Mkhwebane settles in after 'rocky' start

2016-12-01 21:40
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Netwerk24)

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. (Netwerk24)

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Cape Town - Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane's first few weeks as Public Protector have been “rocky” but she feels she is making headway, she said in Khayelitsha on Thursday.

“It's been very rocky and bumpy, but we're getting there with the team,” Thuli Madonsela's successor said.

She took office on October 17, but said it felt like it had been a year or two already. She faced accusations of being a spy and criticism that she was protecting President Jacob Zuma.

Mkhwebane spent the morning at her office's “count me in” commitment to support the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children.

After proceedings were opened with the national anthem, two pastors prayed loudly for her protection.

In the holding room earlier, Mkhwebane graciously greeted guests in between nibbles of fruit.

Mingling around her in the well-appointed library of Luhlazo High School, were all the heavy hitters of her office - her deputy Kevin Malunga, who had also applied for the job, and acting CEO Reginald Ndou.

There was to be no media ambush, as she gently turned away from reporters bearing down on her, and continued conversations with officials from the protector's Western Cape office, before joining the public meeting.

Held in the hall of the Khayelitsha school, the purpose of the meeting was to explain what the Public Protector's office could do for local residents.

Families South Africa, the Family Advocate's office, and the Commission for Gender Equality provided practical advice on how to prevent violence, how to seek help during domestic violence, and how to get free legal help in child care and custody disputes.

She told guests that her office could not directly investigate a crime such as rape or domestic violence, but could take on the government officials who were not doing their jobs. Officials who were neglectful or corrupt towards people seeking help from them were her domain, she explained.

She opened the floor to questions, and answered in the languages she was addressed in. She shook her head at some of the tribulations tearfully related to her.

“As the office we need to be their refuge,” she said when journalists finally got their chance to speak to her afterwards.

While officials of her office handed out a chicken and salad lunch to those who had attended, she said she wanted to open an office in Khayelitsha to make it easier for people in the area to get help.

There was no money for a separate office, but she hoped to set one up in another public building, such as a magistrate's court.

 

Read more on:    public protector  |  busisiwe mkhwebane  |  jacob zuma  |  thuli madonsela  |  cape town

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