MiWay chose Madiba’s way
MIWAY and the fake e-mail: Our reason for not taking legal action: This saga exploded 10 days ago as a story of a fake racist e-mail (that caused untold hurt and anger among all concerned citizens, but more so among black citizens) that eventually developed into a story of forgiveness, hope and reconciliation. It also led to massive personal growth for me and many of my colleagues.
The easy part of the dilemma was to catch the perpetrator. The harder part was the decision on what steps to take. The easiest option would have been to simply take legal action. The more challenging option, however, was to consider other alternatives that take the specific circumstances of this matter into account and attempt to break the current negative spiral of racial hatred in the country.
Our young democracy has had a legendary example of forgiveness and reconciliation in former president Nelson Mandela. We dare not forget it. He chose to forgive the racist murderers of the apartheid regime for the hope and dream of a unified and reconciled nation.
This doesn’t mean we should sweep naked racism under the carpet. It should be exposed and rejected with contempt. The lesson we learnt from the TRC is that for reconciliation to happen, the truth needs to be exposed and sincere remorse needs to be shown.
I contacted (Mondli) Madlala and asked to meet him to discuss the mess he caused. I wanted to understand what motivated him to act so irrationally. I wanted to know if he felt he was treated poorly or in a racist way by any of MiWay’s staff. He agreed to meet. I got the impression he was under severe pressure.
Madlala is a 32-year-old entrepreneur who holds down three jobs simultaneously. The repudiation of his claim was a terrible financial knock for him. His unhappiness was aggravated by the fact MiWay failed to send him the recordings of conversations with the insurer he requested. It was a mistake. We sent it to the ombudsman but neglected to send it to him. It did not affect the merits of the case, the ombudsman still ruled in our favour. However, I can understand our service shortcoming upset him terribly. We will never know whether his behaviour would have been more rational had the recordings been provided to him. In my opinion, it is mitigating circumstances that should be taken into account.
Madlala looked me in the eye and offered me a sincere apology. He agreed to make a strong statement against racism and the misuse of social media, and to talk on these topics at schools where MiWay runs programmes. I was pleased to hear he was never treated in a racist manner by MiWay staff…
He made a terrible error in judgement that will haunt him for a long time to come.
I decided not to institute any action for a number of reasons:
1. MiWay contributed to his anger by not sending the recordings as per his request.
2. Madlala learnt a hard lesson and will have to live with the consequences. He might lose his job and will forever be associated with this incident.
3. He acknowledged the wrongfulness of his actions and apologised to MiWay, the two staff members and the nation.
WRITE TO US
This saga has challenged all of us to reflect on the kind of world we want to live in and leave behind for our children and grandchildren. “Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear. That is why it is such a powerful weapon.” – Nelson Mandela MiWay chief executive