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Ombudsman ready to serve

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The Office of the Ombudsman is now open for business.

The office – at Isle of Houghton in Wildsview, Houghton Estate – was handed over to Advocate Siduduzo Gumede by Johannesburg Executive Mayor Councillor Parks Tau yesterday 1 July.

Executive Mayor Tau, accompanied by Member of the Mayoral Committee for Finance Councillor Geoffrey Makhubo, said the establishment of the Office of the Ombudsman was of significant importance as it would help improve and enhance the City’s accountability.

“We are looking forward to working with the Ombudsman and to ensure that all departments respond to queries raised by [his office]. We anticipate that in the coming months there will be a lot of interaction with the Office of the Ombudsman,” Mayor Tau said.

Acknowledging his appointment and outlining his task ahead, Advocate Gumede said it was up to the Speaker, the Executive Mayor and their offices to work together to ensure that his office was effective. He conceded that there would be tension but assured everyone concerned that he would not be confrontational. Advocate Gumede said he deliberately chose Houghton as the seat of his office – away from the Metro Centre – to make members of the public feel free and comfortable to lodge complaints.

He said his office was part of Chapter 9 institutions and would work with the Office of the Public Protector. He will also work with the South Human Rights Commission, the Auditor-General and the City Manager.

“It is important that when I leave office in five years, we should have established seven regional offices in the City. It is also very important that the findings of the Ombudsman are implemented,” he said.

Advocate Gumede, 49, was born at Kwadukuza in KwaZulu-Natal. He came to Johannesburg to study at Khanya College in 1981 before moving to Wits University, where he obtained his LLB in 1992. He then moved to Cape Town to work as an intern at the Human Rights Commission. The highlight of his career was his admission as an advocate in Cape Town in 2003. He has been a member of the Johannesburg Society of Advocates since January 2006.

The Office of the Ombudsman will not accept complaints about legislative or executive decisions made by the council. It will also not entertain vexatious or frivolous matters, matters related to the laying of charges or the prosecution of an alleged offence or any acts of irregular conduct by a councillor. Complaints must be in writing and signed by the complainant. 
A complaint form can be downloaded from www.joburgombudsman.org.za.

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