Dear colleagues and students
I write to you regarding an important decision taken by the University of Cape Town (UCT) to change the external service provider operating the UCT Whistle-Blowing Hotline (also known as the Ethics Hotline) with effect from 1 January 2018.
Over the last three years, UCT used KPMG to operate the hotline. This followed a decision taken by the Risk Management Committee that an independent, credible and established service provider was required to ensure and guarantee anonymity and confidentiality for staff, students, service providers and other interested parties to make management aware of any act of alleged wrongdoing or unethical conduct which might not be picked up through the normal course of business. Following the end of a three-year contract with KPMG, the university appointed Whistle-Blowers Inc. as the preferred service provider on a renewable annual contract beginning in 2018.
Whistle-Blowers Inc. is one of the four service providers accredited by the Ethics Institute of South Africa. WhistleBlowers Inc. was founded in 2000 and offers a subscribing client a highly trained, multi-lingual call centre, which enables any party to report any irregular activities within an organisation. These irregular activities could include, but are not restricted to, theft, fraud, bribery, unethical practices and any other unlawful or dishonest activity. Whistle Blowers Inc. has developed an international service, supplying information-gathering facilities to organisations in several countries across the globe, with a global footprint, presently providing hotline facilities to over 25 countries. Operating from a secure, independent, dedicated, hi-tech call centre, Whistle-Blowers Inc. offers a 24/7/365 service.
Whistle-Blowers Inc. is also equipped with a panel of topic specialists and language specialists to field calls requiring specific expertise and understanding. No calls are answered by an answering machine. Furthermore, callers are given the opportunity to remain anonymous. In this instance, the caller is given the option of providing a codename or the operator assigns a unique reference. The operators are trained to probe all vague issues, making it unlikely for a prank caller to pursue the call. All information received is evaluated and every attempt is made to qualify information in order to limit taking action taken on hoax calls.
Protected Disclosures Act (PDA)
The Protected Disclosures Amendment Act No 5 of 2017, and particularly section 3B, provides for a duty to liaise with the employee or worker once the protected disclosure has been made. The organisation is only exempt of this duty if the contact details are unknown or when the liaison will prejudice the prevention, detection or investigation of a criminal offence. The PDA provides protection to whistle-blowers in the private and public sector who disclose information regarding unlawful or irregular conduct by their employers or fellow employees. The Amendment Act broadens the ambit of the PDA and introduces several new provisions that place further obligations on whistle-blowers and employers alike. It is for this reason that matters reported to the hotline are brought to the attention of UCT’s Risk Management Committee to ensure that the necessary investigations have been carried out. Where corruption, fraud and/or abuse of property or assets is proven, the committee will ensure that the necessary action is taken against the perpetrators.
What to report to the hotline
Reports to the hotline may include any incidents of wrong-doing, including allegations of criminal offences, theft, fraud, unethical behaviour or misconduct, health and safety violations, irregular awarding of tenders, damage to the environment, financial statement fraud, student financial aid fraud, dishonesty, misuse of property and assets (including Purchasing cards), misuse of donor grants and corruption. This extends to ethics in the academic and research areas, including examinations. The hotline number is 0800 650 000. It is important that when a report is made, relevant details should be available, including:
If you have any other relevant information which could be of assistance when undertaking an investigation, please inform the hotline operator.
Please note that whistle-blowers are protected by law.
Number to call and other relevant contact details
There are a number of options for contacting the hotline, but the most preferred method remains a telephone call, as it allows for agents to ask for information to facilitate a more effective investigation. Should you require further information, please contact Mr Shai Makgoba, Director: Risk Compliance and Relationship Management, on 021 650 2754 or via email.
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