City gives law firm the boo t

THE city of Cape Town has purged a major law firm because it took on a case for the Abahlali baseMjondolo shack dwellers movement.

THE city of Cape Town has purged a major law firm because it took on a case for the Abahlali baseMjondolo shack dwellers movement.

The axing of Smith Tabata Buchanan Boyes has been slammed by Reverend Siyabulela Gidi of the South African Council of Churches, who hired the law firm to represent about 200 Macassar families who had occupied an empty piece of council land last month.

"It took us more than three days to get a lawyer and this explains why. High quality law firms are too afraid to go up against the city because they get victimised," Gidi said.

"It's an indication that poor black people don't have a right to a good lawyer in Cape Town. Abahlali baseMjondolo is a very dynamic national movement, so the city wants to kill them before they become a force in Cape Town," a furious Gidi said.

The families won a victory in the Cape high court when they succeeded in interdicting the city from demolishing their shacks. But after demolishing the shacks, the city got its own interdict preventing the organisation from rebuilding them.

Then the city fired the firm . Sowetan is in possession of a letter from the city to attorney Vusumzi Matikinca. It reads: "Whilst acting on behalf of the city of Cape Town, you also acted for a third party against the city. The city is therefore terminating its mandate with your firm . your law firm will not receive any further instructions from the city. "

Raylene Keightley of Wits University's Centre for Applied Legal Studies said this undermines the constitutional right of access to justice.

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