The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) Women’s Brigade has called for more protection of whistleblowers after the Springs Magistrates’ Court heard that Eskom employee Thembisile Yende was killed for allegedly trying to expose illegal activities at Eskom.
In a statement, IFP Women’s Brigade chairperson, Thembeni Madlopha-Mthethwa, said: “Whistleblowers require more protection to encourage them to speak out about wrongdoings after a string of scandals across the public and private sectors.
“Reports into public scandals and tragedies reveal that those who would wish to blow the whistle are prevented or discouraged from so doing and that those who have blown the whistle are not listened to or are punished and even killed.”
Yende’s decomposed body was found in her office at the Eskom Pieterboth Substation in Struisbult last month, two weeks after she was reported missing.
“They play a crucial role when it comes to fighting money laundering, fraud or corruption. We have to weigh carefully what is the best way forward and on which level we should act to better protect them,” said Madlopha-Mthethwa.
“In scandal after scandal, we have seen just how important whistleblowers are in protecting democracy and the public interest. Yet, as thanks for this public service, they often face death or retrenchments.
“We need iron-clad, enforceable protections for whistleblowers, and we need a public record of success stories. When someone becomes a whistleblower, they’re making a serious, conscious decision.
“Despite their critical role in uncovering corruption and other malpractice, too often people who speak up in the public interest face threats, intimidation and lawsuits. If whistleblowers are afraid to bring information to the authorities for fear of prosecution, they will stay silent, taking money out of taxpayers’ pockets, and making the super-rich even wealthier,” said Madlopha-Mthethwa.
The IFPWB said they commended the courage shown by Yende to stand against corruption by trying to expose allegedly dirty dealings in her workplace, but unfortunately had resulted in her life being cut short by someone whom she trusted.
The brigade encouraged other workers to follow suit and not to be put off by Yende’s death.
“In addition, the IFPWB urges the law to take is course to ensure that her killer receives punishment that is fitting with such a crime as such monsters have no place in our society.”