Bart Henderson is a leading forensic auditor and CEO of Henderson Solutions, an enterprise risk management firm.Bart Henderson is a leading forensic auditor and CEO of Henderson Solutions, an enterprise risk management firm.

I remember, some years ago, meeting an auditor from Ernst and Young at the Office for Serious Economic Offences (OSEO), as it was known then.

The meeting was called by the OSEO in response to an Auditor-General’s report into corruption at the Johannesburg City Council.

As I was the primary source of the evidence, the purpose of this meeting was to solicit my co-operation in the OSEO investigation. As we sat around the rather imposing table, microphones in our faces, each party introduced themselves.

It was the Ernst and Young chap that caught my attention, because he introduced himself by saying he was wearing two hats.

I recall sitting there, looking at him rather dryly, as all matter of thought swirled in my mind not least of all what an unlikely sight of someone wearing two different hats would make. I tried to visualise the man having two heads which he obviously did not.

In the end, I simply surrendered to the idea that some people have no hesitation in making a total toss of themselves if there’s a buck involved somewhere.

Wearing two hats at one time is just plain stupid as an idea, visually plain silly and, as a concept, idiotic.

Kind of like that popular expression that seems to be gaining increasing traction these days: “being economical with the truth”, when it comes to explaining why some stories appear to be void of all the facts.

I hear that explanation for half-baked concepts all too often lately; “we’re not lying, we’re simply being economical with the truth”.

Or better yet: “Being economical with the truth is not the same as lying”.

My answer to this has always been that I have never yet seen a woman that is either half-pregnant or half-raped.

I sat in a meeting the other day, in serious discussion with two journos, highly-experienced, highly respected and highly-recognised, discussing a recording and the utterances of a particular subject of their investigation.

We were debating what the actions or non-actions of a party to a meeting surreptitiously recorded meant.

During the meeting, a party is heard to repeat: “No, no, no”, a few times in succession, in response to an offer of a bribe.

The journos felt that this response did not vindicate the subject. The idea being that the subject should have stood up and left, or said more, or been more vocal in rejecting the offer.

I have had it drummed into my head, for as long as I can remember, that no means, well… no.

How do you continue to support a story that is essentially decaying by suggesting that no means yes, because the person says no, but doesn’t leave?

You can’t wear two hats, because there will automatically arise a conflict of interest, you can’t be economical with the truth, because truth and economy are an oxymoron, you can’t be half-pregnant, because that is a physical impossibility and yes and no are contradictions in terms.

Just as following an admission with a “but” sees the admission negated by that but, just so, an answer with a yes and no negates either a yes or no answer.

In the specific instance of the subject who says no, but must be regarded as still being complicit in accepting a bribe for not following up their answer with some other form of action or protest, what does that say for someone who is being or has been raped?

Do we now start saying he/she should have bitten his/her attacker and that no didn’t mean no? Saying no to sex repeatedly is not enough? He/she should have screamed, kicked gouged and fought?

Experience has taught me that anyone who I meet who projects themselves as wearing two hats cannot be trusted as you can’t serve two masters, fact and fiction.

Experience has also taught me that when someone justifies economising truth, they are concealing some or other untruth.

Finally, whenever I hear someone answer yes and no, I immediately realise that what that person is saying is “I don’t have a clue what you or I am talking about”, or “I’m not sure”, so I automatically begin to draw my own conclusions based on the available evidence or information.

Of course, the recorded conversation I’m referring to is that of the arms dealer who recently tried to bribe Gugu Mtshali, the partner of deputy president .

She said “no” on the tape. “No, no, no,” repeatedly. There is no “yes, but”. There is no “yes and no”. There is only “no, no, no”.

That is the available evidence, and that is my conclusion.

“No” indeed means exactly that, no economy, if, but or maybe.