Thuli Madonsela on calling out Helen Zille and going back to academia

Former public protector Thuli Madonsela.
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela.

Former public protector Thuli Madonsela has talked about returning to academia and why she called out former DA leader Helen Zille on her white privilege tweets.

In an interview on Radio 702, Madonsela also hinted at a second "tea date".

Here are five quotes from the interview:

'Madam' Zille

"What made me enter the fray was realising, firstly, that Madam Zille is an important influencer in South Africa and globally, and when she expresses her view that says there is something called 'black privilege', and that it is linked to political maleficence, I thought I needed to correct it."

The two recently had a "very productive" three-hour conversation over tea with citrus cake, nuts and cucumber.


"People deny that they are beneficiaries of privilege because they feel ashamed, maybe because they are beneficiaries of something cruel they deny, because they think that by saying that they are privileged, you are denying that they have worked hard to be where they are."


"I have chosen to go back to academia because that gives me the resources to operate from and the intellectual capital of my colleagues to connect our lines in the pursuit of social justice."

In May, Madonsela was awarded an honorary doctorate by North-West University (NWU).

State capture

"People who were stealing from people were able to get sympathy because it was easy to say: 'I have taken two cents, and they stole a million, and it was made to appear like that and there was no nuance to it. There was also this approach that because you were white, you were part of apartheid."

Madonsela was referring to the time when she was investigating state capture.

Tweets with meaning

"My tweets have a lot of meanings. I don't wake up and think about my office every day. They have to do with the conversations I have with young people every day. They have to do with what is happening globally. I respect the public protector. I respect every human being. For me, respect is the proper essence of being human."

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