Whistleblower Athol Williams flees country fearing for his life, cites Babita Deokaran assassination

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Athol Williams. (PHOTO: SIPHESIHLE NOTWABAZA)
Athol Williams. (PHOTO: SIPHESIHLE NOTWABAZA)
  • Former UCT ethics lecturer Athol Williams has fled the country.
  • He left the country following concerns over his safety.
  • Williams blew the whistle on companies and individuals involved in state capture and testified before the Zondo Commission. 

Former University of Cape Town (UCT) ethics lecturer Athol Williams says he's been forced to leave the country over fears for his safety after he blew the whistle on companies and individuals involved in state capture.

In a statement, Williams confirmed that he had left the country on 1 November.

Rather than diminish after I testified, these concerns increased while the prospect of prosecutions grew. After Babita Deokaran was assassinated, concerns spiked, because it showed that authorities were choosing not to proactively protect whistleblowers.

"Knowing that my government offers me no protection after I've acted in the public interest is a disturbing reality. I implicated 39 parties in my testimony so threats could come from many places. After receiving warnings from trusted allies and a civil society organisation about a coordinated effort against me, I took the sad step to leave home, again without any help."

Williams added that he had spoken up continuously about injustices in South Africa and taken action where he could. 

However, rather than support him, he claimed that he faced alienation and abandonment by corporate South Africa where he served for many years, from the university where he taught ethics, and from government; and that he'd also been let down by friends.

In June, Williams alleged that UCT offered him money in the hopes that he would stop asking whether it used companies caught up in state capture allegations.  

READ | UCT denies offering State Capture Inquiry whistleblower 'hush money'

However, UCT denied the claims, saying that Williams was distorting facts and that it had tried its best to accommodate his concerns. 

Williams said: "It's a tragedy that those who choose to do the right thing have their lives shattered while everyone looks on. We all need to act to fix this tragedy."

He added that South African companies and government at local, provincial and national level had let down whistleblowers and witnesses. 

"They have let down all South Africans, preferring empty statements and platitudes over sincerity and authenticity. We are losing our battle against corruption because our government is allowing it, if not participating in it."

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