Gupta associate is Jacob Zuma’s new lawyer
Former Denel chairman Daniel Mantsha, a well-known Gupta associate, was implicated in a tranche of leaked e-mails in 2017
Former Denel chairman Daniel Mantsha, who left the arms manufacturer in a huff shortly after Cyril Ramaphosa was elected president, has been appointed as Jacob Zuma’s new attorney.
Zuma axed his long-time attorney Michael Hulley, who has represented him for more than a decade.
Mantsha, a well-known Gupta associate, was implicated in a tranche of leaked e-mails in 2017, which showed how he had liaised with the controversial family when taking certain decisions at Denel.
At one time, Mantsha was struck off the Northern Cape province’s roll of attorneys.
He was reportedly accused of unprofessional conduct and misappropriation of funds.
According to a judgment handed down in July 2007, Judge Brian Southwood found that Mantsha was not a “fit and proper person” to continue practising as an attorney and that the “public must be protected from him”.
However, the Law Society of the Northern Province clarified that Mantsha was subsequently found to be fit and proper to practise as an attorney and was readmitted as such by the high court on December 8 2011.
Mantsha was appointed Denel board chairman in 2015. He resigned from Denel a few days after Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan was appointed by Ramaphosa.
The arms manufacturer, which along with other state-owned enterprises has been weighed down by allegations of mismanagement and corruption, slipped into such a severe financial crisis that in December it needed a government guarantee to be able to pay its workers and suppliers.
Leaked e-mails revealed in 2017 what appeared to be highly damaging correspondence between Mantsha and the Gupta family about the establishment of Denel Asia, a joint venture between the group and associates of the Guptas.
Other damning e-mails showed Mantsha sending the Gupta family his personal bills. It is not known if they were paid.
Mantsha could not be reached on Monday, but Hulley confirmed that he was no longer Zuma’s lawyer.
“I can confirm that about two weeks ago our mandate was in fact terminated in all former president Zuma’s matters.”
He said no reasons were given and none were asked for.
“When one is mandated in a matter one never inquires into what the reasons are and similarly I don’t see it necessary why one should do that.”
However, he said people did not just terminate their mandates with lawyers and “obviously there is a degree of unhappiness”.
The change in Zuma’s legal representation comes shortly before he is set to make his third appearance on July 27 in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg.
This also comes after the former president’s supposed financial woes, which forced him to cancel all briefs with counsel ahead of his second court appearance in June.
The state has told the court it will be ready to proceed on November 12, but Zuma is likely to try to again delay the matter, and is still likely to lodge an application to review the decision to prosecute him.
He is also waiting the outcome of two separate applications — one brought by the DA and the other by the EFF — to have state funding cut.
The state will continue to fund Zuma’s legal bills in the corruption trial until a court says otherwise.