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n Tydskrif vir die Suid-Afrikaanse Reg - Fluitjieblasers - is dit die huidige regering se erns?
Whistleblowers - is the present government serious about protecting them?
This article is in honour of Prof George Barrie, a long time colleague and friend.
In administrative law and especially in labour law the term "whistleblowing" is used to denote the disclosure by a person of some irregularity or crime, usually in the workplace. The Protected Disclosures Act 26 of 2000 introduced into our law a set of rules for the protection of whistleblowers against dismissal, victimisation, etc. The purpose of the act, inter alia, is to create a culture of disclosing criminal acts and other irregularities. Another purpose is to promote the eradication of criminal and other irregular conduct in organs of state and private bodies.
To answer the question posed in the heading, a case is discussed of which writer hereof has first-hand experience. The case deals with T, a deputy director-general in a state department, who disclosed to the news media that his boss, the minister, was guilty of certain criminal acts and irregularities. Instead of investigating the allegations, the department chose to suspend T and then charged him in a disciplinary hearing. T was found not guilty on all the charges. The ratio for this was that T was bona fide, that he had reason to believe that the disclosure was substantially true and that he further complied with all the requirements of the act for a protected disclosure. T was reinstated. Such finding meant that the suspension and disciplinary action were occupational detriments in terms of the act. An occupational detriment is defined in the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995 as an unfair labour practice. Despite this, the department refused to compensate T. This obliged T to approach the labour court for relief and the case is still pending.
This experience convinced the writer that the government is not serious about its avowed intention to protect whistleblowers.
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