Pretoria – Ajay Gupta visited Public Protector Thuli Madonsela for the purposes of an investigation on Tuesday and was given “ample opportunity to state his case”.
The outgoing public protector disclosed this during a media briefing to release the report of an investigation into the abuse of power by the KwaZulu-Natal Treasury. During a question-and-answer session, she said Gupta visited her office on Tuesday to state his case.
Madonsela made it clear that her office was not investigating wild State capture claims, but those made by three individuals, two of whom claimed to have been offered ministerial jobs by certain members of the Gupta family.
On a side note, Madonsela said she sympathised with the plight of the students who were fighting for free higher education.
“We sympathise with the students and are alive to the plight of the students and we hope that a solution would be found so that learning can continue without hindrance,” she said.
“As we are going away (end of her non-renewable term), there is still the difficult issue of social justice regarding access to education,” Madonsela told reporters at her Pretoria offices.
“We believe that there is social injustice in the manner in which the gates of learning open to our children in institutions of higher learning. All this needs us to work together to find a solution,” said Madonsela, who is reaching the end of her non-renewable seven-year term this month.
However, she cautioned that the unfolding crisis at institutions of higher learning had a broader impact on South Africa.
“Our view is that the crisis that is unfolding in our higher education system constitutes a threat to our constitutional democracy and calls for the involvement of all stakeholders in meaningful engagement,” said Madonsela.
On the report, Madonsela ordered KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Finance Belinda Scott to reinstate a whistleblower who was dismissed in 2013.
The report, titled Rocking The Boat, followed an investigation into allegations of abuse of power and victimisation of alleged whistleblower Fikile Hlatshwayo-Rouget resulting in her unfair dismissal.
“The MEC must ensure the complainant is reinstated to her position within 30 days from the date of issuing the report,” Madonsela said as part of the remedial action.
She also recommended that Hlatshwayo-Rouget be paid all monies due to her, had she not been dismissed, plus interest within 30 days.
She must also be compensated for her financial losses incurred and be provided with a letter of apology regarding her unfair dismissal.
Hlatshwayo-Rouget was employed as a senior general manager for fiscal resource from August 1 to October 30, 2013.
“She alleged that the head of department Smiso Magagula and the former MEC for Finance Ina Cronje suspended and later dismissed her for making a protected disclosure regarding suspected corruption, conflict of interest, maladministration and related procurement irregularities within the treasury.”
Among the corruption allegations levelled against the Treasury were that R25 million was paid for a Durban North Sea Jazz Festival that never took place.
The main allegations against the treasury were that she was improperly dismissed without a disciplinary inquiry or due process and subjected to occupational detriment. Hlatshwayo-Rouget had been unemployed since her dismissal.