Doubts over prize house

2011-12-02 00:00

SEVERAL residents of Ramsgagte have alleged that a competition being run by self- proclaimed butterfly expert Earle Whiteley is a scam.

Whiteley denied the allegations in an interview this week.

The sources claim that Whiteley has misled competition entrants into pledging R100 in the hope of winning a R2,8 million home in Ramsgate since January 2010.

The runner-up and third placed winner will receive R100 000 and R50 000 respectively.

The draw is to take place on December 21.

Documents show that the building plans were passed only on April 14, although the competition already commenced last year.

The contractors have completed only a retaining wall and the foundations so far.

“The house will be won by one of the pledges in December. But I did not say that the house will in fact be ready at the same time,” Whiteley said.

There are also huge monthly cash prizes or products on offer.

They are sponsored by Focus South Africa, Conservation of Butterflies in South Africa (CBISA) and the South African Butterfly Breeders’ Association (Sabba) of which Whiteley and his wife are the sole directors.

Money raised from the competition will go toward Whiteley’s new project, called the Ramsgate Butterfly Sanctuary.

The competition has raised only R86 000 so far while the prizes amount to millions.

Whiteley said the competition is not the sole source of funding for the butterfly sanctuary project.

“The competition was run in the hope that it would raise money to fund this new project, but it only raised R86 000.

“Money is raised from courses and workshops done by members of these organisations,” he added.

Sources also claim that a rare butterfly, Eurytela vashti (Ramsgate Piper), which Whiteley says the new sanctuary will house, no longer exists.

This is a claim that Whiteley vehemently denies.

There are other allegations that the butterfly was not found in Ramsgate’s Mvutshini Valley, as Whiteley claims.

It was apparently first found near Trafalgar, in a place called Black Lake, in the presence of four other people.

Whiteley said the Ramsgate Piper exists and that the controversy began when he opposed the erection of a development because he believed it would obstruct the Ramsgate Piper’s flight path and would lead to its demise.

“It’s a very rare butterfly and it isn’t seen every day.

“I last saw it two months ago. You have to spend at least five days in its habitat to spot it.”

Whiteley said he first discovered Eurytela vashti on April 14, 2002, and that a third specimen was discovered in Trafalgar in 2003, in the presence of a group of people.

“There seems to be some confusion. I will never forget the day I first found [a] Vashti,” Whiteley said.

• witness@feveronline.co.za

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