Protection for SA’s anti-corruption witnesses


SOUTH Africa’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU), which is probing corruption running into billions, involving multiple COVID-19-related contracts, has put in place measures to protect over 320 witnesses.

The extraordinary measures follow the assassination this week of Babita Doekaran, a witness in a R332-million investigation. Five men have been arrested in connection with the murder of  Doekaran, who was a senior official in the Gauteng Department of Health. Unconfirmed reports said some of the suspects have confessed to the killing.

In a statement, the SIU said the murder of Deokaran will not affect or compromise the ongoing PPE investigation in the Gauteng Department of Health. 

“The SIU is committed to finalising all PPE tender corruption investigations, hold those responsible for procurement irregularities and corruption to account, and to recover any financial losses suffered by the State. Like many South Africans, government and civil society, the SIU is concerned about the safety of whistleblowers, witnesses and SIU investigators.

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“The SIU has put measures in place to ensure the safety of witnesses and whistleblowers. Furthermore, the SIU encourage witnesses to come forward and inform SIU investigators should they feel unsafe or should there be any threat to them so that steps can be taken to protect them including invoking the Witness Protection Program that Government has in place,” the SIU said.

The organisation said internally, it was assessing and considering further measures that would be put in place to secure its investigators over and above the measures that are already in place with the SAPS.

“The murder of Ms Deokaran should not deter South Africans and public servants from reporting allegations of corruption, malpractice, greed and maladministration in the affairs government departments, municipalities and State Owned Entities. It is through the reporting of procurement irregularities and corruption in the public sector that we can protect the public purse and ensure that public purse serves the interest of the public,” said the SIU.

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