Cape Town – Former land reform minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has brought another application to the Western Cape High Court to have the costs order against her set aside after she lost a case against the District Six Working Committee (D6WC).
Norton Rose Fulbright director Nicki van’t Riet said: “This application was launched in response to the judge dismissing an application for leave to appeal against a personal costs order granted against her while she was minister of rural development, for failing to comply with a court order (she did not take steps to compile a plan of action for the D6 restitution development; no explanation was given for failing to comply with a court order that she had agreed to).
“The application for leave to appeal was launched under the name of the Minister of Rural Development. Nkoana-Mashabane was not that minister at the time. Rather she had become the Minister of Women Affairs. The application was dismissed, but not before the court offered her an opportunity to join the proceedings in her personal capacity. She declined this invitation.”
Van’t Riet said Nkoana-Mashabane then launched an application for a joinder and a rescission of judgment application.
“The purpose of this was so that she could have the personal costs order set aside. The D6WC, which is relying on pro bono assistance, decided to abide by the decision regarding the joinder but had to prepare an opposition to the rescission which took time and resources,” she said.
Yesterday, the matter was heard virtually, Nkoana-Mashabane’s legal team abandoned the relief for the rescission – with no costs being tendered.
Nkoana-Mashabane’s legal representative Toby Krüger said: “The minister was on the scene for a very limited period of time and here a court holds her personally liable. She was not at the time the minister of land reform and I understand if a minister was given an order to pay the cost.”
Kruger said the minister was not given an opportunity to explain.
Nkoana-Mashabane is adamant that she shouldn’t be compelled to pay the legal costs out of her own pocket. She is taking members of the D6WC to court in an attempt to have the personal cost order reversed.
Nkoana-Mashabane, now Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, brought an application this month for leave to appeal against the court order (and personal costs order) that was granted against her in August last year, in relation to restitution for the people of District Six.
Her heads of arguments stated that the court made an error in granting an order that she should pay the legal cost in her own capacity. It also stated that the court erred in finding that the threshold for a personal cost against a public official is met under circumstances of this matter.
Legal representative for the D6WC, Geoff Budlender, said: “I have to ask the question who is paying for all of this. Last time we ordered who is paying for all this and you referred the matter to the practice council. There is still no response.”
Acting Judge Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, said: “This on its own is part of a strategy that’s been pulled by the minister. If this was a genuine offer but it was rejected and I should not allow this court to be a party of an elaborate scheme of abuse. I wonder if this is not a direct abuse of power.”
Krüger said: “The involvement of the state attorney is something I cannot explain. I have a very clear instruction that the applicant is paying for this and not the state coffer. I submit a proper cost order cannot be on a punitive basis. I know the court has been involved in this matter for quite some time. The minister was misdirected in bringing the application.”