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Mkhwebane names Cele and Treasury among those who fail to implement remedial action

28 February 2019 - 17:12 By ernest mabuza
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane hopes her decision to 'name and shame' may result in public pressure on perpetrators to do the right thing.
Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane hopes her decision to 'name and shame' may result in public pressure on perpetrators to do the right thing.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

Police minister Bheki Cele and the Treasury were among 50 government officials and organs of state that were named by public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane on Thursday as having failed to implement the public protector’s remedial action.

The public protector had found in 2018 that Cele and the police had failed to protect Thabiso Zulu and Les Stuta, who had blown the whistle on corruption - which they claimed had been behind the murder of former ANC Youth League secretary general Sindiso Magaqa. This could have resulted in the assassination of the two men.

Her remedial action also required that President Cyril Ramaphosa reprimand Cele for his lapses in judgment regarding the police service’s failure to provide protection for Zulu and Stuta after a determination was made that they needed it.

At a media briefing on Thursday to name and shame those who had not implemented her remedial action, Mkhwebane said her office had invested hours and resources in investigating these matters.

"There is this crop of public office bearers who neither implement the remedial action nor challenge the remedial action on review," Mkhwebane said.

She said she had decided to take the course of naming and shaming the officials and departments as it was impossible for her office to go to court to ensure the implementation of the remedial action in these cases.

"In view of the insufficient budget, we have to be frugal in the extreme and we must pick and choose which review matters we have to defend.

"As we speak, 21 out of 70 investigation reports since I assumed office are under review. I am defending 13 as a result of financial constraints," Mkhwebane said.

She said her decision to publish the details of the misdeeds may result in public pressure cajoling them to do the right thing.

"With all these powers we possess, we have to do this," Mkhwebane said.

Mkhwebane also mentioned a case finalised by her predecessor, Thuli Madonsela, in 2011 where remedial action had not been implemented.

Madonsela issued a report following complaints by the Vhembe Concerned Pensioners' Group. The report by Madonsela had found that the government had mishandled the privatisation of the Venda Pension Fund and that the complainants had been prejudiced due to the maladministration.

Mkhwebane said she had issued a special report that was meant to help the Treasury to implement remedial action of the 2011 report.

"Many of those complainants are penniless. That remedial action is yet to be implemented. The excuse given by Treasury was that the implementation of remedial action will have an effect on the finances of the country."

Mkhwebane said the Treasury had later conducted its own investigation and informed her it would not be able to implement the public protector’s remedial action.

"Treasury said pensioners should take comfort that they receive the old age grant," Mkhwebane said.

Mkhwebane also said when government departments or ministers took the matter to court on review, this did not suspend the implementation of the remedial action by the department.

Other bodies and senior government officials who had ignored her remedial action included the minister of justice, the Johannesburg Roads Agency, the department of higher education and the University of Limpopo, the City of Johannesburg, the City of Tshwane, the national commissioner of police and the minister of defence.