Kapapa was a company marketing officer; a role which took him to the field almost daily. During one of his regular excursions, Bundara the driver took him to a client’s location some miles away from his workplace. They agreed that Bundara would return to town to service the company car and return in time to pick up Kapapa. When the meeting ended, however, Bundara had not returned; the process of servicing the car was taking longer than anticipated.
Unfortunately, Kapapa’s cell phone had dropped from his pocket onto the car seat. Kapapa was stranded for hours and had to find ways to resolve the dilemma. It was not easy because company policy stipulated that a staff who found himself in such a situation ought to contact the operations office for approval to find alternative means of travel. Kapapa was aware of this policy but unable to comply, as he had not anticipated the turn of events. He made a daring decision to hire a car without approval. He believed that he would, at worst, forfeit the money if his managers declined to authorise reimbursement. Yet he also hoped that he would not end up suffering the expense.
Thus, he travelled back to office using a hired car; and soon after prepared a report, which included a financial statement, showing that he had spent personal money doing office work. So, he submitted a claim, which caused mayhem when it reached the desk of the chief executive for approval. Naperi, the chief executive, hesitated to approve the controversial claim because he found that Kapapa’s immediate supervisor as well as the company accountant contacted each other about the validity of the claim.
Kapapa had discussed the matter with his supervisor, who wrote a footnote that the claim was reasonable and acceptable. On the other hand, the company accountant had indicated that the claim was questionable since the expenditure had been incurred without approval. These divergent remarks attracted the attention of the chief executive, who declared the claim as a ‘dubious and disallowed transaction’. He declined to authorise refund of the money to Kapapa.
Naperi concurred with the accountant and disallowed the expense, not because it was unreasonable but Kapapa had incurred it without following a familiar procedure. He even went further to assert that Kapapa’s claim amounted to an attempt to commit fraud, in a company which had a ‘zero tolerance’ policy to fraud. All the staff knew the antifraud policy by heart.
Kapapa too knew the policy and ought to explain why he decided to violate it. Naperi summoned the accountant and Kapapa’s supervisor to his office and queried them about the problematic claim. He blamed them for failing to reprimand Kapapa, so that such a bad claim should reach his office. Kapapa’s supervisor argued that he had discussed the matter with his staff and also hoped to explain it to the chief executive as he was just doing. Naperi overruled him, warning that he might have indicted both the accountant and supervisor as accomplices to an act of fraud.
He only forgave them because the irregularity had been noticed and prevented before the transaction was approved and concluded. He informed them that he would ask the human resources department to commence disciplinary steps against Kapapa, with a view to fire him.This would be double tragedy for Kapapa. His money would not be reimbursed and, worse still, he would be fired from his job. This resonates with a Kongo proverb which teaches that, ‘Justice becomes injustice if it makes two wounds on a head which only deserves one’.
Naperi sent Kapapa’s file to Shugu, the Director for Human Resources, with express instructions to prepare a firing letter. He stated that there was irrefutable evidence that Kapapa had committed two offences: he had failed to follow company policy by hiring a car without approval, and also attempted to defraud the company by submitting an undeserved claim. He pointed out that the zero tolerance to fraud policy stipulated that the culprit deserved summary dismissal.
Note: All persons named in the story are imaginary characters.
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