‘She died a hero’ — family of murdered Gauteng health official who exposed corruption

25 August 2021 - 11:42 By iavan pijoos
Babita Deokaran, 53, died in hospital after being shot several times.
Babita Deokaran, 53, died in hospital after being shot several times.
Image: Supplied

“I love you. I will fetch you later.”

These were the last words Babita Deokaran said as she dropped off a family member on the morning of August 23.

Deokaran never returned. She was murdered outside her home in the south of Johannesburg.

Gauteng police said 53-year-old Deokaran, who later died in hospital, was shot several times by the occupants of a white BMW.

She worked as chief director of financial accounting in the Gauteng health department. At times, she also acted as the CFO.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has confirmed that Deokaran was a witness in an investigation into PPE purchase irregularities in Gauteng. SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said she was one of 300 witnesses in the PPE case.

Deokaran's brother-in-law pastor Tony Haripersadh told TimesLIVE that she had previously alerted the family about experiencing “challenges at work”.

“She uncovered some irregularities and she mentioned it to the family, but did not want to give us all the concerns. She uncovered corruption running into the hundreds of millions and people were very unhappy because they got exposed,” said Haripersadh.

He said the family advised her to raise these issues with her managers.

Gauteng premier David Makhura said during her tenure Deokaran uncovered corruption and had stopped the payment of irregular contracts in the department at different levels, including in hospitals.

Makhura said Deokaran provided crucial evidence to disciplinary processes conducted by his office and in the SIU investigations.

“The result of her good deeds led to successful dismissals within the department and saw the institution of civil claims to recover public funds from businesses and government officials responsible for malfeasance and corruption.

“She took to heart the call to bring perpetrators of corruption and the looting of public resources to book,” said Makhura.

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Haripersadh said the family was disappointed that Deokaran was not protected after exposing corruption within the department.

“Nobody suspected anything and we were caught off guard. We are all disappointed as to why she didn’t have any security or protection, knowing that this was such a high-profile case and she was the key witness with all the information. Where was the security for her?

“We are very proud of her bravery and integrity. The day she was assassinated, we know she died as a hero. We are hoping that the perpetrators are found and brought to book. Her daughter is traumatised,” he said.

Haripersadh said Deokaran will be buried in Phoenix, KwaZulu-Natal, on Thursday.