Durban - A Mayville advocate appeared in the Durban Magistrate’s Court yesterday on possession of drugs charges.
Wearing only his red-striped boxer shorts, a green shirt and sandals, advocate Alli Essop, stood anxiously in the dock.
He was frequently reprimanded by magistrate Babongile Tenza for talking.
Essop, 36, an advocate for the past 11 years, was arrested at his home at the weekend and charged with the possession of dagga and mandrax.
In court, he had claimed his wallet was stolen and that he had been assaulted while in custody and needed medical attention.
Through his lawyer, he said he sought to open a case, but was “refused the right to do so”.
Prosecutor Nontobeko Biyela-Hlwatika did not oppose bail, but asked the court to fix a bail amount as he was employed as an advocate and had the financial means to pay bail.
Essop said his bank cards had been lost when his wallet was stolen, so could only afford R1 500 for bail.
Biyela-Hlwatika objected strongly, saying it was a paltry sum for a person of his profession and would be unfair on others of lesser means who apply for bail.
Essop wanted it pointed out that his legal team were working pro bono on the case as he was a colleague and that he was still wearing the clothes he had been arrested in, meaning he had no pockets for a wallet, which he had been holding in his hand at the time of his arrest.
“I ask the court not to put much emphasis on what he is wearing as this would be evidence in the trial. He could have stripped off his pockets as there is a section of his shirt that is a darker shade of green, indicating it could have been a pocket. According to the docket, he was found with two lots of dagga in his T-shirt. We shall leave this evidence for the trial and (it) is not relevant at this stage,” argued Biyela-Hlwatika.
Magistrate Tenza, on more than one occasion, had to ask Essop to stop talking to his legal counsel. Essop apologised, saying he was “anxious”.
He was granted R3 000 bail and the matter was adjourned until April for further investigation.
It is believed that Essop was involved in a sting operation that led to the arrest last year of prosecutor of six years, Phumzile Msimango, 33, who has been suspended
She is accused of demanding R1 000 from Essop who was appearing for an accused in a case she had been handling. The money was allegedly in exchange for ensuring that the accused’s criminal record was kept clean.
After receiving a tip-off in July last year, the KwaDukuza Cluster Task Team set up a sting operation and arrested Msimango later that day in the Durban Magistrate’s Court building, while the matter with the complainant was in session.
R1 000 in marked police bills used to trap Msimango was allegedly found in her possession – R500 in her handbag and the balance in her office desk.
Msimango was released on R10 000 bail but was later arrested on allegations of soliciting a R2 000 bribe to ensure an accused facing multiple charges was not convicted.