‘The law is only for those who bow the knee to corruption’ – NGO on murder of whistleblowers

  • An NGO has spoken out about attacks on whistleblowers.
  • The organisation bemoaned the assassinations of Babita Deokaran and Lindokuhle Mnguni.
  • It said those who bow to corruption were favoured in South Africa.

A non-governmental organisation (NGO), which champions good governance, has spoken out about the attacks on whistleblowers.

The Southern African Institute for Responsive and Accountable Governance (Sairag) highlighted the assassination of Babita Deokaran and the chairperson of the Abahlali baseMjondolo commune, Lindokuhle Mnguni.

This week, Deokaran was remembered in an emotional memorial, one year after she was shot and killed after dropping her child off at school.

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On Saturday morning, Mnguni, who was a well-known KwaZulu-Natal community activist and leader, was shot dead.

The chairperson of Sairag, Tseliso Thipanyane, said those who speak “truth to power find ourselves excluded from the protection and benefit of the law”.

READ | ‘We expected more’: Babita Deokaran’s killing and govt’s inaction covers Makhura, Ramaphosa in shame

Thipanyane described Mnguni as a dedicated leader in the Cato Manor area of Durban, where he represented shack dwellers.

He is the third leader of the commune to be assassinated this year.

Mnguni spoke at the funeral of Ayanda Ngila, the Abahlali deputy chairperson, who was murdered on 8 March.

Ngila’s death was followed by the assassination of Nokuthula Mabaso on 5 May.

Mabaso, who was described as “another fearless leader”, was due to testify against Ngila’s alleged killer in court. She was killed in front of her children by gunmen who shot her six times.

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“The ongoing and concerted attempt to destabilise and exterminate Abahlali baseMjondolo illustrates how feared this progressive, grassroots movement is.

“Abahlali has, in the face of fierce resistance, continued to fight for the landless by establishing communes, where those excluded from the formal economy have found acceptance and inclusion,” Thipanyane said.

He said the communes that Abahlali establish “are truly a model of people’s power, where words are meaningless, and actions speak on their behalf”.

READ | Babita Deokaran: She died ‘doing the right thing’ – family remembers whistleblower 1 year later

“Sairag is of the opinion that the continued assassination of leaders of this internationally recognised and revolutionary organisation cannot be anything but politically motivated and enabled.

“At a time when human rights defenders and whistleblowers across the country are under attack, it is sadly no surprise that the comrades of Abahlali enjoy no protection or benefit of the law.”

Thipanyane said:

Having noted with sadness the attacks on the likes Babita Deokaran, the one-year anniversary of whose murder we commemorated [on Wednesday], Sairag is forced to conclude that the law is only for those who bow the knee to corruption and graft.

Thipanyane lauded Abahlali baseMjondolo’s efforts to fight for land and housing for the poor.

“They have done so in the face of a concerted campaign to stop them and at great cost to themselves and their families. Their bravery and principled stance in the face of death reminds us of those who have gone before and who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of freedom.”

Gauteng health authorities only launched an investigation into Deokaran’s work following a News24 probe.

The department has since come under fire after the investigation revealed a shocking abuse of state funds, amounting to hundreds of millions of rands.