Aakash Bramdeo is a former colleague from e.tv news who moved on to the SABC before being offered the editorship of Post in Durban — which was the newspaper which published my first story back in 1980. Before accepting the job, Aakash picked my brain as to what he could do to make the paper relevant to a wider readership. "Get a columnist who reflects the audience you're trying to attract," I said.

Shortly after accepting the position of editor, Aakash called me and asked, "when can you start?"

"View from the Top" ran in Post every week from 1 May 2011 to 9 April 2014 (which coincided with Aakash's departure from Post to edit the Sunday Tribune).

What you see may not be what you get

13 July 2011

Human beings are perhaps never more frightening than when they are convinced beyond doubt that they are right, Laurens van der Post once wrote. I’ve seen this proven many a time, most recently with a close family member (whom I should probably not name, so I won’t tell you that I’m talking about my brother).

I was down in Durban for the weekend. We had a great game of thunee where my sister-in-law and I trounced my brother and another family member (whom I should also probably not name, so I won’t tell you that I’m talking about my cousin).

Uplift the poor -- with a free economy

20 July 2011
“WHEREAS it is the right of every person to be protected from fear, intimidation and physical harm caused by the criminal activities of violent gangs and individuals; …
AND BEARING IN MIND that it is usually very difficult to prove the direct involvement of organised crime leaders in particular cases, because they do not perform the actual criminal activities themselves, it is necessary to criminalise the management of, and related conduct in connection with enterprises which are involved in a pattern of racketeering activity…”

So who is looking after the cars?

27 July 2011

Game! Makro! Dion Wired! Builders! Jumbo! Shield! Chances are that you, like me, have shopped in at least one of these branded stores over the past month. Chances also are that you don’t necessarily know, nor do you necessarily care, that these branded stores are collectively owned by a JSE listed company called Massmart.

Massmart is a highly successful company with 314 retail stores in 13 African countries. Not surprisingly, they caught the attention of the world’s biggest retailer, the US based NYSE listed company called Walmart.

You don't need a faster horse!

17 August 2011

My first car was a Peugeot 504. As a student with almost no income, I had to do much of the maintenance myself, including changing the oil. The drain plug on the sump of the 504 required a special tool; a square key (similar to the Allen or hex wrench principle) needed to be inserted into the plug to unscrew it. The key cost a lot of money, and could only be used for opening the drain plug on a Peugeot — an expensive solution to a simple problem.

It's a blatant distortion of the facts!

24 August 2011

I am against the death penalty. I strongly support gay rights. I’m firmly in the pro-choice camp around reproductive rights. I’m an atheist. And I don’t particularly like Mac Maharaj. (We have clashed in the past, but that’s a story for another day.)

I’m needing to say all of these things up front in case anyone makes assumptions to the contrary because I’m finding myself siding with Mac Maharaj around the response of the chattering classes to the nominee for President of the Constitutional Court.

Ever wonder why Chrysler dumped Valiants?

31 August 2011

In about 276 BC, there was born in the town of Cyrene a man named Eratosthenes who made a surprisingly accurate measurement of the circumference of the Earth.

By comparing the noon shadow in midsummer between Syene and Alexandria, he gave the circumference of the Earth as 250 000 stadia, the distance to the sun as 804 000 000 stadia and the distance to the Moon as 780 000 stadia.

(How big is a stadium? Well, you could ask the Sharks. In the Roman days, it was about 185 metres.)

Hard to give away a dollar effectively

7 September 2011

I’ve always had a soft spot for Mpilo Desmond Tutu. I first met him in December 1981 as a young reporter at the funeral of murdered Durban lawyer Mlungisi Griffiths Mxenge which took place at Rayi near King Williams Town. There were thousands upon thousands in the funeral crowd, and among these was a person who was fingered by those around him a black security policeman. The crowd pounced upon him with the tenderness of raging pitbulls. And then, in a dramatic

The most engaging raconteur I have ever met

14 September 2011

I first met Deon du Plessis at the Sunday Tribune offices in Field Street during the early 1980s where he was deputy editor. He was a giant of a man – I stand close to 6 feet tall, but he towered over me and was almost twice as broad as I am. By the time I returned to the country in 1994, he was by then editor of the Pretoria News. He was widely expected to become editor of The Star in Johannesburg, but instead became the editor’s boss – as Managing Director of Independent Newspapers Gauteng.