Telling empowering stories, South Africans want to hear

Wednesday, 15 November 2023 21:59

Gcaleka asks South Africans to allow her execute her duties.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

The newly appointed Public Protector advocate Kholeka Gcaleka has requested that people should allow her to carry out her duties.

Gcaleka was addressing the Cape Town Press Club on Tuesday afternoon.

She briefly spoke about her plans to make her office accessible to everyone in the country, especially poor communities. She plans to have outreach programmes in rural areas and minimise people travelling long distances to reach the institution. 

"It is critical that we take lessons from the mistakes we have made; we can't always point fingers."

"We have to look at the realities that we face as an institution," she said.

Gcaleka said since January, the implementation of remedial action had increased from 2% to 18%.

"This says that something is being done from our side to show that we are being more effective."

Speaking on whistle-blowing, Gcaleka said they did not have the power to call for the protection of whistle-blowers, however, interventions were needed to protect them.

"Considering the Protected Disclosures Act is the universal act in our country, we must be able to say, through this state institution, this is what we must do for whistle-blowers in our country."

Gcaleka said whistle-blowers played a crucial role in protecting democracy.

She also addressed comments by DA Member of Parliament Glynnis Breytenbach that they were unfortunate, "I found them very unfortunate, especially at this stage of our democracy". 

Breytenbach said Gcaleka had risen through the ranks of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) because of an alleged "cosy" relationship with its former head, Menzi Simelane.

She refused to apologise for her comments and opted to exit the National Assembly. 

Gcaleka said her office also stands by its report on Phala Phala, despite political parties taking it on legal review.

Two suspects have already appeared in Bela-Bela Magistrates' Court in Limpopo in connection with the burglary at President Cyril Ramaphosa's farm in February 2020.

Gcaleka was appointed as the Public Protector by Ramaphosa on November 1.

Having started her career with the National Prosecuting Authority as an aspirant prosecutor in 2004, Gcaleka has served as a Special Advisor to the Ministers for the Department of Public Service and Administration, Department of Home Affairs and Department of Finance.

She also served on the commission of inquiry probing the state of affairs of municipalities across Gauteng, and was the first black woman national chairperson of the Society of State Advocates.