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‘Today’s ruling is a victory for every South African who turns to my office’

The court today ruled that the Public Protectors remedial action on Nkandla are binding.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela briefs the media on the outcome of the Nkandla matter in the Con Court. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Public Protector Thuli Madonsela says today's Constitutional Court ruling is a victory for every South African who turns to her office to hold government accountable.

Madonsela briefed the media at her office in Pretoria this afternoon.

She says the court's ruling has re-affirmed the powers of the Public Protector.

"Today is the day the Constitutional Court restored hope in the constitutional dream for every 'Gogo Dlamini' out there, who needs to rely on the Public Protector to hold government accountable for improper conduct that may have wronged her."

She says she now hopes that her office and government can get on with working together.

"The Public Protector's team hopes that the uncertainty regarding the powers of this institution, and its relationship with organs of State, having being clarified, we can now proceed to work together meaningfully in a partnership for good governance."

Madonsela has estimated the amount to be paid back by the president over Nkandla at R10 million.

However, she has cautioned that this will probably not be the final figure as this amount was calculated in the early stages of the investigation into renovations at the homestead.

A 'GLITCH' IN ONE PART DOES NOT TRANSLATE TO COMPLETE SYSTEM FAILURE

Madonsela says the ruling has confirmed the strength of South Africa's Constitution.

"When one part of the system fails, you can't say the entire system has failed. It was built with the understanding that there would be ways to compensate for failure in parts of the system. Today was that day."

She says the judgment aptly dealt with the power of the executive in the modern state.

"How clever were the drafters of our Constitution, in knowing that you do need different levels of democracy to keep the modern state in check?"

Madonsela was clearly reconciliatory, extending her hand to government, saying she's ready to work together for a better South Africa.

WATCH: Madonsela: ConCourt judgment a victory for SA

'PAY BACK THE MONEY'

Earlier today, the Constitutional Court found that President Jacob Zuma failed to "uphold, defend and respect" the Constitution as the supreme law of the land and has been ordered to pay back the money.

National Treasury has been given 60 days to determine a reasonable amount for Zuma to pay back.

Zuma will then have 45 days to pay the final amount.

In his delivery of the judgment, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said, "The National Treasury must determine the reasonable cost of those measures implemented by the department of public works at the president's Nkandla homestead that do not relate to security namely; the visitors' centre, the amphitheatre, the cattle kraal, the chicken run and the swimming pool - only."

The unanimous ruling by the 11-judge court is the latest twist in a six-year saga over Nkandla that now adds financial damage to the political wounds it has already inflicted on Zuma.

Mogoeng says the president carries the responsibility of keeping the country on the right track.

"The nation pins its hope on him to steer the country in the right direction and accelerate our journey towards a peaceful, just and prosperous destination that all other progress driven nations strive towards on a daily basis."

The Nkandla case, and today's judgment has been described as a "seminal moment" for South Africa's democracy.

The Chief Justice explained why this ruling is so important.

"It deals with issues of monumental importance to the people of this country and to the well-being of our constitutional democracy. The case provides profound lessons on the nature of, and the wisdom behind, the architectural structure of our constitutional democracy."

Mogoeng says the National Assembly should have held President Zuma accountable - or challenged the Public Protectors findings in court.

To read the full judgment read out by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, click here.

Two months ago, Zuma said a perception had been created that he never intended to pay back money spent on upgrading his Nkandla home because the issue has been politicised.

He then made the proposal to pay back some of the money used for upgrades to his homestead.

LISTEN: Public Protector shares her thoughts on Zuma's Nkandla concessions with EWN.

To read the full statement by the Presidency, click here.

To view EWN's feature on key moments from the Nkandla saga,_ click here._

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