‘You died a hero’: tears flow as corruption buster Deokaran laid to rest

Witness in an investigation into Gauteng PPE irregularities gets moving send-off

26 August 2021 - 17:14 By kgaugelo masweneng
The 53-year-old Babita Deokaran, who worked as a senior finance official for the department of health, was shot shortly after dropping her child at school.
The 53-year-old Babita Deokaran, who worked as a senior finance official for the department of health, was shot shortly after dropping her child at school.
Image: Rogan Ward

A woman wept uncontrollably as Babita Deokaran’s white coffin was walked into the Greenheights Primary School Hall on Thursday. This as family men showed respect, their hands in pray-like gestures, at the Phoenix, Durban, school where the funeral for the slain corruption-buster was held.

Deokaran was shot outside her complex in Mondeor, Johannesburg South, on Monday. She would be cremated later on Thursday after the service.

Her teenage daughter, Theara, gave her mother a sombre send-off.

“You were my support structure, one-woman army and a force to be reckoned with. I have been left shattered. I will wait for the day I will see you again. I love you,” she said.

The 53-year-old worked as chief director of financial accounting in the Gauteng health department. At times, she also acted as the CFO.

Mourners hold a candlelight vigil for corruption fighter Babita Deokaran held at Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown Johannesburg.
NOT FORGOTTEN Mourners hold a candlelight vigil for corruption fighter Babita Deokaran held at Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown Johannesburg.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi / The Sunday Times

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.

In her obituary, read by a family member, she was referred to as an exemplary civil servant and a hero.

“She is more affectionately known as ‘Bhaka’. She served the public for 30 years. Her love for her job was displayed by the wonderful relationship she had with her colleagues. She was a mentor and nurtured so many of us into becoming career-driven individuals.

“Nothing will ever be able to fill this void in our family. You died a hero, not only to your family but all the peace-loving South Africans. Your legacy lives on in each of us every day,” read the obituary.

A candlelight vigil for Babita Deokaran at Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown Johannesburg.
REMEMBRANCE A candlelight vigil for Babita Deokaran at Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown Johannesburg.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi / The Sunday Times.

KZN premier Sihle Zikalala expressed his condolences to the family.

“Losing a loved one is painful but more so when you lose them like this. She still had a lot to contribute to this country; not only Gauteng but the country is poorer. The perpetrators must be brought to book.

“We hope many other civil servants were inspired by her,” he said.

Police spokesperson capt Kay Makhubele this week said Deokaran had dropped off her child at school shortly before the shooting.

“While opening the gate at her complex, a white BMW stopped next to her and [an occupant] shot her several times on her upper body.

“We understand that she is a senior official in the department of health in Gauteng,” Makhubele said.

Makhubele said it appeared “someone was waiting for her to assassinate her”, but the motive for the shooting was under investigation.

He said the shooting happened just after 8am and the woman was alone in the car.

In a heartfelt Facebook post this week, Deokaran’s sister, Renu Williams, paid tribute to her sibling.

#justiceforbabitadeokaran Dear South Africans I am usually positive and hopeful for our country despite the naysayers...

Posted by Renu Williams on Tuesday, August 24, 2021

“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. She is loved more than anything, and now a family is literally shattered and a child is left motherless.

“My sister had dreams, my sister loved life, and now all that was taken away by these barbarians. She was full of love, laughter and joy. She loved cooking, watching cooking shows (even in languages she didn’t understand), travelling, and she lived for her daughter, whom she loved and adored,” she wrote.


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