The Constitution created the Office of the Public Protector as an entity to handle and investigate complaints from the public against government agencies or officials. The Public Protector has the power to recommend corrective action and to issue reports. The Public Protector holds office for 7 years before the President appoints a new Public Protector. The current Public Protector is Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
The Public Protector's services are free and available to everyone. When you lay a complaint with the Office of the Public Protector, they'll investigate the matter and if the complaint is justified, they'll try to rectify the situation. The Public Protector confidentially handles complaints.
The Public Protector can investigate government officials at any level, including national, provincial and local authorities and anyone who performs a public function, such as:
- a state employee
- a policeman (you can also contact the Independent Complaints Directorate)
- an electoral officer
- parastatals, like Eskom or Telkom
- statutory councils, like the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) or the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)
The Public Protector is responsible for looking into complaints about:
- abuse of power
- unfair, erratic, discourteous or other improper conduct
- unjustifiable delays
- human rights violations (you can also approach the South African Human Rights Commission)
- dishonesty or improper dealings concerning public money
- improper enrichment
- receipt of improper advantage
The Public Protector does not investigate the following types of complaints:
- court judgments and sentences
- private acts by individuals
- private companies
- private doctors and lawyers
How to lay a complaint with the Public Protector
If a prejudiced decision has been made by a government official affecting you, you should:
- Speak to the official(s) involved.
- Write to the person in charge of the official(s).
- Approach your Member of the National or Provincial Parliament.
- Write to the Public Protector.
If you write to the Public Protector, you should include the following information:
- the nature of your complaint;
- the background to your complaint;
- reasons why you feel your complaint should be investigated by the Public Protector;
- steps you have taken to solve the problem yourself (if applicable). You should mention the names of the officials
you have been dealing with, on what dates, and what was said. Copies of any correspondence between you and the officials should be attached to your letter;
- a telephone number where you can be contacted, if you have one; and
- in some instances. the Public Protector may require a statement under oath before investigating.
If you're unsure about whether your problem is something the Public Protector will investigate, or if you can't write, you can
phone the Public Protector's office. There are trained staff members who will listen to your complaint, big or small, and conduct investigations.
You could also visit the office for an interview or a consultation if you prefer. It's better to write first and ask for an interview in
- Head Office
Private Bag X677, Pretoria, 0001
174 Lynnwood Road, Hillcrest Office Park, Pretoria
Tel: 012 366 7000
Toll-free: 0800 112 040
Fax: 012 362 3473
Western Cape Provincial Office
51 Wale Street, Cape Town
PO Box 712, Cape Town, 8000
Tel: 021 423 8644
Fax: 021 423 8708
You can also interact with the Public Protector on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Youtube