WATCH: Babita Deokaran’s killers plead guilty, make deal with the state
Deokaran, a high-ranking official with the Gauteng Department of Health, was assassinated outside her home in Johannesburg south in 2021
Slain Gauteng senior finance official Babita Deokaran. Picture: Facebook
The six men accused of killing whistleblower Babita Deokaran have pleaded guilty to her murder.
Phakamani Hadebe, Zitha Radebe, Nhlangano Ndlovu, Sanele Mbhele, Siphiwe Mazibuko and Siphakanyiswa Dladla appeared in the high court in Johannesburg on Tuesday before Judge Motsamai Makume.
The six have entered into a plea agreement with the state.
Dladla also pleaded guilty to two charges of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.
The men have also received various prison terms of between six and 22 years in jail.
State Advocate Steven Rubin said murder is a serious offence which can never be downplayed.
“The deceased, having chosen to highlight irregularities in the spending in the department of health, has been hailed as the hero of the nation.
Deokaran is survived by her daughter and six siblings.
“She formed an integral part of a close knot family and her absence is sorely felt by her family.”
Rubin said the community has risen in solidarity after Deokaran’s death.
“The community has been calling for accountability in respect of government expenditure and ‘state capture.’ The murder of the deceased is seen as a step backwards in the quest for accountability.
“A strong message is required to be sent that attempts to silence law-abiding citizens such as the deceased will not be tolerated by the courts,” Rubin said.
Deokaran was shot several times outside her complex in the south of Johannesburg in August 2021, after flagging corruption in the Gauteng health department’s procurement of Covid personal protective equipment (PPE) to the value of R332 million.
She was also a key witness in several corruption investigations by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) related to procurement in the province.
The 53-year-old was the acting chief financial officer at the Gauteng Department of Health and was shot shortly after dropping her child at school in what is believed to be a hit.
Deokaran’s killing prompted calls for the protection of whistle-blowers in the fight against corruption in South Africa after it emerged that she had informed her superiors about threats that she received on her life, but nothing was done to protect her.