Thuli: Office powers have to be defended

Thuli Madonsela. File picture: Gallo Images / Thapelo Maphakela)

While the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein yesterday sat to hear the case of embattled SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng appealing a high court order that he be suspended pending a disciplinary hearing, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said there was a need to defend her office when its powers were whittled down.

It was a report by Madonsela about the SABC, which recommended the SABC board take immediate action against Motsoeneng, which eventually led to the case being heard by the SCA. The panel of judges reserved judgment.

The DA approached the Western Cape division of the High Court earlier this year, applying for an urgent interdict to have the findings and remedies of the Public Protector enforced. Motsoeneng brought the matter to the SCA, claiming the recommendation to have him removed was made by a person without powers to do so, referring to Mandonsela’s office.

Madonsela, attending yesterday court case, said the vision of the architects of South Africa’s democracy in establishing her office and empowering it to investigate alleged improper conduct and take appropriate remedial action, also needed to be defended.

“My office was created in order for ‘Gogo Dlaminis’ (grannies) and other ordinary people to exact accountability on those exercising public power and control over public resources. If the office had no remedial powers it would be of no use,” said Madonsela.

According to Madonsela’s report in February last year, Motsoeneng received three salary increases in one year, taking his earnings from R1.5 million to R2.4 million. She also found that he lied about his qualifications. After yesterday’s court proceedings, DA Federal executive chairperson James Selfe said they hope there will be clarity on the powers of the office of the Public Protector and that Motsoeneng will eventually be disciplined as recommended.

Motsoeneng’s lawyer Zola Majavu said in April a recommendation that his client must be relieved of his duties was “made by a person without powers,” – in an indirect reference to Madonsela.


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