Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane says the first six weeks of her tenure have been “bumpy and rocky” as she continues to face heavy criticism from some MPs.
She has been under fire since taking over from Thuli Madonsela in October, with some accusing her of favouring President Jacob Zuma and defying MPs.
Mkhwebane has also faced tough questioning after reports claiming she laid a criminal charge against her predecessor.
This was after a recording of Madonsela’s interview with Zuma on state capture was released to a television news channel.
MPs expressed their dissatisfaction at Mkhwebane’s response to a request to appear before Parliament’s ad hoc committee looking into the SABC.
She had reportedly told the committee she did not understand why it was still sitting, given that there was only one board member remaining.
Mkhwebane visited Khayelitsha on Thursday as part of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign. Speaking to reporters, she said: “It’s been very rocky and bumpy, but we are getting there with the team.
“I am two months now with the team, but the work that we are doing is like the work of a year or two years, but we will get there.
“There are a lot of investigations that they are finalising, which we will shortly be issuing reports on.”
The event was also used as part of Mkwebane’s office to bring its services closer to the Khayelitsha community.
A resident asked her to clarify the reports that she had allegedly asked the police to investigate Madonsela.
“The police are investigating whether there is a case with regards to this matter. Remember, there was also an issue with regards to Julius Malema’s matter.
“Who released it?
“Was it people working in the office, how did it happen? There are also records from Vytjie Mentor that were released; how did that happen? The public protector does not investigate criminal matters. The police specialise in that.
“Let them investigate how these were released. Even with the previous public protector, the investigation will help determine how it was released,” she said.
Mkhwebane said she would not allow a situation where crucial information was handed to her office in confidence, and that information was released to the public.
“A case has been opened with the police to investigate a criminal matter or criminal conduct whether that was criminal by her (Madonsela) doing that, and when she did it.
“If she did so as the public protector, when did that happen? If she did it after that, then she falls under the category of any other person,” she said.
“Why would I shield the president? If the president committed any conduct or there is a service failure from the president, the president will be investigated.”
She would not be drawn into whether she would be opposed to the intended State of Capture report review by the president, saying “it will depend”. The public protector hit back at the MPs in the ad hoc committee investigating the SABC, saying she wished she had been given an opportunity to explain herself.
She said she was caught by surprise after it emerged that she did not avail herself for the committee.
She said she had availed herself on December 1 or 7.
“We were informed and we were in Joburg. I availed two investigators in the matter. They went there at short notice. They met with the investigator and they gave all the information.”
She said her investigators were concerned about their safety.
“That was made worse when the ad hoc committee deliberated about some of the journalists whose lives are in danger and they (investigators) said we won’t be going’.”
She said, while she supported the process, the public protector – in terms of the Public Protector Act – was competent to be witnesses, but not compelled to be witnesses in any inquiry.