Civil servant and Samwu worker, shot and killed after reporting corruption concerns about Bloem Water to the Hawks and Public Protector.
By the time he was gunned down in Bloemfontein’s Hillside township in September 2014, Xola Banisi had taken his concerns about corruption to the Public Protector and the Hawks, and had even contacted journalists at amaBhungane (the M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism).
Banisi suspected large-scale corruption involving two service providers at Bloem Water, the parastatal where he worked in the human resources department. He was also a Samwu shop steward.
After he raised these concerns, Bloem Water officials reportedly began interrogating junior staff members to discover the identity of the whistleblower.
His brother, Bernard Banisi believed that it was a hit because on several occasions Xola had told him that he was receiving death threats. Bernard describes his brother as a principled person and a SAMWU shop steward.
According to Bernard:
Xola came to consult me, and said, “I am so uncomfortable with these fictitious invoices.”
He said to me, “What should I do?” I said to him, “The old man, our uncle [a Robben Islander], said we are living in a world where you have to choose. You tell the truth for your own comfort or you lie for your own benefit. You then choose.”
He chose not to lie. That was his problem.
Xola’s body was found next to his car outside his girlfriend’s house, on Friday close to midnight. He had been shot three times. Robbery did not appear to be the motive, as none of Xola’s possessions seemed to have been removed and his car keys and cellphone were found next to him.
There were bullet holes in the driver’s side window, giving the impression that the assailant had fired the first shots at the car. It appeared that Xola was shot dead while trying to escape. Samwu’s Free State secretary, Dumisane Magagula, said the murder comes as a huge blow, as Xola was central to the union’s efforts to investigate allegations of corruption at Bloem Water, which provides water services to the southern and central areas of the Free State.
No arrests have to date been made in relation to Xola’s murder.
Xola Banisi was featured in R2K’s 2015 Whistleblower Calendar, with the blessing of the Banisi family. Find out more at r2k.org.za/whistleblower-calendar-2015