I will not die silent – SAPS whistleblower in hiding

Many whistleblowers in South Africa end up on the run. Some even end up dead.  Others have to live in hiding in fear for their lives.  One of those is South African Police Service (SAPS) whistleblower Patricia Morgan-Mashale, a former Senior Administration Clerk in the Firearm Registry in the Free State. Patricia has been in hiding since February last year (2022) after repeatedly trying to expose “massive” corruption in SAPS. She tells BizNews of threats to her life and liberty, how Police Minister Bheki Cele tried to get her to meet him alone, and how President Cyril Ramaphosa has ignored her pleas for protection. Still, she says: “…my children have told me they’d rather have a mother who died because of a truth than a mother who’s still alive because she was afraid to speak out and tell the truth.” This is her story… – Chris Steyn

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Relevant timestamps from your interview

  • 00:32 – Patricia on how long she has been in hiding
  • 00:40 – On what forced her to go into hiding
  • 01:43 – What forced her to a whistleblower in the first place
  • 04:45 – On what happened when she informed the national commissioner
  • 10:20 – The reason for the criminal charge laid against her
  • 18:46 – On whether she’s had any contact with the current minister of police
  • 24:13 – If she’s had contact with the president
  • 32:03 – On being red flagged as a wanted person
  • 33:28 – On her support system
  • 34:36 – Would she have still blown the whistle had she known what was going to happen
  • 37:05 – Conclusions

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Highlights from the interview

Many whistleblowers in South Africa end up on the run. Some even end up dead.  Others have to live in hiding in fear of their lives. 

One of those is South African Police Service (SAPS) whistleblower Patricia Morgan-Mashale, a former Senior Administration Clerk in the Firearm Registry in the Free State.

Patricia has been in hiding since February last year (2022) after repeatedly trying to expose “massive” corruption in SAPS.

Read more: SAA whistleblower Cynthia Stimpel exposes extreme sacrifices, challenges faced by truth-tellers

“The person who did the threat assessment on me detected the threat that one of the senior management whom I implicated in my protected disclosure that I made to the former National Commissioner…was going to open a case against me. And then the plan was that I should be admitted in a correctional facility, and then I should just not be registered on the system and just vanish into the system. So the person working at Correctional Services is the one who gave this person the information and told him to tell me that my life is in danger. I must make sure that I don’t get arrested because surely I will not get out of prison. I will just disappear into the system.”

Patricia believes she also escaped a “direct attempt” on her life when she broke cover once to see her children. On leaving at about midnight, the car she was travelling in was followed and chased by the driver of black Ford Ranger without number plates and blacked-out windows. She had a lucky escape when the family member driving her managed to reach a busy tavern before they could be forced off the road.

“And that’s when I decided that I’m not going to die silent because what I saw now is I’m going to be a whistleblower; was going to be killed, and no one was going to know why I was killed; what I blew the whistle about. And that’s when I decided that I’m going to write an open letter…to the President (Cyril Ramaphosa) to tell him about my situation – and to tell him that he is responsible for the lives, for the safety of whistleblowers, and should anything happen with me that he should be held responsible…” So far Patricia’s plea for the protection of the President’s has fallen on deaf ears.

And she recounts how Police Minister Bheki Cele tried to get her out of hiding to meet him in private last year (in 2022). However, he never got back to her after she insisted on meeting him only in the presence of other police officers who had also spoken out about corruption.

Read more: SA’s ultimate whistleblower Andre de Ruyter on his bestseller documenting ANC’s Eskom plundering

Meanwhile, this is how Patricia has officially gone from whistleblower to a wanted – and hunted – woman:  A top cop she had implicated in corruption obtained a harassment order against her in the Family Court, claiming that Whats Apps circulating about him within a group of police members were derogatory. She was then charged with breaking the order because of an interview she had given over three months before the order was finalised. Charges were then changed to bring them under updated legislation intended to deal with serious crimes involving domestic violence (as opposed to Whats Apps). A warrant for her arrest was issued when she did not appear in court in person – despite the presence of her legal representative, as well as request for a remote appearance from hiding.

“There’s a red notice. I’ve been informed there’s a red notice internationally. I’m red-flagged as a wanted person. So it left me destitute. I can’t go anywhere. I cannot book a flight ticket. I cannot book a bus ticket. I cannot travel….I can say that…currently I’m regarded as a terrorist because red-flagging someone, I mean, for breach of a protection order…but this is definitely not because of a breach of a protection order. These people are looking for me for other reasons that they know about. They want me dead.”

Read more: SARS Whistleblower JvL: De Ruyter’s ‘naive’ investigation; Pravin Gordhan; being mugged

Asked whether she would have blown the whistle had she known what would happen, Patricia says: “Yes, I would have done it because, you know, sometimes we let our fears…we become prisoners of our fears of speaking out.

“You stand with your truth, even if you stand alone. And yes, I will do it over and over and over again because corruption is killing us. Corruption is killing our children’s future. 

“And my children have told me they’d rather have a mother who died because of a truth than a mother who’s still alive because she was afraid to speak out and tell the truth.”

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