Does Mpofu have immunity?

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane with Advocate Dali Mpofu and her legal counsel at the Western Cape High Court.Picture Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA).

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane with Advocate Dali Mpofu and her legal counsel at the Western Cape High Court.Picture Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA).

Published Mar 14, 2023


Douglas Gibson

Does Dali Mpofu SC have immunity from charges of unprofessional conduct?

I ask this question because I complained to the Legal Practice Council (LPC) on 3 October last year. I wrote as a retired attorney who practised for over forty years, as a former Member of Parliament and Chief Whip of the Official Opposition, as well as being a former member of the Judicial Service Commission.

This is what I said to the LPC: “I hereby register a complaint with the Legal Practice Council and request an investigation into the behaviour of Mr D Mpofu SC in the matter of the s194 Committee currently before Parliament. Mr Mpofu SC acts for the Public Protector in that matter, and his appalling behaviour is well documented in the printed and social media.

“The most egregious of the many examples of his unbecoming, and in my view, unprofessional behaviour, occurred on 13 September 2022, when Mr Mpofu SC threatened the Chairperson (Mr QR Dyantyi MP) of the s194 Committee.

See attached newspaper article for ease of reference. WATCH | 'You'll pay one day' - Mpofu threatens chairperson of Mkhwebane inquiry

“This is clearly behaviour unbecoming of any legal professional, more particularly a person holding Senior Consultus status and an officer of the Court. I urge you to investigate this behaviour, which played out on a very public stage and to institute disciplinary proceedings where warranted.”

They responded, sending me a copy of Mpofu's response (his customary ad hominem attack on one's credentials), attempting to make me co-responsible for Apartheid despite my record in local government, in the Transvaal Provincial Council for 16 years and many years in Parliament.

His bull points: the remnants of the National Party joined with the Democratic Party to form the Democratic Alliance in 2000, and the DA feared the EFF's progress at the expense of the DA. In my reply, I pointed out that he now belongs to a political party that is virulently anti-white, with his leader feeling free to refer to killing whites.

In my answer, I referred to my many years as an attorney, and I averred that during that whole period, I formed a good idea of the way in which attorneys, advocates, Senior Counsel (including a couple who had been QCs and several who, thereafter became QCs), conducted and should conduct themselves.

In all those years, I came across very few lawyers indeed who had no manners, set a bad example to younger people in the profession, damaged the reputation of lawyers in the eyes of the public and while building a reputation for losing cases on a vast scale, still felt able to treat judges, colleagues, witnesses, and Parliament with discourtesy and contempt.

That is the last I heard; that is a disgrace on the part of the LPC. Does it indicate that Mpofu SC has immunity?

Extremely bad for the legal profession, it led to his appalling comments and personal attacks reminiscent of the gutter against the enormously respected Professor Thuli Madonsela at Parliament recently. Had the PLC responded to my complaint appropriately, Mpofu SC might have realised his disgraceful conduct is not above criticism and not exempt from what is expected from Senior Counsel or the good manners his contemporaries and legal giants of the past have observed. Of course, he does not belong in their company.

The LPC can do better than this.

Douglas Gibson is a former opposition chief whip and a former ambassador to Thailand

Related Topics:

public protector