Updated: Jul 13
Follow the receipt of Mr De Ruyter's reply to my open letter, I believe that it is appropriate to escalate my request to the highest office of this Country; The Presidency.
My letter can be downloaded here.
Honourable President, Cyril Ramaphosa,
I write this letter to you to highlight the efforts that I have made towards fighting corruption in South Africa and humbly request that you consider demonstrating you public support of whistleblowers like myself.
Within the circle of my friends and family, I am referred to as the “McKinsey Slayer”. I obtained this nickname because of:
The evidence that I provided to the Public Protector in September 2016;
The evidence that I provided to Geoff Budlender SC in his investigation into Trillian in the 2017, whilst McKinsey claimed to not have any relationships with Trillian and maintained a position that their dealings at Eskom in respect of the Top Engineers Program was above board;
My actions in September 2017 when I publicly blew the whistle on Trillian’s operations as I was the CEO of Trillian Management Consulting for three months in 2016;
My appearance at the Parliamentary Inquiry into Eskom In November 2017; and
Later in 2017 I made a copy of my Trillian computer public. At this time, this was the first sight of the ‘Trillian server’ made public.
My testimonies, affidavits and supporting data proved that:
Trillian and McKinsey had a significant working relationship in respect of the Top Engineers Programme at Eskom;
That Trillian did not have any employees to validate the paid invoices; and
Provided context which later supported Bowman’s efforts in reclaiming the ~R1,6Bn back from both McKinsey and Trillian.
Since making these efforts to support our national utility, I find myself unemployed, traumatised and in financial ruin.
I write this letter to you to simply request that you leverage the influence of your office to change the stigma associated with whistleblowers in our country.
======== Herewith the Letter =======
Honourable President, Cyril Ramaphosa
South Africa’s support of Whistleblowers
Dear Mr. President,
On the 17th October 2020 I wrote a letter to Eskom CEO, Mr Andre’ de Ruyter detailing my involvement in Eskom’s successful civil claim against McKinsey and Trillian. Through my efforts and those of others, Eskom was able to claim back ~R1,6 billion from these two companies. My letter to Mr De Ruyter sets out the personal costs and sacrifices that I have endured to enable Eskom’s success as;
“Through all of my actions which I have honestly done because I know that its simply the right thing to do, I remained unemployed, traumatized by my loss (divorce and my career) and am on the road to recovery from PTSD. Financially, I had to release my pension to support my daughter and I as I had no other source of income over these years. I sought no gains from helping this country and particularly, Eskom.
From my experience, becoming a whistleblower has been a full-time job in supporting the various investigative efforts, alas without the renumeration.”
In essence, my story illustrates the harrowing consequences faced by many whistleblowers in South Africa. These consequences are described in detail in Mandy Wiener’s recently released book entitled “The Whistleblowers”.
I called on Mr De Ruyter to leverage his position of influence in this Country to consider doing the following:
Provide a portion of Eskom’s financial recoveries to the whistleblowers who have lost much in their efforts to promote Eskom’s cause. For both myself and the many whistleblowers out there who have suffered a similar loss to mine, financial support would go a long way in being able to retain their dignity and ability to support their loved ones;
Publicly acknowledge the whistleblowers who have supported Eskom’s success, individually and by name. Using that same platform, make it clear the benefit that their courage has had for Eskom;
Leverage the lessons learnt by these whistleblowers to strengthen Eskom’s processes, procedures and policies. Keep in mind that these whistleblowers have first-hand experience of how existing systems have failed to protect the organization against corruption. To this end, consider bringing these individuals into the organization to expediate these much needed “fixes”; and
Lastly, consider employing these courageous people. Their character is on public display and although they have lost much, their skill sets and competencies have not changed. An action such as this will defy any perception that whistleblowers are ‘troublemakers’.
Mr De Ruyter replied to my open letter two days later and stated the following in response to my request:
South African legislation does not accommodate my request for whistleblowers to share in the gains of Eskom and other State organs (unlike in the US where the False Claims Act makes provision for this);
He acknowledged my “substantial contribution to the successful recovery of Eskom funds that were unlawfully paid out during the height of state capture”; and
Invited me to address a forum of senior Eskom leaders to potentially learn from my experience.
I am deeply grateful for Mr De Ruyter’s response and respect that his approach is fully compliant with our current legislation.
It is for this reason that I write this letter to you, Mr President.
I wish to escalate my request to the highest office in the hope to effect societal change. South Africa needs a societal revolution in how we treat whistleblowers.
Mr President, as the custodian of our Constitution and all subsequent legislation, I respectful request that you consider the plight of the many people who have lost their livelihoods in their pursuit to rid South Africa of corruption and malfeasance.
Whistleblowers in South Africa face financial ruin, trauma, a future of unemployment and worst of all, a loss of life. These consequences transpire because there appears to be a negative bias towards the actions of whistleblowers which renders them unfavourable and possibly threatening.
It is my belief that this stigma and perception must change if South Africa is to constitute a nation of truth tellers. As the Leader of this beautiful Country, I opine that this change should start at the top and be encouraged for adoption throughout society.
Mr President, as you have recently written about the devastating impact of corruption:
The effect has been devastating. Billions of rands that should have gone to improved public transport, to better infrastructure for the poor, to reliable and affordable electricity, to emerging black farmers and to the broader development of our country have been stolen to line the pockets of a criminal few.
Not only has money been stolen, but many of these institutions have been left deeply dysfunctional and some virtually destroyed. It has caused huge damage to the economy and to the capacity of the state.
We must have the political courage and the honesty to acknowledge that ANC leaders, public representatives and members have on numerous occasions been implicated in such forms of corruption.
My recommended changes for your consideration are listed in order of priority below:
Publicly acknowledge and honour the individuals like myself, who have taken brave steps to combat corruption in South Africa. If not for these individuals, would we have known the extent of corruption that lead to the formation of the State Capture inquiry? Your acknowledgment of these individuals will certainly go a long way in removing the stigma associated with blowing the whistle and possibly assist them in finding gainful employment. Furthermore, this action does not cost the country anything but can change the lives of many.
Encourage corporate South Africa to employee these capable heroes; and
Endorse my plea to de-stigmatise these individuals. They are heroes to South Africa and a societal revolution is required to change the current stigma.
2. Financial support of Whistleblowers
In most cases, whistleblowers lose their source of employment as a consequence of blowing the whistle and then struggle to find employment after their brave actions. They spend hours compiling affidavits and statements to ensure that their information is actioned through the correct channels. This support of the judicial processes is often traumatic and takes away from the business of trying to find employment. The state of unemployment culminates in financial ruin. In a similar way that you expediently acted towards the COVID 19 pandemic and established a fund to support the millions of people affected by it, perhaps you could consider a similar approach to supporting the whistleblowers in this country? Possibly this fund could be funded by a small fraction of successful claims.
Consider replicating the legislation of other countries like the United States of America whereby whistleblowers are awarded a small fraction of successful claims as an incentive to combat corruption and malfeasance.
Mr President, I appeal to you to consider my request and hope that you will find my letter to be respectful of your position.
As a very proud South African, I write this letter to you merely as an attempt to make this country an even better place in which to live for the generations that follow.
If we are going to beat the pandemic of corruption, we need brave citizens to step forward and expose wrongdoing. We must ensure the climate is conducive for them to do so and instead of treating them as problematic troublemakers, we must support and encourage and entice them to do so.
Ms Bianca Goodson