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October 30, 2008

Deloitte staff killed in light air tragedy

By Nicholas Moody

Deloitte’s Johannesburg office has been overwhelmed by messages of support from South Africa’s business community after four employees died in a light air crash late October.

 

The firm’s chief operating officer Allen Swiegers said Deloitte has received more than 500 condolence messages from clients, non-clients and accountancy firms.

All four Deloitte fatalities were from the firm’s Johannesburg audit office. They include audit partner Mahen Naidoo (43), audit manager Lesley Philpott (28), accountant in charge Mark Kriel (25) and audit trainee Gillian Brown (23). Gillian Brown was the daughter of Allan Brown, an audit partner at Deloitte since 1995.

“[The office] has been affected tremendously; we were all in shock and disbelief,” Swiegers said.

“Because it was at all levels of staff, there was a partner, a manager, a [recently qualified] accountant and a trainee involved so everybody was affected. We lost four friends, four colleagues, so it is a very sad time.

“It is one thing from a business point of view to lose outstanding individuals but from a personal point of view losing friends and colleagues makes it so much more difficult.”

All six passengers perished in the accident, which occurred shortly after take off at Germiston, east of Johannesburg. The flight was en-route to a client meeting in Lesotho.

The two other fatalities were senior employees of the client CBI, a division of South African electronics and electrical engineering company Reunert.

Swiegers said the 55-year-old pilot was the financial director of the client and regularly flew to Lesotho on business.

Deloitte held a memorial service last week that was attended by about 700 hundred people. The firm has not decided what to do to permanently honour its employees but Swiegers said a garden or plaque were two possible options.

The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has launched an investigation into the crash, which is expected to take between six months to a year, a SACAA spokesperson said.

Nicholas Moody

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