Witch hunt! says attorney about charge of lying to judge

2013-11-22 00:00

PORT ELIZABETH  — “It is a witch hunt against us!” This was how Queens­town attorney Wesley Hayes reacted to media reports that his representative advocate is accused of lying about former president Nelson Mandela being in a “vegetative state” in the case concerning the exhumation of Mandela’s children earlier this year.

He said advocate David Smith had acted on his instructions and that he had received those instructions from his clients in the Mandela family.

He and his client had submitted evidence on Mandela’s medical condition to the court based on the Mandela family’s word about what the doctors had told them, Hayes said yesterday. “Why there is now a need for a disciplinary hearing is unknown to me.”

The Eastern Cape Bar Council (ECBC) confirmed it is investigating a charge brought against Smith after he in July made the claim about Mandela’s condition as he applied for a certificate of urgency in the exhumation case.

Madiba was released from hospital two months later to recuperate at home.

The aim of the certificate was to convince the court to urgently hear the case to have the remains of Mandela’s three children moved back from Mvezo to Qunu.

In the public family spat, Mandela’s grandson Mandla Mandela was accused of illegally exhuming and moving the children’s remains to Mvezo and he was charged with desecration of graves and bigamy.

The National Prosecution Authority had meanwhile withdrawn these charges. Mandla Mandela had in turn laid a formal charge against Smith at the bar council.

Smith declined to comment, but the chair of the ECBC, advocate Marius Swanepoel, confirmed the “disciplinary process … in terms of the council rules. A committee of two advocates will investigate the charge”.

Bigamy: Wife to launch civil claim

TONDO Mabunu-Mandela, the legal wife of Mandla Mandela, will now sue her husband for committing bigamy.

The National Prosecution Authority (NPA) earlier dropped a charge laid by her in 2011, saying there was not sufficient evidence to successfully prosecute her husband in court.

Wesley Hayes, her attorney in Queens­town, yesterday said he was shocked at the NPA’ decision to drop the bigamy charge as well as a charge of contempt of court against Mandla after he married Nodiyala Mbalenhle Makhathini despite a court order forbidding the wedding.

Hayes said he had given the NPA until today to get the certificates of non-prosecution, so that he can study the motivation for the decision.

If he does not get the certificates, his client wants to start a civil claim, “a private prosecution”, he said.

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