The fraud and corruption trial of former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede and 21 others was delayed in the Durban High Court on Monday, after a reported weekend shooting at the house of a witness.
State prosecutor Ashika Lucken informed the court that the witness who was scheduled to begin her testimony was unable to do so.
“In the Zandile case, that witness is now sitting at home scared … the best way to get a prosecution in a fraud and corruption case to have someone who is embedded in the system, who is a eye witness to it to come forward.”
Whistleblowers play a crucial role in helping the authorities uncover corruption and other malpractices. Following several high profile cases where people have either been killed, dismissed from work or been threatened by those they have exposed, many South Africans have expressed reluctance to expose wrongdoing.
Last week, Justice Minister Ronald Lamola said his department has drafted several amendments to the Protected Disclosures to strengthen the protection of whistleblowers.
However, according to John Clarke, a social worker and justice monitor, the new whistleblower legislation should allow witnesses to receive incentives.
“I can imagine that the poor folk in the National Prosecuting Authority and in the police are tearing their hair out in exasperation because, it is a big trial, there is a lot of witnesses, a lot of accused and I know the expectation would be that this would a strong message of deterrence and that its no longer acceptable for people in political office to actually abuse their power in this way, so I have some empathy and support for them.”
VIDEO: Clarke on Zandile Gumede’s fraud and corruption trial: