Most people know that a lawyer who is guilty of misconduct may be struck from the roll and prevented from acting as an advocate or attorney again. But supposing the person involved never was a proper member of the profession in the first place – what happens then?
It’s a problem that has arisen in the Sasolburg area, where four trials were forced to a halt. In addition, the five accused involved in these matters will have to be compensated for any legal fees they may have paid, after it emerged that the man who took on their defence, holding himself out as an attorney, was not qualified.
It's all very well for the government to fuss about whether courts are implementing the constitution properly. But what are government departments doing to make sure their staff understand and implement the law, particularly the constitution and bill of rights?
Officials of the Department of Home Affairs, for example, appear to believe they may ignore court orders when it comes to people who, in their view, should not be allowed into SA. Now the high court in Cape Town is trying to ensure that the department trains its officers properly so that they understand the law – and their obligations to obey court orders.
The Free State is supposed to be the home of the “Boer maak ’n plan” approach to life; but sometimes, even in the Free State, that “plan” doesn’t quite work out.
A couple of years ago two attorneys from the province, struck from the roll, tried a way round the court’s order barring them from practising: they formed a CC and set themselves up as “providers of legal services” – but they charged at attorneys’ rates for work only attorneys may do.
The woman who made legal history in SA when she was charged with raping an underage boy has been sent to jail for 15 years.
The trial caused widespread interest, and now that the high court in Port Elizabeth has handed down sentence it’s clear that there are several important issues involved as well as the merely sensational.
If ever there was a case in which judges made the law look ridiculous in the eyes of the public, it was this week’s matter involving convicted rapists Jacob Mashinini and Simon Abolisi. The two were part of a group of four men who gang-raped a relative of Mashinini. Sentenced to life imprisonment, the two appealed, saying this was “too long”.
Life imprisonment is the default sentence for gang rape unless there are “substantial and compelling” reasons for a lesser sentence.