Media reports have recorded that Mr. Sihle Zikalala, the Chairperson of the Kwazulu – Natal ANC branch lashed out at a rival faction for their use of “EFF-aligned” lawyer Tembeka Ngcukaitobi. In these reports Mr. Zikalala is also quoted as said, “It’s very, very disheartening that some of the comrades will go to the extent of inviting lawyers who always represent (sic) the EFF to represent them today. We want to make it clear that you are sharing information with the counter-revolutionary. You are colluding with the counter-revolutionary.”
The statements alluded to Mr. Zikalala are unfortunate and unwarranted as they fail to recognise the independence and workings of advocates. Advocates are members of a noble profession and are people who work on referral basis. They receive briefs from attorneys as they are not, by law at this stage, allowed to take instructions directly from members of public. Advocates, unlike attorneys, do not have clients per se, they take briefs from attorneys and as such they may not publicly be criticized by politicians or any other persons of influence for the role they play in terms of the Constitution and promotion of the rule of law.
BLA condemns the averments of Mr. Zikalala with the seriousness they deserve as such averments are not acceptable in our constitutional democracy. For a Chairperson of an ANC Branch, as big as Kwazulu Natal to condemn Ngcukaitobi for who he represents is an indication that much still needs to be done in terms of educating our communities on the role of lawyers and that all South Africans have a constitutional right to be represented by lawyers of their own choice.
BLA fully supports Ngcukaitobi in his role as a legal representative of all South Africans who seek his expertise. Ngcukaitobi is a professional who knows where and how to use information he receives from those he represents. It is unacceptable to refer to a legal representative as a counter-revolutionary simply because you do not agree with an opponent whom he or she represents. Mr. Zikalala’s point of view suggests that a lawyer of his opponent is his enemy. This approach and the consequent public pronouncements undermine the spirit of the Constitution as is an attack on the independence of the legal profession and has danger of mobilizing physical harm on legal practitioners.
BLA is not impressed by the statement issued by Mr. Zikalala on the 19th August 2017 in attempt to clarify what he meant in his condemned statement. Instead of clarifying or retracting the unfortunate statement he affirms that he does not take kind of the briefing of Ngcukaitobi by the African National Congress. We expect Mr. Zikalala to champion briefing of black legal practitioners.
BLA calls upon all lawyers and members of public to stand steadfast behind Ngcukaitobi. The track record of Ngcukaitobi speaks volumes about him and he can never be equated to a counter revolutionary. He is a respected legal practitioner amongst his peers and is an esteemed contemporary black legal practitioners. He is an example of excellence in imparting legal knowledge and the manner he ply his legal trade. He is a good example within the legal profession as he is able to represent his clients without fear or prejudice.