At 9.45am on Monday December 5 2017, Christo Wiese’s world collapsed. Steinhoff International CEO Markus Jooste had just sent an SMS to some of the board members, the details of which were not made public but evidently included the words "goodbye" and "sorry". They didn’t realise it at the time, but this was the closest thing to confirmation the Steinhoff supervisory board was going to get about "accounting irregularities" from Jooste. Some on the board still believed Jooste would arrive at the Stellenbosch offices with a presentation that would explain the irregularities that had been uncovered by the audit committee in the previous few weeks. By the end of the day, with no sign of Jooste, the infamous SENS announcement was issued and the multibillion-rand free fall began. On Wednesday, an appropriately sombre Wiese told MPs from three committees that it was as if a bomb had exploded. "It was literally a bolt out of the blue." Wiese said that in his 50-plus years of building busine...

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