Minister Motsoaledi does not trust the state attorney to do their job

Issued by Angel Khanyile MP – DA Shadow Minister of Home Affairs
29 Apr 2024 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Angel Khanyile MP

The DA recently exposed that the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has spent over R412 million on legal fees. Significantly we found that in the 2023/24 financial year, the DHA spent twice the amount on private attorneys instead of the state attorney. The state attorney is meant to provide full legal services to National and Provincial departments, essentially a state law firm.

Minister Motsoaledi, in a recent interview responding to the claims of the DA, admitted to the side-lining of the state attorney in favour of better and more qualified private attorneys. The Minister stated in the interview that the state attorney lawyers are too junior and lack legal experience to handle the DHA disciplinary matters. This, according to the Minister was why they had to seek out the services of more qualified or senior private sector lawyers to ensure they don’t look like fools.

It is quite clear that the Minister himself does not have confidence in his own government entities and fellow Ministers to ensure qualified individuals work at the Office of the State Attorney.

The state attorney is funded by taxpayers, which means that when the Minister outsources these legal services to private law firms, the taxpayer is being ‘double billed’ with fee-driven private lawyers.

The Minister in his interview goes so far as to gaslight South Africans into being grateful for the mammoth legal bill. We must apparently be thankful to the DHA because the Bill is “not that high”, they are working to get corrupt officials out and to do this they must use qualified private lawyers and lawyers who have the ability to stand trial in Court. In his response he reiterated that the state attorneys have never made any representations in Court.

We are of the view that the state attorney is more than capable of applying elementary labour law principles to fire corrupt officials – a fair reason and a fair process equals a dismissal that would stand up in Court. However, the Minister does not agree, implying that the firing of these officials is a complex criminal case, suitable only for private attorneys.

The DA remains doubtful that the ballooning legal fees of over R400 million are because of the firing of DHA officials. For these reasons, we intend to submit a PAIA application to the DHA to determine exactly what cases are causing these exorbitant legal costs.