Protector admits to errors
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Public Protector Thuli Madonsela has admitted that she failed to follow up crucial recommendations she made in her report on irregularities in the DA-run Midvaal municipality in Gauteng.
Madonsela says she failed to instruct the law society to probe the lawyer she fingered in her report. As a result the municipality’s longstanding attorney Andre Odendaal, who was also the DA leader in the area, has still not been reprimanded.
Eleven months have passed since Madonsela released her report.
Madonsela, who is now being investigated by the Justice Portfolio Committee for her handling of cases, this week said she had never ruled out the possibility of wrong-doing by the DA-led municipality and that there was prima-facie evidence of corruption.
Her admissions come after Parliament received several complaints about her - one from her deputy, Advocate Mamiki Shai, who claimed that Madonsela changed findings in the report she had authored into the Midvaal municipality.
Midvaal whistleblower Kobus Hoffman has added his voice to the saga, sending parliament an independent affidavit in support of Shai’s claims.
Hoffman alleged that Madonsela withheld the release of the report for three months to protect the DA in the local government elections and that she did not follow up on the recommendations she made in the report.
One of these was to forward the report to the Law Society of the Northern Provinces to investigate Odendaal, who was Midvaal’s attorney and debt collector for 30 years. The other was for the municipality to provide bi- monthly reports to her.
Odendaal had allegedly told the society that there was no merit to the complaints made by Hoffman and fellow whistleblower Corrie Pypers. He said said no action would be taken against him but Madonsela in her report said this was untrue and his conduct needed to be dealt with.
But this week Madonsela admitted not forwarding the report to the law society to investigate the complaint against Odendaal.
“I rely on the intervention team, but I think my office has been lacking in submitting the report to the Law Society. It is not for me to act politically. On this one, I don’t understand why Hoffman is saying it is me. The complaint was handled by my deputy [Mamiki Shai],” said Madonsela.
She said Hoffman had never raised any concerns about the failure to report the matter to the society in her interaction with him.
Jaco Fourie, senior legal advisor at the Law Society of the Northern Provinces, said there was “no formal correspondence” from the Public Protector.
The first time he saw the report was on June 20 - seven months after its release - as part of a complaint lodged by Advocate Anton Alberts from the Freedom Front Plus.
Following Alberts’ complaint, Hoffman has contacted the society and referred to the report in a follow up to his initial complaint to the society.
He said the investigation into Odendaal was still pending.
Fourie said the delay in finalising the matter was that he had not received Odendaal’s response to the report.
Hoffman told The Sunday Independent he was appalled that the society had not finalised the matter. “Even if the public protector did not hand the report over, we reported the matter in 2009 already. This places a dark cloud over her office and one can doubt if she took the matter to the MEC as she had recommended,” he said.
But DA national spokesman Mmusi Maimane dismissed as “hogwash” Hoffman’s claims, referring the matter to Midvaal mayor Timothy Nast.
Nast said Hoffman was “nothing but a failed politician with egg on his face”. The affidavit was a continuation of his political vendetta.
“The Public Protector conducted a thorough investigation dealing with each and every one of his numerous and often absurd statements,” said Nast.
He denied that the municipality has failed to implement Madonsela’s key findings, saying it complied with every single recommendation and has submitted ongoing progress reports to her office.
Madonsela’s office said it was “generally happy” with the implementation and while bi-monthly were not submitted by the municipal manager, as requested in the report, the municipal manager reported “regularly”.
“The most recent report was at the end of September 2012 showing matters were interrogated by a joint committee of the Council comprising members of the Municipal Audit Committee and the Municipal Public Accounts Committee,” said a statement by spokesman, Oupa Segale.
The office was still studying the reported outcomes.
Odendaal refused to comment. - The Sunday Independent