Guest Writer

Who to throw the first stone?

Alec Hogg
Alec Hogg.jpg

Yesterday provided a reminder to not judge until you have walked a mile in the other person's shoes.

For the past three years, the short, middle aged, erstwhile real estate icon Wendy Machanik has been struggling to keep afloat. As most of us would if placed under house arrest and banned from the career we were born for.

When banks exited the home loan market in the panic of 2007/8, Machanik dipped into the only financial resource available to her, trust funds where the firm's clients' deposits were housed. Those funds lifted her 320-agent Wendy Machanik Properties over a potentially deadly cash crunch.

Once the housing market restarted, she repaid all that had been "borrowed". In her words, it was a crime, but truly a victimless one. No client lost a cent. But she had broken the law, someone used it against her and she was punished. It cost Machanik her business, her reputation, her career.

After listening to her story it occurred to me that Machanik did far less wrong than the Wall Street bankers who brought the global financial system to its knees. Her sin also pales next to the quantifiable looting of the public purse by tenderpreneurs.

Indeed, had Machanik been prepared to pay the R30 000 her "whistleblower" required for silence, nothing of her action may have ever gotten into the public domain. But she refused to be blackmailed because she believed her actions hadn't hurt anyone. And paid a terrible price.

A carpenter once told the crowd baying for an allegedly adulterous woman's blood: "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Perhaps, with Wendy Machanik, it's time for the rest of us to remember this wise counsel.

                                                                                                                                                                                      by Alec Hogg

(This piece is used with the kind permission of Alec Hogg, Editor of BizNews, where it was first published on 11 November)

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