Protector ‘did nothing wrong’

2011-07-08 07:00

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela did not break any laws when her company offered services to the justice department while she worked for the SA Law Reform Commission, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said yesterday.

The justice department had, at the Treasury’s request, investigated if there had been a conflict of interest when her company Waweth rendered services to the department.

Because Madonsela was not appointed as commissioner to the commission in terms of the Public Service Act and public service regulations, she was not bound by them, Radebe said.

“On the basis of all that has been considered, I am satisfied that the conduct of the Public Protector in relation to what had to be investigated, that is, whether or not there was a duty to disclose, or that she was operating a profitable business entity, did not constitute a violation of any prescripts or laws.”

Radebe was reacting to reports in The Star and Pretoria newspapers on Wednesday.

The reports alleged that Madonsela faced imminent arrest for fraud and corruption in connection with her work at the law commission three years ago.

According to the report, which cited unnamed sources, companies which Madonsela owned had done work for the commission for R1.8 million.

Madonsela denied the claims on Wednesday. By late yesterday she had still not been arrested.
Radebe said the enquiry was closed. At no stage had the matter been referred to law enforcement agencies for investigation.

Madonsela was appointed commissioner in 2007 and became Protector in October 2009.

Radebe confirmed Madonsela’s statement that her company’s work had never been a secret.

“As a Cabinet member responsible for the administration of justice, I find it most unfortunate and unsettling that the integrity of advocate Thuli Madonsela, and by extension the office which she occupies, has been called into question in the manner we have seen in the media in the past few days,” he said.

Madonsela received the presidency’s backing yesterday. Spokesperson Harold Maloka said it was “concerned” about The Star’s report.

“The presidency wishes to reiterate the government’s commitment and support to the work and office of the Public Protector as stipulated by law.”

He said she should be allowed to continue her work “without fear or favour”.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa urged Independent Newspapers to produce information about the planned arrest.

Mthethwa said he was not aware of any impending arrest. He had also spoken to police chief General Bheki Cele about the matter.

“I verified with the national commissioner of police and he was also unaware of any pending arrest. In addition, I personally phoned the Public Protector and she informed me that the information she had seen was through the media,” he said.

He believed someone was spearheading a campaign to discredit the police.

Mthethwa said he had ordered an investigation into the claims made in the report.

“We also urge the Independent Newspapers, as the people who broke the allegations, to come forth with information on the merits of their story. Surely if there is any evidence or truth in this pending investigation or imminent arrest, police would have known?”

He said there appeared to be a campaign to “portray the Public Protector as a victim”, while the police were being portrayed as being responsible for that victimisation.

Cele’s spokesperson Nonkululeko Mbatha said the SAPS would investigate the circumstances leading to publication of the reports. The outcome of the probe would be announced as soon as it was completed.

The Star newspaper’s editor, Moegsien Williams, said he had no intention of providing the police with the names of its sources.

“Our sources and documents are confidential. We stand by our story. Mthethwa is being disingenuous. We received an anonymous report. There was an investigation and we will respond to him tomorrow.”

He said a police source had informed the newspaper that an arrest could be made.

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