GOOD secretary-general and MP Brett Herron said that while whistleblowers are key in the fight against corruption, the country’s justice system continues to fail them when swift action is not taken against those implicated in wrongdoing.
The party pointed out that investigations and prosecutions relating to the instigators of the July 2021 insurrection appear to have made little progress, two years after the deadly violence erupted in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
Herron explained that whistleblowers risk their jobs and safety by coming forward and the current laws do not protect them.
In July 2021 over 300 people died in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, and the economic damage is estimated to be at least R50-billion.
It is believed the protests were sparked by the incarceration of former President Jacob Zuma but it soon turned into what appeared a well-orchestrated attack consisting of widespread arson, sabotage, looting and lawlessness.
“At the time Police Minister Bheki Cele said 12 instigators had been identified and would face the full might of the law. But two years later the real instigators have not been held accountable,” said Herron.
He noted that in August 2021, he handed over evidence to the Hawks implicating 26 alleged instigators.
“Whistleblowers in the African National Congress gave me evidence relating to three predominantly KwaZulu-Natal focused WhatsApp groups named ‘Ethekwini Shutdown’, ‘Ink Shutdown 10/07/2021’, and ‘Free Zuma Information’. I subsequently received further information relating to a Gauteng WhatsApp group named ‘Joburg Activists Home’," he explained.
Assisted by researchers and members of the public, Herron highlighted that his party has managed to identify 26 people who appeared to be participants in the violence and looting.
He said over the weekend government continued to pass the buck, with Cele saying at least 63 people had been arrested before referring the media to Justice Minister Ronald Lamola to ask why no one had been sentenced.
Herron said the 2021 July unrest is a grim reminder of how easily the tinder-box of South Africa’s inequality can be exploited for the instigation of lawlessness.
“We cannot rest until those who instigated the insurrection are brought to book. Nor can we ignore the persistent failure to address inequality and poverty,” he said.