Shai battles to support allegations

2012-11-27 18:18
Parliament (Picture: Sapa)

Parliament (Picture: Sapa)

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Cape Town - Outgoing deputy public protector Mamiki Shai battled before Parliament's justice portfolio committee on Tuesday to substantiate allegations she has made against her boss Thuli Madonsela.

Her attempts to do so were labelled as "office politics" by Democratic Alliance MP Dene Smuts, who suggested such matters should not have progressed as far as a National Assembly committee.

"We have been expected to attend... We have had to study documents, and we have had to listen to what is essentially office politics," she said.

A "filter" was needed to ensure that such matters did not again progress to that point.

Smuts told committee chairperson Luwellyn Landers: "You and I... have for many years been throwing in the rubbish bin complaints very similar to [this] kind of thing."

Landers reminded members that Tuesday's meeting was the result of a request by Madonsela herself.

"Bear in mind that was our approach initially, until the public protector herself said to us, 'please investigate these anonymous complaints'."

Earlier, Shai told the committee that in the course of her work in the public protector's office, her signature had been forged by a senior staffer, and that the matter had been reported to the police, who were investigating.

However, she was unable to immediately tell the committee the case number or provide the name of the police investigating officer.

Landers called on Shai to provide these to him in writing.

Shai said she had come before the committee thinking it was a briefing.

"With a briefing really, for me... it's short. It's just to say that I'm here and yes, I did that... so I'm not prepared for a lot of things," she said.

Last month, Madonsela said allegations made about her by Shai were "false" and "misleading".

Among other things, these included that Madonsela had withheld a report on the DA-led Midvaal municipality until after the local government polls.

Asked by Landers whether her professional and personal relationship with Madonsela had deteriorated to an "irretrievable" point, Shai responded: "To tell you the truth... [she is] somebody I wouldn't want to work with, or even be friends, after the 30th [of this month]."

Smuts noted that Shai "has not been a happy camper" during her tenure.

However, her term of office ended on Friday; a new deputy public protector would come in; and the committee now needed to establish whether there actually had been any offences committed.

The appropriate place to establish this was when Madonsela appeared before the committee early next year, she said.

Referring to unsigned letters of complaint relating to the work of the public protector, Landers called on whistleblowers to shed their anonymity and come forward.

"We want to invite whistleblowers to take this opportunity to come forward. It is extremely difficult for us to give any credence to [anonymous letters]," he said.

After discussion, the committee set a 15 December "due date" for this to happen.

Landers said those who wished to speak out should contact him personally, through Parliament.

Read more on:    da  |  mamiki shai  |  dene smuts  |  thuli madonsela  |  luwellyn landers

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