Cape Town -
Parties implicated in, or affected by, an investigation by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela will in future be supplied only with those parts of her provisional report that are relevant for their possible response.
They will not be given the full provisional report, as has been the case until now.
This is in an attempt to stop the leaking of provisional reports before they have been finalised – as happened again during the past week when three purportedly provisional reports were provided to some media ahead of finalisation.
These were reports into the profligate spending at Nkandla, the awarding of the R800 million Sekunjalo contract to manage South Africa’s fisheries research and patrol fleet, and the behaviour of former communications minister Dina Pule.
Previously, provisional reports – which were not necessarily the final versions approved and signed by Madonsela – have also been leaked.
On Monday, Madonsela said publishing the purported provisional reports was both unethical and unlawful, and she wanted to assure the public that the leaks were not coming from her office.
She welcomed calls for investigations into the leaks: “We work with sensitive information for months without any leakages. It cannot be a coincidence that the so-called leaks only occur after the reports leave our offices into the hands of parties.”
She again expressed concern at this problem and announced a new measure to curb the problem, or “mitigate opportunities for report leakages”.
“In terms of the new arrangement, affected and implicated parties will no longer get full provisional reports. Instead, they will be furnished with information or parts of the report that relate to them for purposes of soliciting their comments,” she said.
“This is hoped to stem the trend of purported leakages, which puts the integrity of investigations in jeopardy while also prejudicing the people whose names are mentioned in the reports. The arrangement will maintain the fairness and the spirit of the law, which underpinned the approach of sharing the reports with parties.”
She pointed out that in terms of the Public Protector Act that became law in 1994, parties against whom potential adverse findings were being considered, were entitled to engage with the public protector ahead of finalisation.
* A spokeswoman for Madonsela’s office, Kgalalelo Masibi, confirmed on Monday that the Sekunjalo contract report was one of a number of final reports provisionally due to be released at 11am on Thursday. This investigation followed a complaint by DA fisheries spokesman Pieter van Dalen.
The original deadline for comment by affected parties was October 21, but Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson asked for a month’s extension. This was allowed by Madonsela.
Joemat-Pettersson’s spokeswoman, Palesa Mokomele, confirmed in response to a question by the Cape Argus that the minister had been granted the extension.
“We wish to thank the public protector for that, and yes, we have met the agreed (new) deadline.We will respond to the matters pertaining to the report once everything has been finalised,” she said.