Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has called for greater protection for whistleblowers, saying he fears they “won’t be around next time” if state capture occurs again.
Zondo was delivering the keynote address at News24’s On the Record summit in Johannesburg.
The commission has heard a significant amount of evidence from whistleblowers. If we do not protect these whistleblowers during state capture, they will be gone the next time. Others will not come forward because of how whistleblowers were treated. A large number of people are reporting corruption. “We must ensure that they are properly protected,” Zondo stated.
The audience applauded as Zondo stated that protecting whistleblowers was “critical” in combating state capture and corruption.
The chief justice also stated unequivocally that what the commission had discovered was state capture.
“Many of us gathered here, and those who have read on state capture, may be aware that a definition of state capture internationally includes changing laws and changing policies to benefit benefactors from public funds.”
“In the context of South Africa, the view we (Zondo Commission) took was to go back to the Public Protector’s report, and it became clear to us that when you go to that report, the main focus of what the Public Protector had in mind was that there were allegations that the Gupta family was exercising undue influence on the head of state.” “Because of their proximity to him (then-President Jacob Zuma), the Guptas influenced decisions in government and SOEs (state-owned enterprises) aimed at unlawfully enriching themselves and their entities from public funds,” said Zondo.
Given that the final part of the Zondo Commission’s report had been handed over to the president two months ago, the chief justice said it was necessary to have a platform such as News24’s On the Record summit to ventilate the commission’s findings. He also stated that various sectors of the country had had time to digest the report.
“It has been more than two months since the State Capture Commission handed over the final parts of its report into allegations of state capture, corruption, and fraud in the public sector, including state organs, to the president.”
“That makes it appropriate because we have had some time to reflect on some of the report’s positions on a matter that has been so important to our country, namely that our country was captured for private purposes and billions and billions of taxpayers’ money was stolen,” Zondo explained.
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