Opinion: What is the difference between right and wrong?

POSTED: 08/18/11 3:12 PM

A female supervisor who was suspended from her job at utilities company GEBE is struggling with this very question right now, after the Court in First Instance acquitted her of a theft-accusation. Reviewing details of the case, we wonder whether GEBE acted too rash, too impulsive, or even whether the company has been barking up the wrong tree.
Mind you, being acquitted by the court is not exactly the same as being innocent. The point here is that the lady was accused of theft, she got suspended, was detained briefly, went to court and was not convicted. Did she do the crime or not? The least one could say after the court ruling is that there is no proof that she did.
This is how the lady’s 17-year career at GEBE went down the tubes. A man came to the office to pay hiss utilities bill on March 29. He got caught up in conversation with someone and when he left he forgot his bag. That bag, the man later claimed, contained an envelope holding almost two thousand dollars. Could be. Who knows?
When the man discovered that he’d forgotten the bag he went back to GEBE to retrieve it. When he inspected its contents he noticed that his precious envelope was missing.
Oh oh. Somebody had been with his (or her) fingers in the cookie jar. The company’s security sprung into action, employees were quizzed and bingo: the solution was right there.
Two days after the alleged disappearance of the money, GEBE confronted the supervisor with two options: resign or get fired.
At that moment, the customer who claimed the disappearance of his money, had not even filed a complaint with the police. This happened only a week later, on April 6.
In the meantime, the union got involved, and the company settled for a suspension instead of a one-way ticket out the door.
In court yesterday we learned that the plaintiff had went back to the police towards the end of April. Why? To withdraw his complaint. That doesn’t work in our system: once a crime has been reported, the plaintiff has no say about what investigators or prosecutors will do with it.
So the lady was prosecuted, and yesterday she sat in front of the judge.
There was a video that showed how the accused closed the bag. It also showed that she put an envelope in her pocket. But the video did not show that she took something out of the bag, or that she even went into the bag, even though she admitted in court she had done this to find an ID for its rightful owner.
Her attorney, mr. Cor Merx, established that the bag had been at the GEBE office from a quarter to eight in the morning until around four o’clock in the afternoon and that several people (we lost count) had handled it.
Based on all these circumstances, the court saw no other option than to acquit the lady.
GEBE now has an obvious problem to deal with. If the lady is innocent, the company has suspended the wrong employee and – worse – it still has a thief in its midst.
That’s an interesting situation and we are curious to see how GEBE will deal with it. Will it now give the supervisor her job back? And how will it ever find out who took the money?
One thing is certain: the plaintiff won’t be happy that he will not see his money back, but GEBE does not have to fear that it will lose him as a client because as we all know: there is only one GEBE.

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