Protector bemoans media leak

2011-09-28 14:04
Pretoria - The publication of a leaked provisional report from her office had not served the public's interest, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said on Wednesday.

Such action also undermined the integrity of her office, she told the National Press Club in Pretoria.

Madonsela said she had been disappointed at Business Day's decision to publish her report on Local Government Minister Sicelo Shiceka's alleged misuse of tax money.

The newspaper reported that Madonsela had called on President Jacob Zuma to consider "serious action" against Shiceka after she found he had misused tax money on personal travels and hotel stays.

It wrote that Madonsela's provisional report, of which it received a copy on Tuesday night, found Shiceka had spent R546 864 on an unofficial visit to Switzerland.

"What happened this morning [publishing a leaked report] cannot be said to constitute public interest," said Madonsela.

The decision amounted to "pure self interest".

"How could public interest suffer waiting 10 days?" she asked.

The protector issued provisional reports to allow those against whom complaints had been made an opportunity to respond to her findings.

Madonsela said she was considering not producing provisional reports in the future.

She said the Shiceka report leaked on Wednesday contained a disclosure clause, stating it was a contravention of the Public Protector's Act to disclose its contents.

"That's a deliberate violation of the law."

She did not rule out taking legal action against the newspaper.

Madonsela said she and her officials still had to decide on whether to pursue the matter.

Earlier this year, the Sunday Times published a leaked provisional report relating to two controversial multimillion-rand police building leases in Pretoria and Durban.

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