2009-01-07 00:00

A senior ANC official, Jimmy Mohlala, the speaker of the Mbombela Municipality, was shot dead in his Nelspruit house on Sunday night and his son was wounded in the attack. Indications are that the killing is related to Mohlala’s having blown the whistle last year on alleged corruption in a 2010 construction project.

It was reported at the time that some ANC members, far from applauding Mohlala’s bid to expose and eliminate corruption, turned on him, attempting to cover up his report and demanding that he be sacked. This thoroughly nasty response flies in the face of the ruling party’s vaunted crusade against corruption, and in itself strikes a blow against democracy.

Even if the police and judicial system move as swiftly as they should to identify, apprehend, prosecute and convict those responsible, the Mohlala story will give other would-be informants pause. Why step up to blow the whistle on corrupt officials if by so doing one puts one’s own life in danger? This tragedy points up the fact that if the government is really serious about the rooting out of corruption, its policy on corruption urgently needs to be more clearly defined, and provision must be made to encourage and protect whistle-blowers so that they can come forward with confidence and without fear of reprisal.

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