Officials criticise lawyers

2015-04-29 00:00

THE legal fraternity has been accused of “raping” the state by provincial government leaders.

Provincial parliamentarians vented their anger at the 2015/16 budget vote held at the KZN Legislature, claiming law firms were taking advantage of various government departments with “frivolous” legal cases.

And MEC for Finance Belinda Scott claimed the law fraternity was “basically raping the government”.

“The legal fraternity is … taking money away from the poor who need it.”

She said lawyers were treating the government as a “cash cow”.

The KZN Department of Health alone faces medical negligence claims in excess of R5 billion, up from just under R1 billion in the 2012/13 financial year.

ANC MPL Sipho Gcabashe, who called the lawsuits “frivolous”, questioned the role of state lawyers and state law advisers in protecting the government.

“There are private lawyers out there [suing the government]. Most of these departments being sued have their own legal departments and there are also state law advisers,” he said.

Coincidently Premier Senzo Mchunu announced that more that R11 million had been set aside for training of state lawyers.

Mchunu also announced that the Royal Household Trust, now housed within the Premier’s Office as of this year having previously been its own stand-alone department, will receive R57,6 million this coming financial year.

That is more than for education and translates to R157 808 every day to the trust that looks after the affairs of the Zulu monarch King Goodwill Zwelithini. The king’s lavish lifestyle has recently been under criticism with the recent purchase of several Mercedes Benz for his wives while it was found several staff, fired by the royal family at a whim, had remained on the payroll for several years because legally they could not be dismissed.

MEC for Education Peggy Nkonyeni has also tabled her budget. Education will receive R42 billion, one of the largest slices in the provincial budget.

She announced a raft of initiatives that aim to assist children with special needs. “For the first time in the province, sign language will be introduced for the hearing impaired at a cost of R2,2 million,” she said.

Nkonyeni said four special needs schools will benefit from a R4,9 million cash injection to obtain braille production capabilities.

She said an additional R12 million has been set aside to procure additional buses for pupils with special needs and R129 million will be transferred to public schools for pupils with special needs to supplement their resources.

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