Active Citizens Movement writes to Zondo, recommends changes to whistleblower legislation

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Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, chairperson of the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture.
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, chairperson of the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture.
Felix Dlangamandla
  • The Active Citizens Movement has written to the state capture inquiry to call for changes to whistleblower legislation.
  • The movement recommends setting up a fund, with recovered stolen monies, for the benefit of whistleblowers.
  • Several whistleblowers have faced a backlash and, in some cases, death for coming forward with information about corruption.

The Active Citizens Movement (ACM) has written to the judicial commission of inquiry into state capture to suggest amendments to legislation to protect whistleblowers.

The commission has heard testimonies from several whistleblowers.

ACM spokesperson Yashica Padia said in a letter to Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, who heads the commission, that it proposed several amendments to the Protected Disclosures Act of 2000.

"The organisation believes that the plight of the whistleblower and the lack of legal protection and personal support is a matter of extreme importance, as whistleblowers make huge sacrifices when calling out malfeasance and corruption."

The ACM proposed that legislation should broaden the definition of a whistleblower and provide specialised courts for whistleblowing cases.

Other changes they want are:

  • Introducing fines and penalties for employers found guilty of harassing and intimidating whistleblowers. They should pay the fines in their personal capacity.
  • Providing witness protection mechanisms for whistleblowers.
  • Creating an appropriate funding mechanism to cover the legal costs of whistleblowers.
  • Providing incentives for whistleblowers to come forward, through the creation of a fund derived from the recovery of stolen monies.
  • Formulating a code of conduct for companies and state departments to standardise and regulate the processing of whistleblower complaints and the fair treatment of whistleblowers. 

Padia said most whistleblowers experienced "harassment, intimidation and ill-treatment, including being sidelined, or would find themselves subjected to a disciplinary hearing or criminal charges" after coming out with damning information.

She added that whistleblowers were often dismissed because of the power imbalances, while implicated officials continued unscathed or were placed on suspension with full pay.

She wrote: 

In some extreme cases, public campaigns are waged against a whistleblower with 'revelations' leaked to the media about their personal lives, including death threats. Without exception, every single whistleblower has had to defend themselves in litigation with limited or no funds. By contrast, their 'opponent' has had unlimited access to legal representation, funded by the state or the company.

Recently, a Transnet official – known as Witness 1 – was shot at eight times in Meredale, Johannesburg. Witness 1 survived the attack. Last August, he testified before the commission.

He spoke about how former Transnet CEO Brian Molefe had received cash from the Guptas in a brown leather backpack.

After the attack, Zondo said: "I just want to say it is most concerning that some in our society continue to intimidate and attack those who assist this commission."

In another case, former Trillian executive Bianca Goodson cried at the commission when she told Zondo she was a "walking evidence docket".

She joined whistleblowers like Martha Ngoye, Mosilo Mothepu and Suzanne Daniels, who have all testified before Zondo about how being a whistleblower had been to the detriment of their career, families and mental health.

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