Former public protector Thuli Madonsela has reportedly "broken her silence" over claims that she has to pay back R450,000 to the public protector's office for her alleged continued use of an official BMW, as well as for damages to it incurred during a crash. This is according to a report in The Citizen on Thursday.
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane told reporters at a briefing on Thursday that Madonsela would have to pay for the continued use of the vehicle as well as for damages to it, incurred when her son allegedly crashed the vehicle in 2012, according to The Citizen.
The New Age previously reported that the figure to be paid was around R750,000, but acting chief executive of the public protector's office, Reginald Ndou, said the figure was closer to R450,000, including the amount for the continued use of the car and the damages.
Mkhwebane was quoted by The Citizen as saying: "On the issue of the car, remember we are dealing with taxpayer's money. That amount needed to be paid. We are still engaging the State Attorney to advise us because we have only kept a few [lesser] amount until the matter is resolved."
She reportedly added that this was in the spirit of "good governance" and to avoid a bad audit later on.
But Madonsela told The Citizen on Thursday that she now wanted to speak out against "false news, lies, and legitimate injustice".
She told the newspaper: "I've noted the false news about the car and advocate Mkhwebane and I supposedly working together. I've maintained silence because I believe that's the proper thing to do but it's not true that I still have to pay the money for the car or that I abused any car."
Madonsela reportedly said she was given a letter by the VIP Protection Unit at SAPS permitting her to use the car, as this was normal state practice. She said she objected to the amount now being claimed she had to pay back, "fruitlessly".
Madonsela went on to describe a difficult relationship with Mkhwebane to The Citizen.
She said Mkhwebane had missed a handover meeting with her and ignored requests to reschedule. On the issue of the State of Capture report, when Madonsela released a transcript of an interview with President Jacob Zuma proving he had not told the truth when he publicly said he was not given an opportunity to respond to allegations, Madonsela said she was never approached by Mkhwebane about it. Mkhwebane reported Madonsela to the police.
When Madonsela tried to meet with Mkhwebane to "wrap up packaging for the court process", her successor's emails had been "angry and dismissive", she said.
Madonsela also told The Citizen she was told by her staff that Mkhwebane refused to allow Madonsela to be invited to the African Ombud Research Centre Conference, threatening to leave the event if Madonsela came.
The Citizen said it was still seeking comment from Mkhwebane.