'Unwarranted personal attack' - legal body slams Zuma Foundation for attacking Ngcukaitobi, Zondo

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Former president Jacob Zuma before the Zondo Commission.
Former president Jacob Zuma before the Zondo Commission.
Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24
  • The General Council of the Bar of SA, which is made up of 14 societies of advocates, has slammed the Jacob Zuma Foundation for condemning advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi.
  • They said that while former president Jacob Zuma was within his rights to seek further legal recourse on Chief Justice Raymond Zondo's recusal, public insults were unwarranted.
  • They said Zuma had no "legitimate basis" for his criticism of Zondo and Ngcukaitobi

The General Council of the Bar of South Africa (GCB), an association of 14 societies of advocates across the country, has slammed the Jacob Zuma Foundation for publicly condemning the presence of advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi at the Zondo commission last week.

Last week, the former president's foundation said it was challenging Chief Justice Raymond Zondo's dismissal of a recusal application by Zuma and questioned the presence of Ngcukaitobi in Zondo's chambers during Thursday, 19 November's proceedings.

The GCB said the foundation's statement implied Ngcukaitobi, a member of the Johannesburg Society of Advocates, was behaving irregularly.

"No basis was provided for the assertion that Ngcukaitobi SC's presence in the company of Deputy Chief Justice Zondo was irregular and this assertion constitutes an unwarranted personal attack impugning the ethics of both Deputy Chief Justice Zondo and Ngcukaitobi SC."

The foundation added:

It is incorrect and inappropriate to assume judges and legal professionals are guilty of ethical impropriety and publicly accuse them of impropriety, particularly when these assertions are made by the foundation bearing the name of a former head of state and apparently with his blessing.

GCB said Zuma himself publicly stated his intention to take Zondo's decision not to recuse himself from the commission on judicial review.

"That is his right. As Mr Zuma lives in a constitutional democracy governed by the rule of law, there is no warrant for unrestrained unfounded extra-curial attacks on the commission or its personnel, or the legal counsel who participate in its proceedings..."

The GCB further criticised Zuma's statements that the commission was an irregular process in disguise and that it was a comedy of errors. They further stated that statements on Zondo acting without integrity, with "evil intentions" and "blind prejudice", and was doing the bidding of unidentified persons "pulling the strings behind the scenes" was also unfounded.

ALSO READ | Zuma foundation accuses Judge Zondo of irregularly working with lawyer Tembeka Ngcukaitobi

They also took exception to the former president's statement that Zondo was bullying him and plotting criminal proceedings against Zuma.

They said that given that the JG Zuma Foundation "has furthermore failed to identify any other legitimate basis that could possibly give rise to these conclusions, the GCB condemned them as a dangerous, unjustified and cynical attack on the rule of law".

"These comments are especially worthy of censure in circumstances where the statement itself indicates that Mr Zuma is prepared to 'face jail', and thus evidently recognises that his conduct in failing to comply with the commission's subpoena and directions exposes him to prosecution and imprisonment.

GCB said: 

It does not behove an ex-president to make unfounded claims of an infringement of the rule of law whilst simultaneously brazenly thumbing his nose at the very principle that he claims to champion.

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