Thuli Madonsela

Thuli Madonsela is a South African Advocate and an incumbent Public Protector of the Republic of South Africa (RSA) appointed by President Jacob Zuma for a non-renewable seven-year term commencing October 19, 2009.

Openbare beskermer (OB)
Born Thulisile Nomkhosi
September 28, 1962
South Africa
Nationality South African
Political Party ANC
Occupation Ombudsman
Education Swaziland University
Wits University
Marital Status Single
Children Wenzile Madonsela
Wantu Madonsela
Religion Christian

Public Protector of RSA

October 19, 2009 – to date
Deputy Kevin Malunga
Appointed By Jacob Zuma
Preceded By Lawrence Mushwana

Thuli Madonsela was born Thulisile Nomkhosi Madonsela in the Johannesburg township of Soweto in the Gauteng province of the republic of South Africa – at the time, Transvaal Province of the Republic of South Africa.

She is the of informal traders Bafana (father) and Nomasonto Madonsela (mother).

Thuli Madonsela was raised in Soweto, Johannesburg with her two younger sisters.

Her family originates from the Kingdom of Swaziland.

Thuli Madonsela went to Evelyn Baring High School in Nhlangano in the district of Shiselweni in the Kingdom of Swaziland.

In 1980 she matriculated from that from that high school.

Thuli Madonsela went on to study a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Law at the University of Swaziland which she completed in 1987.

She later attended the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg in the Gauteng province of South Africa and graduated in 1990 with a LLB Law degree.

In 1980 Thuli Madonsela began her career as an assistant teacher at her former school, Evelyn Baring High School, in Swaziland.

In 1982 she became an assistant teacher at Naledi High School in Soweto.  That high school is one of the schools that were at the center of the 1976 Soweto Uprising.

In 1984 Thuli Madonsela was appointed Legal and Education Officer at the National Union of Printers and Allied workers.

In 1987 she was appointed National Organizer at the Paper Printing Wood & Allied Workers Union .

In 1991 Thuli Madonsela was appointed Contracts Manager at Emmerex Construction Legal advisor.

In 1992 she worked as an intern at Law School Centre of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

In 1993 Thuli Madonsela remained at the Law School Centre of the University of the Witwatersrand, this time working as a Law Lecturer until 1995.

During that period she served on the local government Transition Act Task Team from 1993 to 1994, as a Presiding Officer for the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa in 1994 and as a Technical Expert during the drafting of South Africa’s new Constitution, promulgated by then President of South Africa – the late Nelson Mandela, from 1994 to 1995.

In 1995 Thuli Madonsela was appointed Deputy Director of the Justice Department of South Africa. During that time she was also part of the Employment Equity Act and Green Paper Task Team.

In 1997 she was appointed Chief Director of Transformation and Equity within the Justice Department of South Africa. While she held this position, Thuli Madonsela was also Chairperson of the South African Labour Development Trust from 1999 until 2001 and Chairperson of the Equality Legislation Education Team from 2000 until 2003.

In 2003 Thuli Madonsela became Managing  Director of the Waweth Law and Policy Research Agency, a position she held until 2009.

In 2009 she led the Office of the Status of Women in the Presidency Task Team. In that same year she was appointed by President Jacob Zuma as the Public Protector of the Republic of South Africa.

Thuli Madonsela is the Chairperson of the Centre for Reconciliation and Equality Studies and the member of the South African Law Reform Commission.


Public Protector of the Republic of South Africa, 2009 – to date

In 2009 Thuli Madonsela was appointed by the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, as the Public Protector of the Republic of South Africa for a non-renewable seven-year term commencing 19 October 2009, with unanimous support from the National Assembly.

During the announcement of Thuli Madonsela’s appointment President Jacob Zuma was quoted saying “[she] will need to ensure that this office continues to be accessible to ordinary citizens and undertakes its work without fear or favour.”

While Thuli Madonsela reportedly likened her role as the Public Protector of South Africa to that of the Venda chief’s paternal aunt [makhadzi in Tshivenḓa]  a non-political figure who “gives the people a voice while giving the traditional leader a conscience.”

Since taking up office Thuli Madonsela has been involved in numerous high profile cases, most notably that of President Jacob Zuma’s private Nkandla Homestead.


  • Nkandla Report

On March 19, 2014 Thuli Madonsela published her final report on security upgrades to President Jacob Zuma‘s Nkandla Homestead titled “Secure in Comfort”.

In that report she found that President Jacob Zuma had benefited unduly from the R246 million the state had spent on the security upgrades to his private home.

The report, “Secure in Comfort”, was met with a hostile reception, harsh criticism and opposition by the members of the African National Congress (ANC) with Gwede Mantashe calling it a “political report”.

The ANC’s youth wing, the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL), called for Thuli Madonsela’s resignation.

Thuli Madonsela and here report on Nkandla received further criticism from notable ANC members such as national sport minister Fikile Mbalula, ANC chief whip Stone Sizani as well as Mathole Motshekga and Jessie Duarte among others.

On August 14, 2014 President Jacob Zuma made a submission to Parliament in response to Thuli Madonsela’s report. A letter dated August 21, 2014 written by Thuli Madonsela was addressed to President Jacob Zuma stating that his submission to Parliament was not an adequate response to her report and requesting a response to her letter by September 4, 2014.

Her letter drew further criticism from the ANC and was accused of abusing her term of office, however, Thuli Madonsela defended her action in a press conference and asked ANC members to stop interfering with her duties.

The general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), Zwelinzima Vavi and the general secretary of National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), Irvin Jim defended Thuli Madonsela and rebuked the ANC’s criticism of the public protector.

Thuli Madonsela was later quoted saying “because finally they would have the president’s comments on my report. But now they only have the president’s own initiative, which is a general statement on his observations on what happened there, but he’s not saying whether he agrees or disagrees with me. He is not saying what he is going to do to fix his branch of government.”


  • Accusations by Kebby Maphatsoe

On September 6, 2014 Kebby Maphatsoe deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Kebby Maphatsoe publicly accused Madonsela of “acting like a counter-revolutionary” and working for the CIA (presumably the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States of America).

Thuli Madonsela said she would charge Kebby Maphatsoe with contempt if he does not retract his accusations while the ANC distanced itself from his statement.

On September 9, 2014 Kebby Maphatsoe publicly withdrew these accusations.



During the apartheid era Thuli Madonsela served in the African National Congress (ANC) and in the United Democratic Front (UDF) anti-apartheid organization.

In 1994 she declined the position of ANC Member of Parliament in South Africa’s first post-apartheid Parliament led by late former president Nelson Mandela.

Thuli Madonsela is an ordinary member of the Pretoria branch of the ANC.



Notable Publications

Year Title Notes
1995 Beyond Putting Women on the Agenda Published on Agenda, an African peer-reviewed academic journal of feminism
1995 A fair deal for the woman worker? The Constitution of South Africa from a gender perspective, ISBN 9780620196567
2004 Women and the law in South Africa: Gender equality jurisprudence in landmark court decisions Department of Justice and Constitutional Development
2012 Corruption Quarterly roundtable, Helen Suzman Foundation
2014 Secure in Comfort Public Protector South Africa, ISBN 9781920692155




In 2011 Daily Maverick named Thuli Madonsela “South African Person of the Year” for “serving her role as an ombudsman to the exercise of executive power with unwavering commitment to truth.”

In 2014 she was named “Woman of Courage” at the  Glamour (magazine) Women of the Year awards, “South African of the Year” by ANN7 and received a Transparency International Integrity Award.

Also in 2014 Thuli Madonsela was named in the Time magazine list of  100 most influential people in the world in the Leaders category and described her as “an inspirational example of what African public officers need to be”.



Personal Life

Thuli Madonsela is a single mother of two children; a son Wantu Madonsela (born in 1988 or 1989) and a daughter Wenzile Madonsela (born in 1991 or 1992).

It is understood that she has never been married, she was separated from the father of her children before he passed away “Their father, before he passed on, was very supportive. Even though he didn’t stay with us, he would make sure he came to parents’ evenings and was someone to talk to. I really did struggle,” Thuli Madonsela was quoted by the City Press as saying.


  • Wantu Madonsela Minor Car Accident

In February 2012 it was reported that Thuli Madonsela’s son, Wantu Madonsela, crashed his mother’s (Thuli Madonsela) state issued car (BMW X6) on a garden wall on Lucky Bean Crescent after attempting to avoid a dog on the road.

“I avoided a dog on the road, and swerved into a wall,” Wantu Madonsela was quoted in an interview with Eyewitness News.

According to police spokesman Brigadier Neville Malila said an accident report was filed with the Garsfontein police station, Wantu Madonsela sustained no serious injuries and he was not under the influence of alcohol.

Although a licensed driver, Wantu Madonsela was not granted permission to drive the car in question by his mother and at the time of the accident she (Thuli Madonsela) was asleep at her home.