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Wed Dec 07 20:16:28 SAST 2016

Public Protector reaches out to serve people on the margins of society

Tmg Digital | 2016-12-02 12:27:03.0
Busisiwe Mkhwebane. File photo.
Image by: MOELETSI MABE

South Africa's Public Protector‚ advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane‚ will make it a priority during her tenure to focus on serving people in the margins of society.

She said this on the side-lines of an event commemorating 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children in Khayelitsha‚ Cape Town‚ on Thursday.

At the event she announced plans to invest more time and resources raising awareness about the potential of her office to make a positive change in the lives of the poor‚ especially when it comes to poor service delivery.

Earlier this week she outlined her vision to the management team of her office during a two-day strategic planning session in Pretoria‚ according to a statement from her office.

People at the event in Khayelitsha raised several grievances about police conduct‚ the processing of applications for low-cost housing and illegal electricity connections.

"As we have seen with the complaints brought forward by ordinary folk‚ including the elderly‚ people have serious problems and they do not know where to go for help‚" she said.

"We will be going out into communities to raise awareness about our services‚ engaging people in their own languages to broaden access."

Advocate Mkhwebane plans to use community radio stations‚ magistrates courts and government's Thusong Service Centres to improve access to the office of the Public Protector.

Addressing the commemoration earlier‚ she said that gender violence was a serious human rights violation. She noted that while official crime statistics showed a decline in sexual offenses recorded between March 2015 and April 2016‚ South Africa still had a high incidence of this.

She encouraged victims to report cases of abuse to the police‚ before turning to her office. "In other words‚ a victim of rape cannot report it to us. Such an offence should be reported to the police. When you do not get the help you need from the police‚ you may escalate to the Independent Police Investigation Directorate‚ or the Office of the Family Advocate. Only when you are still not satisfied can you come to the Public Protector."

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