BLA comes to legal eagle Tembeka Ngcukaitobi's defence

2017-08-20 19:01
Tembeka Ngcukaitobi (File, Gallo Images)

Tembeka Ngcukaitobi (File, Gallo Images)

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Johannesburg - The Black Lawyers Association (BLA) said on Sunday that it fully supports Tembeka Ngcukaitobi in his role as a legal representative for all South Africans who seek his expertise.

This after Kwa-Zulu Natal ANC chairperson Sihle Zikalala commented that some in its party were colluding with the "counter-revolutionary" by using an EFF lawyer.

"BLA condemns the averments of Zikalala with the seriousness they deserve as such averments are not acceptable in our constitutional democracy.

"For a chairperson of an ANC branch as big as KwaZulu-Natal to condemn Ngcukaitobi for who he represents is an indication that much still needs to be done in terms of educating our communities on the role of lawyers and that all South Africans have a constitutional right to be represented by lawyers of their own choice," BLA president Lutendo Sigogo said.

He said that Zikalala's comments are unfortunate and unwarranted as they fail to recognise the independence and workings of advocates. Advocates are members of a noble profession and are people who work on a referral basis, he added.

"They receive briefs from attorneys as they are not, by law at this stage, allowed to take instructions directly from members of [the] public.

"Advocates, unlike attorneys, do not have clients per se, they take briefs from attorneys and as such, they may not publicly be criticised by politicians or any other persons of influence for the role they play in terms of the Constitution and promotion of the rule of law."

'Stand behind Ngcukaitobi'

BLA said Ngcukaitobi is a professional who knows where and how to use information he receives from clients he represents.

BLA called for all lawyers and members of the public to stand steadfastly behind Ngcukaitobi.

"The track record of Ngcukaitobi speaks volumes about him and he can never be equated to a counter revolutionary. He is a respected legal practitioner amongst his peers and is an esteemed contemporary black legal practitioner.

"He is an example of excellence in imparting legal knowledge and the manner he plies his legal trade. He is a good example within the legal profession as he is able to represent his clients without fear or prejudice."

Zikalala, as one of the leaders of the ruling party, is supposed to find reasons to brief and instruct black legal practitioners like Ngcukaitobi rather than to manufacture reasons to vilify them, Sigogo ended.

Zikalala, on Saturday, said he regretted the impression created by comments he made about Ngcukaitobi during high court proceedings in Pietermaritzburg last week.

The court case, pushing for the scrapping of the KwaZulu-Natal ANC's November 2015 8th provincial elective conference, was heard in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Wednesday and Thursday.

ANC councillor Lawrence Dube and four others brought the court case against the ANC in May 2016.

Respondents in the matter include Zikalala, his deputy Willies Mchunu, the ANC itself, other top ANC figures, and the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa.

'Counter-revolutionary'

Following Zikalala's comments, the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (Nadel) said Zikalala had referred to Ngcukaitobi as a counter-revolutionary.

It said members of the legal profession had the right to represent any client of their choice despite that client’s political affiliation.

Read more: Lawyers association slams ANC KZN chair for 'dangerous' remarks

On Saturday evening, Zikalala said he noted Nadel’s statement and the ongoing public discussion on various media platforms.

"I welcome their comments as part of a constructive engagement and wish to make it clear that my comments were in relation to ANC comrades using someone who has consistently represented other political parties on matters relating to the ANC and its government," he said.

"I want to reaffirm the fundamental principle of the independence of the legal profession and therefore regret the impression created by my comments."

He said Nadel was one of the credible institutions that had made a meaningful contribution to democracy and the legal profession for many years.

Read more on:    anc  |  bla  |  eff  |  tembeka ngcukaitobi  |  sihle zikalala

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