Edward Zuma slapped with lawsuit for 'unpaid' legal fees after hate speech court case

The lawyers who represented Edward Zuma in his hate speech court case say he owes them R45,662.
The lawyers who represented Edward Zuma in his hate speech court case say he owes them R45,662.

After settling his long-overdue fine for insulting two senior ANC leaders, former president Jacob Zuma’s controversial son, Edward, is now facing a lawsuit for unpaid legal fees from the lawyers who represented him during his hate speech case in Durban’s Equality Court.

Zuma has been slapped with a R45,662 lawsuit by SP Mncwango & Company, a Durban firm of attorneys, which represented him during the case. The summons against Zuma was issued on February 28.

In their particulars of claim, his lawyers said they were instructed by Zuma to defend him after the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) asked Durban’s Equality Court to find him guilty of hate speech. He was ordered to pay a fine of R100,000 to a non-governmental organisation.

However, this amount was later reduced to R60,000 and Zuma agreed to split the money between Umthombo Secondary School in Howick and Ohlange Secondary School in Inanda.

But his lawyers said in the summons that despite a statement of account submitted to Zuma on February 5 for the work they had done, amounting to R45,662, which was followed by a letter of demand which was due to be hand-delivered to him on February 11, he has failed to pay the legal fees.

However, our sister publication TimesLIVE has established that the legal firm was still waiting for feedback from the sheriff on whether Zuma had been located to receive the letter of demand.

Now the lawyers are demanding interest on the amount at a rate of 15,5% from February 28 to the date of final payment, as well as costs for the lawsuit.

A day before the matter was set to go back to court last month, Zuma’s attorneys told Durban’s Equality Court in a letter that their client had settled his debt after making an outstanding payment of R12,500.

On December 22 2018, the court ordered Zuma to pay the R60,000 within 30 days or explain to the court why a warrant for his arrest should not be issued.

A month later, the court heard that Zuma had paid the outstanding R12,500 for Ohlange into his lawyer’s trust fund. However, the legal firm assumed that it was a portion of fees owed to them by Zuma and did not pass on the money. He had already paid Umthombo and owed Ohlange R12,500.

In May 2018, Zuma agreed to apologise to the South African public and pay two schools R30, 000 each for hate speech directed against senior ANC leaders Pravin Gordhan and Derek Hanekom.

The SAHRC laid a charge against Zuma after an  open letter in 2017 in which he called Gordhan, who was finance minster at the time, a “stooge of white monopoly capital” and Hanekom, who has been reappointed as tourism minister, a “white Afrikaner askari”.

He also lashed out at the commission, describing it as “vile” after it announced that it was investigating him over “statements that promote hatred based on race”. Zuma subsequently apologised to Gordhan and Hanekom.

Zuma could not be reached for comment.

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