Tshwane – Outgoing Public Protector Thuli Madonsela on Tuesday hit back at organisations and individuals who have attacked her and warned that she may take legal action against those who labelled her a CIA agent when she leaves her post next month.
“These people that they have decided that they want to attack me have suddenly found an interest in my association with the South African Jewish Board of Deputies. I’m now being accused of having fund-raised for Israel. The event I attended had nothing to do with supporting Israel. It was an event to fundraise for an old-age home which is in Durban,” Madonsela told reporters in Pretoria.
“The Constitution is very clear that the Public Protector must be accessible to all persons and communities. There is no provision in the Constitution, for those attacking me, which says ‘no Jews allowed’. No provision says if you are a friend of Israel, the Public Protector must not be accessible to you. So, good people, can we stop playing these games?”
Madonsela said often, when she was undertaking a significant investigation that some “people are not happy about”, they would begin spreading rumours about her.
This week, Palestine solidarity organisation, BDS South Africa released a press statement saying it was “shocked that South Africa’s Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, participated in a fundraising event on the 21st of September 2016 with the Israel United Appeal-United Communal Fund (IUA-UCF)”.
Regarding recurring allegations that she was a spy of the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency, Madonsela warned that when her seven-year Public Protector terms ends next month, she may have to take legal action against those who made this particular accusation. “I believe that on that particular issue, it is grown-ups behaving like children and playing a game. Right now I will not deal with it, I will not do anything. If they want to play this game, after the 15th [October], since I will be having a lot of time on my hands, I might just take them up on that game. But for now, I really have a job to do. After the 15th of October, I may just play the game,” said Madonsela.
The accusations were initially made by deputy military veterans minister Kebby Maphatsoe, who is also Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association chairman Kebby Maphatsoe last year.
On Tuesday, Madosela released a report titled “Who Tampered?” with the findings of her investigation into allegations of maladministration by the Western Cape operating unit of state-owned power utility Eskom.
The probe followed a complaint launched by Shorn Khumalo, on behalf of his mother Simone Khumalo, a 49-year-old resident of Khayelitsha. In the complaint, Eskom was accused of wrongfully disconnecting the electricity supply to the Khumalo household and improperly imposing a tampering and reconnection fee of R12 000 against Simone, a general staffer at a bus company.
Madonsela said at the inception of her investigation, Eskom was asked to fix and reconnect the Khumalos’s pre-paid meter pending her findings but the utility refused to do so until the release of the damning preliminary report on the matter. “The impact was that Mrs Khumalo was unable to purchase prepaid electricity from the period of disconnection, February 29, until reconnection on September 5, and [they] were accordingly without the use of electricity at their residence for about six months,” said Madonsela.
Madonsela found that Eskom’s conduct was improper and constituted maladministration. “The appropriate remedial action I am taking in pursuit of Section 182 of the Constitution is that the general manager of Eskom in the Western Cape is to ensure that the tampering fee on Mrs Khumalo’s account is reversed, as such was imposed without following due process,” she said. “[Eskom general manager] is also to ensure that Mrs Khumalo’s liability with regard to the consumption of electricity without paying for it, from September 2013 to February 2016, is calculated and reasonable terms are agreed with her for the payment of the debt.”
Madonsela found that Eskom disconnected the electricity supply in February 29, 26 months after Simone had reported a faulty meter that was refusing to allow her to load the prepaid electricity credit and allowing her to use free electricity.
Simone made the report of the faulty meter shortly after it had been repaired following her admission of tampering and payment of a tampering fee imposed by Eskom.
On Tuesday, Eskom released a statement saying it accepted the findings and would implement the Public Protector’s recommendations.