Tue. Oct 20th, 2020

‘The Whistleblowers’: Legislation has failed them – Mandy Wiener

‘The Whistleblowers’ has been described as ‘the book every South African who cares about democracy should read’.

the whistleblowers legislation has failed them mandy wiener - ‘The Whistleblowers’: Legislation has failed them – Mandy Wiener

Multi award-winning author and crime and investigative reporter Mandy Wiener sat down with 702 radio host Bongani Bingwa to discuss her new book, The Whistleblowers, on Thursday 1 October.  

Wiener also authored the hard-hitting Ministry of Crime, My Second Initiation: The Memoir of Vusi Pikoli, Behind the Door and Killing Kebble: An Underworld Exposed.

Joining forces with photographer Felix Dlangamandla, Wiener set out in her fifth book to capture the individual stories of South African “whistleblowers” and their often-harrowing experiences. 

The Johannesburg-based lensman is known for capturing some of the most iconic moments in South African history, such as scenes from the Vuwani protests and xenophobia attacks, Fees Must Fall and former president Nelson Mandela’s funeral. . 

‘The Whistleblowers’: Those who have paid the price

2d188f0a the whistleblowers - ‘The Whistleblowers’: Legislation has failed them – Mandy Wiener

Driven by an intense curiosity and interest, Wiener takes on the task of not only changing how our current South African society treats whistleblowers, but she also tackles the task of giving those a voice who have risked their own and have since paid the price. 

Among others, Wiener investigates past whistleblowers, such as Sindiso Magaqa and Thabiso Zulu.

In The Whistleblowers, she looks into former ANC Youth League secretary and ward councillor Magaqa’s death in relation to the political killings in KwaZulu-Natal. 

The 35-year-old Magaqa was shot in Umzimkhulu in July 2017 in what appeared to be a hit. He survived the ambush, but died later that year in September from his injuries.

Magaqa’s friend and activist Thabiso Zulu, who has testified at the Moerane Commission of Inquiry which investigated political killings in the province, has also suffered an assasination attempt and claims that he continues living in fear as the state has failed to provide him and others with protection.

‘We need to stack the cards in their favour’

According to Wiener, “the legislation has failed them” and “it is just not enough”.

Instead of being lauded as heroic figures who has come forward with the truth, most of them are seen as traitors, snitches and troublemakers. 

She calls for a cultural change in how we regard whistleblowers, saying: “We need to stack the cards in their favour”. 

By diving deep into the stories and experiences of whistleblowers, Wiener reveals their struggles after stepping forward. Some continue to struggle to find employment and others are seen as outcasts from society. 

“We need to encourage whistleblowers to come forward because of their pivotal role in exposing South Africa’s corruption epidemic,” Wiener said.

Whistleblowers through the eye of the lens

Dlangamandla described his experience of capturing and sharing these stories and the people behind them as moving.

Wiener and Dlangamandla spoke about the immense weight and agony of these stories, and their own difficult experience of retelling them in The Whistleblowers

Dlangamandla said one of the challenges he faced was having to photograph some of the featured whistleblowers over video calls due to the current pandemic. He persevered through these challenges though, and the result is unique, intimate and accurate portraits. 

In conclusion, Bingwa described The Whistleblowers as “the book every South African who cares about democracy should read”. 

  • The Whistleblowers is out now and available on Loot and in-store in Exclusive Books.  

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