Judge warns lawyer over double-booking

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Johannesburg -

The judge presiding over the trial of a double murder-accused, a Joburg metro police officer, slammed the defence lawyer for causing delays on Tuesday after allegedly double-booking the services of his employee.

Simphiwe Mbatha, who appeared briefly on Tuesday in the South Gauteng High Court, sitting in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court, is accused of kidnapping and murdering his girlfriend Elaine Lenong and killing her friend Tumelo Michael Thosago in December 2012.

The trial was set to begin on Monday but Mbatha’s legal representative, advocate Rudolf Buys, sent another legal representative in his place.

On Tuesday, Buys told the court his representative had to withdraw on Monday because another court matter he was dealing with had rolled over and this was an “unforeseen circumstance”.

Judge Lucy Mailula had a stern warning for Buys. “I need you to talk to the Law Society about your conduct.”

The judge said she was very disappointed that Buys had double-briefed one of his lawyers.

Lenong’s family, who declined to comment outside court, nodded in unison when Judge Mailula said there could be no more delays because the matter had been on the court roll “for a very long time”.

The prosecutor, advocate Jabulani Mlotshwa, told the court the State was ready to proceed.

It is alleged that Mbatha kidnapped Lenong on December 29, 2012 and took her back to his house in Bramfischerville, Soweto.

Thosago and others drove to Mbatha’s house in Lenong’s car looking for her.

Mbatha allegedly shot Thosago, who was sitting in the car, when he arrived.

He died later in hospital.

Mbatha then allegedly shot at Lenong, who fled to a nearby house and ran into the bedroom, where there were three children.

Mbatha followed and allegedly shot her several times, killing her on the scene, while one of his stray bullets hit and injured one of the children.

The case was rolled over to Wednesday.

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