Author: My Office News

Police take IT supplier to court

By Angelique Serrao for News24

The battle between the police and a supplier that switched off access to critical IT systems last week has hit the courts.

Last week, Forensic Data Analysts (FDA), a police supplier which has been accused of corruption, threatened to suspend the police’s Property Control and Exhibit Management (PCEM) and Firearm Permit System (FPS), unless the police and the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) pay them.

The company, run by businessman Keith Keating, claimed SITA had not paid them for five months for their services.

The two systems – as well as a system called the VA-Amis proprietary solution – supplied by Keating’s other company Investigative Software Solutions (ISS) – were all switched off, leaving the police’s capacity to handle forensic evidence, firearm controls and their ability to do in-depth investigations stranded.

Police responded publicly to FDA by saying that it was coming up with contingency solutions.

Behind the scenes, in a letter seen by News24, attorneys for the SAPS and SITA wrote to FDA and ISS saying that, in barring the police from accessing the three systems, the companies were acting unlawfully.

They went into detail about each of the three systems and their functions, and stated why they believed FDA could not block them from accessing them.

FPS, they said, was initiated in 2006 to perform critical functions of marking, identifying, issuing and tracking its firearms. It also enables the storage of information regarding the ballistic characteristics of the firearms.

The letter said SAPS was granted a permanent, non-expiring licence to use the FPS and to make sufficient copies for backup purposes. SAPS paid a once-off licence fee of R11.6-million and this meant that, by stopping the police from using the system, the FDA was acting unlawfully, the letter stated.

The PCEM system is used to log evidence and track it throughout the process, ensuring the chain of evidence is not broken.

Lawyers representing SAPS said in the letter that SAPS access to the PCEM system was governed by a written agreement concluded between the police and Unysis Africa in 2010.

“In exchange for the PCEM licence, SAPS was required to pay a once-off licence fee of R35 910 000,” the letter said.

“Notwithstanding, the fact that SAPS paid the full licence fee to Unysis under the PCEM Licence Agreement, FDA has with effect from 5 April 2018, unlawfully prevented SAPS and/or any of its members from accessing the PCEM system.”

The VA-Amis contract, SAPS said, was governed by a written agreement between SITA and ISS concluded in June 2017.

In exchange for the licence and performance of the VA-Amis services, SITA was required to remunerate ISS in the form of service fees which could not exceed R80 954 179, the letter said. This full amount was paid to ISS the SAPS lawyers said.

Police and SITA then threatened to go to court on an urgent basis if the systems were not turned on.

News24 understands that the police were set to approach the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria earlier this week on an urgent basis, but the application was halted after the systems were restored.

The case is set to be heard on Thursday instead.

The State wants the companies to restore the police’s possession of, access to and use of the intellectual property for the three systems.

Keating told News24 that FDA was served with an urgent application on Monday afternoon to restore all the services “due to the fact that SITA and SAPS now suddenly admit that the services are mission critical and of national importance”.

Keating said they agreed to switch on VA-Amis, but “due to SITA legal now playing games around the terms of switching back on, this has still not occurred”.

SITA and SAPS re-established the services for FPS and PCEM illegally, Keating said.

He said that FDA would approach the court on an urgent basis.

By Eric Johnson for Recode 

Starting with its very first episode, the HBO TV series “Silicon Valley” satirized the idea that tech entrepreneurs were “making the world a better place.” But Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman said people in his industry really believe that – or, at least, they used to.

“That’s something that I would say most people in Silicon Valley would like to believe,” Stoppelman said on the latest episode of Recode Decode.

“I think we’re waking up to realize a lot of big companies, presumably under pressure to grow and satisfy Wall Street, are focusing more on growth and making money than sticking to some core set of values that are aspirational.”

Stoppelman said the ongoing crisis of techlash is a reflection of some leaders’ inability or unwillingness to commit to corporate values early in their businesses’ existence, although he agreed with Apple CEO Tim Cook that “not all companies are created equal” in that regard.

“In some ways, Silicon Valley as a whole has lost its purpose,” Stoppelman said. “If its purpose really was, ‘Hey, we’re really trying to have a positive impact,’ just focusing on technology and growth might not be enough. You might actually have to make decisions that hurt growth.”

On the new podcast, Stoppelman also talked about Yelp’s years-long feud with Google. Yelp contends that Google has unfairly favored its own local listings in search results, something Stoppelman said the Google of the past would have criticized.

“The 2004 Google — the Larry Page-Sergey [Brin] Google — would make absolute fun of the search results you see today,” he said. “They pointed at Yahoo and said, ‘Look at Yahoo! They’re trying to trap you in their ecosystem. They don’t want you to get to the best of the web.’”

Scrutiny of big tech, he noted, is one of the few political issues that seems to have bipartisan support in the U.S. right now. But ultimately, despite some welcome regulations in the EU, Stoppelman said Yelp is carrying on with the assumption that the status quo is not about to be upended stateside.

“Obviously, we live in reality, and the government is not the speediest at dealing with these situations,” he said. “So we just find our way.”

The Google Pixel smartphone’s dialler will soon have a spam filtering feature that sends suspected spam callers directly to voicemail.

According to MyBroadband, this is an extension of the app’s existing ability to alert users as to whether it suspects a call of being a “suspected spam caller”.

Instead of a missed call, numbers marked as “spam” or “suspected spam” will be automatically sent to voicemail where they can be listened to at a later date.

This may pose a problem for the traditional telemarketing companies. Once a company has been marked as “spam” by a number of users, it will be “blacklisted” and not appear as a call.

Marketing for large companies is often done by telephone.

Edcon may close flagship Edgars store

According to a recent article by Business Day, Edcon is considering closing its flagship Edgars store in the Johannesburg CBD.

This will form part of the ailing retailer’s turnaround strategy, as the company determines whether the Edgars brand is still a viable one to CBD commuters.

Edcon CEO Grant Pattison told Business Day that part of the idea was to have Edgars located in regional malls where it could take advantage of the traffic density.

“We are probably going to end up with one store in the CBD and it’s likely to be Jet.”

The Johannesburg CBD is home to three Edcon stores: an Edgars department store, a Jet store and a Jet Mart.

The 89-year-old retailer opened its first Edgars store in Joubert Street, Johannesburg, and has grown to have more than 1 300 shops across Southern Africa with nearly 12-million customers.

Edcon first alluded to the downsizing of space in a recent quarterly statement and has already closed more than 200 stores.

“I am a cynic about whether retail is changing, but what is fundamentally changing is the retail customer,” Pattison said.

Edcon reported a 9.4% decline in group retail sales to R7.6-billion for the third quarter of 2018, which ended on December 23. Total group revenue declined 8% to R8.187-billion.

 

By Herman Mashaba for News24

ANC politicians that once ruled the City of Johannesburg have to count among the greatest illusionists of modern times.

This is because they successfully managed to fool millions of residents in the city into believing that, despite clear evidence witnessed daily of below par service delivery, the ANC in Johannesburg was somehow better than their counterparts around the country.

People were duped into the belief that the City worked better than others, even if it was far from perfect.

Why not, right?

After all, ratings agencies, other government agencies and the commentariat also bought into the idea.

Who can really blame residents of the city, and everyone else for that matter, when R300m was being spent in a single year on self-promoting marketing?

What was Parks Tau and company doing spending the sort of money usually spent by JSE-listed blue chip companies on marketing and advertising?

The sad thing is that this was all public money from which the same public derived little or no benefit.

You must remember the volume of billboards across the city depicting perfect services. You must surely remember the radio advertisements – it was actually a feat to miss them. You must remember the full page spreads in the papers.

All of this depicting the Utopian ‘World Class African City’ which was markedly different from the lived experience of the residents of our city.

The leadership of Parks Tau and the ANC was obsessed with this manufactured image, mostly to fulfil their status in the many international bodies where they spent their time.

Tau now travels the world as President of the United Cities and Local Government; no doubt a consolation prize for the good job he did in pulling the wool over the eyes of even the international community.

However, upon entering office, we started to gain an understanding of the full magnitude of the historical failures that lay behind the billboards, radio adverts and newspaper spreads.

We began to understand that the previous ANC regime was all style over substance. They proved that not all that glitters is gold.

Since walking into office, it has become imperative that we must work together with our residents in turning the city around. Part of this, requires the common understanding of the scale of the issues we are required to overcome.

It also requires an appreciation that residents will not always be bombarded with self-praising advertisements and that this does not mean that the DA-led government is not working.

It’s precisely because we are working that you do not always see us as much as you would like.

If we do not share this understanding, we will fail to partner as residents, business and communities to turn Johannesburg into a city of golden opportunities.

Meanwhile, a R12bn backlog in our roads has arisen from years of under-investment in our road network. Between 2013 and 2017, 3964 km of the road network (32%) fell into the condition categories poor and very poor.

A R56bn backlog in our storm water drainage exacerbates the roads problem. Water running down the roads, with nowhere to go, damages the road structure and increases potholes.

Anyone who has driven since the recent heavy rains two weeks ago will know exactly what I am alluding to. It is estimated that the city has more than 100 000 reported potholes in the road network.

Our electrical infrastructure is no better.

Over 27% of our bulk transformers now operate beyond their useful lifespan, built between 1927 and 1970.

In the instance of the inner city, it is powered by a sub-station that is over 70 years old and only one man alive today knows how to service its parts. Our electrical infrastructure backlog sits at a staggering R65bn.

Our water network can be likened to that cartoon character with their fingers and toes plugging the leaks of a ship. The 2016/17 data, which is two years old, shows that the water network inherited suffered from 45 000 leaks per year. This in a situation where we know water will be a challenge in the future.

Our housing backlog stands officially at 152 000 people on our lists, and a demand for 300 000 City produced housing opportunities.

Incidentally, the R17bn of fraud and corruption under investigation would have been enough to build houses for all of these people.

The unofficial backlog, including those in the ‘missing-middle’ of the housing market, is much, much larger. It manifests in the legacy of landlessness, illegal land occupation and frustration in our communities.

This is something I do not understand, despite wracking my brain over the issue for the last 18 months.

How could a city have been run down to this extent, allowed to deteriorate, when the link between infrastructure and economic growth is so widely accepted around the world?

We have over 900 000 unemployed people living in Johannesburg. These people were failed by successive ANC governments which failed to look to the long-term future of those they claimed to be serving and the many more that stand to join them unless something drastic is done.

I do not raise these issues to settle down into a morbid state of depression.

Our plans that we are launching are designed to institute long-term investment into these infrastructure priorities. We will achieve a level of investment into critical infrastructure which will work towards turning the picture around, and not just plugging the leaks, so to speak.

This is why I say that this is the greatest lie hidden from the residents of Johannesburg.

They were never told about the trade-offs that were made which produced these kind of backlogs. In all of those rosy public consultation meetings, our residents weren’t told government would trade future jobs in exchange for fanciful projects.

Our residents were told that international reputation and prestige would come before houses, roads, electricity and water. Our residents were not told any of these things.

The road we will begin travelling down as a City, is going to transform ours into a city of golden opportunities; a city where infrastructure works, the economy is growing and more people are being employed.

What remains critical in this process is that we embark on this journey together, knowing we have been misled, that we have a mountain to climb, but that government has the will to do it for the first time.

– Mashaba is executive mayor of the City of Johannesburg

Game headquarters could move to Jo’burg

Source: Supermarket & Retailer 

Durban could lose the headquarters of general merchandise retailer Game to Johannesburg, a move that could affect hundreds of staff members in the region.

Massmart Holdings Limited spokesperson Annaleigh Vallie confirmed that the move was eminent with Game management currently holding discussions with staff based at the retailer’s head office in Durban.

“It is, however, important to note that no decision on the move has been finalised,” said Vallie.

Massmart owns the South African local brands such as Game, Makro, Builder’s Warehouse, CBW and many others. It has four divisions, which are Massdiscounters to which Game falls, Masswarehouse, Massbuild and Masscash.

Walmart purchased a majority of shares in Massmart in 2011.

“The discussions are at a very early stage and currently involve consulting with approximately 330 potentially affected staff in order to ensure their input into the decision making process. From a legal perspective discussions of this nature typically take place within the framework of Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act.”

Vallie said currently no retrenchments were taking place in the region.

The company was of the view that if the potential move would take place, Game would benefit from being geographically closer to suppliers, Massmart and other group operating divisions.

Vallie said: “This in turn has potential to enhance commercial decision making and, group-wide collaboration and leverage.”

South African Commercial, Catering and Allied Workers Union (Saccawu) Kwa-Zulu Natal regional secretary Mathews Ndlovu said on Monday that the union was not surprised by the move. “Our objective is to try and make sure that there is no jobs lost in the process. We cannot stop the company from re-locating as part of their business restructuring,” said Ndlovu.

He said that if the staff members agreed to go to Johannesburg, they should receive relocation allowances and fees. “These things are on the table and have not been completed yet. As for those who are not willing to relocate must be accommodated in the perimeters of the province with same benefits which are not less favourable to what they are currently getting.”

Original article by Given Majola for IOL

Stock losses, fraud not top-of-mind in SA

South African businesses need a different mindset to address ongoing stock losses and fraud.

In the absence of a “proper” risk mitigation plan and loss control blueprint, South African business owners will never really address the critical levels of theft and fraud impacting on our economy, according to commercial investigator and international risk consultant, Kyle Condon (Managing Director at D&K Management Consultants).

“Experience has taught me that trust and effective loss control do not go together. We live in a society that has criminal presence constantly lurking around us. Old style security measures and trusting of everybody have left businesses open to losses like an open wound exposed to a sewer. Employees need to be watched continuously and loss control tactics need to be revised to accommodate this,” says Condon.

With many businesses operating on shoe-string budgets, security is often one of the first things to go. Ironically, says Condon; “it should be one of the portfolios that get additional budget assistance. When, companies cut security, those employees that were always dissuaded from going through with criminal action often go over the edge and ‘raid the cookie jar’.”

While South Africa has one of the most corrupt governments sketched on the political portrait, expecting every employee to behave in a moral honest way is far from realistic. We see what our leaders do and follow suit.

Sadly, most companies choose to ignore this red flag and continue to fool themselves into believing that the presence of a uniformed security officer or two is adequate to prevent and deal with internal criminal activity. Condon believes that “old school” security is a thing of the past. “It is time we accept that our businesses, like our homes, require proper defences,” states Condon.

So, what exactly does this mean?

“Our business sector has major structural employment weaknesses, due largely to political pressures, window-dressed appointments and fear of union retribution, this has led to a breakdown of strong policies and procedures that existed in the past. Many managers are just too afraid to confront the issues or speak out in fear of being branded or painted with the race brush. And, as a result, policies and zero tolerance are eroded. Unions have gained a lot of power, often holding companies to “ransom” when it comes to enforcing strong security measures. Polygraphs, for example, are always declined by Union reps, searching procedures get labelled as an invasion of one’s privacy, etc. Old school security methods have been watered down to create a mere ‘illusion of loss control’,” he says.

Modern day loss control and security plans must include the following key concepts:

• Internal investigation specialists (undercover agents) deployed as, I like to say, ‘modern day spies’.
• Quarterly sweeping and debugging of executive offices and meeting rooms.
• Strike action plans, designed specifically for the individual company and its employees to provide proper Duty of Care during strike action.
• Alignment with a reputable forensic investigator or company who understands the methods, methodology and principles of fraud and financial crimes, in the workplace.
• Thorough pre-employment screening of new candidates, including checking of criminal records through fingerprinting.
• A steadfast CCTV viewing plan conducted off site by an independent viewer, providing monthly viewing reports covering all aspects of risky behaviour, suspicious actions and overall health and safety concerns.
• Travel risk reports, for employees traveling to potentially hostile environments both locally and internationally. This would include arranging VIP protection, where needed.
• Annual security surveys to address all shortcomings of the physical security measures of the business.
• Due diligence must become part and parcel of the sales teams’ portfolios, before stock or material leaves for suspicious clients an investigation unit should first check out that all is above-board, and that you are not being scammed.
• Handing over the time consuming and demanding security portfolio to a dedicated and qualified loss control manager.

“I do not agree with companies splitting up the security portfolio and contracting various players for various things. Managing this portfolio is a job that requires full time participation. This is exactly what D&K Management Consultants does for its clients. We provide the correct expertise in one unique portfolio designed around modern-day risk,” says Condon.

“We are in many ways a country at war with itself, and business is not spared any of the risks that a ‘war’ environment brings. Therefore, defending your company requires a modern day ‘warfare’ approach. Intelligence, logic, expertise and strategy have replaced uniforms, guns and electric fences to a large extent”, Condon says, as he smiles.

By Mario Valdivieso for PSFK 

The gender pay gap, which sees women making less than men for the same work, is a problem all over the world.

New Zealand design company 485 design wanted to bring attention to it by inserting it into a line of Office Stationery for Women.

The stationary designs were made with the intention of conveying basic facts that surround gender inequality in the workplace.

The set includes a 13-hour clock to signify the uneven amount money a woman will make in the same amount of time compared to a man. The set also has stationery cards with facts on the issue, and a diary containing 13 months instead of 12. The design was even done in a “soft pink” to represent stereotypical female gender roles and ignorance of this particular problem.

By suggesting women work longer hours to receive equal pay, Office Stationery for Women hopes the absurdity of its solution will point out how little sense it makes for women to be paid less than men in the first place.

SA to get e-visas by March 2019

By Nic Andersen for The South African

Sick of all the paperwork every time you travel to South Africa? Well, e-visas could soon make things a whole lot easier.

The Department of Home Affairs has confirmed that phase one of a rollout of electronic visas (e-visas) will begin on 31 March 2019.

While some of the final details are still up in the air, a parliamentary reply from Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba has revealed more about what travellers can expect.

What exactly is an e-visa?
While we’re sure some foreign nationals had hope regarding being free of paperwork, Gigaba says some will still be involved.

“E-visa introduces online capture of visa and permit applications and capturing of applicant’s biometrics in South Africa and abroad. An application will be captured and submitted online together with the required supporting documents that will be scanned and attached to the application. The applicant will then present himself/herself before a DHA Official for biometric enrollment and verification of the supporting documents.”

Following the verification of those documents, all the relevant forms are electronically routed to the Home Affairs head office in Pretoria for adjudication. For an approved visa/permit, a secure QR-Code is generated for print on the notification notice/letter sent to the applicant. This QR-Code contains the approved visa/permit detail and is maintained and managed by DHA at a “secure web-storage facility”.

That very same QR-Code will then be scanned upon arrival here in SA.

The e-visa rollout plan
Beginning with what the department is calling “Phase one, release one”, applications for temporary residence visas, adjudication of temporary residence visas and applications for waivers will be done through the new system.

The rollout of phase one of the e-visa system will be at a foreign mission, embassy or local Home Affairs office yet to be determined.

“This is to ensure system stability. Once table, more offices locally and abroad can then be gradually brought online,” Gigaba said

According to DA Shadow Minister of Tourism James Vos, these modern-day visas will have big positives for the tourism industry.

“Electronic visas will boost the tourism industry by cutting turnaround times for the issuing of travel documentation while ensuring the information of applicants is secure.”

“Most importantly, improved tourist arrivals will facilitate more job growth in the industry while guaranteeing job security for 1,4 million South Africans already working in the tourism industry.”

The new system could see tourists flocking to SA in larger numbers than before.

Source: BBC

The suspect in a gun attack at YouTube’s HQ in California had expressed anger over its treatment of her video postings, media reports say.

Police have named Nasim Aghdam, 39, as the suspect but say they are still investigating a motive.

US media say Aghdam was angry that YouTube was filtering her videos and reducing the money she could make.

Tuesday’s attack left a man and two women injured with gunshot wounds. The attacker shot herself dead.

Police in San Bruno, California, say there is no evidence yet that the attacker knew the victims, a 36-year-old man said to be in a critical condition, and two women aged 32 and 27.

What do we know of the suspect?
Nasim Aghdam lived in San Diego in southern California.

Vegan bodybuilder with a vast online presence
Police have revealed few details about her but US media said she ran a number of channels and a website, posting videos on a variety of subjects including those highlighting animal cruelty. The channels have now been deleted.

Aghdam has been variously described as a vegan bodybuilder, artist and rapper.

In January 2017 she posted a video complaining that YouTube was filtering her content, leading to fewer views.

On her website she also ranted against YouTube, saying: “Videos of targeted users are filtered and merely relegated, so that people can hardly see their videos.”

She also quotes Adolf Hitler, saying: “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”

She also wrote: “There is no equal growth opportunity on YouTube or any other video sharing site. Your channel will grow if they want [it] to!”

Aghdam’s father, Ismail, told local US media she was angry because YouTube had stopped paying her for videos.

Video posters can receive money from linked advertisements but the company can “de-monetise” channels for various reasons, taking adverts off. It is unclear if this happened with Aghdam’s material.

Her father said Aghdam had been reported missing on Monday after not answering calls for two days. Police later found her sleeping in her car in Mountain View, 25km (15 miles) south of the YouTube offices in San Bruno and reported this to her family, but they did not detain her.

Her father told police she might go to YouTube as she “hated the company”, local media said.

YouTube terminated her account following the shooting. Her Instagram and Facebook accounts have also been removed.

However, many Twitter users posted her Facebook video rant against YouTube.

The suspect is reported to have approached an outdoor patio and dining area at the offices in San Bruno, near San Francisco, at about lunchtime on Tuesday and opened fire with a handgun.

San Bruno Police Chief Ed Barberini said officers arrived at the offices at 12:48 (19:48 GMT) local time to find a “chaotic scene”, with numerous people fleeing.

Images broadcast on local TV stations showed employees leaving with their hands raised. Other footage showed evacuees forming a queue before being individually frisked by police.

Police said officers had “encountered one victim with an apparent gunshot wound at the site and two additional gunshot victims that had fled to a neighbouring business”.

Inside the complex, officers then found a woman dead from a gunshot wound that was believed to be self-inflicted.

An employee at a nearby fast food restaurant told Fox station KTVU he had treated a young woman who suffered a bullet wound to the leg.

He said he had fashioned a makeshift tourniquet from a bungee cord as they waited for first responders.

Several YouTube employees tweeted about the attack as it was taking place.

Product manager Todd Sherman said people fled the building in panic as the shooting unfolded.

Another employee, Vadim Lavrusik, tweeted he was barricaded in a room with other staff. He later said he had been evacuated.

The three wounded were taken to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Officials said the 32-year-old woman’s condition was serious and the 27-year-old’s condition was fair.

A fourth person was also taken to hospital with an ankle injury sustained while trying to escape, Mr Barberini said.

Some 1 700 people work at the YouTube HQ. The company is owned by Google and is the area’s biggest employer.

There had been earlier media reports that the man shot was Aghdam’s boyfriend, but police later said; “At this time there is no evidence that the shooter knew the victims of this shooting or that individuals were specifically targeted.”

Such “active shooter” incidents are overwhelmingly carried out by men – an FBI report found that out of 160 incidents between 2000-2013, only six of the people who opened fire were women.

What’s the reaction been?
YouTube spokesman Chris Dale praised the police response to the incident.

“Today it feels like the entire community of YouTube and all of the employees were victims of this crime. Our hearts go out to those who suffered in this particular attack,” he said.

Another online giant, Twitter, said it was horrified by the shooting and said it was monitoring instances of misinformation.

 

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