Judge Desai dismisses DA’s claims that he will serve the ANC as Legal Services Ombud

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Retired High Court Judge Siraj Desai has scoffed off the DA’s insinuation that he will serve the ANC in his new position as the Legal Services Ombud. DA Member of Parliament’s Justice and Correctional Services Committee, Glynnis Breytenbach, ealier said Desai was a political appointment who was open about his support for the governing ANC.

President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed Desai to the new position recently.

The appointment of a Legal Services Ombud follows discussions between Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola and Ramaphosa. The Legal Ombud will be a watchdog of the legal profession to ensure that they act ethically, among other things.

His appointment has been widely welcomed by political parties in Parliament except the DA.

Desai says he’ll serve the public regardless of their political affiliation.

“Some idea of what Glynnis Breytenbach is saying; I do not wish to respond to such nonsense. It was and remains my hope that all lawyers, irrespective of their party political affiliations, will cooperate with the office or the new office of the Legal Ombud.”

Judge Desai says he is looking forward to take up the task.

“I am humbled by the President to appoint me as the first Legal Ombud for the country. It is an exciting opportunity to contribute to raising the bar for ethics amongst legal practitioners. And I look forward to advancing public interest in the rendering of legal services. It is a privilege to continue serving the country on my retirement from the High Court Bench.”

Newly-appointed Legal Services Ombudsman Judge Siraj Desai ready for the task ahead:

However, Breytenbach says Desai loves the ANC.

“Judge Desai is very clearly a political appointment who has never made any secret of his fondness of the ANC, and cannot by any stretch of the imagination, be described as a judicial luminary. Not being much of a self-starter, it is clear that little or no proper thought was given to the subject of legal ethics, nor of the ethical well-being of the legal profession in general, in making this appointment. It demonstrates a real lack of understanding of the legal profession and it is a resounding disappointing appointment.”

Served SA with distinction

The ANC in the Justice and Correctional Services Committee says Desai served South Africa with distinction. ANC Whip of the Committee, Jacqui Mofokeng has wished Desai well in his new position.

“The African National Congress Study Group in Justice and Correctional Services welcomes the appointment of S (iraj) Desai as the Legal Services ombudsman by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Judge has practices as an attorney, an advocate for many years before his appointment as a judge. He has served the people of South Africa with distinction throughout his life. We wish him well in his new appointment.”

The Freedom Front Plus and COPE have also welcomed Desai’s appointment.

COPE spokesperson, Dennis Bloem believes Desai is the right person for the job.

“The Establishment of this important office is long overdue. Many vulnerable people need protection from some greedy untouchable lawyers. We believe that President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed a person with integrity, credibility and with a solid background in the protection of Human Rights. We want to congratulate Judge Desai in his new assignment and wish him well.”

FF-Plus leader, Pieter Groenewald, agrees with Bloem.

“Judge Siraj Desai is the most experienced and competent Judge and he knows the legal profession. And we therefore think he is one of the most suitable appointments as the Legal Services Ombudsman. We also want to see that there are results when the public laid and submit complaints with the Ombud that certain drastic steps be taken should a legal practitioner for instance, did not comply to the rules and that he will ensure that the public will create trust in his actions. And the only way to do that, is to ensure that he will be unbiased and that he will objectively look at each and every case to ensure that justice prevail.”