25 November 2010
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela says she is ready to use new legislative rules giving her office more power to enforce compliance from the state – including the power to issue subpoenas and orders of contempt – in order to deliver justice to the South African public.
“We find it unacceptable that some state organs still give us the run-around when we seek answers on behalf of distressed or aggrieved members of the public,” Madonsela told members of the National Press Club in Pretoria this week.
“The people who come to my office for help often have no financial means to take the mighty state to court, and come to me as a last resort, believing that my office can provide them with justice free of charge and quicker than tribunals and courts.”
The new rules strengthen the Public Protector’s powers to enforce accountability from state organs and ensure a speedy resolution of cases.
They are in accordance to section 7 (11) of the Public Protector Act of 1994, which states that the Public Protector may make rules in respect of matters that have a bearing on investigations, provided that such rules are published in the Gazette and tabled in the National Assembly.
The new rules will be published in the Government Gazette early next year.
Madonsela warned that her office would not hesitate to use its full powers to exact compliance with the Constitution and the law, and would use everything in her means, including subpoenas and orders of contempt of the Public Protector, to deliver justice to the public.
During her recent outreach programme, she assured citizens that they could trust her office with confidential information about corrupt activities.
Madonsela appealed to the public to report poor service and conduct by organs of state, suspected corrupt activities and other forms of maladministration in state affairs.
On average, the Office of the Public Protector received about 15 000 complains per year. It takes from a couple hours to three months to resolve a single case, depending on its nature.