Statement on the Public Protector’s alleged delays in finalising her investigation against Minister Sicelo Shiceka
Public Protector Adv Thuli Madonsela has noted with disappointment comments in the media attributed to the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Mr Sicelo Shiceka. The statements relate to the Public Protector’s ongoing investigation into allegations that Minister Shiceka breached the Executive Members’ Ethics Code.
Among other things, Minister Shiceka is reported to have said he was ready to go back to work and that the Public Protector was dragging her feet in finalising the investigation against him. This implies that the purported delay by the Public Protector is holding the Minister back from returning to work.
The Public Protector refutes these allegations and would like to put on record circumstances that have led to the delay in finalising this investigation, which, in terms of the Executive Members’ Ethics Act, was supposed to have been concluded within 30 days.
On 29 April 2011, the Public Protector notified Minister Shiceka of the investigation against him and thus requested him to furnish her with information and documentation which would assist her in the investigation. On 9 May 2011, Minister Shiceka requested an extension until 31 May 2011 to enable him to provide the Public Protector with a comprehensive response. The request was granted and the Minister’s response was subsequently received on 10 June 2011.
ATTEMPTS TO INTERVIEW MINISTER SHICEKA
On 01 August 2011, the Public Protector approached the Minister to arrange an interview with him in connection with the information and evidence obtained during the investigation. The said interview was scheduled for 06 August 2011.
On 03 August 2011 an unsigned letter was received in response to the Public Protector’s request ostensibly on behalf of Mr Shiceka, notifying her that Mr Shiceka was on sick leave and was not in a position to meet with her until he was declared medically fit to resume duties by a registered medical practitioner.
This is despite information provided to the Public Protector, at the time of the investigation, by witnesses who gave an impression that Mr Shiceka’s health had apparently improved for him to be interviewed. Due to the fact that he was still on sick leave, the Public Protector deemed it appropriate that the interview be held at his official residence in Pretoria so as not to inconvenience him.
Subsequently, the Public Protector approached the President advising him of the challenges that she was facing in concluding her report particularly the unavailability of the Minister to attend the interview thus requesting the President’s intervention.
On 12 August 2011, an article appeared in the Sowetan newspaper quoting Mr Shiceka’s spokesperson as having stated that the Minister was ready and able to go back to his office and that the Public Protector was dragging her feet in finalising the investigation against him. On the same day the Public Protector approached Mr Shiceka again to arrange an interview and his special advisor responded on his behalf distancing the Minister from the media report and advising the Public Protector that he has not sufficiently recovered to be interviewed.
On 17 August 2011, the Public Protector approached the Minister directly raising a concern about the conflicting statements thus requesting the Minister to advise whether he was in a position to meet with her. The Public Protector then received the same response on 18 August 2011 that the Minister remained on sick leave until directed by the President and a medical practitioner to return to work. He then requested that he be furnished with a provisional report.
The Public Protector then advised the Minister that such a report would include findings which could only be made on all the information and evidence obtained during the investigation. She further advised him that what was outstanding was information and evidence required from him to clarify and explain some of the information which came to light during the course of the investigation. The Public Protector then provided him with written questions, which the Minister, through his advisory team responded to on 26 August 2011.
On 31 August 2011, the Public Protector wrote again to the Minister’s advisory team requesting clarity on certain aspects of his responses. On 01 September 2011 the team, and on behalf of the Minister, responded that, they take direction from the Minister in carrying out their duties and that responses to the Public Protector were compiled in consultation with the Minister.
Whilst drafting the provisional report, additional information and evidence, which the Public Protector could not ignore, came to light. This necessitated the Public Protector to consider same and integrate in the provisional report which will be presented to the President, complainant and the respondent in the next coming week.
Senior Manager: Communications
Office of the Public Protector
Cell: 079 507 0399