A North Gauteng High Court judge has dismissed a bid by Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba to set aside a 2013 report by former public protector Thuli Madonsela about the “unfair” treatment of a former South African diplomat who was withdrawn from Cuba.
The public protector found that the department had treated former first secretary Reginald Marimi unfairly by withdrawing him from his post at the South African embassy in Cuba without giving him a chance to state his case.
The department was instructed to apologise to Marimi, to pay him over R300 000 for the allowance that was withdrawn and to investigate the reasons why his case was not properly dealt with.
Marimi asked the public protector to investigate after he was in 2009 summarily recalled without a hearing following a complaint by the Cuban foreign affairs ministry about the conduct of Marimi and South Africa’s second secretary (referred to only as M).
The complaints against M included that he had dragged a fellow motorist on the hood of his car for several metres after a traffic accident and that he had thrown a can of beer at people while intoxicated and then insulted two patrol officers.
The complaints against Marimi included that he had been involved in “serious traffic violations”, tried to go through an unauthorised area and had to be detained by state security agents and that he had physically attacked and insulted an airport customs official.
Cuba did not ask South Africa to remove the diplomats, but asked that they should be warned that new incidents would not be tolerated. Marimi was withdrawn from his posting pending a disciplinary inquiry, which was never held.
Home Affairs maintained Madonsela had overstepped her powers by dealing with a labour matter but Judge Bill Prinsloo said the public protector had extremely wide powers. He said Madonsela had meticulously analysed and considered all the arguments, counter-arguments and documentation, had clearly conducted her investigation with an open and enquiring mind and he was unable to criticise any of her findings.