“I am embarrassed, disgusted, and angry! In other parts of the world, honesty is applauded and celebrated. Accolades are showered on you. You are a hero.” Those are the words used by Babita Deokaran’s sister to describe her senseless killing.
Deokaran was rewarded for being an honest, hardworking, and loyal government employee by having twelve bullets pumped into her. Her death sent shockwaves throughout the country and the world. Deokaran was the Chief Director of Financial Accounting in the Gauteng Department of Health and a key witness in the R300 million Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) tender irregularities currently under investigation by the Special Investigative Unit (SIU).
She had just returned from dropping her child at school when two gunmen ambushed her Mercedes and peppered her with bullets on her upper body. The incident happened outside her Johannesburg home on Monday morning. She died later that day in the hospital.
In the letter, the sister praised Deokaran for standing up for what’s right and fighting those enriching themselves with taxpayers’ money. She, however, questioned why her sister had to be punished for doing her job honestly. Deokaran’s sister appealed to South Africans to not let her sister’s death be in vain.
“South Africans, we all need to be angry. We cannot accept this. My sister should not lose her promising future in vain. If we can make this country better for her daughter and nieces and nephews, I know she would believe that she did not sacrifice her life in vain. My sister was not just a number in the government system. She is a treasured mum, a sister, an aunt, a friend, and a colleague,” the sister wrote.
The provincial government heaped praises on Deokaran with Premier David Makhura, vowing that the battle to ensure clean governance in the province would be carried through no matter what.
He urged upstanding officials under threat or intimidation to report any incidents urgently.
“Those officials who receive threats need to report them promptly because this is not the first time. We’ve had an official in the Department of Human Settlements who was killed and another threatened in the Department of Infrastructure development,” he said.
Makhura said they were very disturbed by the brutal killing of one of their most outstanding public servants who had done outstanding work uncovering, exposing, and helping investigation teams put together the evidence around those involved in the PPE corruption scandal.
“Our officials who are really standing up to the corrupt need to know that they should report any threats urgently as there is a program of the government to protect our officials because we cannot cow down. We are a country governed by the rule of law, and they will be found and brought to book. We will not retreat from criminal threats because we know they are out there looking to loot in different departments,” he said.
Her sister further described Deokaran as someone who had dreams and a person that loved life, all taken away by barbarians.
“She was full of love, laughter, and joy. She loved cooking, watching cooking shows (even in languages she didn’t understand), traveling and she lived for her daughter whom she loved and adored. My sister was a strong, humble, brilliant woman of immense worth,” she said.
The sister called for a strong show of hands and unity until the perpetrators were brought to book.
“South Africans need to stand together and not be quiet until my sister’s perpetrators are punished. I pray they and their families experience hell on earth and in the hereafter.”