The Daily Maverick has reported that former president Jacob Zuma’s new lawyer has been named as Lungisani Daniel Mantsha, after Michael Hulley was fired two weeks ago.
In the Gupta emails it was allegedly revealed last year that Mantsha had been “hand-picked” by the Gupta family and “cultivated” into the man who helped them attempt to capture influence and contracts at state-owned arms manufacturing company Denel.
He was struck off the roll of attorneys in 2007 after a “litany” of complaints from clients. The court judgment reportedly found the public needed to be “protected” from him.
He was readmitted in 2011 and served as a special adviser to then minister of communications Faith Muthambi in 2015 while the public broadcaster was under the guidance of then chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
He became the chair of Denel that same year. The Gupta emails allegedly reveal he promptly set about sharing Denel’s confidential information with Gupta associate Ashu Chawla and met with the family in India and Dubai on “five-star trips”.
Mantsha was removed as Denel chairperson in March after Pravin Gordhan was named as the new public enterprises minister. He went back to being a practising attorney in law firm Mantsha Attorneys.
The news website could not get comment from Mantsha on his new role for Zuma and why Hulley was fired, though there has been speculation that it is related to uncertainty around who is now funding Zuma’s legal cases.
He is due to appear again in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban on July 27 on charges of corruption.
The presidency has confirmed the state will fund only the costs of Zuma’s criminal defence if it ever goes to trial. Hulley was Zuma’s lawyer for at least 12 years.
In May, Hulley suggested the “uncertainty” around who would be paying Zuma’s legal fees in his corruption trial was making it difficult for Zuma to retain the services of his advocates, who were already fired that month.
Zuma was initially charged with corruption, money laundering and racketeering in 2005 before charges were dropped in 2009. They have since been reinstated.
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko advised last month that Zuma’s lawyers will have to apply to the state attorney for any further funding of any civil applications linked to his prosecution, as the state will only pay for his legal fees in the event that his prosecution goes to trial.
If Zuma loses the case, however, he will be liable to repay the money. To date his legal fees have cost the country R15.3 million.
He is presumably now struggling to fund his legal bid to overturn National Prosecuting Authority boss Shaun Abrahams’s decision to reinstate the corruption charges.