BABITA DEOKARAN: LEST WE FORGET THE LESSONS FROM HER MURDER
While OUTA is relieved that six of those involved in Deokaran’s murder are now jailed, we demand that the state pursues every single person involved, specifically those who plotted her murder and those who ran the corruption ring she exposed. Babita Deokaran’s legacy reminds us of the critical need to address corruption and promote transparency on all levels of society, and highlights the problem of organised crime, the links between criminal syndicates in different sectors, and the state’s failure to address these issues.
Just a day before the 2nd anniversary of Babita Deokaran’s murder on 23 August 2021, six men were convicted of her murder after entering into a plea agreement with the NPA.
OUTA welcomes the conviction and notes the NPA’s explanation that the six “have given a full account of their involvement” and that they have “provided valuable information, previously unknown, that will assist in the State’s ongoing attempts to bring further persons involved in the murder of the Deceased to justice”.
According to the NPA, three people directly linked to her assassination are still at large: one was not named, but the two men believed to be the shooters were named as Khanyisani Mpungose and Siphiwe Sithole. However, over this past weekend the Sunday Times revealed that Mpungose was shot dead just months after he apparently killed Deokaran. The question needs to be asked if the NPA knew this when entering into a plea deal with the six hitmen.
Deokaran was an advocate for accountability and transparency in her role as a senior manager in the Gauteng Health Department. She courageously not only exposed instances of tender corruption amounting to about R1 billion at Tembisa Hospital, but also irregularities pertaining to PPE corruption during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Her dedication to her work and her commitment to revealing the truth were acts of immense courage, which ultimately cost her life.
While we welcome the conviction, we must not forget that justice is not fully served until every individual involved is held to account. This includes the assassins who fired the shots, those who orchestrated the assassination, and those who masterminded the corruption that Deokaran flagged.
This case also underscores the critical role that whistleblowers play in uncovering corruption and wrongdoing. Their bravery in exposing the truth often comes at great personal risk. It is imperative that legislation be strengthened to provide robust protection for whistleblowers, ensuring that they can come forward without fear of retaliation. A society that values transparency, accountability, and justice must safeguard those who have the courage to speak out against corruption and unethical practices.
We also take note of the problem of organised crime, the links between criminal syndicates operating in different sectors, and the state’s failure to address these issues.
OUTA continues to stand by the importance of holding those in power accountable and advocating for a transparent and efficient legal system. We call for a thorough and comprehensive investigation that ensures all individuals responsible for Babita Deokaran’s murder are brought to justice.