Human Trafficking (Part III)

Arm wrestling by Mavericks

Adv. Dumisa Ntsebeza SC – human rights lawyer, Judicial Services Commission member, now special counsel for a strip club.

In Brief

  • Strip club joint Mavericks Revue once again engages the Department of Home Affairs in another legal tussle over the deportation of its foreign recruit
  • Hon Judge Dennis Davis is put on the spotlight after issuing an urgent application sought by Mavericks to block the deportation
  • Plans by KwaZulu-Natal wheeler dealer to stop the Department from responding to Maverick’s appeal backfires

 Read Human Trafficking I   and Human Trafficking II 

Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza SC – human rights lawyer, Judicial Services Commission member, one-time defender of Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe, board member of the Foundation for Human Rights, and currently appearing for the families of the deceased miners at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry – became Mavericks Revue’s secret weapon not long after the informed judgment of Judge Siraj Desai. Politely put, Advocate Ntsebeza become counsel  “by special appointment” to Mavericks Revue Bar of Cape Town.

It is common knowledge that Mavericks Revue has spattered the Western Cape High Court with cases against the Department of Home Affairs and its top officials. That aside, while prior cases had more-or-less been played to the strip-club’s script, the present cases did not achieve their intended purpose.

First off was an urgent application, issued under questionable circumstances by Hon Judge Dennis Davis, against the Minister and the DG, to allow Mavericks’ then new acquisition (or is it procurement?), into the country. 

 The drama began one Sunday afternoon in November 2011 when Violetta Mukhamdieva, an Uzbekistan citizen, flew into Cape Town via Ankara, aboard a Turkish Airlines jet. She had her passport endorsed with a “visitor’s visa”, but when a vigilant immigration officer enquired as to her purpose for the visit, she proudly disclosed that she was to work at Mavericks Revue. Mmm sorry, the official politely said, there would be no entry. A visitor’s visa wouldn’t allow her to work in the country – let alone at a strip-club. 

 Enter Mavericks attorney Gary Eisenberg. He got hold ofJudge Dennis Davis who promptly issued an order demanding that both the Minister and the DG allow the special visitor into the country. Of course neither of the cited Department officials were at the airport to be served with the order – which was not actually signed. Have a look at the TV-judge’s words, order and subsequent contempt of court ruling and judge for yourself”.

 Barely two months later, Judge Desai was issuing a damning judgment. While Hon Judge Davis made it his mission to punish the low-level Department of Home Affairs official who had embarrassed him by refusing to take a phone call from him enforcing the unsigned order, Judge Desai’s judgment was so legally sound that he confidently granted the strip-club leave to appeal, knowing that no higher court could find differently.

 The club has yet to seek a date on which the appeal would be heard. Why are they dilly-dallying? Could it be that they are awaiting the Human Rights Commission’s long-awaited report? Or perhaps they are confident that their new weapon has the means of returning them to their prior privileged position?

 Advocate Ntsebeza no doubt considers himself bound by the “cab-rank-rule”, which is a feature of his profession. According to the KwaZulu-Natal Bar’s website, this rule means that “any person, no matter how grievous a crime they are accused of, how poor or rich they may be, or however unpopular they may be politically, is entitled to the services of an advocate, and it is unethical for an advocate who is available to take a case to refuse to do so because the advocate disapproves of the person's acts or behaviour.” It must further be noted that advocates usually get their instructions from attorneys and never directly from the clients.

There can be little doubt that Advocate Ntsebeza was briefed on the current matter with the expectation that he could fruitfully begin with informal discussions with contacts in the Department of Home Affairs. This journalist has reliably learnt that, soon after accepting the brief, Advocate Ntsebeza approached a senior official with a request for the Department not to oppose the Mavericks Revue planned appeal to Judge Desai’s judgment when it finally comes up. Taking judicial fight to the boardroom.

It has further been confirmed, by another independent source within the Department, that the senior official played along and asked the human rights advocate extraordinaire to put his request in writing. Hopefully Advocate Ntsebeza will remember throughout this matter his commitment to the promotion of human rights, including, in this case, those of women who are obvious victims of human trafficking.