J Arthur Brown has been one of the most unpopular men in South Africa for a long time now. As the former CEO of Fidentia, he was at the wheel while R1,4 billion went missing from funds administered by the firm, including a fund meant to support widows and orphans of mine workers. It remains one of the biggest corporate scandals in South Africa’s history. Last week, to the shock and disgust of many, the Western Cape High Court ended six years of legal proceedings by handing Brown only a R150,000 fine and a suspended jail sentence. But Brown is receiving loyal support from an unexpected quarter: some of the very people whose money disappeared under his watch, and who most need it back. By REBECCA DAVIS.