Public protector Busisiwe Mkwhebane has rubbished reports that she has laid criminal charges against former public protector Thuli Madonsela. She says that she has instead asked the police to investigate Madonsela.
“It’s not true that Advocate Mkhwebane laid charges against her predecessor. Instead, she opened a case at the Brooklyn police station in Pretoria, requesting an investigation into the alleged leaks to establish if they amount to a breach of section 7(2) of the Public Protector Act,” a statement from the public protector’s office said.
Mkhwebane says that she received complaints from the presidency, the office of the speaker and the National Assembly after Madonsela released audio of her interview with President Jacob Zuma during her investigation into allegations of state capture.
The audio was released after Zuma denied that he had a fair opportunity to respond to Madonsela during the course of the investigation.
Yesterday, the Sunday Times reported that Mkhwebane had filed criminal charges against Madonsela on November 11 for contravening the Public Protector Act by releasing the audio to media channels.
The Sunday Times also claimed that former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor had laid a complaint against Madonsela for releasing the audio. But Mentor had denied doing so. Mkhwebane will meet with the Sunday Times and Mentor regarding the story that was published.
The public protector said that the leaks coming from the public protector’s office are what led to her opening a case against Madonsela.
“In order to maintain the credibility of Public Protector South Africa and for the people to trust the institution, we need to safeguard whatever evidence such people, including whistle-blowers, give to us,” she said.
The alleged move to charge Madonsela has been perceived as part of Zuma’s fightback against his critics, hampering public perception of the independence of the public protector’s office.
The president last week said that there would be a judicial review into the State of Capture report, which investigated his relationship with the Guptas and benefits the family enjoyed from state resources.