Publication: Cape Times Issued: Date: 2004-07-05 Reporter: Christelle Terreblanche

Public Protector Under Fire Over 'Sex Pest' Probe



Cape Times

Date 2004-07-05


Christelle Terreblanche

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The Public Protector has been accused of double standards by the Democratic Alliance for deciding to wait for the outcome of a civil case before concluding his investigation into the ‘sex pest ambassador' affair.

Sandra Botha, DA MP and newly appointed national assembly chair, said there was no link between the investigation into the civil case and the alleged abuse of power she asked the Public Protector to probe.

She questioned why the Public Protector had refused to wait for the outcome of the criminal corruption trial against Shabir Shaik before finalising a report on Deputy President Jacob Zuma's complaints against being publicly implicated, while waiting for the outcome of a civil trial in the "sex pest" case.

Botha said she was informed by the Public Protector that he "is awaiting the outcome of a civil case before continuing his investigation into the delays and judgements of the minister of foreign affairs into the (Indonesian ambassador Norman) Mashabane case".

She had asked Public Protector Lawrence Mushwana first to investigate why the Mashabane appeals process dragged on for months, and later to include a probe into "possible political impropriety" in Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's finding on Mashabane, whom she exonerated of sexual harassment after charges by a string of women.

"I find this unacceptable", Botha said yesterday.

"I therefore await a further reply from the Public Protector, which shall also be made public. It is incumbent on the Public Protector to investigate instances of alleged misconduct by public officials and I trust that this will also be done in the Mashabane case."

It is understood Mushwana wants to delay his investigation into the "political impropriety" complaint pending the outcome of the civil suit, brought by one of the women against Mashabane to have the minister's decision in his favour overturned.

Lara Swart, a former senior employee in the SA embassy in Jakarta, is pursuing civil action as Dlamini-Zuma's decision allegedly implied that she had lied about the harassment.

In a letter to Mushwana, Botha said the reason given for the delay " are not convincing and therefore unacceptable".

"There were two distinct cases of sexual harassment brought against ambassador Mashabane with more than a year separating the incidences," Botha told Mushwana.

"Several of the women involved in the first case and Lara Swart in the second case have convincingly and publicly denied any link, as has the evidence led in both cases," Botha said.

"Without absolute proof to the contrary, I would have to conclude that your office is failing in its duty towards the public by declining to pursue the matter."

Last week Botha said she had the impression Mushwana was about to conclude his investigation. "I therefore respectfully urge you to conclude your investigation into the case and to make public your findings immediately, as well as proceed with investigating the second case as the high court has produced judgement.

"I see no reason for further delay.

"It is indeed strange that so many allegations have been made about people in very senior positions, but no action taken."

Mushwana's could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Botha also wants a "proper investigation" done separately on the car scam, which was given as the reason for women making harassment complaints against the ambassador to Indonesia.

Botha told the Public Protector : "I suggest that you add this investigation, which seems to point at definite corruption in high office and contradictory statements in the police report, to your programme."

With acknowledgements to Christelle Terreblanche and the Cape Times.