South Africa: Like Gender and Racial Minorities Before Them, Non-Citizens Fight a Culture of Exclusion in the Legal Profession

analysis

On 20 July 2021, the Asylum Seeker, Refugee and Migrant Coalition and three other individuals initiated high court litigation against the justice minister and the Legal Practice Council, challenging the provisions of the Legal Practice Act that bar certain categories of non-citizens from practising as lawyers.

Muchengeti Hudson Hwacha, LLB (UKZN) Cert Intellectual Property and Banking Law (Wits), is a candidate legal practitioner at Lebea Inc Attorneys and is the executive director of the Asylum Seeker, Refugee and Migrant Coalition (ASRM Coalition).

At present, the legislation unjustifiably prevents various categories of non-citizens, to whom the state has granted the right to work, from being licensed to practise as lawyers. I and others have written critically about this exclusion, highlighting that it does not accord with the values underpinning our Constitution.

This article does not seek to recount the various legal arguments that expose the exclusion as irrational at best and xenophobic at worst. Instead, it seeks to examine the prevalence of a culture of exclusion within the legal profession and highlight how this problematic tradition has historically targeted the most marginalised segments of our society.

Where are we now?

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