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MNS Attorneys Refutes Allegations in News24’s “Mashatile Unmasked” Series

This Press Release is in response to articles published on News24’s online page on 7 and 10 June 2024 (titled “Mashatile unmasked”) relating to legal services provided by Mncedisi Ndlovu and Sedumedi Attorneys (“MNS”) to Gauteng Department of Human Settlements (“GDHS”) in relation to the Gauteng Partnership Fund (“GPF”) during 2016 to 2019.

MNS categorically rejects the allegations contained in the latest episode of “Mashatile Unmasked”. The sensationalist claims made in the articles – in particular, suggestions that the company’s role went beyond providing professional counsel to the provincial government. MNS rejects any suggestion of impropriety for the legal services provided to GDHS in relation to the GPF, and in particular any suggestion that its role went beyond providing professional counsel.

NEWS24 HAS DELIBERATELY PUBLISHED FALSE STATEMENTS AND INSINUATED WRONGDOING WHERE THERE IS NONE ON THE PART OF MNS.

THESE INCLUDE:

News24 claims MNS provided legal services in relation to the Gauteng Partnership Fund (GPF) in 2016, before the company was formally appointed.

  • MNS has been appointed onto the GDHS legal panel and other legal panels at national, provincial and local spheres of government periodically since 2002. In every case, this was after lawful public procurement processes.
  • During the period 2016 to 2019, MNS rendered various legal services to GDHS including but not limited to the restructuring of GPF and the GDHS Mega Projects.
  • News24 deliberately creates an impression that MNS’ work prior to 2017 was irregular and without lawful appointment. It does this while being in possession of evidence to the contrary: The memorandum that it refers to in its article (alleging MNS’s appointment to have taken place on 19 April 2017) attaches the actual letter of instruction from GDHS dated 19 April 2016. This negates any false notion that MNS rendered services in 2016 when there was no appointment.

The restructuring of GPF was to circumvent the law and avoid PFMA scrutiny.

  • By its own admission, News24 accepts that MNS’ proposal to restructure GPF was aimed at having it structured as a schedule 3D entity in terms of the PFMA.
  • This confirms that a restructured GPF was always going to be subjected to the scrutiny of the PFMA, along with similar entities listed in schedule 3D of the PFMA.
  • It is therefore malicious and false to suggest that the restructuring was to avoid PFMA scrutiny.

Irregular payments to MNS

  • Given that News24 is well aware that MNS’ appointment was lawful, it is mischievous for News24 to state in its articles that the payments were irregular. GDHS and GPF received value for the payments made. Payments made to MNS were therefore regular and lawful.
  • In addition, News24 is well aware that the GPF payment to MNS was made on behalf of the GDHS from a GDHS grant to GPF for the restructuring and for Mega Projects instructions.
  • Any suggestion that the payment by GPF was irregular is therefore incorrect and not borne out by the facts before News24.
  • It has always been clear to News24 that some of the payments made by the GDHS included the purchase price for land purchased from third parties. Despite this knowledge, News24 maliciously omitted this fact in its first of the two publications, so as to create a false impression that these payments were only for fees earned by MNS.
  • Finally, we record that all the work done, and deliverables submitted by MNS were internally interrogated and approved by GDHS, the GPF board and GPF executive management.

Manzi Mashatile Foundation

  • MNS rejects any suggestion of undue proximity to the Deputy President through its involvement in the Manzi Mashatile Foundation and is offended by News24’s inappropriate portrayal of MNS Attorneys as “friendly attorneys”.
  • There are many other philanthropic foundations that MNS is involved in and advises from time to time, as long as they are aligned with MNS’ corporate social responsibility strategies.

Conclusion

As far as we are concerned, our services were provided with the integrity and commitments to good governance that underpin all our legal services, and we reject any suggestion to the contrary.

MNS is deeply offended by News24’s attempts to manufacture some form of conspiracy around these activities, and we believe it is highly inappropriate to selectively link these professional assignments to the work of government and/or government officials, or the perceived agendas of those involved.

In its coverage, News24 has also deliberately misrepresented the fees earned by MNS – for example, its reference to payments of R337m. The reality is that this amount was billed over a period of six years and includes payments of R140m to a consulting firm. What News24 fails to state is that this equates to approximately R30m a year – definitely not out of the ordinary for a law firm–and this amount includes disbursements and payments for other work not GPF related.

The same applies to a payment of R668 000 which News24 refers to. News24 has unilaterally assumed that this was payment for work related to GPF, whereas it is in fact for other work for GDHS. These are just two examples of the lengths News24 feels it has to go to substantiate its conspiracy theory.

MNS is not prepared to be collateral damage in what appears to be a concerted campaign against the Deputy President and is considering appropriate action to take against News24.

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MNS Attorneys Press Statement June 2024

MNS Attorneys Refutes Allegations in News24’s “Mashatile Unmasked” Series

MNS Attorneys has issued a press statement refuting the allegations made in News24’s recent articles titled “Mashatile Unmasked” published on 7 and 10 June 2024. The articles claim that MNS Attorneys’ role in providing legal services to the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements (GDHS) and the Gauteng Partnership Fund (GPF) during 2016 to 2019 went beyond professional counsel.

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