Leak of protector’s report unlawful

2011-06-20 12:55

The leaking of the Public Protector’s provisional report into police efforts to secure a controversial R1.1 billion building lease is illegal, the Public Protector’s chief executive Themba Mthethwa said today.

He also described the Sunday Times’ decision to publish the leaked report as “unethical” and said Public Protector Thuli Madonsela was considering taking the matter up with the SA National Editors Forum.

The Sunday Times published details from the provisional report in its front page story at the weekend.

Titled “Against the Rules Too”, the report contains, according to the newspaper, revelations by public works director general Siviwe Dongwana that he was “concerned for my personal safety and that of my family” as he was put under pressure to approve two police lease deals.

In February this year, Madonsela officially issued her first report – titled “Against the Rules” – on police lease deals. It dealt with a R500-million deal for a new police headquarters in Pretoria.

“We are also of the view that the decision to publish this leaked report was unethical. Even the newspaper in question acknowledges that the document they quoted from was provisional and declared confidential,” said Mthethwa.

In terms of the Public Protector Act it was unlawful to disclose any information related to an investigation by the protector unless she had given specific permission for its disclosure.

“We are asking the media to honour due process. We are asking for responsibility,” he said.

Those connected with the report have until June 23 to respond to its contents.

Mthethwa said the leak would not disrupt the process, but that the protector was still considering her options.Public Protector Thuli Madonsela

It was also not known who had leaked the document to the newspaper.

He declined to comment on the accuracy of the Sunday Times report.

Asked what, if any, legal action was being considered, he said: “We are still considering our actions.”

Asked if publication of the leaked document was illegal, he said: “It’s up to the lawyers to determine whether it is just the leakage or also the publication.”

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