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Protector ‘faces arrest’

21/10/09. Public Protector, Ms Thuli Madonsela. Picture: Damaris Helwig

21/10/09. Public Protector, Ms Thuli Madonsela. Picture: Damaris Helwig

Published Jul 6, 2011

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Jovial Rantao

P olice plan to arrest Public Protector Thuli Madonsela on charges of fraud and corruption.

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The Star has established, through independent sources and documented evidence the SA Police Service plans to pounce on advocate Madonsela in relation to three-year-old alleged illegal activities which took place when she was a commissioner of the SA Law Reform Commission (SALRC).

The allegations against Madonsela are that, while she was a full-time commissioner at the SALRC, companies wholly owned by her did work for and were paid R1.8-million by the SALRC.

The money, totalling R1 845 826, was deposited into a Standard Bank account in her name.

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While the official response from police commissioner General Bheki Cele’s office was a terse “no comment”, several SAPS sources have confirmed that the arrest is imminent. Only one source, a senior commercial crime investigator, was doubtful.

“From what I heard, command has been somewhat reluctant to give the go-ahead… for this investigation to get off the ground. The “nascom” (national commissioner) was not too happy with those who ordered the arrest of the journalist and the raid of the public protector’s office. I doubt the national commissioner has an appetite for this kind of backlash that would be unleashed by the arrest of the public protector,” the source said.

It is alleged Madonsela never disclosed her business dealings to the department and did not obtain approval from the cabinet.

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This development comes as Madonsela is expected to submit her final reports into two controversial property lease deals, involving R500 million and R1.1 billion respectively, to accommodate police headquarters.

The buildings are in Pretoria and Durban.

In her preliminary report, Madonsela found Cele guilty of unlawful conduct and maladministration for his role in procuring a lease for the new headquarters in Pretoria and Durban.

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The public protector recommended that Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa must take urgent action against SAPS officials found to have contravened procurement laws. One of the senior police officers The Star spoke to questioned Madonsela’s finding against Cele.

“The public protector’s dogged determination to hold Cele accountable for the violation of the procurement provisions of the Public Finance Management Act can be likened to a bid to hold Menzi Simelane accountable for a case of malicious prosecution based on the simple fact that Cele’s men would have been responsible for the wrongful arrest of the relevant party in the first place,” the officer said.

Madonsela is expected to submit her final report on this investigation in the near future.

In relation to Madonsela’s activities while an SALRC commissioner, The Star has established that, as early as September 2009, the opinion of the office of the state law adviser was sought by the Department of Justice in relation to Madonsela’s activities.

The office of the state law adviser was of the opinion that public service regulations, in terms of which Madonsela could have been disciplined, did not apply to members of the SALRC.

The Department of Justice was given the option of approaching the public protector’s office or reporting the matter to the law enforcement agencies for an investigation for possible contravention of section 17(1) of the Prevention of Corrupt Activities Act.

Sources told The Star that the police stumbled upon information on Madonsela while investigating a separate case registered at the Pretoria Central police station. The information was acted upon only in February this year, when the investigating officer, a colonel in the police, submitted a memorandum to the head of commercial crime, disclosing his finding.

Justice Minister Jeff Radebe, through his spokesman Tlali Tlali, confirmed a departmental inquiry. “We’ve initiated an inquiry into the matter from the time we became aware of it,” Tlali said.

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