Our take: We won’t be your fool, Dali

One of SA’s most controversial advocates, Dali Mpofu, got a bloody nose this week – and the blows landed from several fronts. 

First: The Johannesburg Bar found Mpofu guilty of misconduct for telling fellow advocate Michelle Le Roux to “shut up” during cross-examination of public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan at the state capture commission last year. It caused a storm of controversy at the time  – Mpofu even told Gordhan to shut up when he reacted! Mpofu was given five days to suggest a sanction against himself, but he’s not taking that route. Instead, Mpofu says he’ll appeal the decision.

Second: He’s on his way out of the compromised Judicial Services Commission (JSC), which he helped into the headlines for all the wrong reasons. His biased and aggressive questioning of would-be judges was disgraceful; he fought battles during interviews with judges that were seemingly related to his other position as a senior politician for the Economic Freedom Fighters. 

Mpofu served on the 23-member JSC as a representative of the organisation Advocates for Transformation (AFT). The SA Bar was inundated with objections to his and others’ conduct during interviews (more on this later in The Wrap). During Mandisa Maya’s interview as a candidate for Chief Justice, Mpofu said he and the female judge had once “spent a night together”… studying, he clarified. 🙄 

Following all the complaints the Bar said it was in discussions with the AFT about replacing Mpofu. Over the weekend the AFT wrote to the JSC that it was withdrawing Mpofu as its representative, Pretoria News reported. He had already served two terms and his latest term ended last year but he was brought back for “continuity”, the AFT said.

Mpofu has a storied history. Remember reports of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s infamous leaked letter to him in the early 1990s, allegedly revealing she’d given him R160 000 in misappropriated ANC funds? The two were accused of having an affair that contributed to the breakdown of her marriage to Nelson Mandela. Mpofu later became the SABC’s Chief Executive Officer and left with a gobsmacking R14.1m golden handshake in 2009; he joked that he was retiring to become a house husband. According to reports, he cost the broadcaster well over R100 million during his two-year tenure.

So we’re glad his recent displays of sexism are catching up with him. This, a week after International Women’s Day, and a few months before our own Women’s Day. As Winnie famously put it in that letter: We won’t be your bloody fool, Dali.

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 17 March  2022. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.