Pretoria – Lobby group Advocates for Transformation has lambasted the chairman of the General Council of the Bar of South Africa (GCB), lawyer Craig Watt-Pringle, for “anticipating” the outcome of the investigation into the conduct of lawyer Dali Mpofu during his confrontation with the lawyer of the Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan, Michelle le Roux, at the Zondo Commission.
The organization said yesterday it would file a “misconduct” complaint with the Johannesburg Society of Advocates’ Fees and Professionals Committee against Watt-Pringle. This was in connection with a media interview in which Watt-Pringle allegedly anticipated the investigation by saying that Mpofu telling Roux to “shut up” was outside the parameters of speaking to his colleagues.
Advocates For Transformation senior council Fana Nalane said Watt-Pringle explored the merits of the case during an interview with Newzroom Afrika before the Johannesburg Society of Advocates and the Johannesburg Society of Advocates professional committee cannot deal with it. .
Watt-Pringlee said, after confirming that investigations were ongoing, that:
“Telling a coworker to ‘shut up’ is way outside the parameters of how we can address our coworkers. We are not allowed to incorporate our personal feelings into the way we conduct our business. We must conduct ourselves with dignity and decorum in court. “
Nalane said that when asked if there was another way Associate Chief Justice Raymond Zondo could have handled the situation, Watt-Pringle replied, “It doesn’t matter whether Judge Zondo is right or wrong. He is the president, he directs the work. There is no excuse for the lawyer to tell a colleague to shut up. “
Nalane said: “The Advocates For Transformation considers Watt-Pringle to have anticipated the outcome of the investigation and compromised the integrity of the processes mandated by the constitutions of the Johannesburg Society of Advocates and the GCB, of which he was a member. They compromised the objectivity and independence of the GCB as an appellate body. The GCB could legitimately be seen as having prejudged the matter and undermined due process.
However, Watt-Pringle told Pretoria News yesterday he was without excuse because he had been approached by the media to talk about the matter.
Part of his duty as chairman of the GCB was to advocate against such misconduct in the discipline, he added.
Watt-Pringle said he weighed in on the issue because Mpofu sought to undermine Zondo and a young colleague, Le Roux, in an industry where women, like black lawyers, have been historically disadvantaged. This made it necessary to denounce such verbal abuse against female colleagues in the discipline, he added.
Watt-Pringle has said his term as GCB chairman will expire in July and will not be around when any appeals are filed. In any case, he said, the GCB does not adjudicate appeals itself, but appoints retired judges or senior colleagues from other bars to preside over and make decisions.
“While I would generally be involved in the appointment of this group if I were still in office, I obviously wouldn’t do it in all cases like this. I would step back and let my deputy take this appointment. would not conflict with the event that occurs. “
Mpofu said he regretted that Watt-Pringle criticized his conduct in the media before the professional committee of the Johannesburg Society of Advocates could hear the case.
Mpofu said he plans to issue his own detailed statement on the matter and respond to Zondo who called a press briefing “just to criticize” his behavior “even after he had already called me to order during the meeting. ‘investigation when the incident occurred “.
News from Pretoria