WC spent millions on advocates

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helen zille nov 15

INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Helen Zille predicts the DA will continue to be the only party to keep growing. File photo: Bheki Radebe

Cape Town - Ten Cape Town advocates have received a third of R58 million the Western Cape provincial government spent on legal matters since 2009.

The province has spent over R20m on these advocates.

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille gave this information in a written reply to a question by ANC MPL Lynne Brown in the provincial legislature.

Zille said that the provinces had centralised legal services.

All matters are referred to one unit instead of having individual departments dealing with it on their own.

She said as a rule the province dealt with most legal matters internally and only referred matters to external firms when legal services lacked capacity or needed specialised expertise.

Between April 2000 and March this year 3 737 requests were made to the legal services unit for advice or opinions.

In the last two years, only 50 out of the 1 758 requests received were referred to external firms.

The province made 1 803 payments to legal firms, advocates or companies that transcribe.

The biggest earner was advocate Jan Heunis SC, who was paid just under R4m.

Advocate Nazreen Bawa, with R3.3m was the second-biggest earner.

She received the most payments, 105, compared to any other advocate.

Bawa also currently serves as an evidence leader on the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry into allegations of police inefficiency and a breakdown in relations between the community and the police.

She was admitted to the Bar in February 1998 and is a member of Advocates for Transformation.

The Cape Bar website says she specialised in administrative, commercial, constitutional, medical negligence, fishing, local government and procurement law among others.

Most of the payments made to Bawa were for when she represented the Health Department.

Health spent just under R12m, while Transport and Public Works spent just over R12m on legal matters.

The single biggest payment was when local government paid R900 000 to Webber Wentzel Attorneys in the 2011/12 financial year for a matter concerning the Overberg District Municipality.

The case related to the provincial cabinet’s decision to dissolve the municipality which was challenged by 11 ANC and NPP councillors.

The province took the matter to the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein, but the court confirmed an earlier judgment by the Western Cape High Court that the cabinet acted illegally.

Zille said the province’s legal bill was far less compared to other provinces like the Eastern Cape that spent R50m in the last financial year on private legal firms - almost as much as the Western Cape spent in a four-year period.

cobus.coetzee@inl.co.za

Cape Times


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