National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete’s lawyer Lindi Nkosi-Thomas gained instant fame on social media after she fumbled through her submissions in the Nkandla matter in the Constitutional Court on Tuesday.
She raised her voice, used dramatic hand gestures, and occasionally stood in silence before the judges after they asked her questions.
Her demeanour and comments even amused Public Protector Thuli Madonsela who laughed when Nkosi-Thomas made a comment about her powers.
Nkosi-Thomas was asked if the National Assembly had erred in how it approached the remedial action recommended by Madonsela in her report on the upgrades to President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead.
“Did the National Assembly fail to exercise oversight of the president as a member of executive?” Justice Edwin Cameron asked.
After mumbling, Nkosi-Thomas conceded, “Parliament took a wrong position.”
Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke sought clarity from her.
“Did the National Assembly err in the manner in which it approached the remedial action taken by the Public Protector in the view that accountability kicks in on the side of the executive? Or are you leaving the matter in our hands?” he asked.
“I haven’t been instructed on that issue,” she responded.
At one stage the overwhelmed advocate told the justices: “That’s the way it goes”.
During one of Nkosi-Thomas impassioned submissions, one of the justices asked her for clarity.
Before the justice had finished his question, Nkosi-Thomas began answering him. Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng reprimanded her.
“I am sorry council. Here we speak one person at a time. Just wait for my colleagues to submit their questions and then take your time to respond. Again only respectfully please.”
Nkosi-Thomas said Madonsela could not dictate to Parliament what to do. She said enforcing her remedial action without scrutiny would amount to dictatorship.
As Nkosi-Thomas stood before the justices, gesticulating and stammering, she dominated the discussion on social media.
Political analyst Eusebius MacKaiser tweeted: “Advocate Nkosi-Thomas is behaving like an ANC backbench MP hoping to shout her way into an ambassadorial posting NGOKU!”.
Puppet Chester Missing, the voice of comedian Conrad Koch, said: “Baleka Mbete be like ‘honourable lawyer, I do not recognise you’.”
Advocate Nkosi-Thomas is behaving like an ANC backbench MP hoping to shout her way into an ambassadorial posting NGOKU! #Nkandla
— Eusebius McKaiser (@Eusebius) February 9, 2016
Baleka Mbete be like ‘honourable lawyer, I do not recognise you’.
— Chester Missing (@chestermissing) February 9, 2016
Melody Molale said Nkosi-Thomas needed a hug.
The News Guy said she reminded him of not having the answer to a teacher’s question at school.
Nkosi-Thomas reminds me of me in school when the teacher asked me questions and I didn’t have a clue on how to answer #Concourt #NkosiThomas
— The News Guy (@SareshenP) February 9, 2016
..can some get up and give Nkosi-Thomas a hug, she needs it. #ConCourt
— MELODY MOLALE (@MelodyMolale) February 9, 2016
A tweeter called Brown said: “Nkosi Thomas going to report to her employers like…” along with a picture of a crying infant at the wheel of a BMW.
Nkosi Thomas going to report to her employers like #Nkandla #ConCourt pic.twitter.com/Vktb09XQJc
— Brown (@manamelaMA1) February 9, 2016
According to a LinkedIn page for “Lindi Nkosi-Thomas SC”, she had acted as a judge of the High Court of South Africa on numerous occasions.
The EFF, DA, and Public Protector Thuli Madonsela want to the Constitutional Court to clarify the nature and extent of the chapter nine institution’s powers to take remedial action.
They argued that Zuma failed to comply with Madonsela’s findings that he unduly benefitted from security upgrades to his Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal, and failed to act on her recommendation that he had to pay back a portion of the R246 million in taxpayers’ money used.
They wanted the court to make an order compelling him to do so.
Judgment was reserved.