Letters from our readers 1987 No 5


Dear Learn and Teach, I see that you are asking readers to send their own stories for the magazine. I want to know if I can write a story which is interesting, but also sad. Can I send you a story about workers on strike, or a rape or a murder in my area? Would other Learn and Teach readers like to read such stories? I would also like to sell your magazine. I work in a transport company and I meet a lot of people every day. T.J. BOTSHABELO

Thank you for your letter. We would love to read your stories – even if they are sad. Please feel free to write about anything you like. We will also be happy for you to sell the magazine. We will give you the magazine for half price – but we will have to charge you for postage. We will send you 25 magazines for a start. If you sell them all, we will send you as many magazines as you want. Good luck!


Dear Learn and Teach, Greetings to all your readers. Thank you for a magazine which teaches us so much. I am a 16 year old girl. My problem is bad skin. I have got so many pimples. I want to know how to get plastic surgery. I think plastic surgery will help me, but I do not know where to go or how much it will cost. Schoolgirl WASBANK

Thanks for your letter. We are sorry to hear about your problem. Your skin is bad because your body is changing – from a girl into a woman. Many teenagers have bad skin, with lots of pimples. But the pimples should go away after a year or two. Plastic surgery is not a good idea. It is very expensive – thousands of rands for one operation. And in your case, when you are so young and your body is changing day by day, it is not the answer to your skin problems. There are some things you can do for your skin. Make sure it is always clean – wash it with soap and water in the morning, at lunchtime and in the evening. Do not put on greasy creams, or make up. Do not squeeze or touch the pimples – this will make them worse. Do not eat greasy foods or too much sugar. Try not to eat cakes, sweets and cooldrinks. Rather try to eat healthy foods – like fruit and vegetables. Even if it takes quite a long time, don’t give up. Your skin will clear up in time.


Dear Learn and Teach, Thank you for your lovely magazine. I have learnt a lot from it. I work for the Post Office. I am working as a labourer, getting a labourer’s salary. But I am a matriculated guy. When I joined the Post Office in 1985, they promised to send me to a technikon to study to be a technician. I have complained to the Chief Technician, but he just tells me to wait. The reason I joined the Post Office was because I believed their adverts in the telephone book. They offered training for technicians – but now I find myself working as a labourer. What can I do to save my future from drowning? Unhappy Worker BENMORE

Thank you for your letter. Unfortunately, you did not give us your full name and address, so we could not ask the Post Office why they are not sending you for further training. A spokesman for the Post Office said you must apply in writing for a transfer from your present job to a trainee technician’s job. This application must be sent to the regional personnel office by your boss. The spokesman said that if your boss refuses to do this, you should speak to the personnel department. You can speak to anyone at this telephone number (011) 222-0033. x The personnel department will advise you what to do.


Dear Learn and Teach, I hope that Learn and Teach can help me to get my money back. In April last year I bought a jacket for R83.61 from African Wholesalers in Cape Town. They sent me the wrong size, so I sent it back to them. I wrote them two letters, but got no reply. Then I wrote a third letter and they replied. They said I would get my money back in 10 days. But I am still waiting. Lesawana Makhabane WELKOM

Sorry to hear about your problem, Lesawana. We spoke to Ms Campher from African Wholesalers. She said that they cannot find your order. Please write to her again. She needs to know where you sent the order from. By the way, we have had other complaints about African Wholesalers.


Dear Learn and Teach, Greeting to all your readers and staff. I like your beautiful magazine so much. I call it ‘the voice of Africa’. My problem is that I want to further my talent in drawing. Where can I get a sponsor so that I can set my talent free? Samuel ALEX

Thank you for your letter, Samuel. We think you should talk to the Alexandra Art Centre. This group helps artists in Alex. They have a workshop at 31 2nd Street, Marlboro. The centre runs lessons in fine art, pottery, silk screening and photography. They also have courses in music and dance, creative writing, architectural drafting and cookery. The registration fee is R10 a year. The centre is open from 9am to 6pm, Monday to Saturday. You can get more details from the centre, or by telephoning (011) 887-4278/9.


Dear Learn and Teach, I am a man of 20. I am writing on behalf of the workers at a cleaning company in Pinetown. We have lots of problems – workers are fired for no reason, we are fired without notice and get no notice pay. Women are not paid during maternity leave and workers who come late are sent home without pay. We work so hard for R80 a month. When we ask the boss to talk to us about these problems, he says if we don’t want to work there, we must leave. So we decided to ask Learn and Teach to help us. We think you will know what to do. Please send us books about working laws – notice pay, maternity leave and so on. And tell us which trade union we can join. Help us soon – we want to take action against this cruel boss. Cleaning Workers PINETOWN

Thank you for your letter. We will send you some books and other information on workers’ rights. The Learn and Teach union for cleaning workers in Natal is the Transport and General Workers Union, which is a member of COSATU. Their offices are at 9 Imperial Lane, Pinetown.Tel (031) 720021. We spoke to them about your bad wages and working conditions. If you contact them, they will try to help you. We hope you win your struggle soon.


Dear Learn and Teach, Please help me to get my unemployment money from UIF. I paid money to the UIF from 1982 until September 1986. I lost my job and was in prison from September until March this year. I claimed UIF on March 25. I am still waiting for my money. I can’t even go to town to look for a job because I have no money. When I was working, I was forced to pay UIF. But now that I am unemployed and starving, they are not forced to pay me. Please find out why I am not getting my money. J. Seokomane LENYENYE

Thank you for your letter, Mr Seokomane. Thank you for giving us all the details of your UIF claim. This helped us to find out why you are still waiting for your money. We spoke to Mrs Kruger at the UIF head office in Pretoria. She said that your claim has been approved, but you have not been paid because the UIF head office has not yet got the forms from the Lenyenye magistrate’s offices. They must send forms to prove that you have been to ‘sign on’ there every month since making your claim. If you do not sign every month you will not get your money. Mrs Kruger said that people usually sign for three or four months before they get their money. She said that you must make an affidavit (a sworn statement, stamped and signed by a commissioner of oaths – a policeman or your local postmaster). The statement must give your full name, address and reference book number. You must give all the details of your UIF claim. You must also say that you have been to the local offices to sign. Then you must send this affidavit directly to Mrs Kruger at this address: Mrs Kruger Department of Manpower P. O. Box 393 Pretoria 0001 Tel: (012)324-1100 She promised to make sure you get your money. Please let us know what happens.


Dear Learn and Teach, Greetings to all your readers and staff. I am a boy in Std 5. We stay on a farm here in Vryburg. My father gets R80 a month, and my mother gets R40. I attend school at Dryharts. I must have some money for food when I go to school. But my parents haven’t got money, so they said I must leave school. But I don’t want to leave school. I started to steal from shops – the first time, the shop owner called the police, and the second time, he called the police again. So the magistrate said if they catch me the third time, I will go to a ‘stoutskool’ (reform school). I know I must stop stealing, but then I know I will suffer too much. What can I do? Dada VRYBURG

We were sad to read your letter, Dada. We were sorry to hear what a struggle it is for you to get an education. We think you should speak to your school principal. It is possible for the school to help you get a bursary from the Education Department. Tell your principal that you were stealing food because you were hungry, and that if you do not get food, you will not be able to carry on at school. If the principal can’t help you, please write to us again, and we will try to find someone who will help you.


Dear Learn and Teach, We greet you in the name of the UDF. We live in Kimberley and life is fine, except that we are living under the apartheid regime. We are members of the Galeshewe Youth Congress, which is a member of the South African Youth Congress (Sayco), which is a non-racial organisation. We are both 13 years old. We were so pleased to read the letter from Saul in Johannesburg. We were happy to hear that there are whites of our age in the struggle. Please send our message to him: “We love to be friends with people in other places who are in the struggle. We know that one day we will come to Johannesburg and we will want to meet people like you. Comrade, send us your address so that we can meet one day.” Young comrades GALESHEWE

Thanks for your letter. We gave it – and all the other letters – to Saul. He replies in the next letter:


Dear Friends, I want to thank people who answered my letter in Learn and Teach. It was very special for me to get your letters. I hope that we will be good penfriends. I hope that we will meet one day. Since writing to Learn and Teach, I have met many people from different organisations and I have also become involved in the struggle. I have been working with people who are working for non-racial education. I was very interested to hear about the democratic organisations which people belong to, and I want to learn more about them. I look forward to learning more from my new friends. Saul Johannesburg


Dear Learn and Teach, I have a problem with American Savings Hampers of Johannesburg. Last year I was an agent for this company. I sold hampers to people and collected money from them. The company closed down out of the blue. They sent me a claim form and I sent it to the liquidator. I waited a long time but got no word from them. My customers were very cross and I had to pay them back out of my own pocket. I am a pensioner and I am unemployed now. This is a nightmare to anyone – pink, black or yellow. Please help me to get my money back. Willie Voyi Port Elizabeth

Thank you for your letter, Mr Voyi. We are sorry about your bad luck. American Savings Hampers in Johannesburg has also closed down. We have written to the liquidator asking what has happened to your claims. We have asked him to write to you. When a company cannot pay its bills and is forced to close down, we say it goes into liquidation’. The liquidator must sell everything belonging to the company and then pay all the people who are owed money. These people are called ‘creditors’. Because there is not enough money to pay all the creditors, the liquidator will try to pay everyone some of the money they are owed. For example, if the company owes a creditor R100, the liquidator can decide to pay them R40. The other R60 is lost – the creditor cannot get it back. It takes many months for creditors to get their money from the liquidator. If you do not hear from the liquidator in the next few weeks, you should- write again and ask how long it will be before your claim is paid.

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