Are whistle-blowers protected as they take on South African’s corruption crisis?
South Africa is experiencing a corruption crisis and whistle-blowers could play a crucial role in addressing this. But the socio-political context is hostile to whistle-blowing and South Africans who witness fraud and corruption often prefer to remain silent for fear of reprisal.
On 5th November 2020, former South Africa Airways (SAA) board chair, Dudu Myeni, revealed the identity of an anonymous whistle-blower who had given evidence in camera at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture. The Commission had ordered the protection of the identity of the whistle-blower, dubbed “Mr X”, in February this year. Despite repeated warnings not to, Myeni named the whistle-blower several times in response to allegations put to her by Advocate Kate Hofmeyr. Hofmeyr addressed the Commission, submitting that Myeni’s conduct amounted to a willful obstruction of the Commission in the performance of its function and could deter future whistle-blowers. Disregard of protections afforded to whistle-blowers threatens the drive to eradicate corruption in South Africa. With an already hostile environment for whistle-blowing, failure to enforce these protections will allow the culture of corruption and looting to fester.