She was received with the “utmost warmth” by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane and had been consulted on cases, Deputy Public Protector Kholeka Gcaleka told the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services.
Slightly more than three months into the job, Gcaleka appeared on Saturday for the first time as deputy public protector before the committee, which recommended her for the post last November, albeit without the support of the DA and EFF.
Since Mkhwebane took office in 2016, the delegation of responsibilities of Gcaleka’s predecessor, Kevin Malunga, had been stripped significantly and he did not do investigative work, apparently because he had no security clearance.
The issue was often raised by the committee when he and Mkwhebane appeared before it.
On Saturday, Mkwhebane said that in terms of the Public Protector Act, she had delegated to Gcaleka oversight of the complaints and stakeholder management branch, which is responsible for the registration and assessment of all incoming complaints, and the administrative justice and service delivery branch.
She also chairs all the alternative dispute resolution sessions, oversees the signing of settlement agreements and monitors compliance thereto.
Gcaleka’s presentation to the committee stated she and Mkhwebane “have both agreed on the delegated responsibilities for the office” she holds.
“By this, we seek to emphasise the view I am certain we all share, that we do not only need to be seen as a collective, but we also need to work as such; this is imperative in strengthening the Public Protector as a voice of those whom we serve,” read the presentation.
She told the committee Mkhwebane had received her with the “utmost warmth”.
DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach remarked the tasks assigned to her appeared to not be operational, asking why this was the case, given Gcaleka’s experience as a prosecutor in leading investigations.
She said she served on several internal structures chaired by Mkhwebane that met weekly or monthly to discuss in detail each case handled by the office.
“So in these platforms, I get the opportunity to comment on these matters.”
Gcaleka said she and Mkhwebane had “established a culture” of consulting on cases, and she had consulted on a number of cases that were not delegated to her.
Furthermore, there were “some intensive investigations” in the administrative justice and service delivery branch, which she oversaw, she added.
Gcaleka said she was also dealing with strengthening the office’s internal systems to address the various issues raised by court verdicts against it.
“There has really been no work I can say I have not been exposed to.”
She added that as it was still early in her term, the delegations might be reassessed.
“As it stands, my hands are full, I’m busy, I have really rolled up my sleeves.”