Law Society elects new President and Vice-Presidents

May 9th, 2019

Mvuzo Notyesi (left) was elected President of the Law Society of South Africa at its annual general meeting and annual conference at the end of March. Baitseng Rangata and Jan van Rensburg were elected as Vice-Presidents.

By Nomfundo Manyathi-Jele

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) has elected Mvuzo Notyesi as President and Baitseng Rangata and Jan van Rensburg as Vice-Presidents at its annual conference and annual general meeting (AGM) in Pretoria on 29 and 30 March.

Mr Notyesi and Mr Van Rensburg are both previous Co-chairpersons of the LSSA. With the change in the LSSA constitution at the end of October 2018, following the implementation of the Legal Practice Act 28 of 2014 (LPA) and the falling away of the four statutory provincial law societies as constituents, the LSSA no longer has co-chairpersons, but rather a President and two Vice-Presidents. The Council of the LSSA, will now be referred to as the House of Constituents and the former Management Committee will now be known as the Executive Committee.

Mvuzo Notyesi is an attorney and director at Mvuzo Notyesi Inc in Mthatha. He is President of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers. He holds a BProc and LLB degree from Walter Sisulu University, was admitted as an attorney in 1999 after completing his articles and attending the LSSA’s School for Legal Practice in East London. He has practised as a director at Mvuzo Notyesi Inc since 1999.

Mr Notyesi has been a council member and a member of the former Management Committee of the LSSA for three years. He represents the LSSA on the Judicial Service Commission. Mr Notyesi has a passion for education and has been a part-time lecturer and an instructor at the LSSA’s School for Legal Practice in East London. He is also an examiner for the Attorneys Admission Examination. Mr Notyesi is Chairperson of the Notyesi Foundation, which awards bursaries to disadvantaged students to attend university.

Pretoria attorney, Baitseng Rangata, is the Co-chairperson of Maponya Attorneys, which has branches in Pretoria, Mahfikeng, Klerksdorp, Bloemfontein, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

She has a BProc and LLB degree from the University of Limpopo, as well as an LLM in intellectual property law from the University of South Africa (Unisa). Ms Rangata and has extensive experience in commercial law, intellectual property law, labour law and general civil litigation. She acts on behalf of several parastatals and has chaired disciplinary hearing proceedings for various institutions. In 2016 she chaired the board of inquiry initiated by the Railway Safety Regulator into a train accident. In 2017 she served as an Acting Judge in the Gauteng Division of the High Court in Pretoria. She is a board member of SAFLII and an advocate of women’s empowerment and access to justice by disadvantaged communities.

Ms Rangata is the current Deputy President of the Black Lawyers Association.

Jan van Rensburg has served on the LSSA Council since 2004. He sits on a number of committees at the LSSA and has represented the LSSA on the Council for Debt Collectors since 2009.

Mr Van Rensburg has a BCom degree from the University of Pretoria, as well as a BProc from Unisa, as well as an Advanced Diploma in Labour Law from the University of Johannesburg. He was admitted as an attorney in 1984 and is also a notary and conveyancer. He practises as a sole practitioner at Jan van Rensburg Attorneys in Brits.

Key discussions at the LSSA Annual Conference

National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), advocate Shamila Batohi, was the keynote speaker at the LSSA conference, which was held under the theme ‘The war against corruption: Can the legal profession contribute to restoring confidence in the rule of law?’ She told delegates that the staff at the National Prosecuting Authority are civil servants. They serve the people and must do so with humility. She added that restoring the public confidence in the institution will not be easy and she asked for support from legal practitioners. Lawyers in private practice are requested to assist the Office of the NDPP for free or at reduced rates. She added that there have been several lawyers who had already come forward to offer their assistance. Ms Batohi also pleaded with legal practitioners not to delay cases unnecessarily.

On her appointment in December 2018, the LSSA said in a statement: ‘We are confident that Ms Batohi has the skill, conscientiousness, integrity and independence necessary to tackle the challenge of leading our prosecutorial services, and to ensure a stable directorate that serves the public of South Africa professionally, effectively and fairly, and provides a proud mirror of our criminal justice system to the outside world. We offer the support of the attorneys’ profession to Ms Batohi.’

One of the discussions at the conference revolved around the high failure rate in the conveyancing examination and the perceptions of prejudice and gatekeeping. The LSSA resolved to take the matter forward and pointed out that conveyancing is a specialised, post-admission field. Prospective conveyancers must be properly trained and prepared to protect South Africa’s world-renowned cadastral system and to protect the public. It was agreed that the conveyancing examinations should be reviewed. This would include consideration of the number of days and time for writing of the exams. The LSSA also noted that it will have to review the conveyancing training courses, which have proven to be inadequate given the experiences of candidates.

The LSSA will request an amendment to the LPA to legislate for pro bono by legal practitioners. Currently the LPA makes provision for community services – the criteria has yet to be defined by the Justice Minister – but it does not make provision for pro bono on a similar basis as the repealed Attorneys Act 53 of 1979 did in the past. This omission has impacted significantly on the delivery of pro bono services that was established by the profession over the past few years.

You can view the presentations, papers and reports from the conference on the LSSA website.

LSSA Annual Report 2018/2019

The Law Society of South Africa (LSSA) Annual Report for March 2018 to March 2019 was adopted at the Annual General Meeting of the Council on 28 March. The report by the Co-chairpersons and the specialist committee reports outline the work done by the LSSA for and on behalf of the profession.

Read the Annual Report here.

Nomfundo Manyathi-Jele, Communications Officer, Law Society of South Africa,

De Rebus