Story of a whistleblower: ‘Baba, do you think you are about to die?

Whistleblower Thabiso Zulu can’t explain his situation to his son, but continues to expose wrongdoing and show solidarity with others

2021-12-03 10:00:00 PM

Story of a whistleblower: ‘Baba, do you think you are about to die?: Whistleblower Thabiso Zulu can’t explain his situation to his son, but continues to expose wrongdoing and show solidarity with others

Whistleblower Thabiso Zulu can’t explain his situation to his son, but continues to expose wrongdoing and show solidarity with others

After his release on bail, he made a frantic Sunday morning call to me.“It was a set-up, John. The police are using an incident where we were attacked to further their aims. They have done this before. They illegally seized my cellphones to hack into them to download all the information stored on them.”

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He had no doubt that the charges would not stick when (and if) a trial ensues. He has video evidence of the incident. His greater concern was that the lives of other whistleblowers may have been seriously jeopardised. The police who seized the phones now have access to confidential information his supporters had shared with him.

Naidoo did not respond to theMail & Guardian’srequests for comment by the time of publication. Despite my many years of experience in counselling people in distress, this conversation was unusually challenging. How does one provide a safe, confidential space to a client when there is the real prospect that someone was listening into our phone call? headtopics.com

“Thabiso, you now know that you are part of a joined-up group of whistleblowers. That is sure to worry your enemies far more than it worries us”.Remembering my fellow social workerBrené Brown’sprofound wisdom on the true nature of power, my words were as much intended to reassure him as to disconcert his enemies.

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“People who resort to ‘power over’ tactics of intimidation have a fundamentally flawed understanding about the true nature of power. It is not a finite resource like a pie that has to be divided up and distributed by an overlord to retain their loyalty. ‘Power over’ strategies are unsustainable especially in a country like ours with constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of association, expression, and all the other rights in our internationally admired Bill of Rights. 

“Those rights do not — and never will — belong to [the] government. Not even the Constitutional Court owns them. They belong to people — equally irrespective of their status or authority. Crooked police officers and the corrupt politicians who pay them off can only violate your rights, not take possession of them. It is by concerted citizen action that they are actualised,” I said, remembering a speech by former UN High Commissioner for Human Right, Mary Robinson, that had turbocharged my activism when I met her in 2006 at a business and human rights conference. “You are demonstrating that in practice.”

Zulu sounded somewhat mollified, and I sensed his pulse rate was declining, probably in inverse proportion to that of any spooks who happened to be listening in.“Power is an infinitely renewable resource if it is exercised as ‘power with’ one other,” I continued. “It becomes a force of nature, against which your enemies have no defence. They can only attack”. headtopics.com

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That insight has now become a shared awareness in the larger whistleblower community within which I work. The connective tissue of solidarity has now also brought Danikas into the empowerment process. He brings not only his hard-won personal experience, but the association he now has with Transparency International and as a recent honorary fellow of

Blueprint for Free Speech.Thus, when news broke that Williams had put himself out of reach of attack, it only made us more determined to stand in solidarity and be mindful of any “divide and rule” tactics.Although Williams and Zulu have never met, and are now even further apart geographically, after telling Williams about Zulu’s situation, his warm response evoked a sense of calm assurance within me. I could easily imagine the two brave men embracing one another as if they were long-lost friends, united in their shared quest to amplify the power of truth, in deepening solidarity.

PostscriptZulu has launched proceedings in the Pietermaritzburg high court to obtain an urgent interdict to compel the South African Police Services (SAPS) to hand over any confidential information they have that could prejudice him and his networkand to prohibit any use of it. The SAPS were late in filing its responding papers, and Zulu is feeling that he has again regained the upper hand.

Williams has just announced that his book that lifts the lid entirely on Bain and the capture of South Africa is now in bookshops in South Africa, and online. TitledDeep CollusionZondo commission.The book comes as a surprise, but that is because Williams did not want any pre-publicity lest lawyers for Bain and Company tried to prevent its publication.  headtopics.com

He says: “We make a big mistake to consider Bain simply another foreign company that extracted economic rents. I believe its involvement in bringing South Africa to its knees through state capture was much more insidious.”This is an abridged and edited extract of an article first published by Whistleblower Network News at

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