DA to take up Madonsela matter urgently
Johannesburg - The opposition Democratic Alliance says that it has noted with "extreme concern" the reports that the SA Police Service (SAPS) is on the point of arresting the Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, for crimes that are unclear, but apparently relate to her tenure as a member of the SA Law Reform Commission.
The party added on Wednesday that it would be taking up the matter urgently with the chairperson of the justice portfolio committee when it attended the Chief Justice's access to justice conference in Johannesburg on Friday.
This allegation was of particular concern, according to the DA, when seen in the light of the fact that Madonsela was appointed by the president in October 2009, after a selection process in Parliament wherein she received the full support of all parties.
"No allegations were made at that time of any wrongdoing," the DA said.
It added that the police investigation reportedly commenced in February this year, at around the time the public protector released her first report into the SAPS lease in Pretoria, in which she found the actions of Commissioner Bheki Cele to be unlawful, and also found fault with the actions of the Department of Public Works.
Furthermore, Madonsela was "on the verge of releasing her second report into the SAPS lease in Durban", which was by all accounts more damning than the first report.
The DA said that, days after the story broke, there were allegations of impropriety regarding the Pretoria lease, and one of the journalists responsible for writing the story was arrested by police on charges that were later thrown out of court.
"In addition, The Sunday Times last week made public the fact that both Mzilikazi wa Afrika and Stephan Hofstatter [who wrote the first expose on lease deals involving Cele] had been advised that their movements and communications were under surveillance."
Pattern of intimidation
In early March, shortly after the release of the first report, two SAPS members paid a "visit" to the offices of the Public Protector, requesting information that they reportedly already had in their possession.
The DA said that the Public Protector herself, when appearing before the Justice Portfolio Committee shortly thereafter, advised that her staff had been unsettled by this action.
"However, the police officers have since been cleared of any wrongdoing, with the SAPS saying that they had been engaging in official business."
The DA contended that there was thus already "a clearly established pattern of intimidation" of anybody who has been involved in finding or exposing wrongdoing on the part of the SAPS.
"It is too coincidental that these allegations against the public protector are now surfacing."
The DA added that it was fundamental to SA's democracy that Chapter 9 Institutions be permitted to exercise their powers and functions "without fear, favour or prejudice".
"Advocate Madonsela has shown herself to be fulfilling that mandate in exemplary fashion to date. If there is no substance to the reported SAPS allegations that she has infringed the law [the Public Protector has denied any wrongdoing], and if it is true that they are investigating her and are on the verge of an arrest, this conduct amounts to a continuation of the campaign of intimidation of the Public Protector, by the SAPS in particular, and may well contravene section 181(4) of the Constitution, as well as section 11(1) of the Public Protector Act, 23 of 1994, which makes it an offence to interfere with the functioning of this institution."
The party said that urgent answers were needed from the minister of police on these issues.