The country is in the midst of a judicial reckoning after a decade of corruption so insidious an entire state was placed at its service. If the Zondo Commission is not mere spectacle, this should mean orange will be the new Armani for many politicians. But the limitation of anti-corruption crusades is that, after the beneficiaries go to jail, the infrastructure for a repeat performance remains in place. Happily, some enablers of state capture such as PR companies like Bell Pottinger and auditors like KPMG have had their comeuppance. Yet, the actions of lawyers, without whom not a fraction of the damage could have been done, has gone unremarked.
When senior managers steal they typically do so knowing the company’s systems back to front. They know which accounts can be skimmed and which assets taken. Seniority also provides insight into how their misdeeds may be covered up. They know what transactions trigger audits and where holes exist in record-keeping. If the company monitors email or the cameras no longer work – they are often in the loop on that. The law reports are replete with managers misappropriating monies, stealing equipment, misusing vehicles, copying sensitive data and paying inflated invoices. The city of Kimberly was recently the scene of a particularly intricate crime. A trusted senior manager defeated all manner of security systems – red-areas, glove-boxes, magnetic safes and click-clack jars – to sneak out high value diamonds . It is one of those cases where you half want to promote the employee for sheer ingenuity.
In December 2014, Sean Woods received a call editors dread the most. A Rolling Stone reporter told him she no longer stood by her story of a horrible rape committed by frat boys at the University of Virginia. The feature, published a few weeks earlier, broke readership records at the iconic magazine. It caused a national uproar. It is not hard to see why. The story recounts the dramatic allegations of a young woman, lured by her date to a fraternity house, there to be gang-raped on broken glass by seven initiates. The line the story took was that the victim’s experience was emblematic of a ‘culture’ female students faced on campuses across the US. This heinous crime was compounded by the defensive, almost dismissive, response of University authorities.
You are a union organiser preparing for a strike at a tyre manufacturer. The employer has unilaterally changed the workers’ shift patterns. Although the total number of hours worked each week remains the same, the difference between the old and new rosters is significant. Workers who never worked weekends must now do Saturday and Sunday shifts every so often. The beneficial, four-day long weekend that came up during the old shift cycle is also gone. The way workers have organised their family and social lives for years is overturned. Church, sport and the long-weekend visits to the rural areas are disrupted. They are angry.