Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola has appointed Fhedzisani Pandelani to act as solicitor-general for a period of 24 months, with immediate effect.
Parliament passed the State Attorney Amendment Act in 2014 which came into operation on 3 February.
The department said the act empowers Lamola to appoint any person who meets the required criteria for appointment as an acting solicitor-general and requires that the person must be a fit and proper person, with due regard to his or her experience, conscientiousness and integrity.
“The person must be admitted as an attorney or advocate in the High Court of South Africa or could be any person previously admitted as such, who has not been struck off the roll and is eligible to be re- admitted.“The act allows for the establishment and appointment of a Solicitor-General,” the department said in a statement.
The department said Pandelani will oversee all litigation on behalf of the state and is the executive officer of all offices of the state attorney which exercises control, direction and supervision.
“The Solicitor-General is also responsible for implementing policy relating to the functions of the offices of state attorney.
“This includes the coordination and management of all litigation in which the state is involved, the briefing of advocates, the outsourcing of legal work, the initiating, defending and opposing of legal matters and implementing alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in the resolution of litigation against the State,” it said.
The department said the state is frequently involved in various litigious matters, often at great expense to the fiscus, and Pandelani’s new role will greatly assist in transforming the state’s litigation strategy.
“Tackling the ever-increasing state liability bill is an urgent priority as well as capacitating the Offices of the State Attorney to collect recoveries on behalf of the State from third parties; transformation of the legal profession, particularly by way of the briefing of previously disadvantaged legal practitioners, is also imperative,” the department said.
Lamola thanked the hundreds of legal practitioners who expressed their interest for appointment to the position.
“The establishment of this office is historic. South Africa is fortunate to have many highly respected legal practitioners who expressed their interest in the acting appointment.
“With over 20 years’ experience, I believe that Mr. Pandelani will provide the requisite leadership and expertise to help the Office of the State Attorney become more efficient and effective,” said Lamola.
The solictor-general’s background
Pandelani is the current chairperson of the Gauteng Liquor Board and chairperson of an external panel on appeals in terms of section 43 (5) of the National Environmental Management Act in Gauteng, and has been in practice for more than 20 years.
He holds various qualifications from the University of the Witwatersrand including Baccalaureus Procurationis (B.Proc.) and I-LB degrees and as well as a Higher Diploma in Company Law.
He was admitted as an attorney in 1996 and has practiced in diverse areas of law covering High Court, Labour Court and Magistrate’s Court litigation, and is a skilled mediator and arbitrator.
He has also lectured on various law modules through the Unisa Learning Centre and has for several years been an instructor at the Johannesburg School for Legal Practice.
By Citizen reporter