Public Protector of SA, Thuli Madonsela at the Kalafong Hospital Fundraiser breakfast at the Balalaika Hotel in Sandton hosted by the SAME Foundation 9S.A Mediacl and Education Foundation. Picture: Antoine de Ras, 19/03/2014

Johannesburg - Public Protector Thuli Madonsela is concerned about her security and intends to approach the police to look into the matter.

In an interview with The Sunday Independent this week, Madonsela said she had become deeply concerned about her safety.

Her fears were escalated recently when someone called her an “askari” on the social network Twitter. “You know what an askari is?” Madonsela asked.

An askari is a derogatory term to describe a political turncoat.

She said her office intended to approach the SAPS’ crime intelligence unit, but had not had time to do so. “I will do so,” Madonsela said.

She currently has security detail provided by the SAPS’s VIP Protection Unit.

National police spokesman Solomon Makgale said nothing had been reported to them.

Madonsela said she had been presented as “somebody who is the enemy of the ruling party”.

The public protector also said she would not quit despite mounting pressure from supporters of President Jacob Zuma and high-ranking ANC and SACP officials unhappy with her pursing the spending on Zuma’s private home at Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal.

Madonsela spoke to The Sunday Independent at the end of a week of political drama which started with a leaked letter she had written to Zuma, asking for replies to her final report on R246 million in public funds spent on his private residence in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal.

This week ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe accused Madonsela of behaving like a political institution.

Deputy secretary-general Jesse Duarte accused Madonsela of being a populist.

The attacks came after contents of the leaked letter written by Madonsela were published in Sunday newspapers.

In the letter, Madonsela was expressing her dissatisfaction with his response to her Nkandla report.

This was after Zuma said in his reply in Parliament that Police Minister Nathi Nhleko was going to determine if he must repay the money.

In her final report, Madonsela found Zuma and his family had benefited unduly from the upgrades and he should pay back a portion of the state money spent.

She ordered that Zuma pay for all non-security upgrades done at his home that included a visitors’ centre, an amphitheatre, a swimming pool, a cattle kraal, a culvert, a chicken run as well as extensive paving. In reply in Parliament Zuma said Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko would determine whether he must repay the money.

On Thursday Madonsela called a press conference in Pretoria where she clarified the role of the public protector. She said the Presidency had acknowledged receiving her letter. Madonsela said in her first meeting with Zuma he had stressed “to me the importance of acting without fear or favour”.

“When I investigated the matter regarding his conduct shortly thereafter, his office assisted mine,” she said. She said there had never been any drama or lack of help from the presidency on any investigation whenever her office engaged them.

This week, Madonsela hit back at her critics, saying: “This objecting to the letter not addressed to them, (saying) I had no authority to do so and in so doing I’m undermining Parliament. The truth is my office always follows up on remedial action and has done so with all organs of state, including the Presidency, without drama, even when similar matters were being attended to in Parliament.”

Mantashe said Madonsela’s conduct “prejudices the work of Parliament and its committees”. He said Madonsela must give space to Parliament to process the report.

But Madonsela said: “Even if Parliament were not happy, the hysteria and mudslinging is not (the) way to go.”

Sunday Independent