This is the story of a senior business executive who could give corrupt government officials a useful lesson in salary ballooning. When his bosses rewarded him with a 21 percent increase, for example, he cleverly used the dollar/rand exchange rate to inflate that hike to 100 percent. Ralph Dell was managing director of Seton South Africa, part of a company that boasts of its leading role in the car leather industry.
In November 2001 he earned R68 500; in January 2002 his monthly salary stood at R121 000. Fortunately for him, the company’s other three directors – the only people more senior to Dell – were based overseas and it took them some time to become aware of what was happening. Once the questions started, however, they appointed a firm of accountants to look at the books more closely and then referred the matter to a disciplinary hearing.
Reading the story of Zoleka Erasmus is like peering into a half-waking nightmare, the kind in which there’s just enough reality to make things truly scary.
It was 7.30am on August 29, 2007, and Erasmus, a teacher, was driving to school. Then she was stopped at a roadblock and instantly began to experience South Africa from another perspective: she was arrested, handcuffed to a man she did not know – to prevent her from “escaping”, according to the traffic cop who arrested her – driven to the police station and detained in a lock-up with several men arrested in the same roadblock and one other woman.
Perhaps because I read court decisions for a living I have developed a great appreciation for judgments that are clear and to the point. The most important thing is for the reader – any reader – to know, without doubt, what a judgment means.
In a recent lecture, Jeremy Gauntlett SC quoted an example from a decision by Albie Sachs, delivered during his time as a justice of the Constitutional Court.
When a police officer commits a crime, whether on or off duty, people feel worried. We want police to be exemplary; people we can look up to; good guys in our fight against the baddies. So how do you feel to discover that members of the police, convicted of serious crimes, routinely keep their jobs in the force?
This emerged from an appeal judgment delivered on Tuesday, dealing with the rape of a 13-year-old girl by a detective in 1998.
The award for Constitutional Dinosaur of the Decade goes to the Department of Home Affairs, a multi-repeat winner, and it follows this week’s judgment from the Supreme Court of Appeal in a case brought by two Somali refugees, Mahamad Abdi and Yusuf Dhiblawe.