In High Courts today more pressure on Zupta lawyers Hogan Lovells

By Alec Hogg

The net closes a little tighter today on Hogan Lovells, the international law firm targeted by South African forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan and British politician Lord Peter Hain. In the North Gauteng High Court this morning, the National Prosecuting Authority will drop charges laid in 2016 against former Hawks head General Anwa Dramat and his Gauteng head General Shadrack Sibiya.

Paul O'Sullivan and comrade in arms Lord Peter Hain are after global law firm Hogan Lovells.
Paul O’Sullivan and comrade in arms Lord Peter Hain are after global law firm Hogan Lovells.

The crime-fighters were suspended on the strength of a fictitious “Zimbabwean Renditions” narrative published as fact by the Sunday Times. Dramat tired of the legal fight and resigned, but Sibiya refused to budge. Hogan Lovells drove a baseless disciplinary action against Sibiya to get him ejected. The firm also kept Dramat’s successor Berning Ntlemeza in office against multiple court orders that his appointment was unlawful.

Hogan Lovells will also be in the spotlight in the KZN High Court. It produced a report on a similarly fictitious “Cato Manor death squad” used to suspend Hawks’ KZN head General Johan Booysen. His lawyers will today demand dismissal of a case dragging back to 2012. In March, Booysen was appointed an advisor to SA’s new police minister Bheki Cele.

O’Sullivan and Hain say Hogan Lovells allowed its brand to be used by forces of darkness to eject honest cops and replace them with crooked Zupta agents. They want retribution from the firm which employs 2,800 attorneys in 49 offices worldwide. After today’s court hearings, their call is sure to be amplified.

Charges withdrawn against Shadrack Sibiya

Response from Hogan Lovells

Sadly this falls short in a number of important ways and it seems appropriate to correct the significant number of inaccuracies in the piece.

Some core facts:

  • Hogan Lovells was not involved in the production of the report on Zimbabwean renditions.
  • Dramat was already suspended when Hogan Lovells was instructed in a matter involving him.
  • Sibiya faced his disciplinary hearing before an Independent Chairperson; was found guilty and dismissed.
  • Hogan Lovells was involved with Ntlemeza’s case only up to a point (only in the High Court and we were not involved when he challenged the High Court ruling in the SCA or Constitutional Court).
  • Hogan Lovells did not “produce a report on a similarly fictitious “Cato Manor death squad” used to suspend Hawks’ KZN head General Johan Booysen”. The firm was not involved in this matter or in the litigation that came about as a result.

We have never been the personal advisers and intimate confidantes to the individuals. There appears to be  significant misunderstanding and confusion over the differences between acting for a branch of the government, acting for an official of that organisation in the conduct of their governmental role, and acting on a personal basis for an individual.

We have never acted for Jacob Zuma in any capacity.

It is worth noting that lawyers Victor Nkwashu acted for Shadrack Sibiya; Adams & Adams for Robert McBride; Shepstone & Wylie for Johan Booysen; and Werksmans did the investigation of the two reports for the Minister of Police referred to in the McBride matter. This is all on the public record. Together, the attorneys and advocates have assembled the cases, assembled the evidence, and made their arguments.

The danger lies in politicians and campaigners practising guilt by accusation and association — that if you advise a client who is unpopular or found guilty by the courts, or has a particular political view or agenda, you also must somehow be unpopular, guilty or share that political view or agenda. This logic is medieval nonsense.

If anyone thinks we have made money off these cases, we are very happy to point out that it was done at heavily discounted rates as per our service level agreement.

The courts have looked at the cases for and against the individuals, and for and against the government officials and departments involved, and made their independent rulings based on the facts and the truth presented by the witnesses and other evidence. The law has and is prevailing. As it should. That is what justice and the rule of law is all about.  We have no vested interest in the outcome.