Monday, September 11, 2023

South African bishops laud whistleblowers who expose corruption

Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference | Pretoria

Members of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC) have lauded corruption “whistleblowers” in South Africa.

In a statement shared with ACI Africa on Friday, September 1, SACBC members liken entities and persons who have exposed corruption, including civil societies and activists to John the Baptist.

“We gratefully acknowledge your contribution to the disclosure of corruption in government departments, municipalities, and state-owned companies heard by the Zondo Commission,” they say.

Catholic Bishops of the three-nation Conference, including Botswana, Eswatini, and South Africa express their support for those who have denounced the vice of corruption, saying, “We stand with whistleblowers who have raised concerns about the delays being made by the National Prosecution Authority in holding to account the people and the businesses that the Zondo Commission recommended for prosecution.”

 “Successful prosecution in cases of corruption has often been made possible through your contribution as whistle-blowers. You are a threat to those whose god has become their stomachs and are doing their best to let corruption define the character of our country. Thank you for standing up against them,” SACBC members say in the statement following their August 14 to 18 plenary.


In the two-page statement that SACBC President, Bishop Sithembele Sipuka of Mthatha Diocese, signed, the Catholic Church leaders laud the whistleblowers in South Africa for the “gift of courage and self-sacrifice”, which they say “the country currently needs in abundance.”

To reward the whistleblowers, SACBC members say that their sacrifice to unearth the corrupt should not be in vain. They add in reference to the book of Philippians, “We are confident that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Some of the whistleblowers have suffered discrimination and dismissal and some have been killed, “leaving behind families in pain and with unanswered questions, particularly when the state fails to prosecute those who killed them,” they lament in their statement shared with ACI Africa September 1.

The SACBC members encourage the whistleblowers not to relent in their prophetic stance, saying, “The heavy price that you are paying is not going unnoticed, and it is not in vain. Thanks to your courage, society is waking up to the evil of corruption and is opposing it.”

The Catholic Bishops show their solidarity with the whistleblowers by welcoming “the contemplated legal reforms and the proposals of civil society” that they say seek to protect the prophetic groups and individuals from retribution.

They also say they support the legal reforms about “the provision of specialized courts for whistleblowing cases, the provision of legal aid and creation of funding to cover the legal costs of whistleblowers.”

“We appeal to the Justice Department to find a way to protect whistleblowers in the interim while the laws are being reviewed,” say SACBC members who include Catholic Bishops in Botswana, Eswatini, and South Africa.

They express optimism that the proposed legal reforms on those denouncing corruption that South Africa’s Department of Justice is pursuing will yield fruits for “improved safety and protection of whistleblowers.”