“If Dali Mpofu represents @KagisoRabada25, not only will the ban be overturned, but SA and Australia will replay the last over of the 1999 CWC semifinal.” It’s a tweet that Daluxolo (Dali) Mpofu endorsed on his timeline, with three ‘tears of joy’ emojis, on the day he was announced as Kagiso Rabada’s counsel for his appeal against the two-Test ban.
A week later, on Tuesday, the firebrand lawyer made the prophecy come true by achieving the improbable, getting the ICC to overturn the ban on Rabada imposed by match referee Jeff Crowe. Rabada’s acquittal has made his lawyer a national hero, the country’s heart-felt salutations conveyed on social media. Some say the 56-year-old lawyer can “walk on water” and even represent the disgraced former President Jacob Zuma. He is seen as “advocate of the people”, “the great one” and the “messiah who saved South African cricket”.
— Dali Mpofu (@AdvDali_Mpofu) 16 March 2018
Perhaps, Lance Klusener and Allan Donald may well have a reason to believe that there still remains a chance at redemption for their horrific running between the wickets at Edgbaston almost 19 years ago.
In addition to a stellar and controversial legal career, Mpofu has also held various significant positions in South Africa. He is a former CEO of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), chairman of Boxing South Africa, an acting judge in the Labour Court and last year was appointed in the Judicial Service Commission by Zuma.
A former member of the African National Congress (ANC), he shifted in 2013 to the Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF), a revolutionary socialist political party.
He is presently the national chairperson of the EFF, and not surprisingly, the numerous good luck messages that came his way in the lead-up to Monday’s hearing included one from Patrick Cruywagen, who promised to “vote for” Mpofu if he ensured “our Kagiso Rabada” plays in Cape Town. Well, that’s one vote guaranteed in the EFF’s kitty thanks to Mpofu. The outspoken lawyer has been involved in a number of high-profile cases in his time. In recent years, he represented the mayor of the Cape Town council in a case involving a “vote of no-confidence” against her while arguing for the United Democractic Movement (UDM) – a social-democratic political party — for a vote of no confidence against Zuma.
Mpofu is no stranger to being called the “advocate of the people”. Long before he ensured David Warner & Co will have to contend with Rabada’s pace and incisive swing for the rest of the series, he’d fought for the miners wounded and killed during the Marikana massacre of 2012. In another famous case, he took on a television channel after they’d dismissed a renowned DJ for his support over a controversial estate agent’s racist remarks.
Mpofu is known to have joined the ANC in the freedom struggle in the early 1980s and counts himself as a political detainee. He then served as a deputy to Winnie Mandela, former wife of the late Nelson Mandela, in the Social Development Department. He’d also worked on the legal team to defend her in a case over the abduction of a 14-year-old child activist.
Rabada, meanwhile, isn’t the first South African fast bowler that Mpofu had gotten off the hook. In a far more serious case back in 1999, he’d been part of the legal team that got a rape conviction against Makhaya Ntini overturned on appeal.
Funnily enough though, Mpofu was chided in jest by radio host Eusebius MacKaiser for not being the most learned man when it came to sport during an interview on Tuesday after the successful Rabada appeal. “I was thinking what does Dali know about cricket, man?” the host quips in the show recorded on the 702/CapeTalk channel. Mpofu sees the funny side too and then explains the significane of the case without getting into the details.
“It’s the first time that the ICC appeal has succeeeded,” he triumphantly announces.
Then when MacKaiser tries to pick on his supposedly limited cricket knowledge again by asking the lawyer to tell how many wickets Rabada had taken in the second Test in Port Elizabeth, Mpofu responds, “He took 11 wickets and I am hoping he will do the same. He’s made a promise to me or I may be the one appealing to the ICC next.”
And it’s fair to say, Rabada does owe him one, or eleven in this case.