An article entitled ‘The role of the Public Protector: case studies in public accountability’
was published by the author in the African Journal of Public Affairs, 4(2), September
2011. That article focused on some cases that illustrate the nature and extent of the
role the Public Protector in identifying and making findings on significant cases of
corrupt practices and maladministration. The current Public Protector, Advocate
Thuli Madonsela, is now at the end of her seven-year non-renewable appointment.
It is apposite to review her contribution to promoting ethical conduct and enforcing
public accountability. A single article cannot do justice to all 150 reports produced
during her term of office to prove the value of the Public Protector in the South African
public sector. Instead, the article presents a desktop analysis of selected reports by
the Public Protector, on cases involving the national, provincial and local spheres
of government. The legislation relevant to the cases is discussed, in addition to the
handling of the reports by the government and Parliament and the Constitutional
Court’s ruling on the incumbent’s powers. The Nkandla case, also called Secure in
comfort, epitomises the careful research, deliberation, findings and constitutional
status of the Public Protector in the South African system of democratic government.