Present; not accounted for
Curiouser and curiouser — that was the general reaction to a rare sighting of Stellenbosch’s most invisible man, Markus Jooste, when he appeared in front of a whole alphabet soup of parliamentary committees last week.
Despite hours of grilling from economic luminaries and accounting aficionados such as the EFF’S fastmoving Floyd Shivambu, Jooste was resolute in his defence, surprising the audience, and indeed the country, with his assertion that he had no idea that anything fishy was going on in the way of accounting irregularities by the time he chucked in his resignation.
His story — and who would doubt the word of such a man? — was that he was a bit bored with all the investigating, and when the board turned down his suggestion that it fire Deloitte and find a rather more amenable species of auditor to shove the accounts out, he decided he’d had enough of all the bother. The one big mistake he was prepared to own up to was getting into bed with German retailer Andreas Seifert in a tempestuous relationship that ended after eight years — after which Seifert went full bunny boiler on him.
So the big mystery that remains is who was responsible for creating holes in the balance sheet big enough to drive a supertanker through? Jooste says he doesn’t have a clue; EX-CFO Ben la Grange says he is none the wiser; and chair Christo Wiese, who had considerably more to lose than anybody else, certainly doesn’t know. If it wasn’t anybody in the executive suite, could it possibly have been an over-zealous marketing intern or a disgruntled tea lady?