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Public protector gives green light to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's blue lights

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, former chairwoman of the African Union. File photo
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, former chairwoman of the African Union. File photo
Image: REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has poured cold water on allegations by the DA that former police minister Fikile Mbalula acted improperly in giving VIP protection services to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma after her period as African Union chairperson had ended.

"Following an investigation, I arrived at the following observations and conclusions: Dr Dlamini-Zuma's protection by Presidential Protections Services (PPS) as African Union chairperson was in accordance with the practice prescribed by the department of international relations and cooperation, of according executive protection to dignitaries of her calibre," Mkhwebane’s report read.

The report was delivered by her deputy, Kevin Malunga, at the public protector’s offices in Pretoria on Thursday.

The DA's Zakhele Mbhele had accused Mbalula of maladministration and improper conduct, saying Dlamini-Zuma was a "private person who held no high office" and had no reason to be enjoying the SAPS VIP protection.

Mbhele said Mbalula had used allegations of a security threat against Dlamini-Zuma as a justification to give her this protection, adding that he had failed to be transparent. He had further alleged that: "Policing resources and public funds were being used and possibly abused to protect an ordinary citizen, when South African citizens face threats from criminals in their homes and on the streets daily."

But Mkhwebane found that the VIP protection of Dlamini-Zuma even after her term of office at the AU was substantiated by the threats which had been identified by the State Security Agency and Crime Intelligence.

"Dr Dlamini-Zuma was recognised in a document called Risk Management Support System prescripts which is classified top secret as a person entitled to be accorded SAPS VIP protection, immediately after the expiry of her term of office as AU chairperson …"

She said the protection offered was reduced when the level of risk was scaled down after she was appointed SA's minister for planning, monitoring and evaluation.

"Having considered the complaint … I could not find any reason to conclude that Dr Dlamini-Zuma was improperly accorded VIP protection services by the minister," Mkhwebane said.

This was one of 11 reports delivered by Mkhwebane's office on Wednesday. The other reports included a probe into allegations of improper conduct by the Eastern Cape Health Department pertaining to the procurement of cleaning services for the Frontier Hospital during the period 2007-2013; delays by the Road Accident Fund in reimbursing an undertaker for expenses he incurred in burying victims of car accidents; and taxi associations complaining that the Gauteng department of transport and police had failed to enforce the law when it came to the operations of taxis.

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