Kevin Malunga, the deputy public protector, has told The Citizen: “Quite frankly, the complaint against me is nonsensical, as the investigation file is active, and is being handled by our Johannesburg office. The investigator’s name is Piet Moloi.”
Malunga provided The Citizen with emailed correspondence on the matter that his office sent to Mathole Motshekga, the chairperson of justice portfolio committee, on October 10, responding to allegations contained in a City Press article of October 8, 2017.
“Some time in late 2015 or early 2016, Mesuli Mlandu phoned my PA [Jane Diane] with a customer service complaint about his complaint against Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality mayor Mondli Gungubele and then municipal manager Khaya Ngema alleging that the investigation into his complaint was not progressing in the way he would like.
“The matter is being investigated by Piet Moloi, senior investigator, Gauteng office. As we have done with many similar complaints, the matter was referred to the Provincial Investigations and Integration (PII) branch (copying Reginald Ndou, Executive Manager (PII) and Sello Mothupi, Senior Manager (PII). The Gauteng Provincial Representative of the Public Protector (Winnie Manyathela) was also alerted,” Malunga wrote in the letter.
He further noted his intervention did not translate into the matter becoming an investigation in his office, “as we consider this to be a customer service complaint”. He emphasised he was simply expediting the matter to the appropriate official. He also told Motshekga the matter remained a provincial investigation for the Gauteng office.
Malunga admitted to having attended a meeting, at the request of the Gauteng office, where he discussed with Gungubele a list of almost 150 complaints against the [Ekurhuleni] municipality.
He denied this meeting was to exclusively discuss Mlandu’s complaint, revealing that the complainant had at some point tried calling him to instruct that the deputy public protector must not meet Gungubele.
The letter also details how former public protector Thuli Madonsela also admomished Mlandu for interfering with investigations.
Malunga takes exception to what he calls Mlandu’s tone, which he found “abrasive and bordering on condescending”.
He said although he empathised with Mlandu’s frustration, the complainant ought to understand that “our investigations take time to complete”, and should stop prescribing investigative methodologies to his office.
Malunga disclosed that after he received a letter from DA MP Mike Waters on March 31, 2017, he sent the complainant a status report indicating the matter was still under investigation, with Moloi as the assigned investigator. “Mlandu proceeded to indulge his now apparent obsession with me when it is clear that I have no formal or assigned role in this investigation,” Malunga’s explained.
Malunga’s letter also stated that on June 7, Mkhwebane met with him and Moloi during, which his “peripheral role” was clarified and timelines were agreed.
Malunga said he was able to determine from the email correspondence he was able to gather that Mkhwebane met with Mlandu and Waters again on June 26, “at which timelines and the way forward were agreed”.
The deputy public protector finally reminded Motshekga: “This matter involving political office bearers is known as a Special Attention Matter, and I [Malunga] do not have authority to close it in any event. Such authority resides with the Public Protector.”
Meanwhile, when asked if Mkhwebane had brought the office of the Public Protector into disrepute, her spokesperson Cleopatra Mosana, retorted “Which conduct” and informed The Citizen that Mkhwebane “will not resign.”