Public Protector candidates in the hot seat

Parliament. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)
Parliament. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Cape Town - Public Protector hopefuls are in the hot seat in Parliament on Thursday.

This as the committee mandated with finding a replacement for Thuli Madonsela grilled the prospective candidates on their qualifications and why they thought they were the right candidate for the job.

Three candidates have so far gone through the interview process, where they were asked to detail their struggle credentials, political affiliations as well as their views on the independence of the office of the public protector.

FOLLOW LIVE Updates on the Public Protector interviews here

Economic Freedom Fighters chief whip Floyd Shivambu questioned each candidate on their role during the apartheid era, and if they had supported or opposed it.

Candidates were put through their paces by the committee members who wanted to know their views on the powers of the public protector, and its independence and what that constituted.

The first candidate, Advocate Michael Mthembu, was questioned about two civil suits he had not declared in the questionnaires, including one by Nedbank.

Political party affiliation

READ: Public Protector candidates declare past wrongs

Mthembu said he had made financial mistakes in the past, but had grown.

Asked about his struggle credentials, the advocate said he had been a student during apartheid and therefore his involvement had been limited.

He was also questioned about his political party affiliation, and he said he had discontinued his African National Congress membership in 2007 when he had been appointed as an acting judge.

He believed his passion for human rights made him an ideal candidate for the job.

This is Mthembu’s second bid to become public protector.

The second candidate, Judge Sharise Erica Weiner, was questioned on the accountability of the office of the public protector and how she would balance high profile cases with ordinary ones.

She told the committee she had been a Nusas member and founding member of Lawyers for Human Rights and had assisted in legal cases.

She was also questioned about her language proficiencies.

“Unfortunately I don’t speak an African language. I only know Afrikaans and English and a bit of French.”

A 77-year-old advocate Chris Mokoditwa said "not every Tom, Dick and Harry could challenge the decisions of the public protector".

He started by listing his struggle credentials before launching into the history of the public protector.

He was questioned about why, at his age, he wanted to be a public protector.

Chairperson Makhosi Khoza said:  "I'm not being an ageist, but this is in consideration to the demands of the job."

Mokoditwa, whose questionnaire was handwritten, said he was a body builder and was fit for the job.

“I walked 15km in the Soweto Marathon. This is nothing,” he said.

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