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Legal eagles – the City’s rearguard during COVID-19 <p>​The City’s Legal Services Department is also lending its hand and playing a crucial role during this pandemic. A team of legal practitioners has been hard at work advising on the City’s Constitutional obligations, as well as the City’s role, as an organ of state, in curbing the spread of the pandemic. </p><span> <figure class="subtopic-fullsize-img"> <img class="responsive" src="http://resource.capetown.gov.za/cityassets/Media%20Centre/Buyiseka%20Mtati.jpg" alt="" style="width:1900px;" /> </figure>​Buyiseka Mtati, 40, from Burgundy Estate, is a legal advisor working in the Corporate Advisory Department. She is part of the team that provides legal services to all City departments, Council and its committees. </span><p>In addition, the team plays a supporting role, keeping abreast of legal developments, and they assist in litigation – both civil and criminal.</p><p>‘My sense of justice and defending the underdog and the disenfranchised attracted me to pursue a career in law to make a difference. For me, being an attorney is a medium through which I can serve. Serving the interests of the institution, as well as the community at large.</p><p>‘Since the outbreak of COVID-19, we’ve had an increase in workload because the Disaster Management Regulations are being amended constantly and the Legal Services Department is required to assist by interpreting these regulations as far as they relate to local government.</p><p>‘We advise on collaborations between the City, National and Provincial Governments and other stakeholders within the regulatory framework and without compromising the City’s obligations of providing the necessary service delivery. The latter being the core function of the City, which we do without diverting resources meant for service delivery purposes. </p><p>‘Our Department is also responsible for interpreting the directives that are issued by ministers and how these should be implemented by the City.</p><p>‘Furthermore, we are often requested to provide legal opinions or legal guidance in very tight and unrealistic deadlines so that the City’s operations can continue. </p><p>‘Turnaround times for such legal opinions or guidance are shorter than usual and we are prioritising all COVID-19 related legal questions within a short period without compromising the quality of work so that the City can meet its obligations. </p><p>‘The pandemic has certainly presented an opportunity to use electronic communication more optimally and effectively. The remote option of conducting operations has become an essential alternative. </p><p>‘It is business unusual. Virtual operations are certainly a novelty and require a departure from the normal way of doing things.’</p><p>Challenges:</p><p>‘The use of physical documents referencing is a challenge, especially in instances where information is not easily accessible through electronic means.</p><p>‘Another challenge is working on my own and ensuring that consistency and discipline are not compromised in order for me to produce quality work </p><p>‘Matters that have been set down for hearing in court are being postponed and priority is given to urgent matters as per the Directives of the respective high courts. This means that certain matters will take longer to be finalised. </p><p>‘There is also restricted movement as one cannot just go to the office and make copies, print certain documents or scan documents. </p><p>‘We are required to adapt to the current situation. </p><p>‘My biggest personal challenge during this time is not being able to travel and see my family and friends, and not being able to go to church,’ said Buyiseka.</p><p>‘I take my hat off to Buyiseka and her team for their efforts to ensure that our City continues to be well-run and that we deliver on our commitments without compromise, and under very challenging circumstances. The transition to the virtual space has almost been seamless – it’s like they are still in the office. It is comforting to have such committed individuals who ensure that we remain devoted to making progress possible, even during this pandemic,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Corporate Services, Councillor Sharon Cottle.</p><p><br>End<br></p>2020-05-24T22:00:00ZGP0|#1d539e44-7c8c-4646-887d-386dc1d95d70;L0|#01d539e44-7c8c-4646-887d-386dc1d95d70|City news;GTSet|#62efe227-07aa-45e7-944c-ceebacca891dGP0|#e4840e7a-8a6b-4f0c-ac7f-50e26b9535e8;L0|#0e4840e7a-8a6b-4f0c-ac7f-50e26b9535e8|provincial;GTSet|#2e3de6c1-9951-4747-8f53-470629a399bb;GP0|#c09dbe68-1d2e-42b4-871b-8e3a3999c8d6;L0|#0c09dbe68-1d2e-42b4-871b-8e3a3999c8d6|national government;GP0|#325facf6-49a9-4948-85d5-afeff5a7b55a;L0|#0325facf6-49a9-4948-85d5-afeff5a7b55a|legal;GP0|#cb2fbda2-f27c-4834-be95-7f049c8640b3;L0|#0cb2fbda2-f27c-4834-be95-7f049c8640b3|disaster management1

 

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