable message is being sent.

On a positive note, we understand concerns about venal office bearers are increasingly coming under the spotlight and that we may well witness a sea change … some time.

Empty thunder

Poor Cosatu. Trapped in an infernal identity crisis of speaking for the unemployed masses from a massively privileged position, its leaders increasingly resort to strident rhetoric that, notwithstanding the donner und wetter, fails to mask its own contradictions.

Readers may recall its incomprehensible rantings on the composition of the South African cricket team; now it conveniently attributes the outbreak of xenophobia to poverty and high prices. We’d like to suggest the causes are somewhat more complex, and wondered about the picture of the mob of high school learners baiting a victim of the violence through a protective fence, as if she was an animal in a cage?

Gateway going places

DI Milford of Project Gateway fame is off to the United Kingdom to see how the students at the recently-established Gateway School of Fashion can participate in the manufacture of clothing (cut, make and trim) for the London apparel market.

This is no fanciful notion, but part of a well-thought-out proposition that has the backing of British fashion icon Karen Millen, and most recently, the support from a business delegation in Croydon, South London.

To advance the cause, Milford is boarding a plane for the UK and has bought the ticket out of her own pocket.

To help fund the trip, the PCB has launched an appeal for any business willing and able to help Milford pay her expenses to contact CEO Andrew Layman at 033 345 2747.

Kudos from afar

Khosi Mthethwa of Phola B&B in Blackridge has every reason to beam a sunny smile after an unexpected compliment from the UK.

An e-mail from parents of a woman who got married in February was sent to Pietermaritzburg Tourism, and showed why good service and happy guests are critical to the success of a "word-of-mouth" establishment.

"The B&B was selected from a few in the area … [and] the welcome we received was second to none. The hospitality, food and cleanliness were great. The breakfasts were fabulous. We were welcomed into Khosi’s family with open arms. We will certainly be staying with Khosi on our next trip and will certainly recommend her to other travellers."

Coffee rewards

City resident Karin Smit knew she was on to a good thing when she was sipping her customary cappuccino at Coffeeberry Café and answered a call from Sue Malherbe who, with Con Malherbe, owns and runs the establishment at Cascades.

The call was to tell her that she was the lucky winner of a hamper of coffee goodies in a Douwe Egberts promotion that asked entrants to guess the number of coffee beans in a one-kilogram bag of espresso.

Smit put in a strong bid with six entries, one of which came closest to the winning 8 049 number, and happily walked off with the hamper.

Indaba triumph

By all accounts, this year’s Tourism Indaba at the enlarged ICC and adjacent exhibition centre was an unqualified success, certainly more than those over the past five years or so.

Those canvassed on their opinions were unanimous in their positive outlook and as Garde Major of Major Adventures in Underberg said, her book of positive leads is more than three times than what was garnered last year.

There are business reasons for this development, of course, including the fact that operators planning for 2010 do it two years in advance, and that southern Africa, collectively, is steadily growing its slice of the international travel market.

Newsletter soaring

The age of electronic newsletters is upon us and we are fortunate indeed to have access to some exceptional sources of information. One such newsletter is African Pilot, which evidently is a superlative source that doesn’t shy away from tough issues in the industry.

derekalberts@mweb.co.za

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