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JSA concerned over 'unlawful surveillance, online harassment' of Tembeka Ngcukaitobi

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JSA concerned over 'unlawful surveillance, online harassment' of Tembeka Ngcukaitobi

30th November 2020

By: News24Wire

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The Johannesburg Society of Advocates (JSA) has raised concerns over attacks against heavyweight lawyer, advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi SC.

JSA chairperson Sesi Baloyi said Ngcukaitobi has become the target of apparent unlawful surveillance, online harassment and other direct communications, after it became known that he acts for the commission into state capture, which is chaired by Deputy Chief Justice (DCJ) Raymond Zondo.

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On 20 November, the Jacob Zuma Foundation claimed it was concerned that, when the former president's legal team went to see Zondo in chambers, they found the DCJ with Ngcukaitobi.

Ngcukaitobi's role in the chambers was not explained.

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The foundation claimed that Ngcukaitobi's presence in the DCJ's chambers is among the contributing factors that led to Zuma leaving the commission without Zondo's permission.

"It is disturbing that the chairperson allowed such irregularities to occur in this matter. We stand with Zuma and commend him for his firm stance in walking away from the commission.

"It is indeed a comedy of errors, floundering from one error to the next. We commend Zuma for risking it all in order not to legitimise an irregular process disguised as a legitimate commission," the foundation said.

The foundation said Zuma faces criminal proceedings plotted by evidence leaders - Zondo assisted by Ngcukaitobi.

Baloyi said recent public statements, which have been made in relation to Ngcukaitobi, accusing him of having "irregular" meetings with Zondo and of "plotting" criminal charges against Zuma, have rightly been publicly condemned by legal organisations and political leaders.

"This most recent attack by unidentified persons on a legal practitioner as a result of his discharge of his professional duties is an attack on the independence of the advocates' profession, their ability to represent their clients without fear, and the right of the public to legal representation.

"Advocates are independent practitioners of advocacy and agents of the rule of law, whose specialised services are, and must be available to all persons, regardless of any disregard in which persons requiring the services of counsel may be held by anyone. They are officers of court and their role in the administration of justice cannot be over-emphasised," said Baloyi.

Baloyi said intimidation and harassment of legal practitioners for providing legal services is a serious inroad into the constitutionally enshrined right of every person to access to justice, which includes the right to legal representation by counsel of their own choice, and the right to freedom of trade.

"Legal practitioners must be free to render proper services to their clients without concern for their safety as a result of service to clients. It is for this reason that the reported unlawful acts against Ngcukaitobi must be a cause for concern to all law-abiding people.

"The JSA accordingly condemns the unlawful and unwarranted treatment of Ngcukaitobi and supports him in discharging his professional duties as he is obliged to do by the code of conduct for legal practitioners, and by the fundamental tenets of his profession, even in the face of harassment and apparent intimidation," said Baloyi.

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