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Case Study Project Inspiration

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Africa Riskwatch - Issue 9 - January 2017
Case Study: "Project Inspiration"


Pro bono work for Nelson Mandela’s Children’s Hospital

One would hardly associate a global risk consultancy known for its security, cyber and compliance solutions, with a children’s hospital. But last year, Control Risks Southern Africa went far and beyond to support this dream of Nelson Mandela in its unique way.

The Nelson Mandela children’s hospital Johannesburg is a legacy project of the icon Nelson Mandela, former anti-apartheid freedom fighter who later became South Africa’s first democratically elected president. Nelson Mandela was known for his love of children. He made it a point to spend his birthdays with children and was affectionately referred to as “Tata”, meaning “father”.

Nelson Mandela personified selfless struggle and doing good for the benefit of all. The construction of the children’s hospital was aimed at providing sick children with an opportunity to access health services that would otherwise not be within their reach.

In his book “Long Walk to Freedom”, Mandela said: “I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. […] But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended”.

Unfortunately, at Mandela’s death in December 2013 the hospital had not yet been completed. Yet  the Nelson Mandela Trust continued to pursue his dream to build a modern paediatric medical facility that would not only treat sick children from South Africa, but from the whole of Southern Africa, offering quality healthcare to children from the region’s poorest communities. After many years of design, fundraising and construction, the hospital was completed in December 2016 and will be opening its doors in 2017.

So, how does Control Risks fit in with this worthy project?

As part of Control Risks’ global corporate social responsibility programme, its South African office wanted to support a special project with pro bono work that truly meant something for the team. The Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital hit all relevant criteria.

During 2016, the senior partner in the Control Risks office in South Africa, George Nicholls, and his team engaged with the Nelson Mandela Trust to explore ways and means to assist in bringing the project to completion and ensuring that it is a warm and friendly, but also secure environment. It was then agreed that Control Risks would provide services related to physical security, pre-employment screening and advice to prevent fraud.

The South African team completed a security assessment of the facility in September 2016 and provided its findings and recommendations to the Nelson Mandela Trust. The assessment identified a number of vulnerabilities that exposed the facility to a range of risks, including perimeter breaches and recommended remedial measures that could be implemented without significant expenditure.

The pre-employment screening of key personnel was also an important part of the services that the South African team provided. The Nelson Mandela Trust wanted to ensure that key appointments would not be tainted by controversies – personal or political. Another important consideration was that the legacy of Nelson Mandela and his children’s hospital should not risk any potential reputational damage. Control Risks therefore conducted ‘red-flag’ checks for all major staff appointments, and the reports enabled the Nelson Mandela Trust to quickly assess whether candidates presented any risks to the reputation or security of the brand or the project as a whole.

The South African team worked on this project as a collective that involved the areas Crisis Security Consulting, Compliance, Forensics and Intelligence as well as support functions such as the Finance department. A total of 269 hours had been spent on providing the services. As is Control Risks custom, the team had to come up with a name at the start of the project. But how does one find an appropriate name for a project that is associated with a person such as Nelson Mandela and means so much for the whole team? After much thought, the team named it “Project Inspiration”. A rather simple name, but one that aptly describes a project that provided team members, and Control Risks as a group, with an opportunity to make a small but meaningful contribution to the vision of Nelson Mandela to build a modern children’s hospital that would provide critical medical services to many of Southern Africa’s needy children.

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