In August it will be two years since Babita Deokaran was gunned down outside her home. She was killed because she was in the process of telling the truth about the theft of public money in the Gauteng Department of Health. As acting Chief Financial Officer in the Department she was in the perfect place to see what was happening. According to media investigations of her killing she knew that she was in danger, but went ahead anyway. So far no one had been arrested for her murder.
There is no doubt that this way of dealing with whistle blowers is effective. Not many of us have the courage to do the right thing, if we know we are going to die for it. Bianca Goodson, former CEO of Trillian Management Consulting, blew the whistle on dirty dealings between her company and Eskom and Transnet. She took the step before Deokaran’s assassination, and has survived. She told the Zondo Commission that, if Deokaran had been killed before she blew the whistle, she may never have taken that step.
Telling uncomfortable truths is not applauded in the corridors of power. When acting police commissioner General Mkhwanazi and officers on his staff revealed how the secret services account had been plundered by members of Crime Intelligence Division, he was frustrated by political interference. He was rewarded for his commitment to truth and clean governance by being passed over when a permanent police commissioner had to be found. Instead of him, one of government’s own, who had no policing experience of any kind and did not last long in the job, was appointed.
Excepting those perpetrators who are getting rich from the proceeds of their criminality, we all agree that we have to eradicate corruption. But those innocent people on the inside, who have the knowledge of what is happening, are faced with the real possibility of being killed. And the killers are faced with the comforting thought that an arrest for this kind of crime is a rarity.
If we look for the reason for police failure, two possibilities stand out. The first is that the police detectives are simply incompetent. We have people in those positions who are not capable of doing their work, and should all be fired. The other possibility is that investigations are often blocked at a higher level. In other words, corruption looks after its own. Those higher up will lose the proceeds of their corruption and be embarrassed, even jailed, if the whistle blower has his or her way.
Personally, I do not believe the police are that incompetent. We need to look for the reason for their failure in the latter option.