Three-in-One Role of Ombuds

Take 1

I recently received an e-mail from a client regarding a complaint laid against him with the Short-term Ombud.

Fortunately, due to me ticking all the boxes, crossing all the T’s and dotting all the I’s, the complaint from the client was dismissed. In this instance the client lied under oath, and I can prove it. How do we protect ourselves from outright lies from the client?

I think this is a dangerous situation for any advisor and that is one of the reasons why I will be edging myself out of this industry ever so slowly.

How can the Ombud be the investigator, the prosecutor, and the judge all in one?

Take 2

The Herald recently reported on a debate hosted by the Law Society of SA at the University of Pretoria on the powers of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela:

Deputy Justice Minister John Jeffrey slammed what he described as an attempt to turn the office of Public Protector Thuli Madonsela into a quasi-judicial body with immense powers: ‘Surely the Public Protector is not a quasi-judicial body?’ Jeffrey said during a debate on Madonsela’s powers, hosted yesterday. Jeffrey argued that the Public Protector would have enormous powers if her findings were to be binding. ‘Madonsela is essentially an investigator, prosecutor and a judge all rolled into one. That is quite unheard of in our law,’ he said.

While the legislation setting out the powers and responsibilities of the Ombud schemes and the Public Protector may be vastly different, the honourable Deputy Minister’s view is very interesting, given our correspondent’s question.

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