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Calls to protect South African whistleblower after killing WGN Radio 720

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — An accountant working on a high-profile corruption case was killed along with his son by an unidentified gunman while traveling on one of South Africa’s major highways. A government health official who warned of nearly $50 million in illegal trafficking was shot 12 times in the driveway of his home.

In killings and other cases, anti-corruption groups have called on South African authorities to provide better protection for whistleblowers. has fueled anger over widespread corruption related to , which does not seem to abate.

The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime counted a total of 1,971 assassinations in South Africa between 2000 and 2021, with whistleblowers making up the majority of targeted individuals.

A professional accountant and liquidator, 57-year-old Cloete Murray worked on the financial accounts of a company suspected of bribing government officials and others to win huge state contracts.

Formerly known as Bosasa and now named African Global Holdings, the company was accused of government and other high-level corruption by the Zondo Commission from 2008 to 2019, during the trial of President Jacob Zuma. It was one of the most important subjects of judicial investigation. About another corruption allegation.

Murray was shot in the head while driving an SUV with his son on the N1 highway outside Johannesburg in March. he died in the hospital. A son, Thomas Murray, who worked with his father, was pronounced dead at the scene. Police said the murder had the characteristics of a professional attack.

South Africa’s anti-corruption organization Corruption Watch said the murders of the Murrays were further evidence that the country was facing a “rule of law crisis”.

“Levels of public confidence in law enforcement capacity have plummeted to all-time lows, not to mention the political will to hold criminals and corrupt people accountable,” said Callum B., executive director of Corruption Watch. Shin said. “As the most recent example, the brazen murder of Chloete Murray and his son sends a chilling and menacing message to those seeking to end impunity for corruption and crime. It must mean that the tide is turning.”

The death of Gauteng health department employee Babitha Deokalan already highlights the dangers of South African whistleblowers. Her August 2021 murder was described as an assassination. Six men were charged with murder for her murder.

Deokaran has spoken out about possible fraudulent payments by the Ministry of Health to more than 200 businesses and was a key witness in an investigation by the country’s Anti-Corruption Special Investigation Unit into contracts worth more than $45 million. .

She was shot multiple times in her car shortly after dropping off her daughter at school, and her story became a rallying call.

Deokaran’s murder spurred another corruption whistleblower, Atholl Williams, to leave the country, he said. Williams testified before the Zond Commission that about 39 parties were involved in corruption at the country’s tax authority, the South African Revenue Service. Williams, a former partner at consulting firm Bain & Co, has also accused Bain of allegations about tax authorities.

He testified out of a sense of civic duty, but said that despite the material evidence he provided, no protection was offered and that he would not return to his home country unless his safety was assured.

“Combined with the lack of assurances of my safety by the government and the fact that the parties I was involved in have not been prosecuted, it seems unlikely that I will return. This is heartbreaking,” he said. Williams said in an interview with the Associated Press. “Calling on citizens to risk their lives for their country and failing to offer protection in the face of retaliation is the lowest form of unethical conduct.”

South Africa’s Justice Department did not respond to messages seeking comment on Williams’ experience and general policy on whistleblower protection. and acknowledged the need for reinforcement.

This week, the former head of the state-owned power company, which went bankrupt due to poor management and corruption, said he attended parliamentary hearings virtually from an “undisclosed location” out of fear for his safety.

Andre de Reuter has spoken out about corruption linked to governments and others in the public utility, saying on Wednesday that unnamed sources who gave him information are threatening their lives.

He also claims that he was targeted for life when his coffee was laced with cyanide, but survived.

“Suspicious criminal and illegal activity includes elements that are best characterized as organized crime,” De Reuter said.


More AP Africa news: https://apnews.com/hub/africa

https://wgnradio.com/news/international/after-killings-calls-to-protect-s-africas-whistleblowers/ Calls to protect South African whistleblower after killing WGN Radio 720

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