Inside the Madonsela dossier

2011-07-09 17:30

The seeds of this week’s unprecedented attack on Public Protector Thuli Madonsela were planted just days after she was nominated for the post.

A City Press investigation has established that prosecutions boss Menzi Simelane, then the justice department director-general (DG), commissioned legal ­opinion following an “investigation” which “revealed” that ­Madonsela had “several business dealings with the department” which she “never disclosed” while serving as a commissioner on the SA Law Reform Commission.

Madonsela – who is due to ­release a damning report on ­national police commissioner General Bheki Cele and the ­controversial leasing of a Durban building for the police – expressed shock this week after being shown a copy of the justice department memo leaked to City Press.

Describing it as an “overnight . . . hash job”, she said the document was “deeply flawed”, “contradictory” and “legally ­unsound”.

Dated September 25 2009, eight days after she was nominated for the position by a special ­parliamentary committee, the memo was sent by deputy chief state law ­adviser Michelle Olwage to Paul Nel, a senior official in the department’s audit directorate in the ­office of the DG.

It revolved around the question of whether Madonsela, as a commissioner, could have been considered a “public servant” and ­therefore be bound by legislation requiring her to disclose her ­business interests.

At the time, Madonsela was the sole member of Waweth Resources, and the Waweth Law and ­Policy Research Agency.

Madonsela, who closed the businesses when she was appointed Public Protector, said the argument was fundamentally flawed because the law reform commission is a “statutory body, not a member of the public service”.

This week, Olwage said the ­request for the legal opinion “must have come from the DG’s office . . .  but I can’t remember the ­contents”.
Olwage said: “We never did an investigation. We were asked to give an opinion . . . nothing else.”

Simelane flatly refused to comment. His spokesperson, Mthunzi Mhaga, said Simelane would not “validate” suggestions that he had told officials to “go for” ­Madonsela and referred all further queries to the justice department.

On Thursday, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe confirmed the 2009 investigation, adding that the department was asked by the Treasury to “look into a possible conflict of interest”.

He said Madonsela’s role in Waweth was “never a secret” and that her conduct was not a “violation of any prescripts or laws”.

Madonsela told City Press that she had been contacted in February about the issue by the ­department’s current DG,
Nonkululeko Sindane.

“She said she was cleaning out old files to make sure there were no unattended matters. That to me seems legitimate,” said ­Madonsela.

But this week it emerged that the legal opinion was resuscitated in April this year by the Hawks.

City Press has the classified Hawks information note, dated April 1 this year – four weeks before a controversial police raid on ­Madonsela’s office.

Compiled by Captain James Hills from the Serious Economic Offences Unit and verified by his commander, Colonel Danie Kriel, the note is a “report regarding ­information relating to Waweth Resources CC”.

It states that during investigations into a fraud case registered in Pretoria, information was ­obtained that R1 845 826 was paid to Madonsela’s companies ­between August 2004 and July 2009.

City Press has established that the complainant in the Pretoria case was Nel.

According to his secretary, Nel is currently in hospital and could not comment.

It is understood that the case broadly relates to fraudulent ­invoices submitted to the department and forged signatures on documents.

Both Kriel and Hills refused to comment.

Madonsela said she did not ­believe the amount of R1.8 million was correct.

The police information note


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