Athol Williams, a lecturer and poet, has fled South Africa fearing for his safety. On November 7, Williams published a statement citing why he left the country. Williams is a whistleblower. He testified against companies and individuals before the Zondo Commission into state capture.
In a statement released on his social media and website, Williams said the assasination of Babita Deokaran showed authorities were not protecting whistleblowers.This led to increased concerns for his safety and his decision to leave.
In June, Williams alleged that the University of Cape Town have been trying to silence him, a charge the university denied. Williams said the UCT ombudsman offered him “hush money” to stop raising concerns about the university’s dealings with companies implicated in allegations of state capture. He was a senior lecturer specialising in corporate responsibility and ethical leadership at UCT’s graduate school of business until last year.
The Zondo Commission is a public inquiry to investigate alleged corruption, fraud and state capture. The commission has been hearing testimony from witnesses since January 2018 to the present day. One of those witnesses was Williams. He gave testimony over two days in March 2021. He presented evidence as a former Bain & Company partner about the company’s alliance with former president Jacob Zuma. He also exposed the plans and links to restructure the South African Revenue Service (SARS). Before appearing at the commission he also received threats to remain silent .
Athol Williams Statement
He said if he remained at home there was a good chance he would be silenced. “I have little left to lose now other than the love of a few. But I will not lose my resolve to resist the capture of South Africa. I look forward to the day, soon, when I can return home to continue our collective effort to realise the promise of our democracy,” Williams wrote.
In his statement Williams referenced Babita Deokaran. Deokaran was gunned down in front of her home on August 23 this year. She was a senior Gauteng department of health official and anti-corruption whistleblower. At the time of her death, she was investigating fraudulent Covid-19 contracts at the department. She worked closely with the special Investigating Unit (SIU) and had given evidence and an investigation affidavit. Her evidence and investigation affidavit was part of the SIU’s investigation into the tender scandal. Several people have been arrested for murder, and the case is ongoing.
Williams also stated he received countless warnings that there had been coordinated efforts to silence him. He said he will continue advocating for the truth and furthering the cause of justice from abroad. He looks forward to when he can return home to continue realising the promise of South Africa’s democracy.