Johannesburg - The new lawyer to former president Jacob Zuma is no stranger to controversy, following revelations that he was once disbarred and is still being probed by the Hawks for state capture allegations.
In 2007, Zuma’s new lawyer, Lugisani Daniel Mantsha, was struck off the Law Society of the Northern Provinces’ roll for several infractions, including allegations of embezzlement of funds, dishonesty and unprofessional behaviour, before being readmitted in 2011.
The Hawks on Tuesday updated the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) on the progress of the state capture investigation, including corruption charges against Mantsha. Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi said three Outa members visited the offices of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation last week and were fully briefed about all the matters that they had brought to the attention of the Hawks.
“They were fully briefed and they were happy with the progress, including the one about Daniel Mantsha. We don’t talk about operational matters in the media, but we do give feedback to complainants, and we have done that with Outa,” said Mulaudzi.
Outa chief operating officer Ben Theron said the organisation had started talking to the newly appointed Hawks head, advocate Godfrey Lebeya, and was confident that progress would be made now that there was a new person in charge.
“We believe that there is something that he (Mantsha) needs to answer for and we’re hoping, because we have started talking to Lebeya, that progress will be made now that there’s a new guy there,” Theron said.
He added that former acting Hawks boss Yolisa Matakata did not make any progress on the investigation into Mantsha in the eight months that Outa had been engaging with the Hawks.
“The National Prosecuting Authority also needs to step up. The NPA over the past few months have not covered themselves in glory,” Theron said. He added that the Guptas, despite leaving the country, were still pulling the strings in South Africa as they were still siphoning money out of the country.
On Mantsha’s appointment as Zuma’s attorney, Theron questioned why Zuma would swop Michael Hulley for someone who was once disbarred. Theron said they hadn't withdrawn any of their charges, and believed that the evidence they handed over to the Hawks was solid.
“We expect that to follow its due course, but the problem with criminal cases is that they take a long time. All we can hope for is that Daniel Mantsha gets into court, so that at least the process starts,” Theron said.
Theron accused Mantsha of sharing confidential information, both parliamentary documentation and former public enterprises minister Lynne Brown’s information, with the Guptas so that they could be ready to answer questions.
In addition to that, Theron said, Mantsha had sent the Guptas his municipal bill to the tune of R14238 for the controversial family to settle.“We found that strange. And he also went to Dubai a number of times with the money that the Guptas paid him. We believe that there is a corrupt relationship still going on. The fact that the Guptas left the country doesn’t mean anything,” Theron said.
Outa claims there was still a corrupt relationship between Mantsha and the Guptas. In August, Outa laid corruption charges against Mantsha over what Theron called his involvement in state capture. Neither Mantsha nor Hulley responded to repeated requests for comment on Tuesday.
Mantsha served as special adviser to former communications minister Faith Muthambi in 2015. In July 2015, Brown announced that Mantsha had been appointed as non-executive director and chairperson of the Denel board for a three-year period. Mantsha resigned as Denel chairperson a few days after Pravin Gordhan became public enterprises minister in March, following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet reshuffle.
On July 27, Zuma is due in the Pietermaritzburg High Court to face 16 counts of fraud, corruption, money laundering, racketeering and tax evasion, with Mantsha as his attorney.