THE Cape Law Society has dismissed an allegation of misconduct against an Eastern Cape lawyer who claimed Nelson Mandela was in a “permanent vegetative state” prior to the former statesman’s death last year.
The society’s disciplinary committee said it could not find that Mandela family lawyer Wesley Hayes had acted unprofessionally.
The complaint was lodged by the former statesman’s eldest grandson, Mandla, following a highly-publicised bitter court battle in the Mthatha High Court in June last year.
Upon acquittal yesterday, Hayes, director of the Queenstown Rural Legal Centre, threatened to sue Mandla. Mandla, 39, alleged that Hayes, instructing Advocate David Smith in the civil matter, lied to the court to bolster their application to have the remains of three of Madiba’s deceased children returned to Qunu, where he indicated he wanted to be buried. A separate complaint was made against Smith to the Bar Council of the Eastern Cape Society of Advocates.
The complaint pertained to a certificate of urgency in which Smith claimed the former president was in a permanent vegetative state and that family members had been advised to switch off the machines keeping him alive sooner rather than later.
Mandela died on December 5.
The court ruled in favour of the 15 Mandela family members all pitted against Mandla, who is the chief of Mvezo, and the remains were returned to Qunu, where Madiba grew up. Mandla later lodged complaints against both Hayes and Smith, accusing them of lying to the court.
Yesterday, Advocate Gerald Bloem, SC, said the Bar Council had not yet come to a resolution with regard to Smith’s conduct. He said the matter would be discussed during a meeting that evening.
But a delighted Hayes said he was happy with the law society’s findings and believed it was only a matter of time before Smith was vindicated as well.
“The allegations were spurious and malicious and at no time did I mislead the court or fabricate evidence. As a result of the law society’s findings, I will now consider my options to sue Mandla for the way in which he has tried to discredit me, especially through the media,” Hayes said.
“As far as my advocate [Smith] is concerned, the Bar Council may well take careful consideration of the law society’s findings against me and apply such findings to Smith before they find themselves in the dock with Mandla, answering to charges of malicious prosecution.”
He said Smith carried out his instructions to the satisfaction of their clients, which included Madiba’s eldest daughter, Makaziwe and Mandla’s younger brothers Ndaba, Andile and Mbuso.
“The fact that we have publicly been accused of lying has been a bitter pill to swallow, but we remained confident that we would be vindicated,” Hayes added.
Mandla was unavailable for comment.