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Madonsela humbled by ‘Time’ honour

The public protector credits her team for being named one of the world’s most influential people.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela was named on ‘Time’ magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people for 2014. Picture: Time.

JOHANNESBURG - Public Protector Thuli Madonsela on Thursday said her Time magazine accolade goes to her entire office and her counterparts around the world.

The news magazine named Madonsela in its list of the world's 100 most influential people in 2014, along with the likes of United States (US) President Barack Obama and whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The US publication referred to her as South Africa's "fearless public advocate" who has taken her place in the country's history, speaking truth to power and displaying "extraordinary courage and patriotism".

"Her work on constitutional reform, land reform and the struggle for the protection of human rights and equality speaks for itself," reads the entry on the _Time _website.

Madonsela told Eyewitness News she was initially surprised by the decision, joking that she thought it was a 419 scam at first.

"After recovering from the shock and disbelief," she says, "I was humbled."

But she says the honour does not go to her alone.

"Even though there's my name on it, it's actually a recognition of the work of the office I head and the institution that I'm part of - the public protector institution globally."

Madonsela and her team recently investigated how nearly R250 million was spent on upgrades to President Jacob Zuma's private KwaZulu-Natal home.

She found he unduly benefitted from the upgrades to his Nkandla property and called on him to account to Parliament.

Madonsela also ordered Zuma pay back a portion of the money spent on non-security upgrades.

The protector faced sometimes personal and insulting criticism for her findings from those defending the president.

Zuma claims he never asked for the work to be done and has vowed not to pay a cent.

But Time says she has secured herself a place in the history of modern South Africa and is a public servant who gives the continent hope.