NEWS
10/07/2018 06:41 SAST | Updated 10/07/2018 07:31 SAST

Zuma's New Lawyer Is A Long-Time Chum Of The Guptas

Zuma's new lawyer was reportedly instrumental in helping the Guptas set up a joint venture with Denel.

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Former president Jacob Zuma's new lawyer, Daniel Mantsha, has a long history with the Gupta family, Business Day reported.

On Monday, it emerged that Zuma had fired his attorney of over a decade and long-time confidant, Michael Hulley, according to News24. The reasons are not yet clear.

According to the Daily Maverick, the Gupta emails showed how Mantsha was groomed by the Gupta family to do their bidding.

In 2007, a court reportedly struck him from the roll of attorneys after it was found that he was not a fit and proper person to be practising. This reportedly followed several complaints against him by clients. That judgment reportedly said the public needed protection from Manthsa.

Four years later, Mantsha was readmitted as an attorney and went on to serve as special adviser to communications minister Faith Muthambi in 2015.

That year, he was reportedly appointed as a non-executive director and chairperson of the board of state arms manufacturer Denel, by former public enterprises minister Lynne Brown.

According to the Daily Maverick, days after his appointment, he forwarded his outstanding municipal bill of R14,238 to Gupta associate Ashu Chawla, and went on to leak confidential Denel information to the Guptas and their associates.

A month after his appointment, Chawla was reportedly flown to Dubai by the Guptas. He stayed on as chairperson of Denel until he was fired by public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan, when he took over the role in March.

In June last year, Business Day reported that Mantsha allegedly fed information to the Guptas about a joint venture that Denel and a group of Gupta associates were working on called Denel Asia. The venture would have 51 percent owned by Denel and 19 percent owned VR Laser, in which the Gupta's Oakbay Investments held a majority stake.

The venture came up against resistance from National Treasury, leading to a court battle between Mantsha and Gordhan, when he was finance minister.

Attorney Michael Hulley confirmed that he was fired.

"Yes, it is true, he terminated our mandate two to three weeks ago," Hulley told News24 on Monday.

When asked whether Zuma had given him any reasons for terminating his services, Hulley said clients were not obligated to furnish them with reasons.

Zuma, who is expected to appear in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg on July 27 in connection with corruption and other charges, parted ways with Hulley after the attorney represented him for several years.

The Presidency previously said it would continue to pay Zuma's legal fees until the court decided otherwise.

In March, NPA boss Shaun Abrahams announced that the NPA would go ahead with the prosecution of Zuma on 16 charges, including corruption, money-laundering and racketeering.

Former NPA boss Mokotedi Mpshe dropped the charges in 2009, based on the recordings of the so-called "spy tapes", which were presented to him by Zuma's legal team.

The tapes were made up of recordings of telephone conversations between then Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy and former NPA boss Bulelani Ngcuka, which Zuma's legal team claimed showed political interference in the decision to charge him.

The charges were subsequently withdrawn, just before Zuma was sworn in for his first term as president.