Registration open for LSSA annual general meeting: 9 April 2021

Registration is now open for the Law Society of South Africa’s annual general meeting and conference which will take place on Friday 9 April 2021. The conference will focus on one of the key challenges for the legal profession; financial sustainability.

We have invited newly elected Legal Services Ombuds, Siraj Desai to give an address on his office and to answer questions from the floor. The LSSA is committed to the rule of law and access to justice and believes that the Judge Desai’s appointment is essential to enhance the ethical responsibilities of the profession and to protect the public.

The conference will be preceded by the annual general meeting (AGM) in the morning at the same venue as the conference. The AGM is open to all practitioners.

The rest of the day will be devoted to discussions on the structure, financial sustainability, and governance of the LSSA and the provincial attorneys’ associations. There will also be a panel discussion on what members can expect from their professional association, focusing on what members expect from the LSSA.

Registration for the conference is free. Please register here. Please make sure to also let us know whether you will be attending the conference virtually or physically by ticking the relevant box on the online registration.

Book your seat today!
View the draft programme here.
Register online here

Law Society welcomes the appointment of the Legal Services Ombud 

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) welcomes the Legal Services Ombud’s appointment, retired Cape Town High Court Judge Siraj Desai.

‘This appointment is long overdue and should have coincided when the Legal Practice Council came into effect on 30 October 2018. I encourage the Department of Justice to ensure that the Ombud’s office is fully capacitated as soon as possible so that the Ombud can become fully operational. The Ombud in terms of the Legal Practice Act (LPA) is independent and only answerable to the Constitution and the law,’ says LSSA President, Mvuzo Notyesi.

The LSSA commits itself to support the work of the Ombud’s office, in the broader interests of the profession and our society.

The Ombud, in terms of the LPA, has the following key objectives:

  • protect and promote the public interest in relation to the rendering of legal services as contemplated in the LPA;  
  • ensure the fair, efficient and effective investigation of complaints of alleged misconduct against legal practitioners;  
  • promote high standards of integrity in the legal profession; and  
  • promote the independence of the legal profession.  

Besides, other powers, the Ombud is competent to investigate any alleged act or omission that may affect the integrity and the independence of the legal profession and public perceptions in respect thereof.

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 SCA decision on Muslim marriages appeal

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) welcomes the decision by the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in the matter:  President of the RSA and Another v Women’s Legal Centre Trust and Others; Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development v Faro and Others; and Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development v Esau and Others (Case no 612/19) [2020] ZASCA 177 (18 December 2020).

In this matter the LSSA made submissions as amicus curiae. This is a judgement to be welcomed by thousands of women and children in the country. Many women and minor children did not benefit from the protection provided in the Marriage Act 25 of 1961 and the Divorce Act 70 of 1979. This legislation did not recognise marriages solemnised in accordance with Muslim marriages as valid marriages for all purposes in South Africa’, says LSSA President, Mvuzo Notyesi.

The decision also provided for the protection and the welfare of minor or dependent children of Muslim marriages at the time of dissolution of a Muslim marriage in the same manner as the Act provides to safeguard the welfare of children of other marriages that are being dissolved.

The SCA quoted from the judgement of Moseneke J in the Daniels v Campbell NO and Others 2004 (5) SA 331 (CC) case as follows:This “persisting invalidity of Muslim marriages” is, of course, a constitutional anachronism. It belongs to our dim past. It originates from deep-rooted prejudice on matters of race, religion and culture. True to their worldview, judges of the past displayed remarkable ethnocentric bias and arrogance at the expense of those they perceived different. They exalted their own and demeaned and excluded everything else. Inherent in this disposition, says Mahomed CJ, is “inequality, arbitrariness, intolerance and inequity”.’  

‘This clearly indicates the serious lack of consideration the state has paid to customary marriages in general and the prejudicial impact on women and children in the dissolution of these marriages. As a constitutional democracy, since 1994, this is a sad indictment of the legislature,’ adds Mr Notyesi.

 

Click here to read a detailed summation of the SCA Judgement by Mr Notyesi.

Click here to read the judgement.

 

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 cautions against uninformed criticism of courts

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) in its commitment to the rule of law cautions against uninformed criticisms of our courts, commissions and tribunals held under the authority of judges. This comes after the LSSA has noticed public outcry following the recent Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) judgment on the ‘Coligny sunflower case’.

Pieter Doorewaard and Phillip Schutte were acquitted on 27 November 2020 when their appeal was upheld in the SCA. The pair had been convicted of the murder of Mathlomola Jonas Mosweu in April 2017 in the North West Division of the High Court, Mahikeng. It was an emotive case that resulted in public violence and was referred to as the ‘sunflower murder’ due to the ill-fated and tragic death of the young boy caught stealing sunflowers, as a country we still mourn and are coming to terms with this.

Some politicians are urging the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to appeal the acquittal to the Constitutional Court. Many members of the public are disappointed and angered by the decision of the SCA with some questioning the motive of the three judges who presided over the appeal.

‘Judges do not make decisions on appeal to suit the polemics of the day. They make their decisions on the law and the facts presented to them. This is done via the jurisprudence developed by our courts over many years,’ says LSSA President, Mvuzo Notyesi, adding that ‘when any litigant, like the NPA in this appeal, feels the decision of a court is wrong, such litigant has a right to appeal. The NPA will assess the SCA judgment and decide whether to appeal to the Constitutional Court.’

It is also clear from some comments by members of the public that the appeal process is not readily understood. Judges who deal with appeals do not hear evidence. The evidence is presented at the trial court. The trial court judge determines what evidence is admissible and what is not. Ultimately the trial court judge will make findings on the evidence presented. The appeal court must deal with the evidence contained in the records of appeal and consider the application of law based on those facts.

The trial court judge is bound by the law. As in this case, when the state prosecutor presented evidence of a single witness, the common law requires judges to assess that evidence very carefully.

Often on the application of the law, reasonable disagreements arise between lawyers. Some may recall the SCA disagreed with the trial court judge’s determination on dolus eventualis (legal intent) in the Oscar Pistorius trial and upheld the appeal by the NPA against the ‘lenient sentence’ and increased his jail term to 13-years.

In this case, all three judges of the SCA disagreed with the trial court judge’s assessment of the state’s single witness. One of the judges opined that the state should have sought a conviction on culpable homicide analogous to motor vehicle accidents. Culpable homicide is always a competent verdict on an indictment (charge) of murder. The NPA will assess the SCA judgment with a view to a further and final appeal. The NPA will make its assessment without fear, favour or prejudice as it is bound to do in terms of our law.

‘We support the independence of judges and the rule of law, but as clearly illustrated in this matter, judges are not infallible, but we have mechanisms which allow us to seek redress. As with any legal matter adjudicated by our courts, people are entitled to have differing views. However, attacks on the court’s integrity are unwarranted and we condemn the use of such opportunistic attacks for political gain. We urge everyone, including the public to make use of the correct mechanisms and not take the route of uninformed public criticism of the court process,’ Mr Notyesi concludes.

Click here to read the judgement.

 

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 Ms Tsakani Maluleke to AGSA

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) welcomes the appointment of Tsakani Maluleke as South Africa’s new Auditor-General (AG). Ms Maluleke is the first woman to hold this position in the institution’s 109-year history.

‘As Ms Maluleke begins her seven-year term today, we would like to pledge the commitment of the attorneys’ profession to support her and the office of the Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA),’ says LSSA President, Mvuzo Notyesi.

He adds: Ms Maluleke was also South Africa’s first female deputy AG. She takes over from the late Kimi Makwetu who passed away on 11 November 2020. We are confident that Ms Maluleke has the skill, conscientiousness, integrity and independence necessary to run the operations of the AGSA. Her eight years’ experience at AGSA, first as national leader responsible for the direction of all audit work, and then as deputy AG, proves that the AGSA will be led professionally, effectively and fairly.

The LSSA views the appointment of women in senior positions in chapter 9 and state institutions as part of the ongoing recognition of our constitutional imperatives and that more appointments of women in these positions should be made. The LSSA notes that private institutions and businesses have not made similar progress in this regard and they should also step up transformation to become broadly representative of the South African population.

The LSSA is also pleased to hear that Ms Maluleke takes the baton with purpose and will continue to work closely with those with a keen interest in improving governance systems towards clean administration, especially in the public sector. We wish her a very successful term.

 

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 shocked at death of outgoing Auditor-General, Kimi Makwetu

 

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) adds its voice on the great loss of the passing of outgoing Auditor-General, Kimi Makwetu on 11 November at the age of 54 after a battle with lung cancer.

‘Mr Makwetu was an exceptional and true civil servant who took his role as South Africa’s auditor-general seriously and filled it with professionalism. He always pursued with the best interest of the country at heart. He served with dignity and embodied the values of integrity, selflessness, humility and hard work,’ says LSSA President, Mvuzo Notyesi.

Mr Makwetu was born in Cape Town and completed a Social Sciences degree at the University of Cape Town in 1989. He received a Bcompt Honours degree from the University of Natal and was a qualified chartered accountant.

Mr Makwetu started his career with Standard Bank and later worked at Nampak. He completed his articles at Deloitte, at worked his way up to senior management, before joining Liberty and Metropolitan Life in Cape Town. He moved to Gauteng in 2003 where he worked at Liberty Life. Mr Makwetu returned to Deloitte as a director in the forensic unit before his appointment as Deputy Auditor-General at the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) in 2007.

On 1 December 2013, former President, Jacob Zuma, appointed Mr Makwetu, as the new Auditor-General of South Africa for a period of seven years.

‘The country has lost one of its most respected and dedicated public servants. Mr Makwetu was the voice against maladministration and corruption. He was also a panel member for the selection of the National Director of Public Prosecutions. He demonstrated independence, fairness and a good understanding of the separation of powers,’ says Mr Notyesi.

We express our deepest condolences to his wife, Miranda, their children, family, friends, and colleagues and hope that they will find solace in the knowledge that the entire country is grieving with them. We wish them strength during this difficult period.

 

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

 

Provincial Legal Practitioners’ Associations

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) held a number of meetings in all nine provinces regarding the establishment of Provincial Legal Practitioners’ Associations of the LSSA. The meetings were held in 2019 and early 2020.

All provinces agreed to establish provincial LSSA legal practitioners’ associations as set out in the LSSA constitution.

Finalised constitutions

Some of the provinces have finalised their constitutions. Click on the following links to download the latest version of the constitutions.

Constitution of the Western Cape Provincial Legal Practitioners’ Association.

Constitution of the Eastern Cape Provincial Legal Practitioners’ Association.

Constitution of the Limpopo Provincial Legal Practitioners’ Association.

 

Please keep an eye out on our social media pages for information on the Association meetings.

Law Society horrified at murder of attorney, Gerrit Stander

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) is horrified at the reports of the murder of Mbombela attorney, Gerrit Stander. Mr Stander, 38, was shot and killed during a house robbery at his home in the early hours of Monday morning (19 October 2020).

Mr Stander was born in Mbombela. He did his schooling in Mbombela and went to study and consequently work in Cape Town. He then returned to Mbombela a few years ago and was an attorney at Swanepoel & Partners Inc. at the time of his death.

‘We call on the investigators to ensure that every possible avenue is investigated. Authorities must leave no stone unturned. They should not rest until these criminals are arrested and brought to book’, says LSSA President, Mvuzo Notyesi.

Dave Bennett, a Director at Swanepoel & Partners Inc and LSSA House of Constituent Member, described Mr Stander as a very professional attorney who conducted himself with dignity. Mr Bennet adds that he was a pleasure to work with.

Mr Notyesi adds: ‘As legal professionals we must unite to eliminate any criminal threat made against our profession. An injury to one, is an injury to all.’

The LSSA expresses its deepest condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues. May his soul rest in peace.

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 death of former Co-chairperson, Silas Nkanunu

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) is saddened at the passing of Port Elizabeth attorney and former LSSA Co-chairperson, Silas Nkanunu, on 6 November 2020 at the age of 87.

Mr Nkanunu was admitted as an attorney in 1977 and practiced at Nkanunu and Loggerenberg. He served as LSSA Co-chairperson in 2001, 2002 and 2004.

‘Silas played a crucial and prominent role in the discussions between 1996 and 1998 which brought the Black Lawyers Association and the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL) together with the four provincial law societies to embark on the transformation of the profession. He was one of the signatories, on behalf of NADEL, of which he was president, to the LSSA’s constitution and was present at the launch of the LSSA in Parliament in March 1998,’ says LSSA President, Mvuzo Notyesi.

Mr Notyesi adds: ‘His commitment to transformation was also evidenced by his inclusion in the delegation representing the attorneys’ profession in the initial talks with the Justice Minister concerning the Legal Practice Act. Mr Nkanunu also represented the attorneys’ profession on the Judicial Service Commission. He was also one of the founding members of NADEL and is one of NADEL’s longest members.’

Members of the LSSA’s House of Constituents who had the honour of working closely with Mr Nkanunu described him as a committed activist, patriot and a leading light in the community, adding that he always had the best interests of the profession at heart and was a straight forward man of his word. They go on to describe him as a true giant of the profession, a great leader and friend. ‘…his direct, incisive and humorous contributions to our many debates will be fondly remembered,’ they added.

‘He was a wonderful human being with a kind heart and dedicated his life to the profession’, says Mr Notyesi.

Nicknamed as the ‘Mandela of South African rugby’, Mr Nkanunu was the first black president of the South African Rugby Union (SARU), a position he held from September 1998 to the end of 2003.

Mr Notyesi says: ‘The LSSA echoes the words of the current SARU President, Mark Alexander, that Silas was a ‘builder of bridges’. His commitment to transformation was also evidenced by his work as a human rights lawyer. He was also a leading member of the South African Council on Sport which was the non-racial sports body during Apartheid.’

As we acknowledge Mr Nkanunu’s contribution to the profession, we also acknowledge the immense loss to his colleagues, friends and mostly to his wife, Pinkie, his children, and his family. The LSSA expresses its deepest condolences. May his soul rest in peace.

 

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

Get your basic will drafted for free by an attorney during National Wills Week: 26 to 30 October 2020

Many South Africans do not have wills. The corona virus emphasised why it is important to have an updated will. Many could unfortunately not get their wills done during this critical time due to lockdown restrictions.

With the easing of lockdown restrictions, it is essential to ensure that a legally sound will gets done. This will ensure that there are not competing claims on your estate when you pass away and your intention to your dependents is followed.

The Law Society of South Africa’s (LSSA) National Wills Week campaign presents the ideal opportunity to do so. Members of the public will be able to have a basic will drafted by an attorney free of charge during National Wills Week from 26 to 30 October 2020. Attorneys’ firms throughout the country are participating in the National Wills Week campaign. The contact details and addresses of all participating attorneys can be accessed at https://www.lssa.org.za/our-initiatives/advocacy/national-wills-week/ Once you have located a law firm closest to you, give them a call and set up an appointment directly with them.

‘If you are a parent, a breadwinner, a homeowner and generally want to ensure that your affairs are in order, it is important that you have a valid will drafted by an attorney. A valid will allows you to state your last wishes, who should inherit your assets and property, to appoint an executor of your choice for your estate and also a guardian for your minor children’, says LSSA President, Mvuzo Notyesi.

‘By ensuring that you have a valid will, you as the testator, can protect the interests of your loved ones and ensure that there is no delay in settling your estate after your death. It also ensures that your executor will act according to your wishes as set out in your will,’ adds Mr Notyesi.

During National Wills Week, attorneys participating in the initiative will display posters with their contact details so that members of the public can make appointments with attorneys in their area. In addition, the contact details and addresses of all participating attorneys can be accessed on the LSSA website at www.lssa.org.za.

 

 What you should provide to the attorney for your will to be drafted
• Your ID document.
• A list of what you own (including specific personal items that you wish to bequeath to specific people).

 

Before the consultation with your attorney, think about
• Who must get what?
• Who should be the legal guardians of your minor children (those under 18)?
• Who should be the executor of your will? This could be your attorney or a close family member or friend. If you decide on a family member or friend, it is advisable also to nominate the attorney as co-executor as the attorney will deal with any legal issues. The executor must be approved by the Master of the High Court.

 

 Why should an attorney draft your will?
A practising attorney has the necessary knowledge and expertise to ensure that your will is valid by complying with all the legal requirements in the Wills Act and also that it complies with your wishes. An attorney can also advise you on any problem which may arise with your will and assist your executor. Often a will is not valid because the person who drafts it does not have the necessary legal knowledge to ensure that all the legal requirements of the Wills Act are met. These include the fact that the will must be in writing, it must be signed by the testator in the presence of at least two competent witnesses and signed by the witnesses.

 

What could happen to your estate if you die without a valid will?
If you die without leaving a valid will, your assets will be distributed according to the provisions of the Intestate Succession Act. These provisions are generally fair and ensure that your possessions are transferred to your spouse and children, and where applicable, to siblings, parents, and if required, then to the extended family in terms of degrees of relationships and those that were dependent on you for financial support.

 

The following issues may arise if you die without leaving a will:
• Your assets may not be left to the person of your choice.
• It can take a longer time to have an executor appointed. The executor who is appointed may be somebody you may not have chosen yourself.
• There could be extra and unnecessary costs.
• There could be unhappiness and conflict among members of your family because there are no clear instructions on how to distribute your assets.

 

 Where to find an attorney to draft your will:
The contact details of attorneys participating in the National Wills Week project can be accessed on the LSSA website.

 

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