Chapter nine of the South African Constitution of 1996 provided for the Office of the Public Protector as one of a cluster of institutions that strengthens the constitutional democracy of the Republic and came into existence in October 1995. Before South Africa’s advent to democracy, the office was previously known as the Office of the Ombudsman which was established on 22 November 1991. In terms of Section 182(1) of the South African Constitution of 1996, the Public Protector office is invested with the powers to investigate government, government departments, government agencies and government officials that is alleged or suspected to be improper or to result in any impropriety or prejudice; to report on that conduct; and to take appropriate remedial action but it excludes the judicial functions of courts or the private sector. This office is independent and impartial, subject only to the Constitution and the rule of law.The Public Protector is appointed for a non-renewable period of seven years.
Adv. Selby Baqwa was the first black appointed Public Protector of the Republic of South Africa after 1994 by president Nelson Mandela following his approval by a 75,9% majority at a joint sitting of the National Assembly and the Senate and he served his seven year term from 1995-2002
President Thabo Mbeki appointed advocate Lawrence Mushwana, to succeeded Selby Bawqa in October 2002 after he wasendorsed by the National Assembly by 278 votes to 32 and became the protector on 1 November 2002. He completed his seven-year term as Public Protector on 16 October 2009.
Some changes were made in 2003 in which the Public Protector Act was amended to provide for the position of Deputy Public Protector with the intention to support the Public Protector and further capacitate and strengthen the Office of the Public Protector. These has resulted in the appointment of Advocate Mamiki Shai as deputy to Advocate Lawrance Mushwana on 19 November 2005 by President Thabo Mbeki and he served until his term expired on 30 November 2012. He was recommended by the Ad hoc Committee after 257 members of the National Assembly endorsed him.
On 19th October 2009, President Jacob Zuma appointed a former Law Reform Commissioner and human rights lawyer Advocate Thulisile Madonsela to succeed Lawrance Mushwana as South Africa's new Public Protector. Madonsela was recommended for the position by a special parliamentary committee following a week of candidate interviews.
President Jacob Zuma appointed Adv.Kevin Sifiso Malunga as South Africa’s second Deputy Public Protector in December 2012 to deputise for Public Protector, Adv. Thuli Madonsela. They are both currently serving in their respective position.
• South African Government Information. Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 . [online] Available at www.info.gov.za . Accessed on 26 November 2013.
• Nel, A., (2012). Address by the Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Mr Andries Nel, MP, at a farewell function hosted by the Public Protector, Adv Thuli Madonsela, for the outgoing Deputy Public Protector, Adv Mamiki Shai on 30 November 2012 at Emperor's Palace, Ekurhuleni, from Justice and Constitutional Development, 20 November 2012 [online], Available at www.justice.gov.za [Accessed 23 November 2013]