Hottest questions fired at Madonsela's possible successors
12 August 2016
Cape Town - Public Protector candidates were grilled during interviews in Parliament on Thursday and early Friday morning.
Below is a list of the hottest questions fired at them.
1) "Who is funding you? And who is funding your funders? Are you foreign-owned?"
ANC MP Amos Masondo posed this question to Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, who led the court bid to have Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir arrested in South Africa.
Ramjathan-Keogh, executive director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), took deep offence at the question.
She said the initial case had not cost them a cent, and the SALC had to seek funding to contest the government's appeals. This money came from South African organisations.
2) What was your role during apartheid?
Economic Freedom Fighters chief whip Floyd Shivambu questioned each candidate on their role during the apartheid era, and if they had supported or opposed it.
Directed at Professor Bongani Majola, he asked how "can we employ someone who worked for apartheid government? Maybe you even taught apartheid laws?"
Majola said it was true that he had worked for the apartheid government when he was a prosecutor but that did not mean he would ignore certain cases.
Narnia Bohler-Muller said she grew up in a political household and her father reported on the Rivonia Trial. She said she was a member of one of the first multi-racial student representative councils. "I couldn't take up arms, I couldn't train in Russia. If I was older, I would have."
3) How must we not find that you were not completely honest with such vastly different versions around a rape allegation?
Judge Serajudien Desai was unsurprisingly questioned about a rape accusation he once faced and the facts around it. DA MP Werner Horn said there was first a "point blank denial" of sexual intercourse and this changed to a defence of consensual sex.
In 2004, South African Aids activist Salome Isaacs claimed Desai raped her in his hotel room while they were attending the World Social Forum in Mumbai.
An agitated Desai told the committee he was neither acquitted nor convicted and the charge was withdrawn under oath.
"I have never been a popular judge with the judges of the old order. And a judge came up with the story that I lied. That was a lie. I never changed my version," he said.
He told Horn that what he was saying was based on speculation and inferences from what appeared in the press.
4) Why do you want to be a Public Protector at the age of 77?
Advocate Chris Mokoditwa was the oldest candidate to appear before the committee.
Chairperson Makhosi Khoza said she was not an ageist but "this is in consideration to the demands of the job".
Mokoditwa, whose questionnaire was handwritten, said he was a bodybuilder and was fit for the job.
"I walked 15km in the Soweto Marathon. This is nothing," he said.
5) What is your political affiliation?
While this seemed a simple enough question, it seemed a few candidates had not properly prepared their answer beforehand.
Advocate Princess Cetywayo was interrogated over her association with the ruling party.
She told the committee that she was not an active member of the ANC but members asked her to be more specific.
After some explanation, which led to even more confusion with the members, she finally conceded that she was a fully paid up member of the ANC.
But this was only because she had paid her membership five years in advance, she said.
"I pay my membership like I pay my TV licence. Otherwise I forget. So I paid four years ago," she said.
She had never been an employee of the ANC, she told the committee, and would be capable of being impartial.
6) Why did you decide to only charge Schabir Shaik and not Zuma?
EFF chief whip Floyd Shivambu questioned Willie Hofmeyr on decisions behind the corruption case against businessman Schabir Shaik, and asked him to explain why President Jacob Zuma had not been charged at the same time.
Shivambu asked why a decision had been made to drop the spy tapes matter, which was now being reinstated in court.
"How should we trust you? How do we know you are not an extension of the person you have been avoiding to charge for a very long time? Aren't you trying to come to the Public Protector's office to continue with the protection of a possibly corrupt individual who steals public money for himself to enrich himself and his own family?" he asked.
He said Hofmeyr had a history of protecting one individual.
Hofmeyr said he would not be coming into the Public Protector's office to protect anyone except the public. He said his integrity mattered to him.
Speaking about the withdrawal of charges against Zuma, he said initially he was probably the only person who felt strongly about the issue.
"In the end the decision was taken by consensus by top management of the NPA. So it was not me alone who took the decision," he said.
This article first appeared on News24, see here.