Law clinic defends its decision

2013-07-22 00:00

RHODES University Law Clinic had decided to represent the Mandela family in the case against Mandla Mandela over the relocation of the graves of former president Nelson Mandela’s children, because the matter was in the interest of the public and involved fundamental civil rights issues.

Defending the decision to take on the case yesterday, the deputy director of the law clinic Wesley Hayes pointed out that lawyers — like himself — who represent clients on behalf of the law clinic are salaried employees.

Hayes was reacting to a story that appeared in the Sunday Times yesterday that was critical of the fact that the law clinic provided members of the Mandela family with “legal aid”, which was meant for the poor.

“Win or lose, Rhodes University would not have to pay costs. If we had lost the case — which we did not — our clients could be sued for costs and any assets they have could be recovered by the sheriff to satisfy the cost order, but the clinic would not have to pay costs as it is not a party to the proceedings,” Hayes pointed out.

The Rhodes University Law Clinic said in a statement that it had established that some of the Mandela family members involved in the dispute were “indigent” but did not elaborate further.

Hayes, who was previously in private practice, is also the lawyer who acts for Mandla Mandela’s estranged wife, Tando Mabunu-Mandela, in the couple’s bitter protracted divorce case.

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