Advocate Thulisile Thuli Nomkhosi Madonsela, was appointed by the President as South Africa’s third Public Protector in October 2009 after being recommended by Parliament following a hundred percent vote in her favour by all parties represented in Parliament.
A human rights and constitutional lawyer, equality expert and policy specialist with over two decades of post legal qualification experience, Advocate Madonsela holds a BA Law (UNISWA) and an LLB (Wits). Her postgraduate studies include partial LLM studies and legal courses mainly in the area of equality, administrative justice, legal drafting and public administration. She is also trained in Strategic Planning, Scenario, Project Management and has participated in several Executive Management and Leadership courses, including Women’s Leadership Development.
One of the drafters of South Africa’s post apartheid constitution, Advocate Thuli Madonsela forfeited a Harvard scholarship to focus on her constitution drafting role as one of the Technical advisers that worked with National Assembly in drafting the current Constitution. She is co-architect of Justice Vision 2000, the National Action Plan on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, Employment Equity Act, Local Government Transition Act and has contributed to several other laws enacted to transform the SA legal system since 1994, including the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act and the Repeal of the Black Administration Act. She has also participated in several international forums and contributed to key international documents, including the Beijing +5 and WCAR Outcomes documents and several country human rights reports.
At the time of appointment as Public Protector, Adv Madonsela was the only full-time Commissioner in the South African Law Reform Commission where in addition to managing the Commission’s entire programme, her specific projects included a Statutory Law Revision Project whose focus was constitutional alignment and updating the law; and the Commission’s project on the Review of the interpretation Act. She is also a co-architect of several policies, including the policy framework that formed the basis of the Ministry for Women, Children and Persons with Disability. She has held various senior positions in government and civil society. Her previous positions include the following:
Waweth Law and Policy Research Agency Managing Director 2003-2009
Department of Justice Project Manager (DDG): Equality Legislation Education Training 2001-2003
Department of Justice Chief Director Transformation and Equity 1997-2001
Department of Justice Deputy Director Planning Unit 1995-1997
Constitutional Assembly Technical Expert 1994-5
Independent Electoral; Commission (IEC) Presiding Officer 1994
Wits Law School-Centre For Applied Legal Studies Research Officer/ Part Time Law Lecturer 1993-1995
Wits Law School Centre For Applied Legal Studies Research Intern/Part time Law Lecturer 1992
Emmerex Construction Legal advisor – Contracts Manager 1991-1992
Paper Printing Wood & Allied Workers Union (PPWAWU) National Organiser 1987-1989
National Union of Printers and Allied workers(NUPAWO Legal and Education Officer 1984-1987 (Initially Part-time)
Naledi High School Assistant Teacher(Temp 1982-1983)
Evelyn Baring High School Assistant Teacher (Temp 1980-1980)
Advocate Madonsela has been involved in human rights and civic activism since the early eighties. Her community leadership positions have included the following:
Chairperson: Centre for Reconciliation and Equality Studies (Current)
Chairperson: Equality Legislation Education Team ( 2000-2001)
Chairperson: Equality Legislation Implementation Coordination Team (1999-2001)
Chairperson: SA Labour Development Trust (SALDT)
Member: Steering Committee- National Racism Forum(Current)
Co-founder & Interim Executive Member: SAWLA National (2006-2007)and Member of Exec SAWLA Gauteng (Current)
Member: Black Empowerment Advisory Board- Department of Public Works (2001-2002)
Member: Commission for Employment Equity (1999-2004)
Member: Equality Committee (Section 5 Committee) SAHRC (2007-)
Member: Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Board- Department of Defence (2000-2006)
Member: Legal Research and Writing Project (2006-)
Member: Steering Committee on the Legal Services and Chairperson of Focus Working Group on Governance
Member: Steering Committee on the National Action Plan on the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights
Member: Servcon Housing Solutions (1999-2002)
Member: World Justice Forum (2008-)
Secretary: Dhlamini Civic Association and Exec Member- Soweto Civic Association (1992-1993)
A member of several professional bodies, including the South African Women Lawyers Association (SAWLA), African Network of Constitutional Lawyers (ANCL), Black Lawyers Association (BLA) and the Business Women’s Association of South Africa (BWASA), Adv Madonsela regularly provides training and addresses conferences on equality and the other areas of her expertise. She has written extensively and her written works include journal articles, book chapters, books, learning resources. Her key achievements in this regard including co-authoring a Bench Book for Equality Courts, Resource Book for Equality Court Clerks, SAWLA Legal Advice Handbook on Family Law and Related Matters and Handbooks on Gender Management and Gender Mainstreaming.
Not only does Adv Madonsela contribute to efforts of promoting good governance, respect for human rights and the upholding of the rule of law locally, she also does that at continental level through her role as the Executive Secretary of the African Ombudsman and Mediators Association (AOMA), a position she has held since April 2010.