Showcasing Sectoral Ombudsman (Municipal, Police, and Military Ombudsman) was the title of a webinar hosted by UKZN and the African Ombudsman Research Centre (AORC) on 22 August, which focused on the legal basis and mandate of sectoral ombudsman.
The guest speakers included Honorable Helena Nachtergaele (Ombudswoman of the City of Ghent), Honorable Vusumuzi Ramakala Masondo (Military Ombudsman of the Republic of South Africa) and the Western Cape Police Ombudsman, Honorable Major General Oswald Reddy.
Using the City of Ghent in Belgium as an example, Honorable Nachtergaele noted that some countries have established sector-specific Ombudsman to deal with issues relating to different sectors. The regional Ombudsman can also act as a local Ombudsman who attends to complaints in relation to city administration such as those involving the local police and housing.
‘In this day and age where everything is digital, it is very important that people can visit us physically. We open our doors every month for the federal and pensioners Ombudsman to hold consultations.’
Honorable Masondo outlined the objectives of the Military Ombud Act and said that his office aims to ensure that complaints are resolved fairly and expeditiously.
‘The Military Ombudsman Office investigates complaints about the manner in which the conditions of service of current or former members have been administered and also investigates public complaints about the official conduct of members of the force,’ he explained. He added that the legislation is under review to address the challenges it faces and enhance its effectiveness and efficiency.
Honorable Major General Reddy said, ‘Any person on behalf of another person, any member of the provincial parliament, department or civil society organisation can complain in the prescribed manner regarding the inefficiency of the police or a breakdown in relations between the police and a community.’ He noted that the Ombudsman follows the processes set out in the legislation.
During the question and answer session, the speakers provided further information on how their offices protect the rights of citizens.
Watch the webinar at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=shJmeGHS3JQ.
Words: Samukelisiwe Cele