Freedom Park management serves whistleblowers with suspension letters

Issued by Veronica Van Dyk MP – DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture
08 Nov 2019 in News

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has been reliably informed that several whistleblowers who exposed alleged corruption and mismanagement at Freedom Park have been served with suspension letters. These purported suspension letters are tantamount to intimidation and are in violation of the Protected Disclosure Act, which has been put in place to protect people who raise concerns about possible wrongdoings in the workplace.

The DA has written to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture to request an urgent oversight inspection to Freedom Park in order to get to the bottom of the corruption allegations as well as the allegations of management intimidating whistleblowers.

Freedom Park is a memorial that was set up in honour of the heroes who sacrificed their lives to fight for freedom and democracy in South Africa. The entity has a budget to the tune of R84.2 million. This is a large sum, and the public needs surety that their money is being spent properly. Unfortunately, Freedom Park management has seemingly failed to create safe mechanisms for their employees to speak up against wrongdoing, instead, whistleblowers have now allegedly been served with suspension letters.

We have seen corruption and maladministration increase annually across most Government entities, despite the tough talk, there have been no proper interventions to hold wrongdoers to account.

In terms of the Protected Disclosure Act, whistleblowers are inter alia protected from being subjected to any disciplinary action; from being dismissed, suspended, demoted, harassed or intimidated; and from being otherwise adversely affected in respect of his or her employment, profession or office including employment opportunities and work security.

The fact that these whistleblowers are now allegedly facing suspension is an indictment to the management at Freedom Park.

Harassment of whistleblowers destroys any confidence an employee may have to raise red flags of alleged wrongdoing. It is in violation of their right to report unlawful or irregular conduct as set out in the ‘Whistleblowers Act’.

Our country is being hemorrhaged by the scourge of corruption that remains unabated. For a long time those who have been accused of wrongdoing never suffer the consequences, instead they  are rewarded with lucrative positions.

The DA believes that management has a responsibility to create a conducive environment for whistleblowers to disclose information of improprieties without fear of harassment. This is supported in the official Annual Report of Freedom Park, but it seems not to be implemented.

Employers need to create a culture of accountability by allowing whistleblowers to share any information relating to suspected criminal and other irregular conduct in the workplace in order to promote the eradication of such criminal and other irregular conduct.