Open letter to UCT Vice-Chancellor

PO BOX 4398

Cape Town



17 October 2018

Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng
The Vice-Chancellor
Vice Chancellor’s Office
University of Cape Town

Dear Madam,


CHEADLE’S FOLLEY: Science, Race and the Search for Human Origins

Since this correspondence predates your ascendancy as the new Vice-Chancellor, let me congratulate you, apparently the first ‘black womxn’ VC.

I place the above in parenthesis since I am certain that linguists and social scientists will find cause to question any descriptive words attributed to the phenomena of the facts.

Last week I attended a packed Human Evolution Research Institute (HERI) seminar in the Beattie Building entitled: “Let’s Talk About the History of Racism in Science: Darwin’s Hunch and the Search for Human Origins by Christa Kuljian”.

In which Kuljan made a good show at answering various questions inter alia, “What impact did colonial thinking and the concept of ‘race typology’ have on the views of scientists, including Raymond Dart, in their search for human origins? How did the concept of ‘race typology’ influence Phillip Tobias and his colleagues under apartheid? How have the changing scientific views about race – and racism – shaped efforts to understand human evolution? “

Kuljian’s special focus on the fields of palaeo-anthropology and genetics over the past century has ‘lead her to review more recent research in human genetics and mitochondrial DNA that confirms that all living humans have common origins in Africa.’

I understand from previous correspondence with former Vice-Chancellor Max Price, that H Cheadle, (now law professor emeritus) has been retired from his post at UCT Law School since 31 December 2014, and this was confirmed by Pat Lucas on 20 May 2016. Needless to say, it appears that UCT Law Dept failed to receive the memo, and are still under the impression that Cheadle is lecturing part-time, and/or is a member of Senate by virtue of his professorship at your institution.

I therefore once again bring to your attention Cheadle’s directorship of a labour brokerage firm whilst adjudicating a matter involving his client and business partner, and whilst also holding various posts at your institution (NPA, 9/2/12-386/2014).

In particular, and in the light of the growing consensus on the subject, I now bring to your attention Cheadle’s pathetic condonation of a racist inquiry at the behest of an apartheid media firm. A repugnant inquiry into my alleged race identity on the basis of blood quantum, in particular Adv Kahanovitz’ Anti-Enlightenment and Anti-Secular assertions that I am inter alia, ‘black whenever I feel like it and white when I want to be’, ‘wanted to help the respondent because I am coloured’, ‘ have become one of them, the oppressed’, ‘am not Jewish and/or am a Jew in breach of my religion.’

I also wish to draw attention to the racist and irregularly gained 2010 decision of the labour court of South Africa in which Cheadle openly attacks my credibility on the basis of my opposition to apartheid and reduces my identity to nothing more than an absurdity in the eyes of the law. (SUBMISSIONS: “manifest bias in Lewis v Media24′ and also extracts from my complaint to the Cape Bar Council and Judicial Service Commission are available upon request).

For the record, I am a graduate of the UCT Centre for African Studies, was banned en masse during 1987 whilst a member of the UCT Swapo Solidarity Committee, and End Conscription Campaigns, both registered as societies with the SRC, and also the Congress of South African Writers.

Further, I struggled to gain access to my degree, whilst Peter Horn, my lecturer in English Literary Theory was banned in name, and never attended graduation.

As a person formerly classified as white by the regime and subsequently dis-enrolled from the ‘white race’ via a series of excisions, beginning with my being placed as a young scholar on a list for wanting to check out a book by N R Mandela from the Jagger library, and culminating in the repeal of the Population Registration Act during 1991, I take exception to your institution’s continued support for Mr Cheadle, and thus apartheid race science and the multiracialist school.

The lecture given by Kuljian may as well be titled: CHEADLE’S FOLLEY: Science, Race and the Search for Human Origins, since it traverses many of the aspects of evidence lead by myself during the labour court proceeding in which I quoted the late Dr Neville Alexander and hence the views of the Unity Movement and its contention that the human species represented one common stream of evolution, and thus an idea very far removed from the multiregionalist and multiracialist approach taken by Cheadle.

Cheadle tragically and painfully accepted the respondent’s pleadings in the matter, arriving at the bizarre conclusion that race profiling and de facto race segregation at the People’s Post, was merely the result of a ‘coincidence of homogeneity” (and/or an accident of nature and/or a miracle of sameness). Ditto separate development.

As I write this letter I am forced to consider the fact that I will be representing myself come 23 October 2018 in the High Court of South Africa in a matter distantly related to the labour court ruling (Lewis v Legal Aid SA). It pains me to have to place my head in an academic vice as it were, in order to alert you to the travesty which is occurring in our country in the aftermath of the TRC and the failure of the Minister of Justice to afford legal representation to the victims and survivors of the apartheid system.

I am therefore demanding restitution of my rights as a human being and the removal of Mr Cheadle from Senate, failing which I will have no recourse other than to renew the call for an academic boycott of UCT on the basis of its continued support for apartheid race science.

It is disingenuous to suggest as Max Price has previously, that Cheadle’s academic position and persona at UCT is somehow separate to his involvement with our legal system. Any reasonable person would arrive at the conclusion that Cheadle acted as an officer of the labour court because he had previously received academic credentials and status conferred upon him by the institution, and was a member of Senate in good standing, not to mention a staff member.

A full inquiry and examination of the apartheid ‘skeleton collection’ at UCT and thus the legalistic bones in the Kramer Building which continue to cast a long shadow — repugnant but important apartheid memorabilia illustrated in the many books and periodicals printed by your institution over decades — is long overdue.


Sincerely yours

D R Lewis

021 788 3119
082 425 1454


South Africa’s Anti-Climate Science lobby

IF THE latest IPCC intergovernmental report on climate change, didn’t draw your attention to the dire impacts of global warming at 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels then a new study of the Earth’s oceans, showing the planet is much more sensitive to fossil-fuel emissions than past studies have shown, really ought to get your attention.

Because of South Africa’s relative isolation, you are probably either reading urgent press releases reiterating the IPCC position on the likely effects of climate change or equally colourful reports purporting to debunk these pieces as alarmist. The cadence of environmental debate here is such that the nay-sayers are still being given equal opportunity to spread their jaundiced lies and scholastic gobbledygook, in the process smearing genuine climate science as hopelessly flawed.

Statements by Patrick Dowling of Wildlife and Environment Society of SA (WESSA), an organisation which was forced during the closing stages of apartheid, to include habitat as part of the broader picture of wildlife and thus environment alongside humans, after criticism of white privilege and shallow ecology published by South Press under my own byline back in the early 90s, thus appear alongside the work of professional hucksters and anti-climate charlatans.

Neo-Con columnist Ivo Vegter for instance, has made a career on purporting to debunk climate change, and his work regularly appears in The Daily Maverick

Stop for a moment to reflect on the content of the latest report carried by the venerable Independent, a UK based news outlet: The world’s oceans have absorbed far more heat than previously estimated, “suggesting global warming and climate change could accelerate faster than predicted,” according to new research.

“The results suggest over the past 27 years, the world’s oceans have retained 60 percent more heat each year than research teams had previously thought.”

All of which supports my own contention, as one of the founders of the environmental justice movement in South Africa (and author of a chapter on climate change in a book trashed by the apartheid regime), that far from being at the start of the Anthropocene, we are for all intents and purposes at its End.

The End of the Anthropocene is a geological period immediately preceding the point at which humanity itself becomes extinct. Our civilisation is not simply in peril from runaway climate change as the IPCC would have it, we may be endangered by a malignant cycle and impending catastrophe associated with previous mass extinction events, with a thermal max some 20 degrees hotter than now.

Alarmism has become acceptible, according to David Wallace-Wells writing in the Intelligencer

“We are on track” he says for four degrees of warming, “more than twice as much as most scientists believe is possible to endure without inflicting climate suffering on hundreds of millions or threatening at least parts of the social and political infrastructure we call, grandly, “civilization.” The only thing that changed, this week, is that the scientists, finally, have hit the panic button.”

Catastrophic climate change, has an upside. It is not all doom and gloom and the slow-moving disaster (by some accounts already locked in) may also be the catalyst that creates the first Post-Humans, that is if one defines humans beings, not simply as ‘human because of other humans‘, but rather human because of our collective habitat. In other words, human because of the necessary conditions for the existence of mammals and great apes on planet earth. In the future, entire Cities may be covered by domes, while we colonise Mars and our deep oceans, ironically, experiencing failing atmospheres on both planets.

Instead of grappling with the impetus, massive scientific consensus on global warming, and the credible problems and complications presented by new data which show that all our current climate models may be way off, and the situation worse than even the IPCC is willing to let on, online periodicals such as the Daily Maverick continue to peddle the climate debate within the narrow confines of a binary opposition. In effect, excluding any opinion beyond the centre, and to the left of the spectrum, and instead, entertaining us with neo-conservative claptrap.

That the 2018 IPCC report signals a turning point in the consensus view of climate change is clear from the language of the document. “Warming from anthropogenic emissions from the pre-industrial period to the present will persist for centuries to millennia and will continue to cause further long-term changes in the climate system.”

Drawing this position out and reiterating IPCC findings, is not the purpose of this piece. Suffice to add, that what is missing from the media narrative, is the counter-narrative supplied, not by those idiotic skeptics who believe themselves to be especially privileged by race, class and social status and thus ordained by neoliberal theology to defend the worst ravages of capitalism, but rather the absent history of the environmental justice movement in general, and equally the present litany of hatred against climate scientists in particular.

Take Naomi Oreskes, a science historian, earth scientist, and author, who first became a target of the anti-climate science movement in 2004 when she published documentation of the scientific consensus on climate change.

Fourteen years ago Science magazine published a peer-reviewed article by Oreskes on the state of scientific knowledge about anthropogenic climate change. “After analyzing 928 scientific abstracts with the keywords “global climate change,” she found no disagreement in the scientific community that human activities were resulting in global warming. All of the papers reviewed agreed with the judgment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the National Academy of Sciences, and other leading professional scientific societies and organizations on this point.”

Then Oreskes began receiving hate mail just days after her Science essay came out. The escalation of the hatred of our habitat forced her to “reach out to  climate scientist Ben Santer, who connected her with a group of scientists who had also been similarly attacked. The group helped Oreskes understand that the harassment wasn’t personal; it was about the role she plays in the conversation on climate science.”

“We weren’t being attacked because we’d done something wrong,” says Oreskes. “We were being attacked because we’d done something right. Because we’d explained something significant, we’d laid facts on the table, those facts had implications, and some people were threatened by those implications.”

Oreskes’ book Merchants of Doubt How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming” (an excellent read) went on to expose a network of ideologues that attacked scientific data on several issues: the ozone hole, acid rain, tobacco use, and climate change.

“The common thread among these issues is that the scientific implications of each imply the need for some kind of government regulation as a solution, challenging the ideology of laissez-faire capitalism. A common tactic used by those resisting policy solutions and attacking the scientific data is to sow doubt and confusion about the science among the general public — a strategy still being used today with climate change.”

Vegter’s latest unsubstantiated piece on climate change littered with straw man arguments on crop yields and biofuels, dated critique of alarmism and misplaced quotes by well-meaning UN officials taken out of the context of the IPCC and scenario planning and given the sheen of evidence and aura of credibility via publication in the Daily Maverick, must be seen in the same vein as similar denials by the tobacco industry.

“Dire predictions about the consequences of climate change” Vegter says “are a staple of the sensationalist media, but a lot of past predictions have failed to come even remotely true. Yet climate change activists want to dismantle the world’s capitalist economy by whipping up fear.”

Fear indeed.


For our nation’s press barons, this means war

THE PAST weeks have seen a tit-for-tat ‘media war’ between local publishers INM and Tiso-Blackstar.  Online periodicals and journos are all weighing in. What started out as a sequel to the recent Sunday Times debacle — an opinion piece published by Independent Media, written by one Iqbal Survé — has snowballed into quite a large ball of, well muck.

It all started when The Sunday Times, a weekend paper owned by Tiso Blackstar,  was cast ‘under the spotlight’ after its editor, Bongani Siqoko, ‘apologised for a violation of the press code and alleged manipulation of several news stories’ including the so-called SARS ‘rogue unit’.

All good and fine, but then press baron Survé resorted to a hatchet job which really ruffled feathers. Instead of tackling the Sunday Times,  Survé chose to smear by extension a reputable sister daily, Business Day. Apparently the Budlender report leads credence to the assertions.

Survé claims, “Sekunjalo are victims of Business Day and its shenanigans and defamatory campaign. There are desperate attempts to characterise the Sekunjalo Group in a negative way using the same Goebbels strategy.”

Which is a bit rich, considering the Cape Times’ own Goebbels strategy. The resulting verbiage escalating into a veritable diatribe against the Tiso Blackstar group in general.

All a case of sour grapes?

Survé’s “The hypocrisy and lies of Business Day”  was perhaps aimed at settling scores from an ealier bout of criticism. One which began with the Independent Group’s self-inflicted Desnois controversy, (a media story about the media), shortly after Survé himself, bought the entire group, with a bit of help from the PIC, (a government pension fund).

Thus we witnessed The Times responding with a spin story all of their own, claiming “PIC voiced ‘concern’ about running of Independent Media” 

This elicited a strange denial from PIC, which was also moved to reveal its shareholding in South Africa’s press, providing information which parliamentarians in the opposition have been trying to get hold of for decades. Surprise, surprise, it turns out that PIC lists:

1. Independent News and Media South Africa – 25%

2. Tiso Blackstar – 10.999%

3. Naspers 16.585%

4. Caxton – 0.955%

5. Primedia – The PIC is exposed to Primedia through an Private Equity Fund

That is a hell of a lot of press share equity for one pension fund, in effect the government own some serious media clout.

And so Independent Media responds to PIC

Or were PIC responding to PIC?

The response contains a a real clanger since the writer obviously hasn’t read Chapter 4 of the TRC Report special commission on the media, and is unaware of our own litigation subsequent to the publication of the report.

So this statement is just plain wrong and idiotic. “It is regrettable that the media did not have a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This would certainly have surfaced the shenanigans of anti-transformation forces in the media and the network of journalists of a particular generation.”

Not to be outdone,  former editor, Chris Roper weighed in that “Dr Survé is making our democracy sick”. Resulting in an Op-Ed piece by Ayanda Mdlulu, published by the PIC, sorry INM, labeling Roper a racist. Racism at the centre of Roper’s attack on Independent Media

Roper’s ad hominem attack against Survé  though badly conceived (surely is making democracy sick?), was certainly camp, “think of Iqbal Survé, that apparent love-child of a strutting peacock and a cheap piñata. ..Dr Iqbal Survé has already done massive damage to the status of a free press in South Africa. Nobody takes his (and I use the word “his” advisedly) newspapers seriously,” opined Roper.

NM veteran Dougie Oakes’ was however more balsy and to the point.

Time to go, Iqbal paints a picture of an ailing news organisation. “I’ve never come across a newspaper where a persona non grata list of letter writers forms part of its editorial policy,” writes Oakes. Chilling but not hard to imagine, given the machinations of the former Argus Group.

Meanwhile, Hans Pienaar revealed that Vrye Weekblad was all just a right-wing front, which allowed the Nationalists to negotiate a better deal with the ANC.

READ: Chris Roper’s bizarre denial, ‘there is no media war’


UCT unveils biobrick made from urine

THE world’s first bio-brick grown from human urine signals an innovative paradigm shift in waste recovery.

The brick is the brainchild of University of Cape Town (UCT) master’s student in civil engineering Suzanne Lambert.

Dr Dyllon Randall, Lambert’s supervisor and senior lecturer in water quality at UCT, comments: “The bio-bricks are created through a natural process called microbial carbonate precipitation. It’s not unlike the way seashells are formed.”

In this case, loose sand is colonised with bacteria that produce the enzyme urease, which breaks down the urea in urine while producing calcium carbonate through a complex chemical reaction. This cements the sand into any shape, whether it’s a solid column, or now, for the first time, a rectangular building brick.


SA Week in Review

THIS week saw the politicians-for-sale graft scandal take a new turn with revelations that Brian Shivambu, the recipient of massive payouts from VBS bank, is not simply the brother of Floyd Shivambu but is also an EFF party organiser. A letter published by the Natal Mercury states: “Brian is not only a family member but an employee of the EFF. He is responsible for marketing EFF regalia and, according to Malema, he also does fund-raising for the party.”

According to Visvin Reddy, “Malema says that Brian deposits money into the EFF account from time to time for such things as hire of buses for rallies, etc. This, to me, is a cover up and an attempt to pre-empt the outcome of a further forensic investigation which will link funds deposited by Brian into the EFF account. It becomes more suspicious when the EFF is the only party that defends VBS. All this reinforces the perception that the EFF was a recipient of the money looted from VBS.”

Readers will note that VBS is the same bank which bailed out President Zuma when he apparently “paid back the money” and thus the question springs to mind, did the disgraced former president cut a deal with certain members of the opposition ranks, in particular the head of the former ANCYL, in effect ‘settling the matter’ to the mutual enrichment of all concerned? The scandal has massive implications for SA society, and far-reaching consequences for rural development, see Richard Poplak.

Meanwhile, opposition politicians from Venezuala, where the inflation rate has topped 1 million percent, arrived in the country to warn South Africans of the dangers of adopting far-left policies which follow the example of the Chavistas. Many are former leftists disgruntled with the manner in which statism has eroded individual freedom alongside property-rights.

“We have to draw some parallels with what’s happening in SA. The corruption, this state capture you call it here. In Venezuela, it’s the norm. It’s the only way they can preserve power. It’s a kleptocracy,” records the Daily Maverick.

“South Africa’s “extreme left-winger” policy of land reform suggested it was following Venezuela’s example. “They say let’s take back the land to the people, in this abstract manner. It was the same speech in Venezuela about the factories.” Yet not a single factory which the state took over was ever given to the workers.”

The debacle of politicians taking money while selling out the masses, appears to have its corollary in journalists allowing themselves to be mislead in order to adopt a party-political line.

Thus the revelations that the Sunday Times front page was for sale was a major blow for readers expecting quality journalism. The story is not a new one, having broken in 2016, when the paper issued an apology, stating it had got certain things wrong about the SARS rogue unit, but as it turned out, the latest round of skinner involved a story about a death squad.

See Sunday Times editor Bongani Siqoko admitted that there was no Cato Manor “death squad” and that Booysen, Dramat and Sibiya were wronged.


Mboweni, ANC new economic era?

THE dramatic events this week which saw the removal of finance minister Nene and his replacement by former reserve bank governor Tito Mboweni arrived not a moment too soon.

With the ruling ANC on the ropes after state capture revelations at the Zondo Commission. Nene’s departure signals the demise of Zumanomics and hopefully the re-introduction of the pragmatic, consensus-based policies which gave rise to the boom period under Mandela and Mbeki.

Anyone appreciating the opportunities in the bond market as many analyst did, may find it painful to digest other facts surrounding the South African economy, currently in its longest slump since 1945 .

South Africa has slipped down the ranks of economic freedom to 96 out of 162. a sharp slump from its ranking of 46 in 2000.

Economic stimulus plans announced by President Ramaphosa will come to naught unless there are serious policy reforms.

Reforms which can only happen if the entire economic paradigm and political economy of the country is shifted, from big government for the sake of big government, to household responsibility and individual freedom.

The country recorded a surplus last quarter, a factor of the currency, which also has an effect on consumer prices.

Getting South Africans to work, requires entrepreneurs and individuals ready to create jobs,  thus the politics of the Zondo commission is revealing in what it shows of the opposite trajectory under Zuma. Ergo the clandestine leftism of the former President’s associates, all squaring state capture and the Gupta’s with a ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ and other Marxist mantras, best understood by dashiki-wearing economics students sipping chai lattes while quoting Fanon and Frere.

The business environment in the country is said to be hostile, a result of ‘ideology getting the better of pragmatism’. A series of blunders involving populist rhetoric on land reform and property rights, and inability to deal with parastatals, in other words, State-owned Bureaucracy, has hobbled Ramaphosa’s government.

Under the last administration, cabinet posts almost doubled, as bureaucracy took its toll on productivity and individual freedom.

Ramaphosa has yet to pronounce on any constructive changes to policy in this regard.

South Africa’s unions must take some of the blame in driving a one-sided narrative, a wedge between the state and business, that has shifted the party from workers rights to political intrigues that saw the Guptas rise to power amidst BRICS neo-colonial ambitions.



Dagga prohibition reaches a final conclusion in privacy ruling?

WHILE South Africans were contemplating the effects of land reform and a technical recession, the country’s apex court, the Constitutional Court reached a unanimous verdict. Upholding an earlier ruling by the Western Cape High Court, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo announced a major victory for dagga liberalisation.

“The right to privacy is not confined to a home or private dwelling. It will not be a criminal offence for an adult person to use or be in possession of cannabis in private space,” he said on Tuesday.

Parliament has been given time to produce new regulations regarding the details which could see many commercial opportunities surrounding the plant emerging from a 24 month consultation period.

The decision effectively moves dagga out of the realms of narcotics law and under the ambit of the liquor act.

Person falling foul of the law, (dealing in dagga is still a crime) could find themselves pleading a petty misdemeanor. With cannabis on par with alcohol it remains to be seen how the new system will work.  Currently bakers and distillers of gin and beer require permits. Township shabeens are often the subject of raids against unlicensed liquor. (see greenlight districts)

The president has the power to grant amnesty to citizens who have found themselves on the wrong side of an apartheid-era prohibition regime that remained in place long past its sell-by-date, and despite the new democratic order. South Africa has been slow to follow the lead taken by the West and has lost out on trade.

Why the ruling party failed to accept the reality in this regard is the cause of much debate on the ground, where ordinary people have long relied on dagga as a cheaper and healthier alternative to alcohol. The NPA is still signalling that it wants to prosecute users and no doubt police will need to be retrained to avoid unnecessary complaints against the Minister of Justice.

Where South Africa was quick to jettison the apartheid regime and its emphasis on morality alongside prohibitions on the possession of pornography, the ANC state dilly daddled on dagga, perhaps out of fear for the strong Christian lobby in the country’s rural heartland.

The decision is a significant blow to religious and narcotics police posing as moralists and bolsters the secular state and its separation of powers that uphold the rights of the individual.

Although dagga use was prevalent amongst members of the anti-apartheid movement, both inside and outside the country, representatives in parliament (bar the IFP)  have tendered to pass the buck while looking the other way.

Despite the, harm reduction ironically, remains the position of the African Union and our nation’s representative in the AU