Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has taken the moral high ground to ensure organs of state are held accountable when she named and shamed various public officials – again including Police Minister Bheki Cele – for ignoring her remedial actions.
Despite the Constitutional Court declaring three years ago the public protector had powers, public office bearers and organs of state have disregarded her findings, leaving her office “ineffective and toothless”.
Speaking at the Public Protector House in Pretoria yesterday, Mkhwebane said she received calls and SMSs from two whistleblowers on the run because Cele has failed to protect them. The whistleblowers from KwaZulu-Natal fled their homes after death threats.
Mkhwebane slammed Cele last year for being “grossly negligent” for not providing protection to them.
“Their crime was lifting the lid on maladministration in Umzimkhulu. Last year, I asked the president to take action against the minister of police for failure to afford them protection. Action is yet to be taken,” Mkhwebane said.
“We can’t deal with crime and the level of corruption if we can’t secure the protection of whistleblowers. The constitution obliges the minister of police to protect each citizen,” she said.
Cele’s spokesperson, Reneilwe Seroro, said the department was allowing court processes to unfold.
Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula also made the list for ignoring the protector as she failed to adhere to the findings of the military ombud on reinstating former defence force Lieutenant-Colonel Babalo Mvithi.
“He and his family are without a source of income because of maladministration on the part of the department of defence. Mvithi complained that my office is doing nothing about his plight when, in fact, we have done all that we could.”
While 21 of the 70 investigation reports were taken for judicial review, Mkhwebane said her office could only defend 13 due to budget constraints.
“Our litigation costs are high. This financial year we are thinking of budgeting R10 million, which is actually next to nothing.”