Deputy Public Protector joins calls for whistleblowers to be incentivised

Deputy Public Protector Adv. Kevin Malunga on Wednesday joined calls for the consideration of incentives or “bounties” to encourage whistleblowing.

Speaking at the launch of the Anti-Intimidation and Ethical Practices Forum (AEPF) in Johannesburg, Adv. Malunga said South Africa has not made it worth it for people to whistleblow, given the risks involved.

He said whistleblowers were often subjected to retaliation, including intimidation, harassment, dismissal or violence at the hands of their colleagues or superiors, making the practice of reporting wrongdoing an unpleasant occurrence.

Adv. Malunga cited, among others, the case of Mpumalanga government official, Jimmy Mohlala, who was shot and killed after lifting the lid on alleged corrupt practices involving a 2010 FIFA World Cup construction project.

Often, victims of this retaliatory action included financial accounting professionals such as auditors, he said.

“My simple premise ultimately is that we really have to not made it worth people’s while to be whistleblowers … It is (merely) something you do for the love of your country, out of patriotic fervour,” Adv. Malunga said.

Currently, he explained, only risks,honesty and national pride were associated with being a whistleblower.

Adv. Malunga noted that other countries added incentives to the equation to encourage whistleblowing in the same way the police use the reward system for leads in criminal investigations.

He gave an example of a case in the United States where a whistleblower was rewarded with US$64 million – in terms of that country’s False Claims Act – for providing information about wrongdoing which led to the state recovering US$610 million. He suggested that modest monetary incentives (e.g amounts of R5000, R10 000, R50 000) would encourage whistleblowing, depending on the gravity of the offence or extent of the fraud committed against the state.

Noting that South Africa’s Protected Disclosures Act – a piece of legislation that seeks to protect whistleblowers - was undergoing amendments to address the various gaps identified in the law, Adv. Malunga said incentives for would be whistleblowers should be given serious considerations.

He hailed the establishment of the AEPF, saying there was a pressing and urgent need to empower whistleblowers and deal with intimidation while strengthening people and institutions.

The AEPF is made up of professional bodies in fields of governance, accounting, auditing, business, risk management and related fields.

The bodies have joined forces in a bid to fight corruption by encouraging responsible whistle-blowing and advocating for a more enabling environment for protected disclosures, among other things.

Among its founders are the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners of SA (ACFESA), Crime Line, Ethics Institute of SA (EthicsSA), Institute of Directors of Southern Africa (IoDSA), Institute of Internal Auditors of SA (IIA SA), Institute of Risk Management of SA (IRMSA), SA Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) and SA Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA).

It aims to work closely with the offices of the Auditor-General, National Treasury, the Public Protector and Corruption Watch, amongst others, in its quest to mobilise professionals against malfeasance and corruption.

For more information, contact:

Oupa Segalwe
Acting Spokesperson
Public Protector South Africa
(012) 366 7035
072 264 3273

Published Date: 
Wednesday, January 28, 2015