5 JULY 1986, Page 24

Non-white expectations

Sir: As chairman of two British public companies with interests in South Africa, I read Andrew Gimson's article of 21 June (`Uncle Tom's Schooldays') with interest. I wonder why he was not allowed to talk to the workers at Rietspruit Colliery? Was he constrained by recent edicts? Last year, at our modern efficient textile plant near Durban, I was free to meet anyone I chose, whether on the factory floor or in our multi-racial canteens — and loos. It was the cutting shop foreman of the compo- nents factory near Johannesburg who took me to Soweto to see his house and that of his colleague (both bought with loans from the company) and the general facilities or lack of them! What, if anything, did Rietspruit Colliery have to hide from Andrew Gimson?

I have to take him up on another point. The Afrikaners cannot speak for a 'nation'. They can talk for their tribe — and a pretty dismal primitive tribe it is with its bigoted views and kinky Christian variant.

Finally, of course, expectations of the non-whites in South Africa are high and so they should be. One of their many expecta- tions is the chance to have a proper education which has, for 40 years or so, increasingly been denied to them. But perhaps the relatively backward Afrikaner would not like to be outclassed by 'inferior' races!

James Spooner

Regis House, 43-46 King William Street, London EC4