Today Jagersfontein, tomorrow South Africa

David Bullard says the tailings dam collapse is the perfect metaphor for where the country is headed


The collapse of the Jagersfontein dam just over a week ago struck me as the perfect metaphor for South Africa. As we watch the country collapse around us with the wonderfully euphemistic ‘load-shedding’ ramped up from a barely manageable level 2 to an unmanageable level 6 within five days it becomes clear that zero maintenance, no accountability, corruption, sabotage and a perpetual smirk on the faces of our lords and masters are the order of the day.

Someone tweeted last week that he has never experienced load shedding because he lives in the same Pretoria suburb as some key political figures. That’s classic communism for you though.

You can bet your bottom yuan that nobody holding high office in the Chinese Communist Party was cooped up in a tiny Shanghai apartment for two months only being allowed out for a compulsory COVID test. That’s not the way things work with the commies.

So while the hapless and homeless people of Jagersfontein wade around in toxic slime with no electricity and no running water and with the possibility of serious illnesses looming as a result of the toxicity the rest of the country seems to be playing catch up. ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

The only difference is that the toxic slime we have to cope with every day comes out of the mouths of our corrupt politicians. Other than that we’re also short of electricity, many areas of the country don’t have potable water, the rail system is a vandalised mess, roads are becoming impassable in parts of the country, uncollected garbage is piled high and looted municipalities no longer have the resources to do anything about it.

Level 6 load shedding in my area means that we will have precisely four hours of electricity during daylight hours on some days. That means children will have to go to school during a four-hour power outage and come home to another four hour power outage.

The expectation is that this could last for some time and we may even see level 8 load shedding before too long after which the national grid collapses completely I presume. Local businesses have attempted to adapt by studying the load shedding schedule but, as one local business person told me, that becomes impossible when the load-shedding level changes so suddenly.


minute you’re geared up for level 2 and then level 4 is announced a few hours later. Since most businesses rely on electricity either to provide a service or at the very least for connectivity to the internet the repercussions are enormous.

Once the situation worsens though (and worsen it will) we then have to worry about the supply of drinking water as pumps at the purification plants will also be affected.

Petrol pumps will no longer pump, bank ATM’s won’t work, fridges and freezers will cease to function in those smaller operations that don’t have access to solar energy and credit card transactions won’t go through. So much for a smooth transition to a cashless society.

Even if you have decided to install an inverter and back up batteries there is a risk that the period between four hour power outages will be insufficient to recharge the batteries. The same will surely apply to cell phone towers (assuming the batteries haven’t already been stolen).

Unless you have solar panels to provide power during daylight hours and recharge the batteries you’re in serious trouble. That will cost you around R150000 but here’s the catch. Some security complexes aren’t allowing solar panels because they spoil the aesthetics of the estate which means that you may have to sit in darkness in your R6 mln luxury home but at least you know that the exterior won’t be upsetting anybody.

Just after the Jagersfontein dam collapsed our Mineral and Energy Affairs minister Gwede Mantashe was quick to apportion blame. Those responsible, he said, was De Beers, an offensively colonialist white monopoly capital outfit. This was a dream come true for a dedicated commie like Uncle Gwede; a major disaster that could be laid at the door of these colonial oppressors. A disaster that affected the poor and dispossessed and destroyed homes.

Unfortunately that convenient narrative didn’t last too long and De Beers pointed out that they had sold the whole operation ten years ago. You would think that a cabinet minister would be sure of his facts before mouthing off wouldn’t you? Or maybe in Mantashe’s case you wouldn’t.

The trail of ownership post De Beers seems a bit vague and Jagersfontein may or may not be owned by a Dubai consortium via a convoluted process of ownership involving a Johann Rupert controlled company and possibly a couple of BEE

chancers. Whatever the outcome as to who is actually responsible for the collapse the fact remains that the local residents are unlikely to see any reparations for years to come as the blame game escalates and the legal process follows its normal leisurely pace.


Amongst all this gloom though comes the good news that a Messiah is amongst us. Judging by the constant stream of WhatsApp messages I have been receiving, not to mention the torrent of adulation on social media platforms, it appears that billionaire Rob Hersov’s appearance at the recent BizNews conference has been an enormous hit on YouTube with some 218000 views a couple of days ago.

What Hersov did was to tear a few strips of Pres Frogboiler and label his entire cabinet the “cabinet of clowns’ before backtracking slightly by relabelling those who he knew personally as probably not clowns. But it was Frogboiler who came in for the worst drubbing in this battle of the billionaires with Hersov saying:

“Cyril Ramaphosa is a disgrace. He is a disappointment. He is an absolute embarrassment to this country, and he should immediately resign. I absolutely am going to tell you why that man is a useless, spineless failure”.

There’s that wonderful saying that when elephants fight it’s the grass that suffers. I wonder if the same rule applies to squabbling billionaires.

The reaction to Hersov’s speech was divided with many hailing his bravery and saying that this was the first time anyone had the guts to tell it like it is. Not strictly true as readers of this column would know.

It didn’t take long for News24 to produce a column from someone called Bruce Robertson calling Hersov “ a graceless charlatan and patronising paper tiger”. Not much is known about Mr Robertson other than he is a “Ugandan cotton ginner and Kwa-Zulu Natal south coast surfer” but I think we can

assume from his article that he isn’t a huge fan of what passes for white privilege. He spitefully trashes Mr Hersov’s business career:

“The friend who ran a DJ outfit with him in his first business venture at UCT in the early 1980's, who summed up his experience of Hersov with the pithy phrase "very little of what comes out of his mouth can be believed"; the breathless reports of his sports marketing company that in the late 1990's was worth USD 400 million, and the more muted accounts a few years later that the company was sold for a dollar, (yes, USD 1.00, or R7.50 at the time. Not bad for a car guard, but not the stuff of billionaires); the shady associations with German fraudsters, the cosying up to dodgy politicians; the apparent visa fraud for an eastern Europe "actress" to attend his birthday party.”

He also accuses BizNews editor Alec Hogg of “smirking in the background like a proud parent of a lovable rogue” before further putting the boot into Hersov’s privileged background and suggesting that a mine worker should have been invited to speak to tell of the hardships of having to survive and feed a family you only see for a couple of months each year on the insulting wages paid by randlords like the Hersov dynasty. It was all most moving.

Other lefties weighed in on social media saying that Rob Hersov is only a pretend billionaire. His wealth is held in a family trust and might add up to R800 mln if he’s lucky. Quite how the lefties get hold of these figures is unclear but if it’s true that he is a relative pauper at only R800mln then perhaps we can only believe four fifths of what he told us.

I did watch the Hersov speech and agreed with most of what he said in principle but didn’t like the way the message was delivered. There was far too much vitriol and a more subdued and less offensive approach would have been far more effective.

I was also rather surprised when Mr Hersov named his own choice for an unproven cabinet (also rather too large) inviting obvious questions as to what the difference was between his choice of cadre and Cyril’s? But it was the 16th minute that rather unnerved me when Mr Hersov announced that he is putting his and his family’s life at risk by saying these things. He goes on to say that the reason he is not afraid is that “I fucking love this country”.

That is precisely why you should be afraid I would suggest. If you live in a leafy upmarket suburb, have an attractive young wife and kids at school in Cape Town I wouldn’t have thought that it was a great idea to publicly challenge your enemies to hunt you down. Particularly when you have just used some pretty fruity language to label the President and most of his cabinet as incompetent clowns.

There’s no doubt that Rob Hersov is a refreshingly bold and colourful character. He is the founder of an organisation called “Smutby” and wears a Native American headdress at functions and likes to be known as “The Chief”. “Smutby” is apparently designed to connect people of wealth and influence in various parts of the world and has the following logo:


The name ‘Smutby’ comes from the amalgamation of two words ‘smut’ and ‘rugby’. Smut is defined as lewd or sexual matter that may be offensive to some and rugby is self explanatory. The logo shows a scantily clad young woman on her back clutching a rugby ball. All good clean fun, albeit a bit puerile, and I’m told the Smutby party last November in Hout Bay was a huge success with lots of attractive young women in attendance.

One question I have though is whether the head of what purports to be an exclusive networking organisation with a name like ‘Smutby’ is likely to be taken seriously as a political Messiah.

In his quest for a political coalition that can challenge the ANC the other question I have is whether Mr Hersov, who is a self confessed big buddy of Patriotic Alliance leader and reformed gangster Gayton McKenzie, approves of Mr McKenzie’s recent xenophobic comments.


Little has been heard about the much talked about meeting between US President ‘sleepy’ Joe Biden and Pres Frogboiler. In fact, at the time of writing absolutely nothing has been reported. Did they agree that the US would bail out Eskom perhaps? Have we forged exciting new trade deals between our two great nations? Are the yanks going to support our case for getting the Cullinan diamond returned?

The only thing we know is that Pres Frogboiler is cutting short his trip and returning to SA straight after the Queen’s funeral to sort out the Eskom Level 6 load-shedding fiasco. Since this is the same man who was charged with sorting out Eskom’s generating problems way back in 2014 I wouldn’t put away the candles just yet.