Draft Public Protector Report sent out for verification of facts
The Public Protector has noted with regret an article published by the Citizen newspaper this morning, alleging that a draft report following the investigation into lease agreements for police headquarters in Pretoria will be given to National Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele to “change” and “edit” before it is made public.
A simple inquiry with the Public Protector would have ensured truthful reporting. The truth is the report has been sent to certain individuals and organs of state to solicit their comments on the investigation team’s assessment of facts and any evidence in their favour that the investigation may have missed.
A copy of the report was sent to the complainant, Mr Paul Hoffman, yesterday on the basis of a written undertaking that he will not leak the report. He has confirmed that such written undertaking was elicited from him and that he has been assured that the report is on its away to him. Copies were also sent to the Minister of Police, Minister of Public Works and the Accounting Officers of the South African Police Service and the Department of Public Works.
A copy will also be delivered to the Minister of Finance tomorrow for comment on the investigation team’s take on the issue of compliance with treasury regulations. By the time the investigation team left the office yesterday, one of the complainants, the Freedom Front Plus, had not yet been favoured with a copy as the complainant had not yet submitted the requested written undertaking to keep the contents of draft report confidential.
In terms of the Public Protector Act, parties against whom the Public Protector is considering the potential of adverse findings, are entitled to be given an opportunity to engage with the basis on which the Public Protector is considering such adverse findings. It is for this reason that they are being favoured with copies of the draft report. Release of draft reports to appropriate parties is also part of the new Public Protector’s undertaking to ensure transparency.
As the draft report will show, the parties have been given until January 3, 2011 to comment. They were initially given 5 working days, however, taking into account the festive period and the responsibility of the SAPS around this period, the return date was reviewed.
After receipt of comments, only the Public Protector as assisted by the investigation team will integrate any comments that have merit. This approach is also consistent with the Public Protector (Ombudsman’s) institutional nature, which is inquisitorial rather than adversarial. However, in the end only the findings of the Public Protector and the Special Investigation Unit’s (SIU) will be captured in the final report. The Public Protector collaborated with the SIU in the investigation.
The Public Protector wishes to assure the public and Parliament that this and other investigations are conducted on the basis of unwavering institutional independence and impartiality.
For more information, contact:
Manager: Outreach, Education and Communication
Public Protector South Africa
Tel: (012) 366 7035
Cell: 072 264 3273