🔒 Boardroom Talk – Lawyers don’t get it: Even if Markus does win, he’s already lost.

This week, Markus Jooste’s lawyer, Francois van Zyl SC, presented his client’s defence to the Financial Services Tribunal. It is primarily that the Steinhoff kingpin knew nothing about the fraud. This means to find him guilty, the onus on prosecutors shifts from showing there was fraud to proving Jooste knew it was happening. 

We approached the learned advocate yesterday, requesting an interview. Van Zyl responded with: “I never discuss my clients’ pending matters with the media.” It’s a strategy that’s presumably served him well in a long career – he was admitted as an advocate in 1972, and for almost 23 years, he has practised as a senior counsel. 

But like so many good things, an approach like this works only until it doesn’t. We live in an information age where the Internet has turned the instantaneous Court of Public Opinion into a far more influential vehicle than the slow-grinding Court of Law. As elsewhere, a solid case can be argued that when circumstances change, so should strategy. 


A pal of Jooste’s told me Van Zyl only agreed to take his case if his client promised never to speak to the media. The former Steinhoff CEO has honoured this commitment. However, even if this ‘plausible deniability’ tactic wins in court, Jooste has already lost where it matters. No judgment could ever reverse the damage to his reputation in the Court of Public Opinion. A lesson for all lawyers – and their clients.



South African turnaround – Reacting to The Trevor Edwards Plan of Action

Peter Cowen writes:

Without the first one on the list being achieved – “To vote in a new government” – none of the others will happen.

Accordingly, I would simplify all thought and effort to that ONE thing.

It seems to me that we might just have the potential to influence this: by playing our part in driving voter turn-out (and we know that voter turn-out is highly valued by opposition parties)

My ideas list:

#1 Employers to create hype in their business in respect of voting – for example:

·       Send out the online voter registration link to everyone in your business now to make it easy for them to register properly. (The IEC has made online registration easy)

·       Send out a communication to staff (And even customers) to encourage voting and include political awareness and risk of apathy in the conversation. For example: “ Happy voting day – hope you are having your say in our future! “ or  “don’t vote = don’t complain ” etc, etc.

·       Employers incentivise employees to go out and vote – even a small amount like R100 paid on proof of voting (for some this covers the cost of going to vote and for some it just awakens the thought to do it)

#2 Give money to opposition parties or the multiparty coalition.

  • Having funds to run campaigns and drive voter turnout gives them a much greater chance of success. If 1000 people gave between R10,000 and R20,000 each it could move the needle on campaign budgets.
  • Give your money to the opposition party you think will use it the most effectively and reliably well – i.e. not based on unreserved loyalty/appreciation – the opposition is our only hope to vote in a new government.

#3 Get every single family member and friend to be registered and encourage them to vote. Don’t forget about all the youngsters who will be 18 years old by the time May 2024 comes around!

It might be easier to do these things in our SMEs rather than expect it from our larger corporates but there are lots of people who run businesses of 5 – 200 staff that could make an impact for very little cost.

I would love to hear other ideas on how we as a community can mobilise voter turnout…..

Andrew Blaine’s response:

May I add one additional action – pay politicians in line with GDP. 

And finally for today, Evelyn Herzfeld suggests:

Trevor Edwards’ plan has much merit. I wonder about the wealth tax. I’m not even sure if it will apply to me, but to whomever, don’t we already pay enough tax not only directly, but through VAT, petrol, stamp duty, etc., etc., etc?

Wouldn’t it be fairer and more widespread if we were charged an extra R1.00 on every person every time we passed through a till point at any supermarket/clothing store/toystore, etc., etc., etc?

Just R1 per till slip. That way the burden of raising these funds will be evenly spread over the entire population that lives here and can be remitted weekly by each outlet by 09h00 on a Monday morning to cover the entire previous week to a particular Rejuvenation account managed by Judge Denis Davis (for example), i.e. someone honest and incorruptible.

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