Johannesburg (Agenzia Fides) - "We applaud you for the gift of courage and self-sacrifice in denouncing the corruption in the country", said the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC), which also brings together the Bishops from Botswana and Eswatini, on the role of 'whistleblowers' (referring to employees of a public body or company who report wrongdoing). "We assure you of our continued solidarity and prayers… We applaud you for the gift of courage and self-sacrifice as whistleblowers. Your example of sacrificing self-interests and comfort for the sake of the common good is something our country currently needs in abundance", say the SACBC Bishops, who are urging the Justice Department to "find a way to protect whistleblowers"
"Our hope and prayer are that the proposed legal reforms on whistleblowers recently released by the Department of Justice will soon translate into effective action for improved safety and protection of whistleblowers", the bishops said.
So-called whistleblowers were crucial to the investigations conducted by the so-called “Zondo” commission. Officially called the Official Commission of Inquiry", the commission, which deals with allegations of "state capture" (i.e. systemic political corruption in which private interests influence the decision-making processes of a state), bribery and fraud in the public sector, was in January 2018 among other things established at the request of Father Stanislaus Muyebe, Vicar General of the Dominican Order in Southern Africa, and Director of the "Justice and Peace" Commission of the SACBC. The investigation focused on the relationship between former President Jacob Zuma and the Gupta family: it was suspected that the former President had sold senior ministerial posts in exchange for bargain deals and contracts. As of December 2020, the commission had interviewed a total of 278 witnesses and collected 159,109 pages of evidence. The first part of the report was published on January 4, 2022. The fifth and final part was released on June 22, 2022. In addition to identifying specific individuals to be criminally charged, further investigation or other sanctions, the report makes key recommendations for systemic reforms to improve and transform South Africa's anti-corruption landscape. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 4/9/2023)