This is Gcina Malindi,SC, one of the trialists in a UDF treason trial of the 1980s, now a leading advocate. the words are that of Greg Nicolson summarising
‘Advocate Gcina Malindi represented the respondents and decided not to respond to the real issues. Instead, in a sleepy speech, he argued the technicalities of urgency. He said the traders had ample time to launch a court action since the effects of Clean Sweep were being felt in October. They were simply trying to waste the court’s time, he argued, and even asked the traders to pay the municipality’s legal costs, a request Judge Monamo responded to by saying the traders have no money. “If the older people can do something wrong then the younger people will follow because they learn from that,” the judge advised.
Malindi said that the traders are out of work is nothing new in South Africa. “There can never be an appropriate time to act,” he counselled. If it’s not at Christmas time, it will be when children are starting school.’
Hm. Unfair to single out Malindi SC. Everyone, including wretches like City in this instance, has the right of access to courts and the right to representation. If one’s client has a crap case and says “that’s my case and I’m sticking to it”, then that’s the case one puts. The job of lawyering, especially advocacy, is about putting the client’s case to the court, not assuming moral responsibility for it.
That is a problem I have with legal ethics that you appear for anyone (because every person has a right to legal representation) and you have to put their case as they instruct. I do not agree with that especially where, as in this case it means being insensitive to the needs of the poor.
Perhaps I should say very clearly that I am not questioning Gcina Malindi’s ethics and I have considerable respect for him. I just believe that it is unfortunate that legal ethics are framed in a way that forces one to be a mouthpiece for a client, with sometimes regrettable effects