Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela on Tuesday welcomed a group of 100 trainee investigators, who will swell the ranks of her office over the next two years, in a move that is expected to improve the speed and rigour with which investigations are conducted.
The group, which has been spread across the institution's 20 offices, was recruited last year in a bid to bolster the office's investigative capacity, pending Parliament's approval of a proposed organisational structure.
In terms of the proposed structure, the Public Protector required the number of investigation staff, which currently stands at more than 100, to be doubled in order to match the office's workload.
In the last financial year alone the office processed 26 000 cases, 20 000 of which were received during the same period. Out of the total processed, 16 700 were concluded.
Speaking to a section of the group -based at her Pretoria office- on Tuesday, the Public Protector said it wasn't only her office that expected a lot from the new recruits but the South African public as well.
"We always say we are not swift and thorough enough because we don't have as many people as we need. Your arrival increases our establishment by 25 percentage points," she said, noting that the recruits took the total number of staff members from 300 to 400.
She told the group that, as members of the Public Protector team, they had as important a role to play as everybody else and that the impact of the office depended on each member of the team.
The Public Protector said the group has a pivotal role to play in ensuring that the office successfully serves as the conscience of the state in order to help guarantee fairness and opportunity for all.
Stressing the point that the fate of good governance lies in their hands, the Public Protector urged the group to help ensure that the public service is not characterised by indifference, cynicism or selfishness.
"Usually, when public money has been wasted there is anger all round but when people have been treated badly the anger is not that much. You should inspire the public service to treat people with a sense of ubuntu," she appealed.
The Public Protector also presented to the lot about the office's constitutional mandate, vision, purpose, values and core principles as well as its approach to investigations.
The trainees will be assigned their own cases under close supervision, working with with seasoned investigators, who will show them the robes.
Issued by: Public Protector South Africa