Protector still free, editor ‘stands by story’

2011-07-07 12:49

More than 24 hours after reports emerged that the Public Protector was about to be arrested, she was still free today.

“She is with me now,” her spokesperson Kgalalelo Masibi said over the phone shortly after 1pm today.

Yesterday, The Star and Pretoria News newspapers reported that advocate Thuli Madonsela faced imminent arrest for fraud and corruption in connection with her work at the SA Law Reform Commission (SALRC) several years ago.

According to the report, which cited confidential documents, companies which Madonsela owned had done work for the SALRC worth R1.8 million while she was a commissioner there.

At a press conference yesterday, Madonsela denied the claims.

Today, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa urged Independent Newspapers in a statement to “bring forth evidence or information” about the planned arrest.
In his statement, 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 with malicious intent was spearheading a campaign to discredit the SAPS and it would not take this lightly.

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

“We also urge 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 that 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.

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

“Our sources and documents are confidential. We stand by our story,” he said. 

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