Bar Council thrashes Mazzone
THE Bar Council has slammed DA MP Natasha Mazzone’s comments about EFF chairperson advocate Dali Mpofu, SC, acting for Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille, as one of the most uninformed and democratically bankrupt observations from a politician.
The Bar Council criticised Mazzone as EFF deputy chairperson Floyd Shivambu fumed on the social media about Mazzone’s remarks made outside the Cape Town High court this week.
On Wednesday, a full bench of the Cape Town High Court found that the DA action on De Lille’s was unlawful and invalid. De Lille’s legal team included Mpofu.
Outside the court Natasha Mazzone, deputy chairperson of the DA federal executive, said: “It’s a sign of how relations have broken down between the DA and Patricia de Lille in that she chooses a chairperson of another political party to attack her own political party. It goes a long way to show Patricia de Lille does not actually consider herself to be a member of the DA.”
Bar Council chairperson Vuyani Gulwana, SC, said: “It is one of the most uninformed and democratically bankrupt observations from a politician who claims to be a democrat (if her membership of a party called “Democratic Alliance” were any indication of such) that I have heard this year.”
When members of the Bar performed a professional function they did so as officers of the Court, not as politicians. “The MP would do well to familiarise herself with the Uniform Rules of Ethics that govern the Bar before offering a soundbite that is offensive even to the Constitution to which she has pledged allegiance as a Member of the National Assembly.”
He added: “Judging by such comments from a lawmaker, one wonders if she understands the meaning of her oath or solemn affirmation and the import of section 34 of the Constitution. This is unfortunate.”
An angry Shivambu posted about Mazzone’s utterances on the social media. “This is preposterous and plainly foolish. Professionals must work according to political party affiliation now? It’s not like we expected anything better from this crowd of intolerant racists. Their days are numbered.”
Commenting on Mazzone’s remarks, the chairperson of the Johannesburg Society of Advocates, IP Green, SC, said yesterday that the starting point was that counsel did not choose cases offered to them by instructing attorneys. Neither did they choose their clients.
When counsel was ordered a brief by an attorney he or she was obliged to accept the brief in certain limited circumstances. This was known as the Cab Rank file.
This rule ensured that individuals have access to fair and competent legal representation because counsel was obliged to accept the brief irrespective of the identity of the client, the nature of their case, or whether the client was paying or being funded.
Green said no matter what counsel thought about the character, reputation, conduct, guilt or innocence of clients, they had to take on cases referred to them.
“Without the Cab Rank rule an unpopular person may not be able to get legal representation,” Green said.
“The Cab Rank rule is entrenched in the professional rule of ethics which bind all advocates. The exceptions to the Cab Rank rule do not arise in the context of the specific questions you have raised.”
Meanwhile, the high court yesterday postponed De Lille’s application to compel the DA to submit evidence used to draw up the so-called Steenhuisen report.
Yesterday De Lille said outside the High Court that the DA has refused to provide the full record, contending that it was not obliged to provide the documents because it was an internal, preliminary investigation by a private body.
“The DA also claims that the evidence is ‘confidential’. This is difficult to understand because the DA constantly and publicly challenges me to deal with the findings of the Steenhuisen report and yet, in the court case, they wish to keep the evidence that the Steenhuisen committee considered a secret.”
‘UNINFORMED’: DA MP Natasha Mazzone was slammed by the Bar Council.