Posted by: Joe Slovo | 2004/01/26

Doomed and punished by whites for helping a Black man

Dear CyberShrink

When this company (30000+ employees) embarked on transformation, a black senior (my equivalent at the time) was employed.
He was the first ever senior black person in our dept. and ended up being completely ostracized by colleagues, seniors, juniors and management - all of whom were white. He was a smart, decent, hardworking, skilled and educated person. I felt very sorry for him and decided to take him under my wing, showing him the ropes, sharing with him all my knowledge and experience, teaching him all that I could - a deed for which I was to pay a price and continue to do till this very day. He soon became highly competent and productive but rather than acknowledging the man’s achievements, attempts were made to then marginalise the both of us. I was then regarded as a “Kafferboetie” and also ostracised by the die-hard apartheid whites whom today walk around with Haloes, pleading complete innocence and ignorance. (The cowardice racist liars will even go so far as to pretend that they were supportive.)
They appointed a white junior subordinate as our new supervisor. This was completely out of line with the company’s transformation policies but middle management had a way of disguising it in the “restructure”. Sadly, our plight fell on deaf ears. Realising that apartheid was still alive and well in this company at the time and that it was impossible to fight the system, my black friend gave up and resigned.

In the new supervisor’s relentless pursuit to convince management that the decision to have placed him in the supervisory position (rather than my black friend or myself) was indeed the correct one, he is forever trying to portray me in a bad light in the eyes of the upper echelons.
Nothing I do is ever good enough – no matter how hard I try. All my workmates have picked up on this and sympathise.

He has now even gone so far as to attempt to convince management that I have committed an offence serious enough to render me illegible for dismissal (I am in my 27th year of service)
Recently, I worked out of town for 4 days, sleeping over at a hotel.
The project went all wrong when we discovered that faulty equipment (industrial hi-tech stuff) had been delivered and installed.
I was however determined to ensure success and worked very hard until late, without a break, everyday.
(I also worked in my hotel room after everyone else had retired for the night.)
Not only did I finally achieve success, but also commissioned the equipment in advance of the deadline target dates, resulting in financial savings for the company and an enhanced departmental reputation, team spirit and working environment. Everyone involved in the project was delighted and proud (except, you know who).

On my return to base on the 5th day I completed the normal admin paperwork required to be done on completion of such a job. This included overtime claim forms. I asked the one person who was by my side throughout the project to help me recall the times at which we had ended each days’ work as accurately as possible since two memories are better than one. The times that she had quoted made good sense and I agreed, filling in the claim forms accordingly.
My supervisor signed them in approval and then, unbeknownst to me, withheld them from being processed. I received no payment for it but did not take note of this since I was not specifically looking out for it.

Two months later, a few days after I’d had a difference of opinion with him on some other issue, he suddenly hands me an envelope (refusing to discuss with me what it’s all about) saying, “It’s all inside the envelope”. I opened the letter and was shocked to find that disciplinary action was being taken against me for false overtime claims. The vehicle that we had used was equipped with a modern microprocessor based recording device that indicated at which time the vehicle’s ignition was switched off on arrival at the hotel at the end of every day.
The discrepancies between those times and our booked times are 18min, 22min, and 14min on respective days.
I did not know that I could or should have used this device as a reference to which I was to book the overtime – no such rule exists in the company. I don’t even have a facility with which to read this device.
It also implies complete oversight for the time taken to unload and transfer expensive test equipment to the safety of my hotel room (not to mention all the work I had done in my hotel room).
I depended on my memory. Who on earth can remember, with the accuracy of a microprocessor memory, the exact and precise moment at which they had switched off their vehicle’s engine 5 days earlier?

Now I am in serious trouble and, needless to say, have been suffering from severe depression ever since this whole ordeal started 5 years ago.
The antidepressants and psychotherapy are rendered ineffective by the continuous cause of my problems.
Age has caught up with me now and I simply have too much to lose should I leave this company now.

Yes, even in this day and age am I doomed and punished by whites for once having helped a Black man, but I guess few will believe it and even fewer will want to get involved.
Any advice from you would be much appreciated and most certainly also welcomed from your great problem solving Readers.
Thank you for your precious time and excellent forum, Doc.

Joe Slovo

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Dear Joe,
Sadly, your story, though it grealy annoys me, doesn't surprise me at all ; as I have also experienced, for years, many forms o discrimination and damage for having behaved honorably during the bad old days. And, like you, I find it amazing how many people in SA are like the Germans who at the end of World War 2 not only insisted that they had never been Nazis, but that they'd never met one and knew nothing of any of the nasty stuff that had been going on --- and here, they even have the cheek to claim that they were some form of secretly heroic freedom fighter, even though their opposition to the bad deeds was totally invisible to everyone.
I disagree very srongly with Winnie --- in my experience, racists continue to prosper in a good many companies, and it is highly naive to claim otherwise. What happened to all the racists of yesteryear --- did every single one of them undergo a sudden total conversion ? Or were all of them removed from every company ?
Your former work associated ( the blck guy you helped ) ought to be able to be an effective witness on your behalf ) --- this sounds like the sort of discrimintion that should be taken to the CCMA ( with your supervisor warned that the resultant major publicity might not be good for his career ) and perhaps the Human Rights Commission. Absolutely definitely see a good Labour Lawyer to assist you with the disciplinary hearing --- to make such a fuss about a few minutes discrepancy, and not allowing for unloading and stowing equipment, is far more than petty, it's ery obviously deliberately malicious.
You can't afird to back down now, and they are breaking the rules, possibly even the law, if they've been behaving in the way you describe.
Xerxes is wrong to invent some snivelling "ashamed-to-be-white" aspct in your message --- like an inkblot test, finding somehing that isn't there, is highly revealing of your own thoughts, Xerxes. Of course there are also problems o coruption and reverse racism, etc., but that's not the problem in this specific instance.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Johnathan | 2004/01/28

A company this size should be involved with Organised Labour. You are entitled to representation and protection by a Trade Union. Alternatively the CCMA will do this for you.
The way you have been treated is clearly malevolent, nasty, malicious, cruel and downright criminal!
5 Years is long. Sue them for your pain and suffering.
I diagree with BB -- not only will the whole of Africa support you, the whole world will !

Reply to Johnathan
Posted by: BB | 2004/01/28

Hi Joe
I understand and believe everything you say.
Take your story to the media. It will make good publicity.
Carte Blanch and 3rd Degree could make a meal of it
Expose the perpetrators of this henious crime.
The whole of Africa will support you.

Reply to BB
Posted by: 2004 | 2004/01/27

Xerxes if you have nothing constructive to say please dont respond, keep your pathetic comments to yourself. I think this column will do with people with IQ's no dumb & ancient suckers like you.
Joe you know by now what to do its been long & its time to act & do away with racism to everyone in SA be it black,white,coloured, Indians it doesnt matter. Goo luck

Reply to 2004
Posted by: em | 2004/01/27

Hi there

I agree with Koos. I read up a little on this situation a few years ago and you need to have specific dates and and what was done and said on those dates, so start making notes else you are just going to get yourself confused and that wont look very good for you

Reply to em
Posted by: k00s | 2004/01/27

good golly,,,,not only is your compamy behind the times your email lags a coupla years behind joe!!,,,,nice to hear from u agian buddy,,

if it wasnt such an obvious pun one could even say somethin bout the "SLOvo" bit.

forgettin all the good advise others gave & which i also support,,,heres another little piece of wisdom,,,with new technology & developments hav come the gr8 invention of the DIARY!!!....some companies even hand them out 4 free these days,,,,! if i wuz u man ,,,i woulnd turn a key without makin an entry

uhmmm that doesnt go 4 the sweething in the hotelroom nextdoors now ne!

b strong

Reply to k00s
Posted by: Xerxes | 2004/01/26

To: Joe Slovo

If you have a problem with your company unfairly treating you, then, by all means, take your case to the appropriate authorities. BuT do everyone a favour and stop your snivelling little "ashamed-to-be-white" act in an attempt to garner support for your cause. Blacks will just as quicly dispossess you of your job given the slightest opportunity. Or haven't you heard of the equally sick policy of "affirmative action forever" that is equally racist and rewards massive corruption and incompetence. No population group "owes" any other population group anything. This disgusting attempt to justify the approach that one must condone anything and everything anti-white in case your're called a racist is why countries like South Africa will lurch from one evil system to an equally evil system. Why will South Africa one day be any different from the barbaric and murderous regimes which are the norm in Africa? The signs are already strongly evident.

And to all those lackeys above who fell over one another to decry the "whites' behind the door racism" - just read a bloody newspaper for a change and see how alive and well racism is in the other population groups - or is it simply a case of being to gutless to acknowledge it?


Reply to Xerxes
Posted by: Soul | 2004/01/26

Hi Joe

I agree go to the CCMA tel: 0113776600. Get in touch with them. Take this further. You can't back down now you've come this far you can finish it and you can win. If you back out now your admitting to everything, just because some jerk thinks he can rule your life. You fight him and you fight him with everything you got you can do it.

Go for it, Best of luck. You let us know how things are going.

Reply to Soul
Posted by: eve | 2004/01/26

this is sooo sad, like everyone else has said do the right thing and got to the ccma they will put them in their place, i know what you mean there are still a lot of racists in south africa.. they all happy go lucky but when behind closed doors they all make racist and rude remarks.
my thoughts are with you...good luck and be strong

Reply to eve
Posted by: Paul | 2004/01/26

one place that can help www(dot)labourprotect(dot)co(dot)za

Reply to Paul
Posted by: J | 2004/01/26

Pick up the phone and call the CCMA - I cant believe you havent thought of doing that yet.

Reply to J
Posted by: Joanne | 2004/01/26

Hi Joe

Approach the CCMA (Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration)...they'll appoint someone for you free of charge, as well as guide and advise you through the processes.
Do what's right, and not what others expect you to think is right.

Reply to Joanne
Posted by: Winnie | 2004/01/26

Dear Joe Slovo,

Maybe you should start by taking responsibility for your own actions in stead of blaming it on the past apartheid era. You sound intelligent enough so you should be able to defend yourself in this action. I can seriously not believe that such a big company such as you described is even to this day hiding rascists! Please do some inner soul searching and see if this whole attitude is not coming from your side alone.


Reply to Winnie
Posted by: De Bruyn | 2004/01/26

Your story saddens me deeply. You are quite entitled to take this matter to the CCMA and, although I'm not an expert in this field, I think you can claim constructive dismissal and take your company to the cleaners. I would suggest you contact the CCMA immediately.

You should also contact a labour lawyer as he/she can give you pointers to bring up during your disciplinary hearing. Few companies know how to go through the motions of a disciplinary hearing. Even if it costs you, it is worth it.

Hang in there. I'm sure after you have shown them that they cannot walk all over you, things will improve.

Keep us informed. Good Luck

Reply to De Bruyn

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