Chairperson and previous public protector, Lawrence Mushwana. was commenting on a recent spate of attacks on advocate Thuli Madonsela’s office.
“I was there when these laws were made in parliament. We were all passionate, we wanted that institution,” he said.
“Government cannot establish us and when we do our work, some of those who must respect that role, will come in and vilify you.”
Mushwana said society should see the public protector as “the defender of their rights”.
“But when they see that we are being vilified, they don’t see us as a champion. What do they do? They … continue … their service delivery protests, which unfortunately, at times, turn … violent.
“So yes, [the attacks] undermine democracy, [as well as the] the independence of Chapter 9 institutions.”
Chapter 9 bodies were not adversaries of government, he said.
Madonsela has been accused of being a DA agent and a CIA spy, among other things, during her term as public protector.
Last year, the ANC said it was “concerned” about Madonsela and her “behaviour” in her role.
A little-known blog, Africa Intelligence Leaks, alleged that Madonsela, former DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko and Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union head Joseph Mathunjwa were CIA spies.
“We don’t want to remove the public protector, we want the public protector to do her work correctly and behave correctly,” ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said at the time.
State Security Minister David Mahlobo then indicated the matter would be investigated.
Madonsela dismissed the allegations.
“A Grade nine pupil could see it is rubbish,” she said.
Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema also dismissed the claims.
“Those people are clowns,” City Press reported Malema as saying. “Our biggest problem is that our ‘intelligence’ is not intelligent.”