Madonsela ‘arrest’ report is intimidation, says DA

2011-07-06 11:19

Reported plans to arrest Public Protector Thuli Madonsela form part of a pattern of intimidation if the allegations against her are untrue as she has said, the opposition DA said today.

“There is thus already a clearly established pattern of intimidation of anybody who has been involved in finding or exposing wrongdoing on the part of the [SA Police Service],” DA MP Debbie Schafer said, referring to the protector’s investigation into alleged irregularities in multi-million rand leases for police office space.

“It is too coincidental that these allegations against the Public Protector are now surfacing.”

The Star reported today that, according to unnamed sources, Madonsela would be arrested for alleged corruption and fraud relating to R1.8 million worth of work her private company did for the SA Law Reform Commission when she worked there.

Police would not say whether the report was true or not.

“We are not going to be drawn into comments attributed to faceless people,” said Colonel Vishnu Naidoo.

“We don’t confirm or deny investigations against people unless they have appeared in court.”

McIntosh Polela, the spokesperson for police special investigating unit the Hawks, was on holiday and earlier, National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said he was not aware of charges pending against her.

The report came hours ahead of a press briefing by Madonsela which was expected to deal with her findings into a lease for police office space in Durban from businessman Roux Shabangu and alleged soliciting of business for donations to the ANC by Hessequa municipality mayor Christopher Taute.

The DA said the allegation was of particular concern when seen in the light of her appointment by the president in October 2009 after receiving the full support of all parties in Parliament.

No allegations were made at that time of any wrongdoing.

“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 [National Police] Commissioner Bheki Cele to be unlawful, and also found fault with the actions of the public works department,” continued Schafer.

Days after a story broke that there were allegations of impropriety regarding the Pretoria lease, co-writer of the story, journalist Mzilikazi wa Afrika, was charged with fraud, forgery and uttering.

The case was thought to have been in connection with a purported resignation letter from Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza. The charges against Wa Afrika and government employee Victor Mlimi were later withdrawn.

Last week, the Sunday Times reported that Wa Afrika and co-writer on the lease articles, Stephan Hofstatter, had been told they were under surveillance, said Schafer.

In early March, shortly after the release of the first report, two police officers went to Madonsela’s office asking for a document relating to the lease investigation. At first the police expressed concern over the visit, but later said the officers had been on official business.

Schafer said that Chapter 9 institutions (independent statutory bodies) should be allowed to work 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 point of the Public Protector, according to its website is: “To strengthen constitutional democracy in pursuit of our constitutional mandate by investigating, rectifying and redressing any improper or prejudicial conduct in state affairs and resolving related disputes through mediation, conciliation, negotiation and other measures to ensure fair, responsive and accountable public sector decision-making and service delivery.”

Madonsela was expected to fully react to the report at her media briefing at noon.

Earlier, in an interview on SAfm, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said he was surprised at the news report of charges pending against Madonsela.

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