Advocates in racial divide on Motimele

Gershwin Chuenyane

Gershwin Chuenyane

Flamboyant and controversial McCaps Motimele SC could be in the middle of another standoff between white and black advocates.

White advocates in Pretoria are opposed to his nomination as chairman of the Pretoria bar, but their black counterparts insist there is no other candidate.

The election of chairman takes place early next year.

Motimele quit as chairman of the University of South Africa after sexual harassment charges against him by a senior academic at the institution last year.

The Pretoria bar stipulates a fifty-fifty power-sharing structure with alternating black and white chairmen. This year black advocates wanted Motimele to chair the bar, but white members opposed his nomination.

An executive member of Advocates for Transformation (AFT), who did not want to be identified, saidblack junior advocates would insist on Motimele because they felt "he has the pull to articulate black advocates' problems in Pretoria".

He did not explain what problems they had, but said they would "use their sheer numbers " to back Motimele's nomination.

AFT chairman Seth Nthai could not confirm if his organisation would nominate Motimele next year because the AFT has not discussed the matter.

Motimele said: "If the request is made, I will apply my mind."

Asked whether he thought it would generate the same controversy, he said: "It would depend on what my answer would be and the conditions on the ground."

The bar council is headed by Pat Ellis SC, who refused to comment on the new chairman issue.