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Monday Jul 06, 2015

Joburg ombudsman pledges to crack whip

With 14 complaints on day one and 23 on day two, it seems Advocate Sduduzo Gumede is going to have his hands full.

Although only seven of the complaints were eventually logged, the City of Joburg's new ombudsman says he can't wait to get started.

"It has been a busy three days with the launch and all the interviews but on Monday I will sit down with my assessors and study all the complaints.

"Hopefully we can resolve them speedily. That's what I am here for."

On Wednesday, Joburg Executive Mayor Parks Tau presented to the city the person who is expected to help improve and enhance the council's accountability.

Gumede and his office's job is to ensure impartiality and resolve disputes in a just and equitable manner to the satisfaction of the complainant.

His appointment took effect on April 1. However, his office at 36 Boundary Road, Houghton Estate, only started taking complaints from Wednesday.

"The complaints varied. Many we redirected to the different departments concerned but we did receive some which we have escalated and will study in or order to find suitable resolutions in the quickest possible time," he said.

Tau said the City was looking forward to working with the ombudsman and to ensure that all departments respond to queries raised by (his office).

"We anticipate in the coming months that there will be a lot of interaction with the Office of the Ombudsman," Tau said.

On Wednesday, Gumede said he deliberately chose Houghton as the seat of his office – away from the city centre – to make members of the public feel free and more 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 African 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.

People with complaints can e-mail them to: info@joburg ombudsman.org.za or visit the website where they can download the form: www.joburgombudsman.org.za

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