Whistle-blower bill one step closer to becoming law

The Protected Disclosures Amendment Bill was passed by the National Assembly on Tuesday.

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CAPE TOWN – A bill that aims to offer whistle-blowers on crime greater protection from victimisation and harassment is now a step closer to becoming law.

The Protected Disclosures Amendment Bill was passed by the National Assembly on Tuesday.

But opposition parties have slammed a clause in the draft law that makes it a criminal offence to intentionally disclose false information and cause harm.

The Democratic Alliance (DA)’s Werner Horn explains.

“This bill will in ANC terms radically transform our whistle-blowing protection framework from a sword with rusty steel blades into a plastic sword. It will deter not only false whistle-blowing but all whistle-blowing.”

But Deputy Justice Minister John Jeffery says the clause is intended to prevent reputational damage from false disclosures.

“So, a simple, honest bona fide disclosure of false information is not criminalised. You’ve got to intend to cause harm and you’ve got to actually then cause harm.”

The bill must now be approved by the National Council of Provinces before it can be sent to President Jacob Zuma to be signed into law.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)