When is an advocate of the Bar not an advocate of the Bar? This is the question the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) appears to be struggling to answer regarding one of its own, “advocate” Jabulani Mlotshwa.
In general terms, according to Wits University law professor and advocate James Grant, a state advocate may not be an admitted attorney and through a high court application must be admitted to the roll of advocates – but Mlotshwa doesn’t appear on it.
“It’s a good question to ask what is going on here,” Grant said.
NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku said yesterday Mlotshwa was not an advocate.
“He is an attorney with a right of appearance in the high court. To be appointed an NPA prosecutor one must have the necessary legal qualifications and relevant experience. You do not need to be admitted as an advocate before being appointed an NPA prosecutor.”
Mlotshwa was readmitted as an attorney in 2005 after being disbarred in February 2000 in case number 33939/1999, and currently works in the Priority Crimes Litigation Unit (PCLU) division of the NPA.
The PCLU handles high-profile cases such as EFF leader Julius Malema’s land grab case, Pravin Gordhan’s fraud case, Glynnis Breytenbach’s fraud and perjury cases and – under special direction from National Director of Public Prosecution Shaun Abrahams – forensic consultant Paul O’Sullivan’s plethora of cases, among others.
Yet a Google search for “advocate Jabulani Mlotshwa” pops up nearly 3 000 results, mostly in news stories about prosecutions, and Mfaku didn’t have an answer for why Mlotshwa was presenting himself as an advocate.
Grant noted that state prosecutors went through what was known as Justice College which could take up to a year. “My understanding is that, traditionally, the NPA then registers the aspirant prosecutors as advocates.
“Aspirant prosecutors are then registered as advocates,” he said.
“It is a problem, though, if someone is calling themselves an advocate and they are not. I don’t know why someone would do that. I think he is out of line. You don’t call yourself something that you’re not.”