Frequently Asked Questions
 


What is a Public Protector?

A Public Protector (or Ombudsman as the Office was previously known):

  • Is a high level official;
  • Is independent of government and political parties;
  • Is appointed by Parliament in terms of the Constitution
  • Receives complaints from aggrieved or distressed persons against government departments, agencies or officials; and

Has the power to:

  • Investigate;
  • Mediate, conciliate and negotiate;
  • Recommend corrective action; and
  • Issue reports.

How does the Office of the Public Protector work?

Anyone can lodge a complaint with the Public Protector, who will then investigate it.
Think of the Public Protector as a referee who can look at all sides of a problem. If the Public Protector finds that the complaint is justified, he/she will do whatever possible to find a solution to the problem, which includes recommending changes to the system.

The Public Protector can also report the matter to Parliament, which will debate the matter and ensure that recommendations are followed.

Investigations are mostly done informally, but the Public Protector can serve summons on people to give evidence under oath or affirmation when this becomes necessary.

Who can be investigated by the Public Protector?

  • Government at any level. This includes national, provincial and local government;
  • Any person(s) performing a public function. This includes anyone performing any official duty which affects all, or part of the people of South Africa, for example a government employee, such as an electoral officer;
  • Public entities such as the SABC, Eskom and Telkom; and
  • Statutory councils, for example the Human Sciences Research Council and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

What can the Public Protector investigate?

Improper prejudice experienced as a result of:

  • Abuse of power;
  • Unfair, discourteous or other improper conduct;
  • Undue delay;
  • Decision taken by the authorities;
  • Maladministration;
  • Dishonesty or improper dealing with respect to public money;
  • Improper enrichment; and
  • Receipt of improper advantage.

When does one complain to the Public Protector?

Before you complain to the Public Protector, you should try to solve the problem yourself, for example by:

  • Speaking to the official(s) involved or if that does not help;
  • Writing to the person in charge of the official(s), for example the Head of the Department, the Chief Executive Officer or the Municipal Manager; and
  • You may also consider approaching a Member of Parliament or Provincial Legislature.

The following information should be contained in your complaint

  • The nature of your complaint;
  • Background and history of the complaint;
  • The reasons you feel the complaint should be investigated by the Public Protector;
  • The steps you have taken to solve the problem yourself. You should mention names, dates, and what was said. Copies of any correspondence between you and the officials should be attached to your letter; and
  • Your postal address and a telephone number where you can be reached.

You may write, or request someone to write on your behalf. You can also phone the Public Protector’s office where trained professional staff members will listen to your complaint.

You can also visit any of our offices located in all nine province for an interview or consultation, if you prefer.

A complaint must be reported to the Public Protector within two years from the date of occurrence of the incident.

Complaints can also be lodged at visiting points and workshops conducted by the office. Visiting points are areas that have been identified for the purpose of conducting interviews with complainants, and they are found in all provinces. Visiting points are serviced at least once a month.

Will anyone else hear about my complaint?

The Public Protector and staff will keep the name of the complainant confidential when necessary.

How much does it cost to get help from the Public Protector?

Services are free

The Public Protector cannot investigate the following:

  • Court decisions and sentences;
  • Private individuals;
  • Private companies; and
  • Professionals not employed by government such as doctors or lawyers.

However, staff of the Public Protector can help by telling you where to complain or what to do in the above cases. In instances such as the ones above, where the Public Protector does not have the authority to investigate your complaint, he/she will direct you to the appropriate institution.

Head Office
Office of the Public Protector
Private Bag X677
Pretoria
0001

175 Lunnon Street
Hillcrest Office Park
0083

Tel: (012) 366 7000
Fax: (012) 362 3473

TOLL FREE NUMBER: 0800 11 20 40

Eastern Cape

P O Box 1400
Bisho
5605

Unathi House
Independent Avenue, Bisho
Behind Pick ‘n Pay

Tel: (040) 635 1286/7/1145/1126
Fax: (040) 635 1291
Free State

P O Box 383
Bloemfontein
9300

Public Protector House
82 Kellner Street
Bloemfontein

Tel: (051) 448 6172/6185
Fax:(051) 448 6070

Gauteng

P O Box 32738
Braamfontein
2017

Constitutional Hill
Women’s Jail
2 Kotze Street
C/o Kotze & Joubert Streets
Johannesburg

Tel: (011) 339 3737/2047
Fax: (011) 339 2858

KwaZulu-Natal

P O Box 4267
Durban
4000

22nd Floor
Suite 2114
Commercial City Building
Durban

Tel :( 031) 307 5300/5250/5251
Fax: (031)307 2424

Limpopo

P.O Box 4533
Polokwane
0700

Unit 2301, Wyndom Park
23 Rabe Street
Polokwane

Tel: [015] 295 5712
[015] 295 5699
[015] 295 5956

Fax:(015) 295 2870

Mpumalanga

P O Box 3373
Nelspruit
1200

Pinnacle Building
Suite 101
1 Parkin Street
Nelspruit

Tel: (013) 752 8543
Fax :( 013) 752 7883

Northern Cape
P O Box 1505
Kimberley
8300

4 Sydney Street
Pretmax Building
2nd & 3rd Floor
Kimberley
8300

Tel: (053) 831 7766 / 8325381/2
Fax :( 053) 832 3404

North West

P O Box 512
Mafikeng
2745

Public Protector’s Chambers
Cnr Martin & Robinson Streets
Mafikeng

Tel: (018) 381 1060/1/2
Fax: (018) 381 2066

Western Cape

P O Box 712
Cape Town
8000

4th Floor
51 Wale Str/Bree Str
Cape Town

Tel :( 021) 423 8644
Fax :( 021) 423 8708

REGIONAL OFFICES

George

P O Box 9481
George
6530

1st Floor South Wing
Bataleur Park
Cnr Cathedral & Cradock Street
George
6259

Tel :( 044) 874 2887/904
Fax :( 044) 874 5922

Kuruman

P O Box 79
Mothibistad
8474

1 Rose Avenue
Shop 1
Kuruman
8460

Tel: (053) 712 1762 / 2347
Fax :( 053) 712 2417

Mabopane

P O Box 3165
Rosslyn
0200

Central House
2nd Floor, Room 334
Mabopane

Tel: (012) 702 5458/4330
Fax: (012) 702 8127

Rustenburg

P O Box 371
Tlhabane
0309
Suite No 12
Old SARS Building
135 Klopper Street
Rustenburg

Tel: (014) 592 9023/6
Fax: (014) 592 9031

Siyabuswa

P O Box 2391
SIYABUSWA
0472

Old Parliament Building
Job Skosana Street
SIYABUSWA
0472

Tel: (013) 973 0033/6
Fax: (013) 973 0029

Upington

P.O Box 15
Upington
8800

Umbra Building
55-59 Mark Street
Upington
8800

Tel: (054) 338 5740
Fax: (054) 331 0036

Vryburg

P O Box 891
Vryburg
8000

Old Mutual Building
Market Street
Vryburg
8600

Tel: (053) 927 2221
Fax: (053) 927 2509
 

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