South Africa—Thuli Madonsela, a former South African Public Protector, is remorseful to Legal Aid SA for a tweet about the man arrested in connection with the fire that ravaged parliament last week.
According to Madonsela, the accused parliament arsonist Mafe Zandile being given a private advocate removed him from state legal aid where there was a risk of a confession.
Mafe was believed to be homeless and unable to afford private legal representation.
Legal Aid has since issued a statement in response to her remarks.
They say her remarks have been interpreted by some members of the public as “insinuating Legal Aid SA forces clients to plead guilty.”
“Legal Aid SA wishes to reiterate the interpretation is incorrect and regrettable.”
She answered back to the organization by apologizing, saying she regretted her tweet was misinterpreted.
“I regret my tweet was interpreted to cast aspersions on the great work you do to advance access to justice and reinforce everyday justice,” she said.
According to Legal Aid SA’s statement, it offers independent, accessible, and quality legal aid services in criminal and civil legal matters, and it had not received an application to represent Mafe.
”All Legal Aid SA practitioners are committed to ensuring they represent their clients to the best of their ability and provide them with the best defense possible, including ensuring clients do not implicate themselves and are treated as innocent until proven guilty through a fair hearing in a court of law,” it said.
“Failure to do so renders the legal practitioner liable to disciplinary action by the Legal Practice Council.
“The commitment to providing quality legal services is one which the organization takes seriously, given that the outcome of cases impacts on the lives of the clients we serve.
“Clients provide their version of events to their legal practitioner, which is what the practitioner presents to the court.”
Mafe is due back in court on Tuesday
He faces charges of housebreaking with the intention to steal, two counts of arson, possession of an explosive device, and destruction of essential infrastructure