MARK HEYWOOD RESPONSE TO EVIDENCE BEFORE THE ZONDO COMMISION ON THE SOURCE OF THE GUPTALEAKS
JOHANNESBURG –27 September 2018 – I have taken note of the evidence presented today by Advocate Brian Currin at the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into allegations of State Capture, Corruption and Fraud in the Public Sector including Organs of State chaired by Justice Raymond Zondo. In response, a number of journalists and media outlets have asked me to comment. I can confirm that what was presented by Adv Currin and the information contained in his affidavit is a correct reflection of my personal role and the way events that were in my knowledge unfolded.
However, at this stage I do not wish to comment further on the so-called Guptaleaks other than to remind us all that in early 2017 when this saga became more public our country was in the midst of a debilitating, tragic, dangerous and disastrous form of state capture. As we have come to understand now, it was placing our country in real danger of economic, political and social collapse. We risked a slide into a gangster state where those who paid the highest price for corruption were the poor.
I wore several hats at the time I was approached by Adv Currin to assist, including as one of the leaders of Save South Africa and my current role as Executive Director at SECTION27.
I did not hesitate to play my part and ensure that firstly, the brave whistle-blowers were protected and secondly in ensuring that the evidence was placed in the hands of a group of ethical, professional and courageous journalists, who I believed at the time were best placed to ensure the information was presented in the public sphere in a manner which will lead to accountability.
We now know it did. The Guptaleaks broke through the denials of senior politicians involved; they bolstered the good people in government and the African National Congress and made them realise how deep the crisis was; they mobilised public anger and the willingness of people to stand up and take action in many different ways against state capture.
In response to the question as to why we did not first approach Government or relevant state authorities with this information? At the time, the leadership of vital organs of our state, including the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Hawks were captured. It was impossible to know who to trust. We believed that our best bet was to ensure that information that pointed to serious criminality and corruption was verified (to the best of our ability), analysed and placed in the public sphere where citizens and those who were committed and still in a position to save South Africa would find the power to ensure that it was taken seriously.
Now that we have a new President committed to clean and accountable government I believe our country should support the important work the Zondo Commission is doing and do all we can to ensure that those against whom there are allegations or suspicion of corruption are investigated, held accountable and prosecuted. These people stole from poor people. Because of the culture of theft they created, there is no money left for fundamental human rights; children ended up drowning in collapsed school toilets; sick and desperate patients wait in vain for ambulances; community health workers don’t get paid.
This tragic and avoidable story of pain and indignity is going to be the legacy of state capture and the political leaders who sanctioned it.
The Commission is now the custodian of the hard drive that contains the Guptaleaks and must carry out its legal mandate. It must do its work efficiently and urgently so that the whole truth can come out.
As for us in civil society, our job is to continue our work to put South Africa back on a firm path to accountability, equality and social justice – we need to ensure health and education systems are fixed and that tangible improvements in the lives of the poor and vulnerable begin to restore hope that SA really belongs to all who live in it, and not to criminals and a privileged few.
As Adv Currin said at the beginning of his evidence, we have an enormous debt to the two ordinary people who became whistle-blowers, had their whole lives turned upside down, who are still in exile because they cannot feel safe in our country from the mafia tentacles of the Zupta network. Hopefully one day, before too long, we will be able to say their names and welcome them back to a safe and more equal SA.
I will not be commenting any further or conducting media interviews on this matter.
Executive Director SECTION27
Save South Africa