Protector bemoans media leak

2011-09-28 14:04

Pretoria - The publication of a leaked provisional report from her office had not served the public's interest, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said on Wednesday.

Such action also undermined the integrity of her office, she told the National Press Club in Pretoria.

Madonsela said she had been disappointed at Business Day's decision to publish her report on Local Government Minister Sicelo Shiceka's alleged misuse of tax money.

The newspaper reported that Madonsela had called on President Jacob Zuma to consider "serious action" against Shiceka after she found he had misused tax money on personal travels and hotel stays.

It wrote that Madonsela's provisional report, of which it received a copy on Tuesday night, found Shiceka had spent R546 864 on an unofficial visit to Switzerland.

"What happened this morning [publishing a leaked report] cannot be said to constitute public interest," said Madonsela.

The decision amounted to "pure self interest".

"How could public interest suffer waiting 10 days?" she asked.

The protector issued provisional reports to allow those against whom complaints had been made an opportunity to respond to her findings.

Madonsela said she was considering not producing provisional reports in the future.

She said the Shiceka report leaked on Wednesday contained a disclosure clause, stating it was a contravention of the Public Protector's Act to disclose its contents.

"That's a deliberate violation of the law."

She did not rule out taking legal action against the newspaper.

Madonsela said she and her officials still had to decide on whether to pursue the matter.

Earlier this year, the Sunday Times published a leaked provisional report relating to two controversial multimillion-rand police building leases in Pretoria and Durban.

  • George - 2011-09-28 14:15

    But what is the secret here taht was leaked? The minister abused our public funds. So what is it to be leaked when the funds were not even private? The story of the minister of local government abusing public funds has been reported since the time immemorial. The report is not secret as it is public knowledge that these thieves steal public money.

      Currie_Mafia - 2011-09-28 14:44

      Yes, but it could be detrimental to the case against the guilty party.

      SOOTHSAYER - 2011-09-28 15:51

      The likes of George are short sighted, their take on issues is narrow and lacks depth ......

      SaintBruce - 2011-09-28 16:47

      Leakey office, Dear Madam Protector. Look inwards not outwards for your solution. It may be a good thing to let Shiceka know we know how much he blew and that we are waiting for his response! He can mull over this while he plays tennis!

  • Koko - 2011-09-28 14:20

    I wonder when is your term of office is going to expire... Ms Public protector.

      Ingie - 2011-09-28 14:40


      Currie_Mafia - 2011-09-28 14:43

      point being ?

      Wade Mackintosh - 2011-09-28 14:44

      i wonder when your small minded rants will expire!

      Wow! - 2011-09-28 14:55

      Why? You worried that you are on the list?

      lany - 2011-09-28 14:59

      Why K K ??

  • G-spotWizard - 2011-09-28 14:25

    If it's in the public interest, it must be leaked. I repeat, it must be leaked. But if the new info bill is passed the person who leaked this could be in trouble.

  • Sparxi - 2011-09-28 14:35

    It's all been said before, but looks like it needs to be said again: The role of the provisional report is to present provisional findings of the Office of the Public Protector. This allows for any inconsistencies or errors to be corrected and all concerned with/in the report have the right of reply. Yes the risk certainly exists that certain things are swept under the carpet during this final process. This is not resolved by prematurely publishing the provisional report. Instead the final report should clearly indicate changes made to the provisional report and provide the reasons for such changes. The provisional report could always be accessed using PAIA. If a newspaper gets hold of a provisional report, it can always use this information to validate whether the Office of the Public Protector did its job properly once the final report is produced, checking for example that nothing "disappeared" without explanation. Prematurely publishing a document that is "provisional" in nature does no-one any real service except perhaps the media house that might sell more papers.

      nosiphom - 2011-09-28 17:09

      You are 100% right Sparxi, but we should think why people in the office leak these reports. Maybe in the past they did the investigations, wrote procivional reports that are internal, but when the final reports were finally released, they differed dramatically from the provisional reports. They have therefore decided that in order to make sure that the truth comes out, and to ensure that the people reviewing the reports are not tempted to change the content and wipe things under the carpet, they leak the provisional reports. Thuli should employ me to implement an information security management system in that organisation, it leaks like a sieve !

      Sparxi - 2011-09-29 08:02

      Nosipho, if the leak is internal and it is for the reasons as speculated, then surely it would have a bigger impact to leak the provisional report after the final report has been released? That way everyone will immediately see what has transpired and those involved have no way to wriggle out of things. But if we are speculating as to who might be leaking such a report, let's be inclusive here. Who would benefit from an impression being created that the Office of the Public Protector is responsible for the leaks and therefore possibly irresponsible in approach? If one can't attack a report one can always try to undermine the author.

  • Ingie - 2011-09-28 14:38

    If hes guilty he must do time..plain simple english. Good on her job well done. M

  • KGB007 - 2011-09-28 14:39

    I blame Apartheid for this leak.

  • Seven9 - 2011-09-28 14:41

    For the sake of democracy, let Thuli Madonsela do her job and investigate the situation fully, a provisional report is not final..... She says there is nothing wrong with publishing final reports!

  • Currie_Mafia - 2011-09-28 14:42

    Business Day did act in an irresponsible manner & the decision amounted to "pure self interest". This case may be tainted because of this premature decision & Shiceka may walk. Madonsela is doing a great job & the press should support her efforts by responsible reporting.

  • motsoka - 2011-09-28 14:43

    The stupid media does it again...

  • Musa Ngubane - 2011-09-28 14:45

    The journalists are becoming a law unto themselves. Even if the public protector is doing her job well, but such leaks are damaging her reputation. This is a second leak now. How many leaks are we going to have before an official report is released? Bloody journalists! That's why we must have a media appeals tribunal.

      Gramsci - 2011-09-29 09:19

      "Leaking" is an accepted and age-old practice in all government. People in power leak information in order to serve the interests of their side in the party or political spectrum. The press ONLY reports on it. The provisional document was made available TO GOVERNMENT; not to the press.

  • a.bryanh - 2011-09-28 14:50

    The leak does not serve the public interest?but this regime does not serve the public interest...SO?

  • Prof - 2011-09-28 14:51

    That's the reason why the info bill is required. You can't just leak incomplete information to the public.

  • Fred - 2011-09-28 14:52

    Not very good at protecting the public if reports keep leaking, are we sure it wasn't leaked purposefully to ensure that zuma does something about it?

      Sparxi - 2011-09-28 15:01

      So Fred, you know that the Public Protector actually leaked the report? Did Business Day confirm its source to you? There is absolutely no other person that could have leaked this document? No-one else? But maybe you're simply chuffed that you got to make a pithy play on words using "public" and "protect" in the same sentence to take a swipe.

  • kaMazibuko - 2011-09-28 15:01

    then u say we dont need regulation of the media ???

      Valkerie - 2011-09-28 15:52

      It's not the media that leaked this report. Someone in government did. The media merely reported on it.

  • owamin1 - 2011-09-28 15:05

    I am sorry to say, I don't believe in "leaks" - especially if these leaks keep happening. To me they seem like deliberate leaks, otherwise they should have been stopped. It's a stunt used since the origins of the journalism profession.

  • ANC Comrade - 2011-09-28 15:31

    I told you before, when Thuli Madonsela get rid of the scum in the ANC then even the DA voters will vote ANC. Make this woman president!

      Gramsci - 2011-09-29 09:13

      Precisely. How many people who voted ANC in 1994 and even in 1999 now vote for the DA or just abstain from voting altogether? Those who continue to vote ANC consist of (1) those employed in the growing state bureaucracy and those who benefit from ANC patronage, and (2) those too ignorant, uneducated and unemployable to make a go of their lives without government handouts -- those who depend on a welfare state.

  • nic - 2011-09-28 15:46

    Why should criminal acts such as this be kept secret? FFS!!!!!!!!!!!

  • keng - 2011-09-28 15:58

    I think Business Day is playing into the ANC's hands. What a wonderful stick to beat them with.

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