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Public Protector Thuli Madonsela re fake qualifications, her powers, adversaries and Nkandla

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Protected Selfie: Matshelane Mamabolo following
his interview with Public Protector Thuli Madonsela.

Matshelane Mamabolo recently interviewed South Africa's public protector, Thuli Madonsela for Here is his account of the interview:

Soft-spoken and measured, I found that Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s posture belies her powerful role in the fight against maladministration and corruption since the start of her tenure five years ago. Recently honoured by Transparency International with the integrity award for 2014, Advocate Madonsela BA Law (Uniswa) LLB (Wits) has been a recipient of a number of local and international awards for her work.

Ms Madonsela started her answer to my first question by making me aware that it had to do with what she views as the ‘’lowest point’’ in her work as a Public Protector. She said to me, “I suppose it is the lowest point for anyone who has to do adjudicative work or quasi-judicial work that often you have to judge people who are your friends or colleagues or people you love.’’ She proceeded to confirm to during our interview that although she hopes for rapprochement, she has not spoken to former IEC chairwoman Pansy Tlakula since she made findings that led to her resignation two months ago.

In a bid to clarify her role in our democracy, something she’s had to do frequently during her term of office, she said that although most people think that the only decisions that can be enforced are those made by a court through the Sheriff and the Police, ‘’The architecture of our Constitution introduces novel things. The implementation of remedial action by a Public Protector or an Ombudsman is through pushing them [those faulted], asking them and sitting down with them and if that fails a debate in Parliament and obviously if that fails the matter could land in court.’’

The Public Protector is concerned about narratives in the public domain which she says represent a turnaround regarding what is ethical and what isn’t as well as on what should happen when there is an ethical violation. Recent attacks on her office include those from a ‘’group of concerned lawyers’’ who rubbished her report on the misuse of public funds during upgrades to President Jacob Zuma’s private home, called on her to resign and even offered to pay back the money on President Zuma’s behalf. “[someone else paying back the money] still does not deal with the Executive Members Act because it divorces the money from accountability [by the President]’’ She added that although she is not saying that people shouldn’t question her decisions she expects differently from lawyers who should know that decisional independence is non-negotiable.

Advocate Madonsela also told that her office had not received a complaint regarding SABC board chairperson Ellen Tshabalala after Unisa’s confirmation that she had not been awarded a BCom degree and a postgraduate degree in labour relations as she claimed on her CV. The office of the Public Protector also provides support to tertiary institutions when it comes to complaints regarding examinations and other administrative processes. Thuli Madonsela’s non-renewable seven year term as Public Protector ends in 2016.

*Please visit for audio clips from the interview.

Last Updated on Friday, 28 November 2014 15:28

Pistorius trial puts South African justice system in the spotlight

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Now that details of 27 year old Oscar Pistorius’s first few days in incarceration at Kgosi Mampuru II prison in Pretoria are emerging it is opportune to evaluate the impact of the trial on ordinary people and Unisa's student body in particular.

The pendulum of public opinion swung in often surprising ways over the past few months as proceedings in the High Court in Pretoria were broadcast live worldwide. Students who tuned into the trial have not been shy to offer their views. Second year law student Phindile Mashele says she enjoyed watching the law in action and how theory was applied in practice.

Another Unisa Law Student, Alfred Moitsi is cynical following the outcome of the Pistorius trial. Unflinchingly he told, "I believe the justice system protects the rich leaving the poor in a more vulnerable condition."

As expected Judge Thokozile Masipa (BA (Social Work) 1974 LLB (1990) Unisa) came under some criticism during the trial as did counsel for the state and defence.

Wardle College of Law CEO Brenda Wardle (LLB, LLM Unisa) says that differences in opinion on Judge Masipa’s findings are not going to have an effect on perceptions of her alma mater because graduates and even students have their own way of understanding and grasping legal principles. Wardle told assuredly that "If indeed Judge Masipa erred it is not as a result of deficiencies in her education."

She added that she believes that there is minimal risk of the Pistorius trial creating false impressions about the general speed of a trial and conduct of officers of the court among other things. Wardle is also the author of "To kill a fragile rose (The State’s case against Oscar Leonard Pistorius)". It is the only book on the Pistorius trial written by a legally qualified person and is due for release in the next few months.

An appeal of Pistorius' five year sentence for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp is possible although unlikely according to Johannesburg Attorney June Marks who hopes that the end of this gripping trial is by no means a shifting of the spotlight from the goings on in our justice system.

Last Updated on Friday, 24 October 2014 13:51

Six safety tips for students

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Safety is an issue that concerns us all. Crime after all happens everywhere, also on university campuses. Take the rape of a University of Stellenbosch student recently. While some things are beyond your control, there are ways to keep yourself and others safe.

1. Report suspicious activity

Are you seeing something suspicious? Are you seeing people who are hanging around for no apparent reason? Don't walk by and pretend it didn't happen. Report it to campus security and ask them to take action. That is what they are there for.

2. Report a crime

Have you been victim of a crime, or have you witnessed a crime? Then you should report it. No report means that the perpetrator has right of way to do it again. And again. And again.

3. Know your numbers

Keep phone numbers of the police, emergency services and/or campus security in your phone, preferably on speed dial. Ensure your phone has credit and is charged, or keep an emergency airtime voucher in your purse. Use those numbers in case you are (or someone else is) in danger.

4. Be aware

Be aware of your surroundings, particularly if you are somewhere you have never been before. Keep an eye on your belongings and people around you. Criminals rely on people being indifferent to their surroundings and not paying attention.

5. Protect your stuff

Don't carry your expensive laptop and camera in a fancy branded bag. Rather carry them in an understated backpack and invest in a security cable with, which you can use to connect laptop to your desk. Always lock your room when you leave, report broken locks or windows immediately. Invest in a safe.

6. Don't resist

In case of a mugging, remember that your stuff can be replaced – as opposed to you. Let the perpetrator have your stuff instead of resisting him/her. Resistance often ends in injuries, or worse. Insuring your gear and backing up frequently is a must.

- Follow the author on @miriammannak

How to nail your first post-study job interview

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Being mere months away from having your degree, you have started sending our CVs to potential employers. When you are invited for an interview, keep these tips in mind.

Arrive on time – Rather be early than too late. You only get one shot when wanting to make a first impression. In case you happen to unexpectedly run late, make that phone call as soon as possible. Don't leave your interviewer in the dark.

Dress to impress – Don't wear jeans, tekkies and revealing clothing, no matter what. Rather overdress than arrive underdressed. Ditch the chewing gum.

Research the company – Know the basics of your future employer, such as recent business developments (including founding year, mergers, acquisitions and awards). See if they appeared in the news recently. It shows your interviewer that you are genuinely interested in the company.

Be honest, be yourself – Do not lie about your CV's content, nor your skills. It will come out sooner or later. Be honest at all times.

Body language – Shake hands when you meet your interviewer. Keep the handshake brief and firm. Make eye contact during the interview as it shows that you are confident about yourself and your capabilities. Don’t slouch but sit up straight, keep your shoulders relaxed, and your chin up. This give the impression that you are alert and actively involved in the conversation. Don't fidget.

Switch off your phone – Nothing is more important than your job interview, so switch off your phone and keep it in your bag or pocket.

Say 'Thank You' – At the end of your interview, shake hands with your interviewer and thanks him or her for his or her time. Keep a good posture. Even when interview did not go as well as you might have planned: stay confident, keep your back straight and make eye contact.

- Follow the author on @miriammannak



Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 September 2014 13:57

Unisa Career Fair bodes well for future expansion

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Unisa staff, students and companies that took part in the 2014 annual Unisa Career Fair all had mostly good things to say about this year’s edition of the Career Fair. For a period of nearly two months students from five Unisa regions interacted with employers and recruiters on selected days in order to learn more about opportunities in the world of work.

Among the many employers that exhibited at the 2014 Career Fair were KPMG, Old Mutual, SANDF, Auditor-General, FNB and several government departments. Competition Commission Recruitment Specialist Londiwe Zwane (pictured) vowed to return to the Career Fair next year. She also urged LLB and Honours in Economics students to visit the Commission’s website/career portal regularly.

Career Development Specialist in the Directorate: Counselling and Career Development (DCCD) Mandu Makhanya spoke glowingly of progress she says she noted this year.  She told at the final leg of the Career Fair in Polokwane that, “…the response is good although I feel that there is room for improvement…for more students to participate.”

Makhanya responded to concerns raised by students about the absence of some of their favourite companies by saying that the DCCD invites as many companies as possible to exhibit at the Career Fair subject to each company’s recruitment policy and sentiment towards Career Fairs. She added that Mpumalanga will be included to the list of Unisa regions they will visit in 2015 increasing the total number to six and that Unisa will possibly have a stall during the 2015 Career Fair as well.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 September 2014 08:55

Turning your internship into a job

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One of the post-study challenges is finding a job. Having the paperwork is after all no guarantee that you'll get work thrown at you. An internship could be the answer. Here are some tips to turn an internship into a job.

Prove yourself

As an intern you need to be prepared to work hard, very hard, to make your superiors believe in you, so they will be prepared to hire you. Be an asset to the company, not a burden. Arrive on time, don't be the first person to leave, and take the initiative. Stand out.

Ditch distractions

Want to be hired full time after your internship? Then show your manager that you want to work. This means that social media, texting, games like candy crush and other distractions should be kept to banned to when you are back home or lunch breaks. If you want to be taken seriously, than take your internship seriously.

Bottoms up

The world doesn't owe anything you for having a degree so be prepared to start at the bottom, and work your way up. Do the boring tasks and do them well, offer help and assistance to your colleagues, and be humble.

Ask questions

Not sure about something? Then ask questions (and for help) instead of doing something you are not sure about, with the risk of messing up and wasting your manager's time. You are an intern. You are suppose to ask questions.


You won't be able to improve if you don't know how you are doing. Ask your boss how you’re doing, what you could do better, and whether you are meeting the goals of your organisation. This input will help you grow while showing your managers that you are taking your internship – and the company – seriously. It will make you stand out.

- Follow the author on @miriammannak

Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 August 2014 09:22
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