Lawyers breach coronavirus regulations
Johannesburg - A group of lawyers, including senior counsels, have been reported to the Legal Practice Council after they are said to have breached the national lockdown regulations by travelling to the Mpumalanga High Court, without valid permits.
The lawyers were apparently involved in a court battle between the JS Moroka Local Municipality in Mpumalanga and its newly appointed administrator BM Mhlanga, after he launched a high court bid to interdict municipal manager Thami Kubheka from entering its premises.
The 10 legal practitioners - who include Tshwane-based senior counsels Andrew Laka, Thami Ncongwane, and Mxolisi Zondo of the Johannesburg Bar, and who is Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo’s younger brother, as well as Mpumalanga attorney Tshepo Rampatla - will not be paid any fees or be able to claim expenses for preparations or travelling costs to and from the court in Middelburg.
Acting Judge Hein Brauckmann in the Mpumalanga High Court also identified other advocates involved in the matter as advocate LP Zwane and attorneys Simon Setsoalo, Tshepo Rampatla, Hlulani Shilenge, and a Ms P Kwaza.
GS Thukwane and L Romano were ordered by Judge Brauckmann to state the authority on which they were in court when the matter was heard.
Out of all the nearly dozen attorneys and advocates involved in the matter, Judge Brauckmann said an advocate Matlala was the only legal practitioner who complied with the requirements of the Disaster Management Act regulations and directives to fight the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.
Mhlanga succeeded in obtaining the interim interdict, but Kubheka will be back in court on April 21 to have it reviewed and set aside.
Judge Brauckmann severely criticised the lawyers, especially Laka, whom he said had been awarded the status of senior counsel, acted as a high court judge, and had a more onerous obligation to the court to comply with the law.
The judge also said Zondo and the other practitioners not only acted recklessly by travelling across the border in breach of the regulations, but had openly defied them and the directives in terms of the Disaster Management Act.
“This amounts to contemptuous conduct and the court cannot be seen to approve it,” he said. Judge Brauckmann referred the lawyers and advocates to the directors of the Mpumalanga and Gauteng Legal Practice Councils.