A month before she was admitted as an advocate, the Public Protector’s website and some in our media had already pronounced her as such. One esteemed analyst even pronounced she was one of those advocates who had been around for a while….Pinky Khoabane asks if the Advocates roll omitted to capture Madonsela’s appointment as Advocate before the current one in November 2009
A profile of Advocate Thulisile (Thuli) Madonsela on the Public Protector’s website dated October 15 2009 refers to Madonsela as an advocate.
A report by EWN’s Stephen Grootes in the Daily Maverick of 19 October 2009, the online publication, refers to her as an advocate. “President Jacob Zuma has officially appointed Advocate Thuli Madonsela to take over (as Public Protector). Zuma’s appointment is a rubber stamp of the National Assembly’s decision, but it’s also one of the biggest indications yet that in some cases, he really does want to strengthen the institutions of democracy”.
The publication goes on to say: “Madonsela has been around for ages, one of the advocates known for having serious brains”.
But a register of the advocates roll as at 2016/08/04 indicates that Thulisile Nomkhosi Madonsela, an African Female, Case Number: 53583/2009 was appointed an advocate on 2 November 2009. The register is attached for easy reference and Thuli’s date of appointment is on page 40.
“A report of the Ad Hoc Committee to Nominate a Person for Appointment as Public Protector on the short-listing of candidates to be interviewed for appointment as Public Protector, dated 8 September 2009” lists among many candidates who are advocates, one Ms Thulisile Nomkhosi Madonsela.
The discrepancy raises the question: When exactly did Madonsela become an advocate? In September 2009, Parliament referred to her as simply Ms. A month later she was declared an advocate by Public Protector’s website and several media articles and in November of the same year, she was appointed an advocate in the high court.
Two advocates who spoke to UnCensored on condition of anonymity confirmed that “one isn’t an Advocate until you are admitted in the High Court as such. You cannot refer to yourself as Advocate until your admission is completed”.
The other said: “As an admitted advocate myself I could not use the title until it was conferred jointly by at least Two High Court Judges”. The advocates said it would be incumbent on the person whose status was incorrectly stated as “Advocate” to rectify the mistake, if one existed, as it was an offence to allow a perception to exist that you were an advocate when you’re not.
Such an act would be an offence under the Admission of Advocates Act:
“No person who has not been or is not deemed to have been admitted to practise as an advocate in terms of any provision of this Act or whose name has been removed from the roll of advocates or who is subject to any order suspending him from practice as an advocate, shall in any manner, directly or indirectly, practise as an advocate or hold himself out as, or pretend to be, or make use of any name, title, addition or description implying or tending to induce the belief that he is, an advocate or is recognized by law as such”.
The bigger question is whether Madonsela was aware of these reports or whether there’s a discrepancy in the roll itself. The Advocates roll comprises of everyone appointed as an advocate and although a representative of the General Council of the Bar said the Department of Justice, who is the custodian of this roll, didn’t update it timeously, the roll was generally accurate. The roll indicates among others, advocates who have been removed from the roll. Madonsela’s name appears only once, on November 2, 2009.
The Department of Justice could not respond to the questions UnCensored posed. It couldnt answer whether the roll was accurate in reflecting Madonsela’s appointment as an advocate on November 2, 2009 and whether she perhaps previously registered as an advocate and deregistered and maybe re-registered again.
The Law Society, despite several calls, didnt pick-up calls from UnCensored. We wanted to clarify if Madonsela had previously registered and subsequently deregistered as an advocate. The guidelines would not allow her to hold both titles (of attorney & advocate) at the same time. The Law Society would have been able to tell if she had switched from attorney to advocate, then to attorney and back to advocate again in 2009.