19 October 2018


SARS boss apologises to SA

The acting head of the SA Revenue Service (SARS), Mark Kingon, today held back tears as he apologised to South Africa for the failures of leadership at the revenue service that led to a massive loss of trust from the public and some R50-billion in failed revenue collection. The acting commissioner told the Nugent commission of inquiry the institution had been left ‘broken and unstable’ and ‘wrecked by division and mistrust’ by events in recent years. He apologised to taxpayers‚ SARS stakeholders, former employees and government for the service falling short of the required standards. Kingon was group executive for relationship management with SARS, where he has worked for 34 years, before President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed him acting commissioner in March.

Now Nene quits as MP

Nhlanhla Nene has now also resigned as an MP. Ten days ago he resigned as the Minister of Finance after giving testimony to the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture about meetings he had with the Guptas – which he had previously denied. He was replaced in the key cabinet post by former Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni. In his resignation note today he said he was ‘indebted to the ANC and the people of South Africa for having given me the opportunity to serve our country in my capacity as an elected representative’.

Daubermann bites back

Advocate Peter Daubermann, who gained national notoriety for his cross-questioning of a witness in the rape trial of Pastor Timothy Omotoso, has come out swinging at his critics, reports News24. ‘Most people don’t know what the job of an attorney is,’ said an angry Daubermann. ‘I will never allow myself to be intimidated by ignorant people who do not know what’s going on.’ Responding to protesters outside the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth – where the trial is being heard – he said: ‘I’m sure it is a form of attempted intimidation. It’s never happened to me before.’

Trump slammed

US President Donald Trump stepped into more controversy last night when he appeared to praise a politician for assaulting a journalist. Republican Greg Gianforte was convicted last year of assault for throttling and then ‘body-slamming’ – a wrestling throw in which an opponent is lifted and then slammed on to the ground – journalist Ben Jacobs of the US Guardian. Speaking at a rally in Montana Trump referred to the incident and called Gianforte a ‘tough cookie’. He warned supporters to ‘never wrestle’ with Gianforte and added: ‘Any guy that can do a body slam, he’s my kind of guy.’ Even his fans across at Fox News appear to have been a bit startled by Trump’s comments.


Steinhoff in the crosshairs

While one group of Dutch Steinhoff investors, VEB, has agreed to delay its legal action against the company until April, German and Dutch lawyers will be coming to SA this month to talk to institutional investors about a class action strategy to get their money back from Steinhoff. A group calling itself the International Steinhoff Litigation Group has invited institutional investors to attend meetings with the lawyers at the end of the month in Johannesburg and Cape Town. The group has more than 40 defendants in its sights, ‘including the old and the new Steinhoff’, Deloitte, banks, and a number of current and former directors of the company.

Fact PICkers

There has been a bit of obfuscation about what the recently completed Budlender inquiry did or did not find about PIC chairman Dan Matjila’s role in securing funds for businesswoman Pretty Louw. Independent Media titles have all carried headlines saying Matjila has been ‘cleared’. In fact the Budlender report simply clarifies that no evidence was presented to show Louw was in a romantic relationship with Matjila. But Budlender did find that Matjila was asked by Intelligence Minister David Mahlobo to help Louw with funds – and that he did so ‘inappropriately’ by asking a recent recipient of PIC funds to help her with the R300,000 she was looking for. Lawrence Mulaudzi obliged, according to the report, feeling he had no alternative but to do so.


Currie Cup semis

The Sharks and Western Province will go into their respective Currie Cup rugby semi-finals tomorrow with confidence from recent wins. Last weekend Province were sublime in the wet to destroy the Bulls at Loftus and it is hard to see them not progressing to host the final at Newlands next weekend. The other semi is more difficult to call and a revamped Lions side is unlikely to let the Sharks get away as easily as they did a month ago. The Sharks have been impressive, particularly at home, and it would be fair reward for Robert du Preez and the rest of his coaching staff if his charges reached the final – but playoff matches are not always fair.

Lions coach on indecent assault charge

The Lions will be without their defence coach Joey Mongalo in Durban this weekend because he is in Sydney defending an indecent assault case bought by a hotel concierge. According to a report on the Stuff website, the alleged victim’s barrister told the magistrate Mongalo grabbed her hand and placed it against his ‘private area, which was erect and outside his clothing’ while sticking a finger in her mouth. The incident is alleged to have happened in a hotel stairwell during the Lions’ Super Rugby tour to Australia in April

Reds v Blues

The English Premier League could not have asked for a better return to domestic football after the international break. Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho may, however, have wished for an easier return to the trenches than a visit to Chelsea. The clash pits struggling United and their beleaguered manager against his former club – a team which has enjoyed a resurgence since Mourinho left under a cloud in 2015. In other games the other two co-leaders, Man City and Liverpool, take on Burnley and Huddersfield respectively. For full fixtures click here.

High fives for motorsport

Two wheels or four? At opposite sides of the earth the two premier motorsport formats could both crown the dominant racers of their generation for the fifth time this weekend. In Japan, Marc Marques will in all likelihood win the MotoGP World Championships on Sunday. All he has to do to secure the title is beat his closest rival Andrea Dovizioso. In Austin, Texas, Briton Lewis Hamilton needs to score eight more points than his Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel to claim the Formula 1 title with three races to go. If Hamilton manages that he will join motor racing great Juan Manuel Fangio as a five-time World Champion and sit just two titles behind Michael Schumacher

And high fives for Abbas

A second five-wicket haul for Mohammad Abbas gave Pakistan a massive 373-run win over Australia in the Second Test in Abu Dhabi this morning. The win gives Pakistan 1-0 victory in the two-match series. Abbas ripped through the Australian middle order to end with figures of five for 62 and match figures of 10 for 95. Australia were bowled out for 164.

Kevin’s tie-break legacy

SA tennis player Kevin Anderson has made another bit of history (and no doubt a Trivial Pursuit question) with Wimbledon announcing it will introduce a final set tie-break next year. This follows criticism of the tournament when Anderson got through to the final after a marathon six hour and 36 minute semi-final win over America’s John Isner. Anderson beat Isner 26-24 in the final set but lost the championship in straight-sets to Novak Djokovic two days later. From next year the final set will be stopped for a tie-break if the scores reach 12-12.

* Get a comprehensive guide to the weekend’s sport on television from the.sports.letter here


In an effort to counter some of the world’s negativity we ask people what makes them happy. the.news.letter will feature a Happy Snap every Friday

Takara Fischer, 27, Gardens

Takara works as a waitress at Brownies and downieS in Cape Town – a training centre for people with special needs 

Working here makes me happy, because I get to make new friends, and the people make me laugh – like Nick, who dances all the time so we call him Elvis and you can – literally – say anything to Chante and she’ll laugh. Before I worked here I used to do pilates and watch TV but this got me out of the house. We all help each other. Taking photographs makes me happy and animals make me happy and taking photographs of animals makes me very happy. I get very rare photos of birds when they are flying. I used to volunteer at Darg and I’m hoping to go on a sleepover at Tears. Bullies don’t make me happy. I stand up to bullies.


Murder (your husband), she wrote

There were probably two clues that led Portland, Oregon detectives to arrest American crime-thriller novelist Nancy Crampton-Brophy for the murder of her husband Daniel Brophy. The first was her book The Wrong Husband and the second was her essay How To Murder Your Husband. The Metro reports that Crampton-Brophy was arrested recently for murdering Brophy, who was shot dead at his work in June. In her essay she wrote: ‘As a romantic suspense writer, I spend a lot of time thinking about murder and, consequently, about police procedure. After all, if the murder is supposed to set me free, I certainly don’t want to spend any time in jail.’ Looks like she may have to rewrite her essay.


Today’s winner is Chad Haga (@ChadHaga):
At breakfast I saw a guy grow frustrated by the apparent malfunction of the coffee machine. He pushed the button repeatedly until his mug was full. He’s gonna have quite the day after 6 expressos!

And an extra one for Friday from Dave Cactus (@dave_cactus):
I like when flies won’t leave my car on long road trips. Have fun moving to Kansas, you tiny idiot.


SqueakyKleen359 posted three themed clues in the Reddit crossword subdirectory (the clues are linked):
A number of bones… the marrow, anyway (3)
Arrogant woman, part of a couple (3)
Formeless ether in small quantity (5)  

The solution to yesterday’s clue, Energy after tree-burning (4) is FIRE – E (energy) after FIR (tree) is a synonym for ‘burning’ and the solution to Express love for a tree! (5) is OPINE – O (love) + PINE (tree), which is what you do when you express.


A few weeks ago we published a link to Gus Silber’s incredible piece of writing about Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. We’re back with another musical Big Read. This one is by sports journalist Joe Posnanski – and it’s about The Promise, arguably the finest song by arguably the finest musician, Bruce Springsteen. Posnanski’s piece is about a Pontiac T-1000, a knitting factory, a father and, of course, The Boss. It’s a wonderful feature that you should read.

Here’s a bit of  The Promise to get you in the mood:
Johnny works in a factory. Billy works downtown.
Terry works in a rock and roll band looking for that million dollar sound.
Got a job down in Darlington. Some nights I don’t go.
Some nights I go to the drive in. Some night I stay home


The week that was

What didn’t convince us:
The EFF’s ‘We Stand By Floyd’ press conference where Red Beret Boss Julius Malema was adamant that his party did not have any relations with that bank, which sounded a bit like a former US president’s claim that he ‘did not have sexual relations what that woman’. And then Juju blamed everything on Pravin Gordhan.

What made us go, Serves him right:
Stormy Daniels calling US President Trump ‘Tiny’ after he calling the porn star ‘Horseface’.  Daniels claims she had a sexual relationship with Trump in 2006.

What made us go, what? What? WHAT:
The bewildering performance of the Chief Executive of IT at SARS Mmamathe Makhekhe-Mokhuane’s at the Nugent Commission of Inquiry where she failed to give coherent answers to questions about the institution’s crumbling IT infrastructure, deflected questions, spoke about her rare eye disease and the Drakensberg Boys’ Choir. On the issue of maintaining the ageing infrastructure she had this say: ‘Currently we are building, we have not built capability to build new solutions, so we are maintaining what we have…. within a built space.’ Perhaps most bewildering of all is that she gets paid R250k a month.

Who made us think that maybe there’s some truth in all those lawyer jokes:
Advocate Peter Daubermann, the defence counsel for Timothy Omotoso, who is accused of raping Cheryl Zondi. During his cross-examination of Zondi, Daubermann implied that she was a willing participant in her alleged rape and molestation.

What made us think, what the hell is the world coming to:
Audio recordings that revealed that journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a critic of Saudia Arabia, was interrogated, had his fingers severed and was beheaded.

Who we decided was the Menace of the Week?
Have you seen DOCTOR Iqbal Surve’s rant in his papers today? Do yourself a favour, don’t. DOCTOR Surve, who has three degrees, has a full-blooded go at the subliminal racists Tiso Blackstar, Business Day and journalist Carol Paton. The humble Three-Degreed DOCTOR uses the  opportunity for a photo of himself and a little boast about his business prowess. He says proof he is a victim of subliminal racism is that Tiso Blackstar journalists never refer to him as DOCTOR Surve (‘I am medical doctor with three degrees’) – not that he minds not being referred to as a DOCTOR, of course, it’s just that he minds a lot BECAUSE I HAVE THREE DEGREES! But DOCTOR Surve is not even this week’s menace – his ego-driven, attention-seeking rant is obvious. The dubious honour goes to the gutless editors in his group who don’t have the courage to stand up to him and continue to publish his drivel on their front pages. In case you missed it, DOCTOR Surve has THREE DEGREES.

Who made us proudly South African? 
The uncompromising, dominant force that is Caster Semenya – who received the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award from the Women’s Sports Foundation and tennis icon Billie Jean King.


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