Kenya’s dominant telecommunications operator, Safaricom is facing serious internal tests in dealing with corporate theft instigated by its own staff. According to insiders, Safaricom has lost close to Ksh 600 million this year, directly and Ksh 3billion indirectly in what staff now call Kula Safi.
According to senior managers privy to the details, Safaricom Customer Care Director, Pauline Warui was ordered out of office and escorted out of the Safaricom Headquarters after being called into a meeting with the company’s CEO Bob Collymore.
Before the removal of Ms Warui, ground was prepared with Janet Atika called by Bob Collymore and ordered to go to Safaricom Call centre at JCC where she was informed that she was taking over from Pauline Warui. Pauline was then escorted out of Safaricom headquarters by a retinue of security men led by Safaricom’s Head of Security, Mike Kariuki.
But the biggest surprise came when the security team then closed on the Safaricom General Manager in charge of Consumer Business, Peter Arina. He was one loyal, proud and almost arrogant employee of Safaricom. He was known to be ruthless on staff who would cross his path. They just didn’t know that Safaricom would hound him out of office like they did.
Peter Arina was shown the door in a manner which has totally scared top and middle level executives. At his level, Peter was like the second in command at Safaricom. Even in the management list on Safaricom website, it has not been changed, Arina’s profile comes right after Bob Collymore’s.
But Peter was ordered to hand over company car, locked out of his own officer and ordered out of the headquarters without being offered a chance to defend himself. The case against Peter and Ms Warui were said to be so water tight that the investigating team led by Safaricom’s Director of Risk Management, Nicholas Mulila, just delayed presenting the report.
The investigation against the senior management was secretly ordered by the CEO, Bob Collymore in December after the dismissal of some 40 employees (base at the Jambo Contact Centre – JCC – along Mombasa road) who were said to be involved in airtime and M-Pesa fraud. Some other employees included the daughter to a senior civil servant were sacked after being found to be involved in premium rate services (PRSP) fraud. Other points of fraud in the telco happened through the Lipa Na Mpesa service. Key managers are said to have illegally developed avenues in the system where they would manipulate payments and get money out of the system.
Another case is where a Finance Department employee (based on 4th floor) stole more than Ksh 30million from the company before discovery. The discovery was made when the employee was away outside the country.
Another recent incident of fraud at Safaricom involved a facilities management staff called Charles Karimi who is said to have escaped with enough computers to start a school without the knowledge of top Safaricom bosses. He was allegedly dismissed when the discrepancies were discovered. It seems that Safaricom is not interested in taking any legal action against its employees. It mostly remove them from office and buy media silence through advert or promotions splashed everywhere.
Knowing very well that the news of the sackings was going to raise eyebrows, Safaricom CEO announced the changes like he was creating new positions and reorganising the management. This was just a decoy.
Even as Safaricom claims that it has sorted the management problems, call centre staff are not a happy lot. The staff earns a starting salary of Ksh 55,000 but are required to handle close to 200 calls per day per person with not more than 30 minutes in breaks. The staff members are also complaining that promotion is so skewed that sometimes it depends on who you sleep with. This has downed the morale of the young people.
Too much use of the headphones has negative effects on the call centre staff but nobody is willing to listen to the staff while any journalist who would dare touch the story will be slapped with a meaningless lawsuit.
But the filth at Safaricom is just not limited to fraud by employees. A senior Safaricom security officer in charge of Western Region has been accused of battering his wife. The company has refused to respond to queries raised by concerned social media users while posts made on its social media platforms have been promptly deleted.
Two sexual harassment allegations against a top Safaricom boss have been blocked by a senior communications boss at the telco.
The changes at Safaricom happened onto two weeks to the end of Safaricom’s financial year.
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