The personal cost of exposing gross corruption was brought home to MPs on Tuesday during the fourth session of the parliamentary inquiry into corruption at state-owned companies.
The rapidly growing volume of evidence has also raised questions on when the prosecuting authorities are going to start taking action against those implicated.
Parliament's public enterprises portfolio committee, which is conducting the investigation, heard from whistle-blower and former Trillian senior manager Mosilo Mothepu about the goings-on at the controversial consulting company.
Mothepu left Trillian in June last year, and was among those who provided information for former public protector Thuli Madonsela's "State of Capture" report, released last December. Her statement to Madonsela was leaked to a Sunday newspaper a fortnight later.
On Tuesday, after confirming, among other things, that Trillian had received payments from several parastatals -- including Eskom, SA Express, Transnet and Denel -- and did not have a formal contract with any one of them, she revealed that she was dealing with 10 charges laid against her by the company.
"Two weeks after my statement [to the Public Protector] was leaked to the Sunday Times, I got a call from a constable telling me that my former employer had opened a case against me. I think there were 10 charges -- fraud, sabotage, conspiracy, corruption, contravention of my employment contract... everything except the kitchen sink... they are essentially designed to smear me so that attention is taken away from what I have to say... for me it's a smear campaign.
"The constable told me that because of who these people are, and the political situation, it has to be seen to deal with my matter, to expedite... There was a lot of pressure for me to go and see him without my lawyer; I told him absolutely not.
"He sent me messages telling me I'm complicating life for him; I must go without my lawyer; he's going to issue a warning statement; and, that he's going to take the case to the NPA without my input. This was at 7.30am on December 30. My lawyer says he's never seen a situation where SAPS takes a case to the Hawks at such a speed."
She said Trillian had also brought two cases against her in the Labour Court.
"They want my final bonus back because I was meant to stay there two years. They [are] accusing me of contravening my confidentiality clause in my contract."
Mothepu told the committee that her lawyer had written to NPA head Shaun Abrahams, but they had received no response.
"We haven't heard anything from them yet... they have not approached. I'm waiting for the day when they give me call, and I'll be happy to assist them."
ACDP MP Steve Swart said he found this "absolutely astounding".
"The police pursue an investigation against you, but to date -- as one of the main whistle-blowers in the whole State of Capture report -- you have heard nothing, from either the Hawks or the NPA, related to state capture?" he asked her, to which she replied that this was correct.
Swart said there was nothing to prevent the institution of criminal and civil action against those named in the Public Protector's report.
Mothepu also revealed that she had been unable -- despite her qualifications -- to find a job since leaving Trillian. She had been to many interviews.
"I'm a political risk," she said, faltering as she explained she'd now been unemployed for 16 months.
Coupled with reports that at least four potential "witnesses" the committee wants to hear from have received death threats, whistle-blowers may well be wondering if it is all worth it.