I was in a bit of shock after making my statement public and losing my job at Sage. Although K tried to prepare me for the bombardment of the press, I don’t think anything could have prepared me for it and things with Sage got out of control with Magda bringing things up in the press. I support her stance completely – businesses should be more active in fighting corruption and encouraging a fight against state capture. Business should demonstrate their integrity towards matters of national importance. However, I feel that Sage got pulled over the coals and I wish that didn’t happen.
Magda offered me a job at Sygnia which I accepted. I needed a job to support my Daughter and; I desperately wanted to put this State capture stuff behind me. I thought that by focusing on a career, I could more easily move forward. Also, I told myself that by working for someone like Magda, I may have some form of protection against McKinsey and Integrated guys.
Magda was fantastic – she allowed me to choose my start date which I chose as 1 November – 2 days before I was to appear in parliament. I figured that I needed October off to deal with what had just happened. Sage also agreed to pay me for that month which I was really grateful for. Now in hindsight I realise how silly I was – how was a month off work, although packed with mediation sessions with Peter, going to help me recover from the disappointment of Sage and shock of what I had just done for the country? Anyway, I tried doing the best that I could at the time and practiced all that I knew at the time.
Although I thought that October would be pulling myself towards myself, my time was spent with attorneys and at mediation. K and Ana spent lots of time making me understand the importance of perjury and how damaging it could be for me if I shared my opinion and views as opposed to the facts. They prepared me against leading questions and how to get myself out of a situation where perhaps someone wanted me to say something specific that I didn’t fully agree with.
Mediation was tough but my priority. Reaching an agreed outcome with Peter that would result in situations like the hospital not ever happening again, was the most important thing in my life. I needed to fix things with Peter so that our Daughter could have the best of both her parents. That is all that I wanted. I still saw the state capture stuff as secondary and the easiest of my dramas to handle.
Eventually the end of October came - I had to go to Cape Town and then focus on a new career. All the while, now that I had come out to the public, I thought that if I was ever going to experience the wrath of Trillian and McKinsey, it was going to be now. K was on standby. She said that for 3 weeks after I made my statement, PPLAAF was expecting retaliation from some or all of the parties that I implicated in my statement. I was focused on getting through mediation as best I could in case I had to deal with some sort of back lash from my declaration. So, getting to the end of October was a relief when no legal retaliation was received.
It was just parliament. I convinced myself that with my statement made public and after appearing in parliament, all this drama would be over. I have no logical reason for reaching this conclusion except that it made me feel better that an end appeared to be in sight. Mosilo appeared in parliament two days before I did. Using her experience as a guide of what I could expect, that day was written off to final preparation with my attorneys. I was so relieved to see how things went with Mosilo – the committee were nice and not interrogative. Instead, they were supportive. I was planning for the worse – another Spanish inquisition with teeth!
Even though Mosilo’s appearance in parliament was good, I was still nervous. I arrived in Cape Town with an entourage – it was slightly embarrassing. I had Ana and K with me and the instructing attorney. I needed my life support.
The first thing that I did on the morning of the 3rd November was call my parents and asked my Dad to pray for me. Mosilo and I had a deal – I called her at 7am on the 1st November and prayed for her. I prayed that God would give her clarity of thought so that she would stay focused on the facts. And that God would be over her tongue so that she communicated herself eloquently and succinctly. She would also pray over me. After having my parents and Mosilo pray for me, I just wanted the day over. I would be back home just before midnight that day – I needed to be in my house.
As I entered parliament at about 8am, shit got real for me … again. Part of my survival process was to down play issues and simply get through them with a clear(ish) head. I kept telling myself that I would deal with severity and impact when I had the time. There were bodyguards waiting for me at parliament. And that’s when I realised the impact of what I had just done. Even now, years after the fact, I still can’t comprehend that I appeared in parliament – the voices in my head – you’re just a simple little girl from Maritzburg. What are you doing here? This is not who you are? What have you done?
Ana and K could see that I was like a deer in front of headlights so they started making really stupid jokes that got me laughing at least. There is no one that walks this earth, that could have given me the assurance that I would believe, except Ana and K. I thank God that they were with me!
Ana sat next to me in parliament with her hand on my leg under the desk. She would pat my leg if I answered okay or pinch me if I was babbling or going off what we had discussed. I left parliament with a bruised leg, but without any retaliation from ICM, Trillian nor McKinsey. As soon as the questions stopped, she looked at me and said “B, its done.” I felt like I got my life back. I’m such an idiot!
I got home late that Friday night and watched the recording of my session in parliament. It was the first time that I had heard myself talk about my journey. It broke me! For the first time, I felt sorry for myself – I could hear the fear and anxiety in my voice and kept asking, who is this? It can’t be me? Why was that me? Who is this?
My feelings and questions didn’t matter – I had work on Monday and a kid to look after.
After appearing in parliament, again the press was in a frenzy and I didn’t want to deal with their questions. Many journalists would have information from other sources and were looking to me to add something. I got so tired of researching my records that I convinced K that we should make my entire Trillian computer public. My rationale was that if I did this, journalists and any other interested party could find the information themselves and stop bothering me.
So, we did exactly that. I curated the information to remove all HR related information and all personal information about my family. To me, this was my statement to the world and all those who may try to attack me, that I had nothing to hide. Everything that I had, I had made public without any discretion towards who has access to it. This was the strongest position that I could take and the most significant towards reclaiming my life.
Alas, it appears that people don’t like doing research. The journalists still called and claimed that they didn’t have the time to sift through my data. Funny that! Neither did I and the last time I checked, I didn’t have to do their job for them.
I got annoyed with the media and eventually decided to stop helping them unless they could demonstrate that they tried to help themselves.
I understood my testimony in parliament to be an affidavit as I had to take an oath before I started speaking. So again, my intention was that it could be referenced by any interested party. Alas, the public focus on me grew. The Hawks wanted to meet and discuss some investigation with me. There were a few parties that were compiling criminal and civil lawsuits and needed affidavits from me … argh! It didn’t end!
November eventually ended after I spent way too much time with attorneys. Peter and I reached consensus through mediation which was in my favour.
I had already started planning how I would celebrate seeing the end of 2017. I couldn’t wait for this year to end. Surely this was the worst since 2015?
I knew that I wouldn’t really get my teeth stuck into work – starting a new job in November coupled with what I was involved in, wasn’t conducive towards starting a career with a bang. So, I spent November and the little bit of December doing research to better understand the financial services industry and setting up sessions for early in the new year. I had a break planned with my Daughter’ and my parents – they needed to see me doing better. I resolved to ‘fake it till I made it’ for the festive season. My family had to come first. My daughter needed proof that mummy was good and my parents needed to stop stressing about me. It was a good break.
Just like the years before, I started 2018 hopeful that it would be better than the year before.
I had a job and, in my mind, the worst of my involvement in state capture was behind me. In hindsight, I was mostly right in my ambition.
Survival instincts dictated that I need to focus on my new career and establishing an anchor for my Daughter’ and I. I needed to get a home so that my Daughter and I were not in flux anymore.
Come January 2018 I started searching for a home and tried to get my teeth sunk into work. God is great because by February 2018 my offer on a house was accepted. It’s a miracle that I could buy a house – I needed 6 months’ worth of pay slips for my home loan application and guess what – I just had 6! To me, that’s God’s hand.
Work however was not going well. My job description was quite clear to me but was not materialising despite the effort that I was making towards it. Eventually I decided that I would do anything in Sygnia that would add value. Some days this included supporting the staff in shopping for the month’s groceries and working towards becoming a sales person. Both of which were not part of my job description.
I started slipping into a deep depression really fast. When I spoke to Magda about it she said that she anticipated this and felt that I had post-traumatic stress disorder. I knew that my body was failing me – I didn’t sleep well, had no appetite and hadn’t had my period for almost a year. Following Magda’s diagnosis, I went to see my doctor. He encouraged me to see a counsellor, exercise and forced me to consume protein. Blood tests indicated that I had excessive levels of cortisol in my body. He said that it was like my body survived on adrenaline for the past year and I had to start controlling it. He said that the only way that I could get out of my depressed state was to get healthy, so I did the protein shakes and started running.
At that point I only ingested liquids – a protein shake in the morning and a bottle of wine in the evening. I found that I could only feel things on the 3rd glass of wine. I would only think about me on the 4th glass of wine. I could only pray after the 6th glass. I knew I was in a bad space and I hated myself for it – I should have been happy. It was over! Peter and I were okay, I had a job and state capture was over. It was over! I would scream at myself – you crazy bitch! Its over be happy!
Years later, my psychiatrist made me realise that finally, I was transitioning from the survival frame of mind, to the ‘dealing’ frame of mind.
Nobody tells you that surviving is easy relative to processing, rebuilding and dealing.
My psychiatrist told me that I did have PTSD and that what I went through was trauma. I thought hijack victims, victims of physical assault, rape victims needed trauma counselling – not whistle-blowers who got divorced. She said that I couldn’t rebuild my life as quickly as I hoped because everything that I trusted in my life, appeared to fail me in one go. She said that I had to accept that. I didn’t want to accept anything! I wanted to forget. I wish it never happened. I didn’t want to accept anything!!! I wanted it to just go away and I wanted the life that I had back in 2015, back.
When my Daughter wasn’t with me I would put on my running shoes and tell myself that I wasn’t coming home until I felt better. I would be out running and visions of Vikas, Clive and Peter would appear in my mind. I would run until I threw up. At times, I would be on the road for 4 hours.
In February I accepted that I was messed up and forcing myself to go to work every morning and pretend that I was committed was the biggest lie of my life. So, I resigned. From 1 March 2018 I was unemployed again. This time was different though – I was working towards been happy.
Been unemployed for having no idea how long, I had to do something very irresponsible and so ironic considering that I was employed by Sygnia – I had to release my pension to support my Daughter and I. I know how bad that is, but I don’t feel like I had much of a choice. I decided to fix me as a priority. Airlines always say that you must ensure that your oxygen mask is fastened in place before you can help those around you. So, I had to get my oxygen mask on and start getting better.
We moved into our new home just before Easter 2018. We have since settled and love our house. The time spent on moving into my home was therapeutic – I felt like I was adding value to the things that truly matter in my life – my daughter and stability.
This is how my recovery started...