On September 12, 2023, the TSB, in collaboration with the Whistleblowers House and the Business Ethics Network of Africa (BEN-Africa), hosted a highly successful webinar on whistleblowing in South Africa. The webinar, moderated by Professor Tumo Kele, brought together a panel of experts, including Patricia Mashale, a SAPS whistleblower; Dr. Liezl Groenewald, representing The Whistleblower House; and Nico Vorster from Absa Priority Investigations & Whistleblowing Team.
The webinar explored the theme "Mitigating Fear of the Whistleblower: Perspectives from the Rockface," initiating a robust and positive dialogue on the invaluable role whistleblowers play in South Africa and the numerous challenges they confront.
Platform for Discussion and Change
The webinar served as a crucial platform for discussion, education, and advocacy for whistleblowers and their rights in South Africa. By collaborating with experts who have experienced the complexities of whistleblowing firsthand, the event aimed to provide a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by those who choose to speak out against wrongdoing. The discussion was insightful and empowering, highlighting the significance of whistleblowers in safeguarding ethics, integrity, and accountability in various sectors.
Panellists and Insights
Patricia Mashale (SAPS Whistleblower): Mashale's firsthand experience as a whistleblower within the South African Police Service provided a unique perspective. She shared her journey, the difficulties she encountered, and the importance of whistleblower protection. Her presence was a testament to the bravery of those who risk their careers and sometimes their safety to expose wrongdoing.
Dr. Liezl Groenewald (The Whistleblower House): Groenewald, representing The Whistleblower House, shed light on the vital support structures available to whistleblowers. Her insights underscored the importance of having dedicated institutions that can provide guidance, protection, and advocacy for those who come forward.
Nico Vorster (Absa Priority Investigations & Whistleblowing Team): Vorster's presence emphasized the commitment of the corporate sector to whistleblowing. He shared insights into how organizations like Absa are implementing whistleblowing programs to encourage employees to report misconduct without fear of retaliation.
Importance of Whistleblowers
The webinar emphasized the vital role that whistleblowers play in ensuring transparency, accountability, and ethical conduct within organizations and government institutions. Whistleblowers act as the conscience of society, bringing hidden misdeeds to light and helping to safeguard the interests of the public and employees alike.
Challenges Faced by Whistleblowers
The discussion also highlighted the severe challenges that whistleblowers often face, including potential threats to their safety, professional isolation, and legal and financial repercussions. These hurdles underscore the need for comprehensive legal protection and support systems to ensure that those who speak out are not unduly harmed.
The success of this webinar demonstrated the growing awareness and support for whistleblowers in South Africa. It showcased that change is possible through constructive dialogues and collaboration between organizations, legal bodies, and individuals. By acknowledging the critical role whistleblowers play and addressing the challenges they encounter, South Africa can foster a more ethical, accountable, and transparent society.
The TSB's webinar, in partnership with the Whistleblowers House and BEN-Africa, provided a platform for open dialogue and constructive solutions to empower and protect whistleblowers. As the nation grapples with issues of corruption and misconduct, recognizing the courage and contributions of whistleblowers is a significant step towards a more just and ethical society.