Former Public Protector Professor Thuli Madonsela believes all hands must get on deck to fight in the war against corruption.

In the annual Wits memorial lecture, guest speaker Professor Thuli Madonsela challenged citizens to fight corruption the same way South African writer and activist Nadine Gordimer fought apartheid.

The lecture on Wednesday 5 May, titled Nadine Gordimer: The Audacity to Speak an Inconvenient Truth, saw Madonsela challenging attendees and citizens to “save democracy” by questioning what more individuals can do.

“I acknowledge my privilege [as an educated woman],” she said, adding that others should acknowledge it too. It was key to curbing corruption.

The webinar on Zoom discussed Gordimer’s legacy as an anti-apartheid writer. Madonsela said “the writer is of service to humankind”, and Gordimer wrote frequently about the injustices of the past, regardless of the possible personal risks   She had spoken her inconvenient truths and now so must we, Madonsela said.

The most talked-about corruption was that committed by the government, much of which has been laid bare at the ongoing Zondo Commission, but Madonsela pointed out that people, specifically “our people” (friends or family), routinely engage in corrupt acts. As individuals, we could help fight corruption by blowing the whistle.

Simple acts such as bribing police officers or buying a licence are forms of corruption. Mfuneko Toyana (33), an alumnus of Wits Vuvuzela, said he had bribed a police officer in the past. “Politicians have a big role in setting an example for what people do,” he said.

BA students Lungelo Sithole (19) and Josh Ferreira (19) both said they have friends who engage in bribery, such as paying off a police officer. Ferreira said, “corruption at the top has resulted in corruption at the bottom.”  He said if there was a better system in place, perhaps things would be different.

Madonsela spoke about how she teaches people to be “impact-conscious”. Individuals should challenge themselves when doing things and ask why they are doing it and what the consequence of such an act would be, she said.

“Light is stronger than darkness, even if it is a small light,” she said, “[but] a galaxy of small lights together makes all the difference.”

FEATURED IMAGE: Former Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela. Photo: File.