Lugisani Daniel Mantsha’s immediate tasks will be to submit opposing papers to the DA and EFF’s court bids to stop the state paying any of the former president’s legal fees.
Mantsha is no stranger to controversy.
In 2007 he was struck off the Law Society of the Northern Provinces’ roll for several infractions, including embezzlement of funds, dishonesty and unprofessional behaviour.
Mantsha, who holds a BJuris and an LLB from the University of Venda, was readmitted to the roll in 2011.
About seven years after his readmission, Mantsha now takes over from Hulley in arguably the most high-profile court case since South Africa’s transition to a democratic society 24 years ago.
He has served as legal adviser to former communications minister Faith Muthambi, and in July 2015 was appointed by then minister of public enterprises Lynne Brown as the chairperson and non-executive director of state-owned defence company Denel before resigning in March this year.
While chairperson of the Denel board, Mantsha was accused of garnering favours from the Guptas through trips to India and of facilitating access for the Gupta family to confidential government documents.
Despite a tainted past, chiefly characterised by his being struck off the attorneys roll, Mantsha was described by Brown as “an attorney who has acquired valuable experience over the years in corporate finance, transactional advising, business management, commercial law, media and communication law, and administrative and constitutional law.”
Last August, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) laid corruption charges against Mantsha over what it called his involvement in state capture.
Outa accused Mantsha of working with the Guptas to share with them his access to the lucrative defence industry and said he had attempted to tie Denel into a deal that would have given the Guptas access to billions of dollars in defence deals in Asia.
Among some of the benefits that Mantsha enjoyed from his close proximity to the Gupta family, it is alleged that Mantsha had the Guptas settle his municipal bill of R14238, which had been in arrears for three months.