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.
Thirty-four miners were shot dead by police at a mine outside Rustenburg, South Africa last week. The 3000 rock-drill operators, from a Lonmin owned platinum company, had been gathered on a hill for four days, demanding a wage increase from recalcitrant owners. Heinrich Böhmke, 22 August 2012 (originally in Africa Report) The leaders belonged to Amcu, a militant breakaway from the Cosatu-aligned National Union of Mineworkers. In the days before the massacre, ten people were killed in skirmishes, including two police officers and a NUM shopsteward. Police gave a final ultimatum for the workers, carrying pangas and spears, to disperse. They refused. Television footage showed a group of approaching workers sprayed with automatic weapon fire by police. They fell in heaps upon the ground.
Published in Sunday Tribune, 22 August 2010 There is a class of citizen in our country whose occupation gives them enormous influence. They are capable of spreading unsolicited opinion and news that affects us all profoundly. What they say can cause stock exchanges to fall, reputations to be destroyed and fear and panic to be sown. Despite the destructive power they wield there are no formal qualifications needed to hold this job, nor do practitioners have to pass any professional enquiry into their moral fitness. They are appointed by their bosses and are answerable only to them. Naturally, there is some oversight in the industry but it takes the form of self-regulation. This self-regulation is weak, if the work of their ombudsmen is surveyed. Unlike doctors and lawyers getting struck from the roll for misconduct, that does not occur to them. When wrongdoers are chucked out it is only into the recycle bin. Soon enough, …
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.