Ignoring Public Protector decisions a recipe for impunity
The Public Protector, Adv Thuli Madonsela, says the trend of ignoring the remedial action she takes upon investigating the conduct of some organs of state is a recipe for impunity.
Addressing law students, legal academics and parents during a prize giving ceremony for top performers at the Wits School of Law in Johannesburg on Wednesday night, the Public Protector said with impunity there would be no real accountability or incentive to change.
“Even in cases of conduct failure as in cases involving corruption, unethical conduct and abuse of power or state resources; ignoring remedial action cannot be right,” she told guests.
Responding to a request to deliver a speech on “The Importance of Excellent Law Graduates for the Public Protector’s Office”, she said there was a need for ground breaking scholarship into the institution of the ombudsman as it seemed to her that the full potential of this important vehicle for cost-free access to justice was not being fully explored.
The Public Protector added that her office had noticed that some organs of state took issue with the office’s processes and decisions out of ignorance of her mandate and related powers.
“Some lawyers advising the state tend to be part of the problem rather than the solution due to failure to conduct thorough research on the institution and advising accordingly,” she said.
The Public Protector further opined that it was not only her office that needed lawyers who would “think out of the box” as legal minds that advise the state also needed to adopt that kind of approach to their work.
“This is because when all is said and done, it is the complainant that suffers and our democracy is also weakened,” the Public Protector said, adding that this could result in civic protests such as service delivery marches.
She explained that her office was established to serve as an alternative to courts and tribunals, providing a quicker and cost-free service to complainants, most of whom have no financial muscle to take the state to court in order to protect their rights.
The Public Protector added that the constitutional mandate of her office serves to augment traditional checks and balances that seek to curb excesses in the exercise of state power.
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