Deputy Public Protector calls on lawyers bodies to discipline lawyers fingered by Public Protector reports
Deputy Public Protector Adv Kevin Malunga has called on legal regulatory bodies such as the Law Society and General Council of the Bar to discipline lawyers who are fingered by Public Protector reports.
He was addressing a prize giving ceremony of the University of Witwatersrand School of Law on Tuesday.
The Deputy Public Protector warned that maladministration often committed by those in the legal fraternity and corruption were key factors that derailed service delivery and the delayed fulfilment of a constitutionally promised better life for all.
Lawyers, he said, are often an integral part of tender and state procurement processes and should know better that something irregular or illegal was happening. However, a number Public Protector reports show non-compliance, corruption, overbilling, overcharging, false billing and scope creep in state contracts or tenders.
“If the government departments were given proper legal advice this would not be happening,” he said.
Adv. Malunga cited an example of a case involving a law firm used by a government department in the North West which the Public Protector found had charged the department in an excess of R15 million to draft letters and conduct a disciplinary hearing of three employees.
Cases like this, the Deputy Public Protector said, required a strong action from legal bodies adding those lawyers found guilty on matters such as this should be struck of the roll or disciplined at the very least..
He warned that some governance mischief in the country was committed by people in law who he said “should know better.”
“Our most shameful findings have the visible or hidden hand of lawyers in their midst who probably are in good standing with the Law Society and General Council of the Bar as Attorneys and Advocates. Surely the lawyers we found against in the North West should by now have been disciplined,” he said.
Speaking about challenges facing the graduates, Adv. Malunga said the impact of maladministration, bad governance and corruption looked to derail the development and delivery of the South Africa promised by the Constitution where every person’s full potential would be freed and realised.
He challenged the newly graduate lawyers to protect the Constitution and laws of the country and ensure that they were complied with.
"It is you the graduates who have to ensure that our Constitution is protected, the rule of law is upheld and compliance is enforced at all costs,” he said.
The Deputy Public Protector told them that like Atlas they had the world and the country on their shoulders and warned them not to lose focus and be consumed by merely seeking financial success.
“If you of all people fall asleep at the switch, we are doomed as a country,” warned Adv. Malunga.
He encouraged the graduates and prize winners who packed the hall to ensure that there was compliance and public confidence in the Constitution was preserved to ensure that the state envisioned by the Constitution was delivered.
The Deputy Public Protector further advised the graduates that there was a need to re-engineer the “Me” attitude found among some law students and also think about what they could do for humanity.
The event was organised by the Wits University School of Law.
For more information, contact:
Public Protector South Africa
(012) 366 7035
072 264 3273