By: Prof Stan Sangweni
Whistle-blowing in South Africa
Since February 2001 South Africa has had the most far-reaching "state of the art" whistle-blowing legislation in the world. Understood and applied effectively, the new legislation known as the Protected Disclosures Act no 26 of 2000 will help to deter and detect wrongdoing in the workplace, acting as an early-warning mechanism to prevent impropriety and corruption within the public sector.
Whistle-blowing in the South African context
South Africa’s transition to democratic rule has been characterised by high levels of crime, including wide-spread corruption. Several initiatives have been under taken to promote accountability and fight corruption within the public sector. These efforts include legislation such as the Promotion of Access to Information Act and the Protected Disclosures Act.
Understanding the Act
In South Africa the Protected Disclosures Act (no 26 of 2000) makes provision for procedures in terms of which employees in both the public and private sector who disclose information of unlawful or corrupt conduct by their employers or fellow employees, are protected from occupational detriment.
Putting a whistle-blowing policy in place
A whistle-blowing policy ought not to be seen as merely a means of complying with yet another piece of employment legislation. If it is to help you create an environment where the staff understands their responsibilities and management demonstrates their accountability, it will not be enough to introduce a good policy only to file it away. You must take action and actively implement the policy. It is important to ensure that workers are left in no doubt about the avenues open to them.