Not all equal under Saica laws – Khaya Sithole

The SA Institute of Chartered Accountants (Saica) has come under fire for gunning for one of its prominent young critics while letting the industry’s biggest sinners off the hook.

Khaya Sithole’s charge sheet from Saica looks like he is being charged for a Robin Hood-like offence, according to his supporters.

The outspoken chartered accountant and Saica member has heavily criticised the institution, including calling for its entire board, which includes the CEOs of both PwC and Deloitte, Lwazi Bam and Dion Shango, respectively, to step down.

Sithole is accused of unlawfully granting funding to 129 students, and in the process using a Thuthuka Bursary Fund letterhead with another colleague’s signature, against Saica’s codes of conduct.

Sithole’s conduct, according to the fund, cost it more than R10 million over four years.

The Thuthuka Bursary Fund is a Saica venture to develop black accountants.

The conduct, which the fund said it became aware of in 2015, led to the fund’s having to source millions of rands for the students. At the time, Sithole was employed at the University of the Witwatersrand as a programme manager for the fund.

During the hearing held at the Saica head office in Illovo on Friday, members of the Advancement of Black Accountants in Southern Africa (Abasa) flooded the security-heavy venue, chanting slogans in support of Sithole.

Sithole is the secretary general of Abasa, which is an organisation with the mission to redress inequalities and create access and opportunities for black South Africans in the accounting profession.

Ahead of the much publicised hearings, Saica held a number of staff security briefings. Law enforcement officials were expected to attend and security was tightened, according to sources who are close to Saica.

Saica issued a notice to properties neighbouring its offices warning of the possibility of hundreds of supporters arriving to attend Sithole’s hearing. City Press has seen this notice.

According to sources within the organisation who are close to the matter, a member of Saica’s legal team received death threats related to one of the two hearings, and personal protection was assigned to her, including at her residence.

Asked about these matters, Saica declined to comment or give details.

“We are not willing to divulge what safety and security measures we apply, including possible threats to our staff, except to say that appropriate security measures are in place,” said Willi Coates, a senior Saica executive.

The only other scheduled hearing on the day was that of Munro Swirsky, who did not appear and requested, through his lawyer, a postponement.

In his 25-page replying affidavit, Sithole paints a bleak picture of the roles various executives related to Saica allegedly had leading up to him being charged, including being ordered by Sizwe Nxasana, chairperson of the board of trustees of the Thuthuka Bursary Fund, to include a specific student in the bursary scheme.

In response, Nxasana said that through his family bursary fund he contributed to the Thuthuka Fund. “The Thuthuka Fund rules allow for students to be nominated for bursaries by those funders. Therefore there has been no contravention of the Thuthuka Bursary rules,” he added.

In an affidavit, Sithole alleged there was interference by Saica CEO Terrence Nombembe, who is also a trustee of the Thuthuka fund. Saica said it would not comment on issues being dealt with through the disciplinary process.

In an affidavit, Sithole questioned the manner in which Saica gunned for him while other prominent members, such as Sihlalo Jordan, deputy CEO of Deloitte, are accused of much worse contraventions.

Jordan is facing disciplinary action by the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors after being charged with misconduct related to the financial statements he signed off at African Bank Limited and its holding company, African Bank Investments Limited, before the entities were placed under curatorship.

Former Eskom chief financial official Anoj Singh is the only other chartered accountant Saica has announced would be facing disciplinary action for charges of misconduct.

When contacted this week regarding the disciplinary action for charges of misconduct, Singh declined to comment.

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