Tag Archives: South Africa

South Africa: ‘Assault’ charges dropped against Richard Spoor for ‘pointing [a general] with a finger’

March 28, 2019

Richard Spoor speaks to Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe at a Xolobeni community meeting on 23 September. Photo extracted from video shot by the Amadiba Crisis Committee.

The prominent human rights lawyer found himself in a chaotic encounter with Gwede Mantashe last year.

Charges against prominent public interest lawyer Richard Spoor have been withdrawn.

Spoor was charged with unlawfully and intentionally assaulting a police general “by pointing him with a finger”; disobeying an order by the police general to “keep quiet and not advance to the podium”; and “waiving hands” at an unnamed MEC (actually a national cabinet minister), and talking while the “MEC” was talking and “pointing him with a finger” [sic all].

The charges – described by Spoor’s legal representative as “a persecution and not a prosecution” – stemmed from an incident-filled visit by Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe to Pondoland last September.

Here, many of the local Amadiba community are opposing an attempt by an Australian mining company to extract titanium from the mineral-rich coastal dunes in their traditional heritage and communal land at Xolobeni.

Spoor, from White River in Mpumalanga, has represented the anti-mining Amadiba Crisis Committee community group for the past 12 years.




Kenya: The Kenyan Judiciary Strikes “Terror” Again in the Hearts of African Dictators

January 14, 2019

It is not too early to pass judgment that the Kenyan Judiciary along with the South African judiciary are the leading judicial lights in Africa in terms of exercising judicial autonomy and independence. This article deals with the very important decision by the Kenyan High Court on December 14, 2018 in relation to an opposition politician which demonstrates the significant advances in the calibre and independence of the Kenyan judiciary, a decision which is not conceivable anywhere else in Africa except South Africa.

The decision relates to one lawyer Miguna Miguna who was forcibly deported twice back to Canada by the Kenyan government on account that he was not a Kenyan citizen as he had allegedly lost his citizenship when the constitution was amended in 2010. In early 2018, the Kenyan government disobeyed all types of judicial orders to release Miguna who had been detained. They put him back in the plane twice and deported him.

Miguna started the long distance legal struggle from Canada to overturn government decisions and to make the government pay for the monumental human rights violations inflicted on him. He hired Kenyan lawyers who laboured without pay for their colleague. At long last, on December 14, the decision was handed down: the High Court judge Justice Mwitwa ruled that Miguna never lost his Kenyan citizenship which he had acquired by birth and that the government had committed egregious acts by revoking his passport and had further indulged in torturous violations of his human rights. They must immediately reinstate his passport and allow him back into Kenya.

On top of this, the High Court ruled that the taxpayers must not be saddled with paying the damages and costs awarded to Miguna, the damages and costs must be borne out personally by the individual officers involved: the Attorney General, the Immigration Chief, the relevant Police Inspector General and several other named officers. US$70,000. And costs. This is huge in Africa. This is revolutionary. Such orders are rare. The last recent one in Africa was when the South African High Court ordered that Zuma must pay for the costs of all legal actions that he was involved in while he was President but for crimes he had committed as an individual.

Governments have had the luxury of violating people’s rights and when and if orders were issued against governments to pay, the government’s either didn’t pay or paid because it was taxpayers money and the faceless individuals who violated someone’s rights didn’t feel the impact. If the government didn’t pay, it is difficult to determine whom to actually pursue. Governments acted with impunity. A government is faceless.




South Africa: BLF attack on advocate a threat to justice and rule of law – NADEL

December 11, 2018

The National Association of Democratic Lawyers (NADEL) condemns the attack on a Johannesburg Advocate at the Johannesburg High Court.

It was reported in the media that a female advocate was attacked by a mob of members of the political party Black First Land First(BLF). It was reported that the advocate was cornered and then beaten in an elevator including being punched in the face. She managed to escape her attackers when the elevator stopped. The mob then went to court looking for her.

We expect that this violent, criminal incident will be thoroughly investigated by the authorities. The perpetrators must face the full might of the law.

The courthouse and courtroom represents the ideals of justice, democracy and the rule of law especially in our constitutional dispensation. The attack on the advocate is therefore also an attack on the very principles of justice, democracy and the rule of law.

In a democracy the rule of law protects the rights of citizens, maintains order and limits the political exercise of power. The rule of law is critical for democracy rooted in equal rights and accountability to flourish. The rule of law is dispensed through our judiciary housed in our courthouses.

Threats and violence against lawyers, legal professionals and members of the judiciary also represent a significant threat to the rule of law.

This attack cannot be viewed as a single incident or in a vacuum. There has been an increase in the number of violent incidents in our courts.





South Africa: Top criminal lawyer Pete Mihalik killed in hit outside child’s school

October 30, 2018

Mihalik, whose clients included leading Cape Town gangsters, had bodyguards but ‘the shooter went up to the car window and just killed him’

Advocate Pete Mihalik during the Susan Rohde trial in the Western Cape High Court on December 4 2017 in Cape Town. Picture: GALLO IMAGES / NETWERK24 / ADRIAN DE KOCK

One of Cape Town’s top criminal lawyers was shot dead on Tuesday while dropping his child at school.

Attorney Pete Mihalik‚ 50‚ was killed in what witnesses described as an execution outside Reddam House Atlantic Seaboard in Green Point on Tuesday, his partner Bruce Hendricks said.

It is understood that Mihalik’s eight-year-old son was injured in the shooting.

The lawyer also had a daughter‚ and it is understood that his wife committed suicide earlier this year.

Sources said Mihalik had bodyguards but “the shooter went up to the car window and just killed him”.

Paramedics arrived on the scene but were unable to save him.

A photograph tweeted from the scene showed a single bullet hole in the driver’s door window. Police were at the school and pupils were being escorted out.








South Africa: Timothy Omotoso’s lawyer #PeterDaubermann said he fears for his life

October 21, 2018

Nigerian televangelist Timothy Omotoso’s lawyer Peter Daubermann said he fears for his life after he put up a fight for his client in court last week.

Daubermann was “attacked” as he left Port Elizabeth High Court last week after an outrage on social media over his line of questioning of Cheryl Zondi, who testified that Omotoso raped her multiple times during her time in the ministry.

Omotoso, 60, faces charges of rape and alleged human trafficking of more than 30 girls.
Daubermann labelled the incident in which he had water thrown at him as he left court as an “attack on the justice system”, adding that he fears for his safety and has had to make security arrangements for himself.

“Legal representation is a pillar of the justice system. Any person, no matter how unpopular they are and how unpopular their cause is, or any of the crimes of which they are charged, is entitled to legal representation.
“Once you start interfering with that right it could lead to the collapse of the entire system,” he said.

“The accused has the right to be represented by whoever he wants and the accused will feel aggrieved if the person tasked to represent him has been put under severe stress of fear of being attacked.







South Africa: Human rights lawyer charged with assault for pointing his finger at a police officer

October 12, 2018

‘The accused … did unlawfully and intentionally assault Andries Petrus Swart by pointing him with a finger [sic]’

Attorney Richard Spoor. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

South African human rights attorney Richard Spoor is well-known for his sharp mind and forthright tongue‚ but now he has run into deep trouble because of his finger — or‚ to be more exact‚ for assaulting a police officer “by pointing him with a finger”.

Two weeks ago‚ the Nelspruit-based attorney was involved in a heated verbal encounter with mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe and senior Eastern Cape police commissioner Maj-Gen Andre Swart on the Wild Coast‚ which ended with Spoor being taken off to the local police station and charged with assault.

Spoor‚ who represents members of the Amadiba Crisis Committee who are opposed to an Australian-led mineral sands mining project near the village of Xolobeni‚ had complained that anti-mining residents were being marginalised from Mantashe’s public meeting.

He later appeared in the Mzamba Magistrate’s Court‚ where the case was remanded to October 25.

But now Spoor is back in the news after posting a copy of his charge sheet on Facebook on Friday. The charge sheet reads: “The accused is guilty of the crime of assault in that on or about September 23 2018 … the accused did unlawfully and intentionally assault Andries Petrus Swart by pointing him with a finger [sic].”



South Africa: Attorney who marched on Mantashe’s mining meeting charged

September 25, 2018

Richard Spoor, the lawyer of Xolobeni anti-mining group.

An Eastern Cape attorney who was arrested after marching on a venue where Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe was meeting with residents over the weekend has appeared in the Bizana Magistrate’s Court.

Richard Spoor, who together with residents opposes an application for a mine in Xolobeni, was arrested at the weekend after marching with community members.

Read: Attorney arrested after bumping heads with Mantashe, marching at mining meeting

He was released over the weekend with a warning and ordered to appear in court on Tuesday.

Videos on social media showed Spoor and Mantashe in a heated exchange at the venue before an irate Mantashe was seen walking away.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Luxolo Tyali said he had been charged with disobeying a police officer’s instruction, inciting public violence and common assault.

“The matter was postponed to October 25 for further investigations,” he said.

Tear gas, stun grenades

Mantashe had visited the village in the Mbizana local municipality, on the Wild Coast, on Sunday to engage with residents on issues emanating from an application by Australian company Transworld Energy and Mineral Resources (TEM) for rights to mine the titanium-rich sands.