Madonsela humbled by recognition

2014-11-22 00:00

SOME Durban Rotarians hoped that Thuli ­Madonsela would brief them on the extent of the corruption and rottenness in South African ­governance “as only she can”.

Instead, they found themselves giving the ­public protector a standing ovation for revealing most public servants as “good human beings” dedicated to enhancing the country’s “awesomeness” and warning that “we tend to judge our institutions by their weakest people”.

“It’s just that the ones who mess up, they mess up so badly!”

The message from 250 members of Durban’s charity elite to the advocate was, “Please don’t leave your job”, and, “Keep doing what you are doing”.

In messages contained in a book presented to her, ordinary Durbanites compared her to Nelson Mandela — saying, “[Now] we really are the South Africa of Madonsela”.

The Rotary Club of Durban North expected a polite rejection slip from an underling when they sent a letter to Madonsela’s office, inviting her to speak to their members.

After all — as Madonsela said on Thursday night — the public protector had grown up “knowing the Rotary Club as a playground of rich people”.

Madonsela praised the group’s members for “building goodwill and inclusivity” in society, and promised to instil its values within the ranks of her own 400 staff.

Having received the club’s Paul Harris award, she said, “In truth, it should be you who are getting the award. You make my team and I green with envy.

“It is organisations such as Rotary International, of which you are a part, that should be praised, for providing humanitarian services, and promoting goodwill and peace in the world — you also embrace inclusivity.”

It represented Madonsela’s surprise message that South Africa is defined by individuals who live the values of their progressive Constitution, rather than by cynical thieves.

Keren Stanley, a local member of the Together SA “We Support Our Public Protector” ­campaign, said: “Her humility is amazing. I guess she gets a lot of her power by basically being a fellow ­citizen.”

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