Why the public protector needs our protection

09 May 2016 - 09:11 By The Times Editorial

Mother's Day dawned yesterday to the chilling news that a Cape gang boss had been paid R740000 to kill Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. A credible source told Madonsela that three hitmen had been hired to arrange her death next month in an apparent car accident.Traumatised, she said she wasn't sure about the motive behind the alleged plot but speculated that it might be revenge.Madonsela has led a number of high-level investigations into government corruption. Chief among these has been her exposé of how President Jacob Zuma unduly benefited from money spent on security upgrades to his private residence at Nkandla.Speaking truth to power has earned her accolades far and wide. Time magazine called her one of the 100 most influential people in the world and an inspirational example of what public officers needed to be.Closer to home, critics have been less than kind.The police minister threatened to arrest her if she released the Nkandla report. Church leaders called for her office to be exorcised of demons. The deputy minister of defence accused her of being a CIA spy and the Congress of South African Students told her that her nose was ugly.Given the nature of her work, perhaps this kind of thing goes with the territory.But what is shocking is not only that insult has escalated into death threat. It is the reaction of crime intelligence to the threat.According to Madonsela, the Western Cape crime intelligence officer assigned to investigate the plot on her life downplayed the matter. She complained to his superiors in Pretoria but is still waiting for them to get back to her.How is this possible? How is it that the one person who, more than most others, is the mother of our dreams for the future, whose job is to ensure that everyone is equal in the eyes of the law, isn't?We must do everything to protect her.

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