Law Society welcomes President’s withdrawal of SA’s signature on SADC 2014 Protocol

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) welcomes the decision by President Cyril Ramaphosa to withdraw South Africa’s signature from the 2014 Protocol on the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal in compliance with the Constitutional Court ruling.

In March 2015, in Law Society of South Africa and Others v President of the Republic of South Africa and Others, the LSSA launched an application in the High Court to declare the actions of former President Jacob Zuma as well as the Ministers of Justice and International Relations and Cooperation in voting for, signing and planning to ratify the SADC Summit Protocol in 2014 as it related to the SADC Tribunal, to be unconstitutional.

The 2014 Protocol deprived citizens in the SADC region – including South Africans – of the right to refer a dispute between citizens and their government to a regional court if they failed to find relief in their own courts. By signing the 2014 Protocol, former President Zuma infringed the right of South African citizens to access justice in terms of our Bill of Rights. The 2014 Protocol limited the jurisdiction of the SADC Tribunal to disputes only between member states – and no longer between individual citizens and the SADC member states – in the SADC region.

In March 2018 the Gauteng High Court: Pretoria, declared the President’s participation in the suspension of the operations of the SADC Tribunal and his signing of the 2014 Protocol to be unlawful, irrational and unconstitutional. The Constitutional Court confirmed this constitutional invalidity in December 2018.

The SADC tribunal is supposed to be a body that allows member states, and citizens access, should internal remedies fail them, but in 2014 when former Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe did not want farmers who lost their farms to seek relief there, he convinced other states to sign a protocol that would prevent individuals from going to the tribunal.

‘The LSSA could not sit by silently and let this happen as we strongly believe in enhancing access to justice, which includes access to the courts. We are elated that our efforts were not in vain. The SADC summit in Tanzania noted South Africa’s withdrawal in compliance with the ConCourt ruling’, says LSSA President Mvuzo Notyesi.’

ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE LAW SOCIETY OF SOUTH AFRICA, MVUZO NOTYESI
LSSA Communications:
Nomfundo Jele nomfundom@LSSA.org.za Tel: (012) 366 8800 or 072 402 6344

 

Apex court dismisses Proxi Smart’s leave to appeal application with costs

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) is ecstatic at the dismissal by the Constitutional Court of the application for leave to appeal in the matter of Proxi Smart Services (Pty) Limited vs the Law Society of South Africa and Others.

The matter was dismissed in early August. In the court order, the ConCourt concluded that ‘given the procedural insufficiencies in the applicant’s case, it is not in the interests of justice for it to adjudicate the issue on these papers’.

Proxi Smart Services (Pty) Limited applied to the Gauteng Division of the High Court for declaratory relief regarding the lawfulness of its business model for performing the administrative and related services pertaining to property transfers that it contended was not by law reserved to conveyancers or legal practitioners. The LSSA contended that the applicant’s attempt at creating a distinction between ‘reserved work’ and ‘non-reserved work’ had no basis in law, and that the full conveyancing process is regarded as professional work performed by conveyancers.

‘We are very happy with the judgement. The ConCourt order confirms the High Court’s order that the applicant has not made out a case for the relief it sought. We are hopeful that this order brings the matter to a conclusion’, says LSSA President, Mvuzo Notyesi. He adds: ‘We would like to thank our legal team for their brilliant work, our attorneys at Maponya Attorneys as well as Advocate Allen Liversage SC and Advocate Lerato Maite.’

The matter was first dismissed by the High Court in February 2018 and denied the applicant leave to appeal in December 2018. The applicant then filed an application with the Supreme Court of Appeal, which was dismissed this May.

View all the Proxi Smart matter documents on the LSSA website: http://www.lssa.org.za/about-us/matters/proxismart-services-pty-ltd

ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE LAW SOCIETY OF SOUTH AFRICA, MVUZO NOTYESI
LSSA Communications:
Nomfundo Jele nomfundom@LSSA.org.za Tel: (012) 366 8800 or 072 402 6344

 

Law Society welcomes Concourt judgment on Public Protector

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) has welcomed the Constitutional Court judgment on the Public Protector (Public Protector v South African Reserve Bank (CCT107/18) [2019] ZACC 29) as the judgment brings finality to the matter.

On 22 July, the majority of the Constitutional Court dismissed advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s application to set aside a judgment by the Gauteng Division of the High Court in Pretoria passed last year, which ordered that she pay 15% of the costs in that case from her own pocket.

The High Court judgment set aside the remedial action contained in her 2017 Absa/Bankorp report‚ which found that Absa should repay R1.1bn to the South African Reserve Bank. The Public Protector’s remedial actions also directed Parliament to amend the Constitution in order to change the mandate of the Reserve Bank.

The remarks made in the judgement brings into question the integrity of the Public Protector’s Office. We call on all relevant institutions to urgently work together to restore the dignity of this office in order to enable it to fufill its mandate without fear or prejudice.

‘We call on all institutions and the public to respect the administration of justice and to let the process take its natural course,’ says LSSA President, Mvuzo Notyesi. He adds: ‘The matter should be resolved immediately by those charged with resolving it as it is in the best interest of the public.’

ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE LAW SOCIETY OF SOUTH AFRICA, MVUZO NOTYESI
LSSA Communications: Nomfundo Jele nomfundom@LSSA.org.za Tel: (012) 366 8800 or 072 402 6344
 

Law Society saddened at passing of Communication Manager, Barbara Whittle

It is with deep sadness that the Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) announces the untimely death of its Communication Manager, Ms Barbara Whittle at the age of 55.

Ms Whittle lost her battle with cancer and passed away in the afternoon of 10 July 2019

‘The LSSA, its Exco, staff and the profession have lost a colleague, a dear friend, and mentor passionate about people and her job’, says LSSA President, Mvuzo Notyesi.

He adds: ‘Barbara has been in the employ of the LSSA since 1987. She started off as an Editorial Assistant and worked her way through the ranks to become Communication Manager in 2006. She loved and lived for the LSSA and the legal profession, always serving with a smile. She served the profession in a professional, competent and objective manner; always remembering the core objectives on the independence of the profession, the judiciary and the rule of law. She always went the extra mile and continued to work right up until the end.’

We offer our support, thoughts and prayers to Barbara’s husband Marius who has walked every step with Barbara and with the LSSA all these years. May he find solace in the knowledge that Barbara was loved, appreciated and admired by the staff and stakeholders of the LSSA, the legal profession and beyond.
 

ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE LAW SOCIETY OF SOUTH
AFRICA, MVUZO NOTYESI

by the Law Society of South Africa Communication Department
Nomfundo Jele, Communications Officer, nomfundom@LSSA.org.za Tel: (012) 366 8800 or 072 402 6344.
 

Black Lawyers Association statement against attempts to undermine the office of the Public Protector

1. The Black Lawyers Association has noted the attacks directed at the office of the Public Protector by various individuals and organisations. This attacks have intensified after the handing down of the judgment in the case of Democratic Alliance v The Public Protector and Council for the Advancement of the Constitution V Protector which was handed down on the 20th of May 2019.

2. Whilst we acknowledge the right of every individual to criticize state and non-state institutions as a fundamental right on which our hard won freedom rests, we think that such criticism must be measured and reasonable as opposed to being partisan and driven by ideological connotation.

3. The truth of the matter is that the Pretoria High Court, through Tolmay J in which the finding and the remedial action of the Public Protector regarding the Vrede Dairy Farm project have been reviewed and set aside. Equally true is the fact that the Public Protector has publicly indicated her intention to take this judgment on appeal as she is entitled. We are not sure whether she has done as yet, we know she is accorded time to consider the judgment and take it on appeal if she wishes so, through an appropriate application.

4. No one knows what the consequences of such an appeal will be, all we know at this stage is that the Public Protector has publicly declared her intention to take that decision on appeal and that the rules of the court still allows her time to do so. It is rather unnecessary and premature for institutions that have a professed objective of protecting and advancing the constitution to castigate the office of the Public Protector and the incumbent of the office as if she has already been found to be unsuitable for the office and the role of the Public Protector.

5. We further note that Parliament has been approached to initiate an inquiry through the appropriate officials regarding the fitness of Advocate Mkhwebane to occupy the office of the Public Protector. This too does not suggest that Parliament in the exercise of its crucial mandate has finally found that she is not fit to occupy that office. Restraint and caution would assist all concerned and importantly it would serve the crucial task of due process and allow both the judiciary in the case of the review and Parliament in the case of the inquiry to do their work without any undue influence.

6. We are troubled and concerned in particular by today’s opinion piece by one Mpumelelo Mkhabela in the News 24 electronic publication. Mr Mkhabela has declared that South Africa does not have a Public Protector. Again, we wish to declare upfront that we have no problem with the exercise of the right to freedom of expression by anybody including Mr Mkhabela, but we are of the view that statements such as the one contained in his opinion piece may permanently damage the image of the Public Protector in the eyes of the public and may unduly influence the current processes that are underway both in Parliament and the judiciary.

7. It seems unpersuasive to us to suggest that Adv Mkhwebana is unfit to be a Public Protector only because her findings have been successfully reviewed. There are judges whose judicial findings have been set aside by higher courts, it must be, then that such judges are no longer fit to be judges if we apply the same standard and there is every reason that we must. To us, judicial findings as made against the office of the Public Protector demonstrate the checks and balances available in our constitutional democracy and are far from indicating an incapacity to perform duties on the part of the public protector.

8. We therefore call for restraint and cool heads in all engagements about, and with, the office of the Public Protector. We also call for the president to leave up to the oath of his office which requires him to protect and promote the constitution and oppose all that may harm it. The constitution includes all its institutions including the office of the Public Protector.

ISSUED BY:

BAYETHE MASWAZI
HEAD: POLICY AND LEGISLATION
BLACK LAWYERS ASSCIATION

 

Application for leave to appeal in Proxi Smart matter dismissed

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) welcomes the Supreme Court of Appeal’s (SCA) dismissal of the application for leave to appeal in the matter of Proxi Smart Services (Pty) Limited vs the Law Society of South Africa and Others. The application was dismissed on 7 May 2019 on the basis that there is no reasonable prospect of success in an appeal and there is no other compelling reason why an appeal should be heard.

Proxi Smart Services (Pty) Limited applied to the Gauteng Division of the High Court for declaratory relief concerning the lawfulness of its business model for performing the administrative and related services pertaining to property transfers that it contended was not by law reserved to conveyancers or legal practitioners.

The LSSA contended that the applicant’s attempt at creating a distinction between ‘reserved work’ and ‘non-reserved work’ had no basis in law, and that the full conveyancing process is regarded as professional work performed by conveyancers.

‘The conveyancing process should remain under the control of conveyancers. This is in the interest of the public whom they serve,’ says the President of the LSSA, Mvuzo Notyesi.

The matter was first heard on 6 and 7 February 2018 and, in the judgment delivered on 16 May 2018, the Court held that the applicant has not made out a case for the relief it sought and dismissed the application with cost.

In December 2018, the applicant was denied leave to appeal by the Gauteng High Court. It then filed an application for leave to appeal with the SCA on 15 January 2019.

View all the Proxi Smart matter documents on the LSSA website. 

ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE LAW SOCIETY OF SOUTH AFRICA, MVUZO NOTYESI

 

 

Law Society elections press release

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) acknowledges that the elections were generally free and fair. The LSSA commends the IEC on a job well done and recognises the important role it plays in protecting and promoting our constitutional democracy.

The LSSA welcome the steps taken by the Electoral Commission to conduct an audit of results and votes cast in a sample of voting stations to deal with the concerns raised by a number of smaller parties, in the interests of accountability and transparency,’ says LSSA President, Mvuzo Notyesi.

He adds: ‘We note that effective coordination is necessary to ensure elections are run according to legislation, taking into consideration the number of voters and voting stations on election day.’

The LSSA notes with concern that, according to reports by the IEC, in 2014, the turnout figure was 73.48%. While this year, South Africa registered a voter turnout of 65.99% for the national ballot meaning that voter turnout dropped by almost 7.5 %. Mr Notyesi urged the public to participate in future elections as every vote counts.

The LSSA urges all political parties, the public and civil society to cooperate to address some of the key issues facing our country, in the national interest, inter alia:

• To protect the rule of law and deal with the scourge of corruption in our society;

• To transform the economy and to address unemployment and the plight of the poor and the marginalized; and

• To address service delivery to our communities.

The LSSA commits itself to continue to play a proactive role in the interests of our society.

We also congratulate the ANC in its continuous and uninterrupted period of 6 years as a majority party and equally applaud the performance of all political parties in the elections.

We urge the ruling party and all parties that shall be represented in Parliament and Government to ensure that they prioritise service delivery and project of building south Africa.



ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE LAW SOCIETY OF SOUTH AFRICA, MVUZO NOTYESI 

Law Society elects new President and Vice-Presidents

The Law Society of South Africa has elected Mvuzo Notyesi as President, Baitseng Rangata as Vice-President and Jan van Rensburg as Acting Vice-President at its conference and AGM in Pretoria on 29 and 30 March 2019.

Mr Notyesi and Mr Van Rensburg are both previous Co-Chairpersons of the LSSA.

Mvuzo Notyesi is an attorney and director at Mvuzo Notyesi Incorporated in Mthatha. He is President of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers. He holds the BProc and LLB degrees from the University of Transkei, was admitted as an attorney in 1999 after completing his articles and attending the LSSA’s School for Legal Practice in East London. He has practised as director at Mvuzo Notyesi Incorporated since 1999.

Mr Notyesi has been a Council member and a member of the Management Committee of the LSSA for three years. He represents the LSSA on the Judicial Service Commission. Mr Notyesi has a passion for education and has been a part-time lecturer and an instructor at the LSSA’s School for Legal Practice in East London. He is also an examiner for the Attorneys Admission Examination. Mr Notyesi is Chairperson of the Notyesi Foundation, which awards bursaries to disadvantaged students to attend university.

Pretoria attorney Baitseng Rangata is the Co-Chairperson of Maponya Inc which has branches in Pretoria, Mafikeng, Klerksdorp, Bloemfontein, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

She has the BProc and LLB degrees from the University of the North as well as an LLM in intellectual property law from Unisa; and has extensive experience in commercial law, intellectual property law, labour law and general civil litigation. She acts on behalf of several parastatals and has chaired disciplinary hearing proceedings for various institutions. In 2016 she chaired the board of inquiry initiated by the Railway Safety Regulator into a train accident. In 2017 was an Acting Judge in the Gauteng High Court: Pretoria. She is a board member of SAFLII and an advocate of women empowerment and access to justice by disadvantaged communities.

Ms Rangata is the current Vice President of the Black Lawyers Association.

Jan van Rensburg has served on the LSSA Council since 2004. He sits on a number of committees at the LSSA and has represented the LSSA on the Council for Debt Collectors since 2009.

Mr Van Rensburg has the BCom (University of Pretoria) and BProc (UNISA) degrees as well as an Advanced Diploma in Labour Law from the University of Johannesburg. He
was admitted as an attorney in 1984 and is also a notary and conveyancer. He practises as a sole practitioner at Jan van Rensburg Attorneys in Brits.

Key discussions at the LSSA Annual Conference

National Director of Public Prosecutions, Adv Shamila Batohi, was the keynote speaker at the LSSA conference, which was held under the theme ‘The War against Corruption: Can the legal profession contribute to restoring confidence in the Rule of Law?’. She told delegates that the staff at the National Prosecuting Authority are civil servants. They serve the people and must do so with humility. She added that restoring the public confidence in the institution will not be easy and she asked for support from legal practitioners. Lawyers in private practice are requested to assist the Office of the NDPP for free or at reduced rates. She added that there had been a number of lawyers who had already come forward to offer their assistance. Adv Batohi also pleaded with legal practitioners not to delay cases unnecessarily.

On her appointment in December 2018, the LSSA said in a statement: ‘We are confident that Ms Batohi has the skill, conscientiousness, integrity and independence necessary to tackle the challenge of leading our prosecutorial services, and to ensure a stable directorate that serves the public of South Africa professionally, effectively and fairly, and provides a proud mirror of our criminal justice system to the outside world. We offer the support of the attorneys’ profession to Ms Batohi.’

One of the discussions at the conference revolved around the high failure rate in the conveyancing examination and the perceptions of prejudice and gatekeeping. The LSSA resolved to take the matter forward and pointed out that conveyancing is a specialised, post-admission field. Prospective conveyancers must be properly trained and prepared in order to protect our world-renowned cadastral system and to protect the public. It was agreed that the conveyancing examinations should be reviewed. This would include consideration of number of days and time for writing of the exams. The LSSA will also have to review its conveyancing training courses, which have proven to be inadequate given the experiences of candidates.

The LSSA will also request an amendment to the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014 to legislate for pro bono by legal practitioners. Currently the Act makes provision for community services – which has yet to be fully defined by the Justice Minister – but it does not make provision for pro bono as the repealed Attorneys Act did in the past. This omission has impacted significantly on the delivery of pro bono services that was established by the profession over the past few years.

ISSUED ON BEHALF OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE LAW SOCIETY OF SOUTH AFRICA, MVUZO NOTYESI