South Africa President  Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture credit:
South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture credit:

‘Why no protection for whistle-blowers?’

By Kailene Pillay Time of article published Dec 3, 2018

Share this article:

Durban - The UN Special Rapporteur who deals with human rights issues has written to President Cyril Ramaphosa, asking why the public protector’s recommendations on security intervention for corruption fighter Thabiso Zulu and other whistle-blowers have not been implemented.

The Special Rapporteur wrote to the government in September for clarification and details on the steps taken to begin carrying out an investigation aimed at bringing those responsible for subjecting Zulu to threats, intimidation and surveillance to justice.

The UN gave Ramaphosa 60 days to respond, after which their communication would be made public.

According to Zulu, there has been no response to the UN and no interventions have been taken to protect him and other whistle-blowers.

Spokesperson in the Presidency Khusela Diko had not responded to enquiries by the time of publication.

Zulu is a former ANC youth leader who has been spilling the beans on government corruption. He has been subjected to threats and intimidation since late last year after giving evidence to the Moerane Commission of Inquiry that was tasked with investigating political killings in the province.

Threats against Zulu were made public in a series of news articles in local and international media, including the New York Times.

The Special Rapporteur asked the government to indicate what measures had been taken to ensure that human rights defenders were able to carry out their legitimate work “in an enabling environment without fear of threats or intimidation of any kind”.

The correspondence was signed by four UN experts from the Special Rapporteur group, including David Kaye (Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion or expression).

In the letter to Ramaphosa, the UN expressed grave concern at the ongoing threats against Zulu.

They expressed particular concern in light of the public protector’s report, which the UN said “not only identified the real and potentially imminent threat to Zulu’s life, but also uncovered the state’s abject failure to provide him with protection despite their knowledge of this mortal threat”.

“We would like to highlight that basic protections are critical to an effective right to freedom of expression, the public’s right to know, accountability and democratic governance. When threats and intimidation are condoned or perpetrated by authorities, they consolidate a culture of silence, secrecy and fear within institutions and beyond,” the letter stated.

The UN urged that all necessary interim measures be taken to halt the alleged violations against Zulu and others and prevent their recurrence.

Public Protector Busiswe Mkhwebane’s report found that failure by the minister of police to provide security protection for Zulu and fellow corruption whistle-blower Les Stuta exposed them to the risk of being assassinated.

Mkhwebane also found that it exposed the SAPS to legal claims and financial losses as their families could decide to claim against the government for damages for the loss of lives should they be assassinated.

The Mercury

Share this article: