South Africa's top anti-corruption official fears for her life after learning from an informant that hit men are being contracted to kill her, her spokeswoman said on Sunday.
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela is a leading public figure who scored a major victory when South Africa's top court ruled on March 31 that President Jacob Zuma had violated the constitution by ignoring her instructions to pay back some of the $16 million of state money spent upgrading his private home.
"On the 1st of April she received a text message from an informant, and that informant warned her to be careful. That person said a top gangster in the Western Cape was paid to get a hit man to kill her," said spokeswoman Kgalalelo Masibi, confirming a report in the Sunday Times newspaper.
"She is concerned about her safety and security," Masibi said, adding that Madonsela knew the informant personally.
Western Cape province has a reputation for gangsterism and organised crime but Masibi said Madonsela did not know who wanted to kill her.
Her office, which has a constitutional mandate, probes misconduct and abuse in state affairs and can have several investigations on the go at any time.
Masibi said Madonsela had immediately alerted South Africa's VIP protection service to the threat and that her security had initially been beefed up, but had since been scaled down.
"Security Services say that 95 percent of the time the informant is incorrect. But what if this falls under the 5 percent that is correct?" Masibi said.
She also said Madonsela had been told by the informant that the hit "should be made to look natural".
Madonsela was quoted in the Sunday Times as saying she had stopped jogging and had become "cautious" about her movements.
The opposition Democratic Alliance said in a statement that police must look into the alleged death threats.
Police could not immediately be reached for comment.
(Reporting by Ed Stoddard; Editing by Kevin Liffey)