Durban -Corruption fighter Thabiso Zulu says he has come to accept his fate and is “not worried” about losing his life because his party and the state have failed to provide security for him - and other whistle-blowers - despite months of pleading for protection.
The threats on his life escalated after his testimony at the Moerane Commission into political killings in the province.
Zulu started his activism in 2010. The death threats started late last year after he spoke out at a memorial service for slain Sindiso Magaqa, who had exposed corruption in Umzimkhulu Municipality.
“I named and shamed people and revealed who I gave information to and who did nothing about it. I offended many people by revealing things that were discussed in private with me,” he said.
Magaqa had provided Zulu with information on the millions that were missing from the Umzimkhulu Hall project.
“It was around the time I was providing documents to different law enforcement agencies, Sars and National Treasury about corruption regarding this hall that I started to sense a political intolerance around people who raised issues of corruption,” he said.
Zulu said he wrote to the Hawks, telling them the stolen money would be used to pay hit men if they did not move quickly on these cases.
Since his outburst at Magaqa’s memorial, Zulu says he has been followed by vehicles, his phone calls and messages have been intercepted and he has received tips from intelligence officers that plans to have him killed were afoot.
Zulu reported the threats and pleaded with law enforcement agencies for protection - a motion supported by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, who raised concerns for his and others’ safety.
He has participated in threat assessments by the State Security Agency but still has not been provided with protection.
He said he met former president Jacob Zuma, who said he would speak to former state security minister David Mahlobo about getting protection, and most recently with Police Minister Bheki Cele.
In February, Zulu said he received a call from a Kokstad Crime Intelligence officer and another from an intelligence officer at a national level. They told him to not attend a family wedding as they had information about a plot to kill him at the event.
Zulu said he told only one person about his plans to attend the wedding and that’s how he knew that his and his friends’ calls were being monitored. He did not attend the wedding.
Early this month, Zulu was on his way home on foot when he noticed a white car parked near his home, obviously trying to remain out of sight.
“The man in the back seat opened the door and the interior light went on and gave away their hiding spot. I looked up and they sped off so fast the tyres made a loud screeching sound,” Zulu said.
The Dublin-based Front Line Defenders, which defends human rights activists, made an appeal on behalf of Zulu for his safety.
Zulu is known for successfully exposing a number of corruption-related matters. His exposés on corrupt municipal and departmental officials have led to two convictions and a number of other arrests, including that of a former municipal manager and a former mayor.
“What kind of country is this where international groups are lobbying for our safety, yet the country does nothing? The ANC says we must fight corruption, but they are not able to protect us when we do. How can they protect a country?” Zulu asked.
In November, crime and violence monitor Mary de Haas tipped police management and the Moerane Commission about a plan to assassinate Zulu and his colleague, uMzimkhulu ANC activist Les Stuta.
“No one appears to be providing any assistance to Mr Zulu insofar as his safety is concerned,” De Haas said.