I mean, this was a fierce female who took on ministers for their alleged dodgy dealings – and at the time of my interview the president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, was the man who had appointed her.
On entering her office I expected a “let’s get this interview over and done with, there’s work to do” approach. Instead, I encountered someone who exuded so much humility my nervousness dissolved into a glow of comfort. Humility should be at the forefront of our being. It makes us human. In simple terms, it is remembering where you come from.
In our interview, Madonsela – the daughter of a domestic worker – was honest, open and thought deeply before speaking. In the article, I described her as a woman filled with quiet dignity and grace. Her name, Thulisile, means “somebody who quietens people”. And that she does.
The ANC earlier this week condemned the “behaviour” of Madonsela over a letter written by her to Zuma about his response to her report on the R246 million security upgrades at his Nkandla homestead. “We vehemently reject her wild and baseless accusation that we don’t respect the Constitution and that we are interfering in her lawful duties,” it said.
“It has become that office’s habit to label and demonise those who disagree with it on matters of principle. We remain unfazed …” Here’s a quick fact: Madonsela was one of 11 technical experts who helped draft the final South African Constitution between 1994 and 1995. I’m just saying.
This is not the first time she has been criticised. She has been accused of being an agent for the DA by the ANC, which has most recently added EFF leader Julius Malema to her “list of favourites”.
Are you kidding me? Let’s not forget Malema once labelled Madonsela a “tool” for “Afrikaner minorities”. It is all too easy to accuse her of having an “agenda”, but Madonsela is doing her job: she is protecting the public by unearthing injustice.
Earlier this year Madonsela tweeted a line from the poet Pablo Neruda: “You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep spring from coming.”