08 December 2009

ODAC defends the rights of Whistleblowers

The Open Democracy Advice Centre (ODAC), an organisation close to SAHA and a member of our PAIA Civil Society Network, is contributing to the fight against corruption through their continued efforts to defend the rights of ‘Whistleblowers' in South Africa.

In one of their most recent actions, ODAC approached the Labour Court in Johannesburg in the case of Patrick Aphane & the South African Municipal Workers Union v Greater Sekhukhune District Council. The need for action arose because Mr Aphane, a shop steward of the South African Municipal Workers Union, was suspended for writing a letter to the Minister of Finance which requested an audit of municipal finances and then confirmed the existence of this request on SABC radio. This was subsequent to indications within the Municipality of the serious maladministration of finances, which included cell phone and airtime spending of R 398 300.

ODAC, in an attempt to utilise the broad protective provisions of the Protected Disclosures Act of 2000, approached the Labour Court on an urgent basis to protect Mr Aphane's employment rights. Unfortunately at the hearing of the case the presiding Judge, seeming to take little cognisance of the Act, treated the application as if it was a normal labour matter and declined to accept it on an urgent basis.

ODAC will continue to fight for Mr Aphane who will soon be appearing before a disciplinary hearing of the Municipality. ODAC is hoping that a legal advisor will be allowed to be present with Mr Aphane during that process. SAHA commends the continued efforts by ODAC to protect the rights of Whistleblowers, which requires particular recognition on International Anti-Corruption Day, 9 December 2009.