After setting a fastest known time in the Himalayas earlier this year, Ryan Sandes will be lining up for what many are calling the World Championships of Trail Running at this year’s Ultra Trail Mont Blanc on Friday 31 August in Chamonix. 2018 sees the “who’s-who” of trail running taking part with names like Jim Walmsley, Kilian Jornet, Luis Hernando and Tim Tollefson to mention a few all looking to take the title of King of the Mountain. “UTMB is a race that has never gone well for me and I think in the past I have put too much pressure on myself. It was really refreshing to pre run the UTMB route over a few days with a group of friends earlier this year,” says Ryan. “It was a pretty unplanned disaster style lap of the Mont Blanc. On the first night we ended up sleeping in a cow shed to take shelter from a storm as all the accommodation was fully booked, but we had an awesome few days on the mountain with lots of laughs. I have so many good memories from the trip and I will take that positive energy with me into the race.” “Running the Great Himalaya Trail earlier this year took a lot more out of me both physically and mentally than I initially thought,” explains Ryan. “I took quite a long break from training to properly recover, but I have started feeling a lot better over the past few weeks and I am really looking forward to lining up at the start line of UTMB.” UTMB will see roughly 2300 of the toughest runners in the world to taking on the French, Swiss and Italian Alps over 100miles. Known as one of the most difficult foot races in Europe, the 170km loop race, has more than 10 000m of positive altitude change before it ends - a total climb which is higher than Mount Everest. The race loop around Mont Blanc follows the Tour du Mont Blanc hiking path that normally takes hikers between 7 to 9 days to complete, but the lead runners will complete this course in just over 20hrs, with the final cut off time after 46hrs30min. The race is termed . . .
By Devan Moonsamy CEO of The ICHAF Training Institute When virtue is lost, one must learn the rules of kindness When kindness is lost, the rules of justice When justice is lost, the rules of conduct And when the rules of conduct are not followed, People are seized by the arm, and it is forced upon them ~ Lao Tzu Freedom of speech is not what many people think it is. People believe freedom of speech is a license to say anything. This is not true. All our human rights are tempered with responsibilities. No freedom is absolute. People seem confused about this issue. Freedom of speech was initially a concern because of political reasons. Freedom of association likewise initially was about politics, as well as religious faith. If we think any government, once in power, won’t want to curb our freedoms to protect its interests, we are being naïve. And these are key reasons for these freedoms. Freedom of speech, and the other freedoms we enjoy, are not there to allow discrimination. The word freedom seems to make people think ‘It’s a free country’ is an excuse to abuse others and infringe upon their rights and dignity. We have the responsibility to educate ourselves and others about what freedom is for and the logical limitations thereto. People don’t know these things, even people who are well educated otherwise. And so it seems not that shocking that Mangin Pillay of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (Saice) said that women basically aren’t suitable for the STEM field because they don’t have men’s work ethic, among other reasons. Pillay is likely to be Saice’s ex-CEO as a result of what he said in the Journal of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering. It’s a bit difficult to retract this article. It’s not a blog that can be deleted. How this article slipped through into the publication is highly questionable. How could the editors and other staff involved allow this? Of course, Pillay, as the CEO of Saice, had too . . .
Homophobic Violence: “It’s because their hearts are dead” Lest we forget: Banyana Banyana star Eudy Simelane By Devan Moonsamy, CEO of The ICHAF Training Institute It has been 10 years since our Banyana Banyana soccer star Eudy Simelane was found gang raped, robbed and murdered. She was stabbed over 25 times. It is unfathomable that such brutality could ever be justified. The reason for this heinous crime? Eudy was lesbian. In the decade since, it feels like we are no closer to overcoming this terrible persecution. Violence and abuse the world over against people of differing sexualities and gender identities is a reality. Our hearts go out to Simelane’s family who no doubt still feel the weight of her loss at the age of 31. Mally Simelane, Eudy’s mother, has said that she has finally found a way to forgive her daughter’s murderers. What strength and humanity Eudy’s mother shows in the face of such devastation. Still, hate crimes such as this are destroying South African lives. And, what is more, it means that others like Simelane continue to live in fear, continue to hide who they are, simply because of some people’s complete intolerance for what is really none of their business at all. The neighbourhood in which Simelane lived, KwaThemba on the East Rand in Gauteng, is said to be largely LGBTQ-friendly. Simelane may have felt safe, her family may have had a measure of confidence that she was accepted. As a result, the attack came as a massive shock to the community. A long time has passed since Simelane’s death, but we mustn’t forget her. We mustn’t forget her bravery in living life as who she was, her advocacy for LGBTQ people, and as a soccer player in a male-dominated sport. There have been many more recent cases, but this case is notable in that Eudy’s murderers were the first in South Africa to be convicted of so-called “corrective” rape. However, this characterisation doesn’t seem to apply, and LGBTQ organisations are guarded about the . . .
“I can’t find a home!” – Racism in the SA real estate industry and what the government is doing to help. By Devan Moonsamy – CEO the ICHAF Training Institute Some of you may know how difficult it is to deal with real estate agents, and how hopeless one can feel when searching for a home to rent or buy. Sometimes it feels like unless you are standing in front of them with cash or an approved bond in hand you are almost invisible to them. It’s no exaggeration to say that some are sharks. They don’t phone you back, they don’t reply to emails, they don’t seem interested in serving clients. That’s not to say all real estate agents are bad, some of very helpful. But there does seem to be an overall poor level of customer service. Perhaps because of the nature of the industry, it allows room for unethical practices. Myself, colleagues and friends of mine have simply heart-breaking stories to tell about how dazed, hopeless and insulted we have felt trying to find a place to buy or rent. Very few real estate agents stay in contact and treat you like a human being. A friend in Cape Town couldn’t help laughing when she read that a place 3km from the coast is, “A stone’s throw from the beach.” When questioned about this, the agent said that’s advertised for “the people from Joburg”. Apparently, Joburgers can’t tell the difference between 30m and 3 000m… One can’t believe the lies! But there is more to this story, much more. It’s not just about lousy service and obscuring the truth. It really feels like there is racism adding to the problem. In fact, we know there is racism looking at the evidence. For example, in Cape Town, one real estate agency advertises on its fliers that they are not racist. They explicitly state that they don’t discriminate on the basis of colour against people applying to buy in a new development. Why on earth should they feel the need to state this in their advertising? People must be communicating bad experiences to them, . . .
Hidden Disabilities in the Workplace: The Example of Dyslexia By Devan Moonsamy CEO of The ICHAF Training Institute Does this text look unusual to you? Don’t let that put you off. This article uses OpenDyslexic, a free, downloadable font created to increase readability for those with dyslexia. Let’s learn more about dyslexia and how we can help those with reading problems in the workplace. There are many types of disabilities and not all affect a person’s performance at work. There are often ways to get around the obstacles associated with disabilities. There are ingenious ways to make life and work easier for people with certain challenges. Disabilities can prevent a person from doing certain tasks or functioning in the usual way that others do, but they can learn to work around that. A disability need not prevent a person taking up employment in most cases, provided they have job opportunities and discrimination does not occur. There are less obvious or unseen types of disabilities which others can find difficult to understand because they may notice little, if any, evidence which convinces them of the existence of the problem. This includes dyslexia (difficulty with reading), or one you may not have heard of called dyscalculia (difficulty with arithmetic), as well as mental health disorders. Dyslexia affects 5% to 10% of people. Because of embarrassment and ignorance about the problem, many people with dyslexia do not get help, especially if they are labelled ‘poor students’ or ‘lazy’, and dropout. Such judgements about people with dyslexia are far from the truth. Many people who are highly successful struggle with dyslexia, including scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock (who received a knighthood from the British Queen for her work), and South African engineer Dr Hardy Johnson who has two PhDs, one in Electrical Engineering and the other in Humanities. It’s very important to note that it is not that a person with dyslexia can’t read, but . . .
By Devan Moonsamy CEO of The ICHAF Training Institute As discussed in the first part of this series, a sound policy structure is an insurance blanket against many common problems that crop up in the workplace. Policy is a cornerstone of responsible management because it protects all concerned parties. What must be emphasised as much as the need for a policy is that staff know its provisions and abide by them. Training and workshopping a policy are thus necessary, and the right corporate trainer can do exactly that, but in an innovative way that ensures staff are well engaged in the policy training session and not bored and inattentive. My many years of engagement with managers and staff in diverse South African contexts has helped me see that all parties want to feel secure at work, and they usually dislike ambiguity. They want to know what is expected of them and those around them. In fact, an effective way to relieve stress and conflict among your staff is to make sure they know exactly where they stand. Policy provisions combined with education on such provisions is a winning formula in this regard. So what policies should be drafted? We discussed BEE and gender equity policies in the first part of this article series. Here we will look at harassment and abuse policies, which can safeguard against many PR and labour-related problems. Harassment and Abuse Policy Companies and officials have a responsibility to protect those who are seen as vulnerable or as targets by abusers and harassers. ‘Harassment and abuse’ do sound scary, and this often means people just avoid the issues and hope it never happens. What should be much scarier is that the issues are being ignored, because this means that problems will happen. They most certainly are happening because few seem to have the skills, empathy and authority to really tackle harassment and abuse in the workplace in a meaningful way. However, it is not that hard to draft a policy about harassment . . .
They say South Africans are the toughest of the lot, and if that is true then the 2018 SkyRun will undoubtedly be tougher than ever before, as it has it partnered with South Africa’s most technical outdoor gear brand, becoming proudly known as the K-Way SkyRun! “Our team at K-Way are thrilled with our partnership with SkyRun!” Beams Caitlin Doney, Public Relations Coordinator for K-Way. “We believe there is perfect synergy with K-Way being a proudly South African brand, partnering with an authentically South African race. Athletes have to endure extreme elements and it’s going to be tough – but we are confident that our gear will make the journey easier.” In previous year’s many of the K-Way athletes have dominated the podium positions at SkyRun, with Lucky Miya taking the crown in 2017 and running phenomenon Nicolette Griffioen maintaining a top 10 overall position until the 65km mark where she had to pull out due to health problems. “Lucky will be back to defend his title this year as will Nicolette and we are hoping for #1 podium positions for both of them,” says Caitlin. “After last year’s health scares, AJ Calitz, will also be back to prove he still has what it takes and we know he would love to be on the podium with Lucky!” “We are honoured to have a brand like K-Way along on for our SkyRun journey,” says event organiser, Mike de Haast from Pure Adventures. “SkyRun is a super technical event and we have complete faith that the K-Way brand will be able to stand up to all of the tests and challenges that the SkyRun elements have to throw at it.” To add to the excitement, this year’s K-Way SkyRun will now also be featuring a 38km night mountain run that will be the perfect entry level event for anyone who has a 100km SkyRun race on their bucket list. “We are limiting entries to 100 competitors and are very confident that we will be “running” a waiting list for this route as we do for our other routes over the SkyRun weekend,” says Mike de Haast. “But don’t be . . .
By Devan Moonsamy, CEO of The ICHAF Training Institute A sound policy structure in the workplace is an insurance blanket against many common problems. It protects both employer and employee. But having a great policy will make no difference if personnel are not aware of it. They should be expected to know, understand and follow its guidelines and rules. Not all employees have the time to go through policy documents, however, and it can be tedious reading. The best thing to do is to give employees a summary of the policy. They can be asked to sign in agreement with the policy, which will encourage them to get to know its provisions well. What works even better is to train employees on the policy, for example, by putting them through a workshop. This need not be a dreary affair. In fact, it can be really fun if approached in the right way and if it focusses on how the policy benefits the employee. The right facilitator can ensure staff understand, but don’t feel overburdened by the new policy provisions. This is a very effective preventative measure which ensures employees know exactly what is expected of them and what their rights are. People often focus a lot on what went wrong, especially reactively after a problem arises, such as a nasty incident between co-workers. But telling staff what they can and should be doing at work beforehand is more effective than just giving them a long list of what they can’t do. This helps them focus on being productive and getting along rather than worrying about how they might slip up. Teaching and emulating good behaviour is also vital. Management sets the standard of behaviour. Employees never know everything they need to when starting a new job. There’s always things to learn, and it is extremely effective when one is taught the right behaviour as early on as possible. The policy document itself is a critical backup. Staff members trained on key organisational policies can more firmly be held to account. If . . .
By Devan Moonsamy, CEO of The ICHAF Training Institute On an otherwise lovely holiday in Southeast Asia, I experienced something I am not entirely unused to – racism. But, being on holiday, and shopping in the beautiful surroundings of Thailand, it caught me by surprise. I was in Asia and as a person of Indian (Asian) descent. Why did I experience racism? The simple answer is that I am dark skinned. I know this because shop owners and staff would go to my fair-skinned travel companion and ask him if he needed help. But I seemed invisible to them. Our tour guide confirmed my suspicion that it is because I am dark skinned, which to them is the same as me being poor. While it is true that India remains a low-income country, there is a large economic disparity. The poor are very poor; the rich are very rich. If I were from India, it does not automatically mean I am poor, especially considering that I would have been able to afford the four-hour flight from, say, New Delhi to Bangkok. I should have stood out as a tourist. Yet my presence at a shop in Thailand was taken as pretty much irrelevant. If I was lighter skinned, not necessarily white, just a bit lighter, might I have received a little better treatment? It is incidents like this that can make skin a very sore point for people of colour (black, mixed race, Indian, etc.). You do feel like you are being told you are ‘less’ – less important, less valuable, even as a customer, less attractive. And this hurts people of colour so much. It can start to make one feel an urgency to change oneself rather than resisting the influence of such unjustifiable racism. What this further goes to illustrate is just how rampant racism is worldwide. We sometimes think we as South Africans are unique in our racism problems. But we need to be aware that such problems are by no means singular to any one nation. From London to Lusaka to Los Angeles, racism continues to fester. It makes breaking news often, but we also . . .
By Devan Moonsamy, CEO of The ICHAF Training Institute ‘We used to look up to you!’ Student responds to KPMG’s disgraced partners Students want auditing professionals to speak to them directly on the issues ‘This is very serious in more ways than people will realise at first,’ says Issie, a young third-year student at NMMU in George, Western Cape. ‘You have let down the youth as well. It affects how we will be viewed in our jobs one day.’ Over the past few years, South African students (and indeed students worldwide) have shown just how fed up they are with their elders. The handling of responsibility and of funds have been major points of contention. It seems big private sector players can really let students down where it most hurts too. Initially, KPMG had to take disciplinary action for certain partners’ failure to declare financial interests. Shortly after this news broke, major clients, including Parliament, other government bodies, and Barclays Africa, cancelled contracts with the company. Meanwhile, that infamous name – Gupta – has also crawled out the woodwork, overseas KPMG shareholders are up in arms, and the company apparently isn’t sure whether it will continue to service the SA market in future. KPMG has thus begun a review of work completed over the last year and a half to identify the extent of the problem and they have promised to address everything. The big auditing group is seeking reform and ‘to put quality and integrity at the heart of the firm’ again. We wish KPMG the best of luck with that, and for the sake of those innocent parties (particularly other auditors and the broader public which KPMG directly and indirectly serves in many ways) it had better be done right and soon. What is the full extent of the damage caused by those who refuse to follow ethics codes in auditing? Some have said that there is also a certain arrogance and bad attitude about some in the auditing field, as though they believe their feet don’t touch . . .