State capture: Ex-Zuma attorney to be disbarred again? Legal Practice Council must decide, says Zondo
For his role in bringing Denel to its knees, charged Zondo, Daniel Mantsha’s fitness to continue practising as a lawyer must be looked into — especially since he is a repeat offender
It is beyond unbelievable that former president Jacob Zuma’s former attorney Daniel Mantsha was appointed as Denel board chair despite a string of misdemeanours that had him disbarred.
This is according to acting chief justice Raymond Zondo in Part 2 of the state capture inquiry report released this week.
Zondo said that this was perhaps confirmation that Mantsha was an appointee of the Gupta family, for whom he carried out their mandate to ransack the state-owned arms manufacturer.
Accordingly, for his role in bringing Denel to its knees, charged Zondo, Mantsha’s fitness to continue practising as a lawyer must be looked into — especially since he is a repeat offender.
Mantsha was disbarred as a lawyer in 2007 after many transgressions, most of which included financial misconduct.
Shockingly, he was to remerge as Denel board chair in 2015, with the appointing minister at the time, Lynne Brown, pleading ignorance of Mantsha’s serious historical career blemish.
“Mr Mantsha must have been chosen by the Guptas,” Zondo said.
In the scathing high court judgment of 2007 that took away Mantsha’s licence to practise as an attorney, he was found wanting on many serious acts of misconduct, including:
- failing to keep proper accounting records relating to money received and held by him in trust;
- failing to produce his accounting records for inspection by auditors representing the applicant in the case;
- misrepresentation and unprofessional conduct;
- practising for two years without being in possession of a fidelity fund certificate as required by law;
- unjustified and unwarranted attacks on the applicant's bona fides;
- allowing his trust banking account to go into debit and attempting to pay his indebtedness to the Shirt Bar by means of cheques drawn on his trust account, five of which were dishonoured;
- applying for judgment by default for his client against Sars for payment of R1.5m when he knew that Sars had already delivered a notice of intention to defend and a notice of exception;
- issuing summons wrongly and charging a client for services not rendered;
- misinforming the applicant that the Legal Aid Board refused to support the litigation when that was not so;
- lying deliberately, misadvising a client and acting unprofessionally by borrowing money from his client;
- failing to act in the best interests of his client, failing to reply to correspondence and failing to act with the care, skill and attention expected of an attorney;
- failing to carry out his client's instructions to pay someone, instead choosing to retain the funds for himself;
- recovering a claim for his client and failing within a reasonable time to account to the client and pay over the money;
- failing to pay an advocate fees totalling R28,000 he agreed to be “personally liable for”; and
- persistent failure to reply promptly to letters from his clients and from the applicant and sometimes his failure to reply at all.
Zondo writes that it is difficult to fathom that Brown would have missed such a judgment, which had been on public record for eight years at the time of Mantsha’s appointment at Denel.
But dots connect when the commission found that Mantsha was introduced to Denel boss Riaz Saloojee by Gupta foot soldier Salim Essa before he was officially unveiled as board chair.
After Mantsha’s takeover at Denel, Zondo found, the race to the bottom ensued — but that this could have been avoided easily by flagging Mantsha for previous misdemeanours.
The ball is now in the court of the Legal Practice Council to decide if Mantsha is fit to be an officer of the court.
“It is recommended that the Legal Practice Council should investigate how Mr Mantsha got readmitted if he did get readmitted as an attorney,” the report reads.
“If he did get readmitted, he should have been expected to have taken the court into his confidence and explain a number of things that the judgment referred to above says he did not explain to the court when he was struck off the roll.
“The Legal Practice Council should be made aware of the findings made by the commission against Mr Mantsha so that that body may conduct such investigation as it may consider necessary to establish whether Mr Mantsha is fit and proper to practise as an attorney,” said Zondo.
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