The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services today commenced with interviews to fill the position of Deputy Public Protector, which becomes vacant next month, when the term of the current DPP, Adv Kevin Malunga, expires.

The committee started today, by interviewing Adv Shadrack Nkuna, Mr Buang Jones, Adv Moshoeshoe Moshoeshoe and Adv Noxolo Mbangeni.

Committee Chairperson Mr Bulelani Magwanishe’s began by asking candidates about their values, experience and skills. Adv Nkuna told the committee that formerly he worked at the commercial special crimes unit and is currently at the Public Service Commission, where he investigates maladministration, corruption and fraud at all state departments.

In response to a question from committee member Adv Glynnis Breytenbach regarding a possible conflict between the Public Protector and her deputy about the roles and responsibilities of the DPP, Adv Nkuna said he believes in teamwork. One of his first meetings with his superior will be to obtain clarity on roles and responsibilities.

Next was Mr Buang Jones, acting Legal Head of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). As expected, committee members questioned him about public statements he is alleged to have made about how the SAHRC will make an example of the Springbok rugby player, Mr Eben Etzebeth, for his alleged racism.

Mr Jones responded by saying that his comments referred to deterrents in the Equality Act. Two legal opinions obtained on the matter found his utterance to have been within the bounds of the law. Mr Jones said his comments were reported in the media out of context after he engaged with community of Langebaan on the matter. He said he adheres to the principles of the Constitution.

The DPP is appointed by the President on the recommendation of the National Assembly for such a period as the President may determine at the time of such appointment, but not exceeding seven years. The DPP may at the end of his or her term be reappointed for one additional term.

Responding to a question by Committee Member Ms Nomathemba Maseko-Jele, Adv Moshoeshoe Moshoeshoe told the committee that the Constitution stipulates that the office of the Public Protector must be both independent and impartial. Perceptions of unfairness would always arise, but emotional intelligence and the manner in which you dealt with all stakeholders would address such perceptions. He said it is better to raise issues with the authority if you feel unfairly treated.

Adv Noxolo Mbangeni told the committee about her vast experience in dealing with corruption. She noted that the Office of the Public Protector needs a good relationship with government departments to do its work and told the committee that she was born to serve.

The interviews will continue tomorrow with the three remaining candidates.

Rajaa Azzakani
12 November 2019