Today is the World Whistleblower Day, a day to commemorate whistleblowers that have suffered reprisals for their public interest disclosures.
While the spotlight tends to focus on more prominent whistleblowers like Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and others, we also have local heroes whose names hardly make it to the news headlines regardless of the intimidation they continue to face for exposing corruption.
One such person is R2K activist/leader Jacob Dube who is attending an arbitration hearing at the Department of Education in Pietermaritzburg today. Mr Dube, a teacher by profession blew the whistle in 2012 about systemic corruption by KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education officials.
His troubles started after he questioned the school’s decision to purchase “fake and hazardous brittle school furniture” from the acting principal’s friends in Verulam at inflated prices.
That’s when Mr. Dube’s salary was blocked and a hit on his life was attempted. Since then (June 2016), he has been on an extended sick leave.
In this country we have normalised corruption so much that we see outrageous attacks on whistleblowers — from corruption-busting municipal officials to crusaders against corporate crime. These courageous individuals are made out to be stooges and sell-outs, when in fact they are heroes in the fight against corruption and for accountability.
As R2K, we believe that the crisis facing whistleblowers has political as well as legal dimensions. The institutional culture in the private and public sectors must embrace whistleblowers as vital actors in our collective efforts to safeguard and deepen our democracy, not as ‘impimpis’, troublemakers and sell-outs. There is a great need for leadership from all state institutions, as well as the corporate sector, to show a commitment to promoting and protecting whistleblowing in our society.
Surveillance and Whistleblowers:
Over the past few years, we have witnessed how surveillance has been abused and thus exposed potential whistleblowers to unknown dangers. While the government is failing to protect whistleblowers, it has also made it difficult for them to report corruption anonymously.
Currently there are three cases relating to illegal surveillance of journalists. These include amaBhungane’s court challenge to the constitutionality of RICA, South Africa’s main surveillance law, under which one of their journalist’s communications was spied on.
Further, two Sunday Times journalists had their communications intercepted after a SAPS intelligence official got a warrant to monitor their phone numbers by lying to the RICA judge. All these journalists were investigating stories relating to criminal activities by government officials, including President Jacob Zuma’s corruption charges.
Advocate for whistleblowers:
We fully support fearless people like Mr Dube and we call on the department of Education to investigate and prosecute all those implicated in his case and for SAPS to finalise the investigations related to the hitmen.
We cannot allow criminals to operate with impunity. We must bring an end to the persecution of whistleblowers. We also call on all South Africans to defend their right to speak out!
Honor and celebrate South African whistleblowers who have made an important contribution to advancing the right to know. These are the people:
- Who have fought for and won access to information vital to advancing important socio-economic battles!
- Who have confronted the securitisation of the state or championed the right to protest!
- Who, at great personal risk, have brought important information to the public’s attention!
- Who are the courageous investigative journalists and media producers that have broken important stories!
We encourage South Africans to be inspired by our whistleblowers, to stand for the right to know. Feel free to contact the Open Democracy Advice Centre’s Whistleblowing Helpline on 0800 52 53 52 for advice and assistance.
Stand up to the abuse of power!
Phantsi nge Corruption!