Thuli Madonsela apologises to Legal Aid SA over Zandile Mafe tweet

Former public protector Thuli Madonsela has apologised to Legal Aid SA. File photo.
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela has apologised to Legal Aid SA.  File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander

Former public protector Thuli Madonsela has apologised to Legal Aid SA for a tweet about the man arrested in connection with the fire that ravaged parliament last week, sharing her regret that it was “interpreted to cast aspersions” on the organisation

Madonsela weighed in on alleged parliament arsonist Zandile Christmas Mafe getting a private lawyer, saying this removed him from state legal aid “where there was risk of a confession”.

In a statement, Legal Aid SA said it had noted Madonsela’s remarks, which had “been interpreted by some members of the public as insinuating Legal Aid SA forces our clients to plead guilty.

“Legal Aid SA wishes to reiterate the interpretation is incorrect and regrettable.”

Mandosela responded to the organisation by apologising, saying she regretted her tweet was misinterpreted.

“I regret my tweet was interpreted to cast aspersions on the great work you do to advance access to justice and reinforce everyday justice,” she said.

Legal Aid SA said it offers independent, accessible and quality legal aid services in criminal and civil legal matters, and it had not received an application to represent Mafe.

“All Legal Aid SA practitioners are committed to ensuring they represent their clients to the best of their ability and provide them with the best defence possible, including ensuring clients do not implicate themselves and are treated as innocent until proven guilty through a fair hearing in a court of law,” it said.

“Failure to do so renders the legal practitioner liable to disciplinary action by the Legal Practice Council.

“The commitment to providing quality legal services is one which the organisation takes seriously, given that the outcome of cases impacts on the lives of the clients we serve.

“Clients provide their version of events to their legal practitioner, which is what the practitioner presents to the court.”

Mafe faces charges of housebreaking, theft and arson and further charges under the National Key Points Act.

His case was postponed to January 11 for further investigation.


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