The Right2Know Campaign welcomes the reinstatement of Justice Department whistleblower “Mrs M”, announced by the Public Protector, Adv. Thuli Madonsela on Thursday. The reversal of her unfair dismissal was a rare victory for whistleblowers in South Africa.The Public Protector has rightly described whistleblowers as “heroes” – and yet across society, in government and the private sector, these heroes continue to face dismissal, persecution and even death threats from those who wield power.
Today, Roberta Nation is fighting dismissal from the State Security Agency (SSA) after she reported on alleged fraud in the SSA’s medical scheme more than a year ago. Solly Tshitangano, dismissed from the Limpopo Department of Education, continues to suffer the consequences of highlighting the malfeasances leading to last year’s textbook scandal. Last week it was reported that Icasa official Joseph Lebooa was abducted and beaten by thugs who demanded that he halt his investigation into Wireless Business Solutions, a private company allegedly owing license fees to Icasa. While discussions of corruption often focus on government institutions, corruption is a “two-way” street of collusion between business and politics; just as the role of the private sector in corruption cannot be ignored, the plight of private-sector whistleblowers also cannot be ignored.
Reports this week of allegations of massive price-fixing and corruption in the construction industry should serve as a reminder of the series of whistleblower assassinations that took place in Mbombela municipality in Mpumalanga – former Mbombela speaker Jimmy Mohlala and provincial official Samuel Mpatlanyane were both gunned down after they sought to expose collusion between political leaders and construction industry players in the building of the Mbombela soccer stadium.
These are just a few stories that form part of the broader pattern of threats, intimidation and attacks on whistleblowers in South Africa.
The painstaking work of democracy-building requires a commitment to transparency – and where an unjust secrecy prevails, there must be full protection, support and solidarity for those who risk everything to speak out.
- We commend the many organisations and individuals that have shown solidarity and support to whistleblowers whose actions have exposed wrongdoing in government and business.
- We call on the South African government to make good on its promises to set up a whistleblower protection fund.
- We call for the reinstatement of the many whistleblowers who have lost their jobs for exposing their employers’ wrongdoing.
These demands were contained in a memorandum that Right2Know submitted to President Zuma on International Right to Know Day, 27 September 2012. The Presidency has not acknowledged these concerns, let alone acted on them. How many more whistleblowers must be silenced?