Thuli Madonsela
Johannesburg – Former public protector Thuli Madonsela has written to her successor Busi Mkhwebane to offer to pay for the state car damaged in an accident while being driven by her son, Madonsela's Thuma Foundation said.

On Friday, the Thuma Foundation said that in a letter on February 10, Madonsela also withdrew her objection to being charged for VIP protection services during the "off-duty" period, determined by the SA Police Service VIP unit as being from November 30.

"Kindly receive my offer to pay for the cost of the repairs for the state car that was damaged in an accident while being driven, without my authorisation, by my son, who was about 22 years old at the time. The offer effectively authorises the public protector of South Africa ex post facto to keep the amount arbitrarily deducted from my gratuity on 15 October 2016," Madonsela wrote in the letter.

"After careful consideration of this matter, in the light of my moral values and ethics, I have concluded that paying for the damage caused by my son who can’t afford to do so is the right thing to do. I also reiterate the apology I made to government and the people of South Africa on behalf of my family about the regrettable incident that led to the repair costs."

Madonsela said that in documents forwarded to her from the office of the public protector she noted that the total amount deducted from her gratuity on December 15 was R470 000.

"However, it is important to place on record that my offer to pay is made from my moral ethical stance. I maintain, as previously communicated to the public, Parliament, and persons delegated by you to inform me about the intended deduction that I never personally acted in contravention of any public protector South Africa policies, applicable government prescripts, and general laws of the land regarding the accident.

"My legal stance accordingly remains unchanged. I also remain concerned over the lack of satisfactory answers regarding the anomalously high amount for repairs which is virtually two thirds of the value of the car at the time of the crash."

Madonsela said she had also decided that in the interest of closure and peace to authorise Mkhwebane to keep the amount unilaterally deducted from her gratuity for the use of the car.

On February 2, Mkhwebane said that in the spirit of good governance money had been deducted from Madonsela's gratuity because she had continued to use an official vehicle, a BMW X6, after her term ended, and for damage caused during the car crash in 2012.

“On the issue of the car, remember we are dealing with the taxpayer’s money. That amount needed to be paid. We are still engaging the state attorney to advise us because we have only kept a few [less] amount until the matter is resolved,” Mkhwebane said at the time.

Acting chief executive of the public protector's office Reginald Ndou has said that the figure was close to R500 000 and not R750 000, as reported. He said the repair costs were R420 455, and the continued use of the vehicle was R37 081.

In 2012 Madonsela’s son reportedly drove the vehicle assigned to her mother and crashed it into the garden wall of a Pretoria property.

Madonsela said she remained convinced that the law was on her side regarding both the merits of the case and administrative justice implications of the public protector process. With the benefit of hindsight she believed she could have handled the matter better.

"Our moral compass is compromised when we forget that we are not echoes of those that are against us or appear to be so. Those of us who believe in a better world must be the first to do what we believe is right or needs to be done to achieve such a world," she said.

Ending her letter, Madonsela asked Mkhwebane to convey her regards to the team.

"I am deeply grateful for the public protector team’s commitment to allow me to lead it in pursuit of the institution’s mandate of strengthening constitutional democracy by protecting the public against all forms of improper and prejudicial conduct while fostering good governance in state affairs," she wrote.