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Protecting our whistleblowers

Over the past week, the homes of two South Africans were burgled. It’s an all too common crime. But the victims – Themba Maseko and Johann van Loggerenberg- have something important in common: they both blew the whistle at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, also called the Zondo Commission.

The first part of the Zondo report, as we told you, was released earlier this month and details the state capture project. Maseko testified about how the Guptas allegedly attempted to capture the Government Communications and Information System during his tenure as the department’s director-general, while Van Loggerenberg, a former South African Revenue Service executive, detailed how the organisation was allegedly captured during Zuma’s presidency. Both believe the burglaries were related to their testimonies. 

You may remember the murder of Babita Deokaran, a senior health department official who exposed corruption in the procurement of protective Covid gear. Athol Williams, who also testified at the commission, fled the country in fear of his life. Attacks on whistleblowers are an ongoing issue in SA. So what’s the solution? The Zondo Commission has recommended compensating whistleblowers with a fixed percentage of any money they help to recover. Whistleblower rewards are a rising trend globally. Once dismissed as a perversion of justice, the intervention has proven to be highly effective. Organisations have also called for the establishment of an agency that provides protection, social, psychological and health resources for whistleblowers, News24 reported – this support is the norm in several countries. It’s about time similar policies are created for the protectors of our democracy. ☝🏽

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 20 January 2022. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.