Malema: What better for a firebrand than to fight fire with fire

His supporters could expect to be persecuted by state institutions, he said, and his "white" lawyers, Brian Kahn Attorneys, would face "pressure" because they had "taken a decision to go against the critics in their communities" in representing him.

For his lawyers, it was not "the colour of the skin" but a matter of "justice", Malema told about 2000 people who gathered to support him.

The firm would appear to be a perfect fit for the combustible youth leader – its website states that Brian Kahn Attorneys' legal philosophy draws its inspiration from heat and fire. "Justice is like a fire – even if you cover it with a veil, it still burns."

Based at Umlilo House, the isiZulu word for fire, in Johannesburg, the firm is also not unfamiliar with re-presenting people with heavyweight political connections who are dogged by controversy.

Henry Banda, the son of former Zambian president Rupiah Banda, has enlisted the services of Canadian international lawyer Robert Amsterdam and Brian Kahn Attorneys.

Interpol issued a red notice – a provisional arrest with a view to an extradition request – for Henry Banda earlier this year in connection with fraud allegations by Zambian authorities, which go back to the 2010 sale of Zambia's national tele­coms operator, Zamtel.

Influence and build up
His father was president at the time that a 75% share of Zamtel was sold to Lap Green Networks for $275-million. Lap Green Networks is the African telecom arm of the $165-billion Libyan Investment Authority, set up by slain Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to extend his influence and build up interests on the continent.

A commission of inquiry set up by current Zambian President Michael Sata claims that the sale was fraudulent and there are suggestions that Henry Banda might have wielded undue influence over it.

Nicqui Galaktiou, a lawyer acting for both Banda and Malema, said that the Zambian government had not applied to the South African government to have Banda, who has permanent residence in South Africa and is married to a South African, extradited so they considered the matter closed.

"We are now trying to get Interpol to remove the red notice for Mr Banda," she said.

The firm has also worked for controversial businessperson Robert Gumede and succeeded in preventing the cancellation of his company Gijima's R19.6-million-a-month information technology contract with the South African Police Service.

Galaktiou is a director of Brian Kahn Attorneys who, according to the rates last updated on its website in January 2011, charges R3206 an hour. She is head of the firm's commercial litigation and dispute resolution department and is a member of the International Bar Association.

In her profile on the company website, she quotes from Sun Tzu's The Art of War: "Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent's fate."

Niren Tolsi
Niren Tolsi

Niren Tolsi is a freelance journalist.

His areas of interest include social justice; citizen mobilisation and state violence; protest; the constitution and the constitutional court and football.


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