Public Protector says media can play role in promoting visibility

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pretoria - Newly appointed Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, appealed to the media to assist with ensuring that her office is more accessible, especially to rural communities.

She was addressing the National Press Club on Wednesday.

She said the media could play a more critical role in ensuring that the Office of the Public Protector was better known, adding that the media plays a critical role in cases that they are investigating.

"You as members of the media, you are watchdogs and part of the community. You can help us with our investigations," she said.

Asked if her office was receiving assistance from government departments, Advocate Madonsela said: "We need cooperation from government departments."

Adv Madonsela took over from Advocate Lawrence Mushwana two weeks ago when his contract expired. Advocate Mushwana is now with the Human Rights Commission.

Adv Madonsela expressed concern that members of the public still do not know where her offices are.

She added that a major challenge was striking a balance on high profile cases.

She says her office has received numerous complaints from members of the public, ranging from abnormal electricity tariffs to service delivery problems. She later urged communities not to destroy property whilst protesting.

Among Adv Madonsela's roles as Public Protector is to investigate abuse of power, unfair, discourteous or other improper conduct, maladministration and improper enrichment and receipt of improper advantage.

She praised her predecessor, Advocate Mushwana, saying he had done well although there is still a room for growth and improvement.

The Office of the Public Protector operates on a budget of R106 million and has 50 investigators nationally.