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Lister Gcinikhaya Nuku


When the shit hit the, um, statue, Nuku was given the job of cleaning up in the Western Cape High Court in Cape Town.

While acting on the Western Cape Bench, Nuku set aside the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) suspension of #RhodesMustFall activist and the guy who flung the first bit of poo in a protest that eventually led to the Cecil John Rhodes statue being removed from campus, Chumani Mxwele.

UCT had alleged that Maxwele had racially abused and threatened a lecturer in May last year. Kuku found that Maxwele’s second suspension hearing was “tainted with bias” and that jurisdictional requirements for the suspension had not been met.

Nuku has also shown little patience for local governments which have acted unconstitutionally in attempting to evict occupiers of public land — a trend among South African municipalities.

Handing down judgment in December last year in a case involving the Cape Town Municipality and occupiers of land in Khayelitsha, Nuku noted that the former had refused to engage meaningfully with the occupiers, despite the latter’s willingness to do so.

Citing the Constitutional Court’s Olivia Road judgment, Kuku fund the municipality had failed to act reasonably and also failed to give reasons for this: “Instead of taking up the issue of engagement with the respondents, the applicant sought to dictate to the respondents on what it would be prepared to engage them with, namely, the date on which they would vacate the property.”

The eviction was stayed, and the applicant was ordered to engage with the respondent and report to the court within six months.

Nuku was admitted as an attorney in 1996 and is a partner at Nongogo, Nuku Incorporated. He was Western Cape Judge President John Hlope’s instructing attorney in his ongoing legal battles with the judges of the Constitutional Court relating to allegations that Hlope had unduly approached two of them regarding a matter before the country’s apex court involving President Jacob Zuma.

Interview Synopsis: 

Justice Minister Michael Masutha noted that Nuku “didn’t stick out as an agent of change” and asked him whether he had “actively used your position to promote black and female people” in the profession.

Nuku responded that he had, in fact, done that, and had “recruited mostly female candidate attorneys, a number of them, expect one,” was a Black African, he said: “I have played my part, as smallish as it can be,” he said modestly

He was also asked to describe his childhood, which included growing up in an impoverished part of the Eastern Cape by Economic Freedom Fighters MP Julius Malema, who stated that the intention of the questions was to allow “you to speak to the African masses out there” to inspire them.

Nuku told the commission that he believed state parastatals that didn’t necessarily use the State Attorney’s office in litigation should be convinced to “play a bigger role” in briefing black attorneys and advocates to ensure they gained experience which would allow the pool of black and female candidates available for appointment to the Bench to be widened.

An ANC member, Nuku said he would resign from the party, if appointed. He also expressed finding little difficult in writing judgments or dealing with the range off matters he had ti adjudicate while acting at the Western Cape High Court.