As a practising attorney since the early nineties, Maake Kganyago has worked some cases in Limpopo which provide the detail in South African society’s broader canvas.
One certainly pointed to the desperate situation of job-seekers in a country where the “real” unemployment rate is said to be nudging 40 percent — and the often predatory instincts of those gate-keeping jobs.
In S v D, Kganyago represented a female employee who was coerced — along with other colleagues in the business — into having sex with the boss in order to keep her job. In an attempt to stop the practise she enlisted the aid of a male colleague who recorded boss and employee in the act. The film was apparently successful in dissuading the boss from further unwanted advances as he agreed to stop, and pay her R30 000 to destroy all copies of the video. The female employee was, however, arrested and charged with extortion when going to collect the money. In the Magistrates Court, Kganyago got the charges dropped.
A graduate of the University of the North (B.Proc and LLB), Kganyago also holds an LLM in Labour from Vista University. He has acted in the Limpopo and Gauteng high courts between 2012 and 2016.
One case in Limpopo involved a damages claim brought by a man, Robert Mmboi who, at the age of 22, was arrested under the common purpose doctrine for premeditated murder in December 2003. Convicted in the high court and sentenced to 38 years imprisonment, Mmboi stayed in jail for nine years until a successfully petitioning the Supreme Court of Appeal. An instance — especially when compared to the murder trial and the subsequent appeals of Paralympian Oscar Pistorius — of the wheels of justice turning slower for some.
In Mmboi’s case, he had been binge-drinking all day in Vuwani with a group of friends, one of whom had fatally knifed someone and stolen their canvas shoes. When the perpetrator had returned to the group with the bloody knife and shoes, no questions were apparently asked about what had transpired. According to one of the group who had turned state witness, they had heard the initial smashing of an alcohol bottle before the perpetrator had returned and asked for a knife. They subsequently heard someone screaming approximately eight metres away. Nor did Mmboi and the others report the murder later.
After the successful appeal, Mmboi claimed wrongful and unlawful arrest on the part of the police and wrongful and malicious prosecution by the Limpopo prosecuting authority. Kganyago found that both the police and prosecutors had acted with “reasonable and probable cause” and dismissed the application with costs.
The sole partner at Maake Kganyago Attorneys, Kgayago is also a commissioner at the Small Claims Court, a member of the South African Revenue Service Appeal Board and a senior commissioner at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration. He served as Limpopo chairperson for the National Association of Democratic Lawyers from 2001- 2014.
With mining prospecting and operations booming in Limpopo, and the increasing appearance of associated land ownership and traditional authority issues on the high court roll, the range of questions Kganyago was asked included his experience in commercial law, of matters that dealt with mining and what could be done to ensure legal practitioners in the province benefited from this influx of money and litigation.
Kganyago said he had no experience in mining matters but that these cases, and others involving commercial law “shouldn’t be a problem for me” as “long as I know where to find the law”.
He added that unless the state legislated to ensure that corporations included local black juniors in Limpopo cases “it would be very difficult to regulate” briefing patterns to ensure transformation.
He made clear to justice minister Michael Masutha that transformation “must start with government” and its briefing patterns since the majority of work emanated from the state.
Kganyago had previously appeared before the Judicial Service Commission — without success — and when asked by the IFP’s Narend Singh what lessons he had learnt from those interviews, Kganyago said the “main issue” was his membership of the ANC. He indicated that he had since resigned from the party.