Public Protector announces a new measure to stem report leaks

Public Protector Adv. Thuli Madonsela has again voiced her concerns at the phenomenon of publishing information based on purported leaked provisional investigation reports of hers, announcing new measures to address the problem.

In the wake of leaks and publishing of information reportedly based on what are purported to be her provisional investigation reports, the Public Protector has decided on a new measure aimed at mitigating opportunities for report leakages.

In terms of the new arrangement, affected and implicated parties will no longer get full provisional reports. Instead, they will be furnished with information or parts of the report that relate to them for purposes of soliciting their comments.

This is hoped to stem the trend of purported leakages, which puts the integrity of investigations in jeopardy while also prejudicing the people whose names are mtioned in the reports.

The arrangement will maintain the fairness and the spirit of the law, which underpinned the approach of sharing the reports with parties.

In terms of the Public Protector Act 23 of 1994, parties against whom the Public Protector is considering potential adverse findings are entitled to be given an opportunity to engage with the basis on which the Public Protector is considering such adverse findings.

The Public Protector also assured the public that the leaks were not coming from her office. She welcomed calls for investigations into the leaks.

“We work with sensitive information for months without any leakages. It cannot be a coincidence that the so-called leaks only occur after the reports leave our offices into the hands of parties,” she said.

She reiterated the point that publishing the reports was both unethical and unlawful. This practice, she added, was at odds with section 7(2) of the Public Protector Act 23, 1994, which states that:

“No person shall disclose to any other person the contents of any document in the possession of a member of the office of the Public Protector or the record of any evidence given before the Public Protector, Deputy Public Protector or a person … during an investigation, unless the Public Protector determines otherwise.”

Meanwhile, the roadmap on the investigation into security upgrades at the President’s private residence in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal -as announced by the Public Protector- at her last media briefing- remains unchanged.

Issued by:

Kgalalelo Masibi
Public Protector South Africa
012 366 7006
079 507 0399

Published Date: 
Monday, December 2, 2013