KZN lawyers attack Thuli

2014-03-29 00:00

PUBLIC Protector Thuli Madonsela is under attack by a group of lawyers and educators from around the province for recommending that President Jacob Zuma pays back public money spent on non-security measures at his Nkandla homestead.

Yesterday, the group, who call themselves the Concerned Lawyers and Educationists for Equality Before the Law, said Madonsela is in no position to order the president to repay any money on the upgrade, and that her report was flawed, inaccurate, inconsistent and contained contradictions.

Group spokesperson Advocate Solom­zi Mdledle said they have employed the services of a law firm to take the matter to court for review. “As attorneys and other stakeholders, we believe that the report was hurried. There are aspects of the report that should have been investigated further. It contains so many pitfalls and inaccuracies, and the methodology used is questionable,” said Mdledle.

He said Section 7 of the Public Protector Act provides that witnesses are called in and interviewed, but this did not happen in the Nkandla investigation, and that all those implicated in wrongdoing in the matter were not afforded an opportunity to defend themselves in a court of law or a public forum.

“After three years of her investigation, the public protector doesn’t state the reasonable amount that needed to be paid by the president. She exceeded her power by making this order. Hers was to investigate, report back and recommend remedial action once her investigation was completed. The tone of the report itself is very worrying,” he said. He made reference to Section 34 of the Constitution that provides everyone with the right to a fair trial and legal representation.

Asked if this was setting precedence in challenging Madonsela’s work, Mdledle said that was not the case, but that they were interested in this particular case.

Another group member Advocate Mondli Qulo said it would have been proper for Madonsela during her investigation to call the security experts who were involved in the project to find out if it was necessary to remove the old structures and replace them with new ones.

“There’s no mention of this in the report. There’s no indication as to how much the older structures were worth and how much the new ones amounted to,” he said.

In her report on the Nkandla security upgrades, Madonsela found that money was diverted towards the project, and that the prices were inflated. Her recommendation was that the president, with the assistance of the National Treasury and the police, should determine the reasonable cost of the non-security measures implemented at Nkandla.

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