Stop feeding us crumbs, Black Lawyers Association tells govt

2017-07-14 16:51
Black Lawyers Association protesting against Government and Zuma's disregard for black lawyers. (YouTube screengrab)

Black Lawyers Association protesting against Government and Zuma's disregard for black lawyers. (YouTube screengrab)

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Pretoria - For more than two decades black advocates have been fighting to get a share of the multi-million rand legal work dished out by government to their white colleagues.

The Black Lawyers Association (BLA) said on Friday during a protest at the Union Buildings that legal briefs given by government to black advocates were merely the crumbs that had fallen from the trays of fully-fed white male advocates.

About 40 BLA members, clad in their black robes, protested against the government's alleged disregard of black legal practitioners in its briefing patterns and distribution of legal work. 

BLA president Lutendo Sigogo said that, during apartheid, black lawyers and advocates were not treated as equals, were not respected, and were denied the opportunity to service government and corporate South Africa. He said that this had not changed for black legal practitioners under the current government.

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"Our optimism is fading away and in its place comes a mirage which will do nothing to us but exhaust us like it ruthlessly does to a hopeful thirsty desert animal," said Sigogo. 

"We are here today, 23 years after the inauguration of the democratic country, it is totally unacceptable that black legal practitioners of 2017 are faced with the same challenges experienced by legal practitioners of apartheid."

"We do not receive legal work from government."

The continued reluctance in giving legal work to black legal practitioners represented the continuation of the dehumanisation of black South Africans, he said.

Sigogo said the persistent refusal to give legal work to black people appeared to be an act of arrogance on the part of the government, and that some government officials were victims of a belief in white supremacy. 

In the memorandum, which was collected by Chief Director of Corporate Services in the Presidency Mandla Feri, the BLA have asked President Jacob Zuma to establish a judicial inquiry to establish the root causes of why state departments, parastatals and municipalities continued to employ the services of white legal practitioners above their black counterparts. 

They also asked Zuma to give a directive to all state departments, state owned enterprises and municipalities to issue briefs and distribute legal work in line with economic empowerment. 

The BLA said the memorandum was directed at Zuma because he was the head of state, and the state was the biggest consumer of legal services in the country.

It gave Zuma 30 days to respond to the demands.

Read more on:    bla  |  pretoria  |  judiciary

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