Kholeka Gcaleka officially takes over as SA’s public protector

President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed advocate Kholeka Gcaleka as the new public protector effective from November 1.

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Vincent Magwenya announced the appointment of Gcaleka on Wednesday.

“President Cyril Ramaphosa has in terms of section 193[4] of the constitution of the Republic of South Africa and on the recommendation of the National Assembly appointed advocate Nompilo Kholeka Gcaleka as public protector of the Republic of South Africa for a non-renewable term of seven years with effect from 1 November 2023,” said Magwenya.

“The president wishes advocate Gcaleka well in her position and trusts that she will serve the people of South Africa with honour and dedication.”

Over a week ago, Gcaleka was recommended by the National Assembly to be the next public protector, replacing advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, who was impeached by parliament in September for gross misconduct and incompetence.

Gcaleka was appointed to the post with 244 votes in favour against 12, confirming her as the successor to Mkhwebane.

Gcaleka gets backing from ANC

ANC MP Manketse Tlhape told the sitting at the time that the governing party considered knowledge, experience, skills, and character in nominating Gcaleka.

“We agree that advocate Kholeka Gcaleka is the best candidate suited for the position,” said Tlhape.

Tlhape noted that the ANC chose the best candidate, stating that Gcaleka was among the youngest candidates interviewed, was well-prepared, and exhibited high levels of confidence and bravery.

“She demonstrated a good understanding of the operations of the office and has a concrete, clear vision for the office within the confines of her mandate, and a clear approach to improving its accessibility.”

She added that Gcaleka had substantial knowledge of interpretation, application, and understanding of the law, and demonstrated good temperament.

Allegations of past intimate relationship

The session had got off to a wobbly start when DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach brought the house to a halt when she dropped allegations of Gcaleka’s past intimate relationship into the debate.

Said Breytenbach: “Her very cozy relationship and some say the intimate relationship with her boss, the rather odious Menzi Simelane, led to speedy promotions.”

Simelane is a former head of the National Prosecuting Authority, and Gcaleka is a former employee.

The comments prompted ANC MPs to raise points of order, but Breytenbach retorted: “You don’t have to like it. You don’t have to like it.”

When the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula ordered Breytenbach to withdraw her comments, she refused, leading to her being instructed to leave the session.

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