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26 Jan 2004

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
Answer 448 views

01 Jan 0001

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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