Law firm director says Malema case has nothing to do with his departure

Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs director Peter Tshisevhe has denied that he is leaving the law firm because of a fallout over the representation of ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema.

The Mail & Guardian reported on Friday that Tshisevhe was leaving Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs to protest the firm’s withdrawal from representing Malema at the South Gauteng High Court.

AfriForum has taken the youth leader to court over the singing of struggle song “Dubul’ ibhunu”.

“The reasons for which I have resigned from Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs are entirely personal,” Tshisevhe told City Press.

“Just to set the record straight, I can confirm that these reasons are not in any way connected to the Malema matter, as reported,” he said.

He said the reasons for Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs’ withdrawal were communicated directly to Malema.

“It would be unprofessional and unethical for me or the firm to comment on any aspect associated with those reasons,” he said.

Tshisevhe, who had been an Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs director for 11 years, said he was leaving at the end of the month by agreement with the firm after discussions with its bosses.

“I notified the firm of my intentions in December, which was at least a month before we were instructed on the Malema matter,” he said, adding that the firm agreed to release him.

He denied that there were “internal politics” at Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs, saying “politics could not and do not play any role in determining the representation of any client”.

Tshisevhe said as far as he was aware, the ANC, Malema and Cosatu were represented by other firms in this matter.

He intends taking time off and will decide on his future plans in due course, but may go into private practice.

Tshisevhe said no other lawyers had resigned following ENS’s withdrawal from the matter and there was no split in the firm on this or any other issue.

According to the legal fraternity’s international code of ethics, “lawyers should only withdraw from a case during its course for good cause and if possible in such a manner that the client’s interests are not adversely affected”.

South Africa subscribes to this international code of ethics, which is a schedule in the country’s Attorney’s Act.