Last night I wrote about a fictional ethical dilemma that panned out in a drama TV series. Today, while driving in the car and listening to talk radio, I came across a current, real-life scenario that challenges how we view ethics in practice. Again, if we are to understand the ethical landscape within our organisations we need ways in which we can monitor the perceptions, values and attitudes that staff have towards ethics.

Today’s ethical dilemma comes from a recent shooting of a group of illegal miners at the Aurora Gold Mine …

The embattled Aurora has been in the news a lot lately. Severe financial woes have plagued the operation along with allegations of cronyism based on the links that the mine directors have with President Jacob Zuma. It was reported late last week that a shoot out had erupted between security personal and a group of alleged illegal miners. Four people died in the skirmish.

More information has come to light today, that the illegal miners were not so illegal, but that they were in fact Aurora staff. The allegation is that they have not been paid in months and had been mining ore to sell on the black market in lieu of their absent salaries.

Now, this is the ethical dilemma: to what extent were the Aurora employees entitled to mine the mineral resources for private sale? Were they justified in doing this in light of Aurora not paying their salaries?