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'No security' at 18 out of 19 public protector offices, parliament told

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. File picture.
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. File picture.
Image: Esa Alexander

Only one of the public protector's 19 offices has security services, parliament's justice and correctional services portfolio committee was told on Friday.

Public protector Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane told the committee that only the head office in Pretoria had security in place. This had resulted in "several night-time break-ins" at the other 18 offices, and staff being robbed.

“These pose threats to [public protector] staff members, clients, assets and documents. Security in our offices is therefore key and important and requires immediate funding," Mkhwebane said, according to a portfolio committee media release.

Over the medium-term, resolving the security issue alone would cost R19.4m, Mkhwebane said.

The committee also heard that the public protector's office would need R110.9m more than its current allocation of about R320m to fulfil its mandate over the medium-term.

The committee was full of praise for Mkhwebane's office, commending it for having received an unqualified audit from the auditor-general. It also praised the office for meeting 72% of its target, which was a 22% improvement from the the 2017/18 financial year.

Committee chair Bulelani Magwanishe said: "Before, you also indicated you are technically insolvent. Now we have passed that. There has been serious improvement. Your office must be commended."

However, there were also concerns raised over how resignations in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 financial years left 33 positions vacant. Financial constraints mean these positions have not yet been filled.

"The number of critical positions PPSA requests funding for will amount to R49.7m over the [medium-term]," the committee statement read.

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