IIA SA calls for greater protection of internal auditors after SABC audit exec assassination attempt

IIA SA CEO Dr Claudelle von Eck says the grave situation has untenable consequences for the country.

In the wake of a reported assassination attempt against the chief audit executive of the SABC Thamsanga Zikode on Friday night, the Institute of Internal Auditors SA (IIA SA) has called for greater protection for its members. Zikode was shot at by four people outside his home. A 37-year-old man was arrested on Saturday, and a getaway vehicle, ammunition and firearm were recovered. SABC board chairperson Bongumusa Makhathini said that the attempted assignation was a fight back against their cleanup efforts.

“If you look at what Zikhode’s role is about at the SABC and him being attacked, it is clear that thee are people fighting back the efforts of trying to clean up this space. But at the end of the day, no amount of intimidation will stop us from doing what is right.”

For some time now, the IIA SA has been issuing warnings and calls for greater protection of its members following alarming increases in reports of intimidation, harassment and violence against them. The recent Anti-intimidation and Ethical Practices Forum survey, carried out by the IIA SA and seven other professional bodies confirms this with anecdotal evidence and, two weeks ago, a more recent survey by the IIA SA revealed that one in four chief audit executives fear for their lives due to the nature of their jobs.

The IIA SA is repeating its call for greater political will to ensure measures are in place to protect those professionals whose jobs it is to safeguard organisations against malfeasance, fraud, corruption, the flouting of good governance principles and ethical behaviour. “In addition, we also call on the law enforcement authorities to swiftly investigate these matters and bring those accountable to book. It is a fact that some of our members have died in the line of duty and some cases have yet to be resolved. This situation is simply untenable and has grave consequences for the profession and the country,” said IIA SA CEO Dr Claudelle von Eck. Von Eck stated that the public should not be fooled into thinking that it is only internal auditors in the public sector who are under fire.

The IIA SA’s research points to worrying signs of the same things happening in the private sector. Von Eck added that the Institute noted with appreciation the SABC statement in which the chairman confirmed that the board will not be intimidated by the incident. She stressed however that the board must take steps to ensure the safety of the chief audit executive and his team. “Today internal auditors are more exposed than ever. We therefore call for greater protection and will ensure, as a professional body and as internal auditors, we continue to play an intrinsic role in combatting crime, corruption and corporate malfeasance without fear, favour or intimidation,” Von Eck concluded.