Whistleblowing can be explained as the disclosure to the public or someone in an authority position on suspected dishonest behaviour or illegal activities occurring in a government department, private company or organization. This apparent misconduct may be classified in many ways such as a violation of a law, rule or regulation, or a direct threat to public interest, such as safety violations, and that which is prevalent in our own country, fraud and corruption.
Whistleblowers are commonly separated into two groups, internal whistleblowers and external whistleblowers.
The International Whistleblowers association (IWB) defines an internal whistleblower as someone who reports unethical or illegal behaviour to authorities within their organisation such as their superiors or the company’s legal advisors. An external whistleblower, however, is an individual who makes their allegations externally to law enforcement officials, external lawyers or to the media.
Both groups face various challenges, both in their decision to report the wrongdoings and in terms of the effects or consequences of their actions thereafter. There is substantial reasoning behind a whistleblowers choice with regards to how they will report the unethical or illegal behaviour, this is due to the very real threat of financial, physical and emotional harm that faces them.
Of course, these challenges differ in nature significantly as there are different aspects to consider when reporting internally as opposed to externally. Robert Wiebosch, now the former Financial Manager of Johannesburg Emergency Services, is an internal whistleblower who used his accounting knowledge to uncover vast corruption and unethical behaviour. This was related to the then Head of Johannesburg Emergency Services and fire chief, Audrey Gule. However, the consequences for the two parties (Wiebosch and Gule) were vastly different; Gule was suspended with full-pay, while Wiebosch was effectively...