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TRANSFORMATION OP-ED

All-white, all-male legal teams are wrong on so many levels

Judge Mandlenkosi Motha sent an email to all four advocates in a case which deals with black economic empowerment.(Photo: Judges Matter)

The (at the very least) incestuous practice of appointing all-male and all-white legal teams breeds (or perpetuates) a special kind of elite mediocrity. The only people who seem to be oblivious to this problem are those who benefit from it.

Over the weekend, the conservative Afrikaans Sunday newspaper Rapport carried an indignant front-page report about the request made by a judge of the Western Cape High Court to the all-white legal teams who appeared before him in a case dealing with Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment to explain the “failure to have even a single black lawyer in this matter”. 

In a subsequent email, the judge asked the lawyers to submit written arguments to him “which address the court’s concern, namely the possible violation of section 9.2 of the Constitution, due to the failure to have a black advocate in this case”.

Rapport’s indignation was not entirely misplaced. The decision by the judge to order the lawyers to submit written arguments to him on an issue that was not before the court was odd, to say the least. However, this does not mean the judge was wrong to question the fact that two all-white legal teams appeared before him. 

Quite frankly, I find it bizarre that no one involved in the matter paused for a moment to ask how this could be justified, or to consider whether it was in the best interest of the clients to brief all-white legal teams to argue the matter.

The problem was compounded by the response of one of the implicated white lawyers, Johan Brand SC, who refused to make a submission to the court as directed by the judge. Instead, he addressed a contemptuous memorandum to the judge (which has since been widely circulated), seemingly premised on the assumption that there was nothing wrong with racially discriminatory briefing practices, or at the very least, that it was outrageous to expect Brand or any other lawyer to be concerned about such matters, let alone to do something about them.

Among the many claims made by Brand in the memorandum is that section 9(2) of the Constitution guarantees all clients the right to choose whomever they desire to represent them in a court of law. Brand also claimed that he “could find nothing in section 9 or, for that matter, the whole of the Constitution of South Africa, that compels any attorney and/or client to appoint counsel of a certain race, creed, religion or sex,”

The reasoning here is an embarrassment, suggesting that the poor clients in this case may not necessarily have had the benefit of the best available counsel (possibly not even the best available white male counsel). 

The problem is not only that the first claim by Brand quoted above is obviously wrong in law — if section 9(2) guarantees any right, it is a right to affirmative action measures. 

A misconception

The larger problem is that the overall argument is overly simplistic and based on a misconception: the issue is not whether there is a specific provision in the Constitution that compels an attorney to appoint counsel of a certain race or sex, but whether the Constitution has anything to say about skewed briefing patterns in terms of race and sex, or about the need for the profession to take active steps to address them.

In any event, section 9(2) of the Constitution makes clear that it is permissible to implement redress measures “designed to protect or advance persons, or categories of persons, disadvantaged by unfair discrimination … to promote the achievement of equality.” 

This includes measures aimed at addressing skewed briefing patterns. As the Constitutional Court has held in Minister of Finance v Van Heerden and other judgments, such measures may often be required to work towards the achievement of equality. One could quibble about how this should be done to ensure compliance with section 9(2), but it is daft to suggest that the legal profession is exempt from the obligation imposed by section 9(2).

Even if this had not been the case, there are other compelling legal, ethical and pragmatic reasons why it would be wrong for members of the legal profession to take the view that there is nothing wrong with fielding an all-male and all-white legal team, or that it has nothing to do with them if a briefing attorney or client selects an all-male and all-white team of lawyers to represent them.

The most obvious point is that it is inherently unfair, as it unjustly disadvantages lawyers for no other reason than the fact that they happen not to be white and male. Of course, some will argue that this is not so, presumably based on the racist and sexist assumption that when an all-white and all-male team is briefed, it is always done purely on “merit”.

But what constitutes “merit” is contested. Obviously, some lawyers are much better at their job than others and obviously, this matters quite a bit (as is well illustrated by the legal travails of the former Public Protector), but when “merit” is defined by and with reference to white men, it will inevitably set a standard which would judge those who are not white men more harshly and look kindlier on white male mediocrity. 

(A similar problem arises when an ANC deployment committee defines merit purely in terms of loyalty to a specific politician or factions within the party.)

This is one of the reasons why the Equality Act — binding on all persons, which for purposes of the Act include attorneys and their clients, law firms, and advocates — prohibits unfair discrimination. This means that a client or an attorney who consistently briefs only white men will be presumed to be discriminating unfairly (and thus unlawfully) on the grounds of race and/or sex. 

It is difficult to understand how any white male advocate who benefits from such unfair discrimination could then turn around and claim that this has nothing to do with them, and then act as if a great wrong was done to them when they are called out. 

Pragmatism

There is also a pragmatic, even self-serving, reason why lawyers and their clients should be worried about appointing or serving in all-white and all-male legal teams. I am thinking here about the likelihood that such a legal team will not be the best possible team to handle the case, or at least not the team that would best serve the interests of the client.

The problem is not only that an attorney or a client who favours white and male lawyers has a smaller and less competent pool of people to pick from; it is also that a racially and gender-diverse team of lawyers would be less likely to have blind spots about life and the law or deficits in skills and knowledge, and thus less likely to be brought low by groupthink.

In short, the (at the very least) incestuous practice of appointing all-male and all-white legal teams breeds (or perpetuates) a special kind of elite mediocrity. The only people who seem to be oblivious to this problem are those who benefit from it.

The failure of attorneys and their clients, as well as advocates, to take active steps to address briefing patterns skewed by race and gender is also bad for the legal system in general and the judiciary more specifically. It deprives many talented black and women lawyers of the opportunities and experience that would better prepare them for a judicial role, thus either making it more difficult for them to be appointed in the first place, or setting them up for possible failure if they were lucky enough to be appointed. 

Section 174(2) of the Constitution rightly states that the “need for the judiciary to reflect broadly the racial and gender composition of South Africa must be considered when judicial officers are appointed”. The effective implementation of this section requires members of the legal profession to play their part in transforming the legal profession. As the response by Brand SC quoted above illustrates, not all members of the legal profession understand or accept this fact.

It is true that the Judicial Service Commission has not always covered itself in glory with its appointment of judges, not least because it has sometimes appointed timid, mediocre, and rather conservative judges — both black and white, both male and female — while declining to appoint or promote some competent, strong-willed judges. But their task has been made more difficult by members of the legal profession who deny that the profession has a race and gender problem and bristle and get defensive when they are called on to account for being complicit.

What they do not understand or — perhaps — care about (is this what happens when one keeps to the white Afrikaner laager?) is how nihilistic and counter-productive their self-serving denialism is. DM

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • JOHANN SCHOLTZ says:

    Convuluted rubbish wokery. So according to De Vos I should not be free to choose my own counsel. It should be forced upon me to have the “benefit” of diversity.

    Can DM please find another legal expert?

    • Walter Spatula says:

      Many of us think that Poplak is divine. If you don’t like reading something then don’t

    • Lyle Ferrett says:

      How do we know that the legal team was white? Did they tell us that they’re white? Is there a pencil test that De Vos is using to determine their apartheid racial classification?

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      While I understand the sentiment, this feels like writing for the sake of it.

      It is patently obvious that everyone must have the right to choose their own defense, be it selected on gender, race, intelligence, language or shoe size. The client must be allowed to choose what they deem most appropriate to achieve their best representation. They may get it wrong, but it has to be entirely the client’s call.

    • Bob Dubery says:

      Well too often judgement is passed on DM columnists according to whether or not they lick the boots of the DA. Too much of the criticism in the comments is about the position the author takes, not the quality of their writing. We live in a democracy. One of the frustrating things about that is that it doesn’t guarantee that everybody sees things our way. Ask me, I am often non-plussed, sometimes frustrated by what I read in the comments section. This includes asking why they subscribe to DM and don’t spend their money on something that pleases them better.

      • Karl Sittlinger says:

        “Well too often judgement is passed on DM columnists according to whether or not they lick the boots of the DA. Too much of the criticism in the comments is about the position the author takes, not the quality of their writing.”
        You talk about judgement (I prefer the term constructive criticism) being passed on the position of the writer, and then launch into a derogatory prejudiced generalization of the position DA supporters.
        The position of the writer and how they frame their argument trumps writing style!
        If I go to a doctor for a disease, I really only care about who does the best job, no matter their race and it is no different for lawyers.
        While I agree that this doesn’t mean that white doctors and lawyers are any better than black ones, the choice who represents or operates on a client should be the clients decision, not the judge or the hospital administration (as an example. They can make suggestions, absolutely, but to prescribe based purely on skin color is absolutely no better than a client putting a team together based on race.
        As you said, we live in a democracy, & while you clearly have a serious personal problem with the DA and anyone supporting them, you seem to be selective about some of the rights democracy offers:
        All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
        The DA jibe very much shows your prejudice on this topic

        • Bob Dubery says:

          Sorry but no. There’s too much simplistic knee-jerking going on. BEE = racism therefore BEE is bad sort of stuff. It’s not universal on these pages, but there is a lot of it. And it’s those guys that trot out the same old tired language and ideas.

          Of course, if we can’t take jibes at political parties or, as I really am, their followers, you will have no trouble condemning the next post to take a dig at the EFF or to dismiss Malema as an idiot.

          • Karl Sittlinger says:

            “There’s too much simplistic knee-jerking going on. BEE = racism”

            Again you make an accusation just to do it yourself.
            Criticism about BEE (for most commentators on this platform on here) is simply not that simple, the damage it is doing to this country in ots current form cannot be waves away. you framing it that way as a generalized description is a knee-jerk reaction in itself.

            There are excellent jibes against the DA that are well thought out and sometimes open my eyes to a new viewpoint and stay on topic, relate to the point that is being made.
            But “lick the boots of the DA” for simply disagreeing about some of the points the author made in this opinionista is not one of them. I can take any jibe, but based on if it is just a prejudiced view or actually based on something changes the way I look at that argument.

            Anyway, we will have to agree to disagree.

          • Paddy Ross says:

            Are you suggesting that BBBEE and cadre deployment have advanced the economic wellbeing of the previously disadvantaged?

          • Bob Dubery says:

            Well I think Karl and Paddy, whose further comments and questions I cannot respond to now, need to read what I said and then look for where I take a direct dig at the party. They’re clutching on to the initials “DA”, but I have not attacked that party, I am attacking the attitude of too many commenters on this forum. Some might take that personally. Some might try and twist into something else as is convenient for them. Or some may just misread.

        • Bob Dubery says:

          Me again. To be 100% accurate, I took no jibe at the DA. I did take a shot at the commenters to who tend to dislike anything that doesn’t fit with what they see as anti-Woke and not 100% based on whatever merit is, and who tend to trot out cliches like “woke” against anybody who doesn’t genuflect when the virtuous initials are mentioned or who doesn’t generally toe the line.

          • Karl Sittlinger says:

            Yes, some commentators may fit that description. But that has nothing to do with the DA, so why mention it? All I am saying is that maybe, just maybe, you have some of your own prejudices and knee-jerk reactions to work through along with the rest of us.

    • Geoff Coles says:

      Not worse, on Constitutional issuesde Vos is not bad….Poplak is horrible, crude essential seemingly in his scribblings.

    • Gerrie Pretorius says:

      Exactly!

    • James Donald says:

      Come on. Beautifully written and argued, even if it’s clear the Rapport article pushed some of his buttons;) Of course you get to choose your own counsel; and it may very well be all white. But, to follow Pierre’s argument, given South Africa’s population, or even SA’s lawyer’s population, if you had the time and reach to seek out the best, and you repeated the process often enough, you definately wouldn’t pick all white counsel every time. If you did, in this hypothetical rational make-believe world where you need to choose lawyers all the time you’d most likely be discriminating. He’s just saying be aware. Pierre is woke here in the way Rassie is woke (and in the way the word is meant to be used); he’s recognising the discrimination that others can’t, or won’t see, and the world is better for it…win more court cases, win more rugby games…on average. 😉

      • James Webster says:

        What happens if ( God forbid because the lefties will immediately shriek racism ) the majority of the good attorneys/advocates just happen to be white ? Of course it’s anathema to the left to consider that maybe, just maybe, there is a definite difference in the abilities of teams depending on their demographic. It is worth pointing out that there exists a scientifically documented disparity between IQ scores of various ethnic groups in Africa which, if IQ is considered, would clearly bias the constitution of any legal team. Affirmative action does not improve the lot of people it advantages, it only pushes individuals into areas they are not qualified to deal with resulting in both long term and short term failure. Force people to perform at the standard that is required by making them compete purely on merit, that is the only way to level the playing field in a lasting way, the misguided and draconian demands of the bleeding-heart left and the author of this piece notwithstanding. They demand AA, then when that fails, ( as it has consistently in SA ) they scratch around for racist reasons it did not work, when the truth is that you can only succeed on merit if you compete on merit and no amount of AA will ever guarantee that substandard work becomes meritorious work. Using AA to improve the quality of a profession is like having sex to encourage virginity. If AA actually worked, then Africa would be swimming in genius, clearly, it’s not.

        • ST ST says:

          “there exists a scientifically documented disparity between IQ scores of various ethnic groups in Africa”

          Are implying Africans have varying degrees of stupidity? I’d be interested to know these peer reviewed high quality studies. And o would also like to know correlation of those findings to socioeconomic factors
          What do those studies say about the blacks/ disadvantaged groups who’ve not not only made it against the odds, but also surpassed the privileged? What traits caused that?

          It’s really best to have grown up arguments that help us learn and grow rather be always in the gutters

          • James Webster says:

            There are thousands of documents examining these FACTS, simple Googling will reveal hundreds of references on the subject. Merely because these facts do not suit either your, or the prevailing narrative, does not make them invalid, incorrect or racist nor my arguments immature, rather, your rejection of facts, purely on the basis that you find them inconvenient, instead of first ascertaining their validity, speaks volumes as to both your maturity and your intellectual honesty. Furthermore, you display a limited understanding of statistical distributions and what they reveal about the underlying distribution of characteristics in sample populations when you advance irrelevant observations regarding individuals that make it against the supposed odds. As a matter of fact, advancing the argument that a particular individual departing from the average calls the average into question is an error known as “The Fallacy of One”, it is invalid and incorrect do so – the proof is left to the student. Like it or not, black IQs in Sub-Saharan Africa have been repeatedly measured to be up to 30 points lower than white IQs in the region, while white IQs across the world have been shown to be around 7 points lower than Asian IQs. Should the fact that Asian IQs are higher than white IQs be rejected merely because it does not suit my narrative, or should I display maturity and intellectual honesty by accepting it and rather change my narrative to fit the facts.

        • James Donald says:

          Yoh. There’s a lot here. I’m afraid I have to disagree with your arguments, and they’re missing Pierre’s point anyway. He isn’t saying here you must apply affirmative action. He is saying you must not discriminate; for constitutional reasons (to try correct ills of the past) and rational reasons to get the best lawyers. He is saying that it seems obvious to him there is discrimination going on. Then on your arguments. Firstly, even the judge was NOT saying they must make AA appointments. He was asking a fair question and implying that, perhaps, there was a justified reason. Then your points on IQ are plain wrong; and maybe even rascist. Race, in a scientific sense, as you imply, doesn’t really exist…at best, it’s an imperfect proxy for shared experiences of groups of people or cultures in a certain time and place (Racism off course, really does exist). There is some fascinating research on population/s IQ and how it changes over time, what it seems to be measuring at a group level, anyway. The popular book Range has some great insights from this research…there is a well-known body of work on IQ that I’m guessing you’re referring to, but I think you’re misunderstanding what it says. Race is a bad proxy for battling discrimination, especially when applied by numbers. Again, read Rassie’s biography, and you will see a practical application in the field of sport (not law) that effectively recognises the power and potential of genuine transformation.

  • Just Me says:

    If you believe in the constitution then don’t desciminate on gender or race.

    • Niek Joubert says:

      Then why is there not the same uproar with an all black legal team?

      • Bob Dubery says:

        Because white people start from a privileged position, we have a head start. Look at any stats that break access to education, to private health care down by race group. Look at income by race group. Look at life expectancy by race group. Look at unemployment by race group. The playing field isn’t level. Still.

        I’m not asking anybody to feel bad about being white, but to understand that AA is a journey, and a journey that the country needs to take.

        • Kanu Sukha says:

          Bob … you are wasting your breath trying to convince people (who would have you believe that they did not support/benefit sic) from apartheid .. to think and/or see things differently .. like that SC would decided to ‘teach’ a black judge … and put him on his ‘place’ so to speak. Some would refer to it as as example of ‘entitlement’ … and it washes right over their heads . All manner of dishonest ‘rationality’ (as at the recent ICJ case) will be brought to ‘defend’ that privilege, as is illustrated in the numerous rabid responses to your post.

        • James Webster says:

          Yes and black people start from a disadvantage but when it comes to the crunch, i.e. having a top notch legal team delivering top notch legal work, then who was advantaged and disadvantaged is completely and utterly irrelevant. People who advocate for appointments based on people’s privilege or lack of it, are happy to foist potentially substandard lawyers on anyone but might think otherwise if it were their ass on the line as a result of affirmative action appointments. Such fools feel justified in forcing people to accept members of a legal team based purely on their race rather than their skill but neglect to consider how such draconian and provably non-functional impositions violate the rights of those selecting the legal team. If I am in need of a dangerous surgery, I’m not going to select my surgeon based on his race or prior privilege, rather I am going to select the surgeon I feel gives me the best chance at a positive outcome, no doubt exactly the reasoning used by those who selected a white legal team. AA IS NOT A JOURNEY SA needs to take because it does not work, it decreases standards and undermines those it is supposed to support. What SA needs is a journey that removes ALL racial discrimination and does not merely replace one form of discrimination with another. Using discrimination to fix discrimination is truly stupid, like using rape to prevent rape, lunacy.

      • Bongane Maphanga says:

        Because an all black legal team demonstrates inclusivity and redress

        • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

          Just a question @Bongane: If you were accused of murder and would be sentenced to life imprisonment if found guilty, which of the following would you choose to defend you?
          2. an all black legal team
          3. an all white legal team
          4. an all chinese legal team
          5. an all indian legal team
          6. an all eskimo legal team
          5. the team you believe most likely to keep you out of prison

          If you’ve answered honestly then you will acknowledge that the only relevant measure is what you as the affected client feels is important.

          Now can you imagine how you’d react if someone said to you – yes, pick any attorney you like, as long as they are Chinese.

          I will say one other thing. Forcing people into positions for which they are neither qualified nor desired is of no value to anyone. It destroys everything.

          If you want to push for something that truly creates equality, push for equal free education. And do it by voting for a party that can deliver it – because the ANC never will.

          When our people are educated, then this discussion will be irrelevant.

        • James Webster says:

          And damn the needs of the people assembling the legal team ? They are supposed to potentially jeopardise the outcome of their legal case just so some team can demonstrate inclusivity and redress, what a load of utter tripe. All people, particularly black people, deserve equal opportunity, but sadly that does not guarantee equal outcomes. Allowing black people to achieve positions purely by virtue of their race is not only deeply racist – because it suggests black people are incapable of competing on merit – but also ensures that the underdog never achieves the standard of the top dog because there is no need for the underdog to perform if they can achieve the top dog position purely due to AA. This is exactly what has led to the collapse of both the civil service and the SOEs. Appointments based on AA have resulted in continually decreasing standards, ineffeciencies, incompetence and a complete lack of responsibility and accountability. Imposing the same sort of lunatic AA in other domains in SA will only lead to yet more failure and collapse. Would you rather have inclusivity and redress or electricity, AA or successful healthcare, BEE or economic growth, prejudice or progress ? If you prefer inclusivity and redress over electricity, you differ radically from the majority of South Africans who much prefer electricity.

        • Middle aged Mike says:

          Struggling to understand how an exclusively black legal team demonstrates inclusivity. Perhaps the word has chosen to identify as meaning something different but hasn’t come out yet.

  • drew barrimore says:

    Oh dear. De Vos again. Riding the skewed dominant ideology wagon off a cliff of his own making. An argument riddled with contradictions. Even as he attacks the (horror) all white team, and slates the advocate for refusing a completely illegal demand by the judge to address something not even before the court, De Vos’s argument is a flimsy egg-dance around an issue that is emotional (it seems) rather than legal, I once admired this author’s legal nous, but I’m afraid some woke bug crept into the ear and now nibbles at the synapses.

    • Kanu Sukha says:

      Oh dear … Could it be that your synapses have atrophied or snapped on the other hand ? What’s with this “seems” ? I assume you are a legal ‘expert’ in pronouncing “a completely illegal demand” ?

      • James Webster says:

        One does not have to be an expert in a field to know that someone who claims to be an expert in a field is talking crap. So called experts all too often hide behind their shield of supposed expertise. De Vos’ pro-ANC bias and bitter contempt for whites and more particularly Afrikaners are made manifest every time he puts his poison pen to paper.

      • Ben Harper says:

        Oh Redwood, give it up

  • Steve Du Plessis says:

    We seem to have all the wrong conversations in South Africa. Why don’t we focus on excellence and get the right person for the job no matter what they look like or what colour they are

    • Rodney Weidemann says:

      That seems to be a key point in De Vos’ article: If you only ever pick all-white, all-male legal teams, how do female lawyers and those of colour ever get a chance to reach those same heights of excellence that you insist are so necessary…

      • Bob Dubery says:

        Exactly. And, of course, the lawyers involved in this case were all juniors once and got a helping hand from somebody. The question is the extent of that duty to provide others a helping hand in the interest of the profession, and how much attention they should be paying to who is up and coming and looking promising. I don’t know the answers, BTW, not being a member of that profession myself. But the lawyers, De Vos and the judge all are.

      • Thinker and Doer says:

        Very good points, thank you, and also Mr Dubery. It would perhaps have been helpful in the article, to explain the processes and practices of how legal teams of attorneys and advocates are compiled, and particularly how in the advocates profession, pupils must go without salary for six months while doing pupilage, which is a significant barrier to entry, and then junior advocates are dependent on senior advocates for getting briefs to work. It is helpful to understand this context, which has such an impact on the composition of legal teams that end up in court, that the general public outside of the legal profession are not aware of. Also, these aspects are very important to consider in order to promote the representivity of the legal profession

      • James Webster says:

        If people are allowed to achieve positions purely by virtue of their race rather than their ability how are they ever going to learn to produce the same quality output as those who actually have merit ? You can’t instil merit by granting privilege based in anything other than merit. A person does not get elevated to a higher standard by only demanding of them a lower standard, something you might do well to consider. You can’t fix one form of discrimination by entrenching another, that’s like fighting crime with more crime.

        • Mark MANTON says:

          People, me included, only get to high levels of technical ability by training and experience. So we have to give everyone the chance, not just young white male.

          • James Webster says:

            Taking away people’s right of choice based purely on their race is not only racist and immoral, but is exactly what apartheid did. If you advocate for transformation in violation of people’s basic human rights and at any cost, then you are advocating for failure, unemployment, poverty, starvation and autocracy as demonstrated time and again across Africa. When legislation is enacted favouring one segment of a population over another, to the detriment of the disadvantaged segment, it does not motivate the advantaged segment to excel, but rather disincentivises it to do so. Why work hard when you don’t need to, why build businesses when you can just take large chunks of businesses away from people who have already built them, why build when you can summarily expropriate, why go the extra mile for a client when the client is forced to use you, why give good service when you are entrenched, why earn when you can embezzle ? Do you want to be treated for a life-threatening condition by a physician who reached their position by virtue of their skill or by virtue of their race ? Do you want to be defended in court against a potential death sentence by a good lawyer or by a lawyer of a specified race ? Do you want a country managed by effective and vaguely moral politicians or by politicians of a mandated ethnicity ?

  • jcdville stormers says:

    Have you heard of the word choice? mr de Vos

  • Loyiso Nongxa says:

    There is lots of literature that you can read on ‘unconscious bias’.

  • Deena John says:

    I had to check the date.
    Thought it was 1 April already.

  • Johan Buys says:

    The judge should be disciplined! At minimum the judge opened a big door for an appeal or the teams asking for recusal. There is NO scenario under which that tirade is appropriate – the judge should ONLY be concerned with the facts. In many spheres the bulk of legal argument is presented on paper and not in person, race and sex do not have any influence.

    As to the issue of white male teams, that is for the clients and the attorneys to decide and if picking that team leads to a poorer case, then they suffer the consequences.

    The author will get a lot of flack for this. It is as wrong to imply that an all white male team will be better as it is for the author to assume that a mix of race and sex would be better.

    We came a long way in sports to the point where not many positions in the Springbok team are argued to be affirmative anymore. We have a mixed team and they perform very well.

    • Iota Jot says:

      Not many? Which in particular are you thinking of? In recent conversations I’ve had about selection, merit is the only criterion discussed. Race no longer comes into it.

      • James Webster says:

        Yeah sure, as in cricket, rugby, swimming, athletics, gymnastics, rowing, water polo, canoeing and almost every other sport practiced in SA. Are you just biased or unable to see the wood for the trees ?

    • Tumelo Tumelo says:

      Most of the commentary here is quite shocking to say the least because it does not address the substantive matter being articulated in this article: mostly ad hominem attacks. Firstly, a court is a judges domain and they regulate their proceedings- especially the conduct of practitioners appearing to the extent that it is an issue before them. The judge did nothing wrong in this regard. Secondly, transformation in the legal profession the world over is encourage and practised. Whatever some of the readers of DM may believe transformation of the legal profession, with its well known history institutionalised and rabid racism, is obliged to change to reflect the reality of South Africa. Period. Adv Brands embarrassing interpretation of the Constitution, by ignoring S 8 read with S 9 reflects the wilful deplorable mixture impeding progress and the denial of the past horrors that were visited upon the Black majority of this country through measures of organised disrespect in professions such as the legal one. A lot of our countrymen who comment on these pages are verge on denialism about aspects of our history- I can only implore them to educate themselves and their children.

      • Loyiso Nongxa says:

        Spot on.

        • Kanu Sukha says:

          Don’t worry about issues like that … we have legal ‘experts’ like Johan Buys and Hahaha Ben to take care of that … in their unlimited hubris !

          • James Webster says:

            Exactly the same as legal experts such as Mpofu, Mkhwebane, Hlophe and Motata.

      • Ben Harper says:

        Wrong, the only thing the judge needs to be concerned with is whether or not the lawyers are licensed to practice law in is court, that is all, he doesn’t get to make up his own rules, he doesn’t get to decide who may or may not act on behalf of the defence or the plaintiff

      • James Webster says:

        No-one disputes the need for transformation but supposedly ensuring it by blatantly prejudicing those unfortunate enough to have potentially less than sterling lawyers imposed on them due to AA is utter rubbish and a logically indefensible position. If your life was on the line due to your selection of a lawyer then surely you have the right to select whoever you wish, and, no doubt, you would select someone you deem the best, not someone based on the colour of their skin. You don’t fix past discrimination by entrenching new discrimination, all that leads to is resentment not redress. You don’t fight prejudice using prejudice or did that not occur to you ? De Vos deserves every ad-hominem attack he receives because he demonstrates his personal animus and lack of journalistic integrity every time he puts his poison pen to paper, His animus is intrinsic to him, therefore ad-hominem comments are perfectly legitimate.

    • Geoff Coles says:

      It’s spelt flak but otherwise, fair comment.

  • Lynda Tyrer says:

    Nonsense if I have a court case I want the best if the best no matter what race or gender they are.

  • Modise M says:

    The corridors of power are still occupied by white males. They consider B-BBEE and Employment Equity as an annoyance and box-ticking exercises.

    • Rod H MacLeod says:

      Which corridors of power? Politics? Judiciary? Civil service? SOE’s? Education? Transport? Home Affairs? SAPS? SANDF?

      Did you mean …. the power of economic production, job creation, governance?

    • James Webster says:

      Employment Equity is both an exercise in futility and corruption. A majority does not need affirmative action to compete against a minority, only in SA does a majority of almost 90% feel so threatened by a minority of less than 10% that they actively discriminate against it. Using discrimination to fight discrimination is, in the words of a sage, like f–king for virginity.

  • Hennie Schoeman says:

    So much so for Pres Mandela choosing Wim Trengrove to present him on occasion. Merit?? Surely merit is the only driving factor.

  • J vN says:

    If the honorable Prof de Vos is to be taken seriously, and if he believed even one word of his own preachy column above, he’d waste no time in proving his commitment to what he wrote. I would expect no less than an immediate resignation from his academic post, in favour of a black academic.

    Anything less would simply prove that the nonsense above is yet more posturing and woke hypocrisy.

  • Ben Harper says:

    The Judge needs to be removed from the bench and disbarred immediately

  • Steven D says:

    “The problem is not only that an attorney or a client who favours white and male lawyers has a… less competent pool of people to pick from…”

    What exactly are you implying here, Pierre?

  • Agf Agf says:

    I agree with you except your statement that you can “change your gender”. No you can’t. There are only two genders, male and female. A person who suffers from gender dysphoria might wish they were the opposite sex, they might change their name, wear different clothes and in certain circumstances makeup, but they will remain the gender they were born until the day they die. I feel desperately sorry for them and believe they should be protected from abuse and harm but notwithstanding this they cannot and never will “change their gender”.

  • david clegg clegg says:

    Well, I am an old, white, legally trained, un-woke individual who thought Mr De Vos’ article was timely, well reasoned and sensible.

  • Wendy Dewberry says:

    It’s quite interesting to read the comments on an opinion. There is a hidden curriculum at school which overtly attempts us to be slightly more socialised and “play the ball and not the man”. Except in all white all boys all privilege schools where the “jews, the nerds and gays” are pulverized in every way. And that character is blaringly apparent in these responses.

    Needless to say – all this blind attitude begins in schools that promote separateness. We should perhaps try educate our society from early childhood education but that’s probably going to take another 1000 years of civilization.

    In the meantime. Be lekker. Don’t be a jerk. And its always meaningful and thought- provoking to read educated, well written, respectful arguments.

    • Rodney Weidemann says:

      Well said, Wendy!

    • Mark Parker says:

      Wendy…rather discuss the opinion piece of Pierre de Vos and whether you agree or disagree with some or all of his synopsis. Yes, a lot of the comments that get posted are rather non-sensical and don’t provide any logical arguments. However, your jew-, nerd-, gay-bashing by “private school educated white boys/men” which is reflected in the comment section of the DM, seems to have been posted more from a place of personal issues rather than an objective view. Further to this, it is primarily the “privileged” schools who try and promote cohesiveness which in many cases is backfiring spectacularly if you look at the overt racism that is prevalent in particularly all-girls privileged schools. So to your point…your post is neither meaningful, thought-provoking and is definitely not a well written argument and it is in fact “not lekker” and you are being a “subversive jerk”.

      • Kanu Sukha says:

        For your information re “objective view” … some time ago Dr Neville Alexander in a public discourse, began with the opening statement/confession … ” there is no such thing as objectivity” and proceeded to put his ‘cards’ on the table. Regarding your last observation … you are entitled to your ‘opinion’ … no matter how misguided or uninformed or misogynistic it is .

        • James Webster says:

          And unlike you, she’ll actually fight for your right to have it, whereas you would rather empower individuals who actively work against democracy and free speech as long as their views ( as misguided, uninformed, homophobic, racist, corrupt, immoral and plain downright ignorant they may be ) conform with yours. Whilst there may not be such a thing as objectivity, there are indeed more objective and less objective perspectives, and that’s assuming Alexander even knew what he was talking about considering how many other ex-residents of Robben Island lost both their morality and their intellects. Clearly yours qualify as less objective due to them not being based in fact, being justified by unethical viewpoints and their toxicity.

  • Telana Magill says:

    I am not sure where the writer is hoping to garner consensus from? Clearly he is aiming very low.

  • Peter Oosthuizen says:

    Didn’t anyone tell them that Dali Mpofu was busy?

  • Sergei Rostov says:

    “The problem is not only that the first claim by Brand quoted above is obviously wrong in law — if section 9(2) guarantees any right, it is a right to affirmative action measures.” I’m afraid it is the author who is “obviously wrong”. Section 9 (2) permits affirmative action – it does not give a right to affirmative action.

  • Willem S says:

    So what you are saying is that you can judge how good someone is at their job, or their level of skills and their motivations just by the color of their skin?

    Seems a bit racist if you ask me.

  • Bob Dubery says:

    There’s something missing in the telling of this story, not just from the author’s opinions. It is hinted at with the reference to “a client or an attorney who consistently briefs only white men”. Now why does that happen? You’re dealing with your old mates who you trust?

    Also is there a duty on the legal profession to grant opportunities to those less experienced or who are having trouble gaining experience? After all, the four lawyers here must all have started somewhere, must all have needed some help on the way up.

    Questionable behaviour by Brand. Would he have been so confrontational if the judge were not black?

    Yes, I know… but we need to ask these questions. There is still a lot of racism about. It wasn’t magically turned off by throwing a switch in 1994.

    • Geoff Coles says:

      But Bob, when it4 your money and lawyer fees so high, surely you choose someone who you can consider best represents your case.

    • Amadeus Figaro says:

      “Questionable behaviour by Brand. Would he have been so confrontational if the judge were not black?”

      The assumption from this is implied racist contempt on the part of Brand and that his conduct is influenced by the Judge’s race not the philosophy or ideology.

      Indulging this thinking, would Brand “the racist” confronted with the same intervention by a white judge have been more respectful to a “race traitor” what black people curiously call an “Uncle Tom?”

      I guess we would never know.

      Incidentally a black lawyer arguing against gvt on affirmative action would be called a sell out.

    • Karl Sittlinger says:

      “Also is there a duty on the legal profession to grant opportunities to those less experienced or who are having trouble gaining experience?”

      But this duty does not extend to the client, who should have the right to decide what ever legal team he wants. In this country selecting all white representation is probably a bad idea (as we clearly see the judges prejudices now coming into play, this judge already has a negative view of this client and who is representing him/her and it is completely justified to now ask for a recusal), but clearly the final choice is the clients and should not be prescribed by judges, journalists or law professors. “Questionable behaviour by Brand. Would he have been so confrontational if the judge were not black?” Pure assumptions and heavy prejudice here. Have we actually heard anyone give us reasons yet? Would you even listen to reasons if they were given?

      “There is still a lot of racism about. It wasn’t magically turned off by throwing a switch in 1994.”
      Yes but that doesn’t mean we need to assume racism is everywhere all the time. That’s the modern take of CRT (just like the view that only white people can be racist) and is simply wrong

    • Steven D says:

      Bob, with respect, clients in the legal profession – my profession – are not willing to spend their money or risk their cases just because there is, in your words only, a “duty” on attorneys to brief less experienced counsel. Clients want the best. Whether the best is black, white, coloured, Asian or otherwise does not factor into it. If you’re a crap counsel, I won’t brief you. If you do brief a crap counsel, the first question a client will ask is why you did so when better options existed.

  • A M says:

    Pierre has said a mouthful. Brand SC’s response to the judge says more about him and his views on transformation in general in the legal fraternity than it says anything about the judge’s inquiries – relevant to the case at hand or not.

    • Amadeus Figaro says:

      Give us a black lawyer willing to argue in open court against BEE

      • A M says:

        LPC has a long list of lawyers who can argue any matter based on the merits and facts.

        Your comment is suggestive that Black lawyers cannot or are incapable of “arguing in an open court against BEE”. And that’s the problem.

        Either way, whether they can argue that or not, as long as your case is based on FACTS and the lLAW – and not DA-like arguments as we saw recently and have seen over the years, including that for as long as they are not SAIRR-inspired, or Solidarity-/Afriforum-influenced on unsubstantiated facts and law – then you’d nothing to worry about.

        Absent that, then you will seemingly obviously not put up a proper argument before a judge.

        • James Webster says:

          Perhaps you should take your own advice and base your arguments on facts and the law rather than on wild and unsupported bitchiness aimed at the DA. Why don’t you consider the manifestly wrong socialist inspired nonsense spouted by the ANC ? You hardly help the case for objective black lawyers by foaming at the mouth with unsubstaniciated tropes you claim are facts about anyone you don’t seem to like.

  • Bianca Albesco says:

    On what basis does de Vos and the judge presume that the client chose white lawyers on the basis of their race?

    Furthermore, is the judge’s demand not in contravention of s9.3 of the Constitution which makes clear that the state (in this case, court) may not discriminate on the basis of race?

    Additionally, are all black lawyers “disadvantaged by unfair discrimination” (s9.2), or is this just another unwarranted (and racist) presumption made by the judge and Vossie?

    These are factual matters for evidence – and probably should be thoroughly ventilated, perhaps in impeachment proceedings.

  • Sydney Kaye says:

    “Quite frankly, I find it bizarre that no one involved in the matter paused for a moment to ask how this could be justified, or to consider whether it was in the best interest of the clients to brief all-white legal teams to argue the matter”. This is an example of the non sequiturs that ran through this piece. Did the writer ” pause for a moment” to speculate that they did not consider it was in the best interests of their clients to brief an all-white legal team, but considered it was in the best intetests of their clients to brief the legal team they had chosen.

  • Graeme J says:

    MNS Attorneys in Johannesburg is a proudly 100% black legal firm in Illovo, Johannesburg. They are so proud about it they have an advertising billboard up at JNB airport advertising the fact.

    I would be interested to know how the judge would have responded should the entire legal team in the case in question been black instead of white.

    • N H says:

      Of course not, that doesn’t count, only the reverse!

    • T'Plana Hath says:

      And I would be interested to know how the judge would have responded in a case where an all-heterosexual team was about to make arguments on a gay issue – assuming that the judge and respondents are also gay. If a judge has ‘strong feelings’ about one of the parties or the make-up of their representatives, that should immediately disqualify them as an impartial arbiter, Shirley?
      What is really your problem here, Mr De Vos? Is it because they are all white men and not demographically representative? Is it because this particular client 𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘭𝘺 hires all white male legal teams? Or is it because they are all white men and this is a black issue?
      Did you get 𝘥𝘰𝘯𝘯𝘦𝘳’𝘥 too much as a kid?
      You’re ‘on so many levels’ that your central argument is inscrutable to me.

  • Geoff Coles says:

    Was the Judge appointed through ANC cadre selection…. his thoughts were not germane to the issue notwithstanding an underlying concern across the legal profession

  • Michele Rivarola says:

    Valid questions from the justice and comments from de Vos but perhaps the matter would have been better handled in chambers and the questions probably directed at the briefing attorneys vis the taxi cab rule application for counsel. Sometimes you need to poke the hornet’s nest to get to the hornets. If you look at the Shell case the state employed a white counsel whereas the (CIA sponsored – according to Mantashe) environmental lobby did not. Why was the matter of legal representation of the state not also raised at the time? Perhaps these discussions should be stripped of emotion and politics and best handled in a public open forum by the legal profession itself with a view to planning for a future where freedom of choice and association in the context of our divided society will not necessarily or always be equated with racism.

  • Amadeus Figaro says:

    It will be politically interesting to get a black lawyer arguing against affirmative action or race quotas.

  • André Maree says:

    Pierre, I am afraid this is a load of woke BS. What you are hinting at is parties, applicants and respondents, must up front coordinate (organise a raffle) to choose council?

    Not only is it completely impractical but I venture to see possibly undemocratic and even unconstitutional.

    Please stop taking on every woke cause.

  • Greg Deegan says:

    It would appear that de Vos dived into this issue head first, without any real research or consideration. Not a good thing for a Professor of Law!
    The all white team for the Commission was briefed by the State Attorney, NR Baloyi, who has defended their right to choose whomever they wish on merit and experience. Likewise, the plaintiff, a private company, has defended their right to choose counsel on the same basis.
    This rant can only be described as a pathetic attempt by de Vos to keep his name in print.

  • JDW 2023 says:

    Whilst I am not going to be as petty in my wording in my criticism of this article as others have been, I am struggling to agree with you Pierre. Yes I am a white male, but I am still not buying into your arguments which were so strongly put in how Brand SC was so wrong in effect complaining. There was a radio interview on this matter that was aired live yesterday and the legal expert that they had indicated that it is client/attorney privilege as to how legal representation is chosen and executed in a court before a judge and that privilege is cast in stone. Thus my understanding is that the clients in this matter had complete freedom in whom they sought to represent them in court and how this was done. And also, you have not pointed out that that Judge Motha has essentially brought his impartiality into question by making his requests before he has heard the case, rather than making an observation in his ruling. I hear you Pierre, but I am still not convinced that the legal team is in the wrong here.

    • Karl Eschberger says:

      All that this white heterosexual male can say is: We will not be taken down by this wokish drivel. If you want to subdue us or be better than us – doing it on merit is the only thing that will work.

      • Denny v d Plikkie says:

        Your comment is unfair, completely misrepresents and twists his point, and you’ve taken away more value from this entire article and comment section than what you’ve contributed.

      • Kanu Sukha says:

        JDW .. even I without any legal background … is that not the same kind of argument the defenders of the Israeli regime made about the case before the ICJ being ‘baseless’ … ‘without merit’ …’without standing’ etc … even before it was heard ? All legal ‘counsels’ surely try to convince their client/s that they have a winnable case ? Why else would they ‘take on’ the case ?

  • Corné Els says:

    Chapter 2 of our constitution calls for the creation of a non-racial society. How will we achieve this if we keep classifying people by race?

    • Gerrie Pretorius says:

      Ask the anc. As (non)government, they make the laws.

    • Kanu Sukha says:

      By ignoring that apartheid … like slavery and colonialism did not happen ? Lets just forget what that system did ?

      • Ben Harper says:

        Aw diddums

      • James Webster says:

        Slavery, which neither you nor any of your forebears experienced, is neither relevant nor appropriate here but is being used to muddy the waters because you do not have a sound case based on facts. Slavery, apartheid and colonialism are used to draw attention away from the real issues. Why don’t you stop your nonsense and defence your arguments with facts and logic rather than red-herrings. What’s more, if it were not for colonialism, you would not have the law right now, there would not be a legal system, there would not be black lawyers, in fact, you would not even have reading and writing because those two skills, as well as the concept of law, the law itself and a legal system are gifts to Africa that were given it by colonialism. When colonists arrived at the Cape there was no law except the law of the bush.

        • ST ST says:

          So low! People should be grateful to the master for whatever, they owe master for their very existence! Mustn’t be a nuisance & complain about the made up generational crimes against them, no crimes committed! All only good for you!

          Presuming you don’t believe in legacy whatever your beginning, you can confidently rule it out as to reasons you do/ think a certain way. Which may then affect the way your child think/do and so forth. Or is that kind of thinking only reserved for rich people on a shrink’s couch?

          D’you know the amount of fortitude required to beat the odds? What is the probability of success against any one for anyone, even you

  • John Patson says:

    Surely the answer, in a free and democratic South Africa, is to bring back jury trials. I have been in a few, in the UK, where haughty, very clever lawyers have to strip back their fancy arguments to the fundamentals before juries (while immediately switching back to arguing about the sex of angels with the judge when the jury is out).
    Or does the legal profession, black and white, believe “the masses” are too thick?

  • PETER BAKER says:

    It is precisely for this sort of misbegotten logic that South Africa will never progress into any semblance of non-racial society. The very people who punt that WE must put away our prejudices and pre-conceived ideas, are the most racialistic (being racialistic means being aware of race….yours and mine, as opposed to racist, which implies a hatred / dislike of other races) of all of us. Mr Ve Vos wants to actively gerrymander every aspect of our lives in order to meet some sort of quota floating around in his head. Its BS. Sometimes you roll 2 sixes and sometimes snake eyes. It’s the way things roll. If we carry his logic then those in his “white Afrikaner laager” would never watch Bafana Bafana because there is not a single white guy on the team. Perhaps this entire stuffed up country of ours….which we all just so happen to love, in our own way, should emulate one of the only things which is hugely successful, loved by everyone in the country, is the best in world, works like a well-oiled machine, an organization in which there is not an iota of racialism or racism……The Springboks.

  • N H says:

    Nonsense Sir. An accused/plaintiff is free to appoint any legal representatives he wants. He is not obliged by race regulations. What if a white patient appoints a white surgeon and other white specialists for conduct his heart operation? Is this also against the law/constitution?

  • Stephen Mullins says:

    The underlying assumption of the article is that racial (even racist) bias was the reason only white advocates were appointed – it was because of their race, not because the client and attorney thought they were the best available for the particular case. There is no basis at all for that – defamatory – assumption.
    And so white male advocates should refuse a brief unless assured that other lawyers involved will not be white males? Never mind the “cab rank” rule which that an advocate, (at least members of the GCB bars) are bound to accept a brief even when they might prefer not to be involved in a case.
    Wild guess – Pierre de Vos has never been in Practice.

  • Jo Van says:

    I have always enjoyed reading what Pierre de Vos wrote and I never failed to read an article written by him, for several years now. I am however very disappointed by this article as he is clearly wrong in referring to “a permission” as an “obligation”. I wonder what he was smoking before he wrote this as it is very unlike him and his arguments for the benefits of mixed teams are also feeble and irrational. How would including less experienced people, to enable them to gain experience, lead to the team being stronger than a team consisting of 100% experienced people. I am concerned that he has made a big blunder with this article and he should make a statement about what he had smoked and undertake to abstain from that in future so we can expect quality thinking and writing from him again.

  • Sean Venske says:

    The English have a great term that applies perfectly to this – bollocks! You do the aims of employment equity no justice with this drivel Sir. This is not sports you talking about where quotas can be imposed and to suggest a person should have to take into consideration colour, pro-nouns or race when selecting a legal team is absurd beyond belief.

    • Kanu Sukha says:

      Keep on dreaming … but remember to wake up some time !

      • James Webster says:

        It’s interesting, do your kids go to schools with white teachers or black teachers ? Do you use a cellphone engineered by a local engineer or a foreign one ? Do you advocate legal practices developed in Africa or the West ? People in glass houses really should not throw stones.

  • Flapster Karos says:

    So then it would also be equally wrong for a litigant to choose an all black male legal team.

  • Henry Coppens says:

    The countries that advance use MPH. Merit, Pragmatism and Honesty. If the best potato peelers happen all to be pink, then so be it. We know we are getting the best there is. Surely that’s what matters, only!! When are we going to mature up to realise that colour does not matter – it’s quality merit. Yes, agreed the previously disadvantaged must be assisted. But once assisted that’s it. They can’t go on being assisted. This deprives others who genuinely warrant assistance. When they have reached the peak of their abilities that’s it. There must be an end. Otherwise it becomes a self admission that you are inferior and need a permanent crutch in the world to cut it – which to me would be insulting (but not to some it would seem!). Things like wealthy black parents demanding educational subsides simply because they are black and or connected and not because they are financially disadvantaged. The minute you impose ideologies like socialism, apartheid, communism, wokism this nonsense starts to happen and then you start not getting the best. Classic example Unterhalter is a world class legal brain and would be snapped up at the higest level elsewhere in the world, , but no, he is white and, worse, Jewish so what do we get: Hlophe’s – not becuse he is black – but simply because he is not the best. . Watch NHI. I wonder if De Vos understands this?

  • Francis Akpore says:

    While section 17(2) highlights importance of diversity, the Judge going out of his way to address issue thats not being raised in court is what concerns me. If its allowed it could be abused. There ought to be a better channrl to address such LEGITIMATE concerns!

  • Pieter van de Venter says:

    There even seem to be confusion where the hon Judge Motha is based. The learned de Vos reports the clever judge is part of the Western Cape High court and News24 reports he is part of the Pretoria High Court. Is the confusion with the judge or with the esteemed de Vos?

    Surely it is not for the judge to decide who the client is allowed to appoint? I am no expert, but I sort of remember there is also a provision in the Constitution about Freedom of Association?

    Surely the ANC cadres and their domesticated judges cannot dictate who represents who?

    • Steven D says:

      Pieter, there is absolutely no requirement that clients or attorneys appoint a counsel based on anything. Judges do not get to decide this either.

  • Michael Jones says:

    I don’t recall seeing a white lawyer in the Senzo Meyiwa trial, even the judges were black. How does that work?

  • Jan Malan says:

    The majority of people in SA are black. By that token alone why are there not more black lawyers representing the majority namely the blacks or are they also hiring white lawyers?
    There was a time this happened in the security domain. Whites and blacks were hiring white security guards. This over time evened out where blacks and whites are surrounded by black security guards. I believe as in the security domain the minute blacks start hiring black lawyers the situation will even out and you will start seeing black lawyers representing white and black clients but blacks will have to start the process and the situation will improve dramatically.

  • Tim Price says:

    I think the good judge needs to be commended for noting the irony of the situation, but surely he should not be stepping into the arena in this way? All he has done is create a furor, harden attitudes and created a climate of enmity between the bench and the legal teams, possibly at the expense of the litigants in this case. I am not sure that Judges, or law professors for that matter, fully understand the difficulty litigants face in just getting their cases heard, let alone having to put up with lack lustre judges and racial quota queries. The Judge has just added to their legal costs too.

    It could be argued that as a result of the race based transformation agenda for the judiciary, many white senior counsel are overlooked for the bench and remain in private practice, swelling the ranks of lawyers available for all white legal teams out there.

  • Miss Jellybean says:

    For some people it is more a language barrier issue when appointing legal representation. I personally would rather have an english speaking black lawyer than a white afrikaans lawyer as I find the language barrier with afrikaans too big an issue.

  • The Proven says:

    De Vos, this is possibly one of the most racist articles I have read in a long time. You use words like “Afrikaner Laager”, “bristle” and “nihilistic” to describe people that have a different view to you – just by doing that you have negated (and comprehensively lost) your argument. If you have to resort to name-calling to get your point across, you are clearly wrong.

    On merit, in short, you argue (very poorly in my view) that it is wrong for legal teams to be all white. What are you going to argue next? That white men may not marry white ladies, because then the marriage will be all white? That Elon Musk may not deploy Starlink in South Africa because he is white? (Oh wait, that has already happened).

    Your indignation should be directed at the persons that appointed those advocates, not the advocates themselves.

  • Theresa Avenant says:

    There are many great thinkers in this country – black, white, male and female. Pierre de Vos is one of them. Methinks the proverbial men of the laager doth protest too much.

  • Ritey roo roo says:

    Is this Judge Mandlenkosi Motha not the same one that boasted he only achieved his position because of affirmative action?

  • P C Hem says:

    If the legal teams had of been all black men, there would have no controversy, there would have been silence because no one would have said anything. I close my case your honour.

  • sylvia hammond says:

    I wonder how many of these “commentators” have actually read – or understood – our Constitution? What did they think our 1994 project was? Yes, we may aim for equality, but we have centuries of white male privilege to redress first. Pierre de Vos notes how perpetuation of such exclusive privilege breeds a mediocrity, to which those who benefit appear oblivious – confirmed by the ultimate arrogance of their response.

  • Karl Sittlinger says:

    It’s not about your criticism of the DA, but whether “judgement is passed on DM columnists according to whether or not they lick the boots of the DA”, which is incorrect (unless you make the erroneous assumption that not agreeing with the author of this opinionista equates to being a DA supporter). Your other comment really just underlines this: “the commenters to who tend to dislike anything that doesn’t fit with what they see as anti-Woke and not 100% based on whatever merit is, and who tend to trot out cliches like “woke” against anybody who doesn’t genuflect when the virtuous initials are mentioned or who doesn’t generally toe the line”

    The word “woke” has nearly become meaningless, which is why I don’t use it anymore, but resistance against some of the DEI initiatives and theories that often are the main gripes with the “woke” ideology doesn’t automatically imply any specific party one needs to “genuflect” to.
    Your comment was a response to a comment that didn’t mention the DA at all, just the word woke.
    I am not twisting anything here, these are your words.

    • Karl Sittlinger says:

      Apologies this was a response to a thread from Bob Dubery far above, somehow the web tool created a new thread instead of adding it to the existing thread.

  • Dov de Jong says:

    Ingrained racism, the only criteria should be competence. Black, White, Green, Yellow should be irrelevant. A forced choice according to colour, gender or religion perpetuates racism.

  • Pieter Malan says:

    So will the judge have the same instruction if I arrive in his court with an all black counsil?

  • ST ST says:

    If you understand institutionalised racism then you know that its machinery works itself such that the choices ‘you make’ seem logical, reasonable and justified unless picked at forensically. Even the people it works against become it’s unwitting supporters. Immigrants hate new immigrants. Black on black violence etc. The UK & US who claimed all are equal centuries ago are still surprised to find it’s remnants. Inst. racism must be corrected whomever, where ever. Uncritical/overcorrection is also bad.

    1994 was meant to first do some levelling up. That needed an equally educated and accomplished selection in any industry. What were/are the chances all races were equally capable then and now? If one was already in the home stretch when others are just starting out…guess who always wins and it retains the ultimate power.

    • ST ST says:

      Same goes for institutionalised sexism. The fact that so many centuries later we’re still celebrating first black this, first female that! US still waiting for first female president even women rather have Trump!

  • Confucious Says says:

    Picking anything for any reason other than merit is rubbish! You get what you pay for. If it’s all black, so be it. If it’s all white, so be it! If it’s mixed, so be it. But don’t force it because of colour. That would be stupid.

  • Middle aged Mike says:

    I wonder how many decades of democracy it will take before affirmative action, EE and BBBEE etc are regarded as having failed so spectacularly that they get dropped. On second thoughts I don’t.

  • Patrick Baker says:

    Thank God the world is finally starting to see the stupidity of retrogressive, Marxist neo-tribal woke gobbledygook. Nothing more than academic DEI/ BLM virtue signalling of the socialist elite wanting to feather their own insidious nests. Question to Pierre de Vos – what the hell has the colour of one’s skin got to do with professional competence? This is racism and a hankering for the apartheid days of old.

  • Thug Nificent says:

    Great article!

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