WHISTLEBLOWING POLICY

1.  Introduction

1.1  Why is this Policy so important?

“Summit” or the “Company” acknowledges that all organisations face the risk of things going wrong or of unknowingly harbouring malpractice. Summit takes malpractice very seriously and recognises that legitimate disclosure of information by employees is an invaluable resource for the oversight of Summit’s operations.

Employees play an important role in the prevention and detection of legal, internal rules, values and ethics violations. This is because they are often the first to know about such violations as they are best positioned to have inside knowledge. However, they may not want to express their concerns because they are fearful of reprisal and that speaking up would be disloyal to their colleagues or Summit. In these circumstances, it may be easier to ignore the concern or ‘blow the whistle’ outside of Summit rather than report it internally.

Summit encourages open and honest communication and wants staff to feel secure about raising concerns internally. The Protected Disclosures Act, Act 26 of 2000 (“PDA”), as amended, provides protection to employees for disclosures made without malice and in good faith, in defined circumstances. This Policy is designed to give staff that opportunity and protection.

1.2  Policy objectives

The aim of this Policy is to:

  • Ensure that individuals understand their responsibility for reporting misconduct or malpractice;
  • Encourage individuals to feel confident in raising serious concerns and to question and act upon concerns about work practice;
  • Provide several routes for individuals to raise concerns and receive a response on any action taken;
  • Allow individuals to take matters further if they are dissatisfied with management’s response;
  • Reassure individuals that they will be protected from suffering any ‘occupational detriment’ (as defined by the PDA), if they have reasonable belief that they have made any disclosure in good faith;
  • Enable Summit to take the necessary steps to investigate and/or deal with any wrongdoings identified at an early stage; and
  • Avoid, as far as possible, any potential financial and/or other loss or reputational damage.

1.3  Whom does this Policy apply to?

This Policy applies to all directors, officers, employees of Summit including contract workers, temporary employees or persons considered to have the rights and privileges of employees or workers (collectively “employees”).

1.4  Leadership commitment

The Board and senior management of Summit make the following commitments:

  • We are committed to working towards a culture of openness, transparency and accountability.
  • We are committed to the principles set out in this Policy and respect the rights of employees to raise legitimate concerns without fear of reprisal. If an employee uses this Policy to raise a concern, management gives them its assurance that they will not suffer any form of retribution or any occupational detrimental treatment.
  • We will treat all concerns seriously and act according to this Policy.
  • We will lead by example in promoting awareness of standards of appropriate and accepted conduct and establishing a common understanding of what is acceptable and what is unacceptable behaviour in accordance with this Policy and Summit’s Code of Ethics and Business Conduct.

1.5  What happens if you breach this Policy?

Violations of law or this Policy are serious matters that may damage the Company. You will therefore be subject to discipline, as defined by the prevailing Labour Legislation, which may include termination. You may also become subject to external civil or criminal legal action.

Deterring an individual from raising a concern or victimisation or harassment of individuals who have raised concerns under this Policy, including informal pressures, will be treated as a serious disciplinable offence and will be dealt with under Summit’s disciplinary procedures.

1.6  Policy amendments

Summit reserves the right to determine how the Policy applies to any particular situation, and to amend or modify the Policy as it deems appropriate without prior notice, consultation or agreement. All amendments will be communicated to you.

1.7  Distribution

All employees will receive a copy of this Policy at the time they join Summit and must acknowledge in writing that they have read it and will abide by its terms.

1.8  Related Policies

This Policy should be read in conjunction with Summit’s Code of Ethics and Business Conduct.

2.  Policy Statement

Summit has a “Zero Tolerance Policy” concerning all irregular or illegal acts and violations of the company’s ethical standards as contained in the Summit’s Code of Ethics and Business Conduct.

Summit is also committed to display the highest possible standards of openness, honesty and accountability and will not tolerate any form of whistleblowing reprisal.

Employees are encouraged and expected to report genuine concerns on any aspect of Summit’s business and are advised that they may do so safely and confidently based on the assurances given in this Policy.

3.  What concerns to report

Summit has a range of policies and procedures which deal with standards of behaviour at work and employees are encouraged to use the provisions of those policies and procedures where appropriate. There may be particular cases and instances relating to malpractices or serious breaches of laws warranting for a different treatment and process.

The kinds of malpractice covered by this Policy include (but are not limited to):

  • that a criminal offence (such as fraud or corruption) has been, is being or is likely to be committed;
  • that a person has failed, is failing or is likely to fail to comply with any legal obligation to which that person is subject (including negligence, breach of contract, breach of law);
  • that a miscarriage of justice has occurred, is occurring or is likely to occur;
  • that the health or safety of an individual has been, is being or is likely to be endangered;
  • that the environment has been, is being or is likely to be endangered;
  • unfair discrimination as contemplated in the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act 4 of 2000;
  • that any matter referred to above has been, is being or is likely to be deliberately concealed.

There is a difference between whistleblowing and raising a grievance:

  • whistleblowing is where an individual has a concern about a danger or illegality that has a public interest aspect to it, for example because it threatens customers, third parties or the public generally; but
  • a grievance is a complaint that generally relates to an individual’s own employment position or personal circumstances at work such as individual complaints about management style or technical operational problems which must be raised with Human Resources.

This Policy is intended to cover reporting of suspected or real malpractice, wrongdoing or dangers in relation to Summit’s activities or acts or omissions by Summit’s employees, which fall outside the scope of other procedures, such as Summit’s anti-money laundering and counter terrorism procedures, complaints and grievance procedures.

4.  Safeguards

The PDA protects the whistle blower from the following ‘occupational detriment’ as a direct or indirect result of having made a protected disclosure:

  • Being subjected to any disciplinary action;
  • Being dismissed, suspended, demoted, harassed or intimidated;
  • Being transferred against his or her will;
  • Being refused transfer or promotion;
  • Being subjected to a term or condition of employment or retirement which is altered, or kept altered, to his or her disadvantage;
  • Being refused a reference, or being provided with an adverse reference, from his or her employer;
  • Being denied appointment to any employment, profession or office;
  • Being subjected to a civil claim arising from their breach of any confidentiality requirement through the disclosure of a criminal actor of a planned or current failure to comply with a law;
  • Being threatened with any of the actions mentioned above; or
  • Being otherwise adversely affected in respect of his or her employment, profession or office, including employment opportunities and work security.

If an employee believes they have been subjected to detriment or victimisation in breach of the PDA because of a disclosure, whether they are dismissed or not, they can follow Summit’s grievance policy or refer the dispute to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration and thereafter to the Labour Court.

5.  Procedure for raising a concern

Summit appreciates that it is never easy to report a serious concern for various reasons and that employees may prefer to speak to a friend or family member rather than to Summit. This may result in Summit losing the valuable opportunity to prevent what might become a damaging crisis or to correct a mistaken concern. Summit has therefore provided various channels for reporting and will aim to support and protect concerned employees from reprisals and respect their confidentiality, where requested.

5.1  Internal reporting

If an individual is concerned about any form of malpractice covered by this Policy, the individual should normally raise the issue with their immediate superior and should not approach the individuals concerned or attempt to investigate the matter themselves.

If an individual feels they cannot tell their immediate superior, for whatever reason, they should raise the issue with: Brian Knott by email or in writing marked ‘Strictly Private & Confidential’ at 1st Floor, The Ridge at Discovery, 1 Discovery Place, Johannesburg, South Africa or by telephone: Office: +27 10 210 7676 or Mobile: +27 82 441 9393

If an individual has raised concerns and is still concerned, or the matter is so serious that they feel they cannot discuss it with the person named above, they should raise the matter with the Head of Legal and GRC by email

5.2  External / Anonymous reporting

If an individual is not comfortable reporting their concern to any of these individuals, they can always report the concern to Independent Compliance Services (“ICS”), Summit’s independent compliance officer. An individual may choose to report to ICS (or the representatives of Summit above) on an anonymous basis. ICS may then relay the information to Summit without any contact information beyond that which the reporter expressly chooses to provide. Contact details are as follows: Enrique@complianceservices.co.za and or Debbi@complianceservices.co.za. Office 9, Heritage Square, Cnr Gladstone and Vrede St, Durbanville, Western Cape, 7551

5.3  Reporting format

A concern can be raised by telephone, in person, in writing directly to one of the options listed above, or via the Whistleblowing form on this website. It is preferable if it is made via the Whistleblowing form.

Although the individual is not expected to investigate or prove the truth of an allegation, the individual will need to demonstrate that there are reasonable and sufficient grounds for the concern raised. Generally, they will need to provide the following information as a minimum:

  • the nature of the concern and why the individual believes it to be true; and
  • the background and history of the concern (giving relevant dates where possible)

If the whistle blower is in possession of any documents or other evidence to support their allegations or are aware of where it can be found, they are requested to provide as much detail as possible to assist with the investigation.

The designated Summit representative or ICS will also assist whistle blowers in this regard.

It is important to note that the earlier concerns are expressed, the easier it is for Summit to take action and minimise any damage.

5.4  Confidentiality

All concerns raised will be treated in confidence and every effort will be made not to reveal the identity of an individual who raises a concern, if that is their wish. It must be appreciated that the investigation process may reveal the source of the information and a statement by an employee may be required as part of the process of gathering evidence.

If disciplinary or other proceedings follow the investigation, it may not be possible to take action as a result of a disclosure without the help of the individual who raised the concern, so the individual may be asked to come forward as a witness. If they agree to this, they will be offered advice and support.

Summit hopes that all staff will feel able to voice their concerns openly under this Policy. Although a concern may be made anonymously, Summit encourages individuals to put their name to their allegation whenever possible. If this is not done, it will be much more difficult for Summit to protect the individual’s position or to give feedback on the outcome of investigations.

Concerns that are expressed completely anonymously are much less powerful and are difficult to investigate. Summit will consider anonymous reports, taking into account factors such as the seriousness of the issue raised, the credibility of the concern and the likelihood of confirming the allegation from other sources.

If an individual asks for a matter to be treated in confidence, Summit will respect this request and, unless the law requires otherwise, will only make disclosures to third parties or other staff with the individual’s consent.

The whistle blower should also keep confidential the suspected concerns disclosed.

6.  Allegations

Concerns must be raised without malice, in good faith and not for personal gain and the individual must reasonably believe that the information disclosed, and any allegations contained in it, are substantially true.

The issues raised may relate to a manager, another member of staff, a group of staff, the individuals own department or a different department. The perpetrator can be an outsider, an employee, a manager, a customer or an ex-employee. You may even be aware of a system or procedure in use, which may cause Summit to transgress its legal or ethical obligations.

Maliciously making a false allegation intentionally under this Policy constitutes gross misconduct and is likely to trigger disciplinary action and/or legal prosecution where this results in harm, which is an offence and on conviction may result in personal liability such as a fine, imprisonment or both. Summit’s assurances made in this Policy do not extend to allegations made in bad faith.

7.  Responding to concerns raised

Summit is committed to ensuring that all disclosures raised will be dealt with appropriately, consistently, fairly and professionally.

An initial assessment will be made on what action should be taken. This may involve an internal inquiry or more formal investigation depending on the nature of the concern raised. External investigators may be brought in where necessary to make an independent inquiry or the matter may be referred or the South African Police Services.

Summit will endeavour to complete investigations within a reasonable time. Within 21 working days of a report being received, Summit (or ICS) will write to the whistle blower to:

  • Acknowledge that the concern has been received
  • Request the whistle blower for any further information or advise that initial enquiries have been made
  • Indicate how the matter will be dealt with, including whether the matter will be referred to another person or body to be dealt with more appropriately
  • Give an estimate of how long it will take to provide a final response, and
  • Tell the whistle blower whether further investigations will take place, and if not, why not.

Should Summit not be in a position to make a decision within 21 working days whether to investigate or refer the matter, the whistle blower will be informed that Summit is unable to do so and thereafter be advised on a regular basis (at intervals not more than 2 months at a time) that the decision is still pending.

The whistle blower will be advised within 6 months from the time he or she has made the protected disclosure of the decision to investigate or not.

Summit will provide as much feedback as possible to the whistle blower. Summit will not, however, be able to inform the whistle blower of any matters which would infringe any duty of confidentiality owed to others or if it is necessary to avoid prejudice to the prevention, detection or investigation of a criminal offence.

Summit may on occasion and after informing the whistle blower change the time limits referred to in this Policy.

The amount of contact between the whistle blower and the representative of Summit who is considering the issues, will depend upon the nature of the matters raised, the potential difficulties involved and the clarity of the information that was provided. If necessary, Summit may ask the whistle blower for further information about the concern raised directly or through the ICS.

If any meeting is arranged, the whistle blower has the right, at his/her discretion, to be accompanied by a colleague or other representative who is not involved in the area of work to which the concern relates.

Summit will also take steps to minimise any difficulties that a whistle blower may or could experience as a result of raising a concern, for instance, if the person is required to give evidence in criminal or disciplinary proceeding, management will arrange for the whistle blower to receive advice on the process, etc.

It is accepted by Summit that whistle blowers need to be assured that the matter has been properly addressed. Therefore, at the conclusion of an investigation, Summit shall inform the whistle blower of the outcome thereof. If a whistle blower is not satisfied with management’s response to concerns that have been raised and have reasonable grounds to base their dissatisfaction on, Summit could arrange for an independent body (e.g. external auditors) to investigate a matter.

While management cannot guarantee that it will respond to all matters in the way that a whistle blower may wish for, Summit will endeavour to handle all matters fairly and properly. By abiding to this Policy employees will assist management to achieve the objectives of this Policy.

8.  Training

Summit provides regular training to all staff in relation to whistleblowing law and this Policy. The main objectives of such training will be to ensure that all staff are aware of how to raise a concern, how they are protected and how the concern will be dealt with.

9.  Record keeping

Any concerns raised will be recorded in Summit’s central Whistleblowing Report Register, maintained by the compliance function.

Summit uses all appropriate security measures to ensure the protection of the information collected in the context of this Policy, in compliance with its Privacy Policy and with all applicable legislation.